Friday, May 23, 2008

Quebecois Catholicism: A cautionary tale

Richard John Neuhaus writes in his March 2008 Public Square Column about one Michael Gauvreau's examination of the decline of Catholicism in Quebec.

Within, it seems, the blink of an eye, the Church retreated and the state took over. For the most part, the Church willingly, even eagerly, retreated. It is not too much to say that the Church led the retreat, and did so in the name of a more “authentic” ­Catholicism...

The revolution got underway long before that. Its young leaders in Catholic Action were “the brightest and the best” and were inspired by Pius XI’s 1931 encyclical on social doctrine, Quadragesimo Anno. They construed that teaching in a way that created a category of “youth” that was depicted as modernity pitted against the way of their elders. The Catholic Action renewal proceeded, as Gauvreau writes, “from a negative reference point: the values of previous generations could offer no guidance or salvation for young Catholics confronted with the pressures and challenges of modern society.” Many bishops and priests ardently supported this youthful demand for an “authentic” Catholicism. The leaders of Catholic Action believed themselves to be fervently Catholic in seeking a more genuine form of lay Catholicism. The male leaders who dominated Catholic Action were disdainful of “feminized” popular piety and devotions centered on the family and extended families of parish communities. They were inspired also by the 1930 encyclical, Casti Connubii, which places a new emphasis on the spiritual and sexual dimensions of marriage. An enormously popular marriage-preparation program was launched that promoted a “sanctification of sex,” strongly favoring the nuclear family and mutual satisfaction over ­traditional familial patterns. Marriage was elevated over celibacy, and it was urged that the clergy had little to say about how the faith should be lived in the real world. The new approach was described as “personalist,” in contrast to the cultural and routine Catholicism of the past...

With the support of the more influential clergy, it was proposed that there are two Catholicisms: “one authentic, heroic, spiritually pure, communitarian, appealing to masculine reason, and the other routine, sentimental, unthinking, overly pious, excessively individualistic, appealing primarily to women and the less educated.”

Neuhaus notes the obvious parallels, such as a certain emphasis in some "Theology of the Body" discussions.

The sentimental cheering about how the heroic youth of the present will undo Baby Boomer vandalism still feeds contempt for the past. Those youths too will grow up someday. If they deeply imbibe the flattery about themselves being the "wave of the future," in their maturity they'll be just as insufferable as today's aging hipsters.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Bob Schaffer Marianas rumor unsubstantiated?

Bob Schaffer, the GOP candidate for Colorado’s U.S. Senate seat this year, is taking a drubbing for his involvement with Jack Abramoff’s lobbying on behalf of a textile industry in the Marianas accused of crimes various and sundry.

One of the most repellent charges against Schaffer, a publicly pro-life candidate, is the allegation he turned a blind eye to forced abortions perpetrated upon textile workers who labored in abusive conditions.

According to the Denver Post, “a U.S. Interior Department investigation found that pregnant workers were forced to get illegal abortions or lose their jobs. Some were recruited for factories but forced into the sex trade instead.”

Catholic News Agency has tried to confirm the allegations, with no success:
When contacted by Catholic News Agency, Angie Guerrero, Karidat Social Services’ director, confirmed Schaffer’s assertion that evidence on forced abortions is lacking.
“We have heard that (of the claims of forced abortions), but none of the alleged victims have come out and said that they were forced to have abortion. So that’s all hearsay, because we can’t prove it; they’re only allegations,” she said.

As director of Karidat Social Services, Guerrero is familiar with the abortion situation throughout the Diocese of Chalan Kanoa, which includes the islands of Saipan, Rota and Tinian. Her office is currently working on a program to assess the number of abortions occurring in the region, but as of yet does not have exact figures.

I didn’t hear about the Marianas allegations myself until the Denver Post revived the story, with Schaffer’s help. The senate candidate said the Marianas’ guest worker program could be used as a model for immigration reform in the continental U.S., and his opponents pounced on the chance to revive Schaffer's Abramoff ties.