Leftist "Catholic" Double Standards

So, this journalist at the New York Times wrote the article below, an article that was so incredibly Catholic, I felt compelled to write to the man to thank him. It was just too Catholic for some people, because, as you can see from the second article below, he got some flak. 

What's so irritating about all this is that the same sort of people going on in the second article are the exact same people who talk about "the listening Church," and moan about how the Church is so "authoritarian," how "the people of God" are so brilliant that they don't need shepherds, they just need a "voice" and so forth. That only applies to liberal religious sisters who push for contraception and abortion, or for homosexual activists, or women who want female ordination, etc. For ex., here are a few excerpts from just one blog post from "The Progressive Catholic Voice":

Progressive Catholic Voice Wrote:On coming up with a Church that "Jesus would recognize," they list these two among the four goals:[html]
Quote:1) Moving from a “catechism faith” where dependence on the hierarchy is crucial, to a “biblical faith” where we, by our baptism, are all called to ministry.

3) Participation by all baptized in the governance of our Church, including selection of leaders.
[/html]Excerpts from an interview in that post:[html]
Quote:PCV: How do you account for the absence of these characteristics in the Church beyond the Lay Synod Movement?

Lena Woltering: The clerical model of Church we have grown up with does not make room for, nor tolerate, the characteristics of the Lay Synod Movement because they undermine the power structure that has been in place for centuries. Many Catholics look at the institutional church as a vendor of grace and salvation. The concept of “being” church is something vague and bothersome to many.

PVC: What do you see as some of the implications of the Lay Synod Movement on the Church's methods and conclusions with regards to its authoritative teaching on issues of doctrine and morality?

Lena Woltering: Education is the most crucial element in the Lay Synod Movement. Thinking “out of the box” does not have to be risky business as many of us were taught. With regard to authoritative teaching, “Father” does not necessarily know everything about morality and salvation. We should not be so quick to accept the adage, “The Church has always taught . . .” because many church teachings are merely disciplines that have changed and evolved with our culture. Becoming participants in what has, for many, been a spectator sport requires a new sense of responsibility.


PVC: How popular is the Lay Synod Movement within and beyond the United States?

Lena Woltering: The Lay Synod Movement is picking up steam in the U.S. Since the first gathering in Southern Illinois in 2002, synods have been held in Upstate New York; McAllen, TX; San Francisco; and Dallas/Fort Worth. Upcoming events are planned for Minneapolis, Florida and two sites in Wisconsin. I have also been responding to inquiries from other parts of the country. I know of no activity outside of the United States at this time.

PVC: Doesn’t the use of the term “lay” reinforce the hierarchical model of Church contrary to the vision of community embodied by Jesus, and which for centuries has pitted clergy against laity? What about calling the movement the “Synod of the Baptized”? In this way, all could be included and distinctions between clergy and laity would be deemphasized. What are your thoughts on this?

Lena Woltering: The use of the words “lay” and “synod” are very deliberate – precisely for the reason you object. Both have been used by the hierarchy for centuries, but never have they been used together. In fact, when the concept first arose there was much discussion about what we would call our gathering. We were told only bishops had the authority to call synods. Recognizing our own baptismal authority, the decision was made to call a lay synod where we could begin the work to break down the divisions created by centuries of clericalism. As we do the work on a local level, we will continue to use the term. However, once the movement has grown significantly (and we believe it will) we are hoping to hold a national gathering that will be all about “the people of God!”

You get the idea. But when a traditionalist or conservative layperson has something to say -- well, all of a sudden ordination, degrees, and other marks of "officialdom" become all important. Nice trick, eh?

The first article, from, of all places, the New York Times:

The Plot to Change Catholicism
OCT. 17, 2015
Ross Douthat

THE Vatican always seems to have the secrets and intrigues of a Renaissance court — which, in a way, is what it still remains. The ostentatious humility of Pope Francis, his scoldings of high-ranking prelates, have changed this not at all; if anything, the pontiff’s ambitions have encouraged plotters and counterplotters to work with greater vigor.

And right now the chief plotter is the pope himself.

