Julia’s Meltdown and the “Filial Correction”

The Catholic Herald has an article by its US editor Michael Davis in which he explains what is politely called the “filial correction” in Roman Catholic circles. This is a group which has written to the Pope explaining how he may have gotten it a bit wrong in his Amoris Laetitia pronouncement. Davis uses the scene from Brideshead Revisited where Julia hysterically breaks up with Charles Ryder to make a point. This is the scene near the novel’s end (which Davis quotes in full) where she confronts her adultery:

Living in sin, with sin, by sin, for sin, every hour, every day, year in, year out. Waking up with sin in the morning, seeing the curtains drawn on sin, bathing it, dressing it, clipping diamonds to it, feeding it, showing it round, giving it a good time, putting it to sleep at night with a tablet of Dial if it’s fretful. Always the same, like an idiot child carefully nursed, guarded from the world. “Poor Julia,” they say, “she can’t go out. She’s got to take care of her little sin. A pity it ever lived,” they say, “but it’s so strong. Children like that always are. Julia’s so good to her little, mad sin.”

Davis makes his case in the article that this scene explains how Waugh would have come out in favor of the “filial correction.” It would be foolhardy and presumptuous to attempt to paraphrase or summarize his argument, but the full text is available in the article linked above. He concludes by linking back to Waugh:

Adultery doesn’t stop being a sin just because we “draw the curtains on it.” Our conscience won’t grow stronger if we “put it to sleep with a tablet of Dial when it’s fretful.” Sin has consequences. Waugh knew that. So do the authors of the filial correction. The question is, does the Pope?

The online version is headed by a handsome photograph of Waugh and his second wife at their marriage ceremony. His first marriage ended in divorce due to his wife’s adultery.

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