Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Nobody expects the Donatist Inquisition!

The fuss over Polish "traditores" to the former Communist regime is certainly much ado about more than nothing, but before I get my boxers in a twist, I'm gonna wait for some historical perspective from an expert on the Donatist controversies of St. Augustine's era, from which the Catholic Church established the ex opere operato doctrine of sacramental validity and episcopal authority.

Whatever happens, I think it's critical that emphasis be placed on what exactly these "cooperating" bishops are guilty of. The Church no longer controls who sits on the throne of any nation. It has learned to be somewhat agnostic about forms of government. Communism had its evils; so does capitalistic democracy -- no permanent enemies; no permanent allies. The Church always seeks to be present whatever the type of government. Collaboration with the govt is not per se evil and is a matter of degree, even if the govt is more evil than others. It all depends on what exactly the "traditores" did. Not a whole lot of emphasis on this, as far as I've seen, and I think John Allen needs to calm down a bit before he uses rhetoric like "shocking disclosure."

Now the despised traditores of the historical Donatists did some pretty bad stuff that was directly relevant to the Faith. It's not so clear here in the Polish case what the substance of the evil was. So far, looks like low-level informant sort of political collaboration, according to Robert Miller on FT. Even if the information led to unlawful arrests, torture, and murder, the collaborating bishops may have been at most within varying degrees of material cooperation with evil.

We can also draw references from the Russian, Romanian, Bulgarian, Ukrainian, and the Eastern bloc nations in the Orthodox context. How did they deal with this problem? Don't know much about that, but the scandal scavengers need to slow down, especially the evies who are always welcoming of scandals that can reinforce their fantasy that Catholicism is just bunch of hooey.