Trickle-Down Theology Won't Work | Jonathan J. Bean, Ph.D. | A Guest Op-Ed for Ignatius Insight | July 27, 2009
In 1935, a French politician asked Joseph Stalin to appease the Pope by tolerating Catholicism in the Soviet Union, where atheism was the state "religion." Stalin roared "The Pope! How many divisions has he got?"
In fact, the Pope had many divisions throughout the world. Catholic churches and schools taught the faithful that God, not man, ruled over the universe. These unarmed divisions destroyed Soviet-style communism from within and exerted Western Catholic pressure from without.
That was then, this is now. Has Pope Benedict XVI lost his divisions, especially schools, to the relativism that he denounces in his recent encyclical (Caritas in Veritate)? From Rome, the Pope calls for virtuous conduct in the marketplace, yet Church teaching no longer "trickles down" to the Catholic masses the way it once did. As spiritual "transmission lines," Catholic schools face two challenges: the exodus of Catholics to "value-neutral" public schools, and the subversive influence of academics who flout the "Magisterium" (the "teaching authority of the Roman Catholic Church").