Skip to comments.An American Catholic, Part II: Catholics in Name Only
Posted on 04/03/2002 3:53:12 PM PST by NYer
|An American Catholic, Part II: Catholics in Name Only|
|April 3, 2002|
There are times when I think I know how Rip Van Winkle must have felt having slept for 20 years. After a 16-year absence I returned to the Catholic Church in early 2000. I expected some changes, but I had no idea how much had changed in the Catholic Church I left in 1984.
What I discovered was that in many dioceses, the Roman Catholic Church had become the American Catholic Church. That Church differs significantly from what the Vatican and John Paul II define as Catholic Doctrine.
Additionally, scripture seems to be a football that Catholic intellectuals deconstruct as fast as they can think of ways to do it. This is true especially in "Catholic" universities.
Like their secular counterparts, most "Catholic" universities, with a few exceptions, have gone off the deconstructionist and modernist deep end. Steeped in political correctness, the new faith of identity politics and social and spiritual relativism of the larger society has taken hold.
The recent revelations about pedophilia or pederasty by a SMALL number of Catholic priests in the United States has a lot to do with what has happened to the American Catholic Church and to our culture as a whole.
First, it is important to note that a majority of the victims of predator priests were teenage boys. That makes it pederasty, which is by and large a homosexual perversion of their sexuality.
In any event, the problems the Church is experiencing regarding molestation are in no small part due to the acceptance of homosexuality as a lifestyle choice, or a mental and physical condition that can't be helped.
American society its elite, anyway has accepted homosexuality as "normal." The question becomes why can't the Catholic Church also do that?
The Church and Homosexuality
The Church cannot and should not accept homosexuality as normal because it has always recognized it as a grave immorality, because of scripture and because of experience. It has to do with supporting the family as a cornerstone of civilization as well as about not promoting sin.
You can choose to believe it or not. However, if you follow the teachings of the Church and want to call yourself Roman Catholic, you pay attention to the commander in chief and accept it as part of the teaching on doctrine.
Nowhere does the Church call for persecution or cruelty toward homosexuals or anyone else for that matter. But neither does the Church say that the homosexual act is not a sin, i.e., a "grave matter."
But in fact, on a scale of 1 to 10, abortion and euthanasia are far worse "grave matters" for many Catholics.
Sin, mortal and venial, disappeared in the '60s and was replaced by psychological pathology. A new sinless American and European Catholic Church evolved.
As a consequence, in dozens of seminaries and in the priesthood itself, rules and standards were thrown out, much as they were in the rest of American and European society. Meanwhile, orders like the Jesuits have found themselves home to significant numbers of homosexual priests, many of whom have died in recent years from the ravages of AIDS.
In their book "Passionate Uncertainty: Inside the American Jesuits," Peter McDonough and Eugene C. Bianchi chronicle the devastating changes in a religious order that used to be considered the premier defender of Catholic orthodoxy.
No more. The Jesuits in particular have allowed significant numbers of homosexuals to join, while experiencing a subsequent loss of heterosexuals during the '60s "sexual revolution."
As critic of all things Catholic, former Jesuit seminarian Gary Wills states in his review of the McDonough and Bianchi book, "Membership in the Society of Jesus in the United States peaked in 1965, at 8,393 men. By 2000 it had been cut by more than half, falling to 3,635. The number of aspirant priests in all Catholic seminaries (mainly diocesan) between 1966 and 1993 dropped by 85 percent."
As Wills and the authors admit, "[there] is a general agreement among present and former Jesuits that a gay subculture flourishes in the Society. Outsiders became aware of this subculture in 2000, when it was reported that Jesuits by the dozens were suffering from or dying of AIDS."
The European Connection
Before, during and after Vatican II, certain quarters in the Church accepted the relativism and attacks on Catholic Doctrine by Fr. Hans Kung and Carl Rahner and other European theologians. They in turn shaped American theologians. Like so many sheep to the slaughter, American theologians took deconstruction, modernism, collectivism and moral relativism as their own vision.
Meanwhile, they rationalized all this by opting to concentrate on Christ's humanity at the expense of His Divinity. This gave the social gospel much more importance.
They switched things around: Christ was now of this world and of heaven maybe just a little. In so doing, the pronouncements and teachings from Rome became just another casualty of the corruption of theology.
Europe has a way of producing extremes of one sort or another. Maybe that is why our ancestors left. I have never figured out why we pay them so much attention they are usually wrong and drag us down because of it. From Hegel to Marx to Rahner and Kung down, down, down.
