Objections

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Rumors, Confusing Arguments & Public Debate




A Man-to-Man Challenge


Note to the reader:

For about four months TIA has been the target of a campaign of rumors accusing us of being against marriage. The initial confrontation arose from the indignation of three ladies over the articles by Miss Salwa Bachar on virginity posted on our website (here, here and here). They alleged that she was too young to teach them and that TIA revealed itself to be against marriage by supporting those articles. Many confusing objections were sent to us wrapped in a highly emotional tone accusing St. John Chrysostom – two articles of Miss Bachar were based on his texts – and us of error and heresy and demanding our public apologies as well as the immediate withdrawal of those articles.

I resolved to answer the objections online because the articles are very good and also with the aim of calling the attention of other young people to the beauty of virginity and the lay celibate vocation.

However, instead of being satisfied with my answers responding to the objections, their indignation increased and they accused me of two things: misrepresenting their arguments and personally insulting them.

Regarding the first accusation, I must say that I was making a great effort trying to understand their arguments and present them in a logical order. However, since they are essentially confusing arguments, the ladies can always affirm that I did not get their points. So, if I answer, I am misrepresenting them; if I don’t answer, I am avoiding their objections.

Regarding the insults, I did my best to be serene in my expositions. I admit that my tone is direct and square-shooting with Progressivism and its followers. But, I cannot understand how traditionalists and counter-revolutionaries can feel insulted by the forthright exposition of Catholic doctrine on this topic. Any reader can judge for himself whether I was offensive or not in those articles (here, here, here and here).

For the last months, these three ladies have been calling/emailing/texting our friends to spread the same accusations: I am against marriage; I have fallen into error and even heresy; I am misrepresenting their arguments and insulting them personally. This campaign has become so intense that I consider it to have acquired a semi-public character.

My lamentation has been: How difficult it is to discuss issues with these ladies…

I was perplexed about how to continue this discussion, when, after my last article, I received the letter below, written by Fr. Paul Sretenovic. He has encouraged these ladies in their campaign and has harbored their accusations against TIA.

Paradoxically, I was relieved when I received his very hostile letter. At least now I can invite him to a man-to-man public written debate. Doing so, I may escape the dead end of having to deal with emotional persons who mix reason with sentiments and Catholic doctrine with personal opinions.

Why do I only publish and respond to the letter of a man and not the emails of these women who are attacking me? It is because I am from an old school when women were respected in their physical and emotional weaknesses. However, two of these ladies have become so violently offensive that I am reconsidering my habits and asking myself whether I should maintain that custom or update it to correspond to their aggressive behavior and counter-attack them as strongly as I would with men. In that case I would name names and give public evidence of their hatred.

So, although I plan to continue to answer the more relevant objections I received previously, I will invite Fr. Sretenovic to enter the public arena and debate with me in the open, as men normally do, by substantiating his/their objections or accusations.

I hope he will not find excuses to run from this opportunity to shine a definitive light on this topic, if, in fact, he is concerned about the Catholic truth on marriage.

If he does not accept, his escape will be a point of reference for TIA to end this phase of the debate. We will say: “We asked Fr. Sretenovic to represent all the objectors in a public debate and he declined. So, we consider the question closed.” Then, if the accusations continue, probably I will direct them to the Hate Mail section of our site.

Thus, with these presuppositions established publicly, I go on to transcribe his letter, without changing one single comma or adding any needed paragraph. Afterwards, I will answer him.

     The Editor

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Letter sent April 7, 2018


Initial Thoughts

Atila,

I have read your most recent post from last night and am disappointed most especially with the spirit in which you have addressed the issues. You continue to make things worse and alienate those who have been your biggest supporters by the use of insults and misrepresenting the spirit in which the objections have been raised, and this publicly, let alone the actual objections themselves. Granted, my most recent response was not very nice, but that itself was a private reaction to the way you have handled the whole process, both in content and spirit, and says nothing about the actual objections themselves. And, just to say it, I, one of those priests formed post-Vatican II become Traditionalist, do not, IN ANY WAY, support the theology of the body nonsense of Pope John Paul II or any acts within marriage considered as ends in and of themselves. You created a false dichotomy between what you present as Catholic teaching and what has been taught post, and even pre, Vatican II, as if there can be no other reasonable explanation for the objections raised, and this is insulting. As to the actual content of what you presented, I will not comment much at present, seeing that most of what you wrote was an attempt to answer X [NR: I am omitting the name of a lady], but I do deny that because there would be shame in exposing oneself publicly, that this necessitates that there must be shame in exposing oneself before one’s spouse. I think the arguments presented are deficient and I do take issue with these otherwise Catholic writers on this point. I also deny that because Original Sin is transmitted through the marital act that this actually touches upon the moral quality of the act itself. These are NOT one and the same thing, Atila. And the quotes themselves do not leave room for the distinction between the controlling of concupiscence versus the goal of chastity, in which the movements of concupiscence are not present. This is a glaring omission and it militates against the argument presented on this point. It also says nothing about the nature of procreation as it was intended by God before the Fall, which is where this whole debate originated. As of now, this will not end well, so I hope that you will return to the Catholic spirit you basically accuse others of not having, so that, to paraphrase one of your responses to X, we can return to being the friends we were before this all began.

