Morbid Symptoms

The Catholic Right’s False Nostalgia

“The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born. In this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms occur.”

—Antonio Gramsci, Prison Notebooks

On April 14, 2012, Bishop Daniel R. Jenky of Peoria, Illinois, speaking from a pulpit surrounded by flowers, a cross, and the American flag, issued a “Call to Catholic Men of Faith” to defend their faith and country. To the congregation he recounted how “the enemies of Christ have certainly tried their best” to destroy the church over the centuries: Roman oppression, barbarian invasions, “wave after wave of jihads,” the modern, homicidal tyrannies of Nazism and communism. Catholics today who believed the church was secure in the United States were mistaken; indeed, Jenky roared, a legion of malevolence had gathered against the faithful, armed with “the hatred of Hollywood, the malice of the media, and the mendacious wickedness of the abortion industry.” This army of Satan was led by none other than President Barack Obama, demonically imposing the “radical, proabortion, and extreme secularist agenda” exemplified in the Health and Human Services mandate requiring insurance-subsidized contraception for employees of religious institutions.

It’s worth noting that Bishop Jenky left the church that day unmolested—no police or National Guardsmen burst in to cart him off to Guantánamo. No churches have been invaded, locked, or razed; no priest has been forced to bless same-sex unions, nor have Catholic hospitals been compelled to perform abortions, or even to dispense a single condom. The only inconvenience Jenky has suffered—protected by a First Amendment that has yet to be suspended by executive order—is ridicule.

And not enough of it. Far from pointing out the absurdity of comparing Obama to Attila, Hitler, and Stalin, other prominent Catholics have piled on. Bishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco has warned of Obama’s impending “despotism.” Cardinal Francis George of Chicago has equated our Constitution’s guarantee of freedom of worship with that of the former Soviet Union. Others have compared the mandate to the persecution of priests in Mexico in the 1920s under left-wing general Plutarco Calles. The Evangelical author Eric Metaxas—whose fine biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer indicates that he ought to know better—invoked the rise of the Nazis. Speaking at the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast, Carl Anderson, Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus, both encapsulated and stirred up the prevailing hysteria in asserting that “never in the life of anyone present here has the religious liberty of the American people been threatened as it is today.”

Why are shepherds of the American flock and their allies saying such preposterous things? It sometimes appears that the ancien régime of the American Church is fighting its impending senescence. Having lost much of their moral authority in the sexual-abuse scandal, the bishops have staked what remains on fighting perceived threats to religious liberty. Caught in a great historical transition in which church authority has eroded on every front, many conservative prelates and lay Catholics exhibit an array of morbid symptoms: lurid fantasies of sexual pandemonium; paranoid delusions of cultural conspiracy and government persecution; and ugly outbursts of rage at a world they no longer understand, control, or can persuade. Ashamed of the ecclesial present, the bishops seem transfixed by venerable memories of power and eminence.

While utterly forgettable on their own merits, four recently published books by prominent Catholics make for a pathology of reactionary Catholic modernism. Blending myths of the 1950s with fables of that Greatest of Centuries, the thirteenth, they reveal the panic of conservative Catholics, terrified by the waning of the American Age and the twilight of an authoritarian church, retreating to the kitschy redoubt of a suburban medievalism. 


Cardinal Timothy Dolan, of course, is president of the USCCB and the most prominent Catholic prelate in America. Primus inter pares among the bishops, in person he’s hale, ruddy, and convivial, the very avatar of Irish bonhomie. His arrival in New York in 2009 sparked hope that a new face might rejuvenate a church seen as rigid, irascible, and sclerotic. But the bloom quickly faded from the Irish rose, as it soon became clear that those pink cheeks concealed a spirit of granite orthodoxy. While no one expected Dolan to support gay marriage, many were dismayed when he dismissed it as little more than a “chic cause.” And as the HHS mandate imbroglio grew more vitriolic, he made even more outrageous remarks, at one point wailing that the White House is “strangling” the Catholic Church.

DolanDolan is more careful in True Freedom: On Protecting Human Dignity and Religious Liberty (Image Kindle edition, $0.99, 160 pp.) and A People of Hope: Archbishop Timothy Dolan in Conversation with John L. Allen, Jr. (Image, $25, 256 pp.). At first glance there’s much in these books that any Catholic, indeed any sensitive and reasonable person, could affirm. It’s not reactionary, but grimly prophetic, to assert that we inhabit a “culture of death”—though I wish Dolan and other conservatives would cite militarism, as well as abortion, in their diagnosis of this culture. There is indeed “a loss of a sense of truth and objective moral norms”—though I’d contend that business schools and the State Department are the worst culprits in this regard. And yes, our culture and politics are degraded by “pragmatism, utilitarianism, and consumerism”—though all three are virtues of capitalism, the insatiable Mammon against which the bishops have nothing but moral bromides to offer.

Abjuring such complexities, Dolan maintains that the evils he lists arise from an improper understanding of “genuine freedom.” True freedom, he argues, is not the lack of restraint on our ability to do what we want—not, that is, the liberal conception of unfettered personal autonomy. True freedom rather is “the license to do what we ought.” This view depends on an Aristotelian-Thomist, teleological conception of human nature, in which freedom is not an end in itself but rather a servant of our flourishing. Given this definition of freedom, conservative fears about the loss of “liberty” make sense—since gay marriage and contraceptives enable us to do what we want and not what we ought. 

Like other conservatives, Dolan doesn’t consider sufficiently the tyrannical implications of such a view of liberty, one being that the state can force us to be “free” by compelling us to do what we ought. But the fundamental problem with doing “what we ought” is that we don’t all agree on what we ought. In other words, we don’t all agree on the conception of human nature that freedom is supposed to foster. Leave aside that Americans of different religious persuasions (or of none) don’t agree; Catholics themselves don’t all agree—and that goes a long way toward explaining why Dolan and his fellow bishops are so apoplectic about “religious liberty.” The galling truth is that many American Catholics—perhaps a majority—do not fully share the bishops’ view of what constitutes the fulfillment of human nature. They do not believe that same-sex intercourse and the use of contraceptives are “unnatural,” and therefore do not see gay marriage or contraceptive coverage as threats to religious liberty.

