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Can Catholics Stand United?

The reason I am one of “The Establishment” rather than “The Loyal Opposition” is not because I disagree with their desire to love their neighbor, but because I think the second commandment is subordinate to the first. Loving God and listening to his voice through his Church does not contradict my duty to love my neighbor, rather it enables it. The love of God is, if you like, the vertical beam of the cross through which my relationship with God is kept alive while love of neighbor is the horizontal beam of the cross through which I put my love of God into action. My disagreement with “The Loyal Opposition” is not that they emphasize peace and justice issues or even that they challenge the church with real questions, but that I feel they too often put the love of neighbor before the love of God and I think that’s back to front.

Are we as divided as the Anglicans? No, because despite our disagreements we all still agree that love it or loathe it, the authority of the Church is the rock on which we build. Even when we dissent we are dissenting against that authority and therefore proving its validity even by our rejection of it. We may kick the rock on which the church is built, but the pain in our foot proves the rock still stands.

Does today’s shared editorial mean that this divide in Catholicism is over? ‘Fraid not. Much of the division, it must be admitted, is down to personality types, personal backgrounds and the prejudices that go with them.

Is this analysis the only problem within the American Catholic divide? ‘Fraid not. The deeper problems touch on real philosophical and theological divides. It must be admitted that some of “The Loyal Opposition” hold modernist views that are irreconcilable with Catholic theology and some of the hold moral opinions on matters like same sex marriage, artificial contraception and abortion which are simply impossible to reconcile with faithful Catholicism.

While I don’t think today’s shared editorial means (as Michael Sean Winters at the National Catholic Reporter has said) that we are all now sitting happily singing Kumbayah together, I hope it does mean that we might just open the gates of our little fortresses and engage in some genuine discussion. If there are fireworks, so be it.

For my part, I’d like the opportunity to challenge “the other side” on some of the things where we disagree and I’m quite happy to hear their criticisms of “The Establishment.”

If we are not exactly standing firmly together on all issues, at least we might decide together to leave our respective little self made castles and meet on the field for jousting.