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James Martin, S.J.May 17, 2009

While everyone talks about their opinions on President Obama's speech at Notre Dame today, David Gibson's excellent article in the Outlook section of the Washington Post tackles the issue of who is "really" Catholic, and why so many Catholics think that they can make that call.  At the end of his piece he unearths a particularly fine quote from Pope Benedict XV during the Modernist controversy, and offers a pointed question.

A century ago, the church was deeply divided over Pope Pius X's campaign against "Modernism," which was a catchall for anything Rome deemed suspicious. When Pius died, the conclave of 1914 elected Benedict XV, who immediately issued an encyclical calling on Catholics "to appease dissension and strife" so that "no one should consider himself entitled to affix on those who merely do not agree with his ideas the stigma of disloyalty to faith."

"There is no need of adding any qualifying terms to the profession of Catholicism," Benedict XV concluded. "It is quite enough for each one to proclaim 'Christian is my name and Catholic my surname.'"

And it means that the real dilemma for American Catholics today is not whether Notre Dame is Catholic, but whether we are.

Here's the rest.

James Martin, SJ

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13 years 8 months ago
Pope ST. Pius X was one of only 2 pope-saints in the last 700 years. Pascendi was the clarion call a century ago for the Modernists who are currently occupying Notre Dame. In the end, the Traditionalists shall be victorious over the apostate Modernist hordes. just like the victorious Maccabees of old.
13 years 8 months ago
My email to Gibson in response to his article: You employ the rhetorical strategy of claiming the support of history for your ideas, but you seem to have a very poor grasp of the history of the Catholic Church.  Where in Catholic history does one find the notion that the Catholic Church's ''historic self-definition'' is the ''biggest of tents''?  Yes, of course, Catholic means universal, but when did the Church ever define that universality without regard to orthodox belief, as measured by the teaching of Church councils, the popes, and the bishops?  Have you ever read the documents of the Church councils, whether from ancient times or through the 19th century?  Do you not understand what the word ''anathema'' means? Look, it's fine if you disagree with Church teaching - your prerogative entirely.  But please, can we get rid of your pretend history that tries to make your ''big tent'' the true measure of the Catholic Church?  It's funny - usually it's Episcopals who claim to offer the ''big tent'' or middle way approach, in opposition to the narrowness of the Catholic Church.  And in fact, I think they're right - they do offer a big tent that doesn't seem to require any particular beliefs or obedience to the teaching of their bishops.  They, unlike you, have the intellectual honesty to recognize that their approach is not the Catholic way.  And before you accuse me of wanting to kick people out of the Church, that's hardly the case.  I'm quite concerned about people leaving the Church, and I think the Church desperately needs to work to find ways to bring them back.  But I know enough history to know that making Church teaching optional would be a novel approach in Catholic history.  And I know, based on the Episcopal Church's rapidly shrinking membership and its current internal chaos, that such an approach is hardly the recipe for success.
13 years 8 months ago
Contrary to the good Father's implication, It's really not that hard to know if you're in communion with the Church, or not.  And being in communion with the Church does not make you a "conservative" it makes you a Catholic.  It's also not that hard to know that what Father Jenkins did yesterday flew in the face of the instructions of the Catholic Bishops.  According to Gibson, this apparently makes him a "liberal" Catholic, but for most people who call a spade a spade it means he is a disobedient Catholic.
13 years 8 months ago
Fr. Don Felix Sarda Y Salvany diagnosed the effects of a less than Catholic education years ago in his work, "Liberalism Is A Sin".  He writes: "To gain the child is to secure the man. To educate a generation apart from God and the Church is to feed the fires of Liberalism to repletion. When religion is divorced from the school, Liberalism becomes its paramour. Secularism is naturalism, the denial of the supernatural. When that denial is instilled into the soul of the child, the soil of the supernatural becomes sterilized. Liberalism has realized the terrific power of education and with satanic energy is now striving, the world over, for the possession of the child. (With what success we have only to look around us to realize.) In its effort to slay Christ, it decrees the slaughter of the innocents. "Snatch the soul of the child from the breast of its mother the Church," says Liberalism, "and I will conquer the world." HERE IS THE REAL BATTLEGROUND BETWEEN FAITH AND INFIDELITY. HE WHO IS VICTOR HERE IS VICTOR EVERYWHERE." The answer to Fr. Martin's proposed meditation of whether we are Catholic is also the answer to Notre Dame's: Notre Dame will be Catholic when those charged with her care-those whom have vowed to be wed to Christ's Christ-remain faithful to their Holy Bride and quit the business of pandering to the world.
13 years 8 months ago
This is just a subset of the Republican hunkering down after the failure of their policies.  The yearning for ideological purity, a smaller tent made up of more militant adherents, our blue eyed youth stamping out those who would question.  It's frustration derived and anger fed.  Armchair pro-lifers who wouldn't lift a finger to help a poor single mother, but dream of the day that far away legislation will confirm righteousness upon their anger.  Sorry folks, you're going to have to do better than that to prove that you're Christian.
13 years 8 months ago
As is so often the case these days, the intellectual vacancy of an argument can be precisely determined by the level of ad hominem and/or tu quoque employed by said argument's benighted proponent. What is worthy of notice is that many people have made the erroneous assumption there are brigades of pundits, thinkers, bloggers, etc. arraying themselves in judicial robes and deciding who is and who isn't a "real" Catholic. In charity, I will assume these are erroneous misconceptions and not rhetorical jiu-jitsu. A good example of how incorrect this view is: When Fr. Drinan died - and Fr. Drinan was regarded by many as emblematic of where the Church had gone off the rails - with only one exception, every single last solitary mention, among those who had greatly agonized over Fr. Drinan's public positions, I saw of his death came with unalloyed and unfiltered prayers for the repose of his soul. (OK, sure, many of those prayers were in Latin...) I guesstimate many people are confusing the matter of decrying something as incompatible with Catholic teaching with condemning a person who holds that contrary view. By way of analogy: It's not the same thing for me to tell you to stop speeding and that speeding is against the law as it is for me to walk up to you, declare you an unfit driver and yank your license away. So it is in matters of our shared Catholic faith. For me to declare Mr. X a lost sheep is not to deny his sheepness, but to highlight his lostness...whether he considers himself lost or not ("differently flocked") is not relevant to my obligation to point out a specific error. AMDG,
13 years 8 months ago
Ah, the ceaseless ad hominem attacks.  Why bother with the merits of an argument when you can throw mean-spirited tripe like "anger fed" and "blue eyed youth stamping out those who would question."  You know you've lost the argument when you start comparing you're opponent to the Nazis, Chris.  You should have learned that at ND if you went there.
13 years 8 months ago
The 'hard 60 bishops' seem to hold up as "real' Catholics. convert Randall Terry and Alan Keyes. That's OK with me ....I'll still say in the tent. But If they add Newbie Newt Gingrich and a rumor about Rush to the 'real' Catholic list .. I'M leaving the 'tent' to enter Eastern orthodox tent .......for the Eucharist..

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