America Magazine (aka “The cool kids’ table”) rises above petty distinctions

From the WaPo comes some promotion of the Jesuit mystique.

Here is a great example of how the MSM promotes liberal Catholics as the cool kid’s table. America Magazine is seemingly going to eschew the “liberal” and “conservative” dichotomy, rise above all categories, be truly thoughtful, etc. In other words, they will continue to exalt liberal positions.

My emphases and comments.

America, a popular intellectual Catholic magazine, bans terms ‘liberal,’ ‘conservative’

By Michelle Boorstein

For decades, America magazine has been a favorite of Catholic liberal intellectuals. Run by Jesuits, an order known for engaging controversial issues in the church, the magazine has featured arguments on such topics as married priests and contraception.

Now the New York-based publication is shifting course, saying in an editor’s letter this month that Americans are “sickened by the toxin of ideological partisanship” and that it will stop using the words “liberal” and “conservative” to describe Catholics’ religious viewpoints. [So, any one who takes a "hard identity" position, sickens Americans.] Leading this change is America’s new editor in chief, the Rev. Matt Malone, a former Massachusetts political speechwriter who was ordained last June. [Last June?] At 41, he is the youngest editor in the magazine’s 104 years. We spoke with Malone this week.

Q: What makes America a Jesuit magazine?

A: What’s peculiar to the Jesuits is our geography — our social political geography. [The Olympian Middle?] The Jesuits are, in the words of Pope Benedict, called to the margins. We work at the intersection of faith and public life.  [Code language for "soft identity" Catholicism.] We translate the world for the church and the church for the world. .?.?. Jesuits were the first modern urban [religious] order. [Founder Ignatius of Loyola] wanted us in the heart of the world.

Q: America has been known as a place hospitable to ideas that may challenge traditional church teaching. Now it wants to shed its reputation as liberal. Why?

A: Certainly America never called itself that or conceived of ourselves that way [as liberal]. ["Liberal", by the way, doesn't mean the same thing to everyone.] If your mission is to the margins, and at the intersection of the church and the world, by definition you live and work in tension. .?.?. On one hand we are deeply committed to the church in every sense, the institutional sense, the larger theological sense, we are in and of the church. At the same time, we are missioned to the boundaries. .?.?. Our lived commitment to the church, it’s strong. But at the same time it can’t be uncritical. [Which means that we will bite our lower lips, frown a little, cock our heads and then, after obviously having struggled for a while, water-down or avoid affirming Catholic teaching and discipline?]

Q: You wrote in an essay this month that America will no longer use the words “liberal,” “conservative” or “moderate” when referring in a non-political sense to Catholics. Why?

A: It’s not simply that terms [in a Catholic context] like “left” and “right” are inaccurate, it’s that they are counterproductive. There’s a real unity of Catholics. Any language that would oppose one part of the body to the other is inappropriate. We’re a communion. We’re, by definition, one. [Really?  Are we really all in communion?]

Q: How will this shift impact what you publish? Will you still publish pieces on controversial topics such as whether priests can marry, or female priests, or contraception? [You knew she would ask about contraception.  I am surprised she didn't bring up abortion too.]

A: We always tried to present multiple perspectives, but I think you’ll see an even more pronounced effort to do that. [But will they come down clearly on the side of a clearly presented explanation of authentic Catholic teaching on moral issues?] Look, if the church is the body of Christ and we are one communion, by definition as a work of the church, there can’t be an authentic Catholic voice that’s unwelcome in America. .?.?. [Is that so?  There "can't" be?] When we say an “authentic” Catholic voice, we don’t mean someone baptized. When we say “faithful,” we mean someone who is engaging the tradition. .?.?.  [Does "engaging the tradition" here mean "uphold" or "side-step"?] There are things that are fundamental, like the sanctity of human life. They aren’t up for debate in terms of their core value. [Watch this...]How the teachings are applied with prudence, what is appropriate for the time and place when we’re living, there are a number of ways to think about that. [For example, we all think abortion is bad, but we can set it aside, never really talk about how bad it is, and still claim the pro-life position because, instead, we have chosen to focus on the poor. ]

Q: The majority of Catholics use contraception, which is against church teaching. Would you publish on that?

A: Let me give you an example that’s easier. [Right. You wouldn't want actually to answer that question. Instead, you pivot to something else.  What will he pivot too?  Can you guess?] Catholics are committed to making sure the poor are protected and empowered. What does that look like? In the past six months, we published editorials that look like the Democratic Party platform. .?.?. But we also published articles by Catholic thinker Stacie Beck that questioned if Catholic activists and thinkers and workers are too skeptical of markets. .?.?. We were a little afraid when we published that essay. But it wound up generating a conversation. [Sure, aren't you brave and fair?  But, getting back to the original question....]

Q: What’s the general response been like from readers?

A: The feedback has been terrific. .?.?. [Aren't they cool?] If you are forced to say: “Some of my fellow Catholics think such-and-such,” instead of “Conservative Catholics think,” there’s not only a semantic shift but a spiritual shift and a theological shift.  [Uh huh.  We shall see how long that lasts.]

Q: What’s it like to be a Jesuit magazine in the unprecedented period of a Jesuit papacy? Is it harder to challenge the institution?  [Hmmm... when was it the mission of the Jesuits to "challenge" the institution, the institutional Church?]

A: Well, one difference is, the secular media are somewhat more interested in what we say and do. We’re still finding out how all this works and plays out. I have a feeling [that the way the magazine functions] won’t be dissimilar from other pontificates. [We shall see.]

Let’s wait and see what America does when Pope Francis upholds in a clear way some important Catholic teaching that liberals don’t like.

