Daily Archives: March 25, 2012
I am very sorry to tell you if you clicked here hoping to find the usual copy-and-paste blog post about the last papal trip you will have to click somewhere else. The same applies if you want to read what has been said thousands of times before, and will be said thousands of times in future: the young are the future, the papal visit has inflamed so many hearts, Pope wants peace, and water is wet.
This blog is of a rather more critical and, if you wish, more cynical nature, and his humble author tries to understand what results these papal visits achieve rather than to dish the soup warmed one thousand times already.
Mexico, then. I have lived the Papal visit in the UK in September 2010, have seen the masses it has attracted – this was really a surprise much different from the “water is wet”- newsline, considering the climate which the BBC & Co. had tried to create and the popularity deficit of the present Pontiff if compared to the former one – and even so I can tell you, eighteen months later, that the papal visit has left no permanent mark whatsoever. On the contrary, whilst eighteen months ago the so-called homo-marriage was not in the cards, it has now become a very real possibility, and euthanasia has started to make its first timid steps towards official – first judicial, than legal, as it happens very often over here – recognition.
One is, therefore, forced to ask oneself what use these papal visits are, if after the departure of the Pontiff the local clergy – generally the most immediate cause of problems – is left in the same dismal state as it was before.
The use is, I am tempted to say, the headlines. A bit of PR here, a bit of headlines there, a bit of smoke a bit everywhere. It seems to work as an alternative to serious action, as we see that serious action never follows the quest for the headlines; and when people start to wonder, you can always plan the next visit.
The harsh reality is that a papal visit is the equivalent of a straw fire in your own fireplace, generating a very short phase of beautiful flame followed by, pretty much, nothing.
One could say that the world Catholics need – or have a right, even; all read already – to see their Pontiff. This is a novel concept, never applied in the past two thousand years of Catholicism. It is also a rather impracticable one, as if you accept Catholics are entitled to the expectation of a papal visit you had better expect the Pope doing nothing else than travelling. Besides, we are in the age of internet and tv, with the Pope accessible everyday to a large part of the planet’s Catholics.
I am a very old-fashioned man. In my world, the Pope is the man who sits in Rome and cares for his job of successor of Peter pretty much from there; whereas the work of evangelisation is mainly directed by those appointed for the job (they are called, then, bishops) and executed in daily life by their aides (they are called, then, priests) or people sent ad hoc (they are called,, then, missionaries).
If the Church on the ground does not work, no amount of papal visits will ever manage to let it work. If the Church on the ground works, a Papal visit is a nice addition but is in the end not needed.
This point is, it seems to me, sorely neglected. The Church in Germany does NOT work, and the – if I remember correctly – two papal visit there from Pope Benedict have achieved pretty much nothing in improving things. The same goes for the visit in England, though here the impressive popular participation was unexpected; but again, notwithstanding that pretty much nothing happened as a direct result of the visit.
One could say that in England the reintroduction of the meatless Friday was due to the Papal visit, but I would disagree; this was a decision of the bishops all right, taken one year later, to pay some lip service and compensate for a continued disregard of orthodoxy, and for which the anniversary of the papal visit was merely a convenient excuse, to try to give themselves some credentials for their otherwise dismal lack of action.
The same goes for all the talk of the local hierarchy being oh so energised, and the faithful oh so enthusiastic. Bad bishops will continue to be bad exactly in the same way, and poorly catechised Catholics to use contraception exactly like before.
I am, I am sure, not the only one who wishes the Popes (the former one, the present ones and, no doubt, the next one) would dedicate less time to flying around the world and show more decisiveness in dealing with the vast, but plain to see and rather easy to deal with problems of the Church particularly in the West (it’s not difficult, really: you kick out the bad bishops and substitutes them with good ones. There’s no other way, though I admit it’s more controversial than travelling). You can’t substitute decisiveness with air miles, and your bad bishops won’t become better because suddenly inspired by your visit.
