ORIGINALLY POSTED ON 18 JUNE
They are at it again with the same old tricks. They are losing on the issues, so they try to silence people by saying that they aren’t being civil or reasonable or tolerant.
The editor of America Magazine run by the Jesuits, comes this editorial with my emphases and comments:
Community of Disciples
The editors | JUNE 22, 2009
St. Ignatius Loyola suggests that in any exchange, “it is necessary to suppose that every good Christian is more ready to put a good interpretation on another’s statement than to condemn it as false.” To this call for charity, St. Ignatius added that if correction is necessary, it ought to be delivered with respect and kindness. Those qualities of respect and kindness have at times been hard to find in many of the heated arguments in which American Catholics have found themselves embroiled over the past 12 tumultuous months. [Plugging into the "demonize" language and "civility" from the Notre Shame fiasco.]
Can a Catholic in good conscience vote for Barack Obama? For John McCain? May pro-choice politicians be given Communion? Should the legal fight to overturn Roe v. Wade bear the full weight of Catholic political energy; or are there other, more effective strategies for combating the culture of death? Should the University of Notre Dame award an honorary degree to President Obama, or even invite him at all? [Now watch this shift!] Should there be more frequent celebrations of the liturgy in Latin; and if so, what version of the Mass texts should be used? [Whoa! From voting and Notre Dame to LATIN LITURGY. I wonder who these guys have been reading! ROFL!] Issues like these have always sparked much discussion in the Catholic community, but they are now often dominated by a tone that is decidedly dangerous—harsh and often lacking in respect or courtesy. [Rather like the, say, Patristic period?]
This rhetoric has threatened the credibility of the church, as the Catholic tradition of trust and toleration has been de-emphasized. [There was an editorial from a prof. at Georgetown claiming that tolerance began with Vatican II.] Even a few bishops have made statements like “We are at war” [That would be Bp. Finn.] and “Tolerance is not a Christian virtue,” [That would be Archbp. Chaput. And Chaput is right. Tolerance is not a virtue.] suggesting that any notion of the common good has given way to a sharply defined “us versus them” mentality. [A LOT more on that, below!] Such rhetoric also subtly undermines the Catholic principle of subsidiarity first put forth by Pope Pius XI in Quadragesimo Anno, according to which a pluralistic social structure allows and encourages constructive input from a variety of groups on the grass-roots level. [Again, more below.]
This polarization must stop; [This next part is interesting. More and more, strong bishops are talking about Catholic identity. Now the editors of America are putting out their objection to the identity these bishops are advancing. Watch:] otherwise our identity as a faith community will be torn asunder and Catholicism will cease to be an elevating force for change. How can we decrease the polarization? [This is all Rawls-speak. They want to shove out of the discussion any voice that attempts to advance a position that isn’t already close to the consensus position.] A vital first step is to seek out our common ground in the major civic areas where almost all Catholics agree: religious liberty; the sacredness of all human life; the goal of reducing and eventually eliminating abortion; support for social programs that provide a safety net for the poor; the elimination of segregation, racism and discrimination; and respect for differing religious and social traditions and diverse cultures. Few are the Catholics who do not share these principles, which provide a ready-made common ground.
We also need to find a way to foster civil debate and dialogue on how to incorporate and share our values in a pluralistic society. [In other words, Catholics shouldn’t really raise their voices against the pro-abortion crowd.] Recognizing the distinction between moral principles and their application, we can disagree in good conscience on the way such principles are prudentially applied in the public sphere. [Gaudium et spes called an abomination. More, below.] Even when disagreeing over the concrete applications of moral principles, we also must respect the good will of those with whom we disagree. Tolerance, charity and respect are not “weasel words,” nor are they excuses to paper over legitimate differences among Catholics. [Yes, there are legitimate differences in many issues, but that stops at other issues.] Rather, they are essential elements for a church in which members work together toward common goals, by supposing, as St. Ignatius wrote, that everyone is striving to act for the greater good.
Our bishops must take the lead in this conversation in the Catholic community. As the Second Vatican Council noted: “Bishops should make it their special care to approach men and initiate and promote dialogue with them. These discussions on religious matters should be marked by charity of expression as well as by humility and courtesy, so that truth may be combined with charity, and understanding with love.” As many have noted, our bishops also need to be careful that they do not overstep their bounds when they prescribe specific policy recommendations, lest they sacrifice their spiritual authority by appearing to be partisan political figures. [The message here is "Shut up bishops."]