In any event, intellectuals inside and outside the Church felt permission to make use of their radicalism. Most American institutions were not spared the Hegelian and Marxist orientation. Radicalism became acceptable; meanwhile, authority and discernment went to hell in a handbasket.
In order to accomplish utopian collectivist ends, Western civilization and its authority in general were attacked at all levels. In America the excuse may have been the Vietnam War, civil rights, helping the poor with the disastrous "War on Poverty," or modernizing the Catholic Church.
However, what occurred was the destruction of positive and constructive avenues enhancing individual freedom, increasing prosperity and faith, and the healthy observation of the laws of God and man.
Self-discipline and self-control and faith were deep-sixed, replaced by the acceptance of our victim status as we waited for fulfillment from government programs, materialism, psychology and pop culture.
The all-out assault on authority of the Church and Western civilization in this era, along with the loss of self-discipline and self-control, led to the subsequent increase in the power of the state.
After the '60s, when authority in America and in Europe caved to the new intellectual barbarians, the proponents of the philosophy of collectivism and Marxism filled the gap. The Catholic Church in America and Europe did not escape that destiny.
Religion, environmentalism, feminism, the civil rights movement,Vatican II were all overwhelmed as the barbarians crossed the Tiber and no one was there to stop them. What could have been positive trends in religion and society, trends which created more freedom and good living, instead became a cacophony of dissipation and dissolution and collectivism.
We gave up Mozart, Cole Porter, Aaron Copeland, and Rodgers and Hammerstein for moral chaos, societal dissonance, Britney Spears, Snoop Doggy Dogg, human rights for animals and trees, and sex with anything that moves, whether it be animal, vegetable or mineral.
Ever on the defensive, the American Catholic Church just gave in and called absolutely every goofy unworkable collectivist and leftist idea the social gospel in action.
Meanwhile, many trends destructive to the family and civilization were now called diversity or inclusivity. No one seems to notice how diversity and inclusivity are always carried to their most outrageous extremes.
Dung-covered depictions of the Virgin Mary are acceptable, but a religious masterpiece like the Ten Commandments is not welcome anywhere. In-your-face sexuality replaced modesty and ended the sensible idea to keep private things private.
From the '60s onward, rather than seeking the stars, Americans and the West chose to wander in an intellectual and philosophical garbage-filled desert. That particular wandering in the landfill wilderness has just about destroyed Western civilization, not to mention the American Catholic Church.
As for the American Church, for some reason it could not handle both the humanity of Christ and His Divinity. Large sections of all the Christian churches sold out for the former while continually denying the latter.
The Battle for the American Catholic Church
That is a title of a book written Msgr. George Kelly. Fr. Kelly is an experienced parish priest and university professor (St. John's University, New York). Msgr. Kelly started keeping track of the split taking place in the American Church in the late '70s.
In the late '70s, I was in the middle of raising kids and teaching Sunday School the "old" way, using the Bible and the catechism. I had no idea the American and European Catholic Church were being hijacked by the scribes, Pharisees and relativists (read worldly) of modern times.
They had not used Vatican II to simplify and modernize the Roman Catholic Church, they had used it to change the American and European Church beyond recognition.
In his book, written in 1979, Kelly stated that he had great hopes at the start of John Paul II's pontificate. Many at that time believed in the possibility of some kind of Pope-led "restoration" of orthodoxy in the American Catholic Church.
But as it has happened, Church "liberals" continued to define the terms and direct the Church in America in particular.
Just as political conservatives hope against hope a conservative president will appoint conservative judges, more often than not hopes are dashed. Unfortunately, the bishops appointed by John Paul II do not want to make waves or change direction of the Church any more than most judges appointed by conservative presidents are effective in changing the leftward drift of the U.S.
The bishops have meetings, pastorals on worldly concerns, liturgical experiments, 'consultations' and they still appoint far-out dissenters to key positions in universities, to various commissions and councils, men and women who defy what used to be called "Catholic teaching."
More often than not, the primary job of these "dissenters" is stifling conservatives or marginalizing them to "subculture" status.
In his book "The Battle for the American Catholic Church," Kelly argued that the main problem of the American Church was dissident theologians, priests and religious.
But in his new book, "Crisis of Authority," Msgr. Kelly states that the big problem actually is "the refusal of most bishops to be bishops, i.e., to guard the faith, rebuke those in error, to teach with the authority of Christ and, if necessary, to cut off heretics and schismatics from the body of the Church. The real problem is not theologians or errant priests but how the American Catholic Church is being governed."
