Monday, January 25, 2021



My comments first. I was schooled in liberal Catholicism and about eight years into it, I became somewhat disaffected by it and the loss of Catholic identity that liberal Catholicism foments. Bishop Lessard who lived at the Cathedral when I arrived there in 1985 mentored me into a more mature Catholicism, a solid Catholicism of the post-Vatican II era. Bishop Lessard would be considered a progressive in his embrace of Vatican II, he was solid on what Vatican II taught but unfortunately bought into the meme of bishops of the 1970’s that the church could heal all kinds of aberrations and reintegrate aberrant people back into the full life of the Church. Psychology and spiritual direction would accomplish this miracle. It was a Utopian pipe dream that has caused untold tragedy and grief in the Church from victims of sexual abuse of priest supposedly healed of it through therapy, prayer and reintegration. Bishop Lessard was not alone in this ideology unfortunately but he was a part of it and for only one priest that I am aware of who has cause grief galore for so many but who now is mercifully dead and reaping his just reward.

But with that said, Ross Doubthat thinks liberalism is on the ascendancy in the Church at large, with President Biden who epitomizes the “spirit of Vatican II” Church of liberalism and Pope Francis who does also but with more nuance than Biden, thank God.

There are bishops, priests and laity, my age, young and older, who still want to recover the heady days of the 1970’s before Pope St. John Paul II. I am 67 years old. They seem to be having their day under Pope Francis. 

We know in the political realm of the USA liberalism is on the ascendancy among many young Americans who would be in the Bernie Sanders and Ocasia camps. 

But I am not sure of young Catholics who are informed in their faith. I live in a bit of a bubble in Richmond Hill but it seems to me that 20, 30 and 40 somethings in my parish long for tradition and stability and are not necessarily enamored with Pope Francis. But Richmond Hill is a bubble and a very conservative community. 

Where do you think young Catholics are today, especially those of college and graduate school age?

I copy this from the Deacon’s Bench which he copies from the New York Times:

The conservative Catholic columnist for The New York Times, Ross Doubthat has some thoughts on how the new president represents and defines a kind of liberal Catholicism — and what that means:

Many emergent forces are changing liberalism’s relationship to religion — wokeness, secularization, even paganism. But the new president personally embodies none of them. Instead he has elevated his own liberal Catholicism to the center of our national life.

Calling a form of religion “liberal” can mean two different things: On the one hand, a theological liberalism, which seeks an evolution in doctrine to adapt to modern needs; on the other, support for policies and parties of the center-left. In practice, though, the two tend to be conjoined: The American Catholic Church as an institution is caught between the two political coalitions, but most prominent Catholic Democrats are liberals in theology and politics alike.

But more than a set of ideas, liberal Catholicism is a culture, recognizable in its institutions and tropes, its iconography and allusions — to Pope John XXIII and Jesuit universities, to the “seamless garment” of Catholic teaching and the “spirit” of the Second Vatican Council, to the works of Thomas Merton and hymns like “On Eagle’s Wings” (which Biden quoted in his victory speech).

And, of course, invocations of Pope Francis. A decade ago it was a commonplace to regard liberal Catholicism as a tradition in decline. Its period of maximal influence, the late 1960s and 1970s, had been an era of institutional crisis for the church, which gave way to the conservative pontificates of John Paul II and Benedict XVI. Conservative Catholics felt that liberal ideas had been tried and failed, liberal Catholics felt that they had been suppressed.

But then Francis gave the liberal tendency new life, reopening controversies that conservatives assumed were closed and tilting the Vatican toward cooperation with the liberal establishment and away from associations with conservatism.

The papacy does not issue political endorsements, but there seems little doubt that many figures in Francis’ inner circle welcome a Biden presidency. When the American bishops’ statement on his inauguration included a stern critique of his position on abortion, there was apparent pushback from the Vatican and explicit pushback from the most Francis-aligned of the American cardinals. So the conservative Catholics who spent the election year arguing that Biden isn’t a Catholic in good standing find themselves (not for the first time) in tacit conflict with their pope.

…If you wanted to make a case for its prospects and potential influence, you would emphasize three distinctive liberal-Catholic qualities: an abiding institutionalism, in contrast to the pure dissolving individualism of so much American religion; an increasingly multiethnic character, which matches our increasingly diverse republic; and a fervent inclusivity, an anxiety that nobody should feel discriminated against or turned away.


Anonymous said...

