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Friday, September 27, 2013

In which I exile myself from polite company and retreat to the margins of Catholic society.




This is basically how I feel. Like the person Sutherland is pointing at the end of Invasion. Essentially, the Catholic world I know has been seized by body snatchers and is about to notice that I am not lining up to board the F1 to the Promised Land.

Yes, this is about the interview. Quick summary of my reaction: some very good parts, some easily-soundbitten ammo I can expect to see all over the place, but is still explicable in terms of preaching the Gospel, and a disastrous, giant ticking nuke about to blow us back to the Church of the 1970s.

SHRREEEEEEEIIIIIK!

The Interview Was Candy Mountain Awesome, Charlie! Everyone agrees--it was full of candy, and joy, and joyness! You don't believe that?


Yeah, well, I can live with that. Hier stehe ich. Ich kann nicht anders.

[Just to make the inevitable scream of "That's unclean Protestant talk!" a little easier.]

As I see it, there are three serious problems, two of which are related to how it's being received and processed, and the third is the nuke.

Problem 1: We Are All Ultramontaines Now.


Don't drag me into this, Americain. My Papa Pius would have cracked your skulls
as the opener for the ritual of excommunication. Then he'd have gotten mean.

Including--nay, especially!--people who have spent a generation ignoring, deriding or spinning away every encyclical, apostolic letter and motu proprio that flowed forth from the pens of John Paul II and Benedict XVI.

But an interview--in America Magazine--well, my God! It's new tablets from Sinai! And we can play historical critical whiteout with the parts we don't like! Is it Elohist or Deuternomic? Forget it--we'll figure it out later! Anyway--miraculously--we agree with the whole thing! (More of which later.)


A 44th Edition including The Interview! is no doubt being prepared as we speak.

As an aside, it's good to see the Jesuits at America released from the dungeons after the long night of Benedict the Destroyer. The shackle chafe marks being no doubt hidden under the long sleeves. Some advice: sunlight and a vitamin regimen will banish the sallow complexions.

But, really, uniform praise--especially this wall-to-wall and adulatory--makes me uneasy. There's something fundamentally off about it. In fact, the adulation being heaped on Pope Francis is general is...odd. I mean, it's almost like he's being given a prize for not being Benedict. That's certainly the case on the Catholic left, which is transferring its creepy cultish adoration of Obama, the Not-Bush, to Francis, the Not-Benedict. Benedict the Rottweiler, Who Can be Safely Archived and Forgotten Like a Bad Dream In This New Age.

What the right's deal is, I don't know. The Pope Says We Must Re-Balance, So We Must Re-Balance. It smacks too much of a new CEO coming in, and everyone having to get with the program. At a minimum, it's a feverish celebration that has no parallels with how it received Benedict, which was more defensive and apologetic, and less effusive in its praise.

You saw nothing in the interview heralding trouble, eh? Nothing at all?

The fact both are united in swoonery suggests that one or the other is missing something. And someone is, as we shall see in Problem 3.

Problem 2: The Left Triumphant.

It's Vatican III in one day!

Never prouder of the Church, nor more surprised by the Spirit!

Andrew Sullivan's "It's the Rebirth of Catholicism!" is beautiful! (n.b. the re-tweets, including Fr. Martin) [For the record: Sullivan remains a vicious manichean.]

Oh, and the gloating, howls of triumph over backwardness, "hatred," etc.

The response to this from the so-called orthodox? The Left must not have read it. They're reading it through a MSM lens. If they read it, they misread it.You're being morose, Eeyorish and depressive.

Translation: Looks like someone's got a case of the Mondays! Turn that frown upside down! Let a smile be your umbrella!

Allow me to retort:



To suggest that they have all misread it and/or are delusional is itself delusional. When was the last time they were this energized? Never. Not in my Catholic lifetime.

Anybody on the left feeling betrayed, cast aside, discounted, demoralized, even a sense of disquiet? Nope. That's a telling datum, don't you think? To which I hear NO, FROWNY FACE, IT IS NOT. GET WITH THE PROGRAM.

Rex Mottram Lives!

Alas, I am not honestly able to say that the Left is wrong in how they received this.

