Friday, May 2, 2014

Progressive Catholics? Catholic Right Catholics? Whaddup?

But I, brethren, could not address you as spiritual men, but as men of the flesh, as babes in Christ.   I fed you with milk, not solid food; for you were not ready for it; and even yet you are not ready,  for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh, and behaving like ordinary men? For when one says, "I belong to Paul," and another, "I belong to Apollos," are you not merely men?

                                                                                   -1 Corinthians 3: 1-4


During the course of my prior catechetical career I spoke often with parents, colleagues, and parishioners about catechesis and the Church. Stereotypical remarks in these conversations ran as follows: “Oh, I hear the principal is a liberal Catholic,” or “the teachers at my previous job were all from the Catholic Right,” or “Isn’t the new Pope a Catholic fundamentalist?” Some of the principal so-called “progressive” groups in the public square today are Call to Action, Voice of the Faithful, Women‘s Ordination Conference, the Catholic Theological Society of America,
Fr. Thomas Reese, S.J.
the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, and Catholics  for a Free Choice. During the homosexual priest scandals in 2003, the American media sought out almost exclusively representatives of these groups and priests and religious sympathetic to their views as spokespersons for the Church. Among those (mis)labeled by the "progressives" as “conservative-traditional-rightist” are Catholics United for the Faith, Regnum Christi, Women for Faith and Family, the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars, Opus Dei, The Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, the Conference of Major Superiors of Men, the Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious, Priests for Life, the Sisters of Life, and the Eternal Word Television Network. Their terminology misses the mark; rather, it would more accurately fit the Society of Pius X.  

Thus the schema of “liberal” (progressive, left) vs. conservative (traditional, right) which followed upon the close of Vatican II is wholly inadequate for explaining the present-day crisis of faith within the Church of Jesus Christ, though it is most unfortunate that usage of these terms persist among many Catholics and in the media today.
Division within Christ’s Church is a clear attack by the evil one. Satan’s strategy here is the time-honored one of divide et impera - divide and conquer. Remember, too, Jesus’ words to the Pharisees: “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand.” No matter how sincerely embraced, no political ideology may substitute for personal conversion. "Unless a man be born again, Nicodemus...."