Play With Fire And You’ll Get Burned.
I received a message with these lines:
I was made aware of the event at Assisi from an acquaintance in California (I am in Tennessee now) who is into all the New Age religions. I found it amazing that she was looking forward to seeing the Peace Gathering in Assisi and at first I thought it was a bunch of New Agers taking over our Beloved Hallowed ground of St. Francis and St. Clara! Then when I saw it announced as being covered by EWTN I was shocked. I watched it for a while and had to turn it off as I was getting horrible feelings from it.
I can’t stop thinking of these words, because this simple episode shows in a crude way what happens when we – or the Vatican, or the Pope – play with fire.
The fact is, that we Catholics spend far too much time analysing every word the Holy Father has said, or the minutiae about why this or that is, if unusual, still compatible with Catholic thinking. For example, we are not allowed to pray together with people of other religions, but then it’s not explicitly forbidden that the pagans and we plan to pray separately, after we have gathered in the same place. Similarly, we are not saying that it is fine for others to be part of other religions, but we stress how good they are whilst they are part of another religion. Hey, we come even so far as to say how good they are even if they follow no religion.
Whilst we discuss about the orthodoxy of the small details, the world at large understands exactly the message that – at least officially – was meant not to be spread around: how cool it is that everyone gathers together to tell each other how cool they all are. Hey, they’re all for peaaaaace so they must be all right, right?
I also liked the reader’s observation about the “horrible feelings” she got looking at the thing on EWTN. In fact, it seems to me that in such matters the sensus fidelium – and I mean here the real one, the sincere religious feeling as it has been traditionally lived – is the best indication to judge these events: if it feels so wrong, it can’t be right. We all have these feelings, which is why we instinctively react – better said, our souls react – to things that whilst not necessarily forbidden – like the guitars in the church, the protestantisation and/or banalisation of the Mass – nevertheless are wrong because they go against the way Catholic spirituality has always been lived.
Astonishingly, it seems to be one of the biggest worries of theologians to persuade us that there must be a new and better way to do things, than how they have always been done.
You know what? There isn’t. What has always been true is still true, what has always been felt as wrong will always be felt as wrong, and how many more or less intelligent Assisi exercises are called to life will change a bit less than zero in this matter.
I do hope that this mistake – a mistake which, I am afraid, will haunt this papacy and will be remembered everytime the undoubted achievements of the present reign are remembered – does not inflict too big a damage to the reconciliation talks with the SSPX. Unfortunately, the media flop of the initiative does not necessarily mean the theological implications will be forgotten soon, and rumours that the SSPX is oriented to refuse the preambolo dottrinale have already started to spread around the net. Would you want to be a SSPX bishop explaining to the members of the congregation that it is fine to invite a voodoo priest to talk in church? Me neither…
It would be a real shame if it turned out that Assisi III played an important role in the (possible) decision of the SSPX the Vatican is not trustworthy enough, and the process of reconciliation will have to wait for a Pope completely free from Vatican II infections, and ready to embrace Catholicism without lazy compromises with the need for popularity, or with the desire to please the rapidly aging trendies and sandal-wearers.
Please read the initial message again, and see if it doesn’t resonate with you. Whilst we talk about doctrinal nuances, the world out there thinks that the Church is so keen to mix herself with the pagans. Congratulations.
How about the Pope participating to the next Telethon (or some other “thon”) together with Richard Dawkins and Stephen Fry? Working “all together” for a good cause (wouldn’t it, ohhh, be ohhh so beautifuuul?) they could stress how much good militant atheists and perverts can do! “Atheists And Christians against poverty”, how does that sound! Think of it: everyone working together, Christian and Atheist, normal and pervert, how very edifying! We are the world! Where’s Oprah?
The only good thing of Assisi III is it made sure there will never be an Assisi IV, but its last message is still clear: play with fire, and you’ll get burned.