The problem is, when the Popes is gone the problems remain exactly the same, and the headlines are very short-lived anyway. Seriously: what has changed in England? What in Germany? What would a visit to Austria change?
I wonder how many foreign trips Pius IX ever made, and how many Catholics were angry because he never visited them; but again, Pius IX didn’t seem very interested in headlines, either.
Having had the privilege of living in what can be called as different cultures, I can give my readers a perspective – a subjective one of course, but I think a widely shared one – about the issue of gluttony.
In Italy, gluttony as a concept is still alive and kicking. When I was at school, the teachers did not hesitate in publicly scolding overweight children – children who in today’s britain would not even be called fat – as “gluttons”, and there was an icy atmosphere in the class as an eight-year-old girl was ruthlessly exposed as an example of wrong behaviour, or a nine-years-old boy as a menace to his own happiness.I remember very, very clearly no one in the same class would have ever thought of branding such scoldings as “insensitive”. Everyone, and I mean everyone, knew they were made out of sincere interest for the health – moral or physical, according to the single teacher – of the young pupil.Social control worked – and still works – rather well.
The same mentality you would encounter outside the classroom. In Italy there is a certain way of thinking, by which a moderate amount of fat is still considered OK. The “fat” southern Italian mamma was never considered an example of gluttony, and the well-rounded man a’ la Peppone in the Don Camillo movies a universally accepted figure. Still, they would both be called, if not gluttons, certainly fat.
The line was drawn when the fat began to be an impairment, or eating a clear priority in one’s life. People started to be called obese far before they reached the extreme I see here in Blighty, whilst the latter example (people literally unable to walk and moving around in electric chairs, or fat to the point of circus attraction deformity) were basically non-existent.
The situation was not much different in Germany, a country still largely dominated – in those times at least, that was before Merkel and so-called same-sex marriages – by a broadly intended Christian thinking. Whilst the point at which one is considered fat was somewhat shifted, the thinking was largely the same. In both countries excessive, deformity-inducing fatness – which one could see over there every now and then, though it was rather seldom – was considered a sure sign of an uncontrolled character, an immoderate lack of every discipline and, in general, a sign of gravely immature character to say the least.
Then I moved to England. Together with the great shock of noticing Christianity was an option, rather than a standard (which is, in short, what prompted this very poorly instructed, non-practising, confused Catholic to start deepening Catholicism and, in time, to start going to Church again, greatly encouraged by the presence, in this country, of those assertive, orthodox Catholics I had never found in Germany), I noticed a different attitude to a lot of things; very notable among them, gluttony.
Gluttony as a concept is, in this country, non-existent at the level of the general population, and I wonder how present it is even among Catholics, and among church-going Catholics. The general idea seems to be that whilst obesity is a health problem, the culprits for the problem are to be largely looked everywhere but in the obese people themselves. From McDonald to Coca-Cola, from consumerism to TV advertisements, to lack of proper education pretty much everyone and everything is made responsible for the (very evident) problem of obesity, but gluttony.
The problem is made worse by the omnipresent culture of understanding for pretty much everything under the sun – a country who doesn’t have the guts to condemn sodomy will never have the guts to tackle gluttony -, engendering a mentality where an immoderately obese person can think he is entitled to various benefits (from those ridiculous electric vehicles to surgical operations when they massacre their knees with beautiful regularity) without anyone questioning the wisdom of such mentality. When the national health service decided a person weighing 180 Kg would have to get down to 140 Kg before being entitled to a knee operation, there was a socialist uproar. Gluttony was, of course, nowhere to be heard in the debate.
And so it happens that a country throwing away every Christian concept – which are not only divinely ordained, but conducive to a healthier and happier life – then throws money at the problems this abandonment has created, and cannot notice the cul-de-sac in which it has put itself. As I write, gluttony is never seen as such; you have rather two opposed fractions of nannies opposing each other: the health nazis who want to kill every joy in life and see obese people as a public enemy; and the socialist fraction obviously patronising them and giving the responsibility for their deformity to everyone who is not the obese people themselves.
