The Easter offensive against the Church has been unusually aggressive this year, and it’s lasting longer than usual. A sober response is naturally in order, and there are those who are providing it, but at bottom the attacks don’t bother me that much. Some reasons:
- The Church is well-founded. It has an explanation for what it is that is not self-defeating and ties into an overall explanation of the world that makes sense and explains what we need to have explained. The same is not true of liberal modernity. It follows that the Church will outlast liberal modernity. In the long run, views that don’t work don’t last.
- The attacks are patently unjust. The stuff that actually tells against the Church as a human institution (episcopal inaction, connivance, or even involvement in gross misconduct) is old news, and something’s actually been done about it. The claim that sexual abuse of young people is a special Catholic problem seems to be false, and the attempts to tie the problem to the Pope are obviously flimsy and agenda-driven. So if this is the worst they can say about us, we’re in great shape.
- The Church should not be respectable, certainly not in the world as it is now. After Vatican II the impression somehow got around that the Church and the dominant forces in modern life are in sync, so we should go with the flow, get with the program, and join in the common effort to turn the world into a this-worldly habitat for man. The result is that the Church forgot what it is and became the proponent of causes not its own. That’s bad, and the more glaringly obvious it becomes that the Church is not on the same page as the EU and The New York Times—and that the latter characteristically act in disgraceful ways—the better.
- In fact, the Church seems to be reverting, however slowly, to type. The Vatican II generation is aging and leaving no successors. The living part of the Church is re-appropriating tradition—that is, what the Church has always been. And the Pope is at least head and shoulders above other world leaders, who seem on the whole to be mediocrities lurching from fantasy to fantasy and expedient to expedient.
Notes: For some reasons for saying the Church is well-founded while liberal modernity is not, see my book or this essay. For discussion and links to discussions of the recent attacks on the Pope see this weblog—scan the categories for those that seem relevant.