No, there is not a “civil war” in the Catholic Church

Pope Francis arrives to lead his general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican May 23. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Author note: This article was written just before the church exploded into another sex abuse scandal, with all the accusations and recriminations that followed, leading me to ask me if it was still relevant or accurate. Reading the piece again, I believe it is still on the mark, as it raises the question: Who are church leaders and the loudest voices really paying attention to—each other or the people of God?

The church in the United States is not divided, it is not polarized, it is not at war with itself. In no meaningful way are millions of Catholics in this country at each other’s throats about liturgical styles, homosexuality, Vatican II, priestly genders, Mass translations or what kind of pills a woman can morally ingest. People do not have the time or money or energy to be angry at popes or angry at people who are angry at popes. They have to work or sleep or put up swing-sets for their kids.

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Some Catholics may disagree on some things, but a statistic does not measure where in their body, in their mental space, in the hours of their day, those disagreements live. Talks by learned panelists or grave churchmen do not capture the precise amount of time millions of churchgoers grumble about ecclesial issues. In fact, most Catholics do not spend much time there at all.

If you work in Catholic media or pay attention to articles and conferences and organizations or any number of public discussions of Catholic life, you are always hearing about “our divided church.” The connotation can be that we are spiraling, breaking apart, shouting across the aisles like Question Time in Parliament. The New York Times columnist Ross Douthat has even said that the church is in a civil war.

The church in the United States is not divided, it is not polarized, it is not at war with itself.

Over the past 15 years, I have been everywhere for church. Missioned by the Society of Jesus to study or teach at Catholic schools, attend Catholic conferences, make pilgrimages to Catholic holy sites and give retreats at Catholic spirituality centers, I’ve attended Masses on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, in Greensboro, Vt., on a plains American Indian reservation, in Berkeley, St. Paul, Chicago, New Mexico, St. Louis, Milwaukee and New Orleans, not to mention the churches in my hometown of Omaha and my grandparents’ parish in Billings, Okla. Rich and poor churches, black and white, rural and urban and suburban.

In none of these churches, nor over coffee after Mass, nor in the adjacent Catholic schools or retreat houses, nor in conversations in kitchens or bars or at baseball games are Catholics bickering with each other about Catholicism.

At times it can look like they do. In one Midwestern diocese, some of the young priests banded together and let it be known that they did not want Bishop X appointed as their new leader. A polarized church!

But really? Did those young priests truly represent their flocks? I am all but certain that had people in the pews known of this seething anti-Bishop X stance, they would have found itover the top.

Another bishop offers a dispensation for eating meat on a Friday during Lent. His email box fills up with furious, over-the-top responses about his lack of orthodoxy. Clearly a church at war.

People are less into “church issues” and more into the basics: Christ has died, Christ has risen.

No. A skirmish in a tennis match. John McEnroe flipping out at an umpire, not an all-out battle between the men’s circuit and all umpires.

When the updated Mass translation came out in 2011, a professional churchwoman insisted to me the people of God would reject it. They would refuse to use it, would sabotage it, would demand it be taken back. No such thing happened. (Granted, I wouldn’t have minded if it had been questioned more strongly by the faithful.)

People are less into “church issues” and more into the basics: Christ has died, Christ has risen; my life is hell, but God is love; for reasons I can’t adequately explain, I am unable to go without the Eucharist; seek and you will find, knock and it will be opened up to you; clothe the naked, feed the hungry.

Or maybe they are disconnected from church issues because their Catholicism is little more than a weekly habit. Church is what they have always done on Sunday, and it makes their mom or boyfriend or inexplicably pious 7-year-old daughter happy.

Catholics do not focus on epic abstract quarrels (a dubia? Does anyone really know what a dubia is?) as much as they do on whether their parish is welcoming, the choir at least tries, the grade-school principal is competent, the church leaders treat their staff fairly. They want to know if the pastor is putting the collection money to an actually needed renovation of the church sanctuary. Or if he is mobilizing a sweeping fantasia of marble altars, gold leaf ceilings and triumphant statuary as a working out of his own unreconciled impulses toward conquering death, God and insignificance. People can tell which is which.