We humans like to believe that everything important has occurred in our lifetimes, but Church history is a never-ending cycle of liberal ascendancy and conservative crackdowns, followed by liberal revival and conservative backlash. The American Catholic Church of a century ago was a church of immigrants and the social mission was central to its growth. As Catholic Americans grew more prosperous and middle-class after WW2, the Church became more conservative with them. The idea that a majority of white American Catholics would have supported a Donald Trump in 1920 or 1820 is unthinkable.

Tom Marcus said...

Frankly, I think the majority of young Catholics are utterly disengaged from the faith and such questions would be irrelevant to most of them.

There ARE committed young Catholics, but the real commitment isn't coming from the NewChurch/Vatican II/New Springtime division. It's coming from traditionally minded Catholics and home schooling.

What the majority of young Catholics think, one can't say for sure. What one CAN say is that at most parishes or churches that offer the EF, the majority of those in attendance are younger Catholics. And given all the insipid fluff fed to us by the Ape of the Church for the last 30 years, who could blame them for wanting tradition and stability>

Anonymous said...

The idea that every single post has to be diverted to political topics is unbearable.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Of course it was the abortion issue that attracted orthodox Catholics to Trump. Hilary Clinton would have been an absolute disaster. Biden is better than Clinton despite his pro-choice ideology.

But let’s talk about liturgy. Can a progressive Catholic like Biden embrace the liturgical view of Pope Benedict to include the EF Mass. Is that even possible? Is progressive Catholicism in the political sense and traditional worship mutually exclusive?

rcg said...

A key factor of liberal Catholicism is the idea that the Church is democratic. I think Fr James Martin tipped that hand when he wrote of outdated views of the Trinity on homosexuality. The Europeans, including the Vatican were silent. I think the US Government will press that concept through the civil rights path for abortion and homosexual marriage. They may even address female ordination. If President Biden lives longer than the Vegas oddsmakers predict, he may be pressed to make those moves.

Joel Cairo said...

Orthodox Catholics were attracted to Trump, who’s likely responsible for more abortions than all of our previous presidents (except possibly JFK) and once again, America has more abortions than when he took office. Studies show that race and resentment was the single largest factor driving the Trump voter, and that crosses religious lines. Also we’ll-educated Catholics were much more likely to vote for Biden. The abortion splinter vote is a myth created by Republican strategists and swallowed whole by useful idiots.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Joel, please stop lying. Are you Catholic? Your abortion meme, a far left talking point, has already been debunked on another post. Your lies remind me of Trump’s whoppers.

Joel Cairo said...

What meme are you talking about? Do you know what a meme is?

Miles Archer said...

Joel Cairo is the same anonymous who can't stop beating his dead horse about Trump.

What's especially silly is that Trump has been forced out of office and Joel and others of his ilk got their way. You'd think they'd be happy, but Trump lives rent-free in their heads and they remain sore winners.

But I'm sure--to quote him--he considers did he write it? A "we'll-educated Catholic"?

This guy isn't going away. He'll probably post about Trump and keep bleating and whining even if you were to post something about caramel popcorn.

Prescription: IGNORE.

Anonymous said...

Why does this ALWAYS devolve into party politics, Republican vs Democrat? I am absolutely sick of the rabid party politics on both sides, these folk worship their parties, and likely sports teams and sex symbols as well....PATHETIC....get a life...get a FAITH.

As for where the churches in the USA are headed, the aging progressives are dying off, they have successfully created a church with no meaning to the majority, and so folk are simply ceasing to attend since they can tell themselves "don't worry, be happy" as well as any pastor can, and they can skip paying to hear that tripe.

However, progressivism did not rise in a vacuum, but was a reaction to equally dead rote quickie Masses and otherwise no real meaning taught there, either, progressivism initially an attempt to feel something, ANYthing at a Mass then which was just as moribund as any progressive church today.

What has died in both cases is the spiritual life and experience of God. The one which survives will be the one to recover the basic fact that interior prayer is the engine room which powers all the rest, that our one purpose is union with God in love, and no other. The one which will grow is the one which can point people in how to know this God, truly love this God, and where they will then be able to properly serve this God, and to know true peace and contentment no matter what life throws their way.

This last point IS what people seek, that peace and contentment in this life and them knowing it flows seamlessly into the next. If whatever church cannot provide that basic reality of the Faith to seekers, it will wither away as does membership, no matter how friendly and social or regal and magnificent the worship style or language.

There is an old quip on testing knowledge of the kings of Israel, if they were good or evil for each name, and if one simply wrote evil for all of them, a very good grade was assured. Likewise for most churches, progressive or traditional, if one assumed them shallow, rote and lacking a true and informed spiritual life in the vast majority, one would be right at least 90% of the time.

Anonymous said...

"Trump's whoppers." This blog spent five years defending Trump's whoppers. Now the ship has sunk! LOL>

Anonymous said...

