Washington D.C., Feb 22, 2010 / 07:19 pm (CNA).- At the American Conservative Union’s recent annual meeting, Deal Hudson, president of the Catholic Advocate, hosted an event with the theme “It’s time for a Catholic Tea Party.”
The annual meeting of the ACU, called the Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC) took place in Washington D.C. from Feb. 18-20.
Hudson told attendees of the Catholic Advocate event that “it was time for Catholics to realize they don’t need permission from their bishops to become politically active.”
Hudson’s remarks were made in the context of a campaign to “reform the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD)” that he is helping lead. The CCHD, which is under jurisdiction of the U.S. bishops, has recently come under fire for its alleged connections with a network of community organizations that have promoted abortion and the homosexual agenda.
Clarifying what he means by a “Catholic Tea Party,” Hudson said, “We are not calling for the dismantling of the USCCB, not at all. Episcopal conferences are fully mandated by the documents of Vatican II and the Code of Cannon Law.”
“But,” Hudson continued, “we want the USCCB to be managed in a way that does supplant the role and responsibility of the laity and programs like the Catholic Campaign for Human Development. In the case of USCCB programs like the CCHD a serious overhaul is necessary to prevent Catholic money from being spent on organizations supporting abortion and same-sex marriage.”
“$2,000,000 has been spent this way and it needs to stop,” Hudson claimed.[reference]
I take his point – but don’t care for the term “Catholic Tea Party” I do think there is already too much taking in of political terms within the Church. The terms “right” and “left” are bad enough without bringing in more political parallels.
The historical parallels more apt – though not a perfect match – would be the Catholic response to the Protestant Reformation. The response of the Council of Trent and the so-called “Counter-Reformation” is more in the line of what we need – though I certainly don’t mean calling a new council. The aftermath to the Second Vatican Council (not the Council itself) has parallels to the Protestant Reformation when all of a sudden people perceived some new “freedoms” divorced from the teachings of the path and a culture of do your own thing developed. Just this time the Luthers, Calvins, and Zwinglis stayed within the Church. They too started with the mind of reform in what in fact needed reformed only to split off into contrary theologies that continue to spawn and divide today. The Protestant Reformers all went off in their own directions.
So many in the Social Justice movement perceived that more could be done to help the poor and set about to do this good work, but like Luther sided with the Princes they ended up siding with the government as the tool for this work and soon started to ignore the negative aspects of this alliance all in the name of the poor. The USCCB’s Catholic Campaign for Human Development fell into a similar trap by largely seeing government programs as the answer. So many of the groups they support basically agitate for more government money and intrusion. They quickly became blind to the anti-Christian agendas of the other groups they were working with all in the name of human development. This of course is a common human flaw that people can so concentrate on one aspect of the truth that it soon looses relation to other truths – something we all have to watch out for.
Again I don’t see how the Tea Party model is applicable here. It is effective in the arena of politics where large demonstrations for common cause are useful. Though I would like a Missal Party where we all dressed up as some group and grabbed a bunch of OCP missals to be thrown into the closest harbor (Boston or otherwise). I just don’t see large demonstrations of Catholics outside the USCCB offices for example being very effective. Maybe I am just hung up on the Tea Party metaphor being used – I just think it does not conjure up an actual Catholic reply. Besides Tea Party sounds to Puritan. Sign me up for a Catholic Beer Party, named after all the fine work monks contributed to civilization and true reform throughout the centuries. They preserved knowledge and made beer – showing they got their priorities right.
Seriously though. The Counter-Reformation (what a stupid historical term) was effective because the first reform sought after was personal reform. It was Saints Ignatius, John of the Cross, Teresa of Avila, Francis de Sales, Chales Borromeo, along with many others who led a true reform. Today like every age we need saints. Besides if we don’t take up the cause of personal holiness when we get to Judgment Jesus will ask “Who Dat” (a form of Matthew 7:23).