Skip to comments.Fundamentalism in the Catholic Church
Posted on 01/31/2011 8:43:14 AM PST by Alex Murphy
Fundamentalism is not confined to Islamic religions. In fact fundamentalist movements are to be found in all societies and religions, including Catholic Christianity.
Fundamentalism is a form of organised anger in reaction to the unsettling consequences of rapid social and religious change.
Fundamentalists find rapid change emotionally extremely disturbing and dangerous. Cultural, religious and personal certitudes are shaken. Consequently, fundamentalists simplistically yearn to return to a utopian past or golden age, purified of dangerous ideas and practices.
They aggressively band together in order to put things right again according to what they decide are orthodox principles. Sometimes they turn to all kinds of bullying emotional, political, even physical violence at times to get things back to normal. History must be reversed.
Because fundamentalism is at depth an emotional reaction to the disorienting experience of change, fundamentalists are not open to rational discussion. Here in Australia, for example, there is a political fundamentalist movement to preserve the pure, orthodox Australian culture from the endangering ways of foreigners.
It matters little to adherents that such a culture has never existed. Anthropologically every culture is the result of constant contact and mixing with other cultures over years.
Fundamentalists have become especially powerful and vociferous within the Catholic communities in recent decades. Their fundamentalist reactions are the result of the impact of two massive cultural upheavals colliding.
First, there is the cultural revolution of the 1960s. The credibility of ever value and institution, including the churches, were questioned. This had profound social, economic and political consequences that continue to this day. Second, there is impact from the immense cultural changes generated by the much-needed reforms of Vatican II.
Catholic fundamentalism is an often aggressive reaction to the anxiety-creating turmoil of these two cultural and religious upheavals. It is an ill-defined but powerful movement in the Church to restore uncritically pre-Vatican II structures and attitudes. Here are some signs of this fundamentalism among Catholics:
Nostalgia for a pre-Vatican II Golden Age, when it is assumed that Church never changed, was then a powerful force in the world, undivided by misguided devotees of the Councils values. The fact is that the Church and its teachings have often changed. Some statements have been shown to be wrong and were either repealed or allowed to lapse.
Our best witness to the truths of our Catholic beliefs will be our inner peace built on faith, charity and concern for justice, especially among the most marginalised.
Nostalgia for a pre-Vatican II Golden Age, when it is assumed that Church never changed, was then a powerful force in the world, undivided by misguided devotees of the Councils values. The fact is that the Church and its teachings have often changed. Some statements have been shown to be wrong and were either repealed or allowed to lapse....
....In relating to fundamentalist Catholics we need to avoid hostile or heated arguments. Membership of fundamentalist groups is not a question of logic, but generally of a sincere, but misguided, search for meaning and belonging. Expressions of anger and vigorous disagreement will only affirm people in the rightness of their belief.
The term [Fundamentalism] was born when conservative Protestants in early-20th-century America committed themselves to defend the five "fundamentals" of their faith -- the inerrancy of the Bible, virgin birth and deity of Jesus, doctrine of atonement, bodily resurrection of Jesus, and His imminent return.
-- from the thread The many forms of fundamentalism
Fundamentalist: A term created during the turn-of-the-20th-century Protestant church splits to define those who held to the fundamentals of Christianitythe inerrancy of the Bible, the virgin birth of Jesus and his literal resurrection from the dead. The term is now considered pejorative. (Wheaton College philosophy professor Alvin Plantinga famously observed, The full meaning of the term...can be given by something like stupid sumbitch whose theological opinions are considerably to the right of mine.)Related threads:
-- from the thread New Kids In The Flock
The many forms of fundamentalism
The word is evangelical, not fundamentalist
Put that cup of coffee down [re the proper use of the religious term "fundamentalist"]
Who are Evangelicals?
Accurate definition of evangelical up for debate in theology, politics
Biblical Dispute Questions Meaning of 'Evangelical'
History Lesson: Positively Protestant
Doctrine Bears Repeating: Evangelicals need to brush up on basic Christian teachings
Evangelicalism, crucifixion and resurrection. Where is the centre of our theology?
