Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The dissidents are losing ... no thanks to the Jesuits

“He is a member of a Society founded chiefly for this purpose: to strive especially for the defense and propagation of the faith and for the progress of souls in Christian life and doctrine ….” —St. Ignatius Loyola, Formula of the Institute of the Society of Jesus

Over at Mirror of Justice, Fr. Robert Araujo points us to a four-part series of colloquia with the overall title “More Than a Monologue: Sexual Diversity and the Catholic Church”. It’s not surprising that two of the sponsoring institutions are Union Theological Seminary and Yale Divinity School. It ought to be surprising that the other two are Fordham and Fairfield Universities, both of which are “in the Jesuit tradition” and both of which still have priests for their presidents (Revs. Joseph M. McShane and Jeffrey P. von Arx, S.J., respectively).

Alas, the latter  fact isn’t a surprise. If anything, as soon as you read the description of the colloquia, you could easily have guessed that the Jebs would be involved.

For too long, the conversation on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues in the Roman Catholic Church has been only a monologue—the sole voice being heard is that of the institutional Catholic Church. We must engage in more than a monologue by having a 21st century conversation on sexual diversity, with new and different voices heard from.

Of course, Fr. Araujo (a Jesuit himself) is correct to question the intent of the colloquia; on gay issues, normally “dialogue” means the gay lobby talks and everyone else either agrees or remains silent. And, in fact, the first sentence is a misrepresentation at best: normally, Mother Church has to shout to be heard over dissenting voices.

Okay, this isn’t a rant about gay marriage or same-sex attraction. Rather, it’s about this odd notion “progressive” (i.e. dissident) Catholic groups have that their colloquia, congresses, meetings and whatnot will change any teaching of the Church.

First, to date none of the dissident groups have succeeded in producing a “Manchurian bishop”. Over the last ten to twenty years, the bishops selected by the process have been more and more openly orthodox; as a result, more seminaries have been forced to toe the theological line.

In fact, because liberal Catholics tend to attend Mass and participate in the sacraments less frequently than do orthodox Catholics, they also tend to be less successful in producing candidates for the seminaries. Theological liberalism just isn’t as good as orthodoxy in producing vocations, or even people likely to stay in the Church. It’s also fair to note that, as a by-product of their support of contraception, “choice” and gay liberation, liberals have been contributing less to the gene pool … which just goes to show that “sexual liberation” is a survival-negative trait.

What does this mean? It means that, first, the coming classes of priests are the least likely to have any sympathy with the dissidents and the most likely to engage in public rebuttal since 1950. Second, the appointments both John Paul II and Benedict XVI have made to the College of Cardinals will most likely insure that the latter’s successor will continue the “hermeneutic of continuity”, interpreting Vatican II in light of the pre-V2 tradition. Third, as the “biological solution” continues to thin out the “Spirit of Vatican II” bloc, the pool of available priests from whom B16’s successor will be drafting future bishops will be more and more solidly orthodox, if not avid traditionalists.

Let’s take another example: the voters’ guide produced by New Ways Ministry for the benefit of Maryland Catholics concerning the recently-defeated same-sex marriage bill. As I’ve noted before, New Ways’ executive director, Francis DeBernardo, has a habit of … oh why mince words, lying to advance the agenda.

The voters’ guide was no exception; supposedly aimed at the wavering Catholic wanting to vote her heart but unwilling to flout the bishops (are there such people?), DeBernardo painted a fantasy of ecclesial democracy in which bishops play a very minor role. Why he wasted time on this shovelful, though, is beyond me: anyone with an IQ of 85 or over knows that, contrary to his assertion, when the bishops speak in communion with the Pope, the matter is settled. Sometimes the process can take a couple of centuries’ worth of arguments … but it doesn’t have to. From this point on, all that’s left is reinforcement by papal letter or dogmatic definition.

Then we have the American Catholic Council, which as far as I know is still scheduled to meet in Detroit in June 2011. After Abp. Allan Vigneron repudiated the meeting and asked diocesan facilities not to host any of the sessions, the ACC issued a reply whose less well-disguised dishonesties still make me chuckle. However, considering the agenda and the published Catholic Bill of Rights and Responsibilities, it’s still the same old “Spirit of Vatican II” baloney … in fact, it sets up an alternative magisterium that the rest of the Church in America will blithely ignore until the “biological solution” does away with it.

At the end of the day, dissident organizations like Rainbow Sash may succeed in disrupting a Mass or two, but they don’t really impact the doctrinal development of the Church. In fact, in thirty years or so, they’ll no longer be a significant component of the Church.

But that’s where the loss will occur. The last forty years of catechetical adventurism, liturgical abuses and episcopal weakness have lost the better part of two generations of Catholics to indifferentism, even to irreligiousness, and we’re on our way to losing the better part of a third generation. We shouldn’t regret the lost time so much as the lost souls.

Unfortunately, the Society of Jesus didn’t help to stem this tide. In fact, in some ways they encouraged it. Now we need the Jebs to recover St. Ignatius’ original vision for the Companions, and become the defenders of the Faith they were organized to be.

3/22/2001 Landmark: 10,000 pageviews!


  1. The Dominicans are making a comeback, maybe it could happen to the J's!

  2. Dear God, Rich, I hope so! Here and there, you'll find the occasional Jeb like Fr. Araujo who is unashamedly orthodox. I spent a year at a Jesuit high school (Creighton Prep, which is a feeder for Creighton University in Omaha), so I have a lot of sentimental attachment to the Companions; unfortunately, I think most if not all their universities are lost to secularism.

  3. This makes me sad. I don't know much about it, but I've always had such respect for Jesuits. Lately I keep hearing about the "catechetical adventurism" (great phrase) and it leaves me in shock. Plus I'm in MA and that sort of things is all over the place. I don't know what to do sometimes.


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