Schütz on Fr Z on John Allen on Benedict on the SSPX and TAC…

Sooner or later, the National Catholic reporter is going to have to “let John Allen go”. He might have started off where the editors of this ultra-liberal, practically dissident, magazine is at, but his years of experience covering the Vatican has actually led him to be one of the most balanced and honest reporters in the Catholic world. One wonders how long his editors will continue to put up with his growing habit of calling a spade a spade.

He does it again in this piece, which links the talks with the SSPX, the Anglican Apostolic Constitution, and the European Court’s decision on Crucifixes in Italian schools, with what he calls (correctly, I believe) “Evangelical Catholicism”. Inter alia, he writes:

To over-simplify a bit, Benedict XVI is opening the door to the Lefebvrites and to traditionalist Anglicans in part because whatever else they may be, they are among the Christians least prone to end up, in the memorable phrase of Jacques Maritain, “kneeling before the world,” meaning sold out to secularism.

It is useful to read this piece with Fr John Zuhlsdorf’s comments here.

I actually self-identify (in case you hadn’t realised) with “Evangelical Catholicism”. I described myself as that long before John Allen started using he term – even as a Lutheran! But when Allen began describing it, I thought, yep, that’s me. I think there ar many out there – including you, dear reader – who fall into this category. Each of us is a little grain of proof of what John Allen says in this article.

Also interesting in the light of recent discussions here on the SCE blog is Allen’s reflection that:

Western secularization is crossing the line from neutrality to outright hostility, toward religion in general and Catholicism in particular. Cardinal Renato Martino, the former President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, put things this way: “It looks like a new Inquisition. It is a lay Inquisition, but it is so nasty. You can freely insult and attack Catholics, and nobody will say anything.”…

Perhaps the lone indisputable result of Tuesday’s ruling, therefore, is that it will cement impressions among many religious believers, and particularly among Catholics, that Europe’s secular elites are determined to drive religion out of public life—that the “nasty lay inquisition” to which Martino referred continues apace.

Well… the European lawyers can tick that box.

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20 Comments

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20 responses to “Schütz on Fr Z on John Allen on Benedict on the SSPX and TAC…

  1. Lance Eccles

    The NCR would be shooting itself in the foot to let John Allen go. One doesn’t peruse the NCR for the words of wisdom of Fr John Dear or Sr Joan Chittister, or (God forbid!) Dr Clarissa Pinkola Estés.

  2. I think there ar many out there – including you, dear reader – who fall into this category.

    Totally. 🙂

  3. Western secularization is crossing the line from neutrality to outright hostility, toward religion in general and Catholicism in particular.

    Definitely.

    Interestingly, the purveyors of this new Inquisition will protest that they are enlightened and would not do wicked things to people, like killing them, but if we’re sent off for “re-education” one day, there is no limit as to what that might incorporate. And human beings, whether religious, or irreligious all have the capacity to be very very cruel.

  4. Matthias

    Yes well er i am er back ( sheepishly) as this blog,louise’s mark hendersons and the cardinals suit my theology etc.

    As for the eradication of religion in public life ,it has been a goal since the Enlightenment to make religion a private matter with no public consequences. I aim to be the antithesis of that view- remain a Christian-Proddy though i be,and work for a Catholic welfare agency,and as maxwell smart would say ‘and loving it’
    .

  5. Picric

    Dear David
    I do not like the term “Evangelical Catholicism”. It is a tautology. To be Evangelical is to be Gospel-centered. The Catholic Faith is Gospel-centered. The use of “Evangelical” a has for many centuries been used to distinguish Protestants from other Protestants, and Evangelical Protsm from Catholicism on the grounds that the Catholic Faith was in conflict with the Gospel at many key points. I am afraid that “Evangelical” is forever associated with the protestant and Reformation doctrine of justification by faith alone (vd. for example the Concise Oxford Dictionary) which I know you do not accept. I am happy to be “Catholic” because in that marvellous word is encapsutlated all that is true in the Christian religion. Of course there are Catholics from different cultures identified as “Greek Catholics”, “Ukrainian Catholics” etc because this helfully distinguishes them from “Greek Orthodox”, “Russian Orthodox” etc. But these qualifiersare not theological, they are cultural, as Anglican Catholics will denote those from the Anglican or English tradition (Ecclesia Anglicana) who have been restored to Full Communion with Catholic Church. But Evangelical (with a capital E as distinct from evangelical with a lower case e as in the evangelical counsels), like it or not is probably irremediably associated with Reformation doctrine.

