Monday, January 19, 2015

ARE THE REPORTS OF THE DEATH OF CATHOLIC ORTHODOXY GREATLY EXAGGERATED OR JUST WISHFUL SPIN?

To read the article below from Salon, you would think that Orthodox Catholicism is dead. Sounds like the dictators of relativism are borrowing from dictator's play books of political dirty tricks by disseminating false information masked as truth.

How do you read the article below from Salon?

What do you think? Is Catholic Orthodoxy dead, dying or regrouping? Is the article below a lie, partial truth or all true?

The Pope Francis revolution: Inside the catastrophic collapse of the Catholic right

Once a major political force with the power to derail presidential campaigns, right-wing Catholicism is in decline



For years they struck fear in the hearts of progressive Catholic candidates. They could, and did, help destroy presidential campaigns. The media took them seriously, reporting on their pronouncements as representative of a significant bloc of conservative Catholics. They were not legion; but they were powerful. They were the Christian right’s smaller, more shadowy counterpart: the Catholic right wing.

But now, many of their leading spokesmen—and they are almost all men—have been discredited within a stunningly short period. Former lights of the Catholic right like Bill Donohue and Cardinal Raymond Burke have seen their clout dissipate almost overnight. How did this happen and what does it mean for progressive Catholic candidates eyeing 2016?

Many on the right were the victims of their own rhetoric run amok. Catholic League President Bill Donohue is being widely pilloried for asserting in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo attack that “Muslims are right to be angry,” and that Hebdo editor St├ęphane Charbonnier played a role in his own death. “Had he not been so narcissistic, he may still be alive,” Donohue said in a statement that horrified even fellow conservatives.

Donohue, the leading proponent of the “war on Christmas” and other ginned-up made-for-Fox-News controversies over supposedly anti-Catholic persecution, was the ringleader behind efforts to discredit John Kerry with people of faith during the 2004 presidential election. He attacked Mara Vanderslice, Kerry’s first director of religious outreach, as an “ultra-leftist who consorts with anti-Catholic bigots” because of her work with organizations like ACT UP, an AIDS advocacy group that criticized the Catholic Church’s ban on condoms.

The accusations spooked the Kerry campaign enough that they removed Vanderslice as head of outreach, even as Kerry, who is a committed Catholic, faltered in the polls with people of faith.Her replacement, minister Brenda Peterson, lasted all of eight days before Donohue got her fired for signing an amicus brief in support of removing “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance. The Kerry campaign, like many in the media, believed that Donohue spoke for a wide segment of conservative Catholics and kowtowed to his demands. In hindsight, Peterson said, they didn’t understand that he was “a partisan, a member of the religious right intent on discrediting people of faith who signed on with Kerry

Cardinal Burke was another key player in smearing Kerry with Catholics. Shortly after it became apparent that Kerry would be the Democratic nominee, Burke began a national frenzy over pro-choice Catholics and the sacrament of communion when he asserted that he wouldn’t give Kerry communion because of his support of abortion rights. Kerry never overcame the negative publicity of paparazzi clustered around his church on “wafer watch,” and pro-choice Catholic candidates from Colorado to New Jersey found themselves under attack by culture warrior bishops following Burke’s lead.

But Burke was recently demoted by Pope Francis from his choice spot on the Vatican’s high court, basically put out to pasture as patron of a Vatican charity. And he became a laughingstock earlier this month when he claimed that an overly “feminized” church was responsible for everything from the shortage of alter boys to priests sexually abusing children.

Austin Ruse, head of the Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute (C-FAM), has similarly been discredited. Ruse is the ringleader of efforts at the UN block funding and support for family planning and women’s rights programs. He organized a bloc of conservative NGOs and countries to stall reproductive health initiatives in the name of thwarting “radical feminists.” Like Donohue, Ruse specialized in over-the-top rhetoric that backed “pro-family” Republicans. In 2001, he bragged about joking with a priest on the floor of the UN about taking out Hillary Clinton, “and not on a date.”
But his organization, which was recently declared a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center for its anti-LGBT rhetoric, didn’t begin to lose widespread support until he asserted earlier this year that “the hard left, human-hating people that run modern universities” should “all be taken out and shot.”

This past December, meanwhile, New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan, a favorite of the Catholic right himself, cut ties with longtime head of Priests for Life Frank Pavone for failing to come clean about the organization’s finances. Pavone has been on the rocks with the hierarchy for years, functioning outside the normal bounds of the priesthood as a sort of freelance anti-abortion crusader. But he was useful to the right-wing elements of the U.S. bishops’ conference in that he full-throatily trumpeted the message that Catholics couldn’t vote for pro-choice candidates in ways that the conference itself couldn’t, helping to solidify the bishops’ tacit alliance with the Republican Party. Priests for Life ran a $1 million “Campaign for Life” during the 2000 elections with full-page ads in the New York Times calling pro-choice Catholics a “scandal to the church,” and Pavone recently compared the support of abortion rights to supporting terrorism.

