That makes things awkward for us traditionalists. It's no use attempting to renew traditionalist communities but bringing with us a Christian culture that has become hostile to tradition.
The very opposite ought to be true. The clergy ought to be the most solid supporters of traditional communities.
So what has gone wrong? I'm not going to attempt to put forward a complete or systematic answer. I'll limit myself to a few thoughts and acknowledge at the same time that I am not an expert theologian.
The first observation I'd like to make is this: Christianity enjoins us to love man for the sake of God. That makes Christianity a certain kind of religion, one that encourages social commitment rather than an otherworldly withdrawal from society.
That's something that should be appreciated by traditionalists. It means that the "big picture" aspect of Christianity encourages us to care about what kind of society we live in and the kinds of goods that are promoted in that society. It discourages the option tempting to traditionalists, of finding a quiet place in the countryside where we can live the good life, without being concerned about what is happening to the larger society.
However, this social commitment aspect of Christianity can also appeal to the left. Furthermore, in scripture there are plenty of references to helping the most marginalised and to the particular virtue of showing love for the outsider. If you combine the social commitment with the identification with the other then you get something very like a left-liberal understanding of solidarity (one in which you show virtue by turning against your own in order to identify with the other). That then becomes a dissolving form of religion, as there is no longer a loyalty to the particular tradition you belong to.
And that is where we have to be very careful in the way that Christianity is understood. It is not that the left is making things up, but that they are running with a certain understanding of scripture that fits with their world view.
The leftist take on scripture isn't supported within Catholic tradition. In this tradition there is an "ordo caritatis" in which our obligations are ordered, with the closer relations taking precedence to those further out.
And that's the basic answer to leftist Christianity: that extending compassion and care to the marginalised or to outsiders does not extinguish the loves and the obligations that we have to those we are more closely related to.
However, I do want to make a criticism of the Catholic position (at least as I understand it). The Catholic position seems to be that the love we have for our family or our ethnic kin is a natural one, but that through the infusion of divine grace we are given a supernatural ability to love those we have no such natural inclinations toward, such as outsiders or the marginalised.
That perhaps explains why Catholic priests and bishops have collapsed on this issue. If you really believe this, then it will seem more distinctly Christian and more virtuous to prefer the marginalised and the outsider, as such feelings will be thought of as being more than natural - as being supernatural.
But I don't think the schema works very well. It seems to me to be a false division into natural and supernatural.
Let's look at the relationships more exactly. Is it really true, for instance, that the traditional family is founded on natural ties of affection and loyalty? The answer seems to be: yes and no. Certainly, there are natural instincts that bring men and women together to procreate and to attempt to ensure the survival of offspring. But these instincts can be expressed in different ways. For instance, there have been some societies in which women were allowed to follow an inclination to choose a variety of men to have sexual relationships with. With uncertain paternity, men then invested more in their sisters' children; the role of uncle was more important than that of father. Other societies have permitted older men with resources and status to follow an inclination to choose much younger women as additional wives.
So why then in the Christian tradition have we had monogamous marriage? It's not because this is simply a natural outcome that doesn't require any larger spiritual aspect. Instead it involves an ordering of natural inclinations through our higher conscience, our social commitments and our spiritual nature. Why, for instance, would an attractive, resource rich older male limit himself to his first wife? Does it not have to do with a ideal of love that is an expression of our spiritual being? Does it not have to do with our social commitment, in the sense of understanding that we limit ourselves for the good of the society we identify with? And why would men not lightly abandon one family for another? Does that not have to do with our higher conscience, in the sense of recognising paternal duties to our children?
The family as we know it is not simply a natural unit and therefore lesser to what might be thought of as spiritual. It survives at least in part through a kind of inspiration - through a process of higher valuing - that is a key role of the churches to promote.
And we can say something similar for ethnic kinship. It is not the case that the relationships we have to people we are ethnically related to are simply natural ones. Yes, there is a kind of natural form of identity with people we are closely related to in matters of language, culture, race, history and so on, But so too are there factors undermining such a loyalty, a key one being material self-interest (but there are others: a nihilistic urge to destroy, a desire to more easily control people by dissolving group loyalties, sectional interests such as dynastic or class ones, assertions of radical individualism based on pride or radical autonomy and so on).
People have long been aware of the natural forces pulling apart communal loyalty. The Australian Federation poets warned of a base materialism and of radical autonomy; George Essex Evans, for instance, wrote of the newly established nation:
The world's grey page lies bare today-Unfortunately his warnings went unheeded: the forces pulling against a communal loyalty proved too strong.
The rise of nations - the decay.
Will She, too, rise - and fall as they?
What shall it profit Her if we
Make gold our God, and strength our plea,
And call wild licence Liberty?
So what then allows an ethnic kinship to survive? If you have natural inclinations pushing both for and against this kinship, what allows the baser ones - the materialism, the individualism, the managerialism, the sectionalism - to be suppressed so that the communal tradition can survive?
Again, this is where social commitment, higher conscience and human spirituality come into play. Human spirituality recognises the inherent good (a kind of communal soul) that is created over time within such communities. It also values the connectedness to generations past and present that exists within such communities. Social commitment means that people choose to place limits on their own material or sectional self-interests for the larger interests of the community. A higher conscience means that people feel a duty to the key institutions of the society; they might, for instance, be willing to make sacrifices within the family in order to raise a future generation.
Again, a church should set itself to promote this kind of sorting or odering amongst natural impulses; it should encourage the preferencing of commitment, conscience and spirituality rather than a falling into materialism, sectionalism and individualism.
Finally, there are the relationships we have to people we are not closely related to: toward people who are outsiders or marginalised in some way.
The point to be made here is a slightly different one. I suggested above that current theology tells us that our concern for such people is not a natural one and must therefore be a divinely infused supernatural one.
Again, I think this is at least partly false. I don't doubt that people are naturally more willing to make sacrifices for those they are more closely related to. I'm likely, for instance, to be more willing to put my life at risk to save my children than to save a stranger.
But we shouldn't exaggerate this. Is there really no natural feeling for the suffering of another human being, even if they are not family or ethnic kin? If I saw someone of another tribe or nation in need of medical attention and I had a phone to ring for an ambulance is it really unnatural for me to make the call?
Christianity does do a good job in forcefully reminding us that charity doesn't stop at home. It is right that it does so. But I would dispute the idea that the sacrifices men make every day as fathers are merely "natural" and unspiritual, whilst the occasional act we might make for someone we don't know is supernatural and therefore the proper focus and subject matter of a church.
A church ought to see to it that each form of relationship - family, ethnic kin and stranger - is rightly ordered, in the sense that natural inclinations are joined together with social commitment, higher conscience and spirituality to create the higher forms or expressions of these relationships.