Monday, August 25, 2008

Who's Not A Cultural Catholic?

We should be wary to attack a fellow Catholic for being "culturally Catholic," a term which only has weight from within an historically anti-Catholic Protestant America. While Biden's Catholicism is in grievous error, it ain't chump change either. When orthodox Catholics resort to an ideological posture that tolerates no distinctions between pro-choice Catholics, orthodoxy loses. The distinction between a Biden and a Kerry Catholic is the difference between Notre Dame and Georgetown: both are elite schools torn up by post-V2 rifts within the Church, but one is far more grounded in the working class spirituality and ethos of the American Church (thereby handling Catholic identity with far more grace) and the other is hopelessly infected with Ivy-league wannabeism (thereby failing miserably on Catholic identity).

I also note how classically Irish-American Biden's faith is -- pugnacious yet endearing, proudly Roman yet insecure about its latent Puritanism. Look at most of our bishops; they're not that different in attitude. Unfortunately, the majority of American Catholics think exactly like Biden. We are complicit when Biden's errors merely reflect the severe anemia within our post-V2 Church, with which, it needs to be said, we are in communion. Consequently, the Dems have far more to gain nomminating a Biden Catholic than say a Brownback Catholic. But a Kerry Catholic would have been a loser too. The Dems calibrated it just about right politically.

The foolish assumption of most of the attacks on Biden from pro-life Catholics is that the Dems should select a Catholic that reflects Roman orthodoxy, as if Dems should care at all about the orthodox chunk of the Catholic vote when it's only a minority 1) rigidly locked into the GOP and 2) unstably or unconvincingly represented among swing-state Catholics. This is how catechesis and formation intersect with politics. Too many pro-life Catholics think we can solve the problem of pro-choice Catholics simply by more politics. But until we get our own house in order, we'll continue to send mixed messages and see Biden Catholics promoted to prominence.

How can we complain that much when we produce "Hear-&-See-No-Evil" Abps. Mahony, Egan, Niederauer, Wuerl, and the USCCB as our national Magisterium? We forget that they are the fruits of our harvest, not just the product of top-down machinations in the Curia.

The proper response to the Biden announcement is what Amy Welborn admonishes the bishops to do: TEACH, NOW.

CORRECTION: Abp. Wuerl is exercising his teaching muscles. Sorry, I was sounding off machine-gun style, or internet style.

CORRECTION II: Wow, Cardinal Egan's gone up to take a swing at Pelosi's spitter too! Come on Mahony, Niederauer, you're up next!

Of course, I am being facetious. Pelosi's not the only target here and merely criticizing her theological doublespeak just contributes to the Beltway Science Fiction Theatre. She's just a Speaker of the House of Americanized Catholics, a rather divided, confused house.