Nostalgia for a pre-Vatican II Golden Age
In relating to fundamentalist Catholics we need to avoid hostile or heated arguments.
(Particular thanks for these reflections to Father Gerald Arbuckle SM author of Culture, Inculturation, and Theologians: A Postmodern Critique)
Nostalgia for a pre-Vatican II Golden Age, when it is assumed that the Church never changed, is the foundation for Catholic fundamentalism which is becoming quite a problem in contemporary church leadership.
The fact is: the Church and its teachings have often changed. Over the years some church statements have been shown to be wrong and were either repealed or allowed to lapse.
Here are some characteristics of contemporary Roman Catholic fundamentalism:
- A highly selective approach to what Catholic fundamentalists think pertains to the Church’s teaching: Statements on incidental issues are obsessively affirmed, but papal or episcopal pronouncements on social justice are ignored or considered matters for debate only.
- Concern for accidentals, not for the substance of issues, e.g., the stress on Latin for the liturgy, failing to see that this does not pertain to authentic tradition.
- The vehemence and intolerance with which they attack co-religionists who are striving to relate the Gospel to the world around them according to Vatican II.
- Attempts to infiltrate governmental structures of the Church in order to obtain legitimacy for their views and to impose them on the whole 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.
- A spirituality in which Jesus Christ is portrayed as an unforgiving and punishing God; the overwhelming compassion and mercy of Christ is overlooked.
WHAT TO DO:
In relating to fundamentalist thoughtful and concerned Catholics need to avoid hostile or heated arguments. Membership in 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.
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 marginalized.
Peace to All!