(WSJ) - Mary Daly, a retired professor at Boston College who was probably the most outré of all the dissident theologians who came to the fore of Catholic intellectual life in the years right after the Second Vatican Council, died on Jan. 3 at age 81. Back in the 1960s and 1970s, which might be called the golden age of Catholic dissidence, theologians who took positions challenging traditional church teachings—ranging from the authority of the pope to bans on birth control, premarital sex, and women's ordination—dominated Catholic intellectual life in America and Europe. They seemed to represent a tide that would overwhelm the old restrictions and their hidebound adherents.THE CATHOLIC KNIGHT: What we're seeing here is the realignment of the 21st century beginning to take shape. After the turbulent cultural chaos of the late 20th century, the dust is finally beginning to settle, and what we see emerging is a very different world.
Now, 45 years after Vatican II concluded in 1965, most of those bright lights of dissident Catholicism—from the theologian Hans Küng of the University of Tübingen to Charles Curran, the priest dismissed from the Catholic University of America's theology faculty in 1987 for his advocacy of contraception and acceptance of homosexual relationships—seem dimmed with advanced age, if not extinguished. They have left no coherent second generation of dissident Catholic intellectuals to follow them....
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Here is how it breaks down. The cultural upheaval of the late 20th century (1960s - 1990s) was society wide. It effected just about every aspect of western civilization, and had a minimal influence on eastern civilization (Russia & Eastern Europe). Some say it was actually planned this way, as a communist plot to undermine the moral foundation of the Western allies during the Cold War. Perhaps there is some truth to this. If that were the case however, it seems to have backfired at least to some degree, as Russia and Eastern Europe are now having to deal with some of the same cultural rot our Western civilization has been dealing with for decades. Regardless of the cause, the ultimate blame lies squarely at our own feet. Nobody put a gun to the head of western civilization. We collectively embraced this garbage with open arms back during the 1960s and 70s. Now we pay the price for it on a social level and in the realm of government.
As for Christianity, the social upheaval of the late 20th century marked the beginning of the realignment of Western denominations, and the beginning of the collapse of Protestantism in general. What we are seeing in our time is the failure of the Reformation experiment, as Protestant denominations slowly work their way into the ash heap of history. It began in the late 1960s and continued throughout the 1990s. This was the rise of nondenominational and unaffiliated mega-churches. Their emergence marked a massive cultural shift in the Protestant world, which was the result of disaffected Protestants leaving their traditional mainline denominations behind. Why? The main reason for this was the influence of liberal Modernism. As Modernism crept into the mainline denominations, causing many of them to adopt more socially liberal views toward contraception, abortion, homosexuality and gay-marriage, a good portion of traditional Protestants just did what Protestants do best. They left their churches and started new ones. Some recreated their previous Christian traditions, as is evidenced by the emergence of the continuing Anglican bodies, and the International Churches of Christ. Some of them broke free of all denominational connections whatsoever, creating new loose affiliations, or else maintaining complete autonomy as individual free congregations. This largely become known as the "evangelical movement" and today popularly falls under the designation of Evangelicalism. These are essentially "spiritual refugees" from the old mainline Protestant denominations, made up of Protestants who refused to cave into the liberal Modernist trends permeating the culture and invading the mainline Protestant churches.
So now as the dust settles from the cultural chaos of the late 20th century, what we see on the Protestant side of Western Christianity as the fall of mainline Protestant denominations. The more heavily the denomination was infected by liberal Modernism, the more it struggles to survive as memberships dwindle. Liberal Protestant denominations have found a way to keep their influence over government and culture for a short time, by engaging in a false sort of ecumenism, which allows them to combine their churches together without dissolving their structure. This will work for a while, but in time their numbers will dwindle still more and within a decade we will begin to see the selling of properties just to pay the bills. If the Evangelicals can just hang in there long enough, they may soon be able to buy back their old church buildings.
