Who gets to decide who bears the name Catholic? If some crackpot hangs out a shingle and declares himself a Catholic bishop, does that make him one? The Los Angeles Times seems to think so in its article entitled “Faithful, Yet Not Traditional Catholics.” “Not traditional” is an understatement. In fact there’s very little about these groups that bears any resemblance to Catholicism except for the merest trappings. It’s all in the externals and almost none of the actual doctrine.
The name of something is very important indeed, as we see throughout Genesis with everything and anything being named: Adam naming everything in creation; God changing Abram’s name, etc. Thus the Times should have been more careful with how they labeled these disaffected Protestantized Christians. Mainstream journalists get very indignant when bloggers call themselves a new breed of journalists, reserving to themselves the right to decide who is and is not a member of their profession. They should have the same respect for Catholics.
As for the specific groups mentioned in the article, they are the most bizarre assortment, including a twice-divorced “bishop” who extols the virtue of marriage.
“Marriage promotes growth,” says Hickman, 50, who has fathered five children, been married three times and divorced twice. “People who’ve never been married have a hard time knowing themselves.”
There’s a euphemistic joke in there somewhere, but I’m too tired to find it.
What’s important though is the confusion this sows among Catholics who might believe that these are just another kind of Catholic church. But that’s like saying I slice off my arm and sew it on to someone else where their leg should be, that it’s still part of me. Not anymore. While the DNA is the same, it’s no longer my arm, but it’s not the leg they claim it to be.