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11 Responses to America Magazine (aka “The cool kids’ table”) rises above petty distinctions

  1. Lavrans says:

    No mention of saints or helping people become saints. Theirs is a strictly horizontal and progressive view of the world. Helping the poor is great, but sinful people erecting sinful structures to cure sins is not going to work. It never has and never, though not for lack of effort. The notion of paradise earth is a secular humanist notion, not a Christian one. For these men to be out in the world, yet not sharing the truth about our purpose and end with knowledge that this world will never be perfect, is scandalous at best and sinful at worst. With all due respect to the Holy Father, the Jesuits have outlived their usefulness, if they ever had any to begin with. Those in Opus Dei and other lay groups are more “in the world” and preaching the Gospel than these elite intellectual types. Enough.

  2. trad catholic mom says:

    Good, I hope they replace them with the terms orthodox and heterodox.

    I’m not holding my breath that they can tell the difference between those though.

  3. Gratias says:

    These Liberals keep pushing the Liberation Theology for the poor. To me these Jesuits resemble Peronistas or Democrats or Marxists. They love to change the language as if that affected our salvation. The Left is now unopposed and the Church dedicated to Socialism on earth. Difficult times lie ahead for the now un-namable Conservative Catholics.

    Wonder if young Jesuit father Matt Malone is worried at all that yesterday the first Lesbian wedding took place in California, only two days after the Supreme Court decision. Probably Liberals are fine with that.

  4. JKnott says:

    ” Will you still publish pieces on controversial topics such as whether priests can marry, or female priests, or contraception? [You knew she would ask about contraception. I am surprised she didn't bring up abortion too.]
    A: We always tried to present multiple perspectives, but I think you’ll see an even more pronounced effort to do that.”

    “Multiple perspectives? Here’s a few.

    St. Ignatius “Thinking with the mind of the Church”.

    ” Always to be ready to obey with mind and heart, setting aside all judgement of one’s own, the true spouse of Jesus Christ, our holy mother, our infallible and orthodox mistress, the Catholic Church, whose authority is exercised over us by the hierarchy.
    To uphold especially all the precepts of the Church, and not censure them in any manner; but, on the contrary, to defend them promptly, with reasons drawn from all sources, against those who criticize them.
    To be eager to commend the decrees, mandates, traditions, rites and customs of the Fathers in the Faith or our superiors.
    To value most highly the sacred teaching, both the Positive and the Scholastic, as they are commonly called…
    That we may be altogether of the same mind and in conformity with the Church herself, if she shall have defined anything to be black which to our eyes appears to be white, we ought in like manner to pronounce it to be black. “

  5. capebretoner says:

    “Good, I hope they replace them with the terms orthodox and heterodox”
    Those words, much like the new translation of the missal, would be way toooo hard for that readership to understand. lol

  6. Our Unity is in Christ and the communion of the Trinity, not merely a human unity (otherwise the Church isn’t surviving)….Time to double up prayers.

  7. acardnal says:

    “When we say “faithful,” we mean someone who is engaging the tradition. .?.?. [Does "engaging the tradition" here mean "uphold" or "side-step"?] There are things that are fundamental, like the sanctity of human life. They aren’t up for debate in terms of their core value. [Watch this...]How the teachings are applied with prudence, what is appropriate for the time and place when we’re living, there are a number of ways to think about that.

    Couldn’t the above be understood as consequentalism and/or proportionalism? Both are philosophies of moral theology condemned by the Church.

    http://mycatholicfaith.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1734:veritatis-splendor-proportionalism-and-contraception&catid=67:janet-smith-articles&Itemid=133

    “America” magazine is a rag. Avoid it if you don’t want your mind polluted with non-Catholic thought.

  8. iPadre says:

    The Jesuit Pope should suppress the Jesuit rag they call a magazine.

  9. Elizabeth D says:

    I am with trad Catholic mom, they should be saying orthodox and heterodox. I have often liked to say “authoritative Catholic teaching” or “Catholic belief” vs what is “opposed to Catholic belief” and “not a Catholic opinion”. I myself try to avoid the terms liberal and conservative, unless I am directly talking about politics. Catholicism doesn’t fit neatly into the political categories, so avoiding those terms avoids distortions. The problem here, as I see it, is not really that America wants to avoid “liberal” and “conservative” but that America does not always seem to be coming from an editorial point of view that Catholic teaching is authoritative and true, so one wonders at their reason for that.

    If this helps them avoid the temptation to misguidedly describe political supporters of natural marriage as “conservative,” or bishops who promote the Fortnight for Freedom as “conservative,” then this may be a good direction for them.

  10. jflare says:

    “.. there’s not only a semantic shift but a spiritual shift and a theological shift.”

    Every time I hear something like this, I begin to cringe. Usually the “semantic shift” means that Catholics who actually wish to live by the Church’s teachings will be directed to cool our rhetoric and our attitudes. How he expects that they’ll manage to shift any more in spirit and theology though, without simply returning to actual Catholic teaching, goes well beyond my ability to discern.
    Seems to me that a good portion of the “Spirit of Vatican II” dealt with “semantic changes” that intensely blunted the sharp teachings of the Church; we wound up eagerly and enthusiastically embracing a collision course with sin as youth, primarily because the language we heard and used..didn’t hint at any particular concern to be worried about.

    Theological shift indeed! We came to resemble pagans more than anything else.

  11. Rich says:

    What a joke the writer’s logic is. She hails those who don’t make petty distinctions as she distinguishes those who do and those who don’t make distinction. What a petty distinction that is.