Yesterday I ran across a little conflict that was going on over at the always exciting and informative The Cafeteria is Closed. It was over someone's characterization of the Voice of the Faithful movement, but certainly falls into the general category of catholic progressive vs. conservative quarreling. I threw in my two cents in a comment, but didn't feel good about it later. Why?
I think it's because I have problems with both sides of this classic debate.
You "liberal" and "progressive" catholics, you VOTF types, you're great because you insist on justice both within the structures of the church and in the larger world. You take the church's teaching on social sin seriously and understand that part of our vocation is to do something about it. You put church rules into a proper perspective because you believe the good news that our righteousness comes to us apart from the law.
But sometimes you don't understand that the relativism, moral chaos, and pervasive "culture of death" of the early 21st century demands a church that stands for its own positions strongly and plainly. You know that the Gospel is about liberation, but sometimes you can't tell the difference between the liberation that the Holy Spirit desires and every spurious form of human liberation that the world offers. Thus you sometimes want everyone to endorse homosexuality and every other form of moral chaos that the liberals of the world dream up to justify whatever it is they feel like doing. In your ecumenical spirit you attend to other faith traditions, being sure to scrupulously respect their customs and traditions, but when you come home you don't care whether your own Eucharist is licit or sometimes even whether it is valid. And you, for all of your liberal identity, are often the most intolerant of all.
And you "conservative" and "traditionalist" catholics, you EWTN types, you're great because you understand that our time demands that we rebuild our catholic culture. You understand that we need to distinguish ourselves with a proper identity amid all of the competing truth claims in our relativistic world. You see clearly that this demands a back-to-basics approach wherein we simply follow the instructions and take our own legislation seriously. You know that our liturgy and customs need to be protected from the false recipes for liberation that the world offers, from the ever-increasing pressure of New Age accretions, and the impulse to syncretism masked as inter-religious dialogue.
But you too sometimes fall into errors. You sometimes take on some of the conservative views that the world offers, getting mixed up in nationalism. You can be dismissive of the spiritual depth of the liberation experienced by the older generation through the changes of the Second Vatican Council. Sometimes you don't know the difference between retrieving our tradition (for our time) and just trying to restore what was before. And you can be a trifle self-satisfied in your views.