Eccentric Catholicismby Joe Sobran
fitzgerald griffin foundation
[Classic: May 29, 2009] — Next to the peerless Tom Wolfe, perhaps the most brilliantly gifted living American writer is Garry Wills. Immensely learned and versatile, Wills has written award-winning books on many subjects, from Macbeth to the Gettysburg Address. Some of these suffer from a bit of illogic, though they are largely redeemed by his stylish and scholarly prose.
In recent years, he has written several best-selling books on religion, perfecting the liberal Catholic technique of calling himself a Catholic while he attacks the Catholic Church. Why I Am a Catholic might better have been titled Why I Am Not Really a Catholic. Critics — liberal ones, anyhow — have hailed Wills’ work in such terms as “provocative,” “stimulating,” “startling,” “iconoclastic,” and “heterodox,” all of which he well deserves, though we may note the absence of one possibly crucial word: “true.” His success shows that a Catholic author can now achieve great fame and fortune in this country, as long as his books are sufficiently anti-Catholic
In short, it appears that the risen Jesus, after promising to be with his followers to the end of the world, allowed them to be gravely misled for 2,000 years; since then, what Wills terms “modern scholarship” has at long last been able to set things straight. It would seem, then, that Jesus, like Mozart, left this world too young, before he could realize his full potential. The Sermon on the Mount was a promising start for this precocious young man; but, alas, his career was nipped in the bud before he could vent his startlingly progressive, even heterodox, ideas on such issues as gay rights, anticipating those of moderns like Hugh Hefner.
But here perhaps I am digressing. The gospel of John (14:12) reports Jesus as saying that his followers would do even greater miracles than he did. This prediction has been fulfilled in the lives of many Catholic saints, such as Padre Pio (now St. Pio of Pietrelcina), St. Jean Vianney (the Cure of Ars), and other such wonder-workers, none of whom Wills acknowledges, though they have been orthodox and submissive children of the “institutional church” he rejects. Why should we accept his faith — or, as liberal usage now says, “religious preference” — rather than theirs?
Wills’ eccentric brand of Catholicism has no authority, not even the heaven-binding authority Jesus left to the Twelve, and it disparages his mother, denying her the exalted place the Catholic Church has always accorded her.
Countless people have become believing Catholics because of Padre Pio; I know of none who have become believers through the influence of liberal Catholics like Wills. How can you have the Catholic faith without the Blessed Virgin Mary?
Copyright © 2016 by the Fitzgerald Griffin Foundation. All rights reserved.
You can read this and 116 other Sobran columns in the collection of his essays titled, Subtracting Christianity: Essays on American Culture and Society (FGF Books, 2015).Subtracting Christianity and Hustler: The Clinton Legacy, a collection of 82 essays written by Joe Sobran’s collection during Bill Clinton's years in the White House, would make great Christmas presents! Avoid the Christmas rush by ordering today.
Joe Sobran (1946-2010) was a syndicated columnist for over 35 years.
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