pope francis 1In Catholic theology “invincible ignorance” is simply the lack of knowledge about the faith for which a person is not held responsible. So, for example, primitive people who have never heard the gospel, infant who have yet to learn,  and people who because of mental illness or disability cannot learn the faith.

The term has entered popular culture however, to refer to a person who stubbornly refuses to acknowledge facts, data or reasoning. In our popular culture a huge number of people are invincibly ignorant in this second definition. In other words, they can understand, but they won’t.

This article from the Daily Telegraph is a good example. The journalist’s level of ignorance is only matched by her arrogance. Here are some key quotes from the article:

Ladies who have sinned, this is your lucky year!

Pope Francis has generously agreed to make it easier for women to seek forgiveness from the Roman Catholic church for committing the terrible sin of having an abortion.

Instead of requiring absolution from a bishop or face excommunication, any Catholic woman in any country who has had an abortion will be allowed to ask for forgiveness from any priest (as Catholics in England, Wales and Scotland are already able to do).

This offer will remain open for one year only.

Honestly, I’m not making that last bit up. The Pope has made a public statement allowing women who have had abortions to be forgiven by priests for the coming Jubilee Year as a once-in-a-Pope’s-lifetime offer.

The Jubilee Year starts on 8 December so anyone seeking absolution will have to wait a few months to be forgiven but, on the upside, they will have time to get their confession word-perfect.

She starts off being flippant about the crime of abortion–treating it in the light hearted way people might talk about having a Krispy Kreme donut during Lent. She ends up by saying women can’t be forgiven until December 8. Duh. Women (and men who are responsible) have always been able to receive forgiveness and in the USA and UK priests have had this authority delegated to them for some time.

This papal announcement is, in Catholic terms, quite a big deal. Abortion, after all is a grave enough sin to warrant throwing a woman out of the church forever, putting her at risk of an eternity in Hell. Which is, whichever way you look at it, one hell of a punishment.

It is also to be welcomed. After all, what Pope Francis has done, even if only for a year, will bring the church into, if not the 21st century, at least as far as the late 20th century.

Here is the progressive fallacy. Why does the writer assume that abortion is a twenty first century issue? Abortion and infanticide have been around from the beginning of history. Barbaric nations have always slaughtered their babies. It was only the Judeo-Christian culture that said this was a crime. Is it a grave sin which leads a person out of the church and into hell? I guess the woman who wrote this article hasn’t had the guts (excuse the expression) to view the Planned Parenthood videos.

For as much as this Pope champions the divine quality of mercy, he is also the leader of a multi-billion pound, multinational organisation that needs to keep its international flock coming to church every week. A church which is wildly out of step with the thinking of many of its followers on issues like abortion will find that very difficult indeed.

Here’s the free market fallacy: the church has to tinker with its teachings to keep people in the pews and keep them coughing up the cash.

Notice how this educated liberal Brit thinks the church is failing just because it is failing in her little country. She’s blind to the fact that across the globe the Catholic faith is surging.

If the Pope really did accept that, for most women, an abortion is often the lesser of two evils, a horrible choice that they often regret for decades to come, then he would make two further policy changes as well.

First, he would not require women to seek forgiveness since, if he believes they are making an “agonising and painful decision” and not casually killing their unborn child as part of a “throw-away culture”, as he said last year, then they have done nothing for which they should atone.

Total ignorance of the Catholic faith. Continue Reading