Sherry Anne Weddel, co-director of the Catherine of Siena Institute, has written a fascinating essay on generational acrimony in the Catholic Church: “Enough With the Reaction to the Reaction to the Reaction Already!”
Weddel has been meditating upon “the nearly complete break-down of trust between generations of Catholics, between left and right.” She writes:
I can’t tell you how wearying living with the reaction to the reaction to the reaction to the reaction is getting. Now that I’m seeing (as I knew was inevitable) the first signs of reaction by the very youngest seminarians to their trad “elders”.
The cycle of reaction and rejection keeps speeding up and now it only take 5 – 10 years or so for a “new generation” to take the required stance against the failures of its “elders” (who may still be in their 20’s).
Each group sees itself as the inevitable wave of the future and each group can’t grasp that their unique take on the world won’t triumph forever in a climate where contempt between generations is normative.
Is this really true? Are the youngest seminarians really starting to react against their “elders” (in their 20s and 30s) in cassocks and birettas? OK, I admit, I really want it to be true. I wonder if it really is.
Be that as it may – I like Weddel’s conclusion:
We can put an end to the cycle of reaction. … We can see what love will do – if we have the guts and imagination to answer Christ’s command to forgive our enemies and do good to those who despitefully use us and after having done so, begin to see a future beyond the trauma of the recent past.