Of course many laity are dissenting from the magisterium, and doing so in part because the bishops’ credibility has been so drastically diminished. We all know why; there’s no need to belabor the sexual-abuse scandal with its record of episcopal obfuscation and self-pity, or before that the damage done by Humanae vitae. Although Dolan acknowledges the disenchantment in the pews, he’s clearly impatient with the subject. Bishops, he tells John L. Allen Jr., have to “get over this sense of being gun-shy” in the wake of all the revelations. Conceding that he and his colleagues must speak with “graciousness, and a sense of contrition,” he adds that “we have to mean it.” But do they really mean it? The impression of many attentive Catholics is that they’d rather pound the crosier on the floor. Dolan himself insists on “the uniquely normative value of the magisterium of the bishops,” as though that “value” remains self-evident.

There are excellent reasons to find the bishops’ recent dudgeon unconvincing. Over the past decade, we’ve witnessed plenty of outrages to human dignity in this country: the official legitimation of torture and assassination; the prosecution of a war condemned by not one but two popes; the growing attacks on governmental support and compassion for the destitute, often under cover of “subsidiarity.” The bishops’ responses to these outrages have been muted at best. Why so little prophetic ardor to battle these iniquities? Why no “fortnights for dignity” to rally the faithful against state-sponsored violence abroad? Or haven’t the bishops noticed that the United States has been at war for the better part of the past twenty years?

Dolan’s books suggest a prelate too deeply immersed in the sanctity of America’s civil religion to answer such questions. Sounding like a kinder, gentler version of the late Fr. Richard John Neuhaus, he performs a star-spangled rendition of our covenant theology. “America is at its best,” he remarks to Allen, “when religion has a place at the table.” When opposing gay marriage and abortion, he says, “we’re speaking as Americans…on the basis of fundamental American values.” Here Dolan comes close to urging us to worship what Mark Noll once dubbed “America’s God”—the deity who compels us to speak not as Christians, but as congregants of the church called America. But as an academically trained church historian, Dolan surely knows that what is worshiped in this church is liberal freedom, personal autonomy, and choice. As Stanley Hauerwas perceptively reminds us in War and the American Difference, “America is a culture of death because Americans cannot conceive of how life is possible in the face of death”; as unregulated accumulators and consumers of ever-expanding wealth, Americans share nothing in common “other than the presumption that death is to be avoided at all costs.” Hence the insatiable need for riches and for domination over the planet—an ascendency any champion of “true liberty” should contemplate with dread, sorrow, and outrage. Until Dolan and other Catholic defenders of “liberty” renounce their adherence to America’s God, their philippics against the culture of death cannot and should not be taken seriously.


Where Dolan speaks as an imperial cleric, Carl Anderson appeals to the Wisdom of the People. In Beyond a House Divided: The Moral Consensus Ignored by Washington, Wall Street, and the Media (Doubleday, $9.99, 160 pp.), Anderson claims that “the elites” are “out of touch” with “the people,” and that the common sense of ordinary folks should prevail over greed and decadence. It’s the perennial bray of populism, an easy sell in America, where the civil religion has an economic theology that merges Christianity and capitalism: the gilded concordat of God and Mammon, the fantasy that community can thrive on the foundations of capitalist property. Though patented by Puritans and Evangelical Protestants, this gospel of economic prosperity has its contemporary Catholic evangels: Michael Novak, the Eusebius of corporate plutocracy, and Fr. Robert A. Sirico, whose Acton Institute is the horrid love-child of Thomas Aquinas and Ayn Rand.

As for Anderson, like many a tribune for the Hard-Workin’ Folks, he turns out to be no ordinary guy. In addition to presiding over the Knights of Columbus—long a nexus of petty-bourgeois moral economy and American nationalism—he’s a board member of the Vatican Bank, sits on several Pontifical Councils, and is a knight of the Order of St. Gregory the Great, an enclave of papal chivalry devoted to “faith, family, and property.” This knight-errant of the church is also no stranger to the Beltway: Anderson served on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, worked as a public liaison for the Reagan Administration, and was a legislative assistant to Senator Jesse Helms, notorious race-baiter, gay-basher, and defender of Latin American fascists. In short, he’s a player, and during his tenure the Knights have marched more frequently and aggressively into public affairs than ever before, including spending tens of millions to assist the bishops in opposing gay marriage in both the United States and Canada.

His book, a tedious compendium of stats and platitudes, offers an extended gloss on the Moral Compass Project, a survey conducted by the Knights in tandem with the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion. (It also incorporates data gleaned from Gallup, Pew, Rasmussen, and Zogby polls.) Clichés such as “moral compass,” “stand shoulder to shoulder,” “tapestry of American life,” and “greatest nation in history” carry forward what passes for the book’s argument. According to Anderson, Americans believe that politics, business, and the media should reflect “the moral consensus of the American people.” And what is this “moral consensus”? The perennial bourgeois package, pretty much: faith in some religion, fidelity in marriage, hard work, education, and a belief in “personal success.” In light of this consensus, politicians should end their “partisan bickering” and “work together,” displaying “values-based leadership” and forsaking “special interests” to govern with “the common good” in mind. Got that? As for the People, they don’t favor “more regulation” of business, Anderson claims; rather, businesspeople merely need to be “less greedy” and more “moral,” working to give us “capitalism with a conscience.” “There is almost no support for the sort of personal greed that can leave our brothers and sisters stranded and in need,” Anderson reports with satisfaction.

But what about the sort of greed that doesn’t apparently leave our brothers and sisters stranded and in need? Does such a thing exist? And what constitutes being “stranded and in need”? Asking people to dilate on those distinctions would have made for a much more illuminating study—but at risk of revealing just how specious this “moral consensus” really is. No one thinks of himself as greedy, after all; greed is Goldman Sachs and Bernie Madoff, not me and my family’s McMansion. Enveloped in righteousness and domesticity, the American Dream has always been the dream of avarice in softer focus. It never occurs to Anderson—or to other populists, right or left—that the American “moral consensus” might be the problem, not the solution; that “gridlock” paralyzes Washington because it grips the country at large; and that the shabbiness of the elites is a faithful reflection of the shabbiness of the People.

Don’t the “People” share responsibility for the nation’s problems? The same People who complain about “bickering” politicians routinely return them to office; they whine about deficits and bailouts, yet oppose any taxes to pay for the wars they’re so easily duped into supporting—or for the programs whose largesse many of them don’t even realize they enjoy. According to Cornell political scientist Suzanne Mettler, 53 percent of student loan recipients, 44 percent of Social Security recipients, and 40 percent of Medicare recipients believe that they “have not used a government social program”!

