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Catholic Culture Overview

a plea for understanding

By Diogenes ( articles ) | Oct 08, 2004

FUNDAMENTALISM FEARED, MISUNDERSTOOD -- odd words to appear in a headline in the National Catholic Reporter. Shocked, are you? Well, your anxieties can be put to rest. The article refers to Islamic fundamentalism, which the author is eager to rescue from undeserved obloquy. The irony is that the NCR, in reference to Muslims, deplores as libels the very charges which it is so keen to make stick against those Christians -- including orthodox Catholics -- it brands "fundamentalist." At almost any point in the piece, if you replace "Islamic" with "Christian" you find that its editors assert of the latter what they deny of the former:

Misconceptions are common, with one-dimensional views of Islamic fundamentalists as violent extremists prevailing over more nuanced understandings of a movement that is complex and diverse. ... While some Islamic fundamentalists are recruited from the poor and uneducated, others come from middle class or prosperous backgrounds and have university degrees.

Get the picture? Now compare the NCR's appreciation of nuance above with its editorial in the same issue on the obstructionism of Catholic "hardliners":

Those most affected by the clergy shortage and the discipline of mandatory celibacy want its merits fully debated and discussed. But such a discussion is the hardliners' worst fear. It cannot be tolerated, lest the persuasiveness of the aforementioned arguments becomes even clearer.

Ratzinger, you see, is terrified by the prospect of debating Joan Chittister on the subject of celibacy. She has a master's degree in Church History.

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