If James Carroll's "self-serving" memoir is a blunt sword on behalf of liberalization of the Roman Catholic church, then Professor McInerney's snidely cutting remarks (he is described as a philosophy professor, who are usually rational beings) reveal the same know-it-all obscurantism that I found intolerable in his Church.
When the Doctrine of Papal Infallibility (as well as the Immaculate Conception) were very belatedly declared in a feeble attempt to roll back the tidal wave of modernism, we are told that none of the earlier gaffes of the institutional church (indulgences as obscenely mercenary as American political soft money--there were 27 altars in Eisenach's St. George church to multiply the money-grubbing Masses), Galileo, Indexes of Forbidden Books, and yes, anti-Semitism as well as anti-Protestantism (I was warned by the nuns at Holy Rosary Academy to cross the street in downtown Bay City, Michigan to avoid contamination by walking too close to the YMCA) never came from the Magisterium.
Talk about ad hominem. Try,if you have time to waste, to disprove infallibilities or immaculate conceptions. The trouble with all churches which claim a monopoly on Divine Truth is that they amass power and try not to lose it, and God pity the poor people who are caught in its inflexibilities. Just because Notre Dame is no longer worshiped by the faithful as a football theology, it should never forget that at one time the church was a brutal and (to contemporary judgments) irreligious as the Taliban is today.
Professor McInerney should be grateful to his God that there are Carrolls and Wills to mitigate the old familiar arrogance displayed by your reviewer. Let him turn to a humbler cheekiness the next time his monopoly is questioned.
Sargent watercolors at Brooklyn Museum
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