    • Dear Picric,

      I defend the term “Evangelical Catholic” as a self description in the same way I would defend the term “Conservative Catholic” or “Traditionalist Catholic”. There are ways of being “Catholic” (not defensible ones, as you and I would agree, but certainly they exist in the minds and practice of many who call themselves Catholic) which are not “evangelical” – although perhaps you are right and I should spell that with a little “e”.

      What I mean is precisely that kind of Catholicism which is true to the Catholic Magisterium and at the same time true to what that Magisterium teaches and requires in terms of an “evangelical outlook”, namely that I see evangelisation – proclaiming Christ and proposing Christ at every turn – as being at the heart of what it means to be Catholic. This necessarily entails, as Allen points out, a strong Catholic identity and confidence in the Catholic faith.

      It means being Catholic in a way that puts the evangelising mission of the Church at the fore front of one’s personal mission and vocation.

  6. Hey, me too! I am happy to have been referred to as an Evangelical Catholic. It might have been an ex-Catholic ex-Evangelical Lutheran of mutual acquaintance who said that of me, which makes that appellation even happier.

    I understand that to be Catholic is to be Evangelical, just as to be Christian is to be Catholic, and so on to other things that are true but we fumbled here and there over the last two thousand years. It’s a long history and, like our forebears in the desert, we tend to forget. I think it is reason enough to bring up being evangelical among Catholics to remind them of who we are called to be. “Redemptoris missio”, anyone? “Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel!”

  7. matthias

    Jeff tan spot on. Protestant though i be ,evangelical’- to the boot. my father-a strong Evangelical Protestant- was best mates with a neighbour a Catholic ,and the latter and his wife had an experience of the Holy Spirit working in their lives after two redemptorist priests conducted a mission at their parish church. They became even more Evangelical in their Catholic Christianity,and were solid workers for their parish. solid ,nay ,faithful workers,members of that great unsung order who will receive a Crown of faitfhfulness and who sit as aprt of the cloud of witnesses even now

  8. Well, I take Picric’s point, but indeed, the number of Catholics in any parish I’ve ever lived in who take seriously St Paul’s attitude, “Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel” is… woeful.

    Most Catholics take the attitude that “religion” is alright “in its place.”

    !!!

    Some Catholics say they go to Mass, but they don’t go “religiously”! (True anecdote).

  9. Tony

    Pssst. David … don’t you get it? John Allen is part of a plot to get people who regard NCR as a ‘ultra-liberal, practically dissident, magazine’ to read it.

    It’s so fiendish. Those cynical ultra-liberals have no morals at all!

    One day … mark my words … by dint of constant exposure … you’ll think, then whisper, then say out loud, ‘Sr Joan ain’t so bad’.

    Others will look back and, stroking their orthodox chins, agree amongst each other that it all started with John Allen.

    Oh the humanity!

    • One day … mark my words … by dint of constant exposure … you’ll think, then whisper, then say out loud, ‘Sr Joan ain’t so bad’.

      Ummm. I don’t think so, Tony. Not until we meet in Heaven, anyway, after which a spell in purgatory would have cleaned us both up!

  10. matthias

    Not just Catholics Louise. I was appalled at our Bible Study to have the leader say he had never heard a sermon on hell or last things. then one of the women in our group talked about how she thought it was hellfire preaching in an Anglican Church in the UK was a cause of her mental illness,after that she thought that hellfire preaching and people make a commitment was all due to manipulation. i asked what about the work of the Holy Spirit in people’s lives convicting them of sin ,of hell and of the need for righteousness. That went down like Epsom salts.

