Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Imagine Maureen Dowd’s Catholicism- Its Easy If You Try

I hate to return again to Maureen Dowd's column (screed) as to the Catholic Church , Bishops, Vatican, etc but Michael Potemra column was a good one in response , See Here Comes . . . Maureen Dowd.

..Dowd doesn’t explain why, specifically, the church group in question has to embrace, in its entirety, the other meaning of the word. I share her notion that pluralism in religious belief is a good thing, a human right, and worthy of defense. But it’s not clear why any particular organization has to harbor all possible pluralism within itself. Surely, if we prize diversity, we should not insist that Catholics be Protestants as well, or that Hindus be Buddhists, or that Sunnis be Shia? The only reason I can think of for insisting that one’s own religion embrace all other views is a sense that one’s religion is a unique public good, serving a higher religio-political purpose than other religions, and therefore subsuming them — which is rather hard to distinguish, as an attitude, from the one that liberals mean when they refer, pejoratively, to conservatives as “triumphalistic.”

I do not disagree with Dowd’s desire for a higher unity embracing the various religions, but in my theological understanding this is an eschatological hope, not a practical policy capable of short-term, this-worldly realization. (In the meantime, we are called to love our neighbor, not to be our neighbor.) Strangely enough, then, in spite of all her dissents from and criticisms of the Catholic Church, I think she is investing too much importance in Catholicism, rather than too little; the old phrase for what she’s trying to do is “immanentize the eschaton.”

Her closing lines, too, are provocative: “This is America. We don’t hunt heresies here. We welcome them.” On this, she is right; our friend (and her NYT colleague) Ross Douthat has written a whole book about it! But her column was not about America; it was about Catholicism. If she insists that Catholicism embrace, uncritically, the values of “America,” doesn’t she run the risk of a rather too-close identification of church and nation? I am reminded of how angry some conservative Catholics were when the Vatican didn’t embrace the Iraq war; many a time did I hear condemnation of the “Euro-weenie” “axis of weasel” Vatican bureaucrats who were preventing the Pope from coming out on America’s side. (There was typically, in these criticisms, the unspoken assumption that the Pope could not have made a mistake as serious as dissenting from the Bush administration’s foreign policy unless he had been misled by nefarious advisers.) I think I know what Maureen’s opinion of those Iraq-related criticisms would be; I invite her to correct me if I’m wrong. But how are her strictures against the Vatican any different? Part of the system of religious pluralism is the recognition of the prophetic — contrarian — role of religion vis-à-vis the state. Not all prophets are right, but we shouldn’t discourage them, because some, at least, of them may be telling us what we need to hear.....

A Catholic Church that is like America. I love the USA , but I think I will pass.

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