Wednesday, October 12, 2016

The Wrong Sort of Catholic and the Democrats

So, today we learn that on Hillary Clinton's staff there are people plotting to undermine the Church by creating dissident Catholic organizations to drive a wedge between Catholics and Church authority. My first thought was that there were probably some bishops in America quietly supporting these dissident groups; my second thought was that there probably still are. Hopefully none of the episcopal supporters of "Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good" or "Catholics United" are about to head to Rome to become cardinals, though one can't help but wondering if at least one of the new American cardinals might have friends in these groups.

That said, the truth here is that though it is sort of shocking to see the Democrats being so brazen about this, it's not surprising at all. As I've written here before, since before the days of JFK an idea has taken place firmly on the left concerning Catholics, and it is this: there is a Right Sort of Catholic, and a Wrong Sort.

The Right Sort of Catholic is sophisticated and nuanced. He or she (or any other made-up gender pronoun the person finds comforting) knows better than to think that what the Catholic Church teaches about various issues is important. What is important is discarding those issues where the Church is still embarrassingly hidebound and medieval (such as in her concern for the unborn and her denunciation of the form of unjust killing known as abortion, her belief in sexual morality, her prohibitions against remarriage after divorce, and her frustratingly homophobic teaching that men can't marry men and women can't marry women) while twisting those issues where the Church at least seems progressive and using them for one's own purposes--such as, for instance, turning the Church's rightful teachings about stewardship into an anti-human environmentalism that calls for population control, or bending the Church's rightful concern for the immigrant into a call for open borders and the erasure of national sovereignty. The Right Sort also knows the importance of insisting that it is "really Catholic" in some vague sense to demand condoms for the poor or to insist that other people have a duty to ignore a would-be immigrant's criminal misdeeds when renting him an apartment (though, of course, that sort of thing doesn't happen in the Right Sort's backyard, so he doesn't have to deal with any of the unpleasant realities that come from that kind of negligence). The Right Sort of Catholic is all about putting burdens on people who are not as wealthy or as educated as he is, while gently chiding those superstitious ignorant types who actually follow Church teaching, attend Mass every Sunday (and not just when it's a good photo-op), and teach their children the whole Catechism for not being as enlightened and progressive as he is.

The Wrong Sort of Catholic, on the other hand, has never much trusted progressivism. He practices the faith with Sunday Mass every Sunday and he goes to Confession on a fairly regular basis (he would probably go more often, but his local parish has progressive priests who generously schedule Confession for half an hour a week to accommodate the entire community). Unlike the Right Sort of Catholic, the Wrong Sort believes that sins against the Sixth Commandment are gravely wrong and that one's personal sins that one has actually, personally committed are more of a problem than nebulous corporate sins committed by entire groups of which he may or may not be a member. This means that when he is told he is a racist because in the past some of his ancestors may have been racists he is more puzzled than anything--surely it is more important to avoid racism in one's own thoughts and deeds than to worry about what his great-great-great grandfather may have thought about people of different races or creeds? He can't understand why the Right Sort of Catholic is so dismissive of ancient Catholic ways of thinking and praying, why the Right Sort dislikes the rosary, laughs at the practice of lighting candles or making the Sign of the Cross when passing a Catholic Church, or is terribly amused by talk about the Four Last Things (or downright annoyed by funerals in which the presider-priest does not immediately canonize the deceased simply because the deceased was baptized a Catholic and attended the Right Sort of University and knew the Right Sort of people, etc.). The Wrong Sort of Catholic believes in an actual Heaven and an actual Hell, and while he would never speculate on whether any particular person is in Hell he does not think it is impossible to choose eternal death and end up there.

To the Wrong Sort of Catholic there are way more important considerations than mere politics or grubbing for power. He is not going to vote for people who think it's a good idea to kill unborn babies, no matter what else they promise to do or not do. The Right Sort of Catholic is pro-choice (which he usually phrases as "...personally opposed, but...") and can't understand the Wrong Sort's Neanderthal thinking about the abortion issue. But then again, the Right Sort thinks contraception is wonderful and necessary instead of being a damnable mortal sin (under the usual conditions), so it's not surprising that he wouldn't balk at baby-killing either, so long as it is politically expedient.

Democrats have made it clear for a long time that the Wrong Sort of Catholics simply do not belong in their party. They have no use for them, and the Wrong Sort usually aren't rich or politically well-connected or anything either. The Podesta emails reveal, though, that Democrats also don't think the Wrong Sort of Catholics belong in the Church, and illustrate the lengths they'd like to go to push us out. Unfortunately they have the collusion of too many people in the Church here in America, who would also like the Wrong Sort of Catholic to disappear quietly--and there are priests and bishops who share that view as well, which would be discouraging if we failed to remember that, after all, God is in charge, and what the world thinks of as the Wrong Sort of followers of His Son may not be God's idea of the Wrong Sort at all.