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July 21, 2006

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» The "Decline" of the Neocaths? from Catholic Pillow Fight
Father Joe O'Leary is at it again. St. Paul writes about gongs bonging and cymbals clashing. I don't think there is a better bonger or clasher than the good father. [Read More]

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Another Neocath

The only thing that saves you is that you live in Japan. At least, that fact serves as an excuse for your COMPLETE IGNORANCE of the scene today.


Does your criticism include the new movements?

Spirit of Vatican II

My criticism includes the new movements to the degree that they are a replacement of the participative church envisioned by Vatican II by sect-like formations. The new movements have produced much piety, but little valuable theological thinking. However the love-bombers of the new movements are not the worst neocaths -- the restorationist ideologists a la Neuhaus.

In short I agree with what Paul Collins, in his inimitably frank Australian way, says about the new movements:

'There is also an emerging unspoken assumption among some very senior church leaders that the contemporary western world is so far gone in individualism, permissiveness and consumerism that it is totally impervious to church teaching. Claiming to assume the broader historical perspective, these churchmen have virtually abandoned the secularised masses, to nurture elitist enclaves which will carry the true faith through to future, more “receptive” generations. This is why the New Religious Movements (NRMs) have received so much favour and patronage in this papacy. The NRMs have embraced an essentially sectarian vision of Catholicism, are very hierarchical in structure and theologically reactionary. This is true of some elements in the Catholic charismatic movement, and also outfits like Opus Dei, Communion and Liberation, the Neo-Catechuminate and the Legionaries of Christ, as well as a number of other smaller, less significant groupings.'

http://www.natcath.com/NCR_Online/documents/CollinsREASONS.htm

The entire text of Collins' stunning denunciation is worth reading.

Spirit of Vatican II

http://mliccione.blogspot.com/2006/07/fall-and-rise-of-neocaths_29.html

By what magic does Joe O'Leary still have priestly faculties and/or a teaching position?
Mark Andrews | 07.29.06 - 10:29 pm | #

NOTE HERE THE LAST RESORT OF THE NEOCATHS....

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Beats me. But then, when I was young I never understood why so many prog priests I knew retained their status either.

We need bishops with cojones. Bit by bit, we're starting to get them. E.g., Chaput in Denver, Burke in St. Louis, and Finn in Kansas City-St. Joseph. There are not enough like them, but there are more than there used to be. Perhaps Rome isn't focusing as much on Japan.
Michael Liccione | Homepage | 07.29.06 - 10:47 pm | #

BULLYING IS THE BASELINE OF NEOCATH DISCOURSE.

Spirit of Vatican II

Reactionary journalist Sandro Magister (see pblosser.blogspot.com) makes much of a document issued by the Spanish Bishops in collaboration with the CDF. Magister claims that it is a working model for bishops in other nations. One of Dr Blosser's groupies asks: 'Could this be a watershed moment? We've known all along that the liturgical crisis at its roots is a crisis of theology. It sounds to me like the Spanish bishops are addressing the root cause of many of the specific problems debated on this blog: a genuine crisis of faith.'

The document in question is a Syllabus of Errors, closely reflecting the usual headache issues of Cardinal Ratzinger, the then prefect of the CDF, particularly the alleged danger of relativism.

Typical quote: '9. It is incompatible with the faith of the Church to consider Revelation, as some authors do, as a merely subjective perception by which “one becomes aware” of the God who dwells within us and tries to manifest himself to us. [...]'

Of course that is a valid enought account of one aspect of revelation. The authors think the theologians they refer to reduce revelation to the merely subjective -- that, I suspect, is a product of jaundiced reading. They are fighting against Vatican II theology like that of Karl Rahner, and they baptize as orthodoxy their own theology that issues from Ottaviani.

Another quuote: 'It is mistaken to understand Revelation as the immanent development of peoples, and to consider all religions as “revealed,” in conformity with the level of progress they have reached in their history, and in this sense as true and salvific.'

Again this sounds like an attack on Rahner, who maintained something like this vision in 'Revelation and Tradition', a book co-authored with the present Pope.

