From David Gibson:
Way back in 1997, Chicago Cardinal Francis George — who has since risen to become president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops — famously declared that “liberal Catholicism is an exhausted project.” Today it is conservative Catholicism that looks like it could use a breather. And if those conservatives don’t get their act together, they could get a good long rest.
I will state at the outset that Catholicism needs a healthy, prayerful, and intellectual conservative side. I thought Cardinal George’s “exhausted project” diagnosis was incorrect, if not actually intellectually lazy. What the Church needs is adult, reasonable, passionate, and compassionate leaders. I don’t think we’re getting enough of them. One commentator on Mr Gibson’s Pontifications blog nailed the situation as I would see it, too:
On both counts it seems that the Church has failed to launch as of yet. Instead the Church seems to be stuck in an adolescence of sorts, with leaders and laity focusing on sexual issues, dress up, hero worship, group thing and group identity.
Speaking of lazy adolescence, I see the same tired old tactics. GOP Catholics seem not inclined to get beyond the fetish of pink slipping those with whom they disagree. The truth of human nature is evident. Some people are born and grow up. Some get stuck. And when you’re not in power, you don’t get to write out details on the pink slip pad.
I don’t have a glowing regard for Catholics in public life. I didn’t during the Reagan/Bush years. And I still don’t today. If any politics is going to float my boat, it will be local, and most of my readers will probably never have heard of the people I like and admire. As for heroes, I tend to look outside politics anyway. But that may not be the case for young Catholics growing up today. As Weigel, Novak, Hudson, and others fade off to an inglorious political sunset, another group of public Catholics will come to the fore. And if the conservatives don’t get their act together, all they will have to offer today’s adolescents is another brand of … adolescence.