Fr. Dwight Longenecker has had quite the life so far. Raised a fundamentalist, he attended Bob Jones University, fell in love with the works of C.S. Lewis, moved to England, became an Anglican priest, then became Catholic. And he is now a Catholic priest, back in the States as chaplain at St Joseph's Catholic School in Greenville, South Carolina. (See his profile over on his blog, "Standing On My Head.") All of which to introduce a piece he wrote for The Times, titled "American Catholics must stop and listen to the Pope":
The American Catholic Church is big, rich and powerful. Compared to the marginalised Catholic Church in England, American Catholicism is a global force to be reckoned with. Time magazine, in a recent feature on the Pope's visit to the US, recognises that Benedict XVI understands and is intrigued by America’s "totally modern, yet totally religious" worldview.
The American Catholic Church is also highly polarised. At one extreme are the ‘rad traddies’. They argue for the Latin Mass and support schismatic groups opposed to modernising the Church. These radical traditionalists want to turn back the clock to some golden age before the Second Vatican Council. They live in a black and white world where anyone outside their group is a damnable moderniser. They come across as angry, self-righteous kooks.
At the other end of the spectrum are the ‘rad trendies’. These ‘Spirit of Vatican 2’ Catholics mistake every politically correct cause for the teaching of the Catholic faith. They seem oblivious to any traditional aspects of Catholicism, and feel compelled to reinvent the faith according to the latest ideas of popular culture. With their liturgical dance, ecology stations of the cross and encouragement of sexual ‘diversity’, they come across as wounded, angry victims who, like their opposite numbers, seem to be self- righteous kooks.
In between the ‘rad traddies’ and ‘rad trendies’ are the largest group which my friends refer to as ‘AmChurch.’
• A Perspective From Across the Pond | A Conversation with Dwight Longenecker | March 16, 2005