I find it very sad when I sit down to write about a college that was once Catholic but has devolved into an embarrassing and discouraging puddle of bubbling, putrid, progressivism and moral relativism. When people email me or talk to me about the things I write, they voice surprise at facts they didn’t previously know about these annoying institutions. The general reaction is a loss of respect for an institution like Notre Shame or Georgetown. Even non-Catholics agree that these institutions are being cowardly and deceitful by claiming to be Catholic while behaving and teaching the exact opposite.
But hypocrisy and cowardice is not limited to institutions. The institutions are themselves, victims of individual “Catholics” who have stumbled (or strolled) into the pit of progressivism and moral relativism. These individuals were a small number of bishops, priests, nuns and regular old Catholics who bought into a version of the Gospel that was convenient, unchallenging and free from Christ’s call for holiness and repentance.
Luckily, the people who lured these institutions into hypocrisy are now retired and their remaining disciples are entering their final years of spreading lies. If you look around for any “liberal” Catholics today, you will find a lot of gray hair, some oxygen tanks and more than a few canes and walkers. If you look at those who follow this dying breed, you will find non-Catholics, former Catholics and mostly, anti-Catholics. The interesting thing is, most of this younger generation wouldn’t join or re-join the Catholic Church if the Church suddenly condoned abortion on demand, approved sex with anything that still had a pulse (or recently had a pulse) and made belief in the trinity optional. Anti-Catholics are only really interested in eliminating the only thing standing between them and their feelings and desires for instant gratification and “feeling” of acceptance. They don’t achieve this goal by joining the Church, they only achieve their goal by destroying it.
So what we have are a few dissident “Catholics” (the quotes help indicate that they aren’t really Catholic), with a group of non-Catholic followers who preach a flawed theology that was dreamt up in the 60’s reached its peak in the 70’s and has slowly dwindled to a droning murmur in 2014. The only thing keeping the murmur from dying out before the murmerers actually die out is the media who loves it when a gray-haired, hippie, priest or nun writes a book, article or letter that has a small impression of apparent authority and a very non-Catholic message. Such delusional writings are the last grasp at attention before the geriatric heretic slips quietly into a final judgment that appears to promise a very negative outcome for their soul.
Where are all the young, vibrant, Catholic bishops, priests, nuns, deacons, religious, theologians, professors and regular pew-sitting Catholics who fight for abortion, same-sex marriage, women priests and chemical contraception? I’m sure there are some out there somewhere, but I’ve been looking for them and I haven’t found many. Mostly, I find the geriatric “Catholic” progressives and the small following that admits that they aren’t really Catholic or at best, they merely check the “Catholic” box because they haven’t taken the time to officially join the church of St. Anythinggoes, across the tracks.
When I speak to young Catholics, I find those young, vibrant, priests, nuns, etc… They are clear in their belief that abortion is evil, same-sex marriage is wrong, the priesthood is designed by God to be a male priesthood and that natural family planning is God’s design for planning a family. For Catholic teens, the easiest issue is abortion. While some still wrestle with the Church teaching on homosexuality, they have absolutely no trouble seeing the pure evil of abortion as well as the dangers and mixed-messages sent by chemical contraception and condoms. But social teaching is just the tip of the theological iceberg in young Catholics today. The largest part of their faith is their relationship with Christ. They have a deep, personal and intense relationship that helps them see past all the garbage the world wants them to believe. For a real Catholic, the relationship with Christ comes first and foremost and all the other beliefs and teachings of the Church follow in a harmonious and comprehensive faith that isn’t corrupted as easliy as a faith built on social justice. For the progressives, any faith they have is built on social justice and they are then forced to pick and choose which teachings they will or will not acccept. In the end, they have to reject Christ himself because He demands everything and they don’t have the will or the ability to give Him much of anything.
This is why I find it almost amusing when one of the relics of the 60’s and 70’s pokes their head up to advocate for abortion or contraception in 2014. I say “almost” because of my sinful nature. For some reason I still find a guilty pleasure in seeing my enemies demoralized, especially when their wound is self-inflicted. Don’t get me wrong, I still try to pray for them if I remember that they exist when I pray my daily prayers. But I find myself confessing my joy in their misfortune nonetheless. I say their wounds are self-inflicted because most of us (the media and progressives excluded) see their delusion. It is almost if they are living caricatures of the old warning from Abraham Lincoln, “It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt”.
