Simply Catholic

The phrase “Simply Catholic” comes from Cardinal George’s book The Difference God Makes. The phrase represents the Cardinal’s proposed solution to the struggle between orthodox and liberal wings of the Church, or more accurately, the perversion of orthodoxy which can happen on both the left and right sides of the Church.

Orthodoxy, of course, inasmuch as it represents the objective adherence to the truths of our Catholic faith and applied to our own times, is being “Simply Catholic.” Thus being simply Catholic does not represent a “lowest-common-denominator” approach, but calls all Catholics to fully embrace and live the saving truths contained in the Church’s deposit of faith. It represents a very high standard, not a low one.

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4 Responses to Simply Catholic

  1. Paul says:

    Please look at my blog.

  2. Agellius says:

    I will happily agree to embrace orthodoxy if the left will. : )

    But seriously, I think the idea of “simply Catholic” is too simplistic. If it means “orthodox” then why not just say “orthodox”, and demand (or ask, if you prefer) that everyone be orthodox? In other words, insist that Catholics believe the Catholic faith?

    The thing is, both those on the left and those on the right would say that they are “believing the Catholic faith”. The problem is not getting them to assent to the Catholic faith, but getting them to agree on what the Catholic faith is, and who decides what it is.

    The tactic of the left, broadly speaking of course, is to make the faith acceptable to themselves by redefining its terms, so that statements of doctrine which sound orthodox on their face may be understood in a way that is different from how they have been understood traditionally.

    The main, indeed the only, error on the right, seems to be believing that Vatican II, and the post-V2 popes, have taught error and led the earthly Church astray. These people do not deliberately deny orthodoxy nor try to undermine the Church’s traditional teachings. If anything, their error is overreacting to the deliberate undermining of traditional orthodoxy which has taken place on the left.

    The answer, in my opinion, is not to drop the word “orthodoxy” in favor of “simply Catholic”, as if that will suddenly open people’s eyes and make them renounce their errors. The answer is what the Church has always done: Being constantly vigilant in correcting error and disciplining or excluding those who are obstinately unorthodox. For 40 years the Church has tried using niceness to reconcile itself with the world and enliven people’s faith. It isn’t working. It’s time to go back to the old ways.

  3. mercyknight says:

    I couldn’t agree more with what you say here. Do you think it comes down to “what is the best strategy” for helping our people turn back to God? I mean, there has to be some credence given to the fact that some words are more effective than others during certain points in history, right?

  4. Agellius says:

    I don’t think our words have the power to turn people back to God or not. Or rather, I think the best words to accomplish that are accurate and precise words, because they most clearly express the truth. Whether or not people embrace the truth is a matter of God’s grace and the extent of their cooperation with it.

    “Simply Catholic” strikes me as a way of trying to soften the word “orthodox”. It’s certainly a less precise way of expressing the meaning of “orthodox”, and therefore would have the effect of clouding the truth rather than expressing it plainly.

    If it appeals to those who are deliberately heterodox, its appeal would lie in precisely that: That it’s a softer way of saying “orthodox”. Which, in turn, I think would lead to a chain of reasoning something like this: “Simply Catholic” (“SC”) is softer than “orthodox”; therefore SC is not identical with “orthodox”; therefore you can be SC without being entirely orthodox.

    I have seen more-liberal Catholics make an argument something like this: They are baptized, therefore they are Catholics; Catholicism is inherently a traditional religion, i.e. a religion of tradition passed down from generation to generation; therefore being Catholic automatically makes one traditional; therefore those on the right should not call themselves “traditionalists” nor claim to be more traditional than those on the left, because we’re all “simply Catholic” — all this regardless of the fact that traditionalists objectively and manifestly place more value on the Church’s age-old traditions, not to mention strictly adhering to orthodoxy as traditionally understood. I think this is the way most liberals think of the idea of “Simply Catholic”, when they think of it at all.

    You might think the term could be salvaged, and helped to accomplish its goal, if its meaning were explained more precisely. But to explain it more precisely is to explain what is meant by “orthodox”, and how better to do that than to use the very word? To substitute other, “softer” words can only defeat the effort at being precise.

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