This is just as well for Anderson, since for him talking about “morality” is a way of not talking about the structures of economic power. Funny, how morality-talk always seems to dovetail so gracefully with liberal individualism, that sacred conviction that you are the master of your destiny. Catholics used to be good at seeing through such ideological ruses, but nowadays—as Cardinal George once observed—most American Catholics are “culturally Calvinist.” For now, they’re paid-up devotees of the self-justifying covenant theology; but as the globalized economy continues to stumble and lurch, the number of heretics from the holy consensus might well multiply.


No fewer than four princes of the church, meanwhile, have put their seals of approval on William Donohue’s Why Catholicism Matters: How Catholic Virtues Can Reshape Society in the 21st Century (Image, $22.99, 293 pp.) Archbishop Dolan blurbs it as “fresh and compelling,” affirmative of everything “good, noble, and uplifting.” The Grand Master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem—a personage otherwise known as Cardinal Edwin O’Brien—declares himself “personally grateful.” Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C., lauds Donohue as a “preeminent voice defending the church.” Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia marvels at the author as triple-threat: “a scrapper,” “gifted scholar,” and “thoughtful, vivid, and compelling writer.” And lay accolades come from Mary Ann Glendon, professor of law at Harvard, who hails Donohue as a “treasure” and praises his book as “a gem.”

These imprimaturs are depressing, as Donohue’s career has been an unmitigated disgrace. President of the Catholic League, he’s one of the most visible faces of the faith—and what a rancorous scowl it is. Donohue blustered onto the public stage in the 1990s with diatribes against “pornography” and “anti-Catholicism” in the arts. His targets were minor artifacts of postmodern titillation: Robert Mapplethorpe’s sadomasochistic portraiture, Karen Finley’s chocolate body-smearing, Andres Serrano’s Piss Christ. Such pretentious ephemera issued from an art world running out of things with which to épater les bourgeois, but Donohue elevated them to world-historical importance. Fearful, apparently, that a church of two millennia could be felled by a crucifix dipped in urine, he scourged “the cultural elite” and its “radical secular agenda.” Rumbling onward from there, he enlarged his ambit of outrage to include lesbians, gays, bisexuals, sexual-abuse victims, feminists, liberal Catholics, and “secular Jews.”

Considered by many a knight of the faith, he’s in fact little more than a pious bully fueled with a seemingly limitless supply of high-octane bile. Abuse victims in his view are nothing but “gold diggers” and a “pitiful bunch of malcontents.” And if it’s not the gays or “radical feminists” who are running around ruining things, it’s the Jews. During the 2004 furor over Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ, Donohue observed that “Hollywood is controlled by secular Jews who hate Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular.” Against these and any other antagonists he is ever ready to hit back. Writing in Catalyst, the Catholic League’s periodical, he has boasted that “we specialize in public embarrassment of public figures who have earned our wrath.”

Why do bishops and other conservatives applaud such malice and paranoia? The most likely answer is that it faithfully represents what they truly think and feel. Though the manner Donohue displays in Why Catholicism Matters is plausibly civil and buttoned-up, beneath it he remains the aggressive and impolite id of conservative Catholicism. The book brims with longing for the pristine world destroyed by the 1960s, when the floodgates of moral pestilence opened and a deluge of vice poured forth. “Moral anarchy is cresting,” Donohue writes ominously—by which he means, mainly, more people are having sex without wedding rings or fear of unwanted pregnancy. (He mentions avarice and warfare occasionally, but since capitalism is good and American wars are always just, he’s not really all that concerned.) He would return us to the time before feminists, gays, professors, and community organizers ruined everything: the world in which men ruled as benevolent patriarchs, nuns wore habits and deferred to the clergy, blacks didn’t whine about racism, and queers stayed in their guilt-ridden closets. “Let’s turn the clock back to the 1950s,” Donohue pines unashamedly.

Such nostalgia is widespread among these writers. Cardinal Dolan strolls rapturously down memory lane as well. Recalling his childhood to John Allen, he evokes the pleasures of coming home from school to a cup of Mom’s cocoa and chatting with Dad as he drank a beer. “It was all coherent, wasn’t it?” Dolan says. “It all blended together.” This was life “the way it was supposed to be, the way that Christopher Dawson speaks about Christendom in the Middle Ages—a kind of seamless, complete way of life that, at its best, felt more like a warm blanket than a choke collar.”

And there you have it, the mythic core of conservative Catholicism revealed: the conflation of a fabled suburban domesticity with a fabricated Middle Ages. Must we still remind people that the ranch-house mystique Dolan cherishes was a historically contingent, mainly white ideal that made millions of people—especially women—unhappy? Or that medieval Christendom was no “seamless” way of life, but rather a structure of fealty held together by a forcibly established church and riven by class struggle and incessant warfare, not to mention innumerable popular heresies and theological disputes?

Like other middle-aged right-wing fabulists—and like younger, earnest Catholics understandably confused and terrified by the maelstrom of the present—Donohue, Dolan, and Anderson desire a church untouched by recent history and a gospel that hovers in serene judgment far above the evanescence of time. But, crucially, they also want a church and gospel that can thrive in liberal, profoundly individualist America. Donohue’s potted history is an example. While polemically idealizing the Middle Ages (the Crusades, he asserts, were legitimate self-defense against Muslim jihads, and it was the secular authorities, not the clerical Inquisitors, who did all the torturing and killing of heretics), Donohue also celebrates the Founding Fathers and the lineage of possessive individualism. Catholicism, he contends, offers the “right recipe” for a good society, but it’s “hard to improve” on the “preamble to the U.S. Constitution.” The Founders, after all, “got human nature right”; they recognized “the need for religion in a free society” and laid the foundations for the nation’s moral improvement to boot: slavery, after all, succumbed to natural law as “espoused by John Locke, and made evident by Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence.”

I won’t even begin untangling this bit of sophistry, but the appeal to the liberal tradition is revealing, for it suggests that what our authors really want, even if they’d angrily deny it, is a right-wing—and Catholic—modernity, a misshapen hybrid of capitalist economics and patriarchal benevolence underwritten by outmoded conceptions of gender and natural law. They espouse what historian Jeffrey Herf once dubbed “reactionary modernism”: an embrace of economic and technological modernity coupled with a rejection of cultural liberalism and Enlightenment rationality. Enchanted both by the Middle Ages and by the mythic American domesticity of the suburban sublime, conservative Catholics are thoroughly modern, however long and loudly they bewail modernity’s godless, prodigal spirit.