     Father Sretenovic

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The Editor responds:

Rev. Fr. Paul Sretenovic,

I was surprised to see that in this letter you did not take into the least consideration the principles of Catholic courtesy that are habitual among gentlemen. In the more than 10 years of good relations, this is the first time you adopted this disdainful tone. This is not a gentleman’s behavior, still less that of a priest, who should be a model of Christ with whomever he deals. I do not recognize in your letter the respectful behavior of the friend I have had for a long time. You changed, Father; I am sorry to say it.

Regarding the way you presented your reasoning, there is a blatant lack of foundation for some of your affirmations: I insult and misrepresent my objectors, don’t answer even the objections I presented, handled wrongly all my articles in spirit and content. You did not offer a single proof for these accusations. These are gratuitous judgments lacking any honest intellectual base.

You mentioned in passing that I was insulting my objector by creating a dichotomy between Catholic doctrine and what has been taught after Vatican II “as if there can be no other reasonable explanation for the objections raised,” but you didn’t give this explanation.

You said that you would not comment much on the content in this letter, but then, you did comment on it in most of your message when you opined on the question of shame, the deficiency of the arguments, and that you disagreed with two points: the exposition on shame and the transmission of original sin.

Next, you said that you take issue with the authors I quoted, but you didn’t say what those points of contention were.

Then, you confusingly wrote about the content: “And the quotes themselves do not leave room for the distinction between the controlling of concupiscence versus the goal of chastity, in which the movements of concupiscence are not present.” I don’t understand what you wanted to say here. Each one of the concepts you presented needs a better explanation in order to be clear. Even with this lack of clarity, however, you shot another arrow at me: “This is a glaring omission and it militates against the argument presented on this point.” Again, a puzzling charge incapable of being comprehended by a reader.

In the continuation of the previous phrase, you also wrote: “It also says nothing about the nature of procreation as it was intended by God before the Fall.” Again, your point is obscure: Is this initial “it” the “glaring omission” or are you referring to the quotes of the authors I cited, in which case it would be “they”? Or is this “it” a reproach that I should present other arguments and quotes on the topic of procreation before original sin? Confusion.

At the end of your diatribe you issued a somewhat less confusing statement that has the innuendo of a threat: “As of now, this will not end well.” What does this mean? Should I understand that you will continue to fuel the campaign of detractions promoted by your lady-friends?

I am sorry to say that your letter is remarkably deficient from the intellectual point of view. But, it is a good example of the objections TIA has received to this series of articles. If you, who are a priest, are so careless intellectually, I am not surprised that those ladies follow suit.

I hope that you, with or without the help of your friends, can put order in your thoughts, summarize and substantiate all the objections you have against TIA’s position on virginity and marriage. After doing so, I invite you to come forward like a man into the public arena with your written objections. I will respond to them.

Let me say a last word about why I posted your letter on our website.
  • First, it is because you are making a violent criticism of a public article I wrote and it is normal for us at TIA to post both the favorable and hostile letters we receive.

  • Second, you did not state anywhere that your letter was private; rather you wrote “granted, my most recent response was not very nice, but that itself was a private reaction to the way you have handled the whole process.” This tract implies that the present letter does not fall into that same private category.

  • Third, the campaign you and these ladies are promoting against us has acquired a semi-public character and as such must be rebutted publicly.

  • Fourth, all the previous personal answers to these ladies have revealed themselves to be fruitless and have only given pretexts for new attacks.

  • Fifth, since you revealed in your letter a great deal of disdain for TIA and me, I suppose a personal answer would not be taken seriously.
Therefore, I have posted it and responded to it.

Let us see if a written man-to-man debate is more successful to clarify these issues than answering endless complaints in the guileful campaign of rumors now in motion.

You may publish your statement on any site – please let me know when it will be issued – I will reprint it without changes on TIA’s website and reply to it. If you wish, TIA is at your disposal to post it firsthand here.

    Cordially,

    Atila S. Guimarães

Posted April 12, 2018

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