The Many Faces of Catholicism

Reply Wed 28 Jun, 2006 04:53 pm
Although I left the Catholic Church -- intellectually and spiritually -- at age 15, I attended Catholic schools through my bachelor's degree.

I always felt that despite my criticisms of the church, I owed it for the gifts of liberalism and intellectual curiosity it gave me.

TO me the CHuch of the 60s was the Church that was inspirational.

At a party this spring, I met a BC prof -- who I feel is the sort who gives college profs a bad name -- who declared Catholics were never liberal. The BRothers BErrigan, Liberation Theology?

I will admit that the seeds of destruction were being sown in the late 60s with Catholic pentacostalism. SPeaking in tongues.

While my college classmates all believed in birth control and were either on the pill or would begin taking it time for their walks down the aisle, not everyone was as liberal as I was, but, then not everyone at the University of Michigan was either.

I want to talk about Catholicism. No particular program. Just want to hear stories and opinions.
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Reply Wed 28 Jun, 2006 09:15 pm
I submit the "inspirational Church of the '60s" to which you allude never was. The notion The Roman Catholic Church ever was "liberal" in matters pertaining to faith or morality - The Church's core, foundational, dogmatic and doctrinal teachings - is absurd. The Church has in such regard maintained a constant, unwavering stance since before the Pauline Tradition of Christianity was institutionalized at Nicea in the 4th Century. The "Liberation Theology" you reference never has been endorsed by the Vatican, and in fact specifically and more than once has been officially condemned by The Vatican for Marxist influence. Illuminating is this thoughtful, staunchly negative criticism written in '84 by then-Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI. Many Roman Catholic clerics associated with the movement, from monks and priests through bishops and even a cardinal, have been officially criticized, admonished, sanctioned, penalized, and in a few cases all but defrocked for their activities and teachings in its support. The Berrigans are not The Church, nor is the Dominican creditted with being founder of contemporary Liberation Theology, Fr. Gustavo Gutierrez (O.P.).

Many seek a Church with a face to their liking, and some even have sought to make it so (hence; Protestantism), but in truth, The Church has, and for nearly 2 millenia has had, one face. I submit your disillusion with and disaffection for the Roman Catholic Church owes far more to misperceptions and misplaced expectations on your part than to any change The Church may have undergone.

And all that said, understand I accord no more validity to Catholicism than to any other religionist construct. I do give credit for consistency, however; that, at least, The Church has earned - it doesn't change.
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Reply Wed 28 Jun, 2006 10:29 pm
I agree with Timber's observations, though I have a different view of its validity (and, for that matter that of most religions). His was expressed in particularly nice prose though!

Probably it is more accurate to say that there have been many transient excursions within catholicism, involving issues of doctrine, morality, the relation of the Church to secular powers, and the behavior of the clergy. However there is also a strong reversion to the mean and the lasting (so far) central beliefs and outlook of the Church, compared to other Christian sects. Excursions, but no enduring change.

I too had a Catholic education. I experienced most of the standard complaints about the nuns, authoritarianism, etc. However my memories of it are almost all very pleasant -- most of it was rigorous enough, and the discipline certainly was real, but there was a lighthearted, warm spirit of what I have since learned to call humanity in it all that I have only rarely encountered since.
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Walter Hinteler
Reply Wed 28 Jun, 2006 11:11 pm
Well, I'm still a Catholic - but to call Catholicism (in general) 'liberal' just makes my grinning: Catholicism is thought to be synonym of conservatism here. And it really is.
(Protestants/Evangelicals are much more liberal, as a church as well as in politics [by the Evangelical/Protestnant representatives in parliamnets etc].)

