You know that there must be something good about The Benedict Option if Cupich hates it so much.

Benedict Option ‘A Matter Of Global Import’

Monday night’s Benedict Option event at a church hall in Paris went well. The hall was full, and people seemed interested. Last night, I went down to Tours, and had a lovely time speaking to folks. I stayed with the family B., a real Benedict Option Catholic family. It is so, so encouraging to meet fellow Christians who see things like I do, and who are enthusiastic believers, as well as quite obviously “creative minorities,” as Benedict XVI told Christians to be in the post-Christian world. That family, and others I’m meeting here, are such an inspiration.

On the train back to Paris, I discovered that Sandro Magister, the widely read Vatican journalist, wrote today about The Benedict Option. It’s a knockout column. Here’s how it starts:

“The Benedict Option” has now crossed the Atlantic and become a question of global import. A question that is certainly of no little account, because it concerns the future of Christianity in an ever more post-Christian era.

The American Rod Dreher, author of the proposal and of the book, is now traveling around France on a conference circuit and has given an exhaustive interview to the Catholic magazine “la Nef.” His book has been translated into French, and will soon be available in other languages.

But it has been the frontal attack that “La Civiltà Cattolica” has unleashed from Rome against “The Benedict Option” that has ratcheted up even more the level of the controversy.

Dreher is not Catholic. He used to be, now he is Russian Orthodox. But it is above all in the Catholic camp, and initially within the Catholicism of the United States, that his proposal made a splash and produced a very heated discussion.

It is a proposal, in fact, that radically brings into question – in addition to contrasting them with each other – both the current pontificate of Francis and that of his predecessor, Benedict XVI.

The Benedict of the “option” is not pope Joseph Ratzinger, but Benedict of Norcia, the great saint of the 5th and 6th centuries who was able to generate a formidable rebirth of Christian faith and culture in the chaos that followed the collapse of the Roman empire, that rebirth which the other Benedict, the pope, evoked masterfully in his memorable address of September 12 in Paris, at the Collège des Bernardins, essentially proposing that the Catholics of today grasp and revive his lesson, at the present juncture of civilization.

It comes as no surprise, therefore, that from Rome, from a pope like Francis who is the standard bearer of an opposite vision, “The Benedict Option” should have been thrust onto the index through that organic mouthpiece of Jorge Mario Bergoglio which is “La Civiltà Cattolica” directed by the Jesuit Antonio Spadaro.

Read the whole thing.

The rest of the piece examines the argument between myself and a couple of Jesuits around La Civiltà Cattolica. Regular readers of this blog will already be familiar with it.

What I especially like about Magister’s article is that a Vatican journalist of his stature to has said that the Benedict Option is the vision around which the older, Benedict XVI vision of the Catholic Church, is coalescing in the age of Pope Francis and his “new paradigm.” I am honored that Magister thinks so, and am profoundly pleased that with this essay of Magister’s, Benedict XVI no doubt will know now that this ex-Catholic who nevertheless believes in his cultural vision am on his side.

I did not seek to pose The Benedict Option in contrast to Pope Francis, or in criticism of him. You won’t find in the book one word of criticism of Pope Bergoglio. But Francis’s top allies — the Jesuits of La Civiltà Cattolica, and Cardinal Cupich of Chicago — have laid down the gauntlet. This struggle is important. This morning, I spoke to a veteran Catholic journalist in Paris, who told me, “The battle is here, now.” Indeed it is.

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8 Responses to Benedict Option ‘A Matter Of Global Import’

  1. Jonathan Davis says:

    Ive recently thought of one of the reasons you might be getting so much Catholic hierarchy: From the eyes of some of these Catholic leaders, you left the Church when things got tough, while they stuck it out.

    Right or wrongly, you “quit” Catholicism, and perhaps this is part of where the projection of Benedict Option as the Quitters option comes from, the mischaracterization that you so often rail against

    [NFR: You’re totally wrong about that. The Catholic hierarchs who have criticized me (exactly one, that I know of: Cupich; the two Jesuits are not hierarchs) are quite liberal. That’s why they dislike my book. Read Magister. — RD]

  2. pèlerin says:

    Yes. Time to fight. God bless you, Rod. May your you meet with great sucess in your travels, spreading this message. I am praying with you.

  3. Bernie says:

    Rod, I’m happy your book tour in France is going well, and I’m especially happy to hear that leading Catholic voices think highly of the Benedict Option.

    As an update, Cardinal Cupich is organizing three seminars for about 20 U.S. Bishops to push his agenda about which you recently posted. We have to push back. Here’s what the Cardinal is doing:

  4. C. L. H. Daniels says:

    Congratulations, Rod. It must be very gratifying to have your work taken seriously by so many people. I think it deserves the recognition it has gotten, and yourself likewise.

    Personally, I’m grateful to you for all that you have written here these past 4-5 years since I first discovered your blog. Your work has made a difference in my life, and I appreciate it.

  5. John says:

    You may not like me to say this but you write with a Roman Catholic mind and heart. (As you know, once baptized into the faith makes one part of it for ever.)

  6. Joan from Michigan says:

    As a teenager I was told that if, in your efforts to change society, you haven’t encountered any opposition, you probably haven’t accomplished much. So I guess congratulations are in order.

  7. TR says:

    I’ll buy the theological difference between Benedict and Francis (though I also think it’s between Euro-centric and Third World concerns as well). But I don’t think for a minute that Benedict was serious about “downsizing.” Or, to put it another way, the institutional church would never consciously allow such downsizing to happen.

    And I suspect the Catholics you’re talking to in France are ultra-nationalistic, right wing, and have a long family history of same. It’s part of the French landscape and not really a reaction to anything particularly recent.

    But I’m glad you’re enjoying time among people who actually have read the book or at least know what the hell you’re talking about. Refreshing, I’m sure.

  8. Maine Catholic says:

    Rod your rebuttal is well said. It is amazing how many people in the Vatican seem to be still living in the 1960’s. Do they watch or read the news at all?

About abyssum

I am a retired Roman Catholic Bishop, Bishop Emeritus of Corpus Christi, Texas
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