People want a church that is engaged in their lives, that is with them, that cares for them. They want to be called out when they are being pathetic and know it. They want to be called to something better. This is what most people spend their energy on. The undramatic fundamentals. Your everyday young new priest can wear a somber cassock and sing the Mass all he wants, but if he is humble and decent, if he is with people in their struggles and pain, if he speaks to reality, they will welcome him. Love covers a multitude of chanted Gospels.

Catholics have preferences, sure. Some go to a “gym Mass,” where things are looser, priests improvise the prayers, laypeople preach, songs are more fun. But the gym Mass people do not fume at the people who go to the church Mass.

People want a church that is engaged in their lives, that is with them, that cares for them.

High school theology faculties can fall into camps around curriculums. Theology graduate programs sometimes quarrel over words like complementarity, intrinsically disordered, disruption vs. continuity in relation to Vatican II and any other topic you please. Young priests and older priests can be at odds with each other. But none of this makes for a schismatic church.

It has been indicated that opinions about Pope Francis can fall along political lines. Liberals like him more than conservatives. But this difference of opinion about their leader very rarely manifests itself in actual Catholic lives. Most people don’t live there.

Granted, maybe a divided church, a polarized faithful does not and never would look like scores of people in the pews sniping at one another. Maybe this church war actually is taking place but is simply fought by the professionals, by mercenaries. Maybe the “battle” in the church is a war like most American wars these days: a tiny minority of rugged citizens who on the regular people’s behalf are fighting out there on the front lines.

“People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf,” goes the George Orwell quote that was not by George Orwell. Perhaps Catholics go peacefully to coffee and doughnuts after Mass only because pitiless churchmen stand ready to argue violently about theology in their stead.

American Catholics are not constantly at odds, rent apart, breaking down into hopeless divisions.

Most Catholics, one could say, can serenely pray the rosary and coach C.Y.O. with little worry of conflict and agitation because a small number of other Catholics carp over minority reports of papal commissions, give pleading talks on the New Evangelization in church undercrofts, deliver lectures about how Bible passages say one thing but actually mean another, fume that no one understands the West’s “contraceptive mentality,” argue on Twitter about the pope’s orthodoxy and generally take up arms against “the other side” within the church.

If that is what makes up a war, so be it. And perhaps more Catholics should be engaged in the theological issues that can strafe the global church. But rightly or wrongly, church “professionals” and activists do not speak for everyone. Sometimes their urging is toward a war few people really asked for.

•••

I am writing this in what is called a media “echo chamber.” (Here, it is a “Catholic media” echo chamber. Did you even know such a thing existed?) An echo chamber is where people in journals like this one (or on podcasts, Twitter, Facebook, etc.) make claims that people in other media outlets respond to. These responses then are responded to, rebutted or developed by others in the echo chamber, and on and on, you get the point. We only hear and write about what our colleagues hear and write about, not what “the people on the ground” are concerned with.

I am writing this, I think, particularly for the echo chamber. Sometimes we need to hear it. The more you feed the wolf the bigger the wolf gets. The more you focus on discord and distrust, the more suspicious we actually may become of each other. A teacher who spends all his time on the unruly kids only gives those students what they want—attention. And the rest of the class suffers.

No one is saying that professional Catholics shouldn’t talk about distress in the church. It is more about putting it in context. American Catholics are not constantly at odds, rent apart, breaking down into hopeless divisions. We need to keep our eyes on reality, on how things actually are in the church we serve. Reality is the only place the good spirit lives.

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J Cosgrove
12 months ago

People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf

I read this site to see what this particular echo chamber is saying since I am not part of it. I highlight the above point because few seem to realize what separates themselves from chaos. We assume we can take the most outrageous actions and there will be little push back. Is that coming to an end? In a civil war one has to be willing to die for your side.

Sandi Sinor
12 months ago

You must secretly love this echo chamber. Given that you are the first to comment on most articles, it seems you spend most of your waking hours in this echo chamber. But, where else do you have such a forum to express your anger towards America the magazine, Jesuits in general, and, finally, everyone who doesn't happen to see things the same way you do. It's pretty much the only Catholic site that is still open for comments from all. Many have shut off comments. Some sites block anyone who doesn't think as they do - they literally only accept those who will echo what the echo chamber promotes.

So be thankful for America. Without this particular echo chamber, you would be short of places where you can complain.

