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Martin’s “Catholic Alt-Right”: The Slander Of A Weak Argument

December 5, 2018 Frontpage No Comments

By SHAUN KENNEY

Allow me to continue my admiration/bewilderment relationship with Fr. James Martin, SJ, vis-à-vis his characterization of his critics as the “Catholic alt-right” — a title that most likely is intended to extend to this publication, but for whom Martin reserved for his troika of critics: Church Militant, LifeSiteNews, and the Lepanto Institute.
NBC News didn’t exactly do a full-length article on this, but it will be just enough for Martin to carry back to Fr. Antonio Spadaro, SJ, at the Vatican communications office and share with folks at La Croix International, a French-based site designed to be a simulacrum of what the “reformers of the reform” see in their critics.
Of course, the media do not exactly go hunting for these stories. Was the article planted? Some of us have been around the block long enough to know that it likely was, and that Fr. Martin was more than happy to throw bundles of kindling onto the fire in quick succession.
The instigation for this tête-à-tête was the firing of a known homosexual employed by a parish inside the Diocese of San Diego. Naturally, both Fr. Martin and our crusading Catholic media would take an interest in such a story.
James Joyce writes in the classic Finnegan’s Wake that the Catholic Church carries the definition of “here comes everybody.” It is a line that Fr. Richard John Neuhaus of First Things reminded his readers of time and time again.
Martin claims to embrace this ideal in his effort to “build a bridge” between the Catholic Church and the LBGTQI+A (did I get all the letters?) community, all the while very careful to demonstrate his orthodoxy by producing his op-ed in America when challenged by men such as Bishop Joseph Strickland of Tyler, Texas.
So when these articles come out on the NBC News website with Fr. Martin comparing his critics to the alt-right? Three things become prominently clear to even the mildly interested Catholic reader.
First and foremost, the “alt-right” has a definition. These people believe in racially homogenous communities and will tolerate no rivals within that community. It is a “blood and soil” idea that is fueled in no small part by the Russian government and the French nouvelle droite in a continuation of the French Revolution’s idea of nationhood. Full stop.
Second, there is nothing — and I mean, nothing — consonant with an authentically Catholic faith and the alt-right. For others to throw that charge at Catholics who are seeking answers and bewildered as the Magisterium teaches us to live one way while others either bend those rules (as Fr. Martin does), break them (as Cupich and Wuerl seem bent on doing), or violate them entirely (as McCarrick did) is mind blowing to the rest of us. Do we have to become worldlier to become more Catholic? Is that what Christ asks of us?
Third and last, this bitter and spiteful side of Fr. Martin is nothing more than a caricature of what he believes his detractors to be. More to the point, it is not who Fr. Martin actually is if his previous books on Jesuit spirituality are any indicator of what he believes at core.
Naturally, “here comes everybody” isn’t exactly Scripture. Nor is it Tradition. One is emphatic that we want those who are sinners to come into the Church, as we are indeed a hospital for sinners and not a museum of saints. We come to the Church not because we are perfect, but because we seek to be sanctified.
One searches the Gospels to find the passage where Christ contacted the Acta Diurna and dropped a dime on Pontius Pilate just before heading to Gethsemane. Right action doesn’t need propaganda; it merely needs to be stated clearly.
If there is anyone in the Vatican or at the USCCB listening? We are asking for clarity, not a 20-year fistfight where we get to pick sides and thump our chests as the political religions tear apart the mission and life of the Catholic Church. Actions such as these scream weakness on the part of Fr. Martin, and betray not only a lack of confidence in his own argument but a certain tickling sensation that maybe — just maybe — his critics are more right than he cares to confess.

+ + +

Loyola University in Chicago has been sending my son a great deal of literature as of late. Too bad the Jesuit university has been checked off the list for targeting pro-life students and faculty.
Professor David Inczauskis — also a Jesuit — posted the bad news via social media that pro-life fliers were torn apart all around campus at Loyola. “I invite our opponents to dialogue with us instead of destroying our materials,” he wrote, according to LifeNews on November 15.

+ + +

Disheartening news out of Catholic University as Dr. Will Rainford of the National Catholic School of Social Sciences will be stepping down as dean to go on sabbatical before returning to the faculty next year. Such was the compromise after students and faculty attacked him (both overtly and covertly) for expressing his displeasure over l’affaire Kavanaugh.
Of course, CUA could have fired him outright. Such would have been the reaction from 95 percent of America’s colleges and universities in today’s climate of truthspeak. So in some ways, it is a minor mercy that Rainford will remain at America’s flagship Catholic university.
Yet color me just slightly confused at this new trend of student activism. Professors have been heaping their opinions on students for the last five decades in the name of “free speech liberalism” to create an environment where students with a less-than-liberal viewpoint have been mercilessly blacklisted. Now professors are to endure likewise?
One might argue that these students need to grow up and learn to disagree honorably, just like adults do in the real world. Sadly, this might be the wrong perspective. These so-called future leaders are teaching us about the world that is to come. One is instantly reminded of those who kept diaries under totalitarian regimes in order to preserve their own rights of conscience in the face of those who insist that truthspeak and correct thinking are moral virtues.
Such are the times.

+ + +

Speaking of things that offend, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish thumped the Syracuse Orangemen by a score of 36-3.
One might be surprised to learn that Syracuse no longer goes by the name the Orangemen (or Orangewomen) but rather simply the Orange. Turns out, the old moniker was called the Saltine Warrior until 1982, when the Indian warrior was deemed to be racist. Thus the title “Orangemen” and “Orangewomen” became the midwife to the supposedly non-racist and entire innocuous Orange.
Now allow me just a moment to be Irish enough to point out that the Orange Order is commonly thought of as a bunch of Irishmen dressed as Scotsmen in honor of a Dutchman pretending to be Englishmen. More charitably, it could be compared to Masonic Lodges (though as a practicing Catholic, the same canonical penalties ought to apply for membership in either).
Now the good people at Syracuse will protest mightily that this has nothing to do with The Troubles. At all. Not even just a smidge. Which no one outside of Syracuse athletics buys even slightly.
For one, I strongly encourage them to keep the name — really, I do. Just so long as Notre Dame keeps thumping them every year in football, is all.

Send Me Your Thoughts

Questions? Comments? Brilliant thoughts? Please feel free to send any correspondence for First Teachers to Shaun Kenney, c/o First Teachers, 5289 Venable Road, Kents Store, VA 23084 — or if it is easier, simply send me an e-mail with First Teachers in the subject line to: svk2cr@virginia.edu.

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