America has long been a favorite magazine of liberal Catholics. But the Jesuits in charge are “sickened by the toxin of ideological partisanship” in American culture and, as a result, have chosen to abandon the terms “liberal” and “conservative” to describe Catholic teaching. Here is a taste of a Washington Post interview with new editor Rev. Matt Malone:
America has been known as a place hospitable to ideas that may challenge traditional church teaching. Now it wants to shed its reputation as liberal. Why?
Certainly America never called itself that or conceived of ourselves that way [as liberal]. If your mission is to the margins, and at the intersection of the church and the world, by definition you live and work in tension. . . . On one hand we are deeply committed to the church in every sense, the institutional sense, the larger theological sense, we are in and of the church. At the same time, we are missioned to the boundaries. . . . Our lived commitment to the church, it’s strong. But at the same time it can’t be uncritical.
We always tried to present multiple perspectives, but I think you’ll see an even more pronounced effort to do that. Look, if the church is the body of Christ and we are one communion, by definition as a work of the church, there can’t be an authentic Catholic voice that’s unwelcome in America. . . . When we say an “authentic” Catholic voice, we don’t mean someone baptized. When we say “faithful,” we mean someone who is engaging the tradition. . . . There are things that are fundamental, like the sanctity of human life. They aren’t up for debate in terms of their core value. How the teachings are applied with prudence, what is appropriate for the time and place when we’re living, there are a number of ways to think about that.