The Catholic World News blog makes an excellent point, demonstrating once again that he who defines the terms determines the 'winner' in debate.
But beyond terminology, there's a solid reality:
The Church in the West has enjoyed a half-century of comparative ease, in which the agenda has largely been set by professorial Catholic clergy -- men who dress, dine, recreate, and vote in ways indistinguishable from their heathen faculty colleagues, men who have had almost no price to pay for their highly adaptive Catholicism. It's not surprising that they should be alarmed by "rigidity" in their juniors. It's not surprising to read Fr. Richard McBrien lamenting a survey of seminarians that finds "many students resist 'the learning enterprise' because it threatens their 'preconceived ideas about theology.'" Yet, with some few exceptions, it's the professoriate, not the students, that feel threatened, and the source of the threat is not the students' inflexible ideas about theology (indicating rigidity), but their stubborn adherence to Catholic doctrine (indicating tenacity). These aren't 18-year-olds arriving dewy-eyed from a 1950s high school sodality; they tend to be college grads, sometimes converts, with personal experience of the false promises of the secular world, who have made an existential alignment with Catholic teaching. Regardless of theological maturity or naiveté, they know what they're saying No to.
What McBrien and his cohort don't understand is that little passage from St Paul: "....hold fast to what is good..." The new seminarians simply cannot hold fast to ephemera, or chimeras.
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It is entertaining to watch McBrien squirm under change in Church.
I wonder, if Mc Brien lives long enough, will he consider himself a martyr when the Church finally achieves a "new springtime"?
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