No wonder he doesn't understand a simple concept called orthodoxy.
I'd suggest that he doesn't understand the simple concept of fundamentalism, either.
No. Fundamentalism is actually a return to the first principles of the faith.
“Fundamentalism is a form of organised anger in reaction to the unsettling consequences of rapid social and religious change.”
The reformers were “fundamentalists” by all definitions thrown around on this thread and the reformation was the CAUSE of social and religious change.
Unfortunately, this analysis is complete rubbish. Vatican II did not change any Church teaching, but you wouldn’t know it from the “interpretations” of the Modernists. In attempting to reach an accord with Modernism, the Church would betray its own heritage, and that is precisely why nothing of the sort occurred. But that was due to the Holy Spirit, not those clamoring for change. The Church certainly changes over time, but not at the cost of its undying truth. Modernism is nothing less than a judeo-secularism totally incompatible with the two-thousand year patrimony of the Church. “Catholic Fundamentalists” merely want to preserve the essential truths while encouraging organic growth of spirituality, but not a revolutionary distortion of authentic growth and change.
Good post. I have never heard the term fundamentalism applied to Catholics. The term more often used is Traditionalist. I think EWTN has been a trend setter for more traditionally minded Catholics. First of all, there is more of an appreciation of the Latin Mass (many traditionalists, unlike the LeFevbrists, like to have the option of having the Latin as well as the Novus Ordo)—but even with the Novus Ordo, the EWTN Mass has all the responses (Sanctus, Credo, Agnus Dei, Pater Noster) sung by the people in Latin.
Many traditionalists, I believe would tend to be politically conservative— but I find a disconnect between Catholic politics and Catholic belief. The Catholic Church is not a big supporter of Free Market Economics (capitalism)and there are a lot of positions that most political conservatives have that would be at odds with RC teaching.
Perhaps this commentary is a hopeful sign that the dissident idiots no longer find themselves on the winning side.
What a jerk.
On the contrary, that perception is not what the church teaches. The church teaches that private property is paramount, which is the cornerstone of capitalism.
Typically, at least in the context he is writing about, its an effort to get it right. Its a recognition that while the times change, and societies change, principles do not.
Not where I come from.
Really, Alex? Was this posted because you somehow agree with the false premise or because it fits nicely with an agenda to paint Catholics as backward, arbitrary and reactionary? Why didn't you post a the disclaimer or any of the ample evidence that Fr. Arbuckle is a leftist loon of some renown in Australia?
I'll post it for you.........Disclaimer: CathBlog is an extension of CathNews story feedback. It is intended to promote discussion and debate among the subscribers to CathNews and the readers of the website. The opinions expressed in CathBlog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the members of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference or of Church Resources.
An excellent rebuttal was published in Australia Incognita (http://australiaincognita.blogspot.com/2011/01/just-call-me-catholic-please.html)
Just call me Catholic please...
Cath News continues with its winning streak in the propagation of error today, with a blog entry by Fr Gerald Arbuckle SM, attacking traditionalists and conservatives, and accusing them of being fundamentalists, just like the Islamic variety.
Catholic fundamentalists are just like Islamic fundamentalists...!
Catholic fundamentalists are just like Islamic fundamentalists? Really?! And the last traditionalist to set off a suicide bomb or launch a terror attack was?
It is not a new line - a US liberal journalist coined the term 'Taliban Catholic' and it gained some currency around the world for a while.
It is a pretty outrageous claim though.
Here is Fr Gerard's justification for his condemnation:
"Sometimes they turn to all kinds of bullying emotional, political, even physical violence at times to get things back to "normal".
Those are pretty strong claims. And I'd like to see some evidence to support them. Because I am not aware of any cases at all of violence for example.
And most of the bullying has been from the liberal side of the fence, not the conservative-traditionalist!
But if fundamentalism means the rejection of liberal heresies....
