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kissling's cousins

By Diogenes ( articles ) | Mar 07, 2007

"The Catholic right is uglier and meaner than anyone on the religious right, worse than the Falwells and Robertsons," said Kissling, who stepped down as president of the organization March 1. "The viciousness of the [William] Donohues, the Deal Hudsons, the George Weigels and the [Fr.] Richard John Neuhauses is soul-numbing," said Kissling.

Now that hurts. Not so much as a mention of Catholic World News, and after all we've had to say over the years about Catholics for a Free Choice, too. I guess we went wrong by exaggerating the Mister Nice Guy approach and always stressing the positive -- even about those we criticise -- as a basis for finding common ground. There just ain't no justice out there.

Joe Feuerherd's excellent NCR interview with Frances Kissling on the occasion of her retirement from CFFC is a very interesting read. She is peevishly critical of many of her fellow lefties, including and especially Catholic lefties. Feuerherd is to be congratulated for preserving so much of Kissling's candor in his article, and the NCR deserves credit for publishing it. Regrettably, it's subscriber-only access, but I think I can pass on the following excerpts without violating the fair use boundaries.

Having dismissed Voice of the Faithful as ineffective, Kissling says:

"Look at all the rest of us, Call to Action, ARCC [the Association for the Rights of Catholics in the Church], Dignity, the Women's Ordination Conference." So small in number and influence, Kissling said, that "the movement doesn't exist."

It's no better -- worse in fact, she said -- on the political front, where such groups as Sojourners, the Washington-based liberal evangelical political action group, and the Catholic Alliance for the Common Good, the recently formed effort to counter the religious right, "have gotten a free ride." Kissling said, "They make claims about their effectiveness in the 2006 elections" that are not borne out by the facts.

Heresy. And it's interesting that she sees lefty Catholics' crush on the Democratic Party to be as pointless as are the hopes of conservative Catholics that the GOP will do the right thing by pro-lifers:

Meanwhile, Kissling said, the progressive religious community's efforts to ingratiate itself with the Democratic Party works against the efforts of church reformers, especially feminists. "It is threatening because what the Democratic Party wants from religion is respectability and credibility. They want a rabbi with a yarmulke on his head, a minister who wears a collar or some religious garb. They want a mainstream respectable image of religion.

"There's nothing respectable about a gay rabbi and almost nothing respectable about a woman pastor who is a feminist. They don't call up and say, 'Send me [feminist theologian] Mary Hunt, send me your most radical spokesperson within your denomination.' They call and say, 'Do you have a nun who still wears a habit who can show up at my press conference [or] can you send me a collar?'"

The fact that such tokens of respectability are still tokens of respectability 40 years after Vatican II speaks volumes about the progressivist claim that they impede the pastoral encounter. As for the myth of the existence of the "personally opposed" Catholic, the following quote will seem to most OTR readers to state the obvious. It's significant, though, that Kissling is the one to say it:

Moreover, she said, there's more than a "degree of hypocrisy" among many Catholic progressives, many of whom, she says, don't believe that abortion is "always immoral and should be illegal."

"My experience in the progressive movement in the church is that most of the people I work with are personally pro-choice and will simply not admit it publicly," she said. "They think it will be bad for their organization and they want to continue to have ties to the hierarchy, to parishes, and they know if they come out on abortion they are going to be totally marginalized within the institution, so it's the one [issue] on which they lie the most."

Kissling said, "I have more respect for people who are genuinely antiabortion and who say it than I do for many of my colleagues ... who lie about this issue, who refuse to take a stand on this issue."

No argument, Frances. It isn't often we agree, but you're on target here. Tell your Uncle Di: was it in anticipation of this tender concord that you left us off your Vicious List?

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