The Syllabus of errors is an uninsightful attempt to characterize current theological thinking from the point of view of people who are not attuned to it and who have no positive vision of their own to offer -- no leadership in short. The people of God are paying for the huge bureaucracy who devote their time to producing such futile documents and to smearing the theologians mentioned in a vain attempt to find efficacious sacrificial scapegoats. Even if all their criticisms or these theologians were correct and all the alleged errors were henceforth avoided, the resulting contribution to strengthening faith and spiritual vitality and church life and church service of humanity would be precisely nil, for the problems of the church and of the liturgy today have nothing to do with a deficit of doctrinal orthodoxy. Only a future Council can get Catholicism out of its present paralysis.

True orthodoxy is consubstantial with living faith. But the emphasis on an ideologically distorted orthodoxy is a source of alientation and paralysis. Even a stress on good doctrinal orthodoxy at the expense of the pastoral efficacy of the church and of its commitment to educating humanity in the ways of peace and justice -- God's ways -- is counter-productive.

Presentations of Christology that close off the background of universal revelation of the Word, in grace and salvation from the beginning of human history, are unorthodox in that they diminish the intelligibility of the Incarnation and the reach of Christ's mercy, projecting instead a sectarian exclusivism.

Spirit of Vatican II

More neocath outrage at: http://www.catholicpillowfight.com/blog343.html

Money quote: 'Pope Benedict. His first encyclical was brilliant, expanding on the work of his predecessor with regards to the proper use of our God-given sexuality. But father O'Leary has quite a big problem with that. He believes that when it comes to sex, any sex will do.'

Au contraire, I urge the superiority of loving and faithful sexuality, which is why I back committed unions among gays over the promiscuity that is in practice valorized by the homophobic brigade. Recently it has been discovered that a huge percentage of hate crimes against gays are motivated uniquely by religious concerns. The neocaths have their share of blame to bear for this.

DarwinCatholic

If you define folks like New Oxford Review as "NeoCaths" it may well seem like they are falling into irrelevency. But, many of those who trumpet themselves as NeoCaths would reject NOR as being members of the viewpoint in the first place.

Your list of signs of decline seems an odd mix of 'trads' and 'neos' and just plain folks. With such an oddly defined movement, it's hard to say how it could be in ascendance or decline.

Real Catholic

You tell 'em, Fr. O'Leary! Thank God we have true priests like yourself in our Church, who will stand up to self-righteous bullies with no historical sense whatsoever!

Tony

No, father. This is the money quote:

"Father Joe O'Leary is at it again. St. Paul writes about gongs bonging and cymbals clashing. I don't think there is a better bonger or clasher than the good father."

Teófilo

Great! Thank you for including me in your list of the vulnerable, noisy minority, already showing signs of decline list of NeoCath bloggers. For a second I thought you forgot about me. I really appreciate it.

-Theo

Catholic Mom

Thank you, Fr. O'Leary, for exposing these people for the nut jobs they are! There are so many of us in the pews (and on the internet) who are embarassed by their hateful screeds all over the blogosphere...

Another fan!

I agree--thanks for sticking up for the masses here, fr. oleary! Don't let those creeps get you down! And don't worry, secretly they know you're right...why else would they get so worked up every time you write?! ha ha!

Terrence Berres

"The way forward is clear:"

So I sometimes hear, but where is the example showing how the path you suggest has drawn millions of people to it? You've cited the Episcopal Church in the U.S. as a model. The Catholic Church in the U.S. might have declining participation but it is growing overall. ECUSA can't even say that; it has been losing members.

To pick one topic, as I've pointed out before, you've asserted that the English-language Catholic liturgy has never been what the Council intended. My former Archbishop, Rembert Weakland, said just the opposite, also grounding his position on the Spirit of Vatican II. (He was actually involved in working up the implementation of the Council Decree on Liturgy, as you can see if you refer to Cardinal Bugnini's book.)

So what you suggest appears to be neither a way forward nor clear.