Gay Timothy O'Dreary
12 months ago

“So be thankful for America. Without this particular echo chamber, you would be short of places where you can complain”

Thank you Sandi for your keen comment and laser like focus. It can be applied to alot of commenters on these forums who relish throwing caca from the comfort of their lilly white homes, aka echo chambers

J Cosgrove
12 months ago

Thank you for your comment. Of the last 72 articles published on America. I commented on 8. If commenting on 11% is commenting on most articles then I plead guilty. I am here because I am a graduate of a Jesuit university and they have substantial influence on American Catholics. I tend to comment on politics, economics and science. My views would be in sync with the Jesuits that taught me but obviously not with current Jesuits. You and others are welcome to respond to any of my comments but I hope you do so politely

Mike Macrie
12 months ago

Amen !

Trent Shannon
11 months 3 weeks ago

"Some sites block anyone who doesn't think as they do - they literally only accept those who will echo what the echo chamber promotes."
That'd be Church Militant and Lifesite for me. Worse, Lifesite has left my comments up so people can reply to me, and I have no right of reply! Yet call them out and they'll be ducking in the trenches to violently defend their free speech.

A discussion like this on America is how divisions are shown - our individual views in a general forum. Sure we might clan up here and there, but the "civil war" claimants are those seeking black and white divisions - where they tend to be the wight (yes, thats a pun)

Maybe it is a schism, but its those on the outer under threat, losing their ground, so now theyre throwing hand grenades, pulling up the political lines...

And sadly, its at the expense of actual survivors of clergy abuse, a framing of the "debate" to suit their purposes.

Thats the danger. Thats where it all comes from. These echo chambers need to be open to all - moderated of course. If we start closing of access outright before three or four flags, you dont have a forum.

James Haraldson
11 months 3 weeks ago

Catholics who are Catholic believe that truth is a reflection of the mind of God.. Catholics who accommodate pop culture believe truth is a cultural contrivance. When it reaches the point that the hatred pseudo-Catholics have for Catholicism completely equals the scorn of popular culture, pseudo-Catholics will assist in seeking to increase the rate of criminally prosecuting Catholics who are Catholics. When the resistance of Catholics who are Catholics reaches a critical point in the future, as it came close to for a while during Operation Rescue thirty years ago, pseudo-Catholics will give themselves over to moral exceptions for capital punishment and join forces with those seeking the death penalties for Catholics acting out Catholicism, perhaps even volunteering for firing squads. Civil war along the terms you specify is coming.
But then again, it is already here. When we have a pope who aids and abets the mass murder of abortion by rehabilitating the world's most notorious abortionists, the bloodletting has begun.

Paige Smyth
12 months ago

The civil war in the Catholic Church right now are those who stand for traditional Catholic beliefs and will not recognize gay marriage vs those who want to change that and give a sacramental ceremony and marry gay couples

Jorge Luis Luaces Rabaza
12 months ago

Paige, there is no civil war. There will be no schism.
Take a lesson from SSPX and other Sede Vacantists: those leaders need to be paid, and their followers do not tithe nor are they able to support the salaries and lifestyles of those priests who enjoy long phylacteries

We are stuck with them. So play nicely and try to get along with each other. Christ said to do as such.

Paige Smyth
12 months ago

I respectfully disagree. Bad things are coming to the Vatican and church

Gerry Freer
11 months 3 weeks ago

I agree bad things are on the way

James Haraldson
11 months 2 weeks ago

When did Jesus say to "play nice" with all the mass murdering pro-abortion laity, priests, nuns, bishops, cardinals, and now an abortion indifferent pope? The Civil War is two thousand years old.

Daniel Montiel
11 months 3 weeks ago

I appreciate when those people who actually *are* TERRIFIED of gay people share with us a little piece of their world.
*smh*
Yes, millions and millions of Catholics are ready to burn down buildings because they're not sure exactly how pro- or anti- gay they are supposed to be, on any given day. 🙄

A Fielder
12 months ago

Br Joe, do you really believe that your colleagues are not connected to what "the people on the ground” are concerned with? You make an effort to be connected, but you assume others do not. It is probably true that the 24% of Catholics who still worship weekly don't have or don't express strongly divided opinions. I am not so sure that majority feel the same way, although healthy dialogue is not the same as war, that's for sure. Laypeople have been conditioned for centuries to consume what religious leaders preach. We have trusted our leaders, because our leaders told us to do so, and forbade even the thought that they would ever be accountable to the laity. Even you also suggest that only "professional" Catholics can talk about distress in the church. It is possible that the laity could and should actually participate in the moral discernment our church needs?

mtprado@nyc.rr.com
12 months ago

There is no civil war but the church is as divided as the country and the call for a papal resignation from an arch conservative is a sign of this division.

