Egopapism and the Arlington Five

That’s the title of my most recent piece over at The Catholic Thing. Here’s how it begins:

The Catholic Diocese of Arlington, Virginia has recently drawn national attention because it has asked its catechists to sign a profession of faith that asserts that they believe the catechism that the Church has commissioned them to teach and are committed to the Church as the guardian and custodian of that faith.

In short, they are being asked to admit that they are Catholics and that they believe in Catholicism. This, apparently, is so controversial that five out of the 5,000 diocesan catechists (including parochial school teachers) have resigned over this request. Five, by the way, is the number of popes that have served the Church over my lifetime.

At least one of the five catechists, Kathleen Riley, who is 52, is, like me, a Catholic child of the 1970s (I am 51), which means that we were part of the first generation of Catholics who were spiritually and intellectually formed “in the spirit of Vatican II.”

There was, of course, nothing wrong with Vatican II; its deliverances were a natural development of prior Church teachings. The problem was with how these changes were implemented and understood by clergy and religious who had a different agenda in mind.

As I noted in my 2009 memoir, Return to Rome, the lack of theological seriousness that flowed from this agenda is what pushed me and many others into the arms of Evangelical Protestantism.

When I was in Catholic high school, to provide but one example, I took a mandatory religion class in which Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach was one of the required texts. This was fairly typical of the catechetical infidelity that dominated the era in many parishes and schools in the United States.

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