Spirit of Vatican II

"Where is the example showing how the path you suggest has drawn millions of people to it? You've cited the Episcopal Church in the U.S. as a model. The Catholic Church in the U.S. might have declining participation but it is growing overall. ECUSA can't even say that; it has been losing members."

The Church is hardly growing in traditional heartlands such as Ireland or Spain, where one rather sees incipient fossilization. If the US Church is vibrant, it is perhaps because Vatican II had more impact there?

Numbers are not, of course, the principal criterion of Christian vitality -- as John Paul II and Benedict XVI have often stressed. But where exactly are the numbers increasing in any case? Burgeoning Catholic populations in third world countries could simply be a matter of demography rather than of church growth testifying to the drawing-power of contemporary Catholicism. Remember, too, that in Japan or China an extremely traditionalist Catholicism would have the appeal of the culturally other and would be an import of recent vintage; its attraction would have no relevance to the debate on the merits of Vatican II Catholicism.

"To pick one topic, as I've pointed out before, you've asserted that the English-language Catholic liturgy has never been what the Council intended. My former Archbishop, Rembert Weakland, said just the opposite, also grounding his position on the Spirit of Vatican II. (He was actually involved in working up the implementation of the Council Decree on Liturgy, as you can see if you refer to Cardinal Bugnini's book.)"

I don't think I said that. I think that the philistinism of the post Vatican II Church betrays the Council in one respect, but a vernacular and participative liturgy is of course what the Council asked for. The liturgy is more linguistically pleasing in French, because a poet was involved in writing it, in accordance with the Council's call that the art of our times be given free rein in the Church.

The aspect of the "way forward" that most interests me is interreligious dialogue -- Paul VI and John Paul II were very keen on this. The momentum may be failing at the moment and I do not think we will see more Assisi encounters during the present pontificate. On the other hand, the world-situation may make dialogue with Islam and Judaism a matter of urgency.

Vatican II calls on every Catholic to practise ecumenism. In reality, ecumenism has been a minority concern, as has liberation theology, interreligious dialogue and pretty much everything else in the Vatican II line. The Spirit is moving in small communities and in places to the edge of the Church, such as monasteries.

Today Christian culture should be more educative and exciting for all who participate in it than ever before. Instead a morose, backward-looking attitude has prevailed. I would see it epitomized in the rich baroque tapestries of Hans Urs von Balthasar (at least since he buried himself in his multi-volume theological aesthetics from 1961 on).

I am very happy to have glimpsed the cutting edge of Christian thought where Christians dialogue with Jews and Buddhists as they respond together to the "signs of the times". The harvest is great even if the labourers are few, or too busy to reap it. Meanwhile I deplore that so few are able to see beyond parochial muddles that offer no spiritual or intellectual nourishment at all.

Terrence Berres

You say "If the US Church is vibrant, it is perhaps because Vatican II had more impact there?"

I don't say it's vibrant, only that it's growing in total numbers. If that had something to do with the principles of Vatican II, and if ECUSA better embodies those principles (as you claim), I'd expect ECUSA to be growing faster. Instead it's shrinking.

"Numbers are not, of course, the principal criterion of Christian vitality..."

Numbers might not be a sufficient criterion, but isn't it a necessary one?

"But where exactly are the numbers increasing in any case?"

That's my point to you. And it touches on our earlier discussion of the Church in Central America. It's an argument against, not for, the relevance of Liberation Theology that the millions who leave the Church leave in the opposite direction. The numbers are increasing in various evangelical and pentecostal churches.

On the English-language liturgy, in your open letter To the Chairman of ICEL http://josephsoleary.typepad.com/my_weblog/2006/06/letter_to_bisho.html you referred to "the grievous damage done to the church by the flat, sloppy liturgical translations of the last 35 years." I think I accurately characterized that. You now also say "The liturgy is more linguistically pleasing in French, because a poet was involved in writing it" but that's had no discernible effect on French Catholics attending.

