Is liberalism dying?
It's another version of that optimistic line, that says liberals are ageing, and the seminaries are filling up with committed actual catholics, all will be well:
"...Catholics in the West will increasingly fall into one of two categories. They will either be (1) quite orthodox on matters of faith and morals and trying, despite sin, to live the Church’s teaching; or (2) more-or-less totally detached from the Church, living lives indistinguishable from secularists. Slowly but surely, the mushy-middle is emptying out."
But does the argument really stand up? I would argue no. And the reason is this: at least in Australia what Crisis Magazine describes as the 'mushy middle', have taken over our schools, hospitals, news services, and other Church institutions, are using them to actively prevent a revival in the faith.
The mushy middle
Crisis points to the large group of people who are nominally Catholic, but in practice are protestants:
"Many self-described liberal Catholics have either raised their children to think and act more-or-less like liberal Protestants (another fast-disappearing species), or they’ve decided their children should be “free to make up their own minds” about religious matters.
Of course, the latter position isn’t as neutral as it sounds. As the philosopher J. Budziszewski writes, “declining to teach [the faith] is itself a way of teaching.” Among other things, he adds, it tells children that what their parents think about God is unimportant, and that reflecting adequately about God requires no theological or philosophical formation. Hence, no-one should be surprised that many who grow up in such families end up knowing or caring little about Catholicism."
The trouble is, that for reasons of cost and status, these people still send their children to 'Catholic' schools. And they then demand accommodationism around them.
Consider for example the case of the lesbians who wanted to enrol their child in a Catholic school, and the bishop who wanted to allow it. And let's face it, I'm betting more than a few homosexual couples already have children in our schools, and are working quietly behind the scenes to promote the gay agenda there.
You might think we had some potential allies on holding the line in other religions and ecclesial communities who continue to have a committed core. Alas, all too many of those religious communities too have been penetrated by the disease of liberalism.
Take this article from the Canberra Times this week, written from a Jewish perspective.
The writer has some legitimate complaints.
But he surely goes too far when he objects to students attending a (private) Church school being forced to go to chapel:
"The problem of respecting Jewish religious rites was particularly pronounced when it came to chapel attendance at the church schools. One participant complained of being forced to go to chapel; the pupil nonchalantly explained they dealt with this situation by simply mouthing the words. Another Jewish student refused to go to chapel at all - according to Jewish law it is forbidden to enter a church in prayer; they were forced to sit in the detention room while the issue was resolved, effectively being punished for observing their Jewish faith."
Sorry mate, but if you don't want your children to be subjected to a religion other than your own, don't send them to a Church school!
Now I'm pretty certain the school in question is an Anglican one (viz the word chapel) - for surely no Catholic school would actually 'force' kids to attend Mass! The reality is that we've already fallen into the indifferentism the writer seems to advocate in the very name of respect for other religions...
The triumph of liberalism?
The bottom line is that while the aggressive liberals are indeed dying out, they are still replicating themselves.
They are replacing themselves with a new generation who call themselves Catholic but attend Mass only occasionally, doing just enough to get their children baptised so as to get into a Catholic school.
They genuinely see themselves as Catholic in their commitment to social justice, even while rejecting
the idea that the Church is the custodian of absolute truth.
They control the institutions we need to be genuinely Catholic if we want to turn that tiny spark we can currently see in younger committed Catholics into the wildfire we need to spread if we want to save Catholicism in this country.
Saints will arise!
Crisis Magazine concludes that these are the kind of times that call forth great saints.
St Teresa of Avila wrote that we are all called to be great saints: to get there, we need to listen, and act!
We don't necessarily need visions or miracles to help us know what is to be done. We just need to educate ourselves in the faith, and open ourselves to the breath of the Holy Spirit, to learn, see and act.
And we should take heart, too, from the other St Therese - our acts don't have to be the big, showy things. Every little action counts, every small step towards holiness contributes to the whole!
I'm hoping my campaign to reform Cath News might be one such small step, so go over there now and try and comment on what you see, and then come back here and tell us what you found...