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Catholic Moment Kaput

Ross Douthat has a column in Sunday's Times looking back to the funeral of John Paul II, which he sees as "The End of a Catholic Moment" at least in the U.S."The mid-2000s were the last time the Catholic vision of the good society more egalitarian than American conservatism and more moralistic than American liberalism enjoyed real influence in U.S. politics. At the time of John Pauls death, the Republican Partys agenda was still stamped by George W. Bushs compassionate conservatism, which offered a right-of-center approach to Catholic ideas about social justice. The Democratic Party, meanwhile, was looking for ways to woo the values voters (many of them Catholic) who had just helped Bush win re-election, and prominent Democrats were calling for a friendlier attitude toward religion and a bigger tent on social issues."The phrase is Richard Neuhaus's (from his 1987 book of that title). Douthat does not suggest that the mid-2000s is what Neuhaus had in mind. Nor does he think we should expect another "Catholic Moment" of a political sort any time soon.What a relief! An opportunity for us to engage in serious reflection. Someone tell the bishops.

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Don't go to Mass in Jersey. And don't park your car there either.

Can it be that Fr. Neuhaus' Catholic Moment was just his own?

That would settle the question, wouldn't it!

My concern is that we must not let the hierarchy get away with their crimes under the shield of the abortion and/or contraception question. It is true as some have stated in this thread that, despite and without the hierarchy there are some definitive Catholic moments where justice and communal good is being done in this country. The issue is that we should not let the bishops keep using abortion as a cover. They pulled a Kenneth Starr in the last election and failed miserably as he did. Look how their issues match extreme Republicans. Let them build a real record to witness on. Again more revelation on Maciel where Benedict witheld/covered up facts because he did not want JP II's record to be sullied. http://ncronline.org/node/45511If Andrew Cuomo covers up crimes against children I will call him on it too. Right now he is looking better than the cover-up bishops who are criticizing him.

"dramatize zygotes"--that's a memorable line for sure. Ha! Can you coin an equally sassy line for fetuses at 24 weeks? Hope soNext, let's make fun of the tens of thousands of Catholics and others who go to the Pro-Life March year also. Bunch of dupes of the bishops, one and all. Poor idiots. If only they had the thirst for justice and the protection of the rights of women as our wonderful Governor Andrew Cuomo does. Rare has a holier man walked among us. I forgot that BM thinks abortion is a ethical issue on par with the recycling of plastic bags. A Jesuit writing in AMERICA may beg to differ, but I guess most SJ's are flunkies of the bishops too.http://americamagazine.org/issue/unwelcome-anniversary

Catholic moment? Hmm; that was awhile ago the late 50s into the early 70s comes to my mind.It is worth noting that the USA has always been a predominantly Protestant nation. It started that way and the majority is still Protestant. Of course there have always been Catholics and Jews (and yes even a few Muslims) but in the main, Protestantism sets the tone.With that in mind, Catholic moment in my mind anyway seems to be a particular point in time where (like a Ven Diagram) the majority of mainline Protestants in the USA came temporarily into agreement with more Catholicism than they usually did. The radio and TV broadcasts of Bishop Sheen in those years no doubt helped Protestants better understand how Catholics think and see the world.While Protestants between (for example), 1955 to 1973 seemed to begin to see the common sense of Catholic teachings on morals and social justice, that was temporary, and they began to drift away after Roe v Wade decision.It takes water and sunshine to make a rainbow. It takes two to tango, and it seems for awhile back in the 50s until the early 70's, Protestants and Catholics had a nice dance. I imagine it was nice.

Oops - meant to conclude: 'I imagine it was fun'

Maybe it was fun. But as I recall, the merged dinner recipes weren't all that great.

Ken --I agree with your point about Bishop Sheen on that new-fangled machine, TV, having a lot to do with the rest of the c ountry paying more attention to Catholic thought. Amazing the good that really capable preaching can do.

If Richard John Neuhaus were still with us, I wonder if his "Catholic Moment" meme would still include this belief:"The problem of clericalism is composed of several problems. It is the problem of a caste that arrogates to itself undue authority, that makes unwarranted claims to wisdom, even to having a monopoly on understanding the mind of God. The consequence is the great weakening of the Church by denigrating or excluding the many gifts of the Spirit present in the people who are the Church. The problem of clericalism arises when the church acts in indifference, or even contempt, toward the people who are the Church. "Richard J. Neuhaus, Religion & Society Report, June 1989.

Jim McC. --I wonder if it ever really did include that belief. As I remember he was quite intolerant of dissent.

Was he a chameleon convert? Did "poping" change his beliefs that much?(Un)fortunately I got rid of my R&S Report file many years back now. I would love to go back and see if it kept going after his religion change and if there were any clues of his changing his mind prior to crossing the Tiber. If I remember correctly, he was ordained a priest by Cdl O'Connor very shortly after converting. I guess that was a "fast-track" ordination open only to former ministers.

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About the Author

Margaret O'Brien Steinfels, a former editor of Commonweal, writes frequently in these pages and blogs at dotCommonweal.