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Do you speak "Catholish"?

René Magritte. The submissive reader.
"Oh no, a book written in Catholish!"
(René Magritte. The submissive reader. Source)

1) Introduction

Some persons can speak English or Spanish. These days, we would almost need to add a new language: "Catholish", the official language of Bishops and Priests who are ashamed of the teachings of their own Church. Indeed, some documents coming from the Vatican or the Quebec Diocese are written in a language which is certainly not plain old English. (See for example the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, or the First Pastoral Letter of Cardinal Ouellet, etc.)

Describing how to make a peanut butter and honey sandwich using "Catholish" might sound like this:

The hungry entity which creates the sandwich must never be instrumentalized as an eater. He or she is an autonomous and relational subject open to the Transcendent. The vertical section of bread constitutes the space of dialogue where the peanut butter must be able to express its pluralist and multifaceted cultural identity. On the other hand, as the Vatican II Council teaches in "Gaudium et Spes", no ingredient must be favored over another. The peanut butter and the honey must maintain their distinct identities, while mutually enriching each other with their values, in a climate of cooperation, solidarity and fraternal dialogue.

If you think that's funny, enjoy it. It isn't so funny when you spend your days trying to understand entire books written like that.

2) A few traits of Catholish

I'm neither a linguist nor a literary expert, but in my opinion "Catholish" has a tendency to be fuzzy, abstract, verbose, inclusive, slithery, blindly positive, larded with feel-good buzzwords, etc.:

2.1) Fuzzy. Faced with an urgent problem or a practical task to be done, a document written in "Catholish" will immediately run off into a dissertation about the "theological foundations", rather than explain who must do what, and how.

2.2) Abstract. Jesus constantly talked about lost sheep, good Samaritans, and mustard seeds, but documents written in "Catholish" avoid like the plague any practical examples or pedagogical metaphors.

2.3) Verbose. Mercy! Get to the point!

2.4) Inclusive. There is nothing wrong with the fight against sexism, and the explicit mentioning of women our sisters. But it sometimes becomes tedious, if not ridiculous. See also my Legal Consideration #15.

2.5) Slithery. Big, important assertions are often accompanied by little trap doors, allowing one to assert the exact contrary.

2.6) Blindly positive. When using "Catholish", all negative words are forbidden. The worst sins, if they were committed by Priests or Bishops, are ignored. And social behaviors which are viciously anti-Christian are described as if they were cute and filled with the promise of a beautiful friendship between Church and State.

2.7) Larded with feel-good buzzwords. For example: "solidarity", "dialogue", "values", "pluralism", "inculturation", etc.

Etc., etc...

3) Conclusion

How should we speak? Let's listen to the advice of a great communicator: Satan. Apparently, a possessed woman once said about the curé d'Ars:

Why do you preach so simply? Why don't you preach grandiloquently, like in the cities? Ah! How I enjoy those grand sermons that don't bother anybody!

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