There is a priest in Japan named Fr. Joseph O'Leary whose prodigious blogging has gotten some attention from other bloggers, specifically since he posts so very often on Dr. Phillip Blosser's blog. The Angry Twins wrote about his posting on Dr. Blosser's blog as well a few weeks ago.
The twins posted a link in a since-deleted (I think) entry to a post Fr. O'Leary wrote about the "Neo-Caths." I found a number of things disturbing about this post (my "My Generation" post below was a first response to his writng). To begin, he paints Pope John Paul II to be what I can only term a cult leader of the ilk of Hitler and David Koresh: self-seeking and manipulative, not the Vicar of Christ on Earth. He paints people of this "Neo-Cath" generation (me and many others descended from the baby boomer generation of Catholics that he calls the "Vatican II Catholics") as hateful, decidedly un-Christan, unthinking, unsympathetic morons.
Since I can only speak for myself (Though I cannot imagine that my take on his opinion of people of my generation isn't shared with other "Neo-Caths"), I have to say that I have given what the Church has taught through the centuries a lot of thought and have struggled with some of it. The fact that I and others like me do not worship our own intellects before The Lord does not make us stupid. It makes us humble, even if my saying so doesn't make it sound like I'm trying to be.
What Fr. O'Leary charcterizes among the youth as militantism (is that a word?) or an unwillingness to think for ourselves is in fact a response to the relativism ushered in during the botched catchesis of the late '60's and 70's (and even '80's. I thank God for the Sisters of Immaculate Heart of Mary of Philadelphia for their teaching me the right stuff when I was in Catholic elementary school in the '80's).
The youth of today look around and see that our culture tells us is that there are no absolutes. And in our hearts we know that is false. Our grandparents know that there is good and evil: not everything is smudged gray. These men and women sacrificed much to rid the world of the Axis powers of world War II. Theirs is a generation of, yes, flawed (aren't we all?), but selfless poeple who suffered during the great Depression and who saw heavy combat in Asia and Europe and then did not discuss it when they got home. They wanted to save us and spare us.
By contrast, the parents of this "Neo-Cath" generation are selfish, ushering in an untold era of consumerism and waste in every facet of their lives: from the gas-guzzling cars they drive to the babies they killed for convenience's sake. This is a generation of women who bought into the myth of "having it all:" career, children, and a husband. The spouse and the kids became a symbol of status for some, while most other women struggle with the daily grind of trying to do the job of two women. Marriages have suffered and ended leaving an unprecedented number of children without strong male and female parent figures present to them on a consistent basis. They have brought up children who feel entitled to everything. "Who works for anything anymore? If mom or dad whine long enough or yell loud enough I won't have to do this or I'll just get that."
This is a generation craving boundaries and Orthodox Catholicism provides that. Othrodox Catholicsm provides absolutes and structure for a generation adrift. And Pope John Paul II was a powerful, holy grandfather figure: a member of the Greatest Generation (to use a popular phrase) who loved us not just for who we are, but for who we could be if we would turn away from what we know in our core is false and embrace Christ, the Truth, and the Church, His Bride. He helped us all see that happpiness comes from thinking of others first, not simply of ourselves and he challenged us to a humility many have not seen modeled by their parents.
And we do not all seek a return to the Church of the Lateran Council. We know that the Second Vatican Council did indeed breathe new life into the Catholic Church, and we could not go back even if we wanted to. And our hero, Pope John Paul II, was a driving force behind Vatican II and a major contributor to "Gaudeum et Spes."
Our problem is not with the Council. Our problem is that the wonderful roots of the Council were torn up and transplanted into some questionable soil. The tree is bearing some bad fruit and it's time to transplant it into good soil again. Eucmenism, in the sense of reuniting the Christian Churches, is good. Trying to splice non-christian faith practices into Holy Mother Church can only make her ill. We may have soemthing to learn from EAstern religions, Fr. O'Leary, but transplanting shades of Buddhism into the Catholic Church borders the heretical (See Fr. O'Leary's blogs for his Buddhism and forgiveness post, which I cannot insert since Blogger can't make that happen on a Mac).
The more I read his posts, the more I am reminded of a play I read in college. The name of it escapes me right now (apologies to DeSales Humanities chair Dr. Steve Myers, since I think I read the play for his class-maybe someone else can help a sister out?). It's an Irish play about a family of 2 sisters and a brother. The brother was a missionary priest who returns home pretty suddenly. Everyone wonders why. He seems a little off, buy physically he's pretty ok. Turns out, the priest assimilated the African tribal religions he encountered on his missions into Catholicsm and he was removed by his bishop. The problem with the priest in the play is that he chose to forget that there is "one holy catholic and apostolic church," and that not all faith traditions are created equal. Christianity is the true faith, the Catholic Church (Eastern Orthodox and Roman being each one of "two lungs," to quote JPII) is the one true Church. It is our duty as Christians to bring the good news of Chirst to our brothers and sisters the world over, but we are not to dilute the truth to get numbers.
I'm probably not as smart as Fr. O'Leary, and I am certainly not as well-studied as he is, but I think I make my point. I am not calling him out. I am simply defending my own good name, as well as the good names of the other "Neo-Caths." And while we're talking about it, can we please come up with a better nickname for ourselves?
Viva Christo Rey!