An interesting phenomenon of the past few years has been the gradual adaptation of the Roman Church to practical moral attitudes which are sympathetic and recognizable to those outside Catholic dogma. Yet even more curious is the applause that each example of this new extra ecclesia concern receives. Let a lay moralist come out in public against war, persecution, or social inequity, and he is counted as just another heir of the Voltairean tradition. However, if the author of such sentiments is wearing chasuble and mitre, there is today astonishment and gratitude on the part of many otherwise intelligent men. It is as though some extraordinary sacrifice is assumed each time a church representative articulates a belief that has been among the ordinary baggage of civilized minds for centuries, and as though this sacrifice—perhaps of spiritual dignity—excuses a certain tardiness and anemia in the clergy’s commitment to the city of man.
I have not embarked on a diatribe against the papacy. It is not the fault of the Church that surrogates for divine justice must tolerate excessive praise for an everyday deprecation of genocide. My point is simply that we are all happy to find agreement in unexpected places, and our reaction to such fortune may include a less than exact measure of the intellectual quality of our new allies.
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