Before I exorcise the merits of Michael Sean Winters' post at NCR, a little sidebar:
Can somebody enlighten me about what it is with the NCR crowd that causes the peculiar and annoying habit of gluing their middle name to their identity?
I'm sure it has something to do with years of reading and experiencing the drivel and like Pavlov's dog, as soon as I see someone using their full middle name instead of using a middle initial like the rest of us...but...Carol Mary McKinley places it among the strange and somewhat creepy phenomenon of people who speak of themselves in the third person.
As to the substance of Winters' screed, there are some interesting things for warriors to note.
First, the cycle of grassroots activism follows a path.
You work under the radar to build momentum on various levels. As momentum builds, when it reaches a certain point various levels of higher placed people start to join you and there is a more public aspect to the grassroots movement. If successful, it becomes the culture that drives academia, law and governance. In the case where this activism is taking hold in a religion, it drives theology.
When a power structure is on the way down, and out, it falls in the same way. When it reaches a certain downward motion, the higher-level people walk away.
Let me explain how this works in Catholicism:
The NCR's people took the reigns of theology in the Bernadin/post-Vatican II era.
For many years,they had numerous Bishops in the USCCB publicly advancing their causes. In the last decade, this dwindled. Many of their writings over the last few years griped about the inertia of Bishops who would not go out in public with them to advance their causes.
The turnaround of that ship came in 2003, when grassroots Catholics alerted higher level theologians, journalists, activists and leaders of a meeting that took place with several Bishops, including Cardinals McCarrick and Gregory to advance an agenda of dissent inside of the Catholic Church. Catholics in high-ranking positions put an end to future efforts by calling the same Bishops to the table of accountability.
This was the beginning of the tail spin as their Bishops had to retreat to under the radar level.
As grassroots leaders kept an eye on Bishops, they were afraid to have anything to do with meeting with dissenters. If you do some diligence on what NCR journalists and activists write about the Bishops during 2008 election, you will see that they gripe about not being able to engage a single Bishop.
This causes demoralization of grassroots. Then comes inertia.
This is a familiar pattern for seasoned activists. We see the fall or the rise - sometimes we see both.
From all accounts from moles and and even the Washington Post, there is chaos going on. Their own leaders are distancing themselves from them. In the world of activism, this is an indication of the state of affairs or our detractors and it is not good.
I'd be surprised to learn Winters is out of the loop on the status, but I suppose it could be he is not as connected as he tries to appear to be.
In any event, Hudson's article highlights how there was actually a flip in the power structure of the Catholic Church at the the level of the USCCB:
Mr. Winters, for reasons he does not reveal, believes “most bishops have come to realize what Hudson cannot bring himself to realize, that Sr. Carol might have been right, that there is no abortion funding in the health care overhaul. . . .”
I’m not aware of any bishops who have stated publicly what Mr. Winters believes “most bishops have come to realize.” That would mean either 100 bishops, if he were counting by dioceses, or over 150 if he is counting them in the aggregate.
If true, Mr. Winters is sitting on the biggest Catholic story to be written in 2010:
“Catholic Bishops Admit They Were Wrong About Obamacare and Abortion.”
Mr. Winters and the Bernadin crowd are not unaware of what has happened on the hierarchal level of the Bishops. Unless he doesn't read the National Catholic Reporter, he is bluffing on this.
But, what appears to be genuine is his ignorance of what the grassroots movement is up to now - freeing the deposit of faith on the parish and diocese level.
When there is a battle, you strike the shepherds and the sheeple flee. Their shepherds have been silenced and now, the battle is taking place on the lower levels.
Who are we 'taking our faith back' from?
Sister Mary Wear the Pants and Father Promote Promiscuity who have been heading up catechesis and the Mr. BigFat Wall Street Portfolio baiting Bishops into dissent by using their wealth and power.
It is not really surprising that Winters is unaware of what is going on in the grassroots. We don't worship in the same places. Even if they came to observe us, our parishes are not places where our grassroots movements take place. They are places of worship, places to listen to God, answer the call, fortify our spirit, fuel our courage and tenacity.
But it is puzzling he seems unaware of how the power structure operates, rises and falls. Hudson is not in the grassroots. He is a messenger of what the grassroots tells him and other higher ranking Catholics.
I can report, without exaggeration, that in Boston, the grassroots movement to take back our parishes and Chanceries from those who are now in place to dismantle the Catholic Church, is growing so rapidly we are recruiting people to help process and catalog the information and get plans in place to overthrow. Information is power. Brace yourselves, for there is a tsunami on its way. There are so many willing to serve, the growth spurt is going to take some time to organize.
At this juncture, many things happen. Reporting silences those who would ordinarily hold something dissenting in their parish. Because tomorrow, they will read about it in blogosphere. The Chancery acts quicker on dissent (as they did in the Hancock situation) because they no longer want their inertia to be reported in painstaking detail.
And, the ship slowly begins to navigate the turn.
I will also say for the record, that we are hearing from many who are in other dioceses, in other states, who are starting their own grassroots movements.
The one thing everyone knows about Deal is that he is the supreme networker. His article certainly is in keeping with what Boston Bloggers are experiencing in the grassroots. The power inside of the Catholic Church is shifting. Michael Voris reported on this a few weeks back.
Call it a Catholic Tea Party. Call it whatever you want. There is a movement well under way. If Sean Michael Winters doesn't know about it, doesn't see it, all the better - because he won't be reporting on it and the day will come when it will be an ambush.
All that has ever been needed is for Catholic warriors to stand up, take a deep breath and blow down their house of cards.
Speaking of which, here in Boston, don't miss the latest on one of the most formidable leaders of the Bernadin movement at Bryan Hehir Exposed: Bryan Hehir and Call to Action, Part 2.
Have a great Sunday. Carol Mary McKinley is off with her family apple picking, so she won't be blogging any more today.