Monday, July 26, 2010

Deep Catholics, I

The importance of being a deep Catholic rather than a vague one is eloquently written about in article from The Catholic Thing.

An excerpt.

“In his book Religious Freedom, Truth and American Liberalism, David Schindler makes a rather provocative assertion that institutional liberalism "draws us into a con game, inviting us to dialog within the (putatively) open and pluralistic market of religions, all the while having, hiddenly, filled the terms of that dialogue with a liberal theory of religion." When I first saw these words in 1994, I thought: he has a hold on something, and then I filed and forgot them.

“But I’ve gone back to them lately. The events of the past year – the presentation of an honorary doctorate to President Obama, revelations of the Campaign for Human Development’s continuing involvement with organizations that work against Catholic teaching, Catholic Charities’ battles to remain Catholic while accepting government monies, the Catholic Health Association’s support of Obamacare, the appointment of the new president of CUA (who as dean of the Boston College Law School went out of his way to portray a colleague who worked against gay "marriage" as only expressing "his own opinion"), the struggles of genuinely Catholic (by which I do not mean fanatic traditionalist) educational institutions, and so on – make abundantly clear that some members of the Catholic Church are adopting the liberal view of institutions, with hidden and sometimes not- so-hidden effect.

“In crude terms, the effect is to aim for the vaguely Catholic rather than the deeply Catholic. The English Dominican Aidan Nichols, for example, has argued that "a deep Catholicism is not simply sure of its dogmatic basis and at home in its corporate memory, though these are essential. It is also profoundly rooted in the Scriptures, the Fathers, the great doctors and spiritual teachers, and receptive to whatever is lovely in the human world of any and every time and place, which the Word draws to himself by assuming human nature into union with his own divine person." Reading Schindler’s framing of the problem of liberalism through the lens that Nichols gives us, brings us at a minimum to the following:

“Catholic institutions need to be deeply Catholic and not just package what they imagine Catholicism to be as a commodity. In practical terms, this means that institutions need staff who think like Catholics and behave like Catholics, in short who are Catholics. Everyone from the secretary answering the phone, to the spokesperson, to the head of the institution needs to think and act as a Catholic. There is no neutral institutional frame that is able to operate in a Catholic way without having well-informed functional Catholics at all levels.”