Blog Template Theology of the Body: The Neocaths

Sunday, July 30, 2006

The Neocaths

Michael Liccione, contributor to Pontifications and author of Sacramentum Vitae, has this article on the three "options" that appear to exist among todays Roman Catholics: the Neocaths, the progs and the trads.

I am a Neocath because I believe that to be one is to be neither more nor less Catholic than the Pope, and thus to be a mere member of the Church Universal rather than of an entrenched party of malcontents with a anti-Roman program. Catholics of such parties tend to be very anti-Neocath. I shall strive to illustrate what's involved in all the nastiness about Neocaths, especially by defending myself toward the end from a prominent critic of mine.

If only for credibility's sake, most Catholics who care about being Catholic claim some form of loyalty to the See of Peter. That can take some rather funny forms. On the Right, where one finds those Catholics known as "trads" (short for 'traditionalists'), there are many who believe they are more Catholic than the current and recent occupants of that see. A few, the "sedevacantists," even believe that the Pope is not the real pope—a personage who, if he exists at all, perhaps resides in relative obscurity somewhere in the Midwest. Many on the Left, whom I call "progs" (short for 'progressives'), are loyal only to the next pope or maybe the one after that—hardly surprising given that, for decades, they have encountered only popes who reject their agenda. These days most Jesuits, formally vowed to special obedience to the pope, are conspicuous in that respect; as Jesuit Paul Shaughnessy commented several years ago: “Jesuits are all loyal to the papacy, but to the future papacy—that of Pope Chelsea XII, perhaps—and their support for contraception, gay sex, and divorce proceeds from humble obedience to this conveniently protean pontiff.” Thus, while trads are angry with Rome for spoiling the oldie-goldie days of full pews and sound teaching, the progs are angry with Rome for failing to commit the Church to the liberal-Protestant agenda that their mythos still peddles as the wave of the future. Both sets of malcontents believe that the Second Vatican Council constituted a decisive break with the Church of the past; the main difference is that the trads, decrying the break, want the Council to become a dead letter while the progs, celebrating it as "the spirit of Vatican II," are impatient for the Church to complete what they take to be the Council's revolutionary work.

I didn't know they were called Neocaths, but I suppose that this is the option which pretty much describes me, and the majority of good, faithful Catholics that I know. Skim the article as I did; it is meritorious.