THE UNRAVELING OF LIBERAL KATHOLICISM:
Are Leftist Anti-Vatican "Catholic" Groups Going Belly-up?
Well-known orthodox Catholic apologist Karl Keating of Catholic Answers, a national lay Catholic apologetics organization based in San Diego, seems to think so.
And he's not alone:
Even some liberal observers such as the late New Testament scholar Fr. Raymond E. Brown have lamented that the rapid of growth of Catholic orthodoxy (especially via Pope John Paul II's influence) and the various "traditionalist" Catholic movements since the late 80's --especially thru large influxes of highly educated converts, some of them ordained ministers and professional Bible scholars, from Evangelical and Fundamentalist Protestantism since the early 1990s-- spells doom for the future of "democracy" and theological "progress" (read: "junking the Faith") in the Church. As Brown whined to Time magazine about a year before his death, the Catholic Church is being taken over by "the fundamentalists."
Make no mistake: Liberals still make a lot of noise and still have way too much influence in Catholic seminaries, colleges, and universities, and in the Church's hierarchy, especially in the US, Canada, and many European countries (particularly France, the Netherlands, and Germany). And, as both insiders and outsiders have observed, they've been chiefly to blame for the mess the Catholic Church in the US currently finds itself in --especially the seemingly unending sex abuse scandals. But the same liberals are also getting older and older, with fewer and fewer younger liberals around to replace them.
On the whole, Generation-X and younger Catholics --as well as many if not most Baby Boomer converts and reverts-- find the beauty and truth of Tradition, Scripture, theological orthodoxy, and time-honored forms of spirituality and piety (such as the Rules of the Benedictines, Franciscans and Dominicans) far more challenging, fulfilling, and compelling. In the long run, liberalism has simply flunked.
Here is what Keating says on this issue in his latest e-mail newsletter:
THE WAVE OF THE PAST
We just got our invitation to [dissident far-left activist group] Call to Action's national conference, which will be held in November in Milwaukee (but not on Church property). The conference theme is "Called to Be Peacemakers: Prophetic Leadership for World & Church."
The irony is that, while there is "prophetic leadership" in the Church, one will not find it in Call to Action, which is becoming increasingly moribund as its members get ever grayer and as its ideology seems ever less intriguing. What might have been thought avant garde twenty years ago seems old-fashioned today, on the principle that whoever marries the spirit of one age will become a widow in the next.
Consider CTA's pleas for increased "diversity": "We are very much aware that the membership and leadership of Call to Action fall short on ethnic diversity." After all these years, this "progressive" organization has not been able to meet its self-imposed quota of non-white faces. It sedulously has employed its own forms of affirmative action, but still it can't find enough blacks, Hispanics, Eskimos, and others for its membership rolls.
I take this as a hopeful sign: Such Catholics may be getting fed up with being thought of only in ethnic terms and may be tired of being used to assuage liberal guilt.
I do not worry much about CTA's influence on the Church in the U.S. Its time has passed. The organization will continue to exist for many more years, but each year it will have less to say and will be less listened to. The big names associated with it are no longer young and soon will be gone: Charles Curran, Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, Bernard Cooke, Bob McClory, Edwina Gateley, Rosemary Ruether, Anthony Padovano. There is no evident line of succession.
There was a time when CTA was successful in its own way, but now it is just another one of those crabbed organizations that is slowly drying up in the spiritual drought that is religious liberalism.