Have liberal Catholics lost the fight?
He may not have been thinking about it at the time, but Pope Benedict, in the course of his recent U.S. visit may have dealt a knockout blow to the liberal American Catholicism that has challenged Rome since the early 1960s. He did so by speaking frankly and forcefully of his “deep shame” during his meeting with victims of the Church’s sex-abuse scandal. By demonstrating that he “gets” this most visceral of issues, the pontiff may have successfully mollified a good many alienated believers — and in the process, neutralized the last great rallying point for what was once a feisty and optimistic style of progressivism.
Vatican Council II had its “revolutionary impact,” but Pope John Paul II, “a charismatic conservative . . . refused to budge on the left’s demands.” Liberal bishops were “swept away,” and “the heads at Call to Action grayed” as their movement faltered, writes David Van Biema in Time Mag.
Then came the “monstrous reprieve” provided by the clergy sex scandals.
[T]he old anger returned, crystallizing around the battle-cry “They just don’t get it.”
But then came Benedict to the U.S. His visit “changed the dynamic” through his “forthright response” to the problem. “It’s a new ball game,” said Peter Steinfels, the Commonweal Mag-NY Times editor and writer now with a Catholic think tank.
So goes this essay, which summarizes and simplifies and for some may lay the groundwork for further summarizing and simplifying in man’s never-satisfied zest for finding Answers to Everything.