March 13 marks the 10th anniversary of Jorge Mario Bergoglio’s election as Pope Francis. During the past decade Catholics have brought divisions from political arena into the pews. They are divided over cultural issues, including LGBTQ inclusion, abortion, divorce, and climate change. Join a panel of world-renowned journalists to learn how to begin healing the fractured church on Monday, March 13, 2023 at 6:30 p.m. at the Featherston Life Sciences Building Auditorium.
The panel includes: Joe Ferullo, CEO and publisher of National Catholic Reporter; Christopher White, Vatican correspondent for NCR; Michael Sean Winters, author of Left At the Altar: How Democrats Lost the Catholics and How Catholics Can Save the Democrats; Nancy Pineda-Madrid, chair of Catholic Theology, LMU and vice president of the Catholic Theological Society of America; and Gabrielle Poma, M.A. ’24, pastoral theology.
LMU This Week sat down with the moderator of this event, Carol Costello, special advisor, journalism instructor, and former CNN anchor, to discuss this panel.
LMUTW: Why are we hosting the National Catholic Reporter event at LMU?
Carol Costello: We were approached by the National Catholic Reporter. They are very interested in working with universities like LMU because we are Jesuit and Marymount, and we have a social justice message. It’s very much along the lines of their own reporting. The NCR strives to write articles about the same sorts of things that we are concerned about as a Jesuit and Marymount institution. Why are young people leaving the Church? How can we bring them back? The Church is so split along political lines. Will it remain that way forever? How can we heal that divide? The NCR is very interested in focusing on stories about these topics. They are interested in mining our resources, quite frankly, because we have the best Jesuit minds in the world. So, why not work with LMU to try to solve some of these problems, or at least to gather information to write about it from our panel.
LMUTW: Why do you think the Catholic Church is divided? How did we get to this point?
CC: We are going to talk a lot about that at the event. But I think what exacerbated it is our politics. There are Trump Republicans who are Catholic, and there are more progressive Catholics who go along the lines of Joe Biden, or even further to the left. These divisions within the Church are as entrenched as they are in the political world. That makes me unbelievably sad because politics shouldn’t play a part in our religion. But, today it certainly does.
I’ve heard from so many Catholics who have just given up on healing the division in the Church because they say it’s pointless. The conservative Catholics focus on one set of issues. The progressive Catholics focus on another set of issues, and they just don’t want to meet in the middle. It’s harming our faith and it’s harming our Church. Our young people want to find a safe place to go in the Church, because I don’t think they feel safe anymore. Some feel they are constantly judged for the way they choose to invite people in instead of leave certain people out.
LMUTW: It sounds as if conservative and progressive Catholics are polarized. Yet, the Catholic faith teaches people to listen and have compassionate hearts.
CC: I mean, that’s the central question. What is the definition of a compassionate heart today? What is it? Is it allowing, for example, gay people into the Catholic faith, so that they can at least have a safe place to go to worship? Or is it keeping them out? Because that’s a sin in the eyes of the Catholic Church. What is a compassionate heart?
The weirdest thing that is happening now in the Catholic Church is the bishops versus the pope. We would have never heard that when we were growing up. We listened to the pope, he was the leader of our faith, our Church, and he still is. But he’s getting harsh criticism from within and it’s disturbing, because when that happens, who do Catholics believe their leader is? It’s really confusing, and I think that that is even more confusing for young people….
Full story at LMU Newsroom.
Of course, it takes “a panel of world-renowned journalists to learn how to begin healing the fractured church.” Where would the faith be without CNN and the National Catholic Distorter? And, while an encyclical like Humanae Vitae is ignored and ridiculed, everything said by the current Pope on an airplane is virtually infallible. Honestly, do you really expect people to look to a Semitic male construction worker for healing? Even if he is the Divine Physician, he didn’t even go to divinity school. He was home schooled by a Jewish mother and a builder named Joe. If only he’d gone to LMU, he could’ve gotten a BA degree in dance with a certificate in climate change, an MA in yoga studies and a doctorate in educational leadership for social justice.
Loved your post. Oh, what a laugh! Thanks.
The mockery doesn’t help! The Church is divided at the edges. The world is changing quickly but the Church isn’t meeting the new needs of the people. That doesn’t mean that we need to change the teachings of the Church, but we better find a new way to present them and make them relevant to the folks out there. Maybe the most important point mentioned in the article is that the right wing and the left wing are not willing to meet in the middle. We can walk and chew gum at the same time. We can be orthodox and fight for justice. We can prefer our own version of the Mass and still have compassion for the poor. We can sign traditional hymns and modern hymns and still be reverent at Mass. We can attend Mass in gothic cathedrals or modern buildings and still have attended Mass. We can support the Church’s teachings about abortion and still be caring to mothers who need to abort to save their own lives. But, too often we don’t ask why people don’t go to church. We need to ask them what draws them away. What turns them off? They, in their opinion, have gotten along fine with God, why should they change? I know why I think they should build a relationship with Christ, but I was trained that way. At some point, competitive soccer on Sunday morning became more important than going to church. We should ask the parents why that came about. We won’t find the answers in one-liners.
The Church desperately needs good discipline, and a good, traditional Catholic way of life. We are the baptized People of God. Not the unbaptized, secular, worldly people, pagans, who do not know Christ. Christ said, “a man cannot serve two masters.” The modern Church needs to dump the world– and return fully to her Master, Jesus Christ. As Christians, we are called to work to bring Christ into the dark, sinful, broken world, and help improve it, help build His Kingdom.
