The All-Wise Laity and Their Cheerleaders in the Priesthood

February 2002

St. Augustine’s Press, a new publisher in South Bend — in conjunction with the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars, the saving remnant of Catholic intelligence — has come out with a splendid book of essays called The Battle for the Catholic Mind, edited by William E. May and Kenneth D. Whitehead. As we were browsing through it we came to an attentive halt at an essay by Prof. Joyce A. Little, written back in 1987. She tells about an NBC News Special, aired on August 25, 1987, and hosted by Maria Shriver, anticipating Pope John Paul II’s second papal visit to the U.S. The essay is riveting — still.

As Little tells it: “In the opening segment from San Francisco, Fr. George Fitzgerald of Old St. Mary’s…, addressing the differences which American lay Catholics have with the papacy today, said: ‘I think that part of the reason why you experience the conflict in the American church is you have a very articulate, educated laity, and they’re simply saying, “We want to have an active part…in making some determinations about being Catholic.”’”

Prof. Little lets us listen in on some of the “very articulate, educated laity” featured on the program. Little’s favorite was Lennie from Los Angeles. Lennie, says Little, “articulated her educated faith as follows: ‘There are some doctrines, especially that the pope has come out in the last year or two…that I don’t feel good about…. homosexuality, birth control, artificial insemination — he’s…alienated a lot of very important, educated Catholic people.’”

Little comments: “Here sat I, with my doctorate in theology from a reputable American university, and somehow it had escaped my notice that the pope has spent the last couple of years fabricating doctrines…. Even worse…. I had actually been laboring for several years under the impression that this pope at least is himself an important and educated Catholic.”

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New Oxford Notes: February 2002

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