“There is a definite battle being waged within the Catholic Church. It is the same ‘culture war’ being waged by secular moderns against those who uphold traditional morality, it is pro-life vs. pro-choice. But within the Catholic Church the same battle is fought along liturgical lines.”

Or so insists an editorial at LifeSiteNews , responding to a note in L’Osservatore Romano in which Athanasius Schneider, auxiliary bishop of Karaganda, Kazakhstan, asks the Church to reinstate kneeling to receive communion: “Wouldn’t it correspond better to the deepest reality and truth about the consecrated bread if even today the faithful would kneel on the ground to receive it, opening their mouths like the prophet receiving the word of God and allowing themselves to be nourished like a child?”

There are interesting points to consider when one thinks about kneeling for communion—and then there are interesting points to consider when one thinks about the divisions in the Catholic Church over the liturgy.

It’s the latter that has drawn in Richard Stith , the smart legal commentator from Valparaiso. Stith points to the LifeSiteNews editorial and, generally accepting its line that the sides in liturgical debates correspond to sides in the cultural debates, offers an explanation: “This (frequent, certainly not universal) connection lies in a common lack of perception for dignity or sacredness, and with it the loss of respect or reverence for life, on the one hand, and for the Host on the other. This absence of awareness of the great or holy is a result not just of becoming friendlier and more informal, but of the reduction of the whole world to the banal categories of ‘fact’ and ‘value.’ This reduction endangers not only the unborn and the liturgy but any firm recognition of the human individual.”

Is that right? Or, at least, is some similar explanation right? This is a claim that the relation between post-Vatican II liturgical reformers and the left end of the American political spectrum is not adventitious, or cultural, or even political. It is, rather, logical, and though Stith admits it is “not universal,” the implication is that those who don’t join the stripping of the altars and the murder of the unborn are simply failing to follow the logic of their own positions.

Well, probably I’m overstating Stith’s view. But I’m not overstating the editorial on LifeSiteNews, and I find myself very uneasy with this line of analysis.

Articles by Joseph Bottum

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