You say, “the general public is not obsessed with such issues as abortion, gay marriage, and contraception”....
Who are “the general public?” I’m not sure to what group the label refers.
You say, “...it is the extremists of conservative Catholicism”....
In what sense are conservative Catholics ever “extremists?” Extremely in love with God and people? Extremely persistent in speaking full truths instead of half-truths, even when it’s inconvenient? I’m not sure along which continuum of behavior you’re stating that conservative Catholics are being extreme; could you specify?
Or perhaps the adjective “extreme” was intended to apply to the adjective “conservative?” Perhaps you only meant “the more extremely conservative Catholics”; that is, the folks who prefer the Latin Mass? I wish I knew some of “the ones [you] have come to know at Providence College,” but I don’t, so I can’t use them as a guide to what you mean by “extreme.”
It might be helpful to observe, however, that college students, being young adults, are often both idealistic and lacking in social graces. If, as I suppose, you view these folks at Providence College (where’s that? Providence, Rhode Island?) as “extreme,” perhaps the problem is only that they’re young and as-yet unjaded?
You state, “I evidence this claim with the overwhelming focus our own campus places on such issues, versus such issues as social justice and poverty.”
Hmm. I’ll take you at your word. But I can think of perfectly normal reasons for these folks to talk more about abortion, et alia, than about social justice and poverty.
Has it occurred to you that sex and marriage and childbearing tend to be very much on the minds of persons aged 18-25, especially in a mixed-gender environment?
And, has it occurred to you that, inasmuch as these conservative Catholics typically come from conservative families—you know, the ones which publicly-available statistics show are twice as generous to the poor and needy as their left-of-center fellow citizens are—that perhaps they’re already doing what they can and should for the poor and needy? And of course they’re forbidden by Jesus Christ to talk about that: Their “left hand isn’t allowed to know what their right hand is doing.”
Perhaps you weren’t aware that American conservatives, especially religious conservatives, give more money and time to the needy than folks on the left? (It’s old news, statistically speaking, but seems to slip through the cracks of our conversations on the topic.) They typically give about twice as much, both as a percentage of income and in absolute dollar figures, and this is true at all income levels, though the absolute dollar figures tend to attenuate at the upper-income end since there are more very-wealthy leftists than conservatives. Still, conservatives average 6 or 7% of pre-tax income, compared to the leftists’ 2-3%; and conservatives donate blood more, volunteer more…in general, care more. (If one measures by self-sacrificial actions and not by “awareness raising” activism.)
But, again, it’s a requirement of the Christian faith to keep such stuff relatively secret. Only God (and your friendly IRS agent) will know. So it’s a bit uncomfortable for conservative Catholics to be as loud as the posturing Scrooges of the political left.
Anyway, food for thought, with respect to the psychology you observe.
You say, “They are also reacting to the new Pope in a similar fashion as yourself: with frustration that you can no longer use the authority of the Catholic Church to validate and augment your narrow, bigoted views on the newest oppressed minorities of our society today.”
What “newest” oppressed minorities? I mean, of course I know that Christians are far-and-away the most persecuted minority in on the planet, but that’s more in China and Afghanistan and the West Bank and Malaysia, and I thought you were talking about the United States?
And of course it’s silly to say that Catholics of any stripe were using the words of any previous pope to validate any sort of bigotry: No pope in my lifetime has ever done any such thing. This pope represents exactly zero change from the last several, with respect to “bigotry.”
The only “minority” I can think of to which you might be referring is people with SSAD; a.k.a. “gays” or “homosexuals.” But that doesn’t make sense because (a.) what on earth is “newest” about the fact that some people are bigoted towards people with SSAD? And (b.), there’s exactly no change between this pope and the last several with respect to homosexual sex or homosexual attractions. The popes agree: former is a sin; the latter represents a temptation to sin; temptations are a heavy cross to bear for all of us and no person ought to be reviled because he is tempted, but rather every person, whatever his peculiar temptations, is a beloved child of God with all the intrinsic dignity of the imago Dei, to be respected and cherished as brother or sister in their humanity.
You say, “Jesus, peace be upon him…,”
Interesting phraseology; are you Muslim, that you add that particular honorific? Or perhaps you come from Arab or North African Christian stock? Just curious.
You continue, “[Jesus] would not recognize such Catholics who obsess over doctrinal issues - instead, he would be found among community organizers, advocates, and those fighting for justice on behalf of the poor and oppressed.
Respectfully, I think you’re objectively mistaken about the first half of that sentence, and you’re a shade or two off-target on the second half.
Regarding the first half: Look how Jesus takes the time to refute the Sadducees concerning the resurrection of the dead. Look what He says about the indissolubility of marriage. Look how Jesus responds to Peter’s declaration of theological truth regarding His identity. Look what He tells them to do in the Great Commission: “...teaching them WHATSOEVER I HAVE COMMANDED YOU.” Jesus is a stickler for doctrine. And He commanded His Church to speak prophetically to the world on His behalf.
And where would He be found? You say, “among community organizers, advocates, and those fighting for justice on behalf of the poor and oppressed.” But would He not be found among the poor and oppressed, rather than among those who make a good living from the “awareness raising” activism racket? The “fighting for justice” crowd and the “community organizer” crowd, in my opinion, are precisely the rich kids who want to purchase an indulgence for their privileged upbringing by whipping up a class-warfare furor which divides rich from poor. They aren’t typically volunteering at the soup kitchens—that’s what conservatives do. They’re typically Mau-Mauing the Flak-Catchers (if you don’t know the phrase, Google it) in public office, as a stepping-stone to a political career.
I can think of some prominent examples. I bet you can, too.
In any event, the “community organizers” are precisely those whom Jesus decried: They “make their phylacteries large,” He said, of folks who enjoy being conspicuously, publicly righteous. But He commanded that His followers not even let their left hand know what their right is doing, when they help the poor. Until Dick Cheney—not a Catholic, and horrifically wrong about what constitutes a just war, of course, but the topic at hand is helping the poor—but until Dick Cheney’s tax records got leaked, nobody knew that one year he’d given over 50% of his pre-tax income to charity. That’s as it should be.