You say "The Spirit is moving in small communities and in places to the edge of the Church, such as monasteries." From what I've seen of small communities, I doubt it. You cite Glenstal Abbey in Co. Limerick, Ireland http://www.glenstal.org/ I haven't been there, so all I know is what's on its web site. The Music Suggestions http://www.glenstal.org/sundaymusic.htm for the "19th Sunday in Ordinary Time (B) 13th August 2006" included these "Hymns and Other Songs and Chants".
Eat this Bread (Ga)
Gift of finest Wheat (AA)
I am the Bread of Life (AA)
Love is His Word (VH)
Priestly People (AA)
Those could be the hymns on a typical Sunday at my suburban American parish. Judging by results, this isn't the "way forward".

Spirit of Vatican II


I find the US Church insofar as it is a church of Vatican II and also the ECUSA to be very vibrant, from what I know about them.

But you are no doubt right that the vibrancy does not translate into numbers. Perhaps the growth in numbers in US catholicism as in Anglicanism is amid traditional congregations, often representing the Global South.

"Numbers might not be a sufficient criterion, but isn't it a necessary one?" Not sure about this -- Benedict XVI often spoke of a smaller more authentic church.

" It's an argument against, not for, the relevance of Liberation Theology that the millions who leave the Church leave in the opposite direction. The numbers are increasing in various evangelical and pentecostal churches." Lib theol never really had a substantial presence in the Latin American church as far as I know and if it had was it not crushed by the Vatican? The usual explanation is that the evangelicals and pentecostals offer a sense of community that people do not find in the RCC.

The way forward of Vatican II includes participative creative liturgy in consciousness of the signs of the times (justice and peace concerns). The failure to implement this goes far beyond linguistic philistinism, it concerns church structures for example as well, and theological questions.

If you have a recipe for revitalizing the French Church, out with it! It has also been hamstrung by failures to realize the vision of Vatican II and by the sclerosis of clericalist structures.

I do not worry about numbers at all -- it is a red herring. Religion is like music -- a musician who counted numbers would be a dud, what concerns him is to love the music, to find meaning in it, to play it well, to understand it better, to renew his repertoire.

In any case all this groaning about the crisis of faith is largely a matter of clutching at fossilized clerical structures. The horizons of religious thought and life have never been so rich and interesting, even if a failure of communication has blocked many people from access to them.

Terrence Berres

"I find the US Church insofar as it is a church of Vatican II and also the ECUSA to be very vibrant ..."

That appears to be making your position irrefutable by your choice of definition. Using your definition, ECUSA could be ever more vibrant until going out of existence in the near future.

"Benedict XVI often spoke of a smaller more authentic church."

Relevant only if he spoke of it as an end in itself. I assume he would favor a larger more authentic Church, if he saw the way forward to it. (I have to admit I find the approach of the Good Shepherd and the fellows with five and ten talents more appealing, as I understand those analogies.)

"Lib theol never really had a substantial presence in the Latin American church as far as I know and if it had was it not crushed by the Vatican?"

I still hear about it from local archdiocesan and parish staff in the U.S. and from human rights types when I'm on our parish mission to Guatemala. It just didn't and doesn't seem very connected to people's lives. You teach literature; the term "coterie theater" comes to mind.

"The way forward of Vatican II includes participative creative liturgy in consciousness of the signs of the times (justice and peace concerns)."

Wouldn't justice and peace concerns be concerns about bringing justice and peace to more people? And if liturgy is a means to that, doesn't that require more people attending those liturgies? The people I come in contact with who plan liturgies say the same things you're saying, and likewise seem to think that continuing declines in attendance are no reason to re-examine their ideas.

"If you have a recipe for revitalizing the French Church, out with it!"

Now you seem to be joining in using numbers to measure vitality. Again, though, you had contrasted the approach to the French and English language liturgies as significant. My point is it's hard to see how the better French translation mattered.

"It has also been hamstrung by failures to realize the vision of Vatican II and by the sclerosis of clericalist structures."

But that goes back to my point that we were told that the English-language Mass we've had was a realization of the vision of Vatican II, and by people in a better position than you to say what that vision was. If the Spirit (or vision) of Vatican II is used to reach such contradictory conclusions, then it should come as no surprise that citing the Spirit of Vatican II has been increasingly ineffective in argument with various types of conservatives.

