In the 1942 Disney animated film Bambi, the mother of Thumper makes sure the following lesson is instilled in her son:
If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all.
This “Thumper Theorem” is useful… right up until the moment when you encounter statements that intentionally obfuscate the truths of the faith, or even seem to savor of heresy. You can’t say anything nice about evil. It’s evil. To even begin talking about it, you have to be negative.
Employing the Thumper Theorem in this time of widespread apostacy and hierarchical modernism is tantamount to keeping your sword sheathed as your shepherds raise theirs to strike you down.
I was disappointed to find this attitude in Fr. Hunwicke’s recent post on encyclicals:
If we find in this or in any other Encyclical some particular teaching which we genuinely have trouble understanding or appropriating, then, in my view, the most fitting response is simply not to talk about that particular aspect of its teaching until we do find that we can speak positively about it.
Were these less dire times in the Church, I would find this a completely reasonable approach. Yet these are dire times. Modernism and neo-modernism have so infiltrated the hierarchy and priesthood that traditional formulations of Catholic teaching have fallen by the wayside. This abandonment of traditional formulations of dogma has led to the widespread abandonment of the Catholic understanding of the Faith.
Given the amount of modernist-speak that many are finding in _Laudato Si_, is it any wonder that well-formed Catholics would speak negatively of it?
Pope St. Pius X, in his ever-trenchant encyclical Pascendi Dominici Gregis, had this to say about modernist-speak:
In their writings and addresses they seem not unfrequently to advocate doctrines which are contrary one to the other, so that one would be disposed to regard their attitude as double and doubtful. (§18)
If Laudato Si is at variance with other sayings of Pope Francis, or even with itself internally, what good is accomplished by keeping silent about it?
“OK,” you might find yourself saying, “I see your point. You’re talking about spiritual self-defense. But do you have to blog so loudly about it? Shouldn’t you ask a priest for advice or something? Shouldn’t you keep quiet with your issues so you don’t cause scandal?”
Too late. The scandal has already been caused. The scandal is the document itself. In the context of a modernist document, the layman’s confusion is evidence that the modernist writer has scandalized the faithful. While it is the layman’s duty to do his best not to take scandal, his duty does not negate the fact that, objectively, scandal has been given.
So yes, laymen have a right to defend themselves publicly from public scandal. They can ask questions of knowledgeable lay faithful and faithful priests in the comment boxes of blogs and on other social media sites. They can point out modernist writing on the internet, warning others of its dangers. There is no sin in spreading knowledge of Catholicism, combating error, and denouncing evil in the public square.
In this situation, in these modern times, the Thumper Theorem has no place.