Friday, July 17, 2015


The only way that Vatican II could be implemented according to the progressive spirit of Vatican II hermeneutic of rupture is through the most authoritarian means possible. Please note that authoritative is positive, authoritarian is negative.

How else could the new and so-called, improved liturgy be implemented except through an authoritarian mentality that suppressed the 1962 Liturgy?

How else could religious life and the priesthood be changed except through a process of railroading priests and nuns, monks and sisters and brothers into accepting the synodal processes of their communities that felt an air of infallibility to their collective dumbing down of the priesthood and religious life according to a layified sensibility?

How else could confusion reign in the Church but through the exaltation of diversity which in fact was and is division?

Thus George Weigel has a great article on classical progressive authoritarianism which is making a come-back in the second decade of the 21st century:

Progressive Catholic Authoritarianism

An Enduring Problem by George Weigel

Back in the day (the late 1960s or thereabouts [making a come back in 2015]), Fr. Andrew Greeley—the model of an old-fashioned liberal Catholic—accused Fr. Daniel Berrigan (the beau ideal of post-conciliar Catholic radicalism) of harboring an authoritarian streak in his politics. By which Greeley meant that, were Berrigan and his radical friends to achieve power, their aggressive sense of moral superiority would lead them to put Greeley and his liberal friends in jail. It was classic Greeley hyperbole, but like some of Andy’s polemics, there was a grain of truth in it.

The Sixties Catholic radicalism that shaped what is now self-styled “progressive” Catholicism did have a pronounced authoritarian streak in it, despite its disdain for traditional forms of authority (including Church authority). So as old-fashioned Catholic liberalism morphed into today’s “progressive” Catholicism, forms of authoritarian bullying, shaming, and exclusion that would have appalled 1950s Catholic liberals—who knew what it meant to be stung by the lash of conservative clerical authoritarianism—made their way into the kitbag of contemporary progressive Catholicism. There they remain, an offense against the openness, tolerance, and commitment to “dialogue” for which progressive Catholicism habitually pats itself on the back.

The most obvious example of this involves Catholic higher education in the United States. The anti-Modernist denunciations of the early twentieth century Sodalitium Pianum damaged reputations and destroyed careers in an attempt to enforce a narrow form of Catholic intellectual life; so did the below-the-belt machinations that followed the 1950 encyclical Humani Generis. Both of these episodes are now widely and rightly acknowledged as disgraceful violations of evangelical freedom. But hasn’t something similar been happening on Catholic campuses in recent decades, now that progressive Catholics (who claim to have learned the lessons of twentieth-century ecclesial authoritarianism) have the whip hand?

For example: It is widely known that it would be impossible for a young scholar, no matter how talented, to get a tenure-track position in the theology department of certain prestigious Catholic universities, if he or she had, during the course of their doctoral work, or in their early teaching and publishing, promoted Humanae Vitae as both true and prophetic. Or had defended John Paul II’s declaration in Ordinatio Sacerdotalis that the Church has no authority to admit women to the ministerial priesthood. Or had written in support of the Catechism’s teaching that homosexual inclinations are a sign of spiritual disturbance. Or had signed any of the recent declarations in defense of marriage classically understood. 

Precisely the kind of academic closed shop that old-fashioned liberals deplored after Humani Generis is now being unblushingly enforced by progressive Catholics at Fordham, Boston College, Georgetown, Seattle University, and on many other campuses—and, as in the past, Catholic intellectual life is being crippled when it isn’t being reduced to incoherence.

Then there is the Catholic blogosphere. Authoritarian bullying and shaming are certainly not a monopoly of progressive Catholic blog-post writers; there are plenty of ignorant, ill-informed, graceless, and narrow-minded folk on the other end of the spectrum. But those boys and girls don’t regularly congratulate themselves on their openness and tolerance of diversity. That the progressive Catholic blogosphere does so is almost as bad as its penchant for misrepresentation and calumny.

I’ve cited it before, but it’s so prescient that it’s worth citing again. Thomas Merton, who was no one’s idea of a traditional or conservative Catholic, was nonetheless attacked by the Catholic left of his day for alleged offenses against the orthodoxies of radicalism. His response, in one of his charming “nonsense letters” to his friend and fellow-poet, Robert Lax, has a certain prophetic ring to it, read at a distance of forty-eight years:
I am truly spry and full of fun but am pursued by the vilifications of progressed Catholics. Mark my word man there is no uglier species on the face of the earth than progressed Catholics, mean, frivol, ungainly, inarticulate, venomous, and bursting at the seams with progress into the secular cities and Teilhardian subways. The Ottavianis was bad but these are infinitely worse. You wait and see.
Progressive Catholic authoritarianism is, one might say, an enduring problem.
George Weigel is Distinguished Senior Fellow of the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C.


JusadBellum said...

I would humbly submit that "progressive Catholics" are almost co-terminous with 'boomer' Catholics. They are 50 and up and have an impaired sense of both humor and history.

They are the heroes of the world in their vain eyes and can't conceive of someone younger than themselves laughing in their faces. Because they are the youth of the future, they are the saviors, they are the ones they've been waiting for.

I've been in this Boomer generation's shadow my entire life and I'm not impressed with either their erudition or claims of moral perfection. Perhaps it's my Gen. X upbringing or some probable defect in my character but the older I get the less and less respect I have for my elders and the more pressure I feel to knock them off their high horses before they meet their Maker.

See, they were heroic and successful in the revolution of their youth, knocking over elders who held them in awe and easy was their victory that they began to confuse any and all disruption for growth and progress - not realizing that much is just decay and disintegration.