Like George's, my memories are almost all very peasant, and I haven't had any bad expeiences at all. (Regarding the spectrum within the Church, I grew up in an open but conservative family.)
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Reply Wed 28 Jun, 2006 11:18 pm
POM, may be you mean Pope John with Vatican II after Pope Piux. Then he died. Pope John Paul (?) died after only a few months in office and Pope Paul took over. In the 80's Polish Watyla (?) became Pope and he set the right wing trend.
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Reply Thu 29 Jun, 2006 12:27 am
talk7200, you'll find little shift in basic, core Papal/Vatican philosophy over the past many, many centuries; the last "upheaval" occurred coincident and causally inter-related with The Reformation, more than half a millenium ago, and prior to that, for any major, substantive realingnment you have to look back another half millenium or so, to The Great Schism - and neither upheaval marked any change from core Dogma and Doctrine. What some folks think The Vatican, or this, that, or another Pope may have said or done often reflects ignorance of what The Vatican and the various Popes, most particularly over the past couple centuries, actually have said or done.

The 1st Vatican Council, 1868-1870, followed directly in the footsteps of and further developed the theophilophical concepts set forth by the 16th Century Council of Trent, itself preceded by and predicate upon a chain of councils comprising, in order from 324-5 C.E.: The First Council of Nicaea, The First Council of Constantinople, The Council of Ephesus, The Council of Chalcedon, The Second Council of Constantinople, The Third Council of Constantinople, The Quinisext Council, The Second Council of Nicaea, The Fourth Council of Constantinople, The Fifth Council of Constantinople, The Synod of Jerusalem, The Council of Sutri, The First Lateran Council, The Second Lateran Council, The Third Lateran Council, The Fourth Lateran Council, The First Lyon Council, The Second Lyon Council, The Council of Vienne, The Council of Pisa, The Council of Constance, The Council of Siena, The Council of Basel, and The Fifth Lateran Council.

The Second Vatican Council marked no "liberalization" of "Official Church Position", but rather brought forward and continued the work begun with The First Vatican Council, essentially, as had all prior councils, reacting to social change by imposing The Church's traditional position on the ongoing developments of secular society rather than by bringing The Church "into step with" the secular society within which She exists. The Church's position is and always has been that She is there, constant, unmoving, unchanging, an Eternal Rock, Her Teachings a beacon for all humankind to come to, most emphatically and unambiguously NOT that She will come to ANYWHERE secular society might prefer She go. She has shifted neither leftward nor rightward, but rather forges ahead on her own tack; what does shift from time to time is the perception some folks have of where The Church is and/or where She might be heading.
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Reply Thu 29 Jun, 2006 10:51 am
I'm talking about the people who composed the church, the people who were involved in the civil rights movement and the anti-war movement because they could find the rationale for both in Catholic philosophy and theology.

Catholic and Jewish dominance of liberal to left-wing activism was so powerful in Michigan that even after I went to a state university for grad school, I knew no Protestants.

One day, when I came to the cafeteria where my friends gathered in the morning, one asked me whether I was raised in a religion. I said yes and he asked me what it was and I answered Catholicism. He turned to everyone else and said, "I rest my case." I then said I would leave and come back, but, he stopped me and explained that the people in this loosely organized group of friends were either Catholic or Jewish and that we knew no Protestants. Actually, one of our friends had been raised Lutheran but his parents' insistence that he attend a Lutheran High School derailed his life for about a decade, but that is another story.

One of the things we decided bound us together was coming from churches which had, at their core, ritual which contrasted to American society, which was largely devoid of ritual, the other was that these same religions PROMOTED A LIBERAL SOCIAL AGENDA.

Anyway, I am running out of computer time, but I would like to say that we followed this conversation up with, "Invite a Protestant to Lunch" day, simply to get to know Protestants.
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Reply Tue 25 Jul, 2006 02:29 pm
I would never have been a liberal without the Catholic CHurch because it was through the Church that I learned the notion of self-sacrifice and that led me to the first principle of liberalism, which is my right to swing my fist ends where your nose begins.

I recently spent a week in Concord, MA in the company of the Alcotts and the Transcendentalists. These people believed in sharing. that sets them apart from traditional conservatives who are the children of Calvin and believe in keeping everything for themselves and exercising no responsibility towards others or to the planet.
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