After years of demagoguery, why are these stalwarts of the Catholic right suddenly being tripped up by their own words? According to Jon O’Brien, president of Catholics for Choice, which has researched and reported extensively on the Catholic right, the answer is simple: Pope Francis. “The Catholic right found great succor—if not an outright endorsement—when Benedict was pope,” says O’Brien. “It was good times for the Catholic League and C-FAM and those who wanted a leaner and mean church. Pope Francis is no left-wing revolutionary, but he has let it be known that he doesn’t like a mean church. The leadership is no longer giving them cover.”

And politically savvy bishops like Dolan, who has noticeably softened his conservative rhetoric, are distancing themselves from loose canons like Pavone who might damage them with Rome. At the same time, right-wing Catholics amped up their rhetoric to the point where even their follow conservatives are uncomfortable. “If you let extremism, particularly religious extremism, go where it goes, eventually it walks itself off a cliff,” says O’Brien. “The rhetoric of violence embraced by the right got them on Fox and even the mainstream media was seduced for a while, but eventually they undid themselves because they are not representative of mainstream spirituality. Now, even people who are legitimately conservative want to distance themselves from people like Donohue and Ruse.”

What does this means for potential Democratic Catholic candidates for 2016 like Vice President Joe Biden or former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley? For one, they will have more latitude now that they don’t have to worry about the right bird-dogging their every word on social issues and the media taking their critiques seriously. Even non-Catholic Barack Obama had to field an extensive Catholic outreach effort to avoid being pigeonholed by the right as anti-Catholic for his pro-choice stance.

At the same time, Pope Francis has increased the church’s emphasis on social justice issues and its critique of capitalism, which threatens to drive a wedge between the GOP and Catholics. That means Republican Catholics like former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie can no longer assume that their anti-abortion stance will mean photo-ops and not-so-subtle nods from Catholic bishops, like it did for George W. Bush. Also gone is the illusion that the support of far-right groups like the Catholic League or Priests for Life translates into support from Catholic voters. “The right wing will come back around. It always does,” says O’Brien. “But for now, they are out of vogue.”


23 comments:

Chris Rawlings said...

Only at a place like Salon.com does this even seem plausible.

Mike said...

This caught my eye: "... Kerry, who is a committed Catholic."

I have no idea what's in John Kerry's heart, much less the state of his soul. I'd like to think his positions are the results of muddled thinking and poor catechesis, rather than political opportunism or (worse yet) being truly pro-abortion. In the end - and we'll all get to that end someday - it will be between him and the Lord.

On the other hand, "by their fruits you shall know them" (Matt 7:16), and the fruits of Kerry, who has a 100% NARAL rating, make it hard to think of him as "a committed Catholic." Priests and bishops who give Kerry, Nancy Pelosi, etc. a pass only sow confusion among the faithful.

As for the basic premise of the article:

The fact that Bill Donohue and others are sometimes intemperate in what they say does not mean their core arguments are wrong or irrelevant. For instance, while I cringed at Donohue's quotes with respect to Charlie Hebdo, it's because he did not make clear the distinction between how one may act and how one ought to act. He seemed to imply that the cartoonists "had it coming," but in any decent society, while they would be mocked and shunned, they wouldn't be killed. I note that Donohue's remarks differ little from those of Pope Francis; I believe some unfortunate word choices in the heat of the moment distorted what both were saying.

The egregious slaps at Cardinal Burke are (a) infantile, (b) pathetic, and (c) par for the course in Salon.

Paul said...

The Truth is still the Truth no matter what Salon publishes. Truth does not die.

We know how it all ends.

Gene said...

So, if you believe the articles of the Creed and Catholic doctrine you are right wing…these people are idiots. There was, and is, absolutely nothing wrong with burning people like this. It may be against civil law, but look where civil law has gotten us. Sheesh!

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

There is very good reason not to ignore the civil law.

In "A Man for All Seasons," Thomas More had a very wise lesson for his son-in-law who advocated ignoring the law:

ROPER: So now you'd give the Devil benefit of law!

MORE: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?

ROPER: I'd cut down every law in England to do that!

MORE: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you — where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country's planted thick with laws from coast to coast — man's laws, not God's — and if you cut them down — and you're just the man to do it — d'you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake.

