Wednesday, February 05, 2003

Even trolls can have a point
No, I'm not talking Tolkienian trolls, but the Internet-type. There's a certain one who has apparently taken to haunting comment boxes on certain blogs. He seems to be a evangelistic atheist person, with a particular axe to grind against those teachings on sexual morality which are out of step with current culture. Most of the opinions he expresses are, to put it bluntly, drivel. However, this one post made me seriously uncomfortable.

Orthodox Catholics are a small minority of American Catholics. Most American Catholics dissent from Church teaching in all sorts of ways--on contraception, on divorce, on abortion, on the ordination of women, on the celibacy requirement for priests, and so on. The more orthodox the Catholic Church becomes in America, the more it will drive these rank-and-file Catholics out of the Church. I get the impression that that's what many of you orthodox types want, anyway.

I think he's generalizing a bit, and also mixing together issues of varying degrees of importance. (While I don't think the celibacy requirement for priests in the Latin Rite should be altered, it's not in the same category as the impossibilities of the Church ordaining women or allowing for the killing of unborn children.) However, part of me resonates with what he's saying. Lots of times I hear or read of people calling themselves Catholic publicly dissenting, and I end up seething and wishing somebody would just kick them out for crying out loud ! Then I realize I'm not being charitable, I don't know what their formation was like, I'm letting my temper get the best of me, etc. This is particularly stinging for me to realize since my patron St. Philip was known for dealing kindly with everyone.
However, another part of me wonders if the Church might be better off smaller, stricter, but more faithful. We started out with the folks in the Upper Room, after all. Then again, I wonder if I'm indulging in sectarianism when I say that. (See the brilliant book Enthusiasm by Msgr. Ronald Knox.)
Yep, I'm confused. Need more prayer and counsel to sort this one out.


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