When you see a person drowning, you will note common traits during their panic. Sometimes they seem to be trying to climb an invisible ladder. Their arms flail and their head is pushed lower into the water.
It is a sad and horrible sight.
In the Jesuit run America Magazine there is an editorial:
Before you read, consider this:
1. of or pertaining to sectaries or sects.
2. narrowly confined or devoted to a particular sect.
3. narrowly confined or limited in interest, purpose, scope, etc.
4. a member of a sect.
5. a bigoted or narrow-minded adherent of a sect.
Now for the editorial with my emphases and comments.
The editors MAY 11, 2009
The clouds roll with thunder, the House of the Lord shall be built throughout the earth, and these frogs sit in their marsh and croak—‘We are the only Christians!’” So wrote St. Augustine about the Donatists, a perfectionist North African sect that attempted to keep the church free of contamination by having no truck with Roman officialdom. In the United States today, self-appointed watchdogs of orthodoxy, like Randall Terry [I was pretty disappointed in what he did with the Archbp. Burke interview.] and the Cardinal Newman Society, [Note how they lump them in with Terry, as if they were even remotely similar?] push mightily for a pure church quite unlike the mixed community of saints and sinners—the Catholic Church—that Augustine championed. [This is slithery. Augustine did not "champion" a Church mixed with saints and sinners. He described the reality of the Church in those terms.] Like the Circumcellions of old, they thrive on slash-and-burn tactics; ["Slash and burn"…. riiiight. An online petition, letter writing campaign, praying the Rosary, peaceful protests. I suppose Martin Luther King and Gandhi were slashers and burners too. This hyperbole is a perfect example of how the editors of America are failing around in the water as they drown.] and they refuse to allow the church to be contaminated by contact with certain politicians. [The editors just called those who have uphold the right to be born "terrorists". Circumcelliones (derived from circum cellas) were late 4th and early 5th century N. African extremists who lurked with clubs in gangs about the tombs or shrines of martyrs. They would attack Catholics and those who left Donatism for Catholicism. People were terrified of them. They were associated in respects with the Donatists, but this wasn’t a wholly Donatist movement. What is worse, however, is the attempt to present Augustine as a defender of error. Augustine extends toleration to sinners but not to sin. Augustine’s use of the biblical image of wheat and tares was his way of defending toleration of sinners in the Church but not of sin.]
For today’s sectarians, [Watch what happens…] it is not adherence to the church’s doctrine on the evil of abortion that counts for orthodoxy, [The writer has claimed to be the proper interpreter of the Church’s teaching. He now goes on to politicize the issue. The editor of America will try to persuade you that those who oppose pro-abortion Catholics are doing so from political motives rather than doctrinal. They have already called them terrorists.] but adherence to a particular political program and fierce opposition to any proposal short of that program. They scorn Augustine’s inclusive, forgiving, big-church Catholics, who will not know which of them belongs to the City of God until God himself separates the tares from the wheat. Their tactics, and their attitudes, threaten the unity of the Catholic Church in the United States, the effectiveness of its mission and the credibility of its pro-life activities. [I think the real object of their attack is the group of American Bishops who have made public statements of opposition to Notre Dame. They want people who think that it is wrong to bestow an honor upon a pro-abortion President at a Catholic school simply to shut up. Otherwise they are terrorists. Hey wait…. I love the way the left cites Augustine when convenient. Remember how Speaker Pelosi and then Sen. Biden tried to cite Augustine in favor of their pro-abortion stance? Liberals have discovered Augustine! Perhas should read him. Start with City of God V, 26. Augustine applauds Ambrose for denying Holy Communion to the Emperor Theodosius. And Augustine himself tells us that he denied Communion to more than one member of his congregation. Slash and burn, right? If you are going to refer to Augustine, refer to all of Augustine. I think that America chose to cite Augustine because the POPE cites Augustine so often. That would be a typical move by a post-modern Jesuit.]