"I do not worry about numbers at all -- it is a red herring. Religion is like music -- a musician who counted numbers would be a dud, what concerns him is to love the music, to find meaning in it, to play it well, to understand it better, to renew his repertoire."

I do not worry about numbers, either, but about the people the numbers represent. For example, if I were a musician, I would be concerned about all the things you mention for the sake of the people who would hear my music. Of course, I might never have audiences but play only for my own enjoyment, but that's music as a hobby. And that's what I see a lot of, people on the Church payroll for whom the Spirit of Vatican II translates into doing their job as if it were a hobby rather than part of a mission. One's model railroad can be ever more authentic, but that won't get anyone anywhere.

Terrence Berres

Thanks for the seven suggestions. I would take them to my parish but they think that's what we've been doing for decades. Not only that, they would say we've been doing them in the Spirit of Vatican II. Yet the parish has been slowly devitalizing.

Spirit of Vatican II

So what do you propose? Perhaps it is the age we live in that is to blame?

Terrence Berres

"So what do you propose?"

I do some thinking out loud about that at my blog, but that doesn't usually rise to the level of a proposal.

Your suggestion 8 does remind me that I've wondered why the obligation to pray the Office was not coordinated with the hope of reviving the Liturgy of the Hours. In these parts, at the close of the Council, many parishes had several priests many teaching sisters. Might they have begun to all gather in the church for morning and evening prayer, and invited the parishioners to join in person or in spirit? Even if no parishioners showed up, the clergy and religious had to say the Office anyway. If parishioners did attend, new prayer books might have been helpful, but there probably was enough material in the Missals we used at the time to get by.

It seemed like something that would have required little extra effort, and would have accomplished a Council goal (if I understand it) without being as wrenching a change as some others have been.

Or maybe this was going on at the time, and I never heard about it then or since.

"Perhaps it is the age we live in that is to blame?"

In a sense, as Pope John Paul II might say. If we take the program you outline, your most acerbic critic in Prof. Blosser's combox might agree with the words. They might, however, disagree with your ideas on implementation. Sort of post-Vatican II in miniature.

The practical problem would be actually setting up these programs, and then getting people to participate. Everyone's "too busy" in the age we live in. Even if they attend, that doesn't mean they'll find the programs satisfying. I can't say my parish experience with the kinds of things you suggest has often encouraged me to come back for more.

We sometimes see people making a much greater time commitement at another church than they did as Catholics. It looks like some other churches fill a social role that our parishes don't, and people spend time at church events that Catholics spend elsewhere.

Tess

I'm sorry to come to this blog a week late, but I would still like to comment.

As someone who is conservative about sexual behavior (ie. I feel very drawn to JPII's Theology of the Body), and also probably a "new" old fogey in terms of sacred images and architecture, I too find the internet neocaths negative.

There is often a destructive and critical cruelty in their analysis of current issues in the Church. I am a New Zealander, so I don't have any connection to the American situation, but it seems so combative. Whilst I believe they are right in terms of abortion, women's ordination, homosexual sex, for example, I can't fail to see their pride. I myself have engaged in snide comments, and I regret my actions.

OTOH the progressive flank of the internet blogs seem to be blinkered in terms that whilst _we_ may not judge another's soul, God will. There seems to be a youthful hopefulness that their sincerity will absolve them of responsibility to God's Revelation.

On both sides their seems to be focus, not on God or His love, but on how we must be seen to be right. In this attitude their almost seems to be an idol of righteousness that cuts off the flowing bounty of Christ's gift to us in Mother Church. Neither faction seems prepared to die to self in their desires for our Church, where is God's will in all this talk? Where is the humility to admit that our limited and finite existence can not ever fully understand our Creator?

I don't have any great answers or insights and I'm in no position to debate you since I'm no trained theologian, but sometimes I see human hope overshadow divine majesty in what you say.

Pertinacious Papist

Your continued interest is endlessly enchanting. I trust your air conditioning compensates sufficiently for your overheated computer.

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