On the Catholic side the dust is only beginning to settle. Catholicism suffered it's wake up call in 2003 with the clergy sex-abuse and cover-up scandal in the United States. Since then similar scandals have been emerging in the Catholic Church within other Western nations. All of this marking the fruit of liberal Modernism's influence on the Catholic clergy and institutions. Once again, Liberal Modernism within religion has proved to be a colossal failure of epic proportions. The difference between the Catholic world and the Protestant world is the way it's handled. Within the Protestant world we saw a mass exodus, from the 1960s through 1990s, away from the mainline denominations and into unaffiliated nondenominational mega-churches. In other words, the conservatives bolted. In the Catholic world however, we see a quiet behind-the-scenes cleanup detail which involves the early retirement of some Catholic bishops, the inquisition of various religious orders, and the emergence of new traditionally orthodox Catholic orders. Some examples of the latter include the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter (FSSP), the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest (ICKSP), Latin mass societies of all sorts, Opus Dei, accompanied by new socially conservative orders and societies backed by the pope and high ranking officials within the Church. The emergence of the Anglican Use Pastoral Provision in 1980 illustrated one way in which the rejection of liberal Modernism in the Protestant world resulted in convergence with those who rejected liberal Modernism within the Catholic Church. Pope Benedict XVI's creation of the Anglican ordinariates (Anglicanorum Coetibus) within the Catholic Church in November of 2009 solidified this trend. Ordinariates operate a lot like diocese with their own ordinary bishop, and function in parallel to a regular Catholic diocese. In effect, the ordinariates create a kind of friendly competition with regular Catholic diocese, squeezing out the influence of liberal Modernist clergy. This combined with the pope's freeing of the old Latin Mass through his motu proprio entitled Summorum Pontificum, effectively creates a tectonic shift in the direction of the Catholic Church. Momentum is slow, but the course correction is unstoppable.
Now as we enter the second decade of the third millennium, the dust begins to settle from the cultural upheaval of the second half of the 20th century. The Western world that emerges looks something like this....
- The government institutions of Western republics and parliamentary democracies have been irreparably damaged, twisted, and have become the strongholds of liberal Modernism.
- Western entertainment and institutes of education have also been damaged beyond recognition.
- Mainline Protestant denominations are disintegrating, slowly, but with increasing intensity.
- The liberal Protestant solution to disintegration is more liberalism, proving they are unable to learn from historical mistakes, but are slowly attracting liberal Catholics disaffected by the traditional orthodox trends emerging in the Catholic Church.
- Evangelical mega-churches have emerged as spiritual refugee camps for disaffected Protestants, but promise little in the way of long-term spiritual development.
- Many Protestants are beginning to rethink the Reformation as new doors open up for reconciliation with the Catholic Church.
In actually, what we really have with these "councils" is the emergence of a schismatic movement, which will eventually find preservation of their liberal ideology impossible in the rising Catholic orthodoxy. When this happens, they will follow the Protestant model and break away. In other words, in the Catholic Church it is the liberals who will soon bolt. When (not if) this happens, we can expect to see the creation of some kind of "Progressive Catholic Church" which will stand in contrast to the Roman Catholic Church, and quickly absorb what remains of liberal Protestantism, or else be absorbed by some larger liberal Protestant coalition, depending on whatever group is larger at the time.
Within another ten years, as the dust of the late 20th century cultural revolution settles completely, what we will see will be much more clear....
- A revived Catholic Church that is traditionally orthodox, reunifying with the eastern Orthodox churches, and reviving the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church of the early the middle ages.
- The emergence of a schismatic and heretical counter "catholic church" spearheaded by American and European liberals.
- The disintegration of mainline Protestant denominations and absorption of these remnants into the heretical and schismatic counter "catholic church," or else vice versa, depending on the size of the schismatic group coming out of the Roman Catholic Church.
- The stagnation and early signs of decay in the spiritual refugee camps of Evangelical nondenominational mega-churches, causing many Evangelicals to rethink the entire Protestant Reformation.
- Persecution of traditionally orthodox Christians by liberal government establishments as a last dying gasp of liberal Modernism in the western world.
- The rise of Islam in Europe and Canada as a result of Liberal Modernist influences, marking the epic catastrophic failure of Liberal Modernism in the Western world.
In the mean time, let us enjoy the revival of traditionally orthodox Catholicism under the reign of Pope Benedict XVI and do everything we can to expedite the process of traditional orthodox renewal in our Catholic parishes and dioceses.