Monday, October 15, 2012

Thoughts On John Gehring's LA Times Times Article On Vatican II and Progressive Catholics

John Gehring  who is Catholic program director at Faith in Public Life gives us the privilege of this thoughts on Vatican II that some reason also injects a good bit of United States domestic politics. See Vatican II: Gone but not forgotten- Progressive nuns and other concerned Roman Catholics fight to keep the church's liberalism alive.

In his article he throws out this :

The Vatican's tone-deaf scolding of self-sacrificing nuns is just the latest sign that church leaders may be dragging Catholicism, known for social justice and intellectual rigor, into the reactionary arms of fundamentalist Christianity. On the same day the Vatican sought to rein in American nuns, it reached out to reconcile with the Society of St. Pius X, a traditionalist group founded by the late French Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre that broke with the church in the wake of Vatican II.

Well As the AP Stylebook notes:

fundamentalist: The word gained usage in an early 20th century fundamentalist-modernist controversy within Protestantism. In recent years, however, fundamentalist has to a large extent taken on pejorative connotations except when applied to groups that stress strict, literal interpretations of Scripture and separation from other Christians.

In general, do not use fundamentalist unless a group applies the word to itself.

He also says "And yet, puritanical Catholicism that fixates on policing sexual morality and claims to be the victim of a godless secular culture is unlikely to help the church flourish. Nearly 10% of U.S. adults are former Catholics, which makes them the third-largest U.S. "denomination"

Wow first "Fundamentalist" and now  "puritanical" to boot!!! I laughed when I read that because it made me recall something that Thomas McDonald wrote last week at  Cranky Old People Demand Church Reform . He sadi in part

Their complaints are the usual litany of tediousness: less pope, more sex. That’s really it. That’s what it all boils down to: children who don’t like being told what to do with their genitals by an adult. It’s not like they’re in a screaming hurry to rewrite our understanding of the dual nature of Christ in the incarnation, or dismantle the preferential option for the poor. They’re only attacking this make-believe boogeyman (“authority”) because it’s in the way of gettin’ biddy.

Somehow I don't think that was point of Vatican II.

He goes on

Now Pope Benedict XVI's doctrine office has cracked down on an organization called the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, which represents most U.S nuns. A scathing report from the Vatican in April blasted the group for "promoting radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith." It chided the nuns for largely focusing on social justice at the expense of speaking out against same-sex marriage and abortion. The Vatican appointed Seattle Archbishop J. Peter Sartain to oversee the conference.

He does not link the "scathing" report but I will and I will leave to you to determine how "scathing" it was. I also must say it's amazing how we are moved from the seamless garment that has been miused by many people to avoid abortion political problems to now just ejecting abortion and marriage from Catholic Social Teaching all together. Marriage and indeed abortion is viewed as SOCIAL JUSTICE ISSUE by the Church and Gehring's Vatican II of his imagination did not change that.

Digging more into this piece:

Vatican II met for three years beginning in 1962 and stirred groundbreaking changes: building ecumenical bridges, especially in Christian-Jewish relations; permitting Mass to be celebrated in local languages instead of only in Latin; and expansively defining the church as "the people of God." The council was guided by what John XXIII called aggiornamento, or "updating" — a profound change given the church's previous rejection of modernity and liberalism as heresies.

Pope Benedict , who was actually at Vatican II  has a good bit to say on aggiornamento last week. From Aggiornamento means renewing tradition, not breaking with it, Pope says

It does not mean reducing the faith, debasing it to the fashion of the times using the yardstick of what we like and what appeals to public opinion. Quite the contrary, just as the Council Fathers did, we must mould the 'today' in which we live to the measure of Christianity.

There is much more in his piece that appears to me to be very problematic. The Bishops can do no good it seems .

U.S. Catholics bishops make wonderful statements about the importance of unions, comprehensive immigration reform and the need to protect social safety nets now threatened by anti-government ideologues. In letters to Congress, they have described a budget proposal by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), a Catholic now vying for the vice presidency, as failing "a basic moral test."

But compared to the church's frequent public denunciations of "pro-choice" Democrats or its two-week Fortnight for Freedom campaign — launched with special Masses across the country in response to the Obama administration's contraception coverage requirements under healthcare reform — the bishops have put little institutional muscle behind challenging a GOP economic agenda that is anathema to Catholic social teaching.

Strangely this comes after he sort of gives a shout out to religious freedom earlier in the piece. However the HHS Mandate is a fight the Bishops and many other Protestants bodies did not want. While it's inconvenient to to Gerhring that Progressives have pushed this fight it still must be dealt with. This linkage of politics in a piece supposedly dealing with Vatican II makes me recall some words that Archbishop Chaput said last month. See 'We have no king but Caesar:' Some thoughts on Catholic faith and public life.

He said in part:

The way we lead our public lives needs to embody what the Catholic faith teaches -- not what our personalized edition of Christianity feels comfortable with, but the real thing; the full package; what the Church actually holds to be true. In other words, we need to be Catholics first and political creatures second.

The more we transfer our passion for Jesus Christ to some political messiah or party platform, the more bitter we feel toward his Church when she speaks against the idols we set up in our own hearts. There’s no more damning moment in all of Scripture than John 19:15: “We have no king but Caesar.” The only king Christians have is Jesus Christ. The obligation to seek and serve the truth belongs to each of us personally. The duty to love and help our neighbor belongs to each of us personally. We can’t ignore or delegate away these personal duties to anyone else or any government agency.

When I think what is best about "Progressive Catholicism I think of people like Blessed Dorothy Day. I see very little of attributes in this article.

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