Thursday, August 02, 2007

Ned Flanders Vs. Mel Gibson?

Fr. John Zuhlsdorf at What Does The Prayer Really Say? posts a memo from the Bishop of Steubenville to priests in his diocese regarding Summorum Pontificum. The memo is sadly fearful and negative towards SP and includes a questionnaire priests who wish to celebrate the Extraordinary form of the Liturgy must fill out. Since Steubenville is home to the Franciscan University of Steubenville, the comments section quickly became home to various stories and comments on that school, until Fr. Z shut the comments down and told all to move along onto other things. The comments bring up a number of interesting things that have much to do with the situation in the Church today.

Basically, Steubenville is a small but growing Catholic college, that was pretty much the center of the "charismatic" movement in the 80's and 90's. The charismatic movement started in 1967 in Pittsburgh which is not far from Steubenville. The president of Steubenville, Fr. Scanlan, embraced the movement and that is widely credited with saving the University and keeping it afloat. Today, FUS is one of the schools considered really "Catholic" by most and therefore a top destination for theology majors and those serious about their faith. (A side discussion for many is whether the campus should become more "great books" oriented or more academically challenging) With the reputation for orthodoxy and strong faith life on campus, orthodox Catholics flock to FUS or send their children there. Now, there is a tension between more tradition minded students and faculty and those who favor the more charismatic aspects of the school. This tension is particularly seen in the discussion on Liturgy, and this same tension also exists in many parishes and dioceses. The split between the charismatic and traditional Catholics is not a bad thing, since each faction can generally co-exist peacefully.

As this article from Feb. 2000 by John Allen in the National Catholic Reporter points out, the tension has existed for years, and it continues as the charismatic influence is dwindling and the traditionalist influence is growing. The article is good although of course written with the standard liberal bias. The interesting thing about this intra-Church tension is that it is between two perfectly acceptable, good, and orthodox groups. Although each group has its cranks and crackpots, they are as a whole faithful Catholics. Quite a change from the previous years of Catholics fighting those within the Church who pushed for the Church to change her teachings.

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