The sectarians’ [So… people who oppose the America/Kmiec/Obama/Reese/DNC agenda are "sectarians".] targets are frequently Catholic universities and Catholic intellectuals who defend the richer, subtly nuanced, broad-tent Catholic tradition. [Those who oppose them are stupid bigots.] Their most recent target has been the University of Notre Dame and its president, John Jenkins, C.S.C., who has invited President Barack Obama to offer the commencement address and receive an honorary degree at this year’s graduation. Pope Benedict XVI has modeled a different attitude [Nice buzzzz language … "modeled an attitude". What America is doing, however, is remodeling Pope Benedict into Fr. Hesburgh.] toward higher education. In 2008, the pope himself was prevented from speaking at Rome’s La Sapienza University by the intense opposition of some doctrinaire scientists. The Vatican later released his speech, in which he argued that “freedom from ecclesiastical and political authorities” is essential to the university’s “special role” in society. He asked, “What does the pope have to do or say to a university?” And he answered, “He certainly should not try to impose in an authoritarian manner his faith on others.” [Problem. La Sapienza is not a Catholic University. The analogy doesn’t stand up under scrutiny. In the one case, a Catholic leader was invited by a civil university to engage in dialogue. On the other, a civil leader was invited by a Catholic university to receive a distinctive honor.]
The divisive effects of the new American sectarians have not escaped the notice of the Vatican. [I should think not. Nor has this sort of editorial. Right, Fr. Reese?] Their highly partisan political edge [Again, they are trying to say that people who are resisting the reduction of abortion to merely one of many social issues are doing so for political reasons.] has become a matter of concern. That they never demonstrate the same high dudgeon at the compromises, unfulfilled promises and policy disagreements with Republican politicians as with Democratic ones is plain for all to see. It is time to call this one-sided denunciation by its proper name: political partisanship. [The writer is right… but he should look in the mirror.]
Pope Benedict XVI has also modeled a different stance toward independent-minded politicians. [Okay… so this is the sort of "nuance" they hold up as an ideal. Speaker Pelosi, Sens. Kennedy and Kerry are "independent-minded".] He has twice reached out to President Obama and offered to build on the common ground of shared values. [This is weasel language. Just what is it that Pope Benedict is eager to accomplish with the Obama Administration? Also, what do they mean by "reached out". The Pope sent a congratulatory telegram to the President for his election. Is that reaching out? Ridiculous. He would do that for any president.] Even after the partially bungled visit [This is supposed to be a little handful of dirt. But what is really going on here? I have an acquaintance who was at that same audience. He got the CTV DVD because he had a chance to speak with the Pope afterward. He reports that even in paning the crowd of dignitaries present, there was no film of Speaker Pelosi. If it was "bungled", it wasn’t "bungled" by the Holy See. She met the Pope and the Pope told her off. There is not a single photo of them that she could use as false propaganda or claim his approval because they met.] of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi with Pope Benedict, Vatican officials worked quickly to repair communication with her. [Oh? How was that?] Furthermore, in participating in the international honors accorded New Mexico’s Governor Bill Richardson in Rome last month for outlawing the death penalty (See Signs of the Times, 5/4), Pope Benedict did not flinch at appearing with a politician who does not agree fully with the church’s policy positions. [Did the Pope give him an honor? Popes regularly during Wednesday audiences spend a minute with public personages on the other side of a barrier.] When challenged about the governor’s imperfect pro-life credentials, Archbishop Michael Sheehan of Santa Fe responded on point, “We were able to help him understand our position on the death penalty…. One thing at a time.” Finally, last March the pro-choice French president Nicolas Sarkozy was made an honorary canon of the Basilica of St. John Lateran, the pope’s own cathedral. [Again… this is not useful for defending what ND has done with Pres. Obama. The French head-of-state has had a right to be a canon of the Lateran since the 16th c. What’s happening at ND is entirely different.]
