Monday, September 07, 2009

Catholic Analysis

Catholic Pamphlet
:: from meeting collection ::

I discovered this 1966 pamphlet, Our Neighbors, The Friends in Multnomah Friends library yesterday, a Claretian Publication with the official Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur assurances that the reading is free of doctrinal and moral errors. Beyond that, these assurances do not constitute an endorsement of the author's opinions, William J. Whalen being the author in question. I was delighted to find the name Jump on the inside, the name of a founding family of our Multnomah Monthly Meeting.

Whalen is writing for Catholic laity, pointing out how tiny a sect this is, and how it has ceded power over the centuries basically for two reasons: (1) its activism on behalf of unpopular causes has alienated Quakers from the mainstream; (2) its quietism (its refusal to proselytize), as distinct from its simply distinguishing itself as some unique brand of mystic.

On the topic of unpopular causes he writes:
Penn signed a treaty with the Indians and sought to establish a just and peaceful commonwealth in Pennsylvania. The Quakers dominated the political life of this colony, the wealthiest and most populous in America, until 1756, when they refused to vote a tax for war against the Shawnee and Delaware Indians [sic]. Others, less concerned about fair treatment for the original inhabitants, took over the reins of government. (pg. 23).
Are Quakers even Christian? That question doesn't arise in 1966, although Whalen does suggest it's a "third form" of Christianity, neither Protestant nor Catholic (pg 10).

One of my favorite passages, which I read aloud during social hour yesterday, reads as follows:
Just as in 1966 some people try to smear others by calling them Communists, so in the 17th century critics of Quakerism tried to accuse them of being Catholic agents. One pamphlet published in 1654 was entitled: "The Quakers Unmasked, and clearly detected to be but the Spawn of Romish Frogs, Jesuits and Franciscan Fryers, sent from Rome to seduce the intoxicated Giddy-headed English Nation." (pp. 20-21).
The pamphlet concludes with some information about the AFSC. As I often explain to interested parties, the Religious Society of Friends realized the way to compensate for their low numbers was to form allegiances with other groups of like values and mindset. This became the American Friends Service Committee in the North American context, though that picture has since become more complicated, given Friends Peace Teams, FCNL, FWCC, QUNO and so forth.