Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

3 Kinds of Catholics?

July 25th, 2011, Promulgated by b a

This quote from Fr. Callan pretty much sums it up.  Just as Cleansing Fire can say things that priests who side with us can’t say without facing repercussions, Fr. Callan is the voice of the progressives in the Diocese of Rochester.  He articulates their own thoughts which they know they can’t blatantly come out with.  This is from pages 151-152 of “The Studentbaker Corporation”:

Everyone in the Corporation – except myself – either left or was thrown out of the seminary before ordination.  I stayed and became a priest, yet twenty-four years after ordination, I, too, was thrown out.  But all of us are still Catholic.  A rabbi once told me, “You Catholics need to learn from us Jews.  We have three branches – Orthodox, Conservative and Reform.  If you don’t fit in one, you can always join the other and still remain Jewish.”  But, in reality, there are three ways to be Catholic, too:  1) accepting the existing system with passivity (such as Opus Dei, Catholics United for the Faith, and Legionaries of Christ); [I don’t accept this wording. See first Chesterton quote below.] 2) working to build a more just and equal church within the instituation in the hopes of changing it (such as a Call to Action movement, FutureChurch, Priests for Equality, and Corpus Christi and Fortunate Families); and 3) creating alternative models of church that are less institutional (such as house churches, fellowships, small communities led by married priests, and churches such as Spiritus Christi).

I would put Bill Droel, Charlie DiSalvo, Jude Thines and Marty Palumbos (brother of Ed, I believe) in the #2 category above [and sadly many in our local hierarchy and parallel hierarchy].  They continue to attend church regularly, with a critical eye, and get involved with standard parish ministries such as folk groups, marriage preparation, lectoring and stewardship committees.  They work to stretch their churches to become more inclusive and more responsive to the needs of the poor [If this were only about the poor, it’d be hard to find real opposition.].  I would put John Erb and myself in the #3 category.  We are among the millions of Catholic communities, yet remain connected to the larger institution through a shared theology and occasional worship and collaboration.

The Catholic church at present is a Cadillac limousine with four flat tires.  It sits under a shade tree and is covered with bird droppings.  On the windshield is a big parking ticket for staying too long in the same place.  Rather than give up on the church, we need to breath of the Holy Spirit to pump up the tires and get the beautiful car moving again  The Holy Spirit needs to send it through the car wash – perhaps a bath of persecution – where it can be cleansed of the compromises that have soiled it [Did you hear that, God?  You’re not doing your job.].  The church needs to get back on the highway where it can serve people, rather than be struck by the side of the road under the shelter of a tree. [see second Chesterton quote below]

As a rebuttal, I’ll offer this Chesterton quote I stole from Saving Our Parish. This completely debunks the passivity of accepting orthodox Catholicism. For me, it was hardly passive – it was a complete upheaval.  I didn’t want it to be true.  On the face of it, my life would’ve been much easier had it not been true.  Fortunately for me, the Hound of Heaven was relentless.

This process, which may be called discovering the Catholic Church, is perhaps the most pleasant and straightforward part of the business, easier than joining the Catholic Church and much easier than trying to live the Catholic life. It is like discovering a new continent full of strange flowers and fantastic animals, which is at once wild and hospitable. To give anything like a full account of that process would simply be to discuss about half a hundred Catholic ideas and institutions in turn. I might remark that much of it consists of the act of translation; of discovering the real meaning of words, which the Church uses rightly and the world uses wrongly. For instance, the convert discovers that “scandal” does not mean “gossip”; and the sin of causing it does not mean that it is always wicked to set silly old women wagging their tongues. Scandal means scandal, what it originally meant in Greek and Latin: the tripping up of somebody else when he is trying to be good. Or he will discover that phrases like “counsel of perfection” or “venial sin,” which mean nothing at all in the newspapers, mean something quite intelligent and interesting in the manuals of moral theology. He begins to realise that it is the secular world that spoils the sense of words; and he catches an exciting glimpse of the real case for the iron immortality of the Latin Mass. It is not a question between a dead language and a living language, in the sense of an everlasting language. It is a question between a dead language and a dying language; an inevitably degenerating language. It is these numberless glimpses of great ideas, that have been hidden from the convert by the prejudices of his provincial culture, that constitute the adventurous and varied second stage of the conversion. (The Catholic Church and Conversion by G. K. Chesterton)

In as much as the Church consists of fallible human beings who constantly fail to live up to what the Gospel demands of her, I will agree with his assessment of the Church being covered with bird droppings.  However, it is not in her doctrines that she is flawed and needs cleansing.  To change her doctrines is to create a new religion altogether (not a branch of the same religion).  I will again turn to Mr. Chesterton to rebut Fr. Callan with an alternate view:

It is always easy to let the age have its head; the difficult thing is to keep one’s own. It is always easy to be a modernist; as it is easy to be a snob. To have fallen into any of those open traps of error and exaggeration which fashion after fashion and sect after sect set along the historic path of Christendom—that would indeed have been simple. It is always simple to fall; there are an infinity of angles at which one falls, only one at which one stands. To have fallen into any one of the fads from Gnosticism to Christian Science would indeed have been obvious and tame. But to have avoided them all has been one whirling adventure; and in my vision the heavenly chariot flies thundering through the ages, the dull heresies sprawling and prostrate, the wild truth reeling but erect.

As far as pretending that Catholics can legitimately fall into the three camps proposed by Fr. Callan, I’ll offer Mike’s comment on the Catholic Courier article “Is Catholic chasm growing?

Mr. Latona quotes from an article by the late Father John Hardon, S.J. I find it interesting that this article ends with the following words:

“The holder of the Petrine Office is the direct descendent of Peter to whom were handed the keys of the kingdom. His mandate is clear; our duty as Roman Catholics is to adhere to both the letter and the Spirit as the Holy Father delineates them for us, not pick and choose those aspects of Catholicism more to our liking. As 2 John 9 reminds us, anyone who ‘does not remain rooted in the teaching of Christ does not possess God, while anyone who remains rooted in the teaching possesses both Father and the Son.'”

I know of no local blogger who wants anything more – or less! – than this.



4 Responses to “3 Kinds of Catholics?”

  1. Bruce says:

    It is much more difficult, and requires much more diligence and effort, to be a faithful Catholic – adhering to ALL Church teachings and to the Magisterium – than it is to be a “dead body floating downstream” progressive.

  2. annonymouse says:

    Oh Father Callan, there’s your ugly pride rearing its ugly head yet again.

    Did it ever occur to you, Father, that perhaps we are called to a life of humility, one of humble submission? Take Our Blessed Mother’s fiat as the example of your life and you cannot go far wrong.

  3. Richard Thomas says:

    They all talk BIG about “changing the Church”, but when push comes to shove, there are a hmany powerful arguments why the Church is correct concerning birth control, premarital sex, homosexuality and abortion. Yet these Progressives are mute, want to stifle the conversation or simply ignore these facts when advocating their own ideology. If it doeasn’t fit, make like it doesn’t exist. And just hearing the likes of Sr. Scholes concerning birth control and homsexuality, I rest my case.

  4. annonymouse says:

    In the end, there are only two kinds of Catholics: the sheep and the goats, those sent to the right, and those sent to the left.

    Fr. Callan might do well to pay attention to that – he (like everyone) ought not assume that one is a sheep. There are a lot of souls for whom he may be held accountable. It’s not to late to repent and adopt a modicum of humility.

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