From time to time, I have been known to use a strange adjective in my posts about conflicts inside the wide, wide world of Roman Catholicism. The term in question is "pro-Vatican Catholics."
Some GetReligion readers have challenged me on this, asking, in effect: What other kind of Catholics are there? (Cue: rim shot and cymbal splash) No, seriously. People ask that.
What I mean, of course, is that these are Catholics who accept the teaching authority of the Roman Catholic Church and the doctrines it proclaims. I am referring to people who, when push come to shove, back the pope and the hierarchy. That's pretty logical, isn't it, in light of the fact that there are many people who oppose these doctrines?
Now, it appears that the principalities and powers at the New York Times are searching for a similar word to suggest that there are kind-of Catholics and then there are people who are, well, uber-Catholics. Here is the crucial reference -- in context -- in a story that ran with the headline: "In Louisiana, Inklings of a New (True) Champion of the Right."
BATON ROUGE, La. -- Religion and fiscal stringency have a friendly home at the state Capitol here, with a conservative, Bobby Jindal, in the governor's office, a host of straight-arrow novice legislators eager to please him and an honored spot for the Louisiana Family Forum in the old marble halls.
The newly conservative tone of state government is seeping through a host of successful bills -- on school vouchers, creationism, stem-cell restrictions and tax and spending cuts -- and it is adding to the speculative frenzy here surrounding Mr. Jindal as a potential vice-presidential choice for Senator John McCain.
Politicians here say they are certain that Mr. Jindal would balance a McCain ticket, and not just because he is an Indian-American. The Christian right has a new champion in Mr. Jindal, a serious Catholic who has said that "in my faith, you give 100 percent of yourself to God."
So what, precisely, is a "serious Catholic?" Is this the opposite of a "non-serious Catholic" or even a "fingers-crossed Catholic"? Would the Times care to name some other names on both sides of this divide?
And what about that reference that this serious Catholic is backing "creationism"? What is that all about? Here's a follow-up reference:
Hot-button terms and issues are avoided. Cloning will not get state financing but also will not be criminalized, and Mr. Jindal is nowhere to be seen on the Louisiana Science Education Act, which promotes "open and objective discussion" in the schools of "evolution, the origins of life, global warming and human cloning."
You have to watch out for those open discussions. They are dangerous, especially when linked to that vague and hostile term "creationism." But, wait, that term isn't mentioned in the bill. It sounds like the bill calls for more talk about evolution, not less.
Perhaps this serious Catholic simply backs the message sent by the late Pope John Paul II, who was hailed as backing evolution, when in reality he said:
"Rather than the theory of evolution, we should speak of several theories of evolution. On the one hand, this plurality has to do with the different explanations advanced for the mechanism of evolution, and on the other, with the various philosophies on which it is based. Hence the existence of materialist, reductionist and spiritualist interpretations. ...
"Theories of evolution which, because of the philosophies which inspire them, regard the spirit either as emerging from the forces of living matter, or as a simple epiphenomenon of that matter, are incompatible with the truth about man. They are therefore unable to serve as the basis for the dignity of the human person."
In other words, maybe the serious Catholic is, on this and other issues, simply pro-Vatican?