Paul said...

Fr. Kavanaugh,

Indeed, the path one cuts may lead straight to Hell. Choose one's path carefully, wisely and humbly.

Gene said...

Kavanaugh, Your progressivist buddy, Anon 2, beat you to that quote a few days ago. Besides, More was wrong. The Devil is, by definition, anti-law, a liar, and thoroughly evil. He is a Deceiver and so will always use the law to bring discord, confusion, and conflict. The very concept of applying law to the Devil is a contradiction in terms. You cannot negotiate with evil. Your Rationalism is showing.

Jusadbellum said...

Personnel is policy.

10 years from now and the LCWR ceases to exist and most of the current cardinals and archbishops and msgrs and old pastors will have retired leaving the Church in the hands of the younger clergy and religious who are JP2 and B16 Catholics.

10 years from now in the USA, most of the people actually in the pews with kids in Catholic schools will be Hispanic or traditional Catholics who still believe in having kids.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Gene - I'll stand with More's rational, moderate approach against your hyperbolic, violence-at-all costs approach any day.
And I'll do that because it is the Catholic approach.

When you and others promote violence in God's name, you cross the line to join forces with the radical Islamic terrorists, the Timothy McVeighs, the Scott Roeders, and the Paul Jennings Hills.

And you miss entirely the point of More's dressing down of his son-in-law. He wasn't interested in protecting the Devil, but in the protection the law provided him (More) and others.

George said...

God, through the laws and structure He embedded in the physical Universe, thereby brought all into existence and gave order to all things that exist. His Divine laws were put in place to bring order and harmony to the life of man, if man would only follow them. Man's laws, as imperfect as they be, nevertheless owe their existence in an imperfect way to God, and when they are not unjust, are instituted and put in place to bring order and harmony to society. Thomas Moore would oppose the laws allowing abortion and same-sex marriage every bit as much as he opposed Henry VIII as Head of the Church of England and Henry's elicit marriage to Anne Boleyn. In the end, even at the price of his very life, he deferred to God's law over man's.


Bee said...

Fr. McDonald asked: "How do you read the article below from Salon?

What do you think? Is Catholic Orthodoxy dead, dying or regrouping? Is the article below a lie, partial truth or all true?"

Catholic Orthodoxy is about as dead as the Progressive Movement was dead during the Pontificates of John Paul II and Benedict XVI. The media always does this. This is the kind of article that comes out when one party political party retakes the White House or Congress. They are writing about the Church as if the political pendulum has swung again.

I usually ignore such articles. No doubt these political intrigues happen, and they do affect those of us in the pews to some degree. I don't mean to sound holier than thou, but ultimately my goal is to follow God and get to heaven. The Church teaches me how I might do that. So, to me, all else is background noise.

Gene said...

Kavanaugh, it is not "violence at all costs" (speaking of hyperbole). It is fighting for the Faith, whether physically or otherwise. I have never heard you defend the faith on this blog, only yammer some moderate progressivist sop. You could not inspire a hog to get muddy.

Cletus Ordo said...

Bee is correct. Neither side of the debate is ever going to go away, at least not entirely.

The conventional wisdom might suggest that during a period of progressivist ascendancy, the "conservative" (not sure I agree with that term) clergy ordained during the pontificates of John Paul II and Benedict XVI, would be making room for the a new "liberal" (again, not sure I agree, but there is a dearth of terms with which to define the papacies) clergy inspired by pope Francis.

But the conventional wisdom conflicts with a different reality. Liberal popes and liberal church policies do not inspire vocations. They kill them.

I suspect there will always be a progressivist or liberal undercurrent in the Church. However, I think the norm for the Church will always be orthodoxy and it will be stronger during some pontificates than others. As for this pontificate, it's still too confusing to tell.

Anonymous said...

You guys do know that A Man For All Seasons is fictional, right?

Fr. Mi8chael J. Kavanaugh said...

Gene - I defend the faith against your errors all the time.

It is the Catholic faith that non-combatants cannot be targeted in war. You call for the carpet bombing of Mecca and Medina and other Islamic cities.

Now, you advocate ignoring civil law because you think "people like this" should be burned at the stake. That is not the Catholic faith, so, again, I defend it against the errors you post here.

It is the Catholic faith that the Pope is owed obedience and fidelity. You say, and I quote, "I would not follow the pope except out of curiosity."

It is the Catholic faith that Bishops are the successors of the Apostles and the teachers of faith. You call the Bishops, collectively, communists.

It is the Catholic faith that all people are to be treated with respect. You call the President the "HNIC", you call African-Americans a "feral minority," you refer to Black women "jukin' and jivin' down the aisle.