In the '60s and '70s any kind of traditional authority was sent into hiding or marginalized, and the American Church was not spared that destiny. Columbia University professor Robert Nisbet wrote in "The Twilight of Authority" that authority has been undermined in modern times and, subsequently with it, the content of the value system on which it is exercised.
But the old authority, according to Nisbet, has been replaced by a "new despotism."
The worst problem is that not only social arrangements, authority and moral questions are being rearranged but also actual and fundamental doctrine including the Divinity of Christ, the Resurrection and miracles are being questioned and denied.
But also crucial and basic to Catholics is the questioning of the Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. When people in authority in the Catholic Church equivocate on these crucial tenets of faith, all the other stuff does not amount to a hill of beans.
A prime example of the "new Catholic" Church is the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, run by Cardinal Mahony. The brand new $162 million cathedral on Hill and Temple is a metaphor for excesses of all kinds in the American Church.
As a Catholic and a woman, I can understand "outreach" to troubled people, gays, abused women, drug addicts or anyone with a "problem." However, what I discovered on the website went beyond "outreach."
There was the acceptance and promotion of a lifestyle which the Orthodox Roman Catholic Church says is sinful. On an official website of the Archdiocese there is an entire web page devoted to nothing but an apologia for homosexuality. They call it being inclusive, but from the subheadings and essays it looked like homosexuality was just another way of life. No more sin involved at all.
The website is ALL about symbols, wearing ribbons, parties, get-togethers and how one can be a "committed homosexual" couple and still remain Catholic. Has anyone told the pope?
Never mind! I keep forgetting, these folks don't care what old JP II thinks on the matter. They are too busy being diverse, erecting the big tent and promoting error.
I would add, I would rather have a priest who was a chaste homosexual than a heterosexual priest who was screwing around. But the real problem here is not homosexuality or heterosexuality.
The real problem is the failure of American bishops and cardinals to recognize the chain of command which starts with their own commander in chief the pope in Rome. On issues of faith and morals, the commander in chief has the final word.
In terms an American can understand, it would be like a group of major generals in the Army deciding on their own NOT to go to Afghanistan.
What if Gen. Tommy Franks had said "NO! I am going to Zimbabwe instead. Saving Zimbabwe from Robert Mugabe is more important to me and to the United States than rousting al-Qaeda. In addition, I will replace the Code of Conduct and Rules of Engagement with my own set of rules and practices. Plus, if I have a choice of which command to follow, I will opt to pledge allegiance to the secretary general of the U.N."
In that case America would be run by a bunch of out-of-control warlords, accountable to no one except whomever they choose to give allegiance to. Without the authority of the commander in chief, whether you agree or not, chaos and confusion and loss for the entire society will be the eventual result.
You can be a major general and disagree with the commander in chief, but you cannot act consistently against the instructions set by the commander in chief and still wear the uniform. If you do, you are in rebellion. If you are in rebellion, the honorable thing would be to start your own country or religion and declare yourself so.
But in fact it is dishonest to claim the status, benefits and authority when you are in rebellion. Most certainly you do not hide behind the society or religion you purport to represent.
There are too many cardinals and bishops acting like warlords and not like soldiers in the Roman Catholic Church, in which they took vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.
A Pilgrim and a Stranger
When I returned to the Catholic Church, I was not looking for "community" or feel-good relativism. I was looking for a part of me that was missing, the spiritual part, the part that needs God. Certainly I was not looking for theological debates and controversy.
That all came about as I found out how modernism and Cafe Catholicism had seeped into my little parish in rural America. This was not a large city parish, where dippy notions can be expected, but in what I thought to be an essentially conservative backwater.
The first indication of how much "change" had impacted the Church were conversations I had with a sweet nun I will call Sister Ann. I was trying to teach Sister how to operate a computer and check her e-mail. As I went over to the convent every day, I sensed something important was going on with her.
Sister Ann had entered the convent in 1942. Her life had been spent mostly working with orphaned or foster children. At age 80 she was keeping house for a group of nuns who were stationed in our town. For two years Sister had been trying to get transferred out of the parish. Not because she was unhappy with the two priests or with the parishioners, but because of what she faced at the convent every day.
Five of the resident nuns were offering mass several times a week and Sister Ann couldn't take it anymore. These "gals," I hesitate to call them nuns, were not merely playing at being priestess, which is contrary to Catholic Doctrine, there was other weirdness as well.
