Michael Novak on Cardinal Law & Boston on National Review Online

Michael Novak on Cardinal Law & Boston on National Review Online

Michael Novak writes about the resignation, too. But he also addresses what he see as a cultural phenomenon in Boston—namely a tribalism. Perhaps, some of that was true that half-century ago when he first arrived in town, but it is long since watered down. The North End, once an enclave of Italians, is now thoroughly yuppified and condominium-ized. South Boston and Charlestown still maintain traces of their rough white urban roots, but they too are becoming gentrified and full of a melange of residents.

If the western suburbs retain a trace of old white liberalism, it’s because they are full of million-dollar homes owned by the typical northeastern liberals—doctors, lawyers, professors, executives.

Yes, there is a bit of tribalism, but it is very weak. And what large urban area doesn’t exhibit tribalism? Don’t people from Brooklyn think themselves apart from those in the Bronx? Don’t Upper East Siders think themselves different from those who live in the Village?

As for his four huge moral deficits in the Archdiocese of Boston:

  • I don’t see a tribalism in the clergy. If anything, they are tragically divided. There are the old-timers, ordained before 1963, who remember the way it was. There are those ordained from the mid-1960s to the late-1970s, products of a generation of rebellion and libertinism and foolish idealism (as opposed to realistic idealism). And then there are those ordained in the 80s and 90s, a new generation, generally more orthodox than the one immediately preceding them, but not uniformly.
  • I will agree that a 40-year period of massive dissent from Catholic moral teaching afflicts us. Led by Fr. Robert Drinan, the Jesuit congressman who famously led Catholic lay leaders in believing that it’s okay to dissent from one Church teaching (abortion , contraception, etc.), as long as you’re strong in another (e.g. social justice). And so the Kennedys and their clones followed suit. And with a somnolent clergy providing no counter influence, the laity walked right behind.
  • Thus Novak’s third moral deficit: dissent and open rebellion by the laity. Novak makes a good point, namely that many laypeople seem to hate and be embarrased by those things which make the Catholic Church most distinct from other religions.
  • And finally the fourth: the anti-Catholicism of Boston’s elites and media. The irony is that the elites are no longer solely the descendants of the Brahmins, the Protestant reactionaries. Many elites are themselves Catholics or at least descended from Catholic families. They hate what they think is in themselves and what convicts them in their lives.

The irony, as Novak alludes to, is that at the height of anti-Catholicism in the 19th century, when Protestant mobs burned churches and convents, it was lies and propaganda about moral turpitude and licentiousness that urged them on. But this time, in the 21st century, it is the truth covered by the lies and propaganda of priests and bishops that brings them forth. What reasons can we give them now to leave us our churches and convents and schools?