Patrick Coffin, the longtime Catholic apologist, has in recent months been promoting Benevacantism. I’ve known Patrick for years and have counted him a friend. He has kindly had me on his show a few times. Despite all that, he has decided to take the low road in responding to my arguments. After Catholic World Report reprinted my article, he posted the following remark on Twitter:
Evidence-aphobia. @IgnatiusPress which runs @cworldreport, also owns the rights to Benedict/Ratzinger's English translations (which are great, btw). Must. Protect. The ca$h cow.
End quote. When I objected to this unjust, uncharitable, and utterly gratuitous resort to the fallacy of Appeal to Motive, Patrick doubled down:
Calm down, Ed. It's not mysterious but *obvious* that you'd want to defend those who publish your books (which are excellent, btw), & understandable that they'd want to repost your criticism. Boy howdy, does pointing out financial conflicts of interest get people mad.
End quote. So, in Patrick’s view, sincere disagreement with the arguments for Benevacantism and grave concerns about its schismatic implications are not enough to explain why I and the people at CWR are opposed to it. It must, deep down, really be about money. And if I object to such an accusation, it can’t be because I regard the accusation as grossly unfair. It must be because he’s struck a nerve.
Needless to say, this is unhinged, and reminiscent of that other Catholic apologist to have gone off the rails, Mark Shea. I pointed this out to Patrick, who responded:
Taking refuge in insults and condescension when you run out of arguments is sad from a professional philosopher. I'm glad you haven't gone ad hominem or anything. I'll let readers decide what's what and where the fallacies lie. Peace.
End quote. Thus did this exchange lead us at last to Bizarro world, where to object to a condescending, insulting ad hominem attack itself somehow amounts to a condescending, insulting ad hominem attack against the guilty party.
I note also that, though in some of his Twitter comments on my article, Patrick once again calls his readers’ attention to the considerations that he thinks support Benevacantism, he has not responded to the specific objections I raised in the article.
All of this pretty much speaks for itself. I will simply emphasize that if the arguments for Benevacantism are as strong as Patrick supposes, he should be able to defend them without gratuitously insulting a friend who has approached the issue in a civil manner.