Which, of course, is an oxymoron; but it is finally, slowly, but inexorably, fading away in the American Catholic Church, as this article from Catholic World Report reveals.

An excerpt.

“For decades conservatives have been marginalized in groups like the Catholic Theological Society of America (CTSA), which do not even pretend to be hospitable to “all points of view.” People have been denied tenure, lost their jobs, were never hired in the first place, or were otherwise penalized for upholding Church teaching, not only in academia but even in official Church agencies.

“As documented in Michael Rose’s book Goodbye Good Men, for years orthodox young men were denied entry into certain seminaries, despite the urgent need for priests. A common ploy was to ask the candidate his views on the ordination of women and, if he said he accepted the official teaching, to reject him as “insensitive to women.” Conservative members of religious orders have suffered severe marginalization over almost five decades.

“Church bureaucrats are situated midway between the hierarchy and the laity, and after the Council they began to claim a kind of authority over both. While bishops are constantly told that they must humbly seek to learn from their people, bureaucrats often reject or ignore criticism of their work, because they are qualified professionals. Conservative lay people learned very quickly that it did no good to raise questions about the education of their children or dubious liturgical practices, because even many conservative bishops automatically supported the “experts.”

“After decades conservative Catholics have at last received a sympathetic hearing from some bishops, but liberals have an almost reflexive reaction against hierarchical authority, with every issue immediately defined as the “interference” by that hierarchy in the life of the Church.

“Dolores Leckey, who for years used her position as executive director of the US bishops’ Secretariat for Family, Laity, Women, and Youth to promote feminism, in effect now denies that there even is such a thing as legitimate episcopal authority—bishops act only because they are “afraid” and “insecure,” not because of their religious convictions.

“Manifestations of traditional Catholicism elicit emotional reactions from liberals all out of proportion to their cause. The priest-theologian Richard McBrien denounces the revival of Eucharistic adoration as a “step backwards,” and to Rick Marren, an editor of the National Catholic Reporter, Eucharistic and Marian devotions constitute a “betrayal” of Vatican II. The Benedictine liturgist Anscar Chupungco laments, “The church is now experiencing the cold chill of winter….”

“But no one is forced to participate in Eucharistic devotions—McBrien is offended merely because some people choose to do so. One woman told the NCR that she finds the acceptance of former Anglicans into the Church “worrisome,” because “They’re kneeling for Communion, the priest facing the altar…we are regressing from the Vatican II model of going with the spirit of the law to the letter of the law. There used to be more heart.”

“A former NCR editor expressed fear that the Anglican converts would be “anti-gay bigots,” and the Jesuit Thomas Reese, who has become the secular media’s favored commentator on Catholic matters, feared that the converts will “further discourage reform.”

“The acrimonious attacks on the new translation of the Mass have much less to do with the quality of language than with the power of the liturgical establishment, which for almost the first time in 45 years is being questioned by the pope and the bishops. Liturgists are indignant that they were not entrusted with the task of making new translations.”