“Love manifests itself more in deeds than in words.” America makes the following commitments:
1. Church. The church in the United States must overcome the problem of factionalism. This begins by re-examining our language. America will no longer use the terms “liberal,” “conservative” or “moderate” when referring to our fellow Catholics in an ecclesiastical context.
2. Charity. How we say things is as important as what we say. America seeks to provide a model for a public discourse that is intelligent and charitable. In the next few months, America will announce a new set of policies for the public commentary on our various platforms.
3. Community. America will appoint a community editor who will moderate our public conversation, ensuring that it rises to the standards we set for thoughtfulness and charity. We will continue to provide a forum for a diverse range of faithful, Catholic voices.
A few things.
1a. Personally, I’ve never objected to being called a liberal or progressive Catholic. Over the years, and in particular places, I’ve made a point of explaining what that means to me. In brief, I see it as essentially an approach to faith that is optimistic, open, patient, and unconventional. Liberal in a sense of the freedom God offers believers. Progressive in the sense that I can do better today than yesterday, and that believers can, despite our getting in our own way, expect to make the world a better place tomorrow than it is today. In this sense I don’t mind the political term being coopted as long as we’re clear on what it doesn’t mean.
1b. What I do object to is the smarmy undercurrent directed at me, but mainly my sister and brother Catholics who might be considered liberal and/or progressive. This undercurrent supposes less of a commitment to virtue, justice, morality, prayer, spirituality, loyalty, and faith.
1c. This is just plain silly. And it flies in the face of what the Church teaches as the proper approach to people we’re not sure about. I believe the Anchoress mentioned the political motto, “Trust, but verify.” That’s not an acceptable affirmation of CCC 2478. But it doesn’t, for the record, make the person less virtuous, just, moral, prayerful, spiritual, loyal, or faithful for saying and advocating it.
2. I hope I’m getting better in this regard. Sometimes I wonder. Recently I’ve been reevaluating and mostly declining to use my favorite terms from the past decade: MaChurch, the (various) Ones, and the like. The intent has mostly been to raise a mirror to other people’s commentary around the Catholic blogosphere. But I was surfing around to some old sites earlier this week. A lot of them have shut down, turned off lights, and moved on.
3. Community is more than a single web site. Like it or not, many of us are the more-or-less public e-face on Catholicism for the world. I think a bit more cooperation across site boundaries would be somewhat helpful, constructive, or otherwise worthy in witness.
It seems like personally I could do more. Fr Malone is right. Deeds are always better than words. But sometimes personal words are a start. I do read correspondence. Sometimes, the more heated discussions are better continued in a more private place. People can find my email and cell phone number easily enough. But if you would prefer to publicly challenge me to a higher standard of behavior, the comboxes will be open on this site as long as they are manageable. And as always, any essay or contribution will be considered.
Maybe the words seem inadequate to me. At some point, internet Catholics won’t be able to transcend until we begin to make real friends among one another. Who knows if that step is near or still far off. But deeds will be needed at some point.