Annette Magjuka
12 months ago

The majority of Catholics (and Americans) are busy. They are living their lives and making ends meet. They do not feel the need to be "in the fray" with some of the divisions--UNTIL something hits close to home. There are polls that show that 70% of Catholics favor civil unions for gay people. Something like 99% of sexually active people use contraception at some point. They know there is division, and a few zealots in the church want to make sure THE RULES ARE FOLLOWED. And there are unjust rules on the books. Technically, the zealots are "right." They are right enough that a beloved, 15 year employee of our local Catholic high school is being fired for being in a civil marriage with her 22-year partner. This woman never brought her partner to a school event or "flaunted" her relationship. A parishioner went to the court house, looked up her marriage license, and turned her in to the archdiocese. "What could we do? We had to fire her! She is not in compliance with Catholic teaching!" Never mind that she was spied on like the gestapo. Never mind that 99.9% of the school community loves her and wants her to continue in her job. This is the kind of stuff that makes up the "civil war." Right-wing zealots want to legislate what everyone has to do, and will get spies and enforcers to make sure there are no dissenters. Progressives want to "live and let live." We believe that conscience is primary. This is a big difference. While we go about our business, assuming that the principal will treat his employees fairly, etc, there are zealots out there "purifying" our church and betraying many of our beliefs in dignity and justice. You cannot sweep this under the rug. It is happening.

sheila gray
12 months ago

Thank you for this reply. Survivors need people like you. Your voice is important. It’s clear now that homosexuality is the bus we will all be thrown under. By “all” I mean Survivors. If they succeed in blaming “the gays” for The Crisis then any true reform will be impossible.

Gay Timothy O'Dreary
12 months ago

Annette, my husband and I were civilly married by a Judge and though I am a cradle Catholic with many years training in Catholic lay ministry and hold a Catholic Theology Degree, I refuse to be employed in any capacity by a Catholic parish or diocese, and I have told my Catholic pastors as such. I am protected by not being employed and volunteering as I am inclined, this despite my being a Medical Doctor. The sad fact is that 90% of Catholic ministry is done by less than 10% of the laity. At our parish, the largest in my city, it is always the same Catholics for parish ministry events

In other words, ignore the bomb throwing katholic terrorists. They are never to be found in the trenches anyways so their words fall on my deaf ears. If they did some of the heavy lifting in the field, their hearts might melt and that would be too difficult for people who relish their hardness of heart

Keep looking up. My husband and I are never leaving the Catholic Faith. He became Catholic precisely because of Pope Francis

Viva Papa Francisco

PJ Gee
11 months 3 weeks ago

This is not the Church of Nice. That can be found elsewhere. We are the Church of Christ's Truth.
Few will enter.

Tom Poelker
12 months ago

Annette is right to say,"Right-wing zealots want to legislate what everyone has to do, and will get spies and enforcers to make sure there are no dissenters. Progressives want to "live and let live." We believe that conscience is primary. This is a big difference. " This zealotry gives the impression of a civil war.
That civil war does not exist because most American Catholics are merely cultural Christians, going to church and socializing without any serious reference to the Gospel in the way they vote, shop, drive, think of the poor. They have compartmentalized their lives so that their Christianity does not interfere with their competitiveness socially, economically, politically, internationally. They do not question whether their actions reflect love of neighbor, and their pastors do not raise any issues which might break down the compartment walls, presumably for fear of having smaller attendance and less money, things important to the institution.
Then there are those who have avoided civil war by emigrating to other denominations or into the peaceful land of "none".
One of the biggest problems for the RCC is that there is no place for ideas to compete except in the rarefied professional spaces mentioned in the article. There is no place to experiment in a hierarchical, geographical, feudal, and legislatively detailed institution where the official "leadership" is more connected to its clerical culture than to the membership. It is the clerical culture which controls their careers, residence, social encounters, perceptions of success. So there is no civil war because one side owns all the battlefields. People walk away and the clerics are locked into their own compartments from which they are not encouraged to attend to the missing, just the remaining zealots and the passive members for membership sake.

