I think there will soon be a straw shortage because Fr. McBrien in his latest column erects so many straw men that surely it will have an effect on the market.
There were always Protestants attracted to the Catholic Church in the pre-Vatican II era for biblical, theological or historical reasons, all of which were carefully laid out in Father John O’Brien’s writings. With the Second Vatican Council, however, and with the ecumenical movement which the council and the popes had endorsed, it became practically impossible to present the Catholic Church any longer as "the one, true Church" and all other denominations as awash in error and falsehoods.
Enter straw man 1.
And so the traditional apologetical tactics — "demonstrating" that Catholicism alone is right, while Protestantism is completely wrong — were generally abandoned. If Protestants became Catholics in the late 1960s or in the ’70s and early ’80s, it was mainly for family reasons, or because they intended to marry a Catholic, or because they had grown familiar and spiritually comfortable with Catholic worship.
And his evidence for this is what? Surely people entering the Church because of marriage is not exactly a new phenomenon that has some stark Vatican II divide. I am pretty sure that out of my own RCIA of of about 20 people just one of them was there primarily for this reason and the rest because they believed the Catholic faith to be true. Regardless though I don’t know of any actual studies on this.
In the past two-and-half decades, however, we have seen something of a reversion to the pre-Vatican II approach. Many seeking entrance into the Catholic Church today do so as an act of rejecting their Protestant past and of embracing "the truth" found only in Catholicism.
I have read plenty of conversion stories and books and most episodes of The Journey Home, yet I have not heard one ex-Protestant disparage their previous faith. In fact they praised all that they had learned and while they now believe the Catholic Church is the fullness of the faith they don’t see their previous life as void of truth. Though I guess only Fr. McBrian can put "the truth" in scare quotes when talking about the Church.
More recently, however, high-profile Protestants and even a few Jews with strongly conservative opinions about religion, politics and social values have found their way to a Rome that one would have thought no longer exists. It is an authoritarian, triumphant, polemical, anti-Protestant Rome (non-Christians weren’t even considered) that flourished during the first half of the 20th century, but which experienced a thorough updating under Pope John XXIII. He convened the council in 1962 to open the windows and to let some "fresh air" into the Catholic Church.
Bishop Sheen is no longer with us, and there is no Catholic comparable to him who functions in the same capacity. But a priest in Washington, D.C., who runs the Catholic Information Center there and is a member of Opus Dei, has been doing an impressive job of drawing fellow conservatives into the Church.
Now while Fr. McBrien never mentions who he talking about it is of course Father McCloskey. Before liberals go to bed them make sure that Father McCloskey is not under the bed or in the closet since he is there version of the Boogeyman since Cardinal Ratzinger retired from the role. The thing is that Father McCloskey is no longer even the Director of the Catholic Information Center anyway, Rev. William H. Stetson J.C.D. is.
His main celebrity converts are Robert Novak, the columnist who was at the center of the controversy over the disclosure of Valerie Plame’s identity as a covert CIA agent; Larry Kudlow, an on-air financial adviser; and Kansas Senator Sam Brownback, currently a candidate for the Republican nomination for the presidency of the United States.
Senator Brownback had been raised a Methodist but later joined a non-denominational evangelical church. He became a Catholic in 2002.
Conservative Protestants and Jews who convert to Catholicism, especially of the Opus Dei kind, rarely shed the religious, social and political biases they had in their pre-Catholic life. It is true of Mr. Novak and Mr. Kudlow, and it is equally true of Senator Brownback.
I would certainly like to know how someone becomes a convert in the first place without shedding some biases? I guess since they didn’t immediately adapt the watered down tribal Catholicism of Fr. McBrien that somehow this is a bad thing. Sony really got their money’s worth when they hired Fr. McBrien as a consultant to The Da Vinci Code since his view of Opus Dei fall right in line with Dan Brown.
More about him next week.
Oh I can hardly wait and in the meantime dump your straw stock immediately.
|Jester Hat Tip:||L.A. Catholic|
Update: Carl Olson weighs in on the article.