A Catholic Tea Party?

Perhaps it is the snow. Yes, here in the Imperial City of Washington, we have been buried under consecutive snow storms that have disrupted life. To cite a small example, this morning, the last three days’ issues of the Post were delivered and we have not gotten mail since Monday morning. So, it is easy to get a little stir crazy.

But, Deal Hudson, editor of InsideCatholic.com, and former Catholic liaison for George W. Bush, has put the "crazy" back into "stir crazy." He published an article yesterday suggesting that we need a Tea Party movement for the Catholic Church. He got this idea, he says, after someone suggested that Catholics start throwing tea bags at the headquarters of the USCCB and after watching the emergence of the Tea Party movement over the course of the year.

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There is much in Hudson’s article that is simply baffling. He states that "Initially, the mainstream media tried to ignore the movement." That’s funny. I think it would be more accurate to say that the MSM birthed the movement, giving it a prominence that its numbers did not warrant. See this article about the MSM's love for Sarah Palin, for example. He says that the world only started paying attention after GOP victories in Virginia, New Jersey and Massachusetts, all of which "forced" the rest of us to take notice. Unless I am mistaken, Sen. Scott Brown has himself pointed out that it is a mistake to credit the Tea Party movement with his victory. In Massachusetts, as in Virginia, the GOP ran attractive candidates who ran centrist campaigns, and refused to invite Tea Party darling Sarah Palin to campaign for them. I confess I did not pay much attention to the New Jersey race, but my hunch is that the only thing worse than being an incumbent politician in 2009 was being a Wall Street banker, and the Democratic incumbent was both.

Mr. Hudson also writes that "For American Catholics, the equivalent of centralized federal power is the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops." Is it? Funny, I thought the USCCB was nothing more, nor less, than the expression of episcopal collegiality that has long marked the Catholic hierarchy in America. He says it has "no canonical authority of its own" which is true in a narrow sense, but misses the larger point that the USCCB is the bishops acting together. And, the USCCB was not created in 1966; it was renamed in 1966. It was "created" in 1917 during World War I as the National Catholic War Council, reconstituted and renamed the National Catholic Welfare Conference in 1922, and then renamed the National Conference of Catholic Bishops in 1966 with a slightly different constitution recognizing the changes enacted at Vatican II. In a very real sense, however, the USCCB was "created" in 1852 when the First Plenary Council of Baltimore met.  

But, let’s focus only on the central idea, that there should be a Tea Party movement within the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church has an identifiable ecclesiology and I confess a failure of imagination as to how the Tea Party movement fits into that ecclesiology. They view themselves as modern day revolutionaries, outsiders enslaved by the elites, defenders of the people’s rights. I would humbly submit that the revolutionary temperament is not a Catholic one, that the "elites" in our Church are bishops who have not "enslaved" us but freed us by bringing us into the sacramental life of the Church, and that within the Church, the idea that one group of the faithful can assert rights against another group posits an antagonistic culture that may serve to protect freedom in civil society but is not, alas, a facsimile of the love that should bind Christians.

Of course, critics of the Tea Party movement view them as knaves and racists and their recent convention gave ample evidence of both. They had the good sense to not exhibit the posters of President Obama as a monkey or a witch doctor that graced their rallies last year, but they applauded loudly when former Congressman Tom Tancredo gave his racist rant attacking the President and immigrants. And, they cheered the birther who droned on about the President’s birth certificate for ten minutes in the opening night keynote. The only immediate American Catholic equivalent I can think of would be Father Charles Coughlin, who was equal parts racist and knave, and whose rantings eventually became untenable even for his defenders. The mad preaching from the Shrine of the Little Flower was not the Church’s finest hour and it is difficult to see how Coughlin’s intellectual heirs would occasion a better moment for the Church.

So, I invite Mr. Hudson to reconsider his idea, dig out his car, and get some fresh air. The last thing the Church needs is the spirit of the Tea Party folk within the Church.

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7 years 10 months ago
"The irony is that the Tea Party movement is actually dominated by Republican precinct, county and state party officers, some of whom are on the payroll of the insurance lobby and many of whom are active in the pro-life movement (and are likley Catholic)."
 
The length liberals go to de-legitimize inconvenient political realities is sometimes hilarious.  When the mob went for Obama it was an inspired movement for hope, change, and raindrops on roses.  When they go against Obama, its a seething, angry fraudulent front for a well-financed corporate interest.  Newsflash Mr. Binder: the insurance companies are in bed with Obama on health care; they go their back room deal!
 
As for the "revolutionary" spirit & Catholicism - I wonder if Mr. Winters thinks those sisters throwing (metaphorical at least) tea bags at the Holy Father's visitation of their houses should fit into the sacramental eccelesiology of the Church.  I guess we can say "Ecclesiology for thee, not for me."
James Lindsay
7 years 10 months ago
The irony is that the Tea Party movement is actually dominated by Republican precinct, county and state party officers, some of whom are on the payroll of the insurance lobby and many of whom are active in the pro-life movement (and are likley Catholic). I can certainly see why they would be upset with the USCCB over the health care issue and the failure to effectively counteract progressive Catholics who are supporting Obama, health care and economic reform as a way to reduce abortions. Most progressive Catholics, by the way, rarely seek to pick fights with the Bishops on the abortion issue and do not favor abortion as a birth control option.
John Raymer
7 years 10 months ago
How very Protestant of Mr. Deal! In fact, the Tea Party movement derives its spritual legitimacy directly from the left-wing of the Reformation, and post-Reformation Roman Catholicism is nothing if it is not a complete and total repudiation of every aspect the Tea-Party philosophy. (Is there any way I could have said that more strongly?)

