Shrewd as Serpents, Innocent as Doves
Anyone who has attended a “dissident Catholic” function in the past decade could not have helped noting that the vast majority of participants were aging greyheads. Call to Action, the one-time standard bearer for left-leaning Catholicism in the U.S., is especially anemic. Made up largely of laicized priests and disgruntled ex-nuns, it seems that great numbers of them have long since passed on to their eternal reward. Gone are the days of the 1960s-style protest (which clipped along through the 1970s and 1980s, looking quite silly by century’s end). That’s not to say we’re now living in some Catholic utopia. We are not, and we never will be.
Nevertheless, it is well worth observing that those who are now joining organized Catholic “movements,” lobbying arms, and devotional groups — all of which have a very different focus from previous decades — are not only younger, but are more faithful and more educated about the faith. Orthodoxy seems to matter. Fidelity to the Church, her teachings, and her authentic traditions seem to appeal, to attract — one might even say orthodoxy is chic these days. Limping liberalism, on the other hand, is merely an outdated fad.
One focus of the younger orthodox Catholic set is the responsible use of media to promote accurate representations of Church teaching and practices. Lord knows, the mass media — whether television or radio or newspapers or Internet hooligans — has long had it all muddled up. So much misinformation; so little time. That’s why it’s heartening to see among the throngs at least a few Catholic bloggers who function as competent and effective media watchdogs. Though NOR isn’t too keen on the me-me-me blogger complex so rampant in the Internet universe — yes, even among Catholic bloggers — some highly qualified spokesmen have emerged on the scene and are getting noticed and called for quotes in their areas of expertise. Fr. John Zulsdorf, for example, blogs every hour or so on liturgical issues from his home base in Rome, and canonist Edward Peters blogs on issues involving the nuances of Church law. Both are joined by other well-qualified orthodox Catholics who seem quite zealous about defending the faith against constant misrepresentation in the media — a happy trend indeed, even amid all the stuffed bloviators intent on pumping hot air into the blogosphere 24/7.
Much more interesting and influential, however, are those Catholics who have found their way into the more traditional forms of media. The recent papal visit to Great Britain provides an excellent example. Announcement of the watershed trip earlier this year provoked a barrage of cranky reaction from the ailing anti-Catholic media establishment in the U.K. When they weren’t busy obsessing over planning minutiae — how much the government was spending for security measures and what spectators were banned from bringing to papal events — they looked to secularist celebrities when they wanted a comment about Pope Benedict XVI. They knew someone like Christopher Hitchens would oblige: Invariably, he’ll be controversial, forthright, and unabashedly bigoted against all things Catholic. Though suffering from an enormous malignant tumor, Hitchens somehow found the time and energy to rage against the Pope, accusing him of crimes against humanity and even calling for his arrest once His Holiness set foot on British soil.
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