Reactionary modernism has long been a populist phenomenon, romanticizing “the people” as a bulwark of common sense and tradition. Hence Bishop Jenky’s chintzy ensemble of flowers, cross, and flag; and hence the brazen, hysterical bray of panic at alleged attacks on “religious liberty.” When nostalgia no longer rejuvenates, there comes the desperate strategy of appealing to the wisdom of the American “moral consensus,” as Carl Anderson claims to discern it in his pentecost of focus groups. There is substantial reason to doubt that this consensus exists: more than half of all American Catholics favored the HHS mandate, and 60 percent believed that all employers, religious or not, should pay for contraceptive coverage. While the bishops protest at escalating decibel levels, their strictures and warnings about “liberty” are falling on ever-more skeptical or indifferent ears.

It’s true that no cogent successor has emerged to supplant these authors’ hybrid of American triumphalism and Catholic traditionalism; Catholics less tethered to religious and nationalistic nostalgia have yet to make a credible case to their brethren. Only the fullness of time will disclose whether such a case gets made. As for the reactionary modernists, these mandarins of despair are correct to fret about the passing of their historical era. The old order they embody may fight on, but its condition is terminal.

Funding for this article was provided by a grant from the Henry Luce Foundation.

About the Author

Eugene McCarraher is associate professor of humanities and history at Villanova University. He is completing The Enchantments of Mammon: Corporate Capitalism and the American Moral Imagination.



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Tomorrow night we will find that these 'morbid' voices will have no platform for at least four and maybe eight years to proclaim their pessimistic Gospel and fewer and fewer will be listening anyway.

New voices, newer notions, new ways to proclaim the Gospel to the people are already being tuned up. The authors you mention only have that  dwindling reactionary audience who thrive on hearing and spreading fear. They have already lost the young, and the old like me know where the true Gospel communities can be found, communities  that know the Vatican II message, New music is on its way.  

I find the argument rather superficial. Yes, of course, in the US today there is no totalitarian system like those of XX century Europe. But totalitarianism can take many forms. The culture of contemporary liberalism is essentially technocratic, and does not recognize that the human person has any transcendent dignity. That's enough to make it implicitly totalitarian, even if power is exercised in democratic ways. There is no need to establish a dictatorship or to "repeal the first amendment" if one can exercise enough cultural control on society as to marginalize all dissenting voices. I will quote what A.Del Noce wrote in 1970:

"As matter of fact, many people do not realize that scientism and the technological society are totalitarian in nature. They say: let science organize the social sphere. There is still the other sphere, interior life, in which science has no jurisdiction. This would be true if there was a “moral” consensus between the proponents of scientism and other people. In fact, however, the scientism includes as essential a form of morality (what is often called the “pleasure principle” or, as I wrote elsewhere, the pure increase of vitality) which is “absolutely contradictory” with traditional ethics."

one being that the state can force us to be “free” by compelling us to do what we ought

The state always 'compells' us; thats the result of any law.  The question is really should the coercion be to 'ought' or 'want', remembering that even democracy can be tyrannical.  And I found the rest of his polemic arguments equally off-the-mark.


Excellent article, Prof. McCarraher. I wish people could see through the clerical reactionaries as clearly as you do. I think they are engaging in projection.

Compelling diagnosis. I believe Michael Crosby points to the remedy:

"And I found the rest of his polemic arguments equally off-the-mark."



Though he has good intentions (for the church), I also found his arguments off-the-mark. Good intentions will no more make a solution than a perfectly painted bull's eye will make a good shot.


Thanks to Eugene M. for writing this fine article and the guts of COMMONWEAL for printing it. While living in the USA between 1946 and 1955, I never missed reading an issue of COMMONWEAL and that was well before blogging was even dreamt of.


Now “looking in from the outside” I am an 85 year old, “migrant USA person” I am also a proud Catholic”:  25 years  as a Capuchin Franciscan priest serving the campesinos and indigenous peoples of the Caribbean Coast of Nicaragua, (Central America) and now 32 years still in Nicaragua in our Sacramental Catholic marriage and father of our 2 daughters, plus several foster daughters and co-founder of «» 


I have one little “ceterum censeo” or “usual bone to  pick”.  From Alaska in the far North down to Tierra del Fuego in the far South tip of Argentina,  WE ARE ALL AMERICANS.  We recognize that the USA  government and it’s people have co-opted “our surname” or  “family name” and they use it as their “given name”, instead of calling themselves “USA Americans” .  Remember, we also have the offical titles of  “The United States of Mexico”, and “The United States of  Brazil”.  My wife and children are Nicaraguan Americans.  For the past 62 years I have been living and functioning in Nicaragua Central America, although still remaining a citizen of  Wisconsin,USA.


{#{a snide remark:  This is the first year that I did not receive by USA registered mail my usual “absentee ballot” for voting in these national USA elections this week.  ¿Was this perhaps part of the concerted tremendous Republican Party crusade by GOP governors to make it more difficult to vote,--  minimizing time for voting,  maximizing qualifications to vote, and printing up ballots of such length that we need a “super-pac” to pay for postage here and return to the USA --  all just to make it harder for us “odd balls” to vote?  ¡¡ Lord, forbid that I should slip into that great sin of “rash judgment” !! cf.  USA Catholic Catechism, pg. 2,594, #7831 paragraph 37.s and following.}#}


After that snide digression I repeat my often reiterated  HUMAN RIGHT TO NOT  be lumpped into that “American Catholic Church”,  “American way of life”  “American ‘culture’”, “American this” and “American that” etc, etc. ad nauseum.


We “Latinos” get suspicious when our surname is coopted by “USA Americans.”

But we always remember:  “A rose by any other name would smell the same.”

After all, our philosophy of life is that Living must always be celebrated, and humor is a great part of our Latino humanity.


Justiniano de Managua

William Donahue is to Catholicism what Dick Chaney is to world peace.  When Dolan sings his praises, he outs himself as truly out of touch with reality.  These right wingers got their just desserts in the election.  Too bad we can't vote them out-- and with God's Rotweiller in charge, we're likely to get more of them....

I used to have to struggle and question my motives when disagreeing with the hierarchy. They are now becoming so utterly stupid I can often ignore them without a second thought. That's progress!