In all this, Christianity is not to be seen. Absolutely nowhere, not even in the stance of the Church who would, once, have acknowledged the existence of such a sin as gluttony and has, today, all but forgotten it.
Guess whether they will manage to solve the problem with the same un-PC efficiency the Italians do.
Rorate Caeli has some reflections about Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, who died 21 years ago.
I disagree with their statement that without him the struggle for the preservation of traditional Catholicism would have been lost – my take is the Holy Ghost allows the Church to undergo periods of confusion, not to lose Her mission and identity – but I think it cannot be put in doubt that this man gave a huge contribution to the vocal defence of what Catholicism had always been and should have remained.
Twenty-one years after his death, we see Archbishop Lefebvre – though of course not perfect – more and more vindicated not only among conservative Catholics (who certainly have always loved him to a degree, even those who disagree with the SSPX stance) but among mainstream Catholics and the Vatican hierarchy, as the problems he foretold punctually exploded with devastating force and as the drunkenness (I keep describing it this way, as it seems to me a very fitting description) of V II slowly but surely makes place for a long due soberness.
Archbishop Lefebvre and the SSPX were not the only ones to vocally oppose the systematic destruction of Catholic liturgical tradition and orthodox thinking during and following the Council, and I only need to remind you of Romano Amerio’s wonderful Iota Unum to show opposition came from several corners, and was extremely strongly worded.
Still, it cannot be denied that it was this organisation which carried – and still carries – the flag in the most recognisable of ways, spreading all over the West whilst the people of the tambourines ravaged the very essence of Catholicism and the Vatican looked on in culpable impotence.
Therefore, on this day one Eternal Rest or three for this brave man is, I think, more than appropriate.
Thank God for Archbishop Lefebvre, and his brave soldiers of Christ.
Reblog of the day, part III
We have examined in the past two posts (here and here) the most common ways to understand reincarnation and their fundamental incompatibility with the existence and work of Christ. Let us now conclude by examining the utter failure of such new age “Christianity-cum-reincarnation” perspectives from a more practical point of view.
In order to do so, one must decide whether Indians are a people intrinsically or even genetically prone to violence and cruelty, or not. If one decides that they are, one subscribes to a racist vision of the world which is the contrary of what modern followers of reincarnation tend to (at least consciously) believe. If one doesn’t, he has a problem.
It is in fact clear from the most superficial exam of the Indian society that a high level of cruelty and ruthlessness, unknown to Christian societies, has dominated its social structures for a long…
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Reblog of the day, part II
This is rather easy, as the belief in reincarnation can only be (erroneously) held if no attentive and systematic reading of Scriptures has taken place. What generally happens is that a “hearsay Christian” (vast majority nowadays, I’m afraid) reads or receives from some friend some information about verses of the Gospel in which Jesus would seem to endorse the theory of reincarnation. Also rather spread are legends about the bible having been “manipulated” (an old dish of heresy, this one), but I am going to discard those for their evident absurdity.
One verse often cited is the one in which Jesus asks the Apostles who they think He is and they answer ” Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” (Mt. 16, 13-14). To an attentive reader it is evident here that Jesus could not possibly have been the reincarnation of John…
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Reblog of the day, part I
I am rather sure that it has happened to you too at some point: some friend or colleague or acquaintance of yours not only believes in reincarnation (perfectly possible, if he’s not a Christian), but sometimes even considers this compatible with Christianity; perhaps he even calls himself a Christian with utter conviction and in perfect good faith and will still say that he believes in reincarnation.
In such errors we must see another result of the disgraceful catechesis of these last decades; when such things happen I would invite you to be gracefully firm with the person in question and simply point out to the incompatibility of reincarnation with Christianity, and explain why. Sadly, though, we live in such times that new age infiltrations (or Buddhistic ones, or such like) are allowed to dilute the message of Christianity because no effort whatsoever is made by the Clergy to maintain the…
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