And why is that? Because there's a flat-out admission from the Bishop of Rome's that his preferred governing style is much different, and much more to their liking. It will, in fact, let their good times roll. Disco pants and haircuts and Jadot, all the way down.

Problem 3: The Nuke.

There are all sorts of small rhetorical problems with the interview, easily sound-bitten parts that are being used by the Left--and occasionally the knife-happy non-left that hates pro-lifers--with glee: "obsessed," "small-minded rules," etc. Can you find any soundbites to fling back at the retrograde, unChristian behavior of progressives? Let me know.

Hint: there aren't any.

Still, to a large degree, they can be dealt with, and credibly, as an evangelization imperative: the good news is not that abortion is a moral abomination (though it is), but rather that Jesus Christ is God the Son, who became incarnate, died for our sins and rose for our salvation. When people get a grasp on that mystery, you can build upon it:

When He did so, He established a Church of believers, guided by God the Holy Spirit, who witness to the unalterable truth that murdering infants in the womb is a horror to be rejected. Because, after all, Jesus the Risen Savior of us all, lived in the womb, too.

OK. That's doable. The soundbites will still be misused, to great mischief, but that's manageable.

But there's one that can't be spun.

I am baffled that no one else has commented on it. It was impossible to miss it. America, recognizing the significance as orthodox commentators have not, conveniently blew it up in bigger "Peace In Our Time!" type for easy reading.

Because it's important. In fact, administratively-speaking, it was the most important damn piece of the interview. Here it is, as it appeared in America:

I ask the pope what he thinks of the dicasteries of the Roman Curia, the various departments that assist the pope in his mission.
It is amazing to see the denunciations for lack of orthodoxy that come to Rome. I think the cases should be investigated by the local bishops’ conferences, which can get valuable assistance from Rome. These cases, in fact, are much better dealt with locally.“The dicasteries of the Roman Curia are at the service of the pope and the bishops,” he says. “They must help both the particular churches and the bishops’ conferences. They are instruments of help. In some cases, however, when they are not functioning well, they run the risk of becoming institutions of censorship. It is amazing to see the denunciations for lack of orthodoxy that come to Rome. I think the cases should be investigated by the local bishops’ conferences, which can get valuable assistance from Rome. These cases, in fact, are much better dealt with locally. The Roman congregations are mediators; they are not middlemen or managers.”
Translation: 

Yes, yes, yes. He excommunicated a po-faced Aussie priest-heretic whose case was in the pipeline before he became Bishop of Rome. Whoop-de-doo. But faced with his astonishment at the complaints about orthodoxy, the message is clear: Stop sending me this stuff. We're not going to be "censorial." We're mediators now. That title is "Bishop of Rome." Collegiality. Mediatorial.
Bishops, being men with careers, will take the explicit hint. And so will wayward clerics, theologians, religious, etc. Rome has left the barn door open. And the toothless, juridically-impotent bishops' conference will "handle" it instead. Boo-yah. But gingerly, because HQ doesn't want to see this stuff.

How, of course, one is supposed to "mediate" between the faith of the Church and the evergreen popularity of "the apostles hid Jesus' corpse but good!" is unclear. And let's remember Benedict's Reign of Terror meant that--gasp!--the censured theologians got tenure at other schools. 

The horror....the horror...

Then again, it might work. Hey--maybe this guy's Catholic. He was a mediator between geniuses, so this is right up his alley:



Yeah, I know. I've been snarky, sardonic and flip. But that's the only way I can keep from smashing my head into the desk. We're in for an extraordinarily-bumpy ride. I'm feeling demoralized, frankly. The alleged obsession with abortion, contraception and gay marriage is the most well-hidden one I've ever encountered, as the first only rarely, and the second and third never, have rung from any pulpit I've attended. I've heard God called "She" more times than I've heard homilies about contraception. Given the personal difficulties and conflicts my wife and I have had to "enjoy" for our decisions to be open to life, it was of some reassurance that at least the Pope had our back. The Bishop of Rome seems to have a different outlook about that, and we're all the more alone as a result.

I don't mind carrying my cross. I just don't appreciate Catholics adding sandbags to the burden.