The Bishops need learn only one simple lesson from Our Lord Jesus Christ: "your faith has saved you" Christ never said "I have saved you". Therefore those who claim to be Vicars of Christ on earth certianly have no such power to save us. WE save each other through the love and forgivness that brings us to the Faith that saves us.Christ did not chose people of power and public stature to spread his Gospel, and we certianly don't need such men now. I will hang on to the "Church" by the thinning thread of Faith that a few good priests and the American Women Religious still provide. In a way its like some sad couples in marriage, you hang in there together for the kids. But in this relationship I, a Child of Vatican II, find much sadness. 

Pray, pay and obey and you will be saved! All others need not apply.

Undergirding all the morbid symptoms cited in the essay is a tragic dynamic.  At a time of unpressedented crtiticism and resentment  toward our episcopal elite, the bishops and their supporters proclaim that they are the victims of massive discrimination and abuse, much more reprehensible than those pesky child sex abuse accusations.  Perpetrators often try to clothe themselves as the true victims in order to deflect the fury of the young lay victims.  Exellencies, it is not going to be a successdful strategy. The 1950s are gone and not recoverable. Evangelize the present world as best you can.  Drop the the self-serving excuses.  Our church is full of past and present martyrs worthy of our honor and gratitude.  Your names are not on those holy lists. JPM

Thanks for a very thought-provoking article.  I was especially intrigued by your mention of "that Greatest of Centuries, the thirteenth".   If they had been there, most conservatives would not have liked it very much.  Altogether too much intellectual ferment.  Those new-fangled, free-thinking universities, you know.  Too much debate and dissent about articles of faith.  And too much of the old giving way to the new.

In other words, that "that Greatest of Centuries, the thirteenth" was remarkably like our own times.  And after a hiatus to deal with the Black Plague, it led to the Renaissance and then the Reformation. 

Personally, I do not see a short-term solution to our current dilemma (although I wish that I did).  We are probably on the cusp of a new period in history.  If so, one way to look at our times is that we have a chance for a "do-over", a chance to get right some things that we've gotten wrong in the past.  That requires vision, and hard intellectual work.  There are some visionaries still among us, but once again Rome seems on the verge of repeating the repressive mistakes of Pio Nono, Pius X, and (to a more limited degree) Pius XII.  Funny how all those theologians silenced during the 1950s turned out to be the architects of Vatican II. 

The Roman Catholic Church needs to give up its fight with modernity, and instead begin once again to engage with the modern world.  That is going to take some time.  But in the meanwhile, let's not make fools of ourselves (again).

Michael Cassidy: "The Roman Catholic Church needs to give up its fight with modernity, and instead begin once again to engage with the modern world. That is going to take some time. But in the meanwhile, let's not make fools of ourselves (again)."

As one who came of age in the wake of Vatican II, I often wondered what it would have been like to have lived at a time when the visible Church demanded Catholics accept its dictates that, to us clear-eyed "moderns," violated scientific fact or what we finally understood to be the demands of religious liberty.  Would I have had the courage or even sufficient independence of mind to conscientiously object?  Who back then would have believed living a few more decades would provide the perspective required to answer such questions? 

The irony, of course, is that Church anti-progressives in the US co-opted "religious liberty" to defend their disapproval of the demands of pluralistic democracy rooted in the US Constitution and American tradition. 

A thoughtful and thought-provoking article. The fact that Commonweal published it at all speaks to Catholicism's ability to examine its core beliefs, premises, and objectives in ways that none of the writers whose diatribes are being discussed here could possibly fathom. I cannot think of a secular (political) organization that would allow such a strong statement of dissent. -- That said, I also have serious theological and philosophical differences with the writer. For one thing, the fact that "we don’t all agree on the conception of human nature that freedom is supposed to foster" cannot be accepted as the baseline for arguments about how to frame the role of the Church in contemporary America from here on out. That we do not share such a conception of the human person is objectively true (and none of the writers whose works are subjected to such whithering and incisive critique here doubts it either); yet precisely that would be the great desideratum of our time: to do everything in our power as a Catholic community to help our society reacquire a fully articulated and coherent, normative understanding of the human person. Absent such a conception, our conversation about individual and collective flourishing, about rights, obligations, or notions of the just and the good will never be able to advance but will founder due to the radical incommensurability of the premises from which individuals develop their arguments. In short, pluralism is a "fact" lf modern life, to be sure. Yet simply to embrace this fact as seemingly irreversible is to embark on a course towards mere "indifferentism" (the shoulder-shrugging "whatever" of our teenage generation) that will leave us progressively stunted and inarticulate when trying to reason through the many moral questions  (e.g. Consumer capitalism, militarism, human sexuality, etc.) that always impinge on us.

Thank you for suach a fine article. Eugene M summed up an historical depiction of life since Vatican II.Sorry Dolan became so indoctrinated in Rome. I feel they brainwash many a good clergy.There are other places to sing God praises still inthe Church.

This article is appalling.  That a Jesuit journal would publish it is depressing.  There is much to criticise in the Catholic Right.  Reasoned arguments are needed and deserve to be made.  I really do not want Mr. O'Donohue speaking for the Church any more than the author does.

But what is the point here?  The sneering contemptuous tone aimed at the Bishops.  Who is this going to persuade?  The unbecoming name calling. Is this Catholic charity?  The complete failure to acknowlege the dignity of those with whom the author disagrees is at odds with every humane principle of scholarship and learned argument I learned from the Jesuits and the Dominicans.  Would anyone speak like this face to face with another?  It seems to me at the end of the day the author is shouting because he thinks no one will listen.  it's not surprizing.  Who would willingly listen to this.  The article has the same tone of "malice and paranoia" that is attributed to Donohue.

The moral rot which manifested itself in the 1960s is the result of the Frankfurt School which was kicked out of Germany in the 1930s and had relocated to the USA. Markuse and his fellow comrades achieved their goals beyond their wildest dreams.

Merka says"That a Jesuit journal would publish it is depressing' Your Wrong ownership claim has got to weaken your points! Yes?

" do everything in our power as a Catholic community to help our society reacquire a fully articulated and coherent, normative understanding of the human person. Absent such a conception, our conversation about individual and collective flourishing, about rights, obligations, or notions of the just and the good will never be able to advance but will founder due to the radical incommensurability of the premises from which individuals develop their arguments."

