Obedience, writes Elizabeth Scalia, is a spiritual discipline desperately in need of recovery (especially for American Catholics) given ongoing challenges in the Church and more recent eruptions like the LCWR report.
Obedience, or really, our refusal to practice it, is at the heart of most of our troubles, because disobedience serves so much within ourselves that ought not be given in to. Our egos; our pride; our selfishness; our need to self-medicate, our greed — it all gets served by disobedience to the first and fundamental things. Disobedience is at the heart of the LCWR story, too, to some extent.
But Julie is on to something when she ties Americanism to Disobedience and finds something troubling in the mix. Our ingrained independence doesn’t understand the idea of something not being a democracy, subject to a campaign and a vote. [...]
In Europe, people either leave the church or remain; in Africa and Asia the church is of course growing and determined in its orthodoxy. Only in America do you see this insistence that a “spirit of Vatican II” that arose in the early 1970′s — and that often has nothing to do with the actual documents of VCII — must flourish; it (and these proponents) must increase, while Rome must decrease.
These tendencies lead her to speculate that the establishment of a schismatic “American Catholic Church” may be a real possibility. Fans of Walker Percy’s novel Love in the Ruins are aware of that body’s fictional existence there (it “emphasizes property rights and the integrity of neighborhoods, retains the Latin mass and plays The Star-Spangled Banner at the elevation”), but Scalia seems to think it’s not as far-fetched as it sounds.
I’m much more skeptical, especially given that some Catholics can (and do) simply leave the Church when they become sufficiently irritated by others’ emphasis on orthodoxy. Why bother going through the legal, emotional, and monetary trouble of a formal separation (for just how messy this can be, see the spate of ongoing lawsuits in Episcopal dioceses around the country) when there’s a much easier option? Nevertheless, Scalia’s points about our particular difficulty with obedience are well-taken, and one hopes that dangerous spirit/letter dichotomy she mentions, source of forty years of trouble, is indeed beginning to find resolution.