  11. Picric

    Well I have read all the comments on “Evangelical Conduct” yet, as Mr Bennett would say, “I am unmoved”. “Evangelical” does NOT just mean being keen on evangelism as I pointed out last time. The word carries a whole lot of theological baggage from the Reformation. If you are a good Catholic you will be red-hot keen on evangelism. I know many who call themselves “Evangelical” who are as luke warm on evangelism as many Catholics. Quel dommage!

    Moreover, I do not want to be known as a “Liberal Catholic” or a “Conservative Catholic” with or without a capital L or C. These qualifiers simply add ideology to the “Catholic Faith which comes to us from the Apostles”. To be Catholic is sentire cum ecclesia, to be orthodox. How can you be any kind of soncere Christian and not take the words of our Lord seriously, “Go out into all the world and preach the Gospel”. The trouble with qualifiers is that they tend to suggest that some are better Catholics than others by virtue of wearing the label.

  12. Tony

    Picric,

    Moreover, I do not want to be known as a “Liberal Catholic” or a “Conservative Catholic” with or without a capital L or C.

    In one fell swoop most of the Catholic Blogsphere is rendered redundant!

    To me there are two ways to use these kinds of labels.

    The one I encounter the most is their use as rhetorical weapons. In short they mean ‘those who disagree with me’.

    The other way is where they are used as shortcuts to understand someone’s broad position in relation to certain issues. In the second case the understandings are agreed, not assumed and the terms are used to enhance communication not set up battle positions.

  13. Picric

    Tony says: “In one fell swoop most of the Catholic Blogsphere is rendered redundant!” So what? say I. This is no argument.

    Let me be clear, let those who want to use the Left-Right, Liberal-Conservative axis do so if they want. It adds nothing to rationa debate at all. For example, “Liberal” who believes in neither resurrection nor transubstantiation, and who do believe in the use of contraceptives, IVF, euthanasia and abortion are not Catholic at all. It is useless to call them “Liberal Catholics” when they are no Catholics at all! The problem is that the words “Liberal” and “Conservative” are words so abused they seem to have little meaning in contemporary debate other than to be used either as a perojative or as a label of perfection depending on who uses it about whom.

    • There is, of course, a real problem with those Catholics who dissent from clear, Church teaching.

      Their views are wrong, regardless of what “label” we give to them. (I agree that “liberal” and “conservative” are probably not helpful: “orthodox” and “heterodox” might be better).

      Meanwhile, people who pretend not to have any kind of agenda, yet *constantly* speak from an agenda (of dissent) are disengenuous.

      Let’s put it this way – I’ll happily discuss anything with any Catholic, whether a dissident or not, but only up until they start calling me names, or scream at me for being “judgmental” (right before they all me a “bigot” blah blah blah).

      And you can bet your bottom dollar that I’ll get ticked off by:

      1. their apologetics for rampant Secularism
      2. their posing as neutral, when in fact they are nothing of the kind.

      If people are genuinely interested in what I believe and why, I’ll discuss things, otherwise not.

      • Tony

        Meanwhile, people who pretend not to have any kind of agenda, yet constantly speak from an agenda (of dissent) are disingenuous.

        It might help to say what you mean by ‘agenda’ Louise in the sense that having one and not owning up to it is lacking in frankness, candor, or sincerity (ie disingenuous).

    • And in response to this post of David’s I’ll say that I’m pretty surprised that the NCR is still putting up with Allen.

      I’m surprised, b/c it seems out of character for dissidents in general (but I don’t know enough about this paper to really know if it’s unusual for it).

  14. Tony

    This is no argument.

    It wasn’t meant to be. I was having a dig at all those commentators for whom such terms are the fodder on which they feed.

    It adds nothing to rational debate at all.

    I agree and would go further: it detracts from it and it serves misunderstanding and division.

    … they seem to have little meaning in contemporary debate other than to be used either as a perojative or as a label of perfection depending on who uses it about whom.

    Amen. Preachin’ to the choir here! You must be a liberal! *

    * That was a joke too 🙂