The important question is whether it is a good thing that there is not a civil war, civilly waged. Is the The Episcopal Church healthier for its regular synodal battles? Should there be accepted non-geographical parishes where experiments are possible? Should there be angry people because pastors are challenging their assumptions about our culture of competition?
The article is very reassuring to those who want to continue the compartmentalized status quo. Is that a good thing?

Sandi Sinor
12 months ago

Well, some might say that the attempted coup of the papacy being engineered right now by Vigano and other right-wing Catholics is a sign of civil war.

Of course, they have wanted him out ever since his first symbolic actions taken when he stepped out on the balcony without all the required regalia and asked the people to bless him. He rubbed salt in their wounds when he refused to live in the papal palace, opting to live in the apartment building with the Vatican's workers.

These signals that he was going to try to reform the imperial church in favor of a church of the people, a church of the poor, a church for those on the margins, was a huge threat to these men whose love of their own power, pomp and perqs knows few bounds.

Plus, they are all full of their own power, focused on "law-n-order", and God forbid that the RCC should be a church of mercy.

As much as you would like for it to be otherwise, I'm afraid it's a civil war and it's been going on for years and years now, long before Francis' time. Ever since Vatican II. Those who did not want to move forward, but wished to keep the church firmly planted in the 19th century, have been at war against the reforms of Vatican II ever since the Council ended, starting with the liturgy wars..

The most noticable result - the absence of more than 30 million cradle Catholics in the US. Most left quietly. The slow ebbing is turning into a flood with the younger generation of adults. If they see the retro-forces bring down a popular Pope, it will just get worse.

Perhaps few of the people in the pews have been aware of it, but with Vigano's move, it will be hard to avoid hearing about it.

James Haraldson
12 months ago

Why shouldn't I be angry at a man who rises to pope and remains oblivious to how he aids and abets the greatest episode of evil in human history, the mass extermination and crushing of the unborn? Why is the fact that many "Catholics" aid this mass murder not catastrophic?

Michael Rubbo
12 months ago

Brother Joe, I follow America the magazine on Facebook. I am an involved lay-person with a full time job, two teenage kids, a mortgage to pay, and a marriage to keep alive. You hit it on the head. I need Mass. I need Communion. I need to be fed the Word and for Father to unpack what I don't understand. I need to sing and hear "One Bread, One Body" and "Take and Eat". It grounds me in Jesus, my savior, who tells me I am still loved, still wanted, still needed. I need to pour myself into something other than myself and my daily life - my church and parish are the container for me to fill. Ok, I don't like when a liturgical change alienates me a little - I look past it - (but do we really need "merit" and "consubstantial" back in our language. Throw in "concupiscence" while you are it). And, I am not thrilled with latest sexual scandal. I will never understand how these victims could never at least file charges with the local police. I also think most Catholics don't read Humanitie (sp?) Vitae or the latest Papal Bull because "love one another as I have loved you" isn't hard to understand and we don't need the US Catholic Bishops to teach us that - "Father Joe" or "Sister Jean" does a good job of reminding us every week at Mass. I sometimes wonder if the Church outside of the local parish is even necessary (forgive my ignorance for things I don't see and probably won't understand). My Protestant friends get "fed" every week, love their neighbor, visit the sick and imprisoned just like we do without "the overhead". One of the best things about Francis was his message to get back "out in the streets", to be the eyes, hands and feet of Jesus to one another. With Vatican II, all Catholics can get to be "mendicants" now ( I had to look that up) rather than "monastics". I hope the higher Church outside the parish gets its act together - to me it just looks like corporate politics, passing the buck, and "it wasn't me". Those kids deserve better, and so does my local "Father Joe". So do I.

Isa Kavana
12 months ago

I had the chance to talk several times with the former nuncio: the tone and the timing of this letter was not the best but I would not dismiss most of the content. He is an honest Whistler-blower who himself regrets not having addressed appropriately the archbishop of Minneapolis' situation.

Jorge Luis Luaces Rabaza
12 months ago

From God’s mouth to your keyboard. Who is your internet service provider?

