Monday, September 23, 2013

Pope Francis and the “issues trap”

Joanne McPortland’s amusing “Parable of the Papal Interview” expressed a simple truth: orthodox Catholics who have actually read the interview Pope Francis gave Fr. Antonio Spadaro, SJ have mostly loved it. Forget what you’ve read elsewhere: Pope Francis may be unorthodox in his style, but his substance is by no means heterodox.

So I had to chuckle when a troll popped up in the combox to say, “Not at all a good parable because it is so predictable. Right wing cognitive dissonance over the Pope’s interview prevents them from really hearing what he said.”

You see, this piece of complacent snottiness popped up after the rest of the progressive world was gobsmacked by what the AP’s Nicole Winfield, in her original lede, called Francis’ “bizarre U-turn”: a speech given Thursday to Italian gynecologists, in which he slammed abortion and euthanasia as parts of a “throwaway culture”. Talk about cognitive dissonance — Matthew Balan of NewsBusters observes that Winfield’s new lede still tries to preserve the “progressive” box in which media liberals have put Papa Bergoglio by calling it an “olive branch” offered to the “more doctrine-minded, conservative wing”.

This is what comes of not paying close attention to what the Pope is saying, of trying to pigeonhole any pope — hell, any major player. My buddy Frank Weathers, for instance, points us to a 2006 speech in which Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI also spoke of the “issues trap” to Swiss bishops on their ad limina visit. And Marcel LeJeune of Aggie Catholics includes other quotes that, taken by themselves, would lead one to conclude that B16 is a liberal. Quoth the wise man Thomas L. McDonald, “There is not a hairsbreadth of difference between the theology of Francis and Benedict.” Different styles, same substance.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

The passion of Dan Grieco

Daniel Ralph Grieco
SK Daniel J. Grieco: Beloved husband, father,
friend and brother Knight.
Dan Grieco (1948 – 2013) was in many ways the man I want to be when I grow up.

Dan was one of the first people I met when my brother Bob and I joined our parish’s Knights of Columbus council in 2007. If you met him only once, you might just write him off as a “nice guy”. As you got to know him, however, you learned just how shallow such an assessment could be.

Dan was singularly passionate about everything, from the Church and the pro-life movement to hardwood floors. Whatever he was doing, he was excited about it, and he did his level best to get you excited about it too. Commitment was not a dirty word to Dan; it was almost his motto. If there was a project, he would be the first person to arrive — ready to work — and the last person to leave.

So far as Dan was “nice”, it wasn’t just a general air of bonhomie: he took avid interest in other people’s lives, was warm, engaging and funny, and had no hesitation about telling other people — even other men — “I love you”. If you were in the hospital, you could pretty much count on a visit from Dan. His love for his wife and children was boundless, a shining constant in his life.

But the reason I write of Dan here is because that same vital combination of passion and commitment showed through in his religiosity. Dan’s love of God and the Church was just as fierce, devoted and fully committed as his love for his family and friends. You could almost use the word zealous, except that the idea of zealotry has been spoiled by violent nutjobs; Dan was disgustingly sane. Of all the people I’ve known, he was the best at “walking the talk”.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Things I should have said about traditionalism

Not shown: a real, honest-to-goodness altar rail.
What’s wrong with the word radical? On the surface, nothing; to say someone is a radical X is to say he favors fundamental or thoroughgoing change.

However, the dictionary definition doesn’t always capture the emotive content of a word. In this respect, radical suffers from too long association with the more offensive and disturbing manifestations of political activism. To many people, the radical is a fellow traveler of the extremist, the kind of person who won’t go so far as to throw bombs but who will gladly inconvenience others by taking over school buildings or parks in the name of X. The extremist is a wild-eyed nutjob, while the radical is merely a pain in the ass.

On Thursday, Catholic Stand published “Tradition vs. traditionalism” (don’t read it just yet), in which Your Humble Blogger wrote of a tendency within a segment of the traditionalist community to conflate the traditional Latin Mass with the apostolic tradition. To try to isolate this segment from the rest of the traditionalist community, I used the term “radical traditionalist”. Twice.

It was a risky choice, because some people, especially liberal dissidents, speak of “radical traditionalists” as if all traditionalists were part of a lunatic fringe group. So, as could be reasonably expected, it blew up in my face.

Spirit Daily picked up the piece and drove a lot of traffic to the post, where traditionalists chastised me for painting them with a broad brush; one woman claimed I had “politely defecated” [?] on the traditionalist movement. While one or two couldn’t help but illustrate my point much better than I did, for the most part the combox left me feeling a bit like a bush-league Joseph Bottum: “Waitaminnit, that’s not what I meant!”

Monday, September 2, 2013

A family quarrel

Catholic Circular Firing Squad Redux. And, perhaps not that strangely, Michael Voris is once again the mainspring of the matter. Fortunately, Mark Shea is not involved, having avoided the controversy neatly by hieing himself and his brood to his vaunted hidden island redoubt, so this is the only time I’ll mention him.

Fraternal correction is a difficult enough task for any Catholic to undertake, especially when the brother to be corrected is a person whom you really don’t know. Even in the relative goldfish bowl of the Catholic blogosphere, we may have each other on Facebook and Google Plus, but we’re still mostly strangers to one another. But it can be done, and even result in some good dialogue.

However, when it’s done on the Internet, the correcting party has automatically invited everyone to participate. And when it’s one “celebrity” (we have celebrities?) correcting another, fans get partisan very quickly. Lest you doubt, let me say two words: John Corapi.

It started Thursday with an episode of “The Vortex”, in which Voris accused Catholic Relief Services of kicking AKA Printing Services to the curb because of its connection to the American Life League (here’s the story in LifeSiteNews). In the process, Voris revealed that several major figures in Catholic media, particularly Karl Keating, Jimmy Akin and Tim Staples of Catholic Answers, pull down salaries of over $100k per year; “in the interests of transparency”, Voris said his own salary was about $40k. The substance of his charge was that the big names were wary of going after corruption in Catholic Relief Services and the USCCB because their ministries (and salaries) depend to a certain extent on recognition and support from the bishops.