Today marks the beginning of the Conