March 30, 2017

February 16, 2013

PMS 5: Why Can’t Catholics Be More Like Episcopalians?

The Washington Post runs yet another in its growing number of Papal Malarkey Syndrome articles on its “On Faith” page. This one is from Annie Selak, who is described as a “Lay minister in the Roman Catholic Church and specializes in the question of young adults and vocation in the modern world.” Her LinkedIn page says she’s “Rector at University of Notre Dame,” whatever “rector” means in this context.* She purports to give us the Young Catholic’s View of what the Church needs in its next pope:

- A church that takes our experience seriously: If you dig through church teaching, you can see that experience is a valid and necessary aspect of forming conscience. However, it does not feel like that is the case. Whether it is the sexual abuse crisis or new translation of the Roman Missal, the church seems distant from what is actually going on in the world. We want the church to ask the questions we are asking, rather than ones that seem trivial at best and irrelevant at worst. Catholicism can recover from mistakes, but one thing the church cannot recover from is being irrelevant.

Yes, the Catholic Church is always avoiding the big questions: sin and salvation, meaning and purpose in life, the nature of reality and God, right and wrong. I grok her pain. (For those of you not up on your hip lingo, “grok” means “I understand” or “I empathize,” etc. It was really big in the early-to-mid 1960s after the publication of Robert Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land, from which it is taken. To “grok” and be “grokked” used to be the height of relevance, and used to show that you were Relevant to Youth Culture. Now, not so much.)

What she really means, of course, is that the Catholic Church hasn’t given in to the Zeitgeist, which she makes clear in her next paragraph:

-A church that emphasizes the inclusive ministry of Jesus: Jesus was incredible, right? Why is it that we so rarely hear about that? Jesus consistently reached out to those marginalized from the community, yet the church does not follow suit. Who are the marginalized today? Most young Catholics are quick to point to two groups: women and people who do not identify as heterosexual. Regardless of political leanings, there is an overwhelming consensus that the church needs to do better in these areas. The Vatican has repeatedly shut down any dialogue surrounding the ordination of women and church teaching on homosexuality. At the very least, these issues need to be opened up to a thoughtful, informed dialogue that includes historical analysis, social sciences, tradition and Scripture (notably, all areas the church affirms in the formation of conscience). There is an urgency to these issues, as these are not nameless people on the margins, these are our friends, family members, mentors,and leaders. One of the things that draws young people to the Gospel is the inclusivity of Jesus; how is it that the exclusivity of the church turns people away?

Yeah, that’s the Vatican all over. Refusing to endlessly litigate stuff and Get Right with the Culture, failing to listen to members who want to Speak Truth to Power, ignoring the Assured Results of Science (or the Scientific Consensus, if you prefer).

-A church that embraces that God is everywhere: The younger generation of the church resonates with the universal notion of Catholicism. We see diversity and unity as two concepts that go together, rather than being opposites. Moreover, we recognize the importance of other religions. Some of Pope Benedict XVI’s biggest missteps related to his interactions with other religions. But young Catholics have grown up alongside people from different religions who are some of the holiest people we know. Nostra Aetate, Vatican II’s “Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions” affirms that God is present in other religions, yet you would be hard-pressed to find anyone in the pews on a Sunday morning who knows this. We need to affirm and emphasize that God is present in other religions and sincerely work on improving our relationships with them.

All that “Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life” stuff gets sooooooo old!

-A church that engages struggles and is open to dialogue: We want to wrestle with the hard questions of how our experience interacts with Scripture and tradition. Yet, it feels like young Catholics are alone in this desire. Many young people respond to this vacuum in two ways: by either taking everything the hierarchy says as absolute truth or completely disregarding the church. Neither of these responses are what the church actually calls us to do. We do not need answers; we need to engage the world. We do not want to be spoon-fed theology. Rather, we want to wrestle, grapple, use our minds, engage our hearts, debate, think and pray. And we want our church to do that with us.

So, let’s sum up shall we? It isn’t hard, actually: she wants the Catholic Church to be more like the Episcopalians, because that’s the church to which all the Young People are flocking.

*Checked after I posted. It means she’s in charge of one of the women’s dorms.

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Every young generation struggles with the wisdom of its elders until it gets old enough to understand that the elders had wisdom.

Jesus did indeed reach out to the marginalized.  He forgave their sins and healed them.  He didn’t leave them unenlightened in their sins and sufferings.

[1] Posted by Katherine on 2-16-2013 at 01:26 PM · [top]

Another candidate for PMS: Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne believes the next pope should be a nun.

[2] Posted by the virginian on 2-16-2013 at 02:33 PM · [top]

It’s going to be so sad to see their little faces all crest-fallen after the conclave; like kids on Christmas morning who only got a lump of coal in their stocking.

When the new pope (whomever he may be) is announced and gradually it sinks in that no, we are not going to get artificial contraception, divorce and re-marriage in church, abortion, married priests (okay, that one a vague possibility sometime but maybe not quite yet), women priests (never on that one), same-sex marriage, and especially not same-sex married women priests - their poor little hearts will be broken, simply broken!

It’ll almost be like kicking puppies.  Almost grin

[3] Posted by Martha on 2-16-2013 at 05:21 PM · [top]

Thanks for that, Virginian. You’ll see it tomorrow. cool grin

[4] Posted by David Fischler on 2-16-2013 at 05:45 PM · [top]

And Martha, while their hearts are rending in pain, they can go down the street to the nearest Episcopal Church and find the church of their dreams… more pain!

[5] Posted by Capt. Father Warren on 2-16-2013 at 07:20 PM · [top]

Wow, the libchurchers and David are both on such a roll, he’ll get to 100 before it is (mercifully) over.

[6] Posted by Newbie Anglican on 2-16-2013 at 07:22 PM · [top]

Newbie has a good point: David’ PMS articles are a fun read and he is definitely in a target rich environment….............

[7] Posted by Capt. Father Warren on 2-16-2013 at 07:25 PM · [top]

Thanks, folks! I’ll keep ‘em coming at least until we see the white smoke from the Vatican.

[8] Posted by David Fischler on 2-16-2013 at 07:53 PM · [top]

RE: “Who are the marginalized today? Most young Catholics are quick to point to two groups: women and people who do not identify as heterosexual.”


Is she talking about in America, where the 2% of the population that make up the gay population here are All The Rage, and enjoying faddish popularity for their particular minority sexual attraction, unlike the various other even smaller percentages who experience much-anathematized and highly unpopular sexual attractions?

And women are about the most protected, coddled group there is in America.

Or is she talking about in, say, Islamic countries, where RCs have done yeoman’s work advocating for various groups that are oppressed by the Islamic faith?

Either way, it simply doesn’t wash.

Moronic statement.

[9] Posted by Sarah on 2-16-2013 at 07:57 PM · [top]

Not at all moronic, Sarah.  Prudent.  One stands on the culturally permitted high ground at absolutely no personal cost.  No downside to a morality like that (well, except the lack of morality).

[10] Posted by Timothy Fountain on 2-16-2013 at 08:01 PM · [top]

Ah, but you see, Sarah: as it stands, you can never be Pope.  Ever.

Don’t you feel simply crushed beneath the oppressive weight of marginalisation by the mean ol’ Vatican?  Oh, the injustice and unfairness of it all!


(As it stands, I can’t be pope either, for which mercy give God thanks!)

[11] Posted by Martha on 2-16-2013 at 08:47 PM · [top]

She is protesting, she is one who protests.

Does that make her a . . . protestant?

[12] Posted by Just a Baptist on 2-16-2013 at 08:49 PM · [top]

And why should Sarah care about merely being Pope? She is an admin on SF. The papacy pales in comparison. After all, if the current or future Pope should choose to post on SF, Sarah could reply to his post, “You are seriously off-topic. This is your first and only warning.”

Even beyond her near-cosmic responsibilities as an SF admin, she is also the archivist of an enormous repository of elf recipes, most of which are apparently in her private collection.

Seriously, I am so grateful for David Fischler’s continuing PMS series. I tend to forget the limits to which liberal “logic”, especially that of the liberal media, can go. This period of papal succession gives us an opportunity to see what strange fruit can be shaken out of the tree.

[13] Posted by Bill Cool on 2-17-2013 at 11:51 AM · [top]

And why should Sarah care about merely being Pope? She is an admin on SF. The papacy pales in comparison. After all, if the current or future Pope should choose to post on SF, Sarah could reply to his post, “You are seriously off-topic. This is your first and only warning.”

Hear hear [she squeaked]!

[14] Posted by Sarah on 2-17-2013 at 12:00 PM · [top]

David, you’ll have to continue for a bit after the white smoke rises, because then there will be an outburst of “OMG, this Pope is Catholic, too!”

[15] Posted by Katherine on 2-17-2013 at 01:12 PM · [top]

I have very much savored the PMS series.  I have concluded that libcats lead a verrrrrry sheltered life as they seem unaware that all they desire is already available to them out in the big wide world; yet they fuss that these things must be embraced by the Church.  Why?  Is it because they think the causes they babble for must receive a stamp of legitimacy from the Church?  Is it because they think only the nod from an authority will advance these goals?  Is it because they are unable to preach the Gospel they claim to witness for unless their version of Utopia becomes a reality?

Just what is holding them back?  If they are hoping that the Church will change to bring their message to the world, they might as well let out their breath.  The Church is charged with bringing the Gospel to the world.  As Christians that is the message we are supposed to share with the world.  Why should the world listen to you when you preach the same crap they are shouting from the rooftops themselves day after day?

They want the Church to say yes to them, because without Her they are a redundancy, a fading echo; hollow children with hollow dreams.  Rejecting the identity given to them by Christ they have lost themselves and believe the World will give them a new, better identity.  They must think that it is this identity that will make the Church more real.

The Church will never become more real as they understand that word.  Not because it is misogynist. Not because it is homophobic. Not because it is oppressive.  It will not become what they desire because all they demand of the Church are lies.  If the Church exists to bring the message of Salvation into the world, She under the charisma promised by Christ can not lie.  No matter how comforting those lies must be.

All Christians, not just the Church, have a duty to the Truth.  Just because they have decided the lies they hear are sweet and pleasing does not mean the Church must take that poison too.  Maybe one day they will be ready to truly know who they are supposed to be.  Till then they will keep throwing their tantrums.

[16] Posted by Paula Loughlin on 2-17-2013 at 02:55 PM · [top]

Good point, Katherine.  snake

[17] Posted by David Fischler on 2-17-2013 at 03:33 PM · [top]

Excellent point, Paula Loughlin.  Rejecting authority, they want the Church to authoritatively endorse their rejection.

[18] Posted by Katherine on 2-17-2013 at 04:33 PM · [top]

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