Fishwrap tapped one of their darlings, former-Catholic theologian and dissenter Charles Curran, to write an encomium of the late Fr. Bernard Häring, CSsR, whose “proportionalist” legacy in moral theology is decidedly mixed.
First, Curran in his piece, reputedly about Häring, winds up writing mostly about himself. Fine. It happens.
Second, Curran’s piece is a tired old apology for dissent from Church teaching under the wearying mantle of “speaking to power”, like any nun on a bus. The only lasting remedy for this is, I fear, the Biological Solution. Let us pray for Fr. Curran. Dum spirat.
Third, consider June and July of 1968, when Curran and his pals were running down Humane vitae. Curran and Co. gave cover, permission to dissent about anything and everything, to a generation of Catholics who, having breathed in civil-rights and anti-war protest movements, down to this day to this day are incapable of separating their ‘catholic’ identities within the Church from those 60’s protest movements outside the Church.
Why does Fishwrap publish this stuff? Curran writing about Häring? Hymns to Küng and Bourgeois? Praising the old nuns on the bus and still publishing McBrien? Why can’t they see how far off the rails they are?
Fishwrap is what it is, the editors/bosses are the way they are, because the generation still running the National Catholic Reporter (and the generation still paying for it) interpret everything within the Church still through the lens they formed during the anti-authoritarian civil-rights and anti-war protest movements. When we try to uphold hierarchy and authority or rubrics or the older form of Mass or obedience to the Magisterium or decorum in liturgy and sacred music, an involuntary subconscious switch clicks in their heads. They take your faithful Catholic position of continuity to be an attack themselves and on Vatican II. Vatican II cannot, in their minds, be separated from the protest movements they have idolized until they are actually paradigmatic, iconic, even mythic. The Council itself – in the received liberal interpretation – cannot ever be questioned or subjected to the authority of the letter of the Council’s texts, because they cannot separate their understanding of the Council from those movements of protest. The events outside the Church in the USA in those days are completely fused with the event of the Council and certain post-Conciliar reforms. They interpret everything they do through the lens of this combined and unassailable myth.
These older liberals – now of a certain age – have some younger acolytes and heirs to carry on their work. But the younger ones didn’t imbibe those heady halcyon days personally. They have their protest, “Don’t trust anyone over thirty” iconoclast glasses at second-hand. For the younger ones, the protest hermeneutic is skin-deep. For their bosses and the deep pockets behind Fishwrap it is marrow-deep.
And also this applies to some members of the hierarchy, okay? Seminary and university faculties, too. They are men and women of their age, after all.
Back to Curran and why Fishwrap is so into him. What was up in spring and summer of 1968? Look at the theological revolt in the Catholic Church which started in the 60’s (still going on today for some people) from the standpoint of the events going on around it.
Here’s a taste. Go to one of those websites that recounts the major stories day-by-day for 1968, such as this one HERE:
- ML King assassinated in April 1968
- Bobby Kennedy assassinated in June 1968
- Sakharov publishes 10,000 something or other
- The Prague Spring (Czech: Pražské jaro, Slovak: Pražská jar)
- Race riots in Cleveland and Gary one week before Humanae vitae
- The summer of the Prague Spring
- On April 24 students took over Columbia University
- US and USSR began underground nuclear testing
- France tested nuclear weapons above ground in South Pacific
- On April 29, “Hair” opened in NYC for the first of 1750 performances
- On April 20, English politician Enoch Powell makes his controversial Rivers of Blood speech.
- On April 26 Students seize administration building at Ohio State
- On May 10 Vietnam peace talks began in Paris between the US & North Vietnam
- On May 24 Pres De Gaulle proposes referendum & students set fire to Paris bourse
- On May 27 The meeting of the Union Nationale des Étudiants de France (National Union of the Students of France) takes place. 30,000 to 50,000 people gather in the Stade Sebastien Charlety.
- On May 28 Senator Eugene McCarthy wins Democrate primary in Oregon
“It was the worst of times, it was the worst of times.”
But for Fishwrappers it was the best of times. The only times. And, in a sense, they are still living those times.
When they claim that John Paul II or Benedict XVI are turning the clock back to the 19th century, they are having a sort of ecclesial-flashback to Lyndon Johnson and race marches and war protests and love-beads.
Remember my four PODCAzTs about the 40th anniversary of the Novus Ordo?
Curran and Co.’s scandal-causing destructive dissent didn’t happen in a vacuum. The world was in uproar. Dissent, protest, riots, anti-authoritarianism was rife everywhere. Even nuns, now on busses, were burning their veils.
Had Paul VI published Humanae vitae even two years earlier, today we would even know the name of “Curran”. Their party would never have happened.
Love-beads and meditation man… groovy.