Monday, June 05, 2006

“I feel something within me that compels me to burn Rome.”

It has been asked why “progressive” religious and laymen are often intolerant to those who disagree with them, while being very receptive to those who disagree with their Church.

A good, because tame, example is a recent speech given by Father Timothy Radcliffe, OP:

Saturday morning’s festivities started off with British priest Timothy Radcliffe, former master of the Dominicans, who gave a keynote address on “The Church as Sign of Hope and Freedom,” drawing on the congress theme, “Step Into Freedom” and the Gospel account of Jesus’ raising of Lazarus from the dead. Radcliffe delivered his speech before an audience of approximately 6,000 in the Anaheim Convention Center arena, with Cardinal Roger Mahony and congress organizer Sister Edith Prendergast seated on stage behind him.

Radcliffe said society has “two models” for making moral decisions. “One is to think that it’s about choosing just what you feel like doing, and the other is a morality that’s about submission to the rules,” he said. “Think about sex. Often we think that sexual morality is really just doing what I feel like, it’s just a lifestyle option, what feels right for me. The other extreme is the people who think that it’s just a question of submitting to the external rules. But this Gospel summons us beyond those alternatives. . . . Christian morality is about obedience, but not obedience as an infantile submission. It’s about obedience in the original meaning of that word . . . about learning to hear the voice of the Lord. And what that voice says is, ‘stand up and be free.’

“Holiness isn’t about obeying all the laws,” continued Radcliffe. “Holiness is about acting from the core of our being, where God is.”

Saying he didn't “actually understand why,” Radcliffe noted that homosexuality has “become a very hot topic in all the churches at the moment. . . . Usually when we think about” homosexuality, Radcliffe said, “we ask, ‘what is forbidden or permitted?’ But I’m afraid I’m an old-fashioned, traditional Catholic, and I believe that’s the wrong place to start. We begin by standing beside gay people as they hear the voice of the Lord that summons them to life and happiness. We accompany them as they wrestle with discovering what this means and how they must walk. And this means letting our imaginations be stretched open to watching Brokeback Mountain, reading gay novels, having gay friends, making that leap of the heart and the mind, delighting in their being, listening with them as they listen to the Lord.”

Noting “the violence of the language used by Pope Benedict when he was the cardinal prefect for the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith” and “the violent language of conservative Catholics against so-called liberals,” Radcliffe drew applause as he said, “we are not a sign of God’s freedom in Jesus until we can dare to belong with each other across every theological boundary. That means we have to see with other people’s eyes, and hear with their ears, and feel with their skin, regardless of whether they’re Legionnaires of Christ or militant feminists.”

— Allyson Smith, “Step Into It: The 2006 L.A. Archdiocesan Religious Education Congress”, Los Angeles Lay Catholic Mission, June 2006

In this speech, what the reporter heard was that there were two mistaken models for making moral decisions, but she only heard “submission to the rules” deplored. She heard about militant feminists, but the only violent language referred to was that of Cardinal Ratzinger and conservative Catholics. She heard about “standing beside gay people,” but she did not hear, “Neither do I condemn you. Go: from now on do not sin any more.” She heard “Be free,” but did not hear, “The truth will set you free. Amen, amen, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin.”

Since these religious and laymen have given up on truth, and deny that we sin, what are we to be free from? In a word, guilt; in a phrase, the White Man’s Burden and Depredations; culturally, the last five hundred years since the Reformation and the Counter-Reformation; psychiatrically, the superego; personally, one’s own heritage and upbringing; developmentally, the fear of becoming like one’s parents; biblically, Adam's sin; theologically, submission to the Father.

If, as some have written, we are at the end of an age, then for many the past will seem tyrannical, and freedom from the past the hope of a new age. And as for those stuck in the past, they shall be forced to be free. As Bishop Donald Trautman, Chairman of the U. S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on the Liturgy said, “Liturgy belongs to the people of the Church here and now.” And if not all the people agree — as how could they? — let there be a People’s Church like a People’s Republic.

One should acknowledge the strength of this feeling, and the numbers who feel it, and their sensitive response to the historical condition of the West. Nor condemn them, nor be the first to throw a stone.

But they sin, and they say, “We see,” so their sin remains. They say, “We hear,” so they do not hear. They say, “We know,” so they do not know. They sin by thinking not as God does, but as human beings do, and poorly. In doing this they are Satan. To say this is not to condemn them, as Jesus did not condemn Simon Peter.

One should also acknowledge their power in the Church, and that their power is waning. Do not argue with them, since they do not argue. Do not reason with them, since they do not reason. They are enemies of the Church: fight them for the Church and love them. Pray that they become friends of the Church, that we may love them as we love one another, and that all will know that we are his disciples.

Compare Caryl Johnston, The Virginity Monologues.

For the title of this article, see Jacques Barzun, “The State of Culture Today,” in Garraty and Gay, eds., The Columbia History of the World, 1972, 1155.

This article is listed in The Catholic Carnival is Here: Living the Faith in the blog Universal Call: Answer It!, quoted in The cafeteria is closed. . . . ., and mentioned by The Anchoress.

For light on the American Catholic scene, see Donna Steichen, Can Reform Come? and Mrs. Steichen’s own report on the Los Angeles conference, A Church They Didn’t Expect


Blogger St. Jimbob of the Apokalypse said...

So then, for every heretical postulation by the Gumbletons, McBriens, and Chittesters in the Church, we should call them out. Stomp the living snot out of the heresy, but hug the heretic. I'm all for that. The time of passive pew-warming is coming to a close, and people are going to have to make hard choices about whether they're going to follow the Church, or the "Church of Here and Now."

8:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I vividly recall listening to a nun talk about the glories and duty of "dissent" with respect to 'the roman school of thought' (i.e. the Pope and his magisterium) and who praised toleration for the wildest beliefs and practices at odds with Catholic moral teaching.

But she savagely reacted in High Dungeon to anyone who dissented or merely begged to differ with HER "magisterium"!

In my experience those who claim to know better than the Pope are both nuts and full of them selves, not the brightest bulbs on the planet and not the most informed souls in the pew. Which is why they can't deal with counter arguments "politely" all while demanding "Rome listen to them".

8:58 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home