The more you see in the Church of Nice, the more you begin to realize that many bishops, priests, religious and lay people actually believe or want to believe that the Church has changed and a new Church has emerged.
The Church of Nice for them really is the Church of the new normal, that the mish mosh of their liturgy, the nuttiness of their theology, the psychobabble of their emotion-oozing morality is the Church. They seriously believe that this is what the Church is.
Now, of course, there are actually evil and wicked leaders in the Church who know this isn't authentic Catholicism. But they are happy to carry on the charade that the current state of madness that is the state of affairs is Catholicism come to full blossom. These wicked men use the vincibly ignorant masses as well as clergy to continue to refashion the Faith.
But for the masses, they have no problem with how things stand. Mass is a kind of weekly social obligation, sort of. Everyone goes to Heaven; we can't judge, and all is right with the world — or right enough for the time being.
We run into these Church of Nice zombie Catholics all the time. Father Jenkins at Notre Dame certainly fits the bill. He really believes on some deep level that his view of the Catholic Church is correct. So too does Cdl. Timothy Dolan — and Cdl. Walter Kasper and Cdl. Vincent Nichols and Cdl. Donald Wuerl.
They believe what they are doing to the Church, the mauling of the Faith, is correct because they don't see it as mauling. They have a view of the Church, and if you don't agree with it, then you must be maligned.
Faithful Catholics, on the other hand, have a different view of the Faith — and it isn't one which bubbles up from us and our experience and emotions. Rather, it is the view of the Church held by the Church. Faithful Catholics understand the Church in the way that the Church says She is to be understood. Unfaithful Catholics have a view of the Church, an understanding of the Church that is of their own creation.
And there you have it: the stand-off over Catholic identity, over which is the correct understanding of the Church. Each side believes its understanding of the Church is the right one, and correspondingly, that the other side is wrong.
Ah, but there is one glaring difference: a summation of all that is different between the two sides. And it can be seen in the eyes.
There is something in the eyes, in the face of those who want to change the Church; and what's notable is that it is the same look no matter where you are or which of the Church-changers you might be engaging.
Church Militant has now been around the block enough times to begin having up-close-and-personal encounters with the Church-changers. We ran directly into them at the New York City parish of St. Francis, when an usher looked right at me and said, "We know who you are, Michael Voris." There was something about the look in the eyes.
Then there was our direct encounter with Cdl. Dolan at the St. Patrick's Day Parade, when he and I looked right at each other, shared a prolonged stare as I asked him about the homosexual gang in the parade that had his blessing — something in the eyes, in the face.
Then there was the face-to-face I had with Fr. John Jenkins at Notre Dame, where he actually grabbed hold of me by the shoulders when I asked him about his actions causing Notre Dame to continue to lose its Catholic identity — that same look, that same thing in the eyes that I had seen in New York.
There's not a way to describe it specifically, even generally — just that it's a look that unsettles, that does not want you around — that would harm you if it could.
There is only one authentic understanding of the Catholic Church, and that is the one She proposes to Her children.
Pray for the Church-changer crowd that one day, a look of contentment may once again adorn their countenance. They are in conflict. They are not at rest. You can see it in their eyes.