Indeed, this is the real problem. When certain Church teachings, e.g., sexual ethics, and their underlining philosophy and theology, are in contradiction to human reason, existiential reality, and at times inconsistent and not convincing to most open-minded scholars (not to mention the average Catholic), then the "blame" for the disagreement (often classified by the Church as "dissent"), cannot be modernity and ills of the Western secural age. To blame modernity for a culture of death and the non-reception of sexual ethical teachings is an easy talking point.    However, a good part of the so-called blame is the Church's message, or lack thereof, in guiding and teaching Catholics how to grow spiritually in the modern world (not just a repeat the usual prayer, sacrament and sacrifices). When was the last time anyone has heard a homily from the pupit on how to deal with moral dilemma and the major problems facing Catholics, such as: access to the sacrament of reconcilation and Eucharist reception for the divorce and remarried, contraception for young mothers with children whose lives are threathened by another pregnancy, a change in the defintion of "direct abortion"...e.g., horrific decision in the Phoenix Case, in vitro fertilzation between responsible spouses who have fertility problems and desire children of their own making. The list goes on.

These issues, and the unintelligible answers the Church offers, divide our Church and further degrade the authority of the Magisterium. The issue is not merely "modernity". Catholics can navigate turbulent waters with a moral compass but if the Church offers no rational and understandable reason, then modernity is not to blame. This is not individualism or relativism as many of the heirarchy would like us to believe.

Granted, there is too much promiscurity and irresponsible liberalism in this world. However, this does not mean that God is not at the table of most Church going Catholics. Their disagrement with certain Church teachings is not invincible ignorance, or are they infected with a diabolical cancer that is destroying their sense of reason and morality. What is missing is a convincing moral theory that is intelligible to Catholics of faith who strive to live good and just lives in accordance with the love of Christ and His Gospel. This is the responsibility of the Church and its heirarchy. To demand blind faith without reason is foolhardiness. To reason without faith is to turn against the Spirit who guides us all. What we need is both reason and faith.  When an unintelligible reason is missing, the logican outcome is non-reception. History has demonstrated that teachings not received, were eventually reformed. The Catholic Church lives on because the Spirit guides us all to the truth in both agreement and disagreement. Modernity is all relative. In every age and place, modernity was what was the then and now. The problems the Church has faced throughout history were many. The causes were not merely modernity.  



To Ed Gleason:


No, not really.  I suppose you mean that my confusion of this journal with America should mean that I  was wrong  to hold Commonweal to a higher standard.


The point is the same.  Who are these people talikng to?  The commenters seem to be in general agreement that the Hierarchy of the Church is "utterly stupid" or otherwise worthy of complete disdain.  One hack even trots out that tired reference to His Holiness as God's Rottweiler.  When I read something like that it is obvious to me that the person has not seriously read and considered anything that Pope Benedict has written, yet at the same time is convinced he knows everything.  This is an echo chamber.  No one else  reads you.  No one will. People like me come on from time to time to see if we can get a different perspective or just hear an opposing view.  All we see is nonsense, like the poster above who makes the unqualified and unexplained statement that "Curch teachings" that have persisted for two thousand years are in conflict with "human reason" because they are rejected by the most "open minded" of scholars.  This is the Bill O'Reilly show for the Cathloic Left.   The Catholic Left supports many worthwhile positions often given short shrift by the Right  like the dignity of the working poor and the claim in justice for help by the needy.  Serious people make reasoned arguments that force their opponents to think.  That is how you change someone's mind.  This article is a waste of time.



This article is absolue rubbish, and the proliferation of articles like this in Commonweal are the reason why I will not renew my subscription.  McCarraher twists the truth brutally to espouse his selfish and destructive views.  Having read what he has to say here, I realize why I must increase my support of the Bishops and our Catholic Church; and indeed I will.

One minor point. Surely we should congratulate the episcopacy (and not just in the US) for having discovered, at this late date, the virtues of religious liberty. Just how they square such a belief with the magisterial pronouncements of, among others, Gregory XVI, Pius IX, or Pius X is, of course, a bit of a problem. As is the question of just what is meant my religious liberty; does it mean freedom of conscience, for instance,  as most Americans believe? Or does it simply mean the right of churches, or indeed the one true church, to operate freely?

Last summer's celebration of religious liberty invoked St. Thomas More as one of its exemplars. Yet he, as Lord Chancellor of England under the tough-minded Henry VIII, was a persecutor of heretics. Hardly an example, in this respect, of religious liberty as most of us understand the term today. Perhaps seminary courses in ecclesiastical history glide over this contradiction? I wouldn't know.

A quote comes to mind: "When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross."  The Second Vatican Council all but delcared Christendom over; however, old habits die hard. 


Dear Prof. McCarraher,


I just finished reading your "Morbid Symptoms" in the11/23/12 issue of Commonweal. At last someone carefully, yet still full of care, addresses the symptoms that reveal the potentially fatal dis ease of our time. In pitting one person against another eg. the lottery, buying goods and services that force their employees and producers on food stamps and Medicaid, degrading out environment, and so much more; we are duped into thinking we are getting a bargain. The only ones getting the bargains are those skimming off the top and leaving us with the bills and ever growing unrest. They even sell more guns and ammunition so that we can "defend" our stuff and "rights". I can imagine the outrage when more and more people wake up to being duped. Your article goes along way to waking people up to the true causes of our illnesses.


Thank you,


Connie May


    Reading Dr. McCarraher's  thoughtful essay was a great solace to me. In the Catholic

Church of the Texas Panhandle, a poor little hearing-impaired woman like me is more

likely to be dismissed as a dingbat than of a dangerous heretic  for

expressing  any dissenting opinion at all.


    I seldom do, which is why it's such a blessed relief that this article affirmed my

downright dismay over pre-election "ecumenical" prayer meetings spearheaded by the

Diocese bishop here for the purpose of praying for "religious freedom."


    Fellow Catholics found these prayer meetings  to be wonderfully spirit-filled  (why,

there were even some black churches attending. Great singing! The very small Jewish

flock here was, of course, invited, but chose not to attend).  I  dearly love 

to be a  part of truly ecumenical gatherings (as, I believe, the Jewish community here

  does, too).  But this "religious freedom" fest didn't feel right to me. 


    It seemed pointless, if not perilous, to make a peep suggesting these meetings were

pretty transparently politically-motivated--how dare Obamacare make some, but not all,

Catholic institutions be associated (even at some remove) with free contraceptives for

female employees, whether Catholic or not, who choose work over childbearing at any

time, for any reason. 

