From ................ National Catholic Reporter

January 17, 1997

page 22-23

After reading your interesting articles about the Call to Action meeting in Detroit, I was left with the same sadness and frustration that strikes me when I read articles about or by the so-called right wing of the Catholic church. Both groups seem to have practices and agendas that do not promote gospel Christianity but actually deter it. Both camps display a loss of the sense of the apocalyptic and prophetic imperatives of the message of Jesus.

On the one hand is a pharisaical fascination with doctrine, dogma and discipline. This is a Catholicism that is tribal and exclusive. It demands obedience to clerical superiors as a recruit would respond to a Prussian drill sergeant. This branch of Catholicism abides by no discussion of principles and is suspicious if not fearful of any who would engage in such dialogue. The Latin term magisterium is translated as "enforcer." One expects proposals from this camp to canonize Pius IX and Grand Inquisitor Tomas de Torquemada.

On the other hand is a pool of smiley faces bent on developing an ecclesiology congruent with the trendy flow of contemporary American popular culture designated as politically correct. They chant the Litany of the Victims with patronizing inclusion of any individuals or movements thought to lack "empowerment" or "inclusion."

If only the church would accept women priests, non-Caucasians, homosexuals, unwed co-habitors, New Age spirituality, environmental theology, Jesus as social worker, antimilitarism, etc., etc., Augustine's Civitas Dei would be complete. They espouse vigorously the ordination of women to the very clerical status they decry as oppressive....

At the Call to Action gathering, a seminary professor, with an aplomb as breezy as that of the excommunicating bishop of Omaha, disposes of the doctrine of the Bible-as-revelation by stating that God's revelation is "in life," not in scripture.

Two thousand years of faith and scriptural theology are displaced, as Trotsky or Carlyle might have said, to the dust heap of history. The Bible is too patriarchal, too parochial, too dated to be relevant or useful. The Good News of the evangelists is helpful in the same way that a program is informative at a hockey game.

The world is post-Christian, and the penumbra of secularism spreads, insistent and unrelenting. Transcendence and mystery are supplanted by an ominous trinity of process, objects and information.... It is good that the Light shines in the darkness and the darkness grasps it not because so much effort is being made to obscure the Light.

Let us remember, as [Gerard Manley] Hopkins wrote, that "the Holy Ghost over the bent world broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings."

Maybe, just maybe, we can get ready for the Second Coming.

EARL J. HIGGINS ............. River Ridge, La.