Some were into neo-Eastern mysticism known as "labyrinth walking." Giving up on the old pieties like the Rosary and Benediction, "labyrinth walking" is a way of "centering" their spirituality. Minor goofiness, right?
Nuns in some orders they include teachers at universities are looking into the "goddess" aspects of God. They call "her" Sophia, or the feminine side of God.
Some nuns cannot stand that God is called the Father and Christ the Son. It upsets their center of balance and they don't think it's "fair."
The corker is "ecofeminism" you can guess what that is about. Green goofiness and gaia worship as one order in Florida nuns replaced a Holy Day with an Earth Day celebration at the Catholic school where they taught.
Sister Ann was also upset when the "gals" protested that the Knights of Columbus erected a small monument in memory of the children destroyed through abortion. The "gals" are the true believers in the "church of what's happening now."
Is it any wonder that Sister Ann couldn't take it anymore?. When Sister told me about the various shenanigans, it finally dawned on me. Whenever I had attended rosaries or Benediction or exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, only three of the eight nuns ever bothered to show up. The ones who did were all over 70.
Sister Ann said the new brand of "gals" thought Catholic pieties were "old hat." No Benediction, Rosary, Stations of the Cross or even biblical studies, just lots of rainbows and social concerns and whatever trend in society was the current cause du jour.
The priests and bishops know this stuff is going on but they are afraid to challenge it. After all, the nuns are painting houses for Habitat for Humanity and collecting toys for tots or running welfare programs, while sewing banners or learning "liturgical dance."
The priests and bishops are scared to death that they might be considered "out of step" or too judgmental if they ended this crap. Even though Vatican II was not supposed to include this baloney, no one has the guts to stop it.
Thus, it would seem that the Church's NCOs, the new brand of nuns, have interpreted Church doctrine as they see fit. By doing that, they are running things into the theological and spiritual ground.
Recently, Sister Ann got her wish. She left our parish and was accepted back at the Mother House where she began so many years ago. I will miss her. But even more I will miss nuns like her when they pass from the scene.
What we will be left with is more goofy gals, big into social concerns, hippy dippy aging new agers short on doctrine and long on trendy goofiness.
Father Larry One Small Saint
Before Sister Ann's travails, there was Father Larry. To know Father Larry is to love Father Larry. That is, unless you are so hardhearted or so blind to goodness that you don't notice the simplicity inherent in the saintly.
A couple of years ago, Father Larry noticed me sitting in back of the church while everyone else went to communion. I had been sitting there like a lump for three months trying to make the big decision.
As he stepped down from the altar that Wednesday after mass, he motioned to me and pointed to the little room that said "Confessions." You don't say no to Fr. Larry, and so I began in earnest my long-procrastinated return to the Church.
Over the next two years I marveled at the devotion of Fr. Larry and Fr. Paul, our pastor.
I learned that Fr. Larry had been arrested for praying at an abortion clinic in the Dakotas and spent a couple of weeks in jail for his efforts. Fr. Paul had spent 18-plus years as pastor on an Indian Reservation in the Dakotas.
To me, both of these men are as saintly as it gets.
Fr. Larry had never complained about his jail time. He would laugh about it and when the powers that be gave him a prison chaplaincy in our community he could claim some knowledge of the experience. But Fr. Larry ran afoul of the "new Catholic Church" and a wimpy bishop.
One summer he served as a replacement priest in several parishes in a five-county area. Father didn't mess around. He talked about sin, about chastity and how important it was, and about the evil of abortion.
Well, three priests and a few lay people complained to the bishop and to Father Larry's order of priests as well. No one wanted to hear about chastity, fornication, abortion or sin.
Needless to say, Father was on the next boat to Lower Slobovia. Last time I heard, they had him seeing a shrink and learning how to give homilies about love and butterflies while maintaining the mushy and lawless doctrine which includes diversity and big-tent American Catholicism.
You can do a lot of things in the American Catholic Church these days, but you don't talk about sex, homosexuality, adultery, fornication or abortion as a sin. As I said before, for the most part, sin has completely disappeared from American Catholicism.
What is far worse is that courage in the face of the world, the flesh and the devil has disappeared from the Church as well.
Catholics in Name Only
Who is to blame for all this? In America it is the hierarchy. With few exceptions, the Church hierarchy does not have the guts to challenge the half of the American Church that is Catholic in name only.
Like RINO Republicans, CINOs claim the name and status but have totally given up on principle. Neither do they follow doctrine OR the chain of command.
Cardinal Seper, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, in 1980 admitted that American bishops ignored the Vatican with impunity, that this schism began in Holland and spread to other countries.
