James Carroll, a former priest and current columnist for the Boston Globe, was obviously jealous of Maureen Dowd’s anti-papal polemics. So he one-upped her. Maybe even two-upped her, if that’s a word. I warn you that if you read on, this way lies madness. I highlighted just some of his insults of the Pope, Anglicans, Latin Mass-goers, conservatives…etc.

Here’s Carroll:

Last week’s anti-Anglican salvo from Rome shows how far the Catholic leadership has fallen from the heights of Vatican II. The invitation to “disgruntled’’ members of the Church of England’s extended family to abandon the Thames for the Tiber is a rejection of contemporary human experience, a resounding response of “No!’’ The church against the modern world, after all. Not only a cruel assault on a fellow Christian communion that is valiantly struggling to strike a balance between liberal and conservative impulses; not only an insult to loyal Catholic liberals who will be denied what converted Anglicans are offered (notably a married clergy); not only a slap at women and homosexuals whose progress toward equality is a global measure of justice; not only a stark contrast with the common Anglican practice of fully welcoming alienated Roman Catholics, while eschewing any pressure on them to convert – there is more.

Oh boy is there more. Notice how, according to Carroll the height of the 2,000 year old Catholic Church was Vatican II. Kinda’ tells you where he’s coming from, huh?

But what is this love affair that Carroll has with the “modern world?” Was he around during the 20th century? Pretty much a mess. A bloody mess. Wars, nuclear weapons, 100 million killed by communists, 20 million killed by fascists, genocide, the holocaust of the unborn, the dissolution of marriage. So when Carroll says that it’s the Church versus the modern world, I scream “Yes.”

Equally damaging, the Vatican’s preemptive exploitation of Anglican distress explicitly ducks the large and urgent challenge facing every religion and every religious person, which is how to positively reconcile tradition with the massive changes in awareness, knowledge, and communication that come with the scientific and technological breakthroughs that daily alter the meaning of existence.

No, Mr. Carroll the meaning of existence is the one thing which hasn’t changed.

But Mr. Carroll doesn’t see that because for him the main issue facing all religions today is to somehow reconcile their beliefs with the whims and meandering thoughts of James Carroll.

From the misfit fringe of another denomination, Rome recruits the naysayers it needs to bolster what has become its own place on the margin of Catholic life. First there was Opus Dei, with its crypto-fascist origins, then there were the Holocaust-denying lovers of Latin – and now the Anglo-fundies. Come on over, guys!

And this is Carroll defending the Anglicans against Pope Benedict who supposedly hates them? Misfit fringe? Holocaust denying Latin lovers? Anglo-fundies? What the heck is the Globe thinking by allowing this guy to publish?

While the Vatican and its recruits just say no, the rest of us attempt to apply tested modes of ethical reasoning to revolutions, for example, in genetic science that separate reproduction from sexuality.

“Tested modes of ethical reasoning?” Hmm. Sounds an awful lot like tradition? Hey, James Carroll better be careful or he’s going to wind up at Latin mass.

Now here’s where Carroll really gets carried away. He imagines himself facing down the barbarian hordes of unreason warpathing their way through Western civilization and turning out the lights behind them on the way to the Dark Ages. And our Mr. Carroll bravely brandishes the light of logic as our only hope.

The story of the Vatican raid on the Anglican communion was front page news because these issues go deeper than religion. Nothing less than the survival of the human species is at stake. Will 21st-century fundamentalism thwart science across the globe? Will old habits of tribalism, nationalism, and excluding religious denominationalism prevent a new world humanism from emerging? Will the ancient wisdom of moral philosophies embedded in the great spiritual traditions be available as guides to future decisions? Or will rational, self-critical, ecumenically minded religion self-destruct just when humanity most needs its positive influence? Positive is the point.

Delusions of grandeur much?

Catholicism is only part of this story, yet the affirming spirit of Vatican II was a resounding yes to the human future. The Catholic Church, with due modesty, embraced its role as a builder of that future in equal partnership with other believers and all people of good will. That meant not just tolerance for differing religious bodies, like the Anglican communion, but a compact of mutual advancement.

Ha! Tolerance for differing religious bodies?! He’s got to be kidding me. Where’s his tolerance for the “fascist” Opus Dei or the holocaust deniers who attend Latin Mass, or the Anglo-fundies? I guess tolerance only means you have the right to agree with James Carroll.

But you see, Mr Carroll was pretty pleased with all the Catholics that went a-knockin’ on Anglicanism’s door but now that some Anglicans are seeking to convert to Catholicism, they are now relegated to the fringe of society and must be mocked, name called and shunned in the name of tolerance.