People of the Book
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O’Connor on Jansenist Catholics

December 17th, 2007

From “Flannery O’Connor’s Religious Vision,” an article in the new issue of America by Archbishop George Niederauer:

    Still another Catholic fault O’Connor described is, I believe, an evergreen reality in the church: a Jansenistic disdain for human weakness and struggle and distrust of questions, speculations and discussions of any depth. Of the pseudo-faith of such persons she said:

      I know what you mean about being repulsed by the church when you have only the Mechanical-Jansenist Catholic to judge it by. I think that the reason such Catholics are so repulsive is that they don’t really have faith but a kind of false certainty. They operate by the slide rule and the Church for them is not the body of Christ but the poor man’s insurance system. It’s never hard for them to believe because actually they never think about it. Faith has to take in all the other possibilities it can.

    In considering such people’s self-righteous judgments of others, she made an acute observation: “Conviction without experience makes for harshness.”

The article is here, but behind a subscriber wall.


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