I think what's going to happen is two fold. One, many younger Catholics will simply ignore their offices and inputed institutional authority and outflank them via devotions, private groups, and non-institutional settings for evangelization, education, and edification. So let them rule the schools....there will be fewer and fewer Catholic youth sent to them to care for. Two, Gen. X people will begin to call them out in public and embarrass them before their peers in ingenious and sarcastic ways that can't be easily beaten back by force or threat of punishment without committing the only mortal sin left: being mean.

rcg said...

The axes were wielded by Bolshevik converts.

Anonymous said... are mean.

Django said...

The iron-fisted authoritarianism reveals itself when the Tridentine Liturgy is requested in the average Novus Ordo parish. The same people who preach tolerance are noticeably and unequivocally intolerant.

I don't expect it to get better any time soon.

Let's sing two more verses of Kumbaya: "Someone's begging Lord" and "Someones' denying Lord."

Rood Screen said...


Well said. The revolutionary clergy, religious and laymen who put the doctrines and devotions of Holy Mother Church beneath the guillotine are in no position to claim any sort of sapient authority over us today. They rejected the spiritual wisdom and ways of their fathers, leaving these bastard sons of the Sixties with nothing more to offer us than some groovy catch phrases and lava lamps.

George said...


" I would humbly submit that "progressive Catholics" are almost co-terminous with 'boomer' Catholics"

>For a large percentage true. I would not paint with too broad a brush however.

"See, they were heroic and successful in the revolution of their youth, knocking over elders who held them in awe and reverence.."

>Uh, Jusad, I don't believe in every case they were held in awe and reverence by their elders. I know in the South that was generally not true(at least as far as the "progressives"). In some cases( way too many?) what they were up to and about was not taken seriously enough as to the damage it would cause...

"Two, Gen. X people will begin to call them out in public and embarrass them before their peers in ingenious and sarcastic ways"

>Let's not succumb to uncharitableness, although I can understand your frustration. A little prayer an sacrifice now and then for their conversion would be in order.

Anonymous 2 said...

I have learned much from my psychotherapist wife, including the insight about “different content, same process.” This insight seems very applicable in the present context.

I see application of the same insight in higher education. To take but one example, here I am sometimes misunderstood and criticized for suggesting the need to cultivate empathy for same sex couples and their desire to marry. There I am sometimes misunderstood and criticized (albeit far more mildly than here because people know me to be of good intention) for suggesting the need to cultivate empathy for religious opponents to same sex marriage (similarly, last year I encountered negativity when teaching Humane Vitae to a class, although I did not encounter it this year). Of course, I realize that some voices on the “religious right” are far less charitable than the Catholic voice, so I do understand some of this reaction. But this sort of mutual intolerance clearly impedes, and is a major challenge facing, attempts at promoting dialogue and mutual understanding

Anonymous 2 said...

Typo alert – Humanae vitae of course.

Jusadbellum said...

I'm pretty confident I can grasp the feelings of a gay man who seeks to find joy in sodomy with his boyfriend more than he can understand my feelings as a straight man whose profile is such that men like me are blamed for all the world's evils.

As C.S. Lewis was wont to say, the saint understands evil more than the sinner who doesn't understand evil or goodness.... to know the German Army the best you turn to the ones who defeated them in battle, not the ones who surrendered at the first shot.

Those of us who resist our dominant vices regularly and confess them when we fail know sin in general far more intimately than those who declare themselves to be entirely innocent of any sin whatsoever.

I have both progressive and conservative friends and relatives. The more ideologically pure the progressives are (and thus the more they claim intellectual and moral superiority) the less capable of holding their own in an actual argument using syllogisms and point/counter-point before attempting to nuke the whole discussion via the ad hominem curse word/call you a nasty name card comes out. This, despite their claims to be standing on the untouchable high-ground.

It would seem to me then that they are unfamiliar with and not used to having their truth claims questioned. Indeed they're largely unprepared to actually defend the dogmas they implicitly accept all while questioning our dogmas and lampooning the very idea of 'dogma'. The high emotion swiftly ends up in a place of threats to life and livelihood and a demand for some sort of governmental (i.e. legalized mob) action to silence dissent (all while decrying the Inquisition or Crusades of course).

Person A: "As per the CDC, oral and anal sodomy are both unhealthy and, as a consequence of objectively being unhealthy, also immoral to freely choose. It would be better for a person to express their affective or erotic attraction in a safer fashion".

Gay Person B: "ohmygod, you are such a Bible thumping judgmental H8ER! I FEEL your rejection of my true self is tantamount to violence and thus you are a bully to be scorned, fired from job and hounded into some closet somewhere!!!!"

Objective 3rd party observer will note: Person A was not emotional, committed no act of physical or verbal violence and didn't invoke the Bible. He merely spoke something that was disagreeable to Person B. Not liking what you hear is not the same thing as being assaulted physically. To not know the difference is to show an inability to think clearly and thus to give positive evidence of a mental disorder.

Time and time again those who preen and pride themselves with being "progressive" will claim the intellectual and moral high ground in any given topic. To disagree with their assessment about reality in the blandest of tones and terms, is an intolerable act they react to with great emotion and anger.... no matter the topic.

Thus, some non-Progressive knows them better than they know themselves and knows oneself which is beyond their comprehension being that they're wrapped up in non-factual ideology, fantasy, and their subjective feelings.

It could be about gay marriage or the minimum wage. About increasing illegal immigration or more affirmative action. Pick the controversy and invariably the person claiming to be "progressive" will ultimately become emotionally unglued, attack their opponent in emotion-laden language, and call for some sort of punishment meted out against their person and livelihood for daring to disagree.

Because they are just not used to be disagreed with. It thus strikes me that their elders didn't disagree with them much but probably just rolled over and let them seize the socio-cultural positions of power.