Thursday, November 13, 2008

Should Liberals Leave the Catholic Church?

That is the title of a Joan Vennochi article that I stumbled across here. It's old, being from 2006, but I am going to discuss it because it sheds a lot of light on current events.

The honesty here is refreshing, and I applaud Ms. Vennochi for acknowledging a lot of things that most folks are leaving unsaid. Granted, she belittles and degrades the Mystical Body of Christ for no other reason than to make a point, but in doing so still does a good thing, I think, by marking out the stark contrast between the two kinds of people you find in Catholic churches these days.

The first part is just her insulting Cardinal O'Malley. Nothing to see here. Then it gets interesting when she brings up the Catholic Charities upheaval from that time.

Last week, seven members of the board of Catholic Charities of Boston announced their resignations. They were protesting the effort by Massachusetts bishops to prohibit gays from adopting children from their Catholic social service agencies. The seven who quit said the prohibition ''threatens the very essence of our Christian mission."

We see the divide beginning. The "mission" is not one defined by the Church. It is defined by these seven people, regardless of what the Church thinks. This is made clear a couple of paragraphs down:

If you agree with those principles (ie- what the Church says), you are, according to the Vatican, a Catholic in good standing. If you don't, you're not.

Of course, this is unacceptable to those who desire to declare their own subjective morality apart from the authority granted by God.

Liberals raised as Catholics refuse to accept this reality. We think we can be prochoice, pro-gay marriage , pro-gay adoption, and in favor of married and female priests and still call ourselves Catholic. The people who make the rules say we don't meet the criteria.

Note here what the primary characteristic is. Vennochi rightly describes these individuals as liberals first, who happened to have been raised Catholic. This is practically an admission of the temporal, political views as having superiority over views regarding the supernatural.

''I know a lot of Catholics, gay and straight," said O'Connell, a lesbian mother of a 5-year-old daughter. ''Everyone continues to go to church and act like their parish is not part of all of this -- the sexual scandal, the association to the Vatican and its stand on gay adoption. Everyone who believes that is in a state of denial."

''It's time to find a new path," she said.

I'm reading three items here: the sex scandal, association to the Vatican, and the Vatican's stand on gay adoptions. One of these things is not like the others, but to the liberal mind, they are all the same.

Finally, we get the real meat of the article:

Catholics who don't agree with church doctrine are doing the unexpected -- sticking around where they are unwelcome, rather than moving on. The stubborness is rooted in nostalgia, inertia, and arrogance. We cherish some memories, like the lacy white communion dress and the innocence of childhood confessions. Despite spotty attendance, we enjoy the ritual of Sunday Mass. We also believe our views are the enlightened ones and Rome's represent the neanderthal; eventually we will get a pope who understands that.

Nothing in this article expresses any liberal interest whatsoever in such minor things as getting to heaven. It is all about pretty dresses and having a place to go on Sunday morning. Going to Mass is a ritual, rather than mystical participation at Calvary or the marriage of heaven and earth. Only neanderthals would believe in such nonsense. Our more enlightened brethren have made it a mission to save us from our ignorant embrace of the transcendent.

A colleague of mine who is a recovering alcoholic once summarized the bulk of 12-step programs as the acceptance of two major principles: First, God exists. Second, you aren't Him. This principle would be most helpful to the sorts of people Ms. Vennochi is describing. Catholic dogma requires submission to the belief that we are not gods, despite what the serpent claimed. We need His help, for without Him, we can do nothing. The liberal mindset expressed in the article is quite opposed to this. The guiding rule becomes- God exists (I'm assuming), and whatever we don't like, He better get used to it.


Haskovec said...

Just as a side note one can be in favor of priests being allowed to marry without being outside of catholic belief. Our friends in the Eastern Rites allow married priests (and are in communion with us) and they they passed the rule disallowing priests being married it wasn't a part of dogma. As such at any time the Pope could change that rule without affecting the truth that is the catholic faith. That being said my uncle (a deacon) said he feels without the rule it would be hard to balance time between the church and your marriage, to make sure you devote a proper amount of time to both vocations. He said as a deacon it is difficult enough so he couldn't imagine it as a priest.

Throwback said...

True, but many also fail to make the distinction between a married guy becoming a priest and a priest getting married.