If America Magazine closed the comments section, where would you people post your wacko stuff? More importantly, what would you do with your spare time?

Get in the field with the smelly sheep. “The harvest is plenty, laborers are few.”

Jorge Luis Luaces Rabaza
12 months ago

Great article, Br. Joe

“It has been indicated that opinions about Pope Francis can fall along political lines. Liberals like him more than conservatives. But this difference of opinion about their leader very rarely manifests itself in actual Catholic lives. Most people don’t live there.”

This is the reality when one associates with the sick, the hungry, the lost, the hurting and especially recent immigrants. People who categorize all things liberal vs conservative do not associate with the smelly sheep. When you roll around the dirt with the smelly sheep, they are concerned with comfort, love, support, guidance, food, shelter, medical care for their children, jobs, acceptance

The whole liberal vs conservative trope is for people who arent particularly sold on Christ because as the Gospels and Christian Letter remind us, there is only One Body of Christ, not us vs them

James Haraldson
12 months ago

Of course there is a difference between those who give stones to those hurting from the damage we all do to ourselves from our sins which do not need to be "accommodated" and those willing to give the tough love Jesus commanded us to give which does not involve ignoring our sins and the damage done by our sins.

James M.
12 months ago

To this Catholic with no inside knowledge of the USCC, one of the most obvious features of the USCC is, that it is divided. Not neatly, but over a number of issues, so that those who agree on (say) the value and legitimacy of the critical method for Biblical scholarship, may be divided as to whether same-sex attracted Catholics are Catholics or not.

There are divisions, and one proof of this is that those who refer to the National Catholic Reporter as “the Fishwrap” are likely to be referred to as “rad Trads” - even if their supposed “traddiness” is closer to the conservatism of EWTN or Karl Keating, than to that of the SSPX. There is not a hope in Hell that those who see the Holy Father as an antiPope (as some Catholics do - and I am not referring to Sedevacantists, who do think that) will ever be at peace with admirers of the National Catholic Register. Even the “pro-life” movement is split. People may not be “at each other’s throats”, but that in no way lessens the absence of unity between different groups of Catholics. If ever the USCC was truly united, it does not seem to be so now. There are too many fault-lines, and fault-lines through fault-lines. To say that the USCC is not divided, not polarised, seems like wilful self-delusion.

Danny Collins
12 months ago

The author still thinks this is relevant, even after the Vignao letter? There is open war in the hierarchy.

Regarding how the laity will react to the PA report and the public face of the 2004 Catholic response to the sex abuse crisis being a child molester, I guess we will see how much ACA and Peter's pence donations are down by the end of the year.

Danny Collins
12 months ago

The author still thinks this is relevant, even after the Vignao letter? There is open war in the hierarchy.

Regarding how the laity will react to the PA report and the public face of the 2004 Catholic response to the sex abuse crisis being a child molester, I guess we will see how much ACA and Peter's pence donations are down by the end of the year.

gerald nichols
12 months ago

Joe Hoover may be right about a lot of Catholics, but is the attitude something good, or bad? Many non-Catholics and former Catholics contend that the Church keeps the pewbies dumb and happy.

Bruce Snowden
12 months ago

This by no means is an attempt to justify the grave sin and crimes many priests, bishops and down the years popes too and we laity, all part of the sinful and criminal muck in the Church. For more than Two Thousand years the Church of Christ, has been confecting Eucharist. as she greatly sins, guilty of criminal behavior too. All humanity has defecated on ourselves almost continuously, including the first Pope, Peter, crucified upside down, hanging for at least a day, during which time the unthinkable happened, he defecated over himself!! Popes, Bishops, Priests and the Laity comprising about 98% of the Church have been defecating on the Church ever since, commiting the same grevious sins that happened after the First Mass was celebrated on Holy Thursday DENIAL and BETRAYAL. All sin is that! But a "civil war?" I don't think so! An "un-civil war" YES! One to the other we Catholics act very uncivilly making the brother/sister of humanity teaching of Jesus seem like a big joke. See what some of us are doing to our Saintly Pope, Francis. They want him out! Shameful! Uncivil even Criminal.

ron chandonia
12 months ago

I wonder if Cardinal Cupich read this piece before he came up with that line about environmentalism, migrants, and rabbit holes. Sounds like maybe.