After all, it is one thing to hear an anti-Catholic or at least a non-Catholic speak out against 2000 years of the greatest minds the world had to offer such as Aquinas, Augustine, Catherine of Siena , Theresa of Avila, Carol Wojtyla, not to forget Jesus Christ. But it is a totally different thing when a great “Catholic” mind of the 1960’s tells us that these geniuses (as well as God Himself) had things terribly wrong all this time. I suppose Jesus, Aquinas, Augustine, etc… were at a disadvantage because they didn’t have mind enhancers like LSD, PCP, acid and psychedelic mushrooms to help them think through things a little better. As far as I can tell, the best “stuff” Jesus could get was wine.
I suppose the patient wisdom of the Church shows through with situations like this. The Church certainly could have cracked down on the crackpots for the past 40 years. The Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) could have addressed each delusional hipster and given them their two options. Local bishops could have issued excommunications, priests could have been laicized, entire orders of nuns could have been censured (actually, the broader Leadership Conference of Women’s Religious actually was) and other discipline could have been meted out. But for the most part, the Vatican, the CDF and many American bishops opted for quiet correction and patience. I think that was wise as decisive and stern action would have given the delusional “Catholics” more attention and would have made the Church appear as authoritarian and dictatorial. There are certainly those who criticize the Church for being authoritarian and dictatorial, but in reality, the Church proposes, it doesn’t impose.
Nothing shows this more clearly than the patience the Church has shown with the infamous loonies like Theodore Hesburgh, Andrew Greeley, Maureen Fielder, Donna Quinn and Jeannine Gramick. Even though the excommunication of any one of these people (actually heretic may be a better description) would anger only a handful of people, the Church has chosen to simply wait them out. I would not be able to control myself with such patience if I were the one calling the shots, but I guess 2000 years of experience gives the Church the wise patience it needs to deal with the annoying noise emanating from this dwindling group of goofballs.
The Church has certainly listened to the wise words of Gamaliel when he advised the high priest and the Sadducees in Jerusalem to let Peter and apostles go free, “for if this plan or this undertaking is of man, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them.” (Acts 5:17-42) The Church has also taken to heart John 15:5 as well as the rest of the passage of the vine and the branches. One of the surest ways to recognize that someone or some movement is the work of God is to see that it bears good fruit. Even though the churches in America (all churches, not necessarily Catholic churches) are seeing a decline, the progressives are seeing even more of a decline.
As for individual Catholic parishes and religious orders, the more orthodox they are, the more stability or growth (good fruit) we actually recognize. Take for instance the more progressive orders of nuns that belong to the LCWR and compare their membership to the orthodox orders who focus on the service of the poor, education of children and prayer. The contrast is striking. The progressive orders are dying out and there are few new sisters entering those orders. The Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (one good thing that remains at Georgetown) found that the orthodox orders who wear habits and devote their lives to prayer and acts of mercy, are seeing a large increase in new vocations. The more orthodox seminaries are seeing a similar phenomenon. But it really isn’t an inexplicable occurrence. The orthodox orders and seminaries attract men and women who seek an authentic relationship with Christ and his Church. People who are interested in their own version of Christ don’t see much benefit in joining a progressive group of other individuals that consists of dozens of different and often conflicting versions of Christ.
One of the latest murmurs from the geriatric generation of hippie nuns is a letter signed by Jeannine Gramic urging President Obama to allow foreign aid to be used for abortions in cases of rape and incest. I imagine the letter was the result of a White House official calling Jeannine and asking her to sign a letter so the President could increase federal spending and abortion at the same time. In all seriousness, sending such a letter to this President is like letting JFK know that Marilyn Monroe was going to happen to be staying in the same hotel as he, during one of his campaign trips. The activity was probably already occurring in both cases. But that aside, Jeannine gets some much-desired press because she is a “Catholic” nun.
So as I write about “Catholic” colleges and universities who have behaved so badly that they need to be placed on The Shamies list, I feel even more sadness for “Catholics” like Jeannine Gramic and the other fools who have wandered off into the distant lands of yesteryear, wearing their proper sweaters and sensible shoes, but speaking about Christ as though he was simply a misguided motivational speaker. It is troubling to see entire institutions fall into ruin, but to see it happen to a specific soul is even worse. Jeannine has once again popped up and proven herself a fool, but she’s getting closer and closer to her last hoorah. The letter she signed was a mere formality, but the darkness in her soul is a sad reality. Keep her in your prayers.