   (Thinks I: If many of these female employees were not paying for contraception out of

their own pockets, these Catholic institutions would surely be forever subsidizing

 maternity leave for a great many of them...a considerable sacrifice of

money and womanpower to uphold staunch pro-life beliefs.  But  the opprobium be upon

these benighted female employees; the sanctity of their employer must remain



   Yep. I do confess that's what I'm thinking--heretically?--all too keenly aware that I

can't enjoy the fellowship of Catholic believers if I spill my guts. Exercising

critical intelligence has become more of a handicapping condition here than severe

hearing loss I've suffered since late  adolescence.  Any attempt to puncture the pretty

balloon of true believers would surely be a grievous violation of  "surburban sublime"

social graces.


    And here's the sorrow and pity of it: Such "religious freedom" rallies seem like

overkill in a locale where Democrats are demonized, where  one lone Mexican-American,

a member of a machinist union and observant Catholic, valiantly dared to defy total

Republican hegemony by running  for state senator  (and losing big time for the second

time in a row).  Most of our Republican representives in all branches of government run

unopposed by dastardly Democrats, and, God knows, none of these "winners" would ever

publically express pro-choice, pro-gay marriage or pro-union positions. Never, never,


   In an ecumenical spirit, these rallies have caused me to think about finding sanctuary 

in a  faith community more open to "other opinion".  I sometimes feel like I'm buried

alive here, but console myself in the belief that I'm buried in Christ...and my latest

edition of Commonweal, read cover to cover.

    What a rainfall pleasure to pour this out, full knowing few are still reading comments

on this article... 















 Despite the ironclad fact that my city votes overwhelmingly for Republicans, and

community life here mainly resides in a great many church enclaves, whether housed in

big, imposing edifices or strip malls,  the bishop of the Diocese indulged in what I reckon

is his version of "social activism" by ralllying churches of all denominations to take part in

 praying for religious freedom.      





Edith Ann... you are in me prayers.. stay put... they need your well formed opinions.. if you are harassed.. complain to the bishop about the lack of his RELIGIOUS FREEDOM prayers not being answered. [then move to San Francisco ] 


Oddly enough, although I am new to Eugene McCarraher’s work, a friend emailed me the link to this article a day after I had read McC’s excellent piece “The Heavenly City of Business” that appears as a chapter in the recently-published book “The Short American Century”.


I submit the following thoughts in regard to the present article.


While Cardinal Dolan is quoted as only mentioning “pragmatism, utilitarianism and consumerism” – which neatly leave him open to precisely the point McC then makes, yet if I were to add “relativism, secularism, and a functional metaphysical Mono-Planarism (i.e., there is only this Plane of Existence for any practical purposes, and no other) then it would not be so easy to dismiss the deep-seated sense of un-ease with current American developments and dynamics. Nor so easy to gently imply that such danger as exists flows only from the right-ish end of the spectrum.


And I think that ‘conservative’ and ‘traditional’ are rather too easily conflated with rightist and ‘reactionary’. Surely a decent person may have reasonable doubts and perhaps objections to any Proposal or Imposition X without necessarily being (in an eerily Soviet echo) “reactionary”.  To what extent, in that regard, does the invocation of Gramsci’s spirit – a Leninist Party apparatchik seeking to undermine (although in a neatly Italian humanist way) the democracies of the West where the possibility of a Russian-style armed revolution was not great – inform that eerie and frankly un-nerving Soviet echo?


McC, I submit, “abjures” some “complexities” himself. To what extent might a decent and reasonable person entertain doubts that current ‘liberalism’ is not the classical Liberalism of the 19th century but rather a mutation far too deeply infected with Marxist and Leninist content and method? (And I do not use those descriptors for ‘scare’ purposes but rather to accurately name substantive conceptual elements in modern ‘liberal’ thought and praxis.)  Are there not dangers from the Left in current American culture as well as from the Right? (I pray McC does not start to slide down the slope that the late Gore Vidal slid down: an acute observer and dissector with a superb capacity to root out BS, yet his own personal agenda and chosen political allegiances blinded him to any BS on the Left – and so he waged otherwise insightful conceptual battles “with only one boot on” as a Confederate general once put it.)


I am pleased that McC deals so frankly with the truly vital Question: to what extent is the Thomistic-Aristotelian teleological schema a “tyrannical” oppression, since it does not simply accept ‘freedom’ for itself but rather places ‘freedom’ in the service of human “flourishing”? Just so. Was it Baudrillard who said that within every ideal there lurks an oppression, of oneself and/or of others? Yes, ideals and principles impose Limits; but then so does Shape itself: any Shape by definition limits in order to create identity. I use the German “Grunde und Grenze” – foundations and limitations, grounds and bounds – to capture this reality: self-identity imposes its own limits, much as the endo-skeletal system creates and imposes certain limitations upon the body in the very process of supporting that body.


McC – if I read him correctly here – goes with the current ‘liberal’ focus on the ‘oppression’, without overmuch thought about the consequences of not having any endo-skeleton, without those ‘Grunde und Grenze’. He admits in another by-the-by that present-day life is (he cawn’t think how) a “maelstrom”. I submit that it is precisely and accurately characterized as a maelstrom because humans have lost any sense of meaning and purpose, ‘Grenze und Grunde’, and – as McC then admits – “it’s true that no cogent successor has emerged” … after almost half-a-century since the end of Vatican 2 and the 1960s generally, and with so much intellectual attention – yet nothing sufficient to replace so vital a deconstructed structural member, so vital a ‘Grund u Grenze’, of American and Western culture!


But did nobody on the creative and transgressive (and religious) Left realize how vital a structural (if “oppressive”) member they were ripping out through their deconstruction, such that they gave serious thought to both a) the consequences of the deconstruction and b) the replacement of the deconstructed principle? Is McC suggesting that we now wait – Micawberish – for “something to turn up”? Or that we should all dwell in the sure and certain hope that the million monkeys of a liberated pandemonium will -  given enough time – bang out a new First Principle of human existence that will suitably and sufficiently replace what has been kicked to the curb?


