“Pressure is on to change the Roman Catholic Church in America, but it's not coming from the usual liberal suspects. A new breed of theological conservatives has taken to blogs and YouTube to say the church isn't Catholic enough.To call these bloggers a “new breed” is a bit misleading. There have always been brave Catholic souls who have stood up against abuses in the Church and called for a return to orthodoxy. Indeed the Church must always have such members, unafraid to speak the truth even when certain members of the clergy and powerful members of society resist. What is “new” about this generation is the medium with which they carry out their task. In the Information Age even the simple layman has access to blogs, websites, YouTube, social networking sites, and a host of other technological tools to get their message out. The volume of chatter is staggering.
“Enraged by dissent that they believe has gone unchecked for decades, and unafraid to say so in the starkest language, these activists are naming names and unsettling the church.”
Among these millions of unfiltered voices there is certainly a handful that uses uncharitable, mean-spirited language and tactics to get their message out. These individuals are rightly chastised for their un-Christian rhetoric. But one critic of Catholic bloggers (as cited in the A.P. article) describes this movement as “Taliban Catholicism,” and the whole article seems to paint all conservative bloggers with this broad brush.
It seems to me that such harsh language only drags the critic down to the same level as those he criticizes. The Taliban are a ruthless group of thugs who uses violence and scare-tactics to enforce a radical Islamic agenda on populations in the Middle East. The Taliban literally stones people to death for straying from their moral code; they destroy property, they kidnap and torture, cut off heads and commit other unspeakable acts of brutality. Catholic bloggers are not known for such tactics, nor do they generally target private individuals, but rather public figures with influence and power (politicians, theologians, bishops, priests, and so on).
My experience has been that most conservative (read: “orthodox”) bloggers are motivated by a love for the Truth and a desire to see the many wrongs committed since the 1960's and 70's (such as liturgical abuses, feminist radicalism, sloppy catechesis, errant bishops and priests, etc.) corrected, and to see Church leaders and prominent Catholic politicians adhere to Catholic doctrine in public. They are not brutal thugs; though they are imperfect lovers of Christ. They may not always use the most diplomatic language (though most I encounter do) but there is nothing shocking or horrifying in the goals they pursue…unless of course you happen to be one of those Catholics who embrace the radicalism and unorthodox beliefs of cafeteria-style Catholicism.
Conservative bloggers are challenging fellow Catholics to live up to the precepts of the Church (especially those Catholics who play prominent public roles). It comes as no surprise that the critics of orthodoxy offer no substantive response other than to mutter under their breaths about the “Taliban” or the “Inquisition” and complain that such Catholics are “mean” and “shouldn’t we all just get along, and agree to disagree.” Conveniently this avoids any real discussion of the doctrinal matters at hand, the public policies, and the political issues that are raised on these blogs.
Conservative Catholics are seeking answers: How can a Catholic politician actively support abortion and remain in good standing with the Church? How can a Catholic college or seminary flaunt their support for the radical homosexual agenda and yet be called “Catholic”? How can a bishop turn a blind eye to flagrant abuses in local parishes under his charge and not be held accountable? – These issues are too important to simply be swept under the rug or labeled “mean-spirited” by the Left. These are questions that deserve to be answered.
Catholic bloggers (imperfect as they are) fill a vital role. We all bear the responsibility to spread the Gospel in whatever way we can in what has been called the “New Evangelization,” as described by John Paul the Great in Redemptoris Missio:
"[T]he moment has come to commit all of the Church's energies to a new evangelization and to the mission ad gentes. No believer in Christ, no institution of the Church can avoid this supreme duty: to proclaim Christ to all peoples.”The New Evangelization is leading us to a return to orthodoxy - and every institution of the Church and every believer has a role to play. After decades of wandering in a desert of confusion, sound teaching and strong leadership is returning to the Church. We must all do our part to strengthen our fellow Catholics in living out the faith. Resistance will be met from those who are uncomfortable with this Truth. But in the end Truth prevails.