That’s the trenchant phrase Canadian writer Michael Coren uses to characterize some of the Catholics he encounters online — and I know what he means.
There are those who describe themselves as being Catholic, but reject much if not most of what the Church teaches. They have little influence outside of ostensibly Catholic schools and universities, and I expect these troubled types to be upset at me. They see the emergence of the new orthodoxy and know that their time is up. I heard recently that a school chaplain had said “Coren can’t speak here, he’s too divisive.” I translated to the shocked and disappointed teacher who told me this. “Don’t worry,” I said. “It means too Catholic.”
Again, to be expected. What does trouble me, however, are those serious, orthodox Catholics who simply cannot take yes for an answer. Nobody and nothing is Catholic enough, good enough or perhaps bitter and dark enough to satisfy them. You know the types. The love is really deep; so deep you could dig for days and never find it. Every politician should be excommunicated, anyone not completely against abortion is “pro-death” and I positively despise the people in the pews next to me.
They prefer the bunker to the banquet, the ghetto to the get-together. They are defined by how much pain they claim to have, believe that the remnant of the remnant is all that can save us, and the remnant of the remnant is them — or maybe on a good day the handful of people who are their equally strident Facebook friends. Odd as it may seen, they blog and use the Internet a lot, largely because they don’t trust the mainstream media, which for them means everyone in journalism apart from their favourite right-winger, who usually loses them when he inevitably doesn’t follow the line on something or other.
No archbishop, however devout and courageous, is ever quite conservative enough for them and always part of a cabal or a conspiracy, and no Catholic activist or author ever quite sufficiently pure. They claim to believe in Church authority, but constantly bash Catholic leaders; they claim to love Jesus, but they seldom turn the other cheek or love their friends, let alone their enemies; they see glasses, and chalices, half empty when they’re half full; and, extremely worrying this, they receive the body of Christ with numerous complaints and vendettas against their fellow worshippers.
Rather than being living witnesses to the joy that comes from knowing God, they’re living proof for critics of the Church that we’re lugubrious and that we cannot see the abundant goodness that is the world that God gave us. They rightly discuss abortion a great deal, but wrongly see abortion as a stand-alone project and not part of a greater brokenness. Humanity has to be healed at every level, and the killing of the unborn is only one, if the most vehement, symptom of our demise and decay. In other words, they object to unborn babies being killed, but do not seem to like the adults the lucky ones become.
You think I’m being harsh, even judgmental. Not at all. I’m being honest. The Church is not a place for games of archaic manners, not a sanctuary for reactionary posturing, not a refuge or a hiding place. It’s a light on a hill where certainty of belief and coherent, genuine Catholic worship propel us into love, not enable us to loathe. Yes, I’m at times guilty of this, but what about you?