Bob One, LMU is presenting ridiculous ideas. Is it wrong to ridicule the ridiculous?
For most of her life, Ms. Costello was not a practicing Catholic and appears to have no theological formation.
And, do you think that her husband being the president of LMU had nothing to do with her getting this gig?
” Maybe the most important point mentioned in the article is that the right wing and the left wing are not willing to meet in the middle.” Bob One, What I struggled with in reading the article is 1. how the middle is defined, ie, where is it and how do we get there, and 2. Is the middle ground, if it is defined, the place we really want to go? On point 1, for example, you say “We can be orthodox and fight for justice,” as if that constitutes right and left coming together. But that does not signify any middle ground between those who are orthodox and those of the NCR crowd who reject various teachings of the Church. With regard to orthodoxy, there is no movement of either group toward a supposed middle, whatever that may be. With regards to justice, each side may have a different conception of what constitutes justice, and the differences may be irreconcilable. With regards to point 2, to say the truth is midway between right and left is itself a logical fallacy. If orthodoxy is true, then any deviation from it represents falsehood.
To the degree that the bishops are in contention, that is the degree to which the Truth of the Apostolic tradition is now in question. The Apostolic tradition should be the focal point for everyone, right and left.
Apostolic Tradition is not in question. It has the same Source as Holy Scripture – God Himself.
If orthodoxy is truth then any deviation represents falsehood. Yes, I agree. The problem for many in the Church is the definition of orthodox. Too often, IMO, it devolves into a culture war. Too often, IMO, too many define orthodox as the style of Mass that they prefer. I’ve been a Catholic for 80-plus years, and I find it hard to define Catholic based on culture wars. Vatican II was in 1964. That is 59 years ago. Let’s just say that 99%+ of Catholics under the age of 60 have never attended a TLM and those who have can’t remember it. That doesn’t make them less Catholic. I was in a group of friends a few years ago discussing “church stuff.” I asked how many had attended a TLM. Not one hand went up. Well, actually, one hand did go up – she wanted to know what a traditional Latin mass was, did they really use Latin? The thing is, everyone agrees that we should help the poor, we should lead good lives, should show respect for everyone, etc. That includes all of those who don’t look or believe as we do. The good nuns taught me that we are all born in the goodness and likeness of God… We need to recognize that and move on.
Orthodox means conforming to the Church’s teaching. Heterodox means not conforming to the Church’s teaching.
At this point it is almost impossible to find someone that is 100% orthodox but you will find many people who, when instructed, will conform to the Church’s teaching.
So at this point, orthodox means you will conform to what the Church says because the Church says it, even if you are ignorant on some points.
Heterodox means you know the Church’s teaching and reject or resist it.
I was in a group of friends a few years ago discussing “church stuff.” I asked how many had attended a TLM. Not one hand went up. This is no surprise. Perhaps you should have asked, things like, why is the Church in the West shrinking, while those in Africa who are far more orthodox is growing. Also you could have asked why are young folks attracted to the TLM. My parish had over 100 in attendance and the church building is not big.
The thing is, everyone agrees that we should help the poor, agreed but not with a welfare state that robs them of dignity which we have done.
We should lead good lives, ah the open ended word “good” that means different things to different. Leftists think abortion and sodomy, are good when they are not.
We should show respect for everyone, but in what way, affirming their sinful behavior?
I think it is the irony of an organization that was told decades ago to stop using the word “Catholic” in it’s name thinking they will come up with something that “heals” the Church that is a little weird.
On the culture wars, of which the panel on healing is a manifestation: here is a description of leftist thinking by a closeted Christian professor (called Kingsfield for convenience) at a top law school, the application of which is that elements of this thinking have seeped into the church:
“The sad thing,” he said, “is that the old ways of aspiring to truth, seeing all knowledge as part of learning about the nature of reality, they don’t hold. It’s all about power. They’ve got cultural power, and think they should use it for good, but their idea of good is not anchored in anything. They’ve got a lot of power in courts and in politics and in education. Their job is to challenge people to think critically, but thinking critically means thinking like them. They really do think that they know so much more than anybody did before, and there is no point in listening to anybody else, because they have all the answers, and believe that they are good.”
And what of Christianity, faced with this mindset?
He went on to say, of Christians:
“We have to fall back to defensive lines and figure out where those lines are. It’s not going to be persecution like the older Romans, or even communist Russia,” he added. “But what’s coming is going cause a lot of people to fall away from the faith, and we are going to have to be careful about how we define and clarify what Christianity is. If I were a priest or pastor, I don’t know what I would advise people about what to say and what not to say in public about their faith.”
“… Cultural pressure is going to radically reduce orthodox Christian numbers in the years go come. The meaning of what it means to be a faithful Christian is going to come under intense fire, Kingsfield said, not only from outside the churches, but from within. There will be serious stigma attached to standing up for orthodox teaching on homosexuality.”
“And if the bishops are like these Indiana bishops [who capitulated — RD], where does that leave us?” he said. “We have a problem in the current generation, but what I really worry about is what it means to transmit the faith to the next generation.”
I fear NCR would like nothing more than exert cultural pressure to morph orthodoxy into something akin to a Catholic version of liberal protestantism, and use the Jesuits to help the process along. I pray I am wrong.
Dan we are rapidly approaching this, rejoice, it will purify the Church.
For some reasons, I’m having flashbacks to when Maria Schreiver was on the cover of CATHOLIC DIGEST magazine c. Year 2000.