Still, perhaps we really are fundamentalists in the broader sense. Interestingly, the wikipedia's definition of a fundamentalist is this: "adherence to specific set of theological doctrines typically in reaction against the theology of Modernism". The term's origins lie in those who defend traditional views over liberal theology, and on that definition, I guess I am a fundamentalist, and happy to be so, since last I heard, modernism was still a heresy!
Still, it is meant to be a pejorative, and I would argue that I and others who Fr Gerald would presumably label as fundamentalists are actually just Catholics. Just people who believe what the Church has always taught, and does what the Church tells us we have a duty to do. But it's unsurprising to hear believing Catholics given pejorative names by those who claim to be Catholics - but don't actually believe or practice what the Church teaches.
A longing for the past - or just a desire for a better present?
Let's take a look at Fr Gerald's arguments.
His basic argument is that fundamentalism is a reaction to change social and religious change, engendering a simplistic desire to "return to a Utopian past or golden age, purified of dangerous ideas and practices".
And of course there is some truth in this - not, of course that there is a desire to return to a golden age (perhaps I would suggest that the pre-Vatican era was perhaps at best a silver one, certainly an advance on the current very dire state of the Church in Australia in terms of attendance, adherence or any other measure). Personally I'm too young to remember the pre-Vatican II era, but I've heard and read enough about it to know that it was no golden age, and I'm very happy indeed not to be living in the 1950s.
But certainly there is a desire to purify out dangerous ideas and practices in religion.
Indeed, the Pope himself has spoken of the need for this several times, pointing to the parallel with the period immediately after the Council of Nicaea, a council that condemned the heresy of Arianism (rejection of Our Lord's divinity). It was a time when, as Blessed Cardinal Newman wrote, virtually every bishop in the world was an Arian heretic. Yet after a period of disruption, through the providential action of God, the dangerous ideas that had sprung up were put down, and orthodoxy eventually restored.
And the Pope himself has given the lead on countering some of the dangerous practices that have sprung up, insisting, for example, now on reception on the tongue at papal liturgies.
Preserving our culture
Fr Gerald also attacks those who are concerned that migration is undermining Australian culture:
Here in Australia, for example, there is a political fundamentalist movement to preserve the pure, orthodox Australian culture from the endangering ways of foreigners.
The reality is of course that Australia is a nation of migrants, and almost no one thinks that can or should change.
What some are legitimately concerned about however is the current record high levels of migration, and our capacity as a country to cope with it (both in terms of the physical and social infrastructure). Even more concerning is the influx of migrants who do not accept Australia's system of government and law as legitimate, are working actively to convert others to their cause, and are prepared to use terrorist methods to achieve their goals. Only this week for example, was it made public that one of the leading organisers of people smuggling into Australia, allegedly responsible for the disastrous loss of life in the recent shipwreck near Christmas Island, is an Australian passport holder of Iranian origin. And there have been a series of terror trials and incidents illustrating the very real nature of the threat to our institutions.
Fr Gerald's signs of fundamentalism
Fr Gerald sets out a number of signs of fundamentalism. I've given them numbers (and combined a couple) for ease of reference.
1. ...it is assumed that Church never changed...undivided by misguided devotees of the Councils values. The fact is that the Church and its teachings have often changed. Some statements have been shown to be wrong and were either repealed or allowed to lapse.
Do I detect the smoke of 'spirit of Vatican IIism' here? Because the truth is that the Church's teachings do not change! They way they are presented and explained, sure. Pastoral practices, yes. The ordinary magisterium - occasionally, albeit very rarely. But as Pope Benedict XVI has insisted, the Council's teachings have to be seen in a spirit of continuity, not automatically interpreted as rupture.
2. A highly selective approach to what fundamentalists think pertains to the Churchs teaching: Statements on incidental issues are obsessively affirmed, but papal or episcopal pronouncements on social justice are ignored or considered matters for debate only.
There is a strange thing about the term 'social justice'. Look up the index of either the Catechism of the Catholic Church or the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church and you won't find it! It's not that the term isn't used by the Magisterium - it is. Occasionally. But it is put in its proper context of the much broader array of the Church's Social Teaching - including the issues that Fr Gerald presumably regards as 'incidental' - such as the right to life for example.