Joel Cairo,

You live in an alternate planet of reality. Trump supporters aren’t consumed by race, but Democrats are. They view every policy through the prism of race and reject Dr. King’s view that people should be judged by the content if their character, not the color of their skin.

Sam Spade said...

"There is no voter fraud"

"Every lawsuit was dismissed"

"You're all racists"

"Anything traditionally American is white supremacy"

"You're an extremist"

"Trump is a liar"

"Right-wing thugs are..."(fill in the blanks)

Father, I realize that this post had political overtones, but even when you DON'T post about something political, there are some troubled people who steer everything back to it. I'm with anonymous at 5:16. The whole "Republican v Democrat" thing is old, dying and smelling badly. Let's jettison the political stuff for at least a week--or a month? And when Joel Cairo/Anonymous or whomever comes on and steers us in the direction of his BS--just turn around and walk away. If they want to be miserable, great. We're under no obligation to join them.

Anonymous said...

Here are a few of Trump's whoppers that I have no problem with, because they are whoppers of truth:

Every nation has a right to their own sovereignty, including the United States.

Globalism is an attempt at corporate dictatorship in which wages stagnate or fall as cheap labor is attained by poor trade agreements and open borders.

The Chines Communist Party is not our friend nor the friend of its own people.

There is deep corruption in the careerist structure of the United States government and those who benefit from this corruption will destroy anyone who dares step in their way or challenge them. It is not exclusively Democrat or Republican.

The government is supposed to serve the citizens--not vice versa.

It is self-defeating and futile to enter into agreements and treaties in which the United States is held to one standard while everyone else gets away with ignoring the treaty.

Actually, Trump never said any of these things word for word. But anyone who watched his presidency and has an ounce of critical thinking capacity can figure out that this was what he was up against. You won't find anyone in the establishment in either party who is willing to take up the fight to correct these problems. The last few days of the new regime has proven so--a festival of self-destructive, corporate cronyism and mediocrity. So Joel can call me all the names he/she likes and rage on--it isn't changing anyone's mind. What IS already changing minds is the managed collapse that has just begun in D.C..

Anonymous said...

Let me know when this blog comment section anything but Democrats hating Republicans hating Democrats, and I might play here again. Heck, might even read comments again, or even blog articles. But, until then, our river's dirty and our feet are stained. Bonus notches.

Anonymous said...

If Catholic Liberalism is in decline, I haven't noticed it. The TLM is not offered in my region. In my region the Church is in rapid decline with a shortage of priests and dwindling parishioners. I do think the more traditional minded Catholics will outpace the liberals simply because the majority of Catholic schools are also either dwindling or shuttered. Future Catholics will be of the mindset that goes against the norms of society and seek out the Church. "Going against the norms of society" translates as society gets more liberal/progressive, counter culture is orthodoxy and traditionalism. To inject politics Biden type Catholics are a fraternity through schooling and life experience. My fear is that the Biden's will see the dwindling of their fraternity of Catholic Democrats, which once was a powerful lobby. In the fear of loosing their once powerful base, they will try and revive it through the political power they hold. That is what the new-traditionalists will be up against.

Anonymous said...

I have found that younger Catholics have either left the Church entirely or are taking a more minimalist, local approach to practicing their Faith. I don’t find them getting embroiled in magisterial matters or Church politics as we seem to do on this blog. Rather, their busy lives dictate a more practical approach with emphasis on their local Church meeting their spiritual needs.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I agree with Anonymous 11:21 AM. Most young people I know, family members, their friends, co-workers, if they were baptized as Catholics and raised as Catholics, have left the Church. It is not part of their lives and when it comes to moral teachings, they have made up their minds long ago on particular issues and the "teaching of the Church" does not play into it.Like most people who have responded, I know young Catholics, individuals and families, who go to the Traditional Mass, but they are in the minority.

Randall P. McMurphy said...

Most Catholics, old or young, are not obsessed with interior church design, which direction the priest is facing, debating church music or art, intramural church politics, English vs. Latin, etc. Amazing but true: This discussion group of elderly Catholic white men in no way represents the laity as a whole. Young people, especially, are concerned about how Church policies affect them, their families, their friends and their real life in the real world. They often care more about doing good in the world rather than making a full-time vocation of condemning “bad” )meaning different) in the world. If they feel that the Church has essentially written them and their concerns off, then traditionalism is a tough, tough sell. The Church is in the same difficult situation as many corporations and institutions. “Because I said so,” and “Because that s the way it was 100 years ago” doesn’t really work as moral suasion or a practical argument. That just the way it is.