Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Catholics and Torture

When it comes to the view of the Catholic Church on torture, there is no mincing of words. The Catholic Church is uncategorically opposed to torture and calls it an intrinsic evil. The question then becomes what constitutes torture. My own view is that an honest, moral person knows torture when he sees it. Whether he calls it torture is another question. Waterboarding, by all honest moral accounting, clearly falls within the definition of torture as seen by the Catholic Church.

However, we have the Catholic torture apologist Marc Thiessen defending waterboarding on EWTN, the Catholic television network, and claiming that somehow waterboarding fits right in the Catholic Magisterium.

Andrew Sullivan comments on this outrage and methodically debunks every single one of Thiessen's claims.

Mark Shea, no slouch on the Catholic orthodoxy front, also eviscerates the whole pro-torture meme being espoused by voices claiming some institutional authority to represent the Magisterium.

I have to say that I am just dumbfounded that there is even a question about whether or not waterboarding is torture in the Catholic moral code and whether it is an intrinsic evil perpetrated against the dignity of human life. To me, and to most unblinkered Catholics that I know, even the most conservative among them, the psychological horror of simulated drowning is unquestionably torture. I am even more dumbfounded that these people get platforms to espouse their pro-torture memes as consistent with catholic teaching, without so much as a peep of criticism from the catholic hierarchy.

It is because there are people like Thiessen and because there are media outlets like EWTN, and it is because they seem to be immune to challenge by the Catholic hierarchy, that I cannot claim to be anything but an Exodus Catholic. But it is also because of catholic voices like Mark Shea that I just can't make a complete break from the faith.


Mark P. Shea said...

I wouldn't be so quick to lower the boom on the bishops over Thiessen. They are not a rapid response squad for every piece of shit spouted by some Catholic in the media.

Huck said...

Yes, you are right, Mark. But Thiessen has been out there peddling his views for a while now and informing Catholics whenever he can that his views are somehow within the bounds of Catholic teaching. The propagation of his views as consistent with catholic teaching on EWTN is the last straw. Hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of Catholics get their "orthodoxy" from EWTN. And yet, as far as I can tell, the bishops have kept mum. Thiessen is not just "some Catholic" and EWTN is not just "some" small-fry Catholic media outlet. The bishops seem to me to be twiddling their thumbs for too long on this, thus giving Thiessen and his drivel some Catholic institutional cred and legitimacy. There is something seriously akilter, and the sign of a pernicious malady, about an institution that will move with the alacrity of the Holy Ghost to condemn, de-frock, and ex-communicate a man like Roy Bourgeois for declaring his support for female ordination, while moving like molasses in even responding to the propagation of the idea that waterboarding is consistent with the Magisterium.