Patrick Archbold is co-founder of Creative Minority Report, a Catholic website that puts a refreshing spin on the intersection of religion, culture, and politics. When not writing, Patrick is director of information technology at a large international logistics company in New York.
It is all the rage today within certain circles of the faithful to declare groups and individuals in schism. The so-called left does it. The so-called right does it. Everybody is getting in on this game.
Spend a few hours on social media and you will see all kinds of people declared in schism by those with self-vested powers. Through careful study and analysis, I have determined objective criteria deployed by those with the magic power to detect schism in others. Anyone to the left of our trusted inquisitor is a hippie liberal heretic. Anyone to the right is a wild-eyed traddie who, if not schismatic in practice, must be in their hearts. But you, my dear social media inquisitor, you are just right. Funny how that works, isn't it.
Why do we think this ok? Why is it that those most convinced that we need to throw wide open the doors of the Church are often the first that want throw others out that very same door? Why is it that those very same people who would never dream of referring to the Orthodox or even the Protestants as schismatic or heretical are so quick to use that label on their fellow Catholics?
Why are some people so determined to break the bond with those who practice and profess their faith in a way that any Pope prior to 1965 would see as simple hum-drum Catholicism? And to that particular group of priests in an irregular canonical status, even if they are very far out on a limb, I can't imagine why some faithful Catholics, are so determined to rhetorically cut it off.
Are we to the point where we are so worried about schism by association that we are ready to unjustly declare others out just to make sure everyone knows we're in? Why is that some of us are so convinced of the merits of our own prudential judgment that we publicly declare our friends who differ as schismatic or schismatish?
This has to stop. Look, the Church has the authority to declare groups or individuals in schism, we do not. Period.
These are tricky times in the Church, no doubt. There is a lot of confusion, anxiety, and even anger. But we can't help this lamentable situation if we are determined to paint ourselves into a smaller and smaller corner. I speak particularly to those fellow travelers who rightly see the dangers the Church faces these days, but may prudentially disagree on the best ways to warn others or how to prevent what can be prevented and mitigate what can be mitigated. I ask you not to make dogma out of prudential decisions. We are all brothers in Christ and the Church needs us now, it needs us together.
Now I am no huggy-feely can't we all just get along type. I think the Church and the faithful need to have many frank and tough discussions. But we have enough enemies, no sense making more from those who should be friends.