[Here is what thinkers of America consider necessary…]
Four steps are necessary for the U.S. church to escape the strengthening riptide of sectarian conflict and re-establish trust between universities and the hierarchy. [In other words, head off the possibility that Ex corde Ecclesiae might be implemented. Wait a minute. Doesn’t Ex corde Ecclesiae say that the local bishop monitor the local Catholic colleges and universities? That sounds like one of the cherished liberal principles of subsidiarity. They ought to be able to act without interference from, for example, the Vatican!] First, the bishops’ discipline about speakers and awards at Catholic institutions should be narrowed to exclude from platforms and awards only those Catholics who explicitly oppose formal Catholic teaching. [In other words it is okay to honor non-Catholic pro-abortion figures. Remember people like Pelosi and VP Biden etc. said that, though they may be Catholic, they can’t impose their views on the rest of the country. This point reflects that attitude. It is little more than an echo of the schooling of Drinan, Cuomo, etc.] Second, in politics we must reaffirm the distinction between the authoritative teaching of moral principles and legitimate prudential differences in applying principles to public life. [Fine! On the surface this is good and everyone will agree.. so long as there are basic principles. People can disagree about how to deal with poverty, or immigration, or hunger or third world debt, etc. But there are some things which the Church has made clear are not matters of compromise. ] Third, all sides should return to the teaching of the Second Vatican Council [Oh… this is really slimy. In other words… if you are one of these sectarians who don’t think that abortion can be pushed under the carpet, then you are against the Second Vatican Council, which by the way, explicitly condemns abortion.] and Pope Paul VI that in politics there are usually several ways to attain the same goals. [Just as John Paul II showed when he abandoned Paul’s VI’s Ostpolitik!] Finally, church leaders must promote the primacy of charity among Catholics who advocate different political options. For as the council declared, “The bonds which unite the faithful are mightier than anything which divides them” (“Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World,” No. 92). [Stop. Charity is based on truth. There are limits to charity. One cannot in true charity pass over a moral evil. No one today would appeal to charity as a reason for excusing support of the Hitler regime by German Catholics. What editor of America is really saying is that Catholics ought to be able to believe anything and their opponents should just shut up. This what Pope Benedict meant by the dictatorship of relativism.]
There is so much wrong with this piece that we could nearly go line by line.
But let’s refocus on a couple of things you must take away from this dreadful editorial.
The most important is that this is the panic of someone who drowning. Go back and read it again: you can nearly see the arms flailing… hear the gurgling, gulping.
They are trying to climb the invisible ladder.
Now dig into one of America‘s objectives.
They say that the Pope has reached out to the President.
The Pope sent a telegram of congratulations for the election, etc. That is reaching out. They are hinting that it might even be seen as a subtle approval of President Obama’s policies, at least in the nuanced way America and Kmiec Catholics see social issues.
In any event, we can stipulate that Pope Benedict is reaching out.
That is what Popes do.
Pope John Paul II met with Yassir Arafat and Fidel Castro.
Paul VI met with Idi Amin Dada.
What America is trying to do is draw a parallel between a Pope reaching out to a world leader at odds with the Catholic Church and what is happening at Notre Dame.
That doesn’t work.
If you want to try to make an analogy out of this, then we have to look at what Notre Dame ought to have done, not what they actually did.
It is acceptable for a Catholic University to reach out and invite President Obama to speak at some function.
It is not acceptable to bestow a prestigious honor on him.
When the Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura comes to Washington, DC and delivers a crystal clear manifesto which entirely guts the America/Kmeic/Pelosi/Biden stance, don’t think he doesn’t have the blessing of the Holy Father.
Will that fact may be lost on the editors of America?
Lastly, America doesn’t like that American bishops are criticizing Notre Dame. They want someone put that to a stop.
"But Father! But Father!", you are by now saying. "Go above the heads of the bishops? Above the head of the metropolitan? Above the conference? They want bishops to be corrected? What happened to subsidiarity? The primacy of the local Church? Isn’t it a cherished liberal principle that bishops should not be interfered with by the Vatican?"
Strangely America seems only to promote subsidiarity when it suits them.
Why let principle get in the way of partisanship?