The Difference Between Bodies And People

A correspondent was reacting to descriptors used in a discussion of things Catholic:

The Question: Do you think it healthy to refer to a whole group of people as apostate, whore, demon possessed and so on, does such rhetoric get in the way of true dialog?

The Response: Your wording suggests you make no distinction between the hierarchical organization that is the Roman Catholic Church and the body of people faithful to it. Time and again, Roman Catholic apologists have told me that the RCC organization is “above” its individual members. By this argument, they exempt the RCC organization from culpability for the actions of its leadership.

Actually, I agree with this premise. In my understanding, the corporate entity identified as the Roman Catholic Church indeed does exist apart from its membership. In common with other such “corporations,” it is a legal entity, a non-person person, if you like. And because of this status as a legal entity, it is subject to the same scrutiny and 'personal' assessments as is any other individual.

Think about it. When you encounter a stranger for the first time, do you not automatically evaluate that person in terms of his affect on you? I believe we all do that to some extent. We unconsciously make certain observations, such as: is this person a threat to me? Does he sound friendly? Where does he come from? We use the information these and other instant analyses provide to determine how we react to this unknown individual. Later, as we grow in experience of him, that original assessment may be modified or confirmed.

We even make 'instant' judgments of people we do not encounter, but only become aware of through the media or because of their presence within our zone of observation. We see a picture on TV or in the newspaper and may take a position that this person is someone to trust or to avoid. Some folks see a bearded man in dirty blue jeans and leather riding a Harley and make a determined effort to not get too close to him. Or they see three young black men walking along the sidewalk at night and experience a fear reaction as they draw near, even though there is nothing in their manner to suggest the young men are a threat. Others may have the same reaction to three Oriental men, or three Hispanic men or three Anglo men. Do not women immediately evaluate other women they encounter? Do not men at once "size up" any unknown male who may intrude into their safety zone?

I believe it is human nature to check people out, and to characterize every person we meet in some way. Since the RCC is an individual, though without either flesh or blood, it is also subject to such characterization. The entity identifies herself as the “True Church,” “Mother Church,” “The Church that Christ instituted,” etc. Catholic faithful seem to accept these self-identifications of the RCC as their own. Is it not to be expected that those of us who do not agree that the RCC is any of these things might characterize the RCC in other terms?

Though you may not be able to relate to my attitude toward the RCC, you at least should be able to understand that I always view the corporate RCC as distinct from the individual members. Many of the people I associate with also see things this way. Granted, there are many non-Catholics who make no such distinction. Most of these, I suspect, have no personal experience of Roman Catholicism.

As a consequence of my own experiences as a Roman Catholic and what I have learned of the RCC's dogma, doctrine and practices since, I have formed my own appreciation of that corporate entity. Because of my concerns for those I love who are caught up in Catholicism and what I consider to be its false promises and false hopes, I hate the Roman Catholic Church as I hate no human being. I believe the RCC to be apostate from the true Christian faith and to have corrupted sound doctrine by adding to it and subtracting from it in order to gain wealth and power over those she enslaves. I believe the RCC closes the door to salvation for those who believe her lies and for that reason is a murderer. I believe that the RCC will go to almost any lengths, submit her theology to changes as necessary in order to extend her control over the peoples of the earth, and so she is a whore.

All the above and more are characteristics of the bloodless entity that calls itself the Roman Catholic Church. As for the people within her suffocating grasp, I consider the great majority of them to be deceived innocents, caught up in a system the nature of which they do not comprehend. There are a few who involve themselves with the RCC for personal benefit, and some who use their membership for power.

The above are my own opinions; I speak for no other person. I hold them to be true. I do not make it a practice to charge around the Internet proclaiming these things anywhere I find a forum. I only state them here in response to your question. Normally, you would have to search PTG archives or my own Catholic Stuff web site to read them -- and both of these are places that identify themselves as not being favorably inclined toward the Roman Catholic Faith.

Should you or any other person disagree with my personal view that is your right. Should you endeavor to impose your views on me, then you would violate my right to hold my own opinions and you would be wrong to do so. A more appropriate course would be for you simply not to go where you know I post my anti-Catholic thoughts.

With that out of the way, I shall answer your specific question; which was:

Do you think it healthy to refer to a whole group of people as apostate, whore, demon possessed and so on, does such rhetoric get in the way of true dialog?

I do not think that referring to a whole group of people as apostate, whore, demon-possessed and so on has anything to do with health. I do think it is wrong to cast individuals as stereotypes.

Does such rhetoric get in the way of true dialogue? In most cases, it likely does.


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