3. Concern for accidentals, not for the substance of issues, e.g., the Lefebvre group stresses Latin for the Mass, failing to see that this does not pertain to authentic tradition.
Latin is not part of the authentic tradition of the 'Latin rite'?! Last I heard, Latin was still the official language of the Church, and all 'Latin rite' priests retain the right to say the Mass (of whichever missal) in Latin. Indeed, even Pope Paul VI wrote (in vain) on a number of occasions about the importance of safeguarding the use of Latin in the Church as part of its tradition and patrimony even while providing the option of the vernacular.
4. The vehemence and intolerance with which they attack co-religionists ...attempts to infiltrate governmental structures of the Church...An elitist assumption that fundamentalists have a kind of supernatural authority and right to pursue and condemn those who disagree with them, including bishops and theologians.
The ticking timebomb of Canon 212 and the right to form private associations indeed! Because yes, the 'Gaudium et Spes' generation are dying out, and a new more traditionally oriented generation are making their views and desires known. Though actually, if anyone is succeeding in 'this 'infiltration' process, I've yet to see the results of it!
And some of us do get angry - mostly a righteous anger in my view - when our right to a Mass without liturgical abuses or heretical sermons is abused; angry when pap 1970s songs sung badly are forced on us; when casual irreverence is the norm not the exception; and above all when those who should be shepherds of their flocks are instead ravening wolves disguised as sheep.
But is this elitism - or the sensus fidei at work? Could it not in fact be the expression of charisms that have been so important in returning the Church to orthodoxy and orthopraxis at other key periods in the Church's history?
5. A spirituality in which Jesus Christ is portrayed as an unforgiving and punishing God; the overwhelming compassion and mercy of Christ is overlooked.
Traditionalists are certainly aware of the need for God's mercy. But as Scripture repeatedly stresses, the beginning of wisdom is fear of the Lord. And if this is a reference to the view that all are saved, even if they actually reject the Church's teachings, the error of inclusivity, then yes I for one plead guilty....
It really is disappointing to see this kind of attack served up as legitimate opinion on a semi-official website.
POSTED BY KATE AT 27.1.11
This piece reeks of condescension.
If he is talking about the reaction against liberal Catholic reforms, they are inspires, like the Tea Party, movement by the feeling that they have been betrayed. The best comparison is with the Catholic Reformation that followed the Council of Trent, also called the Counterreformation in reaction to the Reformation ,which was a schism led in the main by disgruntled lesser clerics supported by princes.
Unfortunately liberal Catholics embody Newman’ s definition as anti-dogmatism. That it they reject the dogmas of the Church, usually however consciously or unconsciously replacing them with different dogmas. Which is why liberal are so dogmatic and intolerant of any opinion contrary to their own.
The word the gentleman was searching for is Orthodoxy. If that concept makes his head implode he could use the phrase “faithful to the magesterium of the Church.”
I am gonna go out on a limb here and guess that he or somebody close to him did not like what the Church told him was the right use of his or their naughty bits. Not only that but they especially did not like being told that they could not scrape out and destroy any resulting offspring from either proper or improper use of naughty bits. I bet to them it is extra galling that the Church had the nerve to say preventing conception by artificial means is wrong.
I love too how suddenly they are all agog that lay people dare to criticize Bishops. That has always been o.k. as we also have a duty to defend the faith.
I bet you that these numb brained dross of idiocy spend plenty of time criticizing church teachings. With the sexual morality teachings at the top of the list Next would be the priestly celibacy discipline and no women priests allowed infallible teaching.
Hypocrites one and all.
Re-defining the Church, governments, cultures and even words
is the new psychological warfare. What a movement. Astounding what has been accomplished in the USA and I lay the result of its seeming success at the door of both the Church dissenters and the public schools, university and academia marxists who still have not been even slowed, let alone stopped, by we high minded conservative orthodox thinkers. We are seemingly impotent to voice even protest, let alone act.
Really, NL? Is this really all about me?
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