Stanley Kopacz
12 months ago

Well then, if Vigano wants to rally sentiment against the pope, fair enough. Let the people of the Church vote on whether Francis should remain. And while were at it, let us vote on whether Vigano should remain cardinal. And which bishops should be bishops.

Richard Barbieri
11 months 4 weeks ago

No, the Church is not having a civil war -- but certain tiny (I hope) factions have chosen a cause celebre to take on a reforming Pope, when they remained silent when a more conservative Pope displayed the same vice of which they now accuse Pope Francis. Where was Cardinal Vignano, when Pope John Paul II invited Cardinal Bernard Law to a high post in the Vatican after the enormous scandal and coverup drove him out of Boston? (Law by the way apparently spent much of his time, as he had in Boston, concentrating on the disciplining of women in the church, even to his last days.) Strange how people find a conscience when it suits an entirely separate agenda.

John Mack
11 months 4 weeks ago

Quite right. The war within the Catholic church is rather uncivil.

Henry Brown
11 months 4 weeks ago

Br. Hoover,

You say your are open minded but your descriptions of Masses and what the Pastor may be doing with the Collection Money, belied your openness.

If a certain style of Mass or Hymn bring people closer to God,
what is there to complain about, but when "Liturgical Experiments"
are foisted on the congregation and they don't sing the new songs and
they don't grow in the faith - then I stop and wonder.

Unfortunately you were wrong about their being a Civil War in the Church.
I don't know if Benedict knew, Francis knew, but I do know that many people knew or heard what McCarrick was up to and they did nothing - including some of the Jesuits who work for America.

Let Benedict Resign, Let Francis Resign, let McCarrick be laicised,
let the Jesuits who said they heard and did nothing resign from America.

Clean the whole House of God if need be.

Kevin Karam
11 months 3 weeks ago

Bro Joe, great article! I tend to get really philosophically minded and like to use big philosophy words, but if your article isn't the perfect observation of the every-day person's rejection of "Marxist-postmodernism" I don't know what is.

People naturally resist being labeled and defined by group identities. We participate in many, many social groups and our humanity is not defined by a single one of them. The Catholic Church (more than any institution I know) best balances our group identity as Catholics with our individual identities as "made in the image and likeness of God." Or maybe that along balances both... We are a collection of individuals bound by the love of God and neighbor. We have different ways of expressing the last part, but we unite in our love of God.

Lori Milas
11 months 3 weeks ago

This article was refreshing and true for me. I’ve been a Catholic over 40 years and go to daily Mass but I’ve often said if they gave me the “Catholic Test” I’d be tossed out. The Catholic Church is my home and my daily foundation...where I found myself every morning for a decade as my youngest son was struggling with heroin, or when my business was in trouble. It’s from this space that I now reach out to others in love...gay, straight, Catholic or not...I have time to listen but not to preach. I have enough crap to clean up on my own side of the street to get too involved in others shortfalls.

Am I interested and concerned about the widening sex abuse scandal? Heck yes! It deeply grieves me. But I trust gods work within our church and those who are trying to get to the bottom of things. Come to think of it...this feels much like the patience and trust required as the Mueller team completes its investigation...

Declan Murphy
11 months 3 weeks ago

Joe, I appreciate what you are trying to do here but I think you are whistling past the graveyard. Viganó has ensured that the Catholic Church is now part of the reality TV world. One of the things I always admired about the Church was its ability to hold itself aloof from the Culture of Stupid. It is now a full-fledged member of that culture. I don’t see how one can deny it at this point.

Declan Murphy
11 months 3 weeks ago

Joe, I appreciate what you are trying to do here but I think you are whistling past the graveyard. Viganó has ensured that the Catholic Church is now part of the reality TV world. One of the things I always admired about the Church was its ability to hold itself aloof from the Culture of Stupid. It is now a full-fledged member of that culture. I don’t see how one can deny it at this point.

Declan Murphy
11 months 3 weeks ago

Joe, I appreciate what you are trying to do here but I think you are whistling past the graveyard. Viganó has ensured that the Catholic Church is now part of the reality TV world. One of the things I always admired about the Church was its ability to hold itself aloof from the Culture of Stupid. It is now a full-fledged member of that culture. I don’t see how one can deny it at this point.

