by Carl E. Olson | Catholic World Report | Editorial
When the language of American politics is used to define Catholic belief and practice, the result is confusion, discord, and ideological obfuscation
“Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, a leading conservative in the Roman Catholic hierarchy, defended himself Tuesday against perceptions that he is hostile to the more liberal inclusiveness of Pope Francis.” — “Chaput to Catholics: Don't use Francis to 'further own agendas'” by David O'Reilly (Philly.com; Nov. 13, 2013)
“Incredulity is the neglect of revealed truth or the willful refusal to assent to it. 'Heresy is the obstinate post-baptismal denial of some truth which must be believed with divine and catholic faith, or it is likewise an obstinate doubt concerning the same; apostasy is the total repudiation of the Christian faith; schism is the refusal of submission to the Roman Pontiff or of communion with the members of the Church subject to him.'” — Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), 2089 (quoting from Code of Canon Law, 751)
“...” — Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) on the terms “liberal” and “conservative”
I have a dream. In it, a man dressed in strange clothing stands in front of the courthouse in downtown Eugene, Oregon, just a ten minute drive from my home. He begins to preach. He speaks of Jesus Christ, of God, of the Church, of the need for salvation. At one point he quotes another author, saying, “Anyone who does not pray to the Lord prays to the devil. When we do not profess Jesus Christ, we profess the worldliness of the devil, a demonic worldliness.” He speaks of the Cross. The small crowd gathered before him snicker; there is some hissing.
Then the man calmly states, “ Every unborn child, condemned unjustly to being aborted, has the face of the Lord, who before being born, and then when he was just born, experienced the rejection of the world.” Someone shouts, “You're a fanatic, old man! Go home!” The man smiles, unswayed. He concludes by remarking on the power of baptism: “The Church teaches us to confess our sins with humility, because only in forgiveness, received and given, do our restless hearts find peace and joy.” A woman sneers, “Take your talk of sin somewhere else, you fundamentalist!” Someone else mutters, “Yeah, that's what the world needs—more conservative Christian ideology.”
Yes, it's just a dream. But if you know anything about Eugene, Oregon—or other university towns with the same hip, enlightened, progressive, educated citizenry—you know it's not far from reality.
The strange thing is that when this man gets up in front of crowds of tens of thousands in St. Peter's Square and says the same things, he is described by many as “liberal”. In fact, arguments and debate over whether or not Francis is a “liberal” have been both common and heated in recent months. Many in the American media, however, have already made up their minds: yes, the new pope is “liberal”, and that supposed fact is a big problem for those “conservative” bishops who keep harping about fringe issues such as the killing of the unborn, sexual immorality, the familial foundations of society, and the need to evangelize.
Fabricated Conflicts, Lacking Contexts
The quote above, about Francis and Abp. Chaput, is a good example. Chaput, readers are informed, is “a leading conservative in the Roman Catholic hierarchy” who is, in some form or fashion, in conflict with “the more liberal inclusiveness of Pope Francis.” Is it because Pope Francis is for abortion, “same-sex marriage,” co-habitation, and contraceptives? Is it because Chaput is against higher taxes, is for building more fences on the U.S.-Mexican border, and thinks the term “social justice” should be banished from use in the Catholic Church? Is it because the two have been sending out tweets blasting the other as “extremist”, “right-wing”, and “leftist”?