If Only the Church Were More Episcopalian!


Annie Selak, Jesuit trained lay ministress, wishes that the Church were more like that La Brea Tar Pits of a church, the Episcopalian Church.  Christopher Johnson, a non-Catholic who has taken up the cudgels so frequently in defense of the Faith that I have designated him Defender of the Faith, gives her a fisking to remember:

Any period between popes is always an exciting one for liberals, particularly liberal Catholics.  Leftist manifestoes concerning what the new pope and the Church MUST DO NOW are more numerous than snowflakes in a thundersnow, all of which, as David Fischler correctly points out, can be summed up as advancing the project to turn the Roman Catholic Church into the Episcopal Organization.  Annie Selak weighs in on behalf of Young Catholics.  What kind of Roman Catholic Church do Catholic kids want anyway?

A church that takes our experience seriously: If you dig through church teaching, you can see that experience is a valid and necessary aspect of forming conscience. However, it does not feel like that is the case. Whether it is the sexual abuse crisis or new translation of the Roman Missal, the church seems distant from what is actually going on in the world. We want the church to ask the questions we are asking, rather than ones that seem trivial at best and irrelevant at worst. Catholicism can recover from mistakes, but one thing the church cannot recover from is being irrelevant.

Three things, Annie.  Why should the Church ask the questions Young Catholics are asking?  Seems kind of redundant.  What makes the “experience” of Young Catholics so vital anyway insofar as Young Catholics haven’t had all that much of it?

What kinds of questions is the church asking that you believe are “trivial at best and irrelevant at worst?”  That stuff about sin and redemption?  And in case you think that whole “turning the Catholic Church Episcopalian” idea is hyperbole, Annie’s very next paragraph could have been written by Katharine Jefferts Schori.

A church that emphasizes the inclusive ministry of Jesus: Jesus was incredible, right? Why is it that we so rarely hear about that? Jesus consistently reached out to those marginalized from the community, yet the church does not follow suit. Who are the marginalized today? Most young Catholics are quick to point to two groups: women and people who do not identify as heterosexual. Regardless of political leanings, there is an overwhelming consensus that the church needs to do better in these areas. The Vatican has repeatedly shut down any dialogue surrounding the ordination of women and church teaching on homosexuality. At the very least, these issues need to be opened up to a thoughtful, informed dialogue that includes historical analysis, social sciences, tradition and Scripture (notably, all areas the church affirms in the formation of conscience). There is an urgency to these issues, as these are not nameless people on the margins, these are our friends, family members, mentors,and leaders. One of the things that draws young people to the Gospel is the inclusivity of Jesus; how is it that the exclusivity of the church turns people away?

Yes, by all means, the Roman Catholic Church should have a “thoughtful, informed dialogue” about these matters since it has never, ever considered these issues before.  What Annie means, of course, is that the Church came to the wrong conclusions and needs to come to different ones.  Therefore we need continuing, relentless, brain-dead “thoughtful, informed dialogue” until the Church gets its head out of its narthex.

A church that embraces that God is everywhere: The younger generation of the church resonates with the universal notion of Catholicism. We see diversity and unity as two concepts that go together, rather than being opposites. Moreover, we recognize the importance of other religions. Some of Pope Benedict XVI’s biggest missteps related to his interactions with other religions. But young Catholics have grown up alongside people from different religions who are some of the holiest people we know. Nostra Aetate , Vatican II’s “Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions” affirms that God is present in other religions, yet you would be hard-pressed to find anyone in the pews on a Sunday morning who knows this. We need to affirm and emphasize that God is present in other religions and sincerely work on improving our relationships with them.

Face?  Keyboard?  You know the drill.  Mrs. Schori’s “small box” line?  Front and center.  I’ll let the Catholic readership determine exactly how badly Annie mangled Nostra Aetate.  I’ll just say once again that given the choice between performing meaningless rituals in Annie’s ideal, high-church universalist Catholic Church and sleeping late on Sunday mornings, I expect to hit the snooze button a lot.

Go here to read the brilliant rest.  You know, one of the things that I have noticed as a member of the laity for 56 years and counting are that people who make their living off the Church, or wish to make their living off the Church, are often those enamored of ditching the teachings of Christ for the intellectual prejudices of the day.  CS Lewis noted the same thing before the Anglican Church left Christianity all together.  I have always remembered his observation:

And here at the outset I must deal with an unpleasant business. It seems to the layman that in the Church of England we often hear from our priests doctrine which is not Anglican Christianity. It may depart from Anglican Christianity in either of two ways: (1) It may be so ‘broad’ or ‘liberal’ or ‘modern’ that it in
fact excludes any real Supernaturalism and thus ceases to be Christian at all. (2) It may, on the other hand, be Roman. It is not, of course, for me to define to you what Anglican Christianity is—I am your pupil, not your teacher.
But I insist that wherever you draw the lines, bounding lines must exist, beyond which your doctrine will cease either to be Anglican or to be Christian: and I suggest also that the lines come a great deal sooner than many modern priests think. I think it is your duty to fix the lines clearly in your own minds: and
if you wish to go beyond them you must change your profession. This is your duty not specially as Christians or as priests but as honest men.