In his book Models of the Church, the late Cardinal Avery Dulles, S.J., highlighted the image of the church as a “community of disciples.” This image from the early church (Acts 6:1-2) sees every Christian united in learning from and following Christ. Here the church is always a learning church led by the Spirit, not yet in full possession of the truth. [I don’t think the editors of America are suggesting that the Church still not wise enough to teach about abortion, … and therefore should not be too noisy. Are they?] A disciple is by definition one who has not yet arrived, but is on the way to full conversion. This more humble view of a pilgrim church always in need of purification and improvement may help to tone down the rhetoric and encourage Catholics to work together in addressing the great issues of our day, especially those involving the culture of life. True dialogue, as Cardinal Dulles noted, enables the church “to understand its teaching better, to present it more persuasively and to implement it in a pastoral way.”
The editors of America are trying to silence the voices both of the strong "Catholic identity bishops" and of the grass-roots who, growing stronger in their identity have not entirely surrendered to the progressivist’s embrace of most aggressively pro-abortion politician we have ever seen.
This is from the pens of Catholic political liberals. Behind that appeal to "civility" and "reasonableness" and "tolerance" is really the will not to permit a particular message from influencing the debate.
Their accusation is incivility is hypocritical. What these Catholic political liberals fail to see is that when it comes to opposing things that don’t jive with their agenda they are incessantly uncivil and unreasonable and intolerant.
What the America editorial exposes, however, is just how far the Jesuits are going off the rails, and how inconsistent they are.
The same writers for America recently published an editorial likening Randall Terry and the Cardinal Newman Society to the homicidal Donatist Circumcellions of Augustine’s day (cf. “Sectarian Catholicism, America, 11 May 2009). Now they publish a plea for pro-life Catholics (and those who favor Latin in the liturgy – sic!) to show “tolerance and respect” toward those who hold differing views.
I guess these Jesuits forgot about their earlier editorial, full of name-calling.
In any event, America declaims that Ignatian charity-in-correction should replace the “heated arguments in which American Catholics have found themselves embroiled over the past 12 tumultuous months.”
America says it doesn’t like the tone of today’s debates within the U.S. Catholic Church.
They characterize this tone as “decidedly dangerous – harsh and often lacking in respect or courtesy.”
They conclude that “[t]his rhetoric has threatened the credibility of the church,” because it de-emphasizes “the Catholic tradition of trust and toleration.”
America, you see, likes Catholic tradition!
The editors appeal to Catholics to focus on the “common-ground” issues that unite them. These issues include “the goal of reducing and eventually eliminating abortion.”
But on this, as on the other issues they mention, they warn that “polarization must stop.”
Then, turning their attention beyond the Catholic Church, they urge, in words echoing those of Presidents Jenkins and Obama at Notre Shame, that Catholics “find a way to foster civil debate and dialogue” in a pluralistic society.
Here, Catholics have to be careful, America warns, because our Church teaches respect and toleration for “the good will of those with whom we disagree.” Men and women of good will, they insist, “can disagree in good conscience on the way [moral] principles are prudentially applied in the public sphere.” Hence, America concludes, bishops “need to be careful that they do not overstep their bounds when they prescribe specific policy recommendations, lest they sacrifice their spiritual authority by appearing to be partisan political figures.”
My first reaction to this and the earlier editorial is that by now these Jesuits have completely lost their once firm grasp of Church history.
In their editorial “Sectarian Catholicism” they portrayed St. Augustine, the bishop, as favoring “inclusive, forgiving, big-Church Catholics”, as if, like some prototype of the 20th century Jesuit Father John Courtney Murray, Augustine had wanted to embrace those who held unorthodox views.
St. Bernard of Clairvaux, called Augustine the malleus haereticorum… the "hammer of heretics”. Augustine was no slouch when it came to handing out demerits. The bishop of Hippo had plenty of room in his Church for sinners (among whom he regarded himself as the chief), but he has no tolerance for theological dissenters, whose excommunication he frequently sought.
Please, America, in your desperation to find kumbaya models for today’s bishops, stop trying to enlist St. Augustine. Please?
Other examples in America of historical memory loss are found in this recent editorial, above.
America warns us that the rhetoric representative of the “us vs. them mentality … subtly undermines the Catholic principle of subsidiarity first put forth by Pope Pius XI in Quadragesimo Anno, according to which a pluralistic social structure allows and encourages constructive input from a variety of groups on the grass-roots level.”
