Some Are More Diverse Than Others

June 2000

In New Directions, a magazine put out by Evangelicals and Anglo-Catholics inside the Church of England, there appears a regular feature called “Letter from America” by David Mills, an American Episcopalian. In the March issue Mills tells of attending the annual prolife march in Washington, D.C., and finding that most of the marchers were of the “religious lower-middle class,” which he says is “the most socially and culturally marginalized group in America.”

Mills, a wordsmith of enviable ability, obviously chose the word “marginalized” on purpose, for here is how he concludes: “An Episcopalian is always being told about our responsibility to the marginalized and the need to listen to their voices, but you will not find people like those marching asked to join Episcopal committees where their voices might be heard. The approved list of marginalized groups does not include such people. That list includes racial minorities, the poor, and homosexuals…. But even that list has a further qualification. To have a voice that ‘needs to be heard,’ one must not only belong to an approved group but hold the approved opinions. The average liberal Episcopalian does not really care to hear the voices of black people, for example. He wants to hear the voices of black people who agree with him and who fit his idea of what a black person should be and do and say and think…. The majority of black people in America are pro-life. Theirs is not a voice that ‘needs to be heard,’ because they do not say what is wanted to be heard.”

This mentality appears to be alive and well among the faculty at many Catholic seminaries and among those who support business-as-usual in those seminaries, such as Sr. Katarina Schuth, who studied 42 seminaries and theologates, and reported her findings in synopsis form in America (Jan. 29-Feb.5 issue).

Schuth informs us that too many seminarians these days are too outspokenly traditional. She quotes an academic dean as saying, “The students who come with a rigid and narrow understanding of their faith…. feel quite free to defy faculty” and “tend to challenge any thought that does not correspond to their preconceived notions of church teachings.” Ah, lèse majesté! Schuth quotes a pastoral theologian as saying, “If we look at the range of seminarians, ideologically they tend to cluster to the right of center, while people in our parishes would be to the left…. I think we may be heading for a clash of ideologies.” Oh dear! What could be worse than challenging complacent American Catholics to get with the papal program!


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New Oxford Notes: June 2000

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