Maureen McHugh at A Religion of Sanity gives us a timely reminder that the stakes are much higher than we're accustomed to thinking they are:
One of the things that I like to keep in mind is that the American Catholic Civil War is a major front in a global conflict between the Culture of Life and the culture of death. It should be viewed in this light rather than as a discrete power struggle for control of the Church in America. The culture of death would love to enlist the American Church on its side of this larger war...much as they have now enlisted the American Episcopal Church. . . . If this is not possible, the servants of death want to destroy the Catholic Church in America or at least sideline Her.I wonder how coincidental it might be that the "erosion" of American Catholicism began accelerating just as the United States became a super-power. And on the principle that the devil never provides a temptation without also conveniently providing a ruinous "solution," Maureen offers some thoughts of great value for conservative Catholics:
. . .the servants of death want to destroy the Catholic Church in America or at least sideline Her. It seems to me that far too many American Catholics are playing into their hands . . .Her whole essay is well worth reading. Especially the last question. If your bishop called you on the phone at 2:00 o'clock in the morning and told you to go to a streetcorner 150 miles away, what would you do?
. . . When the left shifted the discourse to the issue of "abuse of power", most conservatives jumped on the liberal bandwagon. Most are still riding that bandwagon. In doing so, they are accepting liberal premises, structures, definitions and tactics. . . .
. . . It is an article of our Catholic faith that you don't have to be Catholic to agree with the teachings of the Church on these issues. To be Catholic is to do more than this. It includes submission to the authority of the Church. . . .
In the period prior to the Vatican Council, the Church in America exercised a similar authority over Her people. Bishop Hughes was able to threaten the mayor of New York with a 1000 unruly Irishmen guarding his churches. He had called on his people and he was sure of their response. These men weren't saints. Some may have been scoundrels. But, they were Catholic; they held to the Church; they responded to Her call. I would be surprised to find an American bishop today who would have the audacity of Bishop Hughes. Our bishops are not fools. They know that their people can no longer be counted upon in this manner.
Before arguing that the Bishops are responsible for the current state of affairs, you might consider whether you yourself would be welcoming of such stringent discipline. . . . .
I think this "obedience issue" has the potential to rip the heart out of the movement to restore/preserve the Church in the United States. Maybe the current blogosphere discussion about obedience, parts of which can be found at Disputations, Dappled Things, Dyspeptic Mutterings and Bettnet is one of the most useful things "orthodox activists" can be doing right now.