It’s not a rhetorical question.
When I heard that James Martin’s Twitter effort to express gratitude to American women religious was picking up steam, I was also thinking, uh-oh the ugly is on its way, too. He has the results in a WaPo feature today. I applaud this effort to bring ugly and sinful trends in the Church into the light. If only Rome were clued in.
When I was a graduate student, I did a handful of papers in various courses on Catholic-Orthodox ecumenism. “Orthodox” came to mean something more to me than a label for a group of Christians. I would not have hesitated to use that word to describe my approach to Christianity. But I think many Roman Catholics, even the most well-intentioned ones, have polluted the term and perverted it into a badge of infantile angry and ugly. While they might not admit it, many of its adoptees have twisted the “spiritual but not religious” meme into another: “orthodoxy but not orthopraxis.” Jesus nailed it long ago and we should approach the attitude of the self-styled orthodox with the same caution:
The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat;therefore, do whatever they teach you and follow it; but do not do as they do, for they do not practice what they teach. (Matthew 23:2-3)
How does the Catholic Right metamorphose into the Catholic Wrong? Lack of discernment. Lack of charity. Indulging the passions. Ideological inbreeding. The hermeneutic of subtraction: cutting away the virtues of the Body without regard for the harm it does.