Included in the critics of American bishops was one of the greatest Catholic thinkers of the 20th century.
Professor von Hildebrand stated the bishops "... make no use whatever of their authority when it comes to intervening against heretical theologians or priests, or against blasphemous performances of public worship. They either close their eyes and try, ostrich-style, to ignore the grievous abuses as well as appeals to their duty to intervene, or they fear to be attacked by the press or the mass media and defamed as reactionary, narrow-minded, or medieval. They fear men more than God."
A conservative pope has been the Bishop of Rome since 1978. He and the cardinals have bent over backward accommodating the relativist American and European Church. While the Vatican cranks out document after document informing everyone of the Church's position on various moral and spiritual issues, half the Church ignores it and the other half is confused.
For all the temporal and social outreach, the Church in America has failed in the spiritual. That is the real scandal. It is NOT those of us pointing it out.
What the American Catholic Church needs desperately are heroes willing to stand up even in the face of ecclesiastical blindness. They must be witness to the truth. The bishops should lead the way, but they don't. If they won't, can't or don't, then everyday saints and heroes must keep the faith even when that faith is forbidden and the truth is denied.
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Read more on this subject in related Hot Topics:
BIG TIME Orthodox RC BUMP!! We have prepared our kids for the Sacraments ourselves rather than have them be at the mercy of the feminist nun CCD Director! And we'll do the same with them for Confirmation. For the first year, our Assoc. Pastor teaches the teens and he is WONDERFUL, so Spirit filled, so the kids will do that year. But the second year is taught by the NEW feminist nun CCD Director, so we'll do that year ourselves. Then we'll take them down to their uncle's Parish in MS to be confirmed! He has a new Bishop who by all accounts is great!
makes me wonder how many of the boys who were abused/raped might have been infected as a result of the assaults...so sad...
This has been my point of view all along. Lazy, compromised bishops who are more concerned with their golf swing than they are with their prayer life or what's going on in their dioceses.
"There are too many cardinals and bishops acting like warlords and not like soldiers in the Roman Catholic Church, in which they took vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.
Those vows, I'm beginning to think, must have meant nothing to these enabling "network" bishops. I wish there was something in canon law regarding deliberate fraud in the taking of vows. I would dearly love to see these luxury-loving, debauched, crooked, amoral, criminal "bishops" out on the street with nothing but the clothes on their backs.
"The priests and bishops are scared to death that they might be considered "out of step" or too judgmental if they ended this crap. Even though Vatican II was not supposed to include this baloney, no one has the guts to stop it."
There is SO MUCH good stuff to discuss in this article, it's hard to know where to begin. I think I'll just let it go at this for now and see what comes up later.
There's another twist to this -- the refusal of priests to become bishops.
Around 1993, I had the opportunity to have a frank one-on-one discussion with a very well connected priest. At one point in the discussion I asked him why John Paul didn't appoint better bishops.
He replied that the Pope had a very difficult time of getting priests to take on the burden of being a bishop. Over 2/3 of the the priests offered the position refused the Pope's offer according to this priest.
I have no reason to doubt this good priest.
On balance this is a sympathetic article, but why the author chooses these names as representative of the lost, lamented voices of Christian culture is a mystery to me.
This rattled something in my memory (though not completely enough). Wasn't there a phrase "Nolo episcopare (sp?)," meaning "I do not want to be a bishop" that was used in the early church maybe? I don't recall the details or where I heard it, but the point was that those who want power should be disqualified from handling it. Power should be granted only to those who don't want it.
Maybe someone remembers more about this.
Perhaps GOOD priests don't want to be sucked into the good ol' boy network they see the bishops circulating in. We have a saying around here: If you see a priest wearing French cuffs, he's bucking for a promotion. Good priests know that if they become bishops, they lose touch with their people. It really is a hard decision to make.
As a qualifier, let me say; It just seems that the emphasis on youth has led to churches shaping their operations and teachings away from responsibility, strength in faith, and parental accountability in favor of "celebrations" and a view of God through rose-colored-glasses (read that as: joyfulness for the sake of joyfulness and not joyfulness through the teachings of Christ).
I'm using the story of Sr. Ann as a jumping off point for this question (trying to stay on subject...LOL!):
"Sister Ann was also upset when the "gals" protested that the Knights of Columbus erected a small monument in memory of the children destroyed through abortion. The "gals" are the true believers in the "church of what's happening now."
It's to the "church of what's happening now" that my question refers.
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