How very amusing.
James Lindsay
7 years 10 months ago
There are no Obama voters in the Tea Party movement. My sources tell me that they really are GOP precinct workers. If any of them voted for Obama, that would be news. More likely they were the people yelling nasty things at McCain rallies in 2008. That brand of ugliness, stoked by Palin, is what turned a close race into an electoral vote landslide for Obama. Recent Obama voter apathy has more to do with people graduating college and not being able to find a job than a sudden desire for small government.
7 years 10 months ago
"I would humbly submit that the revolutionary temperament is not a Catholic one, that the "elites" in our Church are bishops who have not "enslaved" us but freed us".

Women who were advised by Bishops to "follow their conscience" and whose lives have been destroyed by this pastoral advice, might hold a very different view. Contraception, as Fr. Hardon SJ so accurately stated, feeds social decline. From contaception has evolved all manner of societal sin that are now accpeted as normative : abortion, homosexualtiy, the manipulation of life in multiple ways (in vitro fertilization, embyonic stem cells, sex change operations). These things are not understood as sin. They are understood now as "rights". Contraception is the "root sin". The debate now is not political, however much one may wish to frame it this way. The debate is between fidelity to the Magisterium and disloyalty to the Magisterium. The eyes of many Catholics now see with clarity. They are wide awake.
Jim McCrea
7 years 10 months ago
I have heard the Tea Party movement (obviously not be members therein) as the "Tea Klux Clan."
God forbid that this type of nastiness get any more worse than it already is between competing Catholic viewpoints.
James Lindsay
7 years 10 months ago
Contraception is actually a symptom, not a root sin. The root sins are a lack of faith to provide, no matter what size family you have, and the inequality in society where people feel economic fear for their circumstances. I fear more for Catholic business owners who pay no attention to the economic circumstances of their employees than for women who use contraception. Contraception is not condemned in the Bible, however mistreating the hired man is.
Carol McKinley
7 years 10 months ago
"I fear more for Catholic business owners who pay no attention to the economic circumstances of their employees than for women who use contraception. Contraception is not condemned in the Bible, however mistreating the hired man is."
Michael, I agree wholeheartedly with your post. 
To take that thought further, men father children and it is their responsiblity to make a good faith effort to provide for them.  In the Spirit of St. Joseph to walk in faith.  
I've never known any mother, who stepped up to the plate when a faithless/irresponsible father of the child(ren) regretted having the child instead of chosing abortion.   Most if not all women who chose abortion regret it.  Funny thing about a conscience  -   it will never let you rest until you admit your wrongs and repent of them.
It's much easier for a male dominated society to indoctrinate women into promiscuity and abortion and pretend that the federal government and the state are the people abandoning pregnant women and forcing them into abortions.
 
7 years 10 months ago
Michael: You are right. You articulated this with greater clarity. It is,of course, a lack of faith that God will provide. Also missing is hope. I only meant to say that once contraception is OK it leads down a dark night that has no end.

Mr. Winters states: "the idea that one group of the faithful can assert rights against another group posits an antagonistic culture that may serve to protect freedom in civil society but is not, alas, a facsimile of the love that should bind Christians". I must agree with Mr. Winters. This is not about *rights*. It is about fidelity to the Magisterium. Either one is, or one is not, faithful to the teachings of Christ. Period.I would also strongly support Carol's view that we are undergong period period of corruption of the Catholic Church.St. Theresa of Avilla and St. John of the Cross did battle against the same corruption. I like what Fr. Hardon says: being an ordinary Catholic today just will not do. We need heroic Catholics capable of defending, preserving and protecting the Faith, from those who seek,as enemies of the Church, to destroy it.
Carol McKinley
7 years 10 months ago
"St. Theresa of Avilla and St. John of the Cross did battle against the same corruption."
 
Hey, come to think of it, isn't St. Therea of Avila, St. John of the Cross and St. Athinasius also Doctors of the Church?
 
Those leading us in Catholic revolutionary temperment are in good company.  
 
Happy Valentines Day!
7 years 10 months ago
Theresa and St. John. Don't know about Athanasius.
7 years 10 months ago
Can I get a witness? Sho nuff, they were Doctors. Good company indeed... Lest we forget St. Ignatius:

"Letters inform me that God our Lord has visited you with trials both of body and of soul, thus manifesting His special love for you by sending you these opportunities for merit. The less He rewards you in this fleeting life and world, the more fully will He reward your good deeds and desires in the eternal happiness of heaven [Ep. 6:161]".

We seek to earn our title.







Carol McKinley
7 years 10 months ago
 
"We seek to earn our title."
 
Love it. (Though I think for me, it's is expiation and penance, penance, penance!)
It's a pleasure to come across your humble work.  
BTW:
Athinasius confirmed, Doctor of the Church.
7 years 10 months ago
Oh, Lord Carol; prayer and penance, prayer and penance, prayer and penance. I dream about reparation.The old Jesuits, I mean back in the 1800's used to talk about meriting our "titles" to heaven. I stole it. LOL. All these Holy, indefatigable Doctors behind us and with us-oh, Be Not Afraid!

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