"He instinctively can find the shining greatness of our American culture and does a good job of highlighting it (although he also does have those rare lapses when he writes about hockey, but that is something caused by impurities in the Eastern waters or something)." Erik Keilholtz
Under the patronage of St. Tammany
Mark C. N. Sullivan is an editor at a Massachusetts university. He is married and the father of three children. Email
Friday, April 29, 2005 The empirical case for Benedict XVI
The New Republic carries an outstanding piece by Ross Douthat, who maintains the Progressive Church of NCR's dreams already has been sung into being, by the Episcopalians et al, and has lost people in droves.
The election of Benedict XVI, at least in the Western press, is being interpreted primarily as a blow to liberal Catholicism--the Catholicism that has endured a kind of exile since the late 1960s, when it became clear that the post-Vatican II renovation in Church teaching was not to be as sweeping as many hoped. For some, this exile has meant formally abandoning the Church; for most, though, it has meant remaining within it, waiting first for Paul VI to die, and then John Paul II, and now Benedict XVI, and all the while insisting--often from major op-ed pages and tenured positions at Catholic universities--that all of the Church's difficulties, from declining vocations to dwindling mass attendance to the sex-abuse scandals, would be solved if only Catholicism were to become more in step with the modern world.
It's an appealing notion, particularly to people whose lives and beliefs already conform more closely to modern mores than to traditional Catholic teaching. But it has almost no empirical support. All the evidence suggests the opposite--that a more liberal Catholic Church would be far weaker, smaller, and less influential even than the wounded and divided Body of Christ that Benedict XVI will govern.
The problem for liberals is that their preferred path to the Catholic future has already been tried, and with less-than-encouraging results.
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In Cardinal Mahony's Los Angeles, Karen Hall has figuratively hoisted the "Don't Tread on Me" flag from her pew and declared liturgical mutiny.
It will probably surprise no one to know that I loathe the new Mass. And what I loathe the most is the fact that we've been ordered not to kneel during communion. As far as I know, all the other Catholics on the planet can still kneel during communion. What sense does this make?
I have been ignoring the "no kneeling" directive, as has ninety percent of every parish I've been to. (I absolutely have to point out that Gray Davis was the lone person standing on his side of the aisle the last time I went to Mass when he was there. Gotta love it. He's pro-choice, but if the Cardinal says don't kneel, by God he's not gonna kneel.)
I have been working hard on obedience, which is not something that comes easily to me. #