Skip to comments.Dynamic, missionary, ‘evangelical’ Church of today is world away from unthinking pre-VII complacency
Posted on 10/08/2011 2:30:05 PM PDT by NYer
Pilgrims at the World Youth Day closing Mass (Photo: CNS)
A friend has forwarded to me an interesting blog, dated September 28, by Fr Stephen Wang of the Westminster diocese. Entitled “Liberal, conservative, progressive, traditionalist: where is the Church going?” it throws open a debate about an article written by John Allen of the National Catholic Reporter at the conclusion to World Youth Day.
In his article, Allen thinks the Church is turning towards Evangelical Catholicism. He defines this as having three aspects:
1. A strong defence of traditional Catholic identity, meaning attachment to classic markers of Catholic thought (doctrinal orthodoxy) and Catholic practice (liturgical tradition, devotional life, and authority).
2. Robust public proclamation of Catholic teaching, with the accent on Catholicisms mission ad extra, transforming the culture in light of the Gospel, rather than ad intra, on internal Church reform.
3. Faith seen as a matter of personal choice rather than cultural inheritance, which among other things implies that in a highly secular culture, Catholic identity can never be taken for granted. It always has to be proven, defended and made manifest.
Allen continues: I consciously use the term Evangelical to capture all this rather than conservative, even though I recognise that many people experience what Ive just sketched as a conservative impulse. Fundamentally, however, its about something else: the hunger for identity in a fragmented world.
Allen finds this Evangelical Catholicism widespread among committed Catholics of the younger generation. Fr Wang comments on this analysis: Most of this fits with my own experience of the Church over recent years. What do you think?
Good question. I also agree with John Allens analysis and it is what gives me hope for the Church in the future. Growing up as a Catholic in the 1950s and during Vatican II, as I did, was a very different experience. It was a Church of pray, pay and obey: unquestioning faith (but little capacity to defend it), the Sunday obligation, no understanding of the Churchs mission (except for the foreign missions and “adopting” black babies in Africa) and ones Catholic identity entirely taken for granted.
Then came Vatican II and this cosy world of Catholic habits and assumptions fell completely apart. This gives the flaw in the Traditionalist argument that everything was fine until we abandoned the Latin Mass. It wasnt; the Church in England was comfortable, complacent and (in my neck of the woods) a place of bills, bingo and bourgeois respectability. The fervour of the early Christians was nowhere to be seen.
Today such an outlook is unthinkable. You have to choose to be a Catholic, with all the commitment to truth this implies. If you dont make that choice you are already lost to the values of the secular world which is not just neutral or indifferent to Christianity but deeply hostile to it. Just about every day one is confronted with the choice of putting a pinch of incense on the altars of the secular gods (and thereby having an easy life) or being marked out as a bigot for standing up for ones faith.
On the World Service last night I listened to some of David Camerons speech at the Conservative Party Conference. As the Guardian journalist Jonathan Freedland later commented: He also succeeded in winning applause for the important and admirable declaration that I dont support gay marriage despite being a Conservative. I support gay marriage because Im a Conservative. According to Freedland: That was revealing, and not only of the oceanic distance that now separates British conservatives from their counterparts in the US, where such a statement is unimaginable from someone in Camerons position.
It doesnt just separate British conservatives from their American counterparts; it completely separates British Catholics from any possibility of identity with Conservatism (or indeed, any of the political parties) over here. Imagine Harold Macmillan (Camerons hero, apparently) declaring I support gay marriage because Im a Conservative. Or even Margaret Thatcher. That is the distance the party of traditional values has travelled in the last two decades. As John Allen comments, and as Fr Wang agrees, in the morally compromised and fragmented world around them, serious young Catholics today have found the identity they hunger for within the Church. But this is not the pre-Vatican II Church; it is the dynamic, missionary, “evangelical” Church of John Paul II and Benedict XVI.
An interesting observation and comment. Since VCII, we have seen a rise in just the opposite - cultural catholics - who identify with the label while ignoring the precepts.
Perhaps people have been freed up for both possibilities.
Pre-Vatican II complacent? Boy, I remember it kept me on my toes every minute of the day. What a challenge it was to be a practicing Catholic in those days (as opposed to the insipid “devoted” Catholics of today).
It was a Church of pray, pay and obey....
Not the way I recall it at all.
Pre-VII? You mean VI? Or just II or III?
It was a Church of pray, pay and obey:
Prayers, financial support of the Church, and obedience to God's laws were all wrong?
So what kind of faith is "questioning faith;" - its no faith at all.
the Sunday obligation,
Pardon, are you not acquainted with the Ten Comandments?
no understanding of the Churchs mission ...
"Salvation of souls" was not understood?
Yeah yeah yeah. Pre-Vatican II the Church was dung and now it’s wonderful. I’m weary of hearing this crap.
The humanist catholics believe that the Church's mission is the promotion of social justice.