Declan Murphy
11 months 3 weeks ago

Apologies to all for reposting. Internet connection problems

CAROLYN GWADZ
11 months 3 weeks ago

Like Declan, I appreciate "what you're trying to do here" and certainly do not want to see more of the culture wars infiltrating the Church, fomenting animosities and divisions. However, I find this article to be oddly timed. After the cataclysmic events of this summer, it seems a time when the "sense of the faithful" is more needed and relevant than ever. No, not more "bickering" from the pews but more voice for the laity/faithful who may have wisdom to offer and a different perspective than those "on the payroll". I disagree with Joe that ordinary Catholics are not concerned with these issues and that the so-called "professionals" will work things out without our bothering to offer input. I, among many, am heartsick to learn day by day over the past weeks of the terrible, terrible lapses in judgment of the "professionals', the hierarchs, and those clergy who have supported some of those bad judgments, who perhaps are unable to oppose their "bosses". And, because of that, the evil, the scourge of clericalism, countless lives have been impacted -- by actual physical abuse, emotional abuse and loss of faith in the professional caste. Like Joe, I am refreshed by the song, "One Bread, One Body", which reminds me of the dignity of all of us baptized Christians: "Gentile or Jew, servant of free, woman or man, no more...". We people in the pews are endowed with the Holy Spirit as much as the ordained, usually without their professional education. I think we are presently seeing how greatly needed is the power of the Spirit and not merely a theological education. I live in the diocese where McCarrick and Wuerl do, and the pain here is very great. This is really not the moment to infantilize the laity and advise us to let the grown-ups handle it. We are One Body, each of us endowed with incalculable dignity in Christ. This is a moment for lay responsibility in many, many ways. John Henry Newman, pray for us.

PJ Gee
11 months 3 weeks ago

I just don't understand how you can say this:
"The church in the United States is not divided, it is not polarized, it is not at war with itself. "
Church, Inc. is (nearly) fully engulfed and you are toasting marshmallows in its blaze.
There will be a remnant that will survive, and it may be driven into the catacombs, but it will survive, by Jesus.

JOHNPAUL LENNON
11 months 3 weeks ago

I see a great division among Catholics, especially USA Catholics. There are two opposing sides: Traditionalist/Conservatives VS Progressive Liberals, "and never the twain shall meet. " One group accepts Vatican II, the other is still with Vatican I. The division almost coincides with political lines, Republicans VS Democrats. In the present controversy Traditionalists attribute sexual abuse of minors to homosexuals, which they call "sodomites" and refuse to accept the reality of pedophilia as a separate psychological/moral condition. They may even consider the cover up bishops part of the "sodomite invasion" which all started with Vatican II, or it could be part of the Communist infiltration of seminaries by homosexual men during the Cold War.

Chris Puckett
11 months 3 weeks ago

you can say that because we are not shooting at you yet...

Richard Neagle
11 months 3 weeks ago

What? There is no major division in the church because you say so? Absurd. The fact is as the post consilliar church continues to shrink, the percentage of mass going catholics who would class themselves as conservative or traditional will increase because the offspring of the liberal progressives by and large will not attend weekly mass. This battle will intensify and orthodox conservative catholics will not be silenced. They want their church back and believe that the salvation of souls is what really counts , not the latest heterodoxy coming out of the modernist infested vatican.

Phillip Stone
11 months 3 weeks ago

Well, looking from the other side of the Pacific and the other hemisphere the people who write articles and the people who comment on them here leave me without a shadow of a doubt that they are deeply divided.

There are public, boastful sinners flaunting their perversion; hectoring critics of office bearers and punctilious virtue signallers carping and complaining enough that if St Paul was alive today his rebuking letter to the Church at USA would be a wonder to behold.

Still a community of sinners, eh?

JOHN GRONDELSKI
11 months 3 weeks ago

Of course, there is no "civil war." The establishment, at least in the Catholic Church in the United States, has spent so much time creating a pablum-like, watered down version of "Catholicism" that the most any thinking person would say is "whatever." Which is why the Nones are saying "whatever" and leaving. So, yes, I welcome a strong pushback -- want to call it a "civil war," go ahead -- against the "get along, go along" version of dilute Catholicism pedalled in most dioceses (and frequently in America, except when the cause du jour happens to coincide with secular liberal pieties, at which point it becomes practically ultramontane).

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