Yes, I defend the faith regularly.

Gene said...

So, Kavanaugh, let's see, yeah…it was you who refuses to confess his belief in the Real presence and the bodily resurrection of Jesus. So, which is worse…my polemical and sometimes hyperbolic comments or your unbelief?

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Gene - As you and others know, I have stated that I believe all that the Church teaches to be revealed by God.

You, on the other hand, reject the Church's teaching on the sanctity of innocent life, you reject the fidelity and obedience due to the Vicar of Christ, you reject the authority of the Bishops to teach the faith, and you resort to vulgar and racist name calling toward African Americans.

That's worse.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Gene - And I did not "refuse to confess" my belief in anything.

I said I wasn't going to allow those with no competence, including you, to judge my faith.

And even if I did answer, it would not change your opinion of me one iota since your mind's made up. And that doesn't bother me at all.

Gene said...

Remember, Kavanaugh, it was not me that asked you the question…it was another blogger. You said you refused to answer because it was a "trap"…remember.
I am certainly in no position to "judge" your faith, but I can add 2+2. Regarding competence, I have forgotten more Biblical theology and NT Christology than you ever learned. No, my opinion of you will not change one jot or tittle until I see you when the sheep are separated from the goats...

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Gene - This is another area of Catholic belief and practice that you seem not to accept. (That, or you never learned it in the first place.) It is the Diocesan Bishop who is competent to judge the suitability of the priests of his diocese.

In this regard, competence is not about what one learned in seminary, especially Protestant seminary. The Bishop's competence comes to him as a charism of his office - it is granted to him by his ordination and appointment as Bishop of the Diocese of Savannah.

You can add 2+2, but you are not competent to pass judgment on priests who minister in this diocese, or any diocese for that matter.

We know what you think of those bishops who do not share your peculiar views. You see them as communists, as incompetents, as "enemies of the Church." In fact, they're none of the above. But since you're operating in your own self-created parallel Catholic universe, you will continue in your errors.

And I am sorry to hear you are having such problems with your memory. Maybe you should see a doctor. A competent one, of course.

Gene said...

Kavanaugh, I told you before, I am not passing judgement on you, merely forming an opinion based upon your own statements. Your problem is obviously reading comprehension.

Anonymous 2 said...

Gene (at 5:00 p.m. yesterday):

Despite the inevitable and apparently irresistible taunting (“progressivist buddy”), the fact that Father Kavanaugh and I have quoted the same passage from “A Man for All Seasons” within a few weeks of each other just goes to prove the truth of the old adage that “great minds think alike.” =)

Anon (at 8:42 a.m. today):

To be sure “A Man for All Season” is a fictionalized portrayal of More, albeit one based on historical fact. However, that does not detract from whatever wisdom is contained in the quoted passage.

And so to the question: Who, or what, is the Devil in the quoted passage?

George (at 8:04 p.m. yesterday):

I agree that the historical Thomas More would oppose laws permitting abortion and same sex marriage if alive today. The historical More may also have been responsible the burning of heretics. But More was a creature of his times, as we are of ours. And so the question for us is: If More were alive today, how would he oppose those things? I strongly suspect he would do it through the law and in accordance with the law and legal procedures, and would do so for the sorts of reasons given by Bolt’s More. Of course, this does not deny that sometimes civil disobedience is necessary to oppose an unjust law, although the exercise of such disobedience is subject to appropriate constraints and conditions. Father Frank Pavone, mentioned in the article in the post, sums up the matter this way:

“Surveying these teachings briefly, we find that the Church first of all calls us to do everything we can within the law to correct injustices. That is why we must be politically active and fully utilize our democratic system to change laws that fall short of the very purpose of law.

Secondly, when circumstances justify acting outside the law, we are never justified in committing acts of violence or otherwise violating human rights. Moreover, in judging whether circumstances for civil disobedience prevail, we have to exercise the virtue of prudence and always seek the guidance of others so that we do not rely solely on our own judgment.

Finally, it is clear that civil disobedience is not in any way disrespect for the law, because unjust laws are not bad laws, but no laws at all. Defending human rights in peaceful ways outside "the law" is ultimately a form of defense of and respect for the law. Civil disobedience, in defense of human rights, is actually divine obedience.”

See http://www.catholic.com/magazine/articles/when-is-it-okay-to-disobey

George said...

Anon2
I admire Fr Frank Pavone who has done great work over many years for the Pro-Life cause through his "Priests for Life".
As far as what Thomas More would do if he lived today-he would not have to sacrifice his life rather than compromise his religious beliefs, but I have no doubt he would sacrifice his career rather than do so.