Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The coming American schism

by Phyllis Zagano, July 20,2011

Maybe because it is summer and tempers tend to flare along with the temperature, there is a lot of anger in blog posts and Twitter feeds about the land. The church's social media blood pressure seems very, very high.
There is a fist fight on between the Ultra-Left and an Ultra-Right.
Will the Center hold?
Maybe not.
I fear that if an organizational genius comes along to connect the large glowing dots across the internet, we'll see a full blown schism sooner rather than later. The only question is who will join with whom?
Schisms come in two basic flavors: juridical and theological. When it comes to ignoring bishops’ juridical authority, the signs are already there.
In Cleveland, St. Peter's Church folks formed the Community of St. Peter in defiance of their bishop, Richard Lennon. The bishop is now under Vatican investigation apparently at the request of a group called "Endangered Catholics." Years earlier in St. Louis, parishioners of St. Stanislaus Kosta Church defied orders to close and hired their own priest rather than turn over their endowment to the archbishop.
Angry theological debate abounds. Homosexuality is the topic du jour, but even moderate academic work gets dragged into the fray: witness the high profile attack on Elizabeth Johnson on behalf of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and the resulting push-back by professional theologians and her religious community.
In the Right corner, the "orthodox" crowd is coached by EWTN, The Wanderer, and the Catholic News Agency. Their cheering squad is led by folks like Bill Donohue at the Catholic League, the mysterious "Father Z", and other angry righteous bloggers too numerous to mention. (Father Z calls this newspaper "National Catholic Fishwrap.") They have a lot of money.
Warming up in the Left corner are the folks who oppose just about anything the bishops say, especially about homosexuality, embryonic stem cell research, and abortion -- while following this newspaper only insofar as it will scratch their itching ears. Their coaches -- depending on their individual issues -- are at Call to Action, Catholic Democrats, and Catholics for Choice. Their cheering squad is a collection of Facebook and Twitter pros. They seem to have a lot of money, too.
The problem with the splinter groups and their amalgamated clergy -- no matter what they proclaim -- is that they have ended (or never had) communion with the church. Every single Catholic who joins with them changes what the rest belong to.
The Catholic Church is not "Left" enough for some, but when they leave it, the barque of Peter lists even more to the Right. The church is not "Right" enough for others, so they jump out and that same barque lists to the Left. Even folks not in the fight are getting a little seasick.
Meanwhile, back in the arena the real fight is far from over, but people Left and Right are heading for the door.
I do not know the answer, or what will stop the fracas, except that maybe somebody should go out into the parking lot and put "WWJD" bumper stickers on all the cars before they speed away.

See full story at Just Catholic

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