Francis’s purpose is simple: He favors the proposal, put forward by the church’s liberal cardinals, that would allow divorced and remarried Catholics to receive communion without having their first marriage declared null.

Thanks to the pope’s tacit support, this proposal became a central controversy in last year’s synod on the family and the larger follow-up, ongoing in Rome right now..

But if his purpose is clear, his path is decidedly murky. Procedurally, the pope’s powers are near-absolute: If Francis decided tomorrow to endorse communion for the remarried, there is no Catholic Supreme Court that could strike his ruling down.

At the same time, though, the pope is supposed to have no power to change Catholic doctrine. This rule has no official enforcement mechanism (the Holy Spirit is supposed to be the crucial check and balance), but custom, modesty, fear of God and fear of schism all restrain popes who might find a doctrinal rewrite tempting.

And a change of doctrine is what conservative Catholics, quite reasonably, believe that the communion proposal favored by Francis essentially implies.

There’s probably a fascinating secular political science tome to be written on how the combination of absolute and absolutely-limited power shapes the papal office. In such a book, Francis’s recent maneuvers would deserve a chapter, because he’s clearly looking for a mechanism that would let him exercise his powers without undercutting his authority.

The key to this search has been the synods, which have no official doctrinal role but which can project an image of ecclesiastical consensus. So a strong synodal statement endorsing communion for the remarried as a merely “pastoral” change, not a doctrinal alteration, would make Francis’s task far easier.

Unfortunately such a statement has proven difficult to extract — because the ranks of Catholic bishops include so many Benedict XVI and John Paul II-appointed conservatives, and also because the “pastoral” argument is basically just rubbish. The church’s teaching that marriage is indissoluble has already been pushed close to the breaking point by this pope’s new expedited annulment process; going all the way to communion without annulment would just break it.

So to overcome resistance from bishops who grasp this obvious point, first last year’s synod and now this one have been, to borrow from the Vatican journalist Edward Pentin’s recent investigative book, “rigged” by the papal-appointed organizers in favor of the pope’s preferred outcome.
The documents guiding the synod have been written with that goal in mind. The pope has made appointments to the synod’s ranks with that goal in mind, not hesitating to add even aged cardinals tainted by the sex abuse scandal if they are allied to the cause of change. The Vatican press office has filtered the synod’s closed-door (per the pope’s directive) debates to the media with that goal in mind. The churchmen charged with writing the final synod report have been selected with that goal in mind. And Francis himself, in his daily homilies, has consistently criticized Catholicism’s “doctors of the law,” its modern legalists and Pharisees — a not-even-thinly-veiled signal of his views.

(Though of course, in the New Testament the Pharisees allowed divorce; it was Jesus who rejected it.)

And yet his plan is not necessarily succeeding. There reportedly still isn’t anything like a majority for the proposal within the synod, which is probably why the organizers hedged their bets for a while about whether there would even be a final document. And the conservatives — African, Polish, American, Australian — have been less surprised than last fall, and quicker to draw public lines and try to box the pontiff in with private appeals.

The entire situation abounds with ironies. Aging progressives are seizing a moment they thought had slipped away, trying to outmaneuver younger conservatives who recently thought they owned the Catholic future. The African bishops are defending the faith of the European past against Germans and Italians weary of their own patrimony. A Jesuit pope is effectively at war with his own Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the erstwhile Inquisition — a situation that would make 16th century heads spin.

For a Catholic journalist, for any journalist, it’s a fascinating story, and speaking strictly as a journalist, I have no idea how it will end.

Speaking as a Catholic, I expect the plot to ultimately fail; where the pope and the historic faith seem to be in tension, my bet is on the faith.

But for an institution that measures its life span in millennia, “ultimately” can take a long time to arrive.

And now, the response to that, from thinkprogress.org:

Catholic Theologians Ask New York Times To Stop Letting Ross Douthat Write About Theology  
by Jack Jenkins
Oct 28, 2015 3:09pm

On October 17, New York Times opinion writer and prominent Catholic conservative Ross Douthat penned a scathing critique of Pope Francis entitled “The Plot To Change Catholicism.” In it, he blasted the pope for supposedly endorsing the idea that divorced and remarried Catholics should receive communion without an annulment, and slammed the famously egalitarian pontiff for his “ostentatious humility.”

