John Allen had a sensible bit of commentary last week. Not only have (my words) some of the Catholic Right polished their mean streak, but Allen’s words:
In a recent essay for National Review Online, noted Catholic author George Weigel asserted that “virtually the entire sentient world” is aware of the melee surrounding Notre Dame and Obama. Unless you define the “sentient world” as the American blogosphere, however, that’s a fairly mammoth over-statement. I just spent two weeks in Cameroon, and I can report that few people there seem worked up over who’s speaking to Irish grads this spring.
This is the chronic Achilles’ heel of American Catholicism: we presume that our issues are the world’s issues, often leaving Catholics elsewhere scratching their heads about what they perceive as our insularity.
Rather than forward the important discussion of, as Allen puts it, to “engage” pro-choice people without “seeming to endorse or wink,” the political pro-life movement has become bogged down in another exercise in trench warfare. As if warfare were some kind of virtuous state.
The hubris of this is amazing, too. I engage in and overhear a number of conversations in my parish, and we’re not talking about the president at Notre Dame any more than other issues of the day. With a tool like the internet, one might think the potential for expanding one’s interactions would blossom. Instead, we have conservative American Catholics hawking their upset, and on top of that, reinforcing the insularity with their own sulking ecclesiastical accusations in their own special internet community. Is it any wonder they have sullied the larger pro-life effort acting like pouting sandbox bullies? Who can enter into a conversation with this, let alone invite them to the party?