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Monday, March 14, 2011



An excellent essay.

Holiness, that is, life in communion with God in faith, hope and charity lived in the ongoing conversion that is an unending task for the Church, is fundamentally the same in all ages. The real challenge of Vatican II is the change or renewal of hearts that in the Gospels is called metanoia.

I have to say, this is where the Evangelicals have maintained focus, and it is what I draw from the most in my own reflections on my upbringing in that environment. If there is a criticism of the Catholic faith as it appears to them, that holds some validity, or at least did in the past, this is the one area that I have found the most difficulty in apologetic terms.

The trend is a type of ecclesiastical therapy of getting up and doing; the idea is to assign a committee to everyone or in any case, at least some commitment within the Church. – Ratzinger

The one thing that I noticed right away when I became somewhat involved in my own parish. It happens at all levels, from the parish to the diocese to the entire Church. I have by times wondered, and others chuckled, at the tendency as it appeared to me, to have a good idea and then proceed to kill it with a name, an organization, a constitution, a fund-raiser and an official stamp of the Bishop.

The conservative stance disposes people to sacrifice relationships for the sake of purity of truth and unity, while the liberal inclination is toward compromising on the latter for the sake of the former. Neither measures well against the Gospel… ?

This is one place where I think the conservative/liberal paradigm falls down. Was it not Christ that said that we must be able to give up father, mother, sister or brother for the sake of the Kingdom? Was it not Christ that said that he had come to bring the sword?

Liberals tend to see the apostolic teaching office as divisive, as a threat to unity, while conservatives see it as the guarantee of unity, since they see that there can be no unity without truth…

If unity is the highest good and the function of every pastor is to keep as many sheep in the fold as possible, then truth risks being reduced to a means, and subject to manipulation for the sake of unity.

We have a very good example of the results of unity at any cost. The Anglican communion has prided itself for years on its ability to retain unity in diversity, yet in the end, we see that unity fragmenting as diversity has become a spinning centrifuge throwing out all sorts of weird and wacky ideas of Christianity, many of which bear no relation to Christian teaching at all.

On the other hand, we have many examples of the humble holiness of Saints throughout the centuries who brought unity and renewal by their willingness to teach and live the truth and allow the Holy Spirit to work through them. And in our own time we see that thriving and growing apostolates, orders, and institutions are those which humbly but uncompromisingly teach orthodoxy in love.

I think that one of the unstated problems with the analysis here of Douglas Bushman is the ever present overlay of American politics in particular and of the ideological battle of the 20th century in general, on these terms “conservative” and “liberal.” Some of the urgency and vitriolic passion behind these relative theological positions has been fed by the parallel struggle in the political realm. To the conservative minded, the kind of loss of political freedom that liberalism/socialism has represented world-wide has informed their opposition to the “spirit of Vatican II” mentality. (I am one such.) To this add the great irony that those of the liberal mindset who vocalize such a fierce defense of “separation of Church and State” are the ones most active in pursuing the course of blending the social mission of the Church with government social policy to the point where liberal voting is considered part of a Catholic’s obligation to the poor, while at the same time suppressing moral teaching for the sake of the greater political interest.


My brother is a soul totally mired in black, hopeless agnosticism, which tries to gussy itself up as cavalier neo-paganism. He is so clearly miserable but of course explodes in rage if one touches the nerve of his misery. I would appreciate the help via prayers of anyone who reads this. I am trying my best but it is getting bad. Please ask the Blessed Mother, Sts. Patrick, Joseph, and Michael the Archangel to help him and thus his young family.

His 18 month old child stopped dead in her tracks the first and only time she saw an image of Christ. It was the divine mercy image and for some reason was on her father's computer as she walked past. She immediately and unprecedentedly made the sign language for I LOVE HIM. Christ is not allowed to be discussed or imaged in her home. The air is terribly oppressed. Oppressed.

Paul Adams

The essay makes many good observations but its overall approach seems dated. It adopts an even-handed, balanced point of view from somewhere outside and above the contending positions it identifies.

Conservative and liberal, however, are political categories and so in themselves lean toward the "liberal" perspective that tends to reduce Catholicism to a political practice. That view devalues liturgy and worship in favor of a conception of social justice identified with the political program of the Democratic Party.

A more accurate characterization of the divide would be that between faithful or orthodox and dissident. In terms of Vatican II, the division is between those like Pope Benedict, who see it in terms of a hermeneutics of continuity and those who adopt a "Spirit of Vatican II" hermeneutics of rupture. In this conflict, after more than 40 years of post-Vatican II experience and reflection, evenhandedness is out of place.

Wherever dissidence has flourished in dioceses, parishes, seminaries, and religious orders, we have seen a collapse of membership, faith, and morals, along with travesties of liturgy, architecture, and music.

If you read National Catholic Reporter, the house organ of dissidence in the U.S., you find - John Allen's work always excepted - not only the hypercritical attitude to the Church, its hierarchy and the Magisterium to which Bushman refers, but also a near-complete absence of anything that would encourage anyone to enter or remain in the Church. The contrast with the evangelizing work on Fr. Robert Barron - who faithfully and intelligently speaks to the culture without succumbing or accommodating to it - could not be sharper.

There is no equivalence between the faithful and the dissident in approach to the Church's mission of evangelization or in results. There is a thirst for an orthodox Catholicism that humbly but confidently adheres to the faith. Those orders, dioceses, and seminaries that reflect this flourish, while the ones that minimize the distinctively Catholic in worship, architecture, and music and accommodate most to the secular environment are heading in the same self-destructive direction as the mainline Protestant communions that led the way.

The irony is that the dissidents talk about the need to "listen" to the people, but fail to do so themselves. George Weigel in a post at First Things, said this of the 200 German theologians who signed a critique of the pope and the Church ahead of a papal visit to Germany: In arguing for all the tendencies and positions that have undermined the Church for the past 40 years, these academic theologians, most of whom have little or no pastoral experience or participation in the life of the Church, exhibit the chutzpah of a person who slays his parents and then throws himself on the mercy of the court on the grounds that he is an orphan. They approach the problems of the Church with tried-and-failed solutions of yesterday, the "spirit of Vatican II" that wrought such havoc in the Church, especially in Europe. Let them "listen" to the young, faithful, joyful Dominican Sisters of Mary (average age in the low 20s) that Oprah has featured twice on her show.

Of course there are dangers and distortions among the faithful/orthodox too, but they are not in any way equivalent in seriousness or effect. The desperate need today in Europe and North America is to stop the rot spread by the dissidents, as both JP II and B16--whom the dissidents hate for this very reason--have seen and attempted to do.


He is so clearly miserable but of course explodes in rage if one touches the nerve of his misery. I would appreciate the help via prayers of anyone who reads this. - Brad

You've got it Brad.

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