The anti-democratic dynamics inherent in “populism” were also inherent in elitist and expert-worshipping American Progressivism in both its Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson variants (to say nothing of the existence of such dynamics in then-contemporary European variants of vanguard-elite social movements). Curiously, post-Vatican 2 agendas for assorted ‘reforms’ (diversity, democracy and regime-change) in the Church are more a product of Catholic elites (academics and clergy/religious) rather than a grass-roots movement embraced by the majority of the laity.


And I am always – especially these days – wary of the results of ‘survey science’, i.e. various selected persons are simply asked carefully-structured questions, often not even in face-to-face interviews, secure in the knowledge that whatever said persons answer is not going to be further corroborated.


I submit that McC has actually opened up an excellent Point: the Church does see the human being as a Vessel. And as any pilot or ship captain knows, there are certain things that you – being in command of the self-as-Vessel – have within your power and authority to fiddle-with; but there are also certain things you can’t simply because of the nature of the Vessel. Thus you can decide where to fly, but you can’t fly an aircraft in reverse no matter how much you might – through whatever personal derangement – like to. Nor can you drive a ship along an interstate if you don’t like getting wet. I don’t consider this assertion characterizable as “reactionary” (or – to use a Soviet epithet – ‘counter-revolutionary’. But – yes – this Point is vital and I understand any well-grounded ecclesial and even ecclesiastical hesitation about simply ignoring the Point as irrelevant or insensitive or not-Correct.


Lastly, while I am no fan of what I would call ‘ecclesiatchiki’ – hierarchical apparatchiks – yet I caution against a too-simplistic reliance on some sort of Marxist-derived assessment of Church hierarchs as merely power-mongers who don’t want to share power (let alone the Cartoon that the Church is and always has been nothing more than a boy-raping or nun-raping corporate orgy conducted under the rubric of religion – which is not McC’s Cartoon, but is a staple of the Catholic Clerical Abuse Matter.



I agree with every word of McCarraher’s piece. Those who have responded angrily against it are, I suppose, in pain because the future of our church is in serious doubt. We can all agree on that. But McCarraher (and I and many others) would lay that problem largely at the feet of bishops who do not have the courage or imagination to lead us into a grace-filled future, but want instead to drag us back into a past that never quite existed in the way they think it did and, to the degree that it did, was never such a bed of roses. The article could have been a lot harsher and still been on the money. What bothers me is that not enough of the people I admire who I know feel pretty much the same way are willing or able to say so in print. Gene is a treasure, to be commended.


For purposes of illumination, may I make the following remarks about the ‘Lakeland’ comment? It is merely an assertion of his feelings and opinion as to the piece. As such he has every right to make it. It is also an example of one type of commenting, whereby one simply throws one’s feelings and conclusion ‘out there’. My own approach to commenting is to engage the ideas contained in a piece, discussing them and explaining my thoughts – so that, whether other readers agree with them or not, the readers are given thoughts and not simply feelings.


I also point out that the ‘Lakeland’ comment asserts a wide support by many who – for unspecified reasons – agree with ‘Lakeland’ and who support McC but don’t care or don’t have the ability to express their agreement . This is a ‘ghostly’ party of supporters indeed, and it’s up to readers to decide what to do with it.


I don’t know if my comment is included among “those who have responded angrily” to McC’s article here, but I certainly did not do so; my purpose was to engage some of the ideas expressed in the article. Certainly none of the ideas or questions I put forward have been engaged by the ‘Lakeland’ comment (which perhaps was not intended to refer to my comment among those that are the focus of its attentions).


At any rate, engaging the conceptual bits of the ‘Lakeland’ comment, I cannot take comfort in such vague abstractions as “a grace-filled future” and the subsequent accusation that the “bishops” have neither “the courage or imagination” to “lead us into” such an abstract and gauzy “future”. My first thought is that “grace-filled future” is some sort of portmanteau phrase that could be stuffed with any number of more specific yet un-stated particular points. As such the phrase might also be a sort of coded shorthand, to which not all readers would have the de-coding handbook necessary to ‘unpack’ it – as the saying goes.


As regards to the bishops instead seeking to “drag us back” and “into a past that never quite existed in the way they think it did” and that “was never such a bed of roses”: the thought that these statements prompts in me is that this is precisely the type of thinking that underlies many persons’ (not necessarily Mr. Lakeland or McC) motivation for various current changes by the imagining of a “primitive Christian community” that somehow existed in some sort of pristine Gospel purity before – the date usually given – 313AD and Constantine’s embrace and toleration (for his own reasons) of Christianity. The further underlying assumption being that one might today  scrape off the accretions of post-Constantinian Christianity and recover the putative treasure of that primitive Gospel Christianity, sort of like scraping the black paint off the Maltese Falcon (of hallowed movie memory).


I could recommend a reading of Diarmaid MacCulloch’s 2009 history “Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years”. While I do not agree with all of that author’s take on things, he wonderfully captures the stunning and intricate historical complexities that have faced Christianity – and the Roman Catholic Church or, as he puts it, “the Western Church of the Latin Rite”. Confronted with such profoundly and dauntingly complex challenges and problems, there are few instances where solution or resolution could have been achieved merely by posing some ‘Catholic’ form of the current Fundamentalist mantra: What Would Jesus Have Done? … vastly more intricate thinking and even maneuvering had to be done and devised.


(A bit ominously, and not given much consideration by DMacC, is that some of the most flexible and ‘open’ approaches espoused by various Christian groups over the course of history resulted, as his text relates, in their becoming mere sects and/or ceasing to exist altogether as identifiable Christian-belief entities. Which constitutes a significant monitum when deliberating upon contemporary demands for various types of change.)


Lastly, on the basis of that excellent extended essay of EMcC’s that I mentioned in my first comment, I am eager to read more of his work.


I feel comfortable assuming the author of this piece is attempting to compare the words and deeds of the individuals he mentions to those of persons he considers having exhibited a life more in keeping with the teachings of a Fellow whom I believe was neither well educated nor powerful.  At least not in his lifetime.  If that is true, perhaps it will help to mention a fellow whose life did, after a horrific experience, exhibit those teachings in a remarkably consistent and more than likely erudite fashion, Archbishop Oscar Romero.  Which is to say, it becomes much easier to know when one is on the right track when the goal becomes clear.  Is it your fight you wish to win or someone elses?

The tragedy to be found in this article lies in the fact there may be any truth to it at all.

Charles Coughlin redivivus?  When I hear such diatribes, I spotaneously think 'we've seen this schtick before.'

What is happening to the Church? I am ashamed and deeply saddened by the comments of these so called leaders!


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