Avery Dulles toward the end of 1989 presented a lecture at Fordham in which he outlined four “strategies” of the American Catholic Church: Traditionalism, neo-conservatism, liberalism, and radicalism. He saw value in each and warned against “internecine struggles” which he called a scandal and waste of energy. Nearly twenty years later, I wonder whether he would have described the American Church in similar words. If interested in the lecture, go to www.americanmagagzine.org.
Quite frankly, I suspect I fall into both the traditionalist and radical camps, as strange of bedfellows that may seem. The prophetic witness of the “radical Catholics”, calling both the Church and society to change is something of great need in my view. Adhering to the counter-cultural aspects of the traditionalists with the emphasis on good catechesis is also sorely needed in my experience. I am afraid I would have had a difficult time had I been living in the era of Archbishop Ireland and his efforts to “Americanize” Catholicism. In similar fashion, I am not all that sure of the “neo-conservative” efforts of today, and I have difficulty with the anger of the “liberals” who seem to direct it all at the Church (in contrast to the “radicals” who seem to use that energy and call out to both the Church and the world).