I'm diverse, you're divisive.

By Diogenes ( articles ) | Jul 07, 2003

The Los Angeles Times has a story about the upcoming National Catholic Family Conference in Anaheim, more-or-less accurately portraying the concerns that divide liberals, like Jesuit Thomas Rausch, from orthodox Catholics like Terry Barber, president of a lay ministry called the Catholic Resource Center:

The ministry's independent nature and conservative theology bother some in the U.S. church. "It's troubling to me that there's this move to create a parallel culture," said Father Thomas Rausch, a theology professor at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. "What they are really saying is that they're not getting true teachings of the church" in their home churches. "And that's too bad. It reflects a loss of confidence they have in the leadership of the church."

Barber doesn't disagree. "People are not getting the teachings of the church" at the local parishes, Barber said. "We'd like to go out of business. We're just trying to respond to a need the church has: giving [parishioners] convincing reasons for their faith and giving them hope."

What, troubled by a parallel culture? By his own principles, Fr. Rausch ought to be celebrating diversity, as it were. In a January 31, 1998 article in America called "Divisions, Dialogue, and the Catholicity of the Church," Rausch explained that Catholicism is a "big tent" which allows "diverse expressions of truth." James Hitchcock pounced on the disingenuousness of this claim and exposed the patently manipulative and asymmetrical nature of the call to let a thousand flowers bloom:

While Rausch and other liberals admit in principle that conservatives may have legitimate concerns, in practice every specific expression of such concerns is dismissed, in the same way that orthodox young men are sometimes rejected for the priesthood on the grounds that their beliefs show a rigid personality unsuited for pastoral work. Cardinal Bernardin's Common Ground project from the beginning excluded almost all prominent conservatives, even as Rausch surveys the field and dismisses almost all such people and groups as fatally flawed in some way. "Dialogue" remains a merely abstract possibility which liberals may enter into at some unspecified future time when some as yet unknown "responsible" conservatives appear on the scene.

As in secular politics, "moderates" like Rausch make use of a double standard by which the anger and frustrations of feminists or homosexuals are taken as a sign of their authenticity and of the fact that they have been mistreated by the Church, while similar emotions among conservatives are taken as evidence that dialogue with them would be impossible.

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