Well, sort of—if by "Catholics" you mean those who publicly dissent from Church teaching. From the AP article, "Catholic bloggers aim to purge dissenters" (Oct. 25, 2010):
Pressure is on to change the Roman Catholic Church in America, but it's not coming from the usual liberal suspects. A new breed of theological conservatives has taken to blogs and YouTube to say the church isn't Catholic enough.
Enraged by dissent that they believe has gone unchecked for decades, and unafraid to say so in the starkest language, these activists are naming names and unsettling the church.
Oooh...how chilling! The mere mention of "starkest language" gives me chills. Wait, check that; I'm actually laughing with robust and hearty charity. Anyhow, as interesting as the topic is, the approach taken in the piece is not the sort that lends itself to substantive reporting. But, goodness, why should I complain? I'm sure the piece was written to balance out all of those Associated Press pieces reporting on those Catholic politicians, pundits, and periodicals, who live off of being called "Catholic" while outrightly denying, mocking, or even attacking the Magisterium and Church teaching. Yeah, that must be it.
John Allen, Vatican analyst for the National Catholic Reporter, has dubbed this trend "Taliban Catholicism." But he says it's not a strictly conservative phenomenon - liberals can fit the mindset, too, Allen says. Some left-leaning Catholics are outraged by any exercise of church authority.
Yes, "some"—as in nearly everyone who works for National "Catholic" Reporter (see, for example, this recent post). Finally, near the article's conclusion:
Catholic officials are struggling to come to terms with the bloggers and have organized several recent media conferences on the topic, the latest at the Vatican this month. The U.S. bishops' conference issued social media guidelines in July calling for Christian charity online.
Still, no one expects the Catholic blogosphere to change tone anytime soon. Many of the conservatives most active online had spent years raising the alarm about dissent on their own in their local dioceses without much effect. Now, they feel they are finally being heard online.
I think I understand: open dissent from clear and consistent Church teaching is about the centrality of the infallible individual conscience, the divine call for a more democratic Church, a gnostic-like sensitivity to the "spirit of Vatican II", and freedom from traditional and patriarchal structures of oppression, while criticism of such tired Sixties' styled-dissent is narrow-minded, politically-motivated, and accompanied by a disturbing "tone". As the past forty years or so indicate, the former has not been of substantial concern to a number of bishops, but the latter is suddenly now a grave and bothersome issue that demands calls for "charity" and change in "tone". Gotcha. This state of affairs actually lends creedence to the article's statement, "The [conservative] activists also say that since the 1970s, after the modernizing reforms of the Second Vatican Council, liberals have filled the bureaucracy of the church, hiding dissent from the bishops they serve."
For the record, my perfectly tuned remarks here are not meant as a carte blanche endorsement of all the "conservative" blogs mentioned (a couple of which I've never heard of), although I'll happily and publicly make known my support for Thomas "The American Papist" Peters, whose work I admire. Blogs are unruly and wildly diverse (even blogs that share core beliefs and principles), and I understand well that bloggers can indeed be uncharitable, harsh, and even grammatically unsound on occasion. Heck, I know that my grammar ain't always what it could and should be. But the simple fact is this: "conservative" Catholic blogs are no more harsh or nasty or caustic or filled with bad writing and poor arguments than are "liberal" Catholic blogs. Far from it.
There is one notion or description in the article that should be corrected, which is that of a "new breed of theological conservatives", as if these bloggers with the bad "tone" and the unabashed love for the Church have emerged suddenly and without warning in recent years from the deep recesses of the most dank, subterranean regions of the earth with nary a strand of genetic code or a notarized family tree to give an account for their existence. Ever since the late 1960s, there has been a lively and important group of writers who produced works—mostly popular and even polemical—that criticized dissent in the Church and worked to expose heretics and heresies. A short (and hardly exhaustive list) would include books such as Trojan Horse in the City of God (1967) and The Devastated Vineyard (1973) by Dietrich von Hildebrand, The Decline and Fall of Radical Catholicism (1971) and Catholicism and Modernity (1979) by Dr. James Hitchcock, A Crisis of Truth (1982) by Ralph Martin, The Desolate City (1986) by Anne Roche Muggeridge, and The Battle for the American Church (1979), by Monsignor George A. Kelly. The latter is an especially invaluable guide to the wastelands of the 1970s, a thoroughly documented and vigorously argued work filled with an abundance of detail and insight. Near the conclusion of that book, Monsignor Kelly wrote:
The modern problem for the Church, as for the state, is not more input, shared responsibility, participation in decision-making, and consulation with those affected by official decisions. These are legitimate contemporary counterbalances to the sometimes arbitrary, thoughtless, or uninformed deicions of office-holders. The problem has become decision-making itself. Those constitutionally empowered to act in the name of society or the Church frequently do not act, and those citizens or religionists bound to compliance frequently do not comply , with no suitable remedy for the vacuum created. Both authority figures and subjects lose in the process, because society, if its necessary works are to be done or if it is to keep its unity, needs decisions and compliance. In Catholic affairs there is also the question of Christ's authority given to men to preach, to make disciples, and to govern the Church. Without authority, human or divine, there is political or ecclesiastical confusion. This becomes a highly desirable condition only for those who value confusion as condition of liberty. (p. 482).
And, a couple of paragraphs later:
Speaking up to pastors, bishops, and Pope is commplace, as is defiance. Church officials rarely call in a recalcitrant priest or head of a dissenting Catholic organization for a stern warning or reprimand. Dissent from Catholic teaching, from liturgical or disciplinary norms by those who hold positions of trust, is publicly tolerated by high officials. For this reason alone, Catholic dissenters have acquired a role and power that normally would not be theirs. (p. 483).
That dissenting role and power has slowly, if not smoothly or steadily, waned and withered over the past couple of decades. It goes without saying that those who have been losing that power have not been happy; whereas they used to gin up discord and dissent with a flick of the pro-contraceptive whip, they now have to settle for faux ordinations of 85-year-old women who recount how they've longed to "be a priest" since they were little girls growing up during the Depression. Alas, serious damage was inflicted over the past few decades, and the rot is still very much present, although it is often covered over or tweaked to appear more respectable. But "news" pieces such as the one above are a good reminder of the various alignments and perceptions, challenges and confusions, that still exist and likely will until Christ returns and separates the sheep from the goats—following which, I suspect, the AP will run a story complaining about the "tone" encountered at the Last Judgment.
Related Ignatius Insight Articles and Book Excerpts:
• Authority and Dissent in the Catholic Church | Dr. William E. May
• Is Heresy Heretical? | Fr. James V. Schall, S.J.
• On The Intellectual Needs of Ordinary People | Fr. James V. Schall, S.J.
• Conservative Bishops, Liberal Results | Dr. James Hitchcock
• Hans Küng Has a Religion the New York Times Can Love | Donna Steichen
• On Being Catholic American | Joseph A. Varacalli
• Pascal For Today | Peter Kreeft
• Unity, Plurality, and the Papacy | Hans Urs von Balthasar