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Donald R. McClarey

Cradle Catholic. Active in the pro-life movement since 1973. Father of three and happily married for 35 years. Small town lawyer and amateur historian. Former president of the board of directors of the local crisis pregnancy center for a decade.


  1. Dear Mr. McClarey,

    You have done a great service here. In particular, thank you for direct quote, “We see diversity and unity as two concepts that go together, rather than being opposites.”

    I could not write a better parody of a sneak trying to fool the reader than that one, perfectly nonsensical line. The rest is just as bad, or worse. Directly quoting these “Christians” is the best way to refute them.

    Good job.

  2. If only all the Kumbaya!-Obama-worshippers were Episcopalians!

    Next time have to you talk at a liberal, if you must, ask the following, “How is Ayn Rand always correct about everything?”

  3. I don’t even think the liberals believe the sort of clap-trap they are spouting. It’s just a tool to use. I don’t think these activists even consider themselves Catholic. They’ll just say they are because they think it gives them “street cred”. She said they were part of “Blessed by Default” which was “interdenominational”. In other words, it’s useful (read “dishonest”) to say they are Catholic, but they’re not really Catholic. Likewise the “wymyn priest” says her ordination is “valid” but not recognized. Really? Really? So if I get a judge to swear me in I can be President! I think I’ve solved the Obama problem!

    I would advise anyone watching the video to turn it off before they start singing. It’s awful. You can’t un-hear that.

  4. Ugh. I almost didn’t watch it but couldn’t resist. Wow, what patience was shown with these women! I’ll echo Alphatron Shinyskullus’s great closing line: “I would advise anyone watching the video to turn it off before they start singing. It’s awful. You can’t un-hear that.”

  5. “Ayn Rand is correct about very little. She can offer critiques, but no solutions.”

    true. it’s one of those things where particular types of radicalism can be interesting reading and offer unique insights, but when it comes to the ideology as a whole, not acceptable

    sometimes stuff like this can be gateways toward thinking about other ideologies though. i have a cousin who defended Rand before as a sort of gateway out of liberalism for young people. you just don’t wanna go all in

  6. I think this is about a stance originating in the 60’s, and I’m incredibly surprised at its lifespan. I wonder how much mileage remains.

  7. To choose one line; “The church should reach out”. Yes we should evangelize (reach out), one on one and talk to lapsed and non-Catholics. Yes many liberals forget the line about repentance, but we need to call everyone back home. After working with hurting youth for over a decade I can tell you we have what they are looking for and need. How will they find it if we don’t tell them? Please read George Weigle’s most recent book.

  8. Weigel’s recent articles are great. Regarding these liberal “christians”, they will never totally die out here on earth. The press loves to give them air time to stir the pot. We have to be loving and patient all the same. One aspect of our eternal reward may be that not all of these “christians” will be in heaven with us. How sad. Life is short. Heaven is for eternity. Try to listen to these “christians” but don’t take them too seriously.

  9. These people all want to act in Persona Christi, in the Person of Jesus Christ, but they will not accept and practice perfect obedience to our Father, WHO is in heaven, and Holy Mother Church. They want to be Holy Mother Church without the sacrifice, without the humility, without the repentance.

    The Sacrament of Reconciliation is another sticking point in their craw. They do not believe in penance practiced through obedience.

  10. The same Anglican-Episcoplian order that bows down to political leaders and whose bishop claims “Whatever the theological principle on which people acted and spoke, the fact remains that a great deal of this discussion is not intelligible to our wider society.”

    Let’s be clear here. These liberal Catholics aren’t just little lost souls. They are that, but they are also surrogates for the princes and principalities of the political order and wider society that aims to force Catholics to bow down.
    These surrogates have been indoctrinated, promoted, and defended to attain the media heights and favorable attention they receive. We are in a war here. Our enemies will not fight fair. But we will always have, if we remain faithful to God, Truth. Breathe in me, O Holy Spirit, that I know what is holy…

  11. Keep on trying, you guys. Damascus Roads and all that. And if it never happens, at least know this. To paraphrase Mr. Churchill’s remark about the Church of England, while I may never be a pillar of the Roman Catholic Church, I can at least be a flying buttress and support it from the outside.

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