Cardinal Hume said – "it was always easier to deal with the loony Left than the conservative Right. He said they were always nicer people."
It is not useful here to deal with how the late Cardinal failed to deal with loonies.
Is it true?
Let's think about those on the "Left" generally. When I was at school I used to quote Mao's Little Red Book, he was certainly on the left but not very nice at all, then there was Stalin and Trotsky. Mmm! In an earlier age maybe Robspierre and the other French Revolutionaries, not very nice at all. In English history there was Cromwell and those odd groups like the Levellers and the Adamites. Earlier still those very strange Franciscan types who claimed Christ possessed nothing, who then set about dispossessing everyone of everything.
I don't think anyone would consider these to nice, as for the "loonies", well there was my great great ... uncle, somewhat removed uncle who was certainly left, and a loony, but well..., Cobbett maybe, though he was a dreadful manipulator of poor Queen Caroline. Tom Paine, what about his involvement in The Terror?
The trouble with loonies is they seem always disconnected, they leave nothing tangible, their visions always tend to be to smoke and mirrors, the nice one's offered a critique of society but nothing more. They questioned, produced a great deal of heat but did little else.
Maybe I am being unfair, but it strikes me that the "Left" actually has no "big idea". The politics of the "Left" today is arbitrary and controlling, rather than empowering, it robs people of freedoms. It starts with a vision of freedom but soon degrades into imprisonment.
The same with those left leaning theologians of the 1960/70s Schillebeeckx, Kung et al, they have value only in so far as the structures which they tried to overturn existed, when these change they become irrelevant, and for the most part forgotten, they are yesterday's men, they are sterile, impotent. Indeed their vision is generally uniquely personal and becomes a testimony to their own self promotion, they rejoice in being the destructive enfant terrible, who is amusing until he grows out of short trousers. Like the enfant terrible their cry is really, "me me me".
What about the "conservative right"?
I have grown to love them, especially the crabby hardliners. Generally they have come to their conservatism because they have dallied with the left and found it wanting, Joseph Ratzinger used to be considered quite dangerous at one time. They can be unpleasant because they consider they have something to defend that is of value. They complain, they scheme, they plot, they appeal to authority, they write letters, even blogs, because they believe in something. Why are there very few liberal Catholic blogs? They are stubborn and irritating, they are the type of people who are willing to suffer martyrdom (some of them). In the Church they are the people who tend roll up their sleeves and feed the hungry, clothe the naked etc. They hate tedious committee meetings that achieve nothing except create hot air. They are liberated from having to invent the wheel, it has already happened, they just have to defend the continued turning of wheels.
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