Even though there are new elements in the neo-progressivism of today, that it is a recurrence of the older narrative but now decked-out in the verbiage of “discernment”, “accompaniment”, “inclusion”, “listening” and “sensitivity to complex situations”.
In my youth I attended a very conservative seminary for my undergraduate formation. I was fine with that since I was a very conservative young man theologically, filled with the usual zeal that comes with youthful idealism. It was the season of the post-conciliar, antinomian insanity, and it seemed as if the Church had become the preferred refuge for clerical miscreants of every dissenting theological persuasion. But Pope John Paul II had just been elected, so there also seemed to be hope that a young. conservative Catholic such as myself could actually find a home and a safe haven in the Church.
But I was wrong.
During my last year in the seminary (1980-81) the Diocese of Covington, Kentucky, where the seminary resided, got a new and much more liberal, “That 70’s Church” type of bishop. What followed was an immediate purge at the seminary, with many fine priests and professors getting the boot out the door—without, of course, any due process or “dialogue”. They were all replaced with very liberal priests of the “Father skippy-toes sings Broadway show tunes” variety who immediately instituted a new formation program. That program was characterized by the then popular fetishization of “openness” and “big tent dialogue”, which in turn soon led to a reign of terror in which vocations were annihilated and the personal character of many seminarians assassinated.
The only way to survive was to play dead and to act as if you believed in nothing. Nothing, that is, going beyond the ultimacy of the new capo regime of gangster genitalism in which, with a wink and a nod, one could find in the “new seminary” any number of cirque du soleil practitioners of theatrical sexual antics. You were not allowed to openly express a love for high liturgy, which was viewed as a sign of a retrograde troglodytic “rigidity”. But you were encouraged to express a love for getting high as a sign of your non-rigid openness to the world.
It was, therefore, abundantly clear that not all rigidities were equal.
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