Say WHAT? (Quid dicis? – that for the sake of their pot shot at Latin at the top.)
I must have missed that in Pope Pius’s encyclical.
Let’s look at a source near and dear to the hearts of the editors of America: Father Charles E. Curran.
Curran, in God’s Rule. The Politics of World Religions (ed. Jacob Neusner, Washington: Georgetown University Press, 2003, pp. 71-72) wrote:
“In Quadragesimo Anno (1931), Pope Pius XI developed the principle of subsidiarity (n. 79)…. According to [this principle], the higher level should do everything possible to help the lower level achieve its own purposes and should only intervene when the lower and more basic level cannot do something on its own.”
Nothing here about “pluralistic social structures” allowing and encouraging “constructive input from a variety of groups on the grass-roots level.”
These America Jesuits would have done better to check their facts with Wikipedia, which defines the principle of subsidiarity as follows: “government should undertake only those initiatives which exceed the capacity of individuals or private groups acting independently.”
But wait, there’s more!
The grossest misunderstanding of history in this editorial rests in its total lack of recall concerning the American Church’s past involvement in – of all things – racial desegregation.
In the light of this week’s editorial’s admonition to American Catholics and bishops (well… really to conservatives) to respond with respect and toleration to “the good will of those with whom we disagree,” and to avoid behaving discourteously toward them, the editors of America should pull out back issues of their magazine dating to the 1960’s.
Advice similar to theirs was given in the early 60’s by then Birmingham Archbishop Thomas J. Toolen to priests and Religious in his diocese.
As reported in the Encyclopedia of Alabama, Archbishop Toolen “forbade priests to challenge publicly the state’s segregation laws or participate in demonstrations. They were instructed not to break the law and not to force confrontations that would agitate the state’s white population.” Some Alabama Catholics objected to Archbishop Toolen’s orders, fearing that they would weaken the Church’s anti-segregation teaching. One who did so was Jesuit Father Albert Foley of Spring Hill College, whom Toolen repeatedly ordered removed from the archdiocese. Toolen didn’t oppose racial desegregation, but he wanted change to come to Alabama’s schools gradually. With his auxiliary bishop, Joseph Durick, Toolen denounced the 1963 bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, but later Bishop Durick signed an appeal to the city’s African American inhabitants, urging them to forego demonstrations in favor of a ‘peaceful Birmingham’.”
When Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. learned about this appeal, he composed his Letter from a Birmingham Jail (April 16, 1963).
In that famous letter, King rebuked those Birmingham clergymen who let themselves be influenced by complaints in the White community that “outside agitators” like King had disrupted the peace of the city by organizing noisy marches and sit-ins.
ASIDE: Just to remind the editors of America,analogous complaints were lodged against pro-life demonstrators who traveled to Notre Shame to protest the President’s honorary degree. But I digress…
Dr. King wrote forthrightly in response to these concerns,
“You may well ask: ‘Why direct action? Why sit-ins, marches and so forth? Isn’t negotiation a better path?’ You are quite right in calling for negotiation. Indeed, this is the very purpose of direct action. Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. It seeks to so dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored. My citing the creation of tension as part of the work of the nonviolent-resister may sound rather shocking. But I must confess that I am not afraid of the word ‘tension’. [!] I have earnestly opposed violent tension, but there is a type of constructive, nonviolent tension which is necessary for growth.”
Dr. King posed and answered a second rhetorical question in his Letter: Why he didn’t hold off on the marches and the sit-ins until the newly-elected mayor of Birmingham, Albert Boutwell, had been given a chance to bring a real change to the city?
“We are sadly mistaken if we feel that the election of Albert Boutwell as mayor will bring the millennium to Birmingham. While Mr. Boutwell is a much more gentle person than Mr. Connor, they are both segregationists, dedicated to maintenance of the status quo. I have hope that Mr. Boutwell will be reasonable enough to see the futility of massive resistance to desegregation. But he will not see this without pressure from devotees of civil rights.”
Finally, on why it’s important that non-violent but illegal tactics be employed in the struggle to free African Americans from oppression, Dr. King wrote,
“We should never forget that everything Adolf Hitler did in Germany was ‘legal’ and everything the Hungarian freedom fighters did in Hungary was ‘illegal’. It was ‘illegal’ to aid and comfort a Jew in Hitler’s Germany. Even so, I am sure that, had I lived in Germany at the time, I would have aided and comforted my Jewish brothers. If today I lived in a Communist country where certain principles dear to the Christian faith are suppressed, I would openly advocate disobeying that country’s antireligious laws.
“I must make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers. First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to ‘order’ than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: ‘I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action’; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a ‘more convenient season’. Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.”
Paul Harvey writes in “Religion, Race and Right in the South” (in Glenn Feldman, editor, Politics and Religion in the White South, University Press of Kentucky, 2005, pp. 105-106) about the kind of clergy that King had in mind.
“Most Southern ministers endeavored to unify congregations and communities, dwell on themes of reconciliation, and avoid divisive rhetoric or political activity. For these reasons and others, clergymen were not in the forefront, and indeed were strikingly under-represented, both in the civil rights movement and in the organized opposition to it. They were often the flaccid moderates memorably skewered by Martin Luther King Jr. in his Letter from a Birmingham Jail.”
The situation among clergy in the North was equally bad, writes John T. McGreevy (Parish Boundaries. The Catholic Encounter with Race in the Twentieth-Century Urban North, U of Chicago Press, 1996).
He cites a 1962 editorial published in the Interracial Review warning that Catholic interracial councils were “unprepared today in numbers and in nerves for the coming community spasms and readjustments that must take place if codes of racial separation are to be broken. Indeed,” the editorial continued, “if large segments of Catholic opinion repudiate freedom rides, sit-ins and picketing as crude provocation, what does this imply?”
McGreevy reports that at a 1961 conference sponsored by the National Catholic Conference for Interracial Justice an African-American Catholic student, Diane Nash, who had participated in sit-ins in the South, spoke to the Conference of the courage shown by freedom riders and her own recent stay in a southern jail. Nash demanded ‘directness’ from Catholic pulpits. “If this is not an area in which the Church must work,” she concluded, “what is?” Matthew Ahmann, Executive Director of the National Catholic Conference for Interracial Justice, extolled the courage of these Catholic freedom riders in the May 27, 1961 issue of America.
The civil rights movement of the 1960’s is that paradigmatic example of “heated arguments” among Catholics, of “decidedly dangerous” rhetoric, “harsh and often lacking in respect or courtesy,” that America’s editors abhor in today’s U.S. Church.
Dear readers, this is what America magazine and that whole group, Kmiec Catholics, etc., are doing. They are making the same mistake made in the past about racial equality. We would today level a negative judgment on those who were soft on equal rights back then. America‘s editors would be writing against them.
When it comes to the pro-life voice, strong in condemning abortion. Well… "Shut up", they explain.
With regard to the abortion issue, the editors of America, much like Archbishop Toolen, would rather have Catholics and their bishops “dwell on themes of reconciliation, and avoid divisive rhetoric” while also eschewing the “crude provocation” of those men and women of good will who disagree with Catholic opposition to abortion-on-demand as national policy.
America, once, stood with Dr Martin Luther King Jr. in support of a healthful “tension” in the Church when the issue of the day was racial segregation.
In contrast, America wants the pro-life movement to wait for a “more convenient season” and to give the new U.S. President a chance to bring the new millennium to America’s unborn children.
David Bobbitt writes in The Rhetoric of Redemption (Lanham, MD, Rowman and Littlefield, 2004)
“[Martin Luther] King’s philosophy was based on faith in God and belief in the power of redemptive love to transform the hearts of human beings, but King’s political and legal successes were not a result of changing hearts and minds through the power of redemptive love. Ultimately all of his successes came about as the result of economic boycotts, court rulings, or from generating sympathy and embarrassment by inducing segregationists to violent overreaction.”
America’s editors just don’t get it.
The rhetoric of social change movements is intentionally confrontational, even agonistic.
A great part of the American Catholic Church, now being led by some courageous bishops, subscribes to it for the sake of ridding the nation of abortion, which the Second Vatican Council’s Gaudium et spes called an “unspeakable crime”.
Dear Editors of America,
For the umpteenth time, numbers too large to measure of American Catholics were disgusted by Notre Shame’s decision to award President Obama an honorary doctorate in law, … in law …because, as an Illinois law maker, he twice voted against a bill that would have criminalized the abandonment-to-death of babies who were born alive in spite of medical teams’ attempts to kill them.
That is, infanticide.
And while we’re at it, dear Editors of America, what part of “partial-birth abortion” don’t you understand?