A Tradition of Hopelessness?

I’ve been reading certain blogs and newspapers online by Catholics who believe that the Church has lost her Catholic identity and her traditional roots.  I must admit that the reading is very depressing; but not because of the alleged crisis in the Church.  This is not to deny that there is a crisis of faith in the world, which affects people of all faith traditions.  We can address that in a later post in this blog.  For the time being, allow me to speak about the blogs and periodicals that are being posted online by Catholics.

When I was growing up, I was taught that in a democratic society, disagreement is a sign of health.  When disagreement triggers dialog, the possibility for growth is endless.  Along with such sage advice, my mother also taught me that disagreement must never rise to the level of disrespect for a person or his office.  Crude, disrespectful, dismissive or condescending behavior is simply arrogance.  Arrogance, like any other evil, has no rights.  Therefore, the arrogant person forfeits his right to a dialog with civilized and intelligent human beings.

What we have is certain Catholic journals and blogs publishing articles and posts that disagree with much of what Pope Francis does and say.  There is nothing wrong with that, as long as the Church is open for dialog, which she is on certain points.  However, they take the liberty to apply such terms as Modernist, apostate, heretic, Marxist, sacrilege, indifferentism, syncretism, and more to the Vicar of Christ.

Everyone knows that there has never been such a person as the perfect pontiff.  From the first day of its existence, the pontificate has been plagued by human weakness.  Yet, it has survived.  It has survived, because Grace has never been absent in the Church, especially in the Petrine Ministry.  The first pope denied his master three times.  He behaved with certain prejudices toward Jews and Gentiles, causing Paul to “lose it.”

However, when Paul lost it, he challenged Peter’s behavior and position.  But he also addressed him by his proper title, Cephas or Rock.  Paul did not cease to insist that Simon was the Rock upon which Christ built his Church.  Paul was smart enough to see the weakness in Peter’s behavior when it came to the conversion of Gentiles and smart enough to remember that despite it all, Peter was the Vicar of Christ, not him.  So . . . he took his argument to Peter and to the Council of Jerusalem.  But not once did he stick disparaging labels on Peter.

Some “Traditional Catholics” invoke Irenaeus as their model or Catherine of Siena.  Both of these people held on to the faith during times of crisis in the Church and the world.  Both were honest enough to speak their mind to the pope and point to the errors in the pope’s thinking.  Maybe, the reason why Irenaeus and Catherine share the label “saint” in front of their names, is not because they challenged and questioned, but because they loved and respected.  They acknowledged that whatever they saw as mistakes didn’t change the fact that the pope was the legitimate successor of Peter who was the Prince of the Apostles and the Vicar of Jesus Christ.  They spoke up without mocking, insulting, and labeling the pope or encouraging others to do so.  They communicated their protest with dignity, charity and humility.  I often find this lacking when writers in blogs and periodicals apply hurtful labels to the person of the pope and to his ministry.

Surely, we can learn from Catherine, Irenaeus and many other great men and women in Catholic history, how to speak about those things that are difficult and disturbing without arrogance, rudeness, and hopelessness.


Published in: on January 19, 2016 at 10:14 PM  Leave a Comment  

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