The piece is one of several Douthat has written about Pope Francis and Catholicism in recent months, most of which are deeply critical of the Church’s left wing and Francis’ relatively progressive take on various theological issues. This week, however, American Catholics are fighting back.

On Monday, a group of Catholic theologians published an open letter directly challenging Douthat, who reportedly has little if any formal training in theology or Church history. The signers took particular umbrage with his most recent article, but also appeared to decry Douthat’s larger body of work on Catholicism — especially his tendency to bat about accusations of heresy, often at Catholic theologians.

The text of the letter is below:
Quote:On Sunday, October 18, the Times published Ross Douthat’s piece “The Plot to Change Catholicism.” Aside from the fact that Mr. Douthat has no professional qualifications for writing on the subject, the problem with his article and other recent statements is his view of Catholicism as unapologetically subject to a politically partisan narrative that has very little to do with what Catholicism really is. Moreover, accusing other members of the Catholic church of heresy, sometimes subtly, sometimes openly, is serious business that can have serious consequences for those so accused. This is not what we expect of The New York Times.
Initial signers of the letter included prominent theology professors affiliated with major Catholic universities, such as Georgetown University, Loyola University Chicago, and Catholic University of America. Dozens of other Catholic theology professors, academics, priests, and PhD students affiliated have also signed onto the letter since Monday, most hailing from other Catholic schools such as Boston College, Fordham University, and Santa Clara University, among others. Catholic theologian Francis Schussler Fiorenza of Harvard University, Douthat’s alma mater, also added his name.

The letter should have asked the New York Times the following question: with what criteria did they determine Mr. Douthat competent to act as an arbiter of theological truth?

The letter quickly drew ire from religious conservatives who saw it as an attempt by academics to silence a Catholic layperson, since Douthat is not ordained. But the chief signer of the letter, Rev. John O’Malley of Georgetown University, told ThinkProgress that Catholic frustration with Douthat isn’t about his right to say what he wants, but his apparent unfamiliarity with crucial theological concepts — all while writing for an international news outlet.

“[Douthat] gets into very technical theological stuff, and you should have some professional background in that — studying church theology, church history, that kind of thing,” he said. “These are big issues.”

A similar sentiment was expressed on Wednesday by James J. Martin, editor at large at America magazine, a renowned Catholic publication affiliated with the Jesuit order of priests. In a lengthy treatment of the debate, Martin acknowledged that the letter itself was “poorly worded,” but defended the spirit of the theologians who are rushing to support it.

“What the signers meant, it seemed to me, was that when it comes to some theological matters Mr. Douthat has no idea what he’s talking about. And that’s true…” he said. “This does not mean [Douthat is] a bad person or a bad Catholic. Or a ‘heretic,’ to use a phrase from his lexicon. It just means that he’s not a professional theologian and on many matters, particularly church history and ecclesiology, he is out of his depth.”

Katie Grimes, an assistant professor theological ethics at Villanova University and another signer of the letter, explained in a blog post her annoyance with Douthat’s repeated claims to theological certainty.

“More than many other figures who misrepresent or oversimplify Catholic theology in the mainstream media, Mr. Douthat has tended to portray himself as one who recites Catholic teaching rather than one who interprets it, especially over the course of the past few weeks,” she wrote. “This alone I take issue with.”

“So perhaps rather than calling Mr. Douthat ‘un-credentialed,’ the letter should have asked the New York Times the following question: with what criteria did they determine Mr. Douthat competent to act as an arbiter of theological truth?” she added.

Ultimately, several of the signers defended Douthat’s ability to write as he pleases, but insisted his theological diatribes — which often include condemnations of others — will not go unchallenged.

“I wholeheartedly support fully anyone’s right to write whatever he or she wants, including Ross Douthat,” Martin wrote. “But be sure that whenever you’re reading ad hominem comments, thinly veiled attacks on people’s fidelity to the faith, snide insinuations and malicious twisting of words, you are not reading theology. You are reading hate.”
How come they don't point out where he was actually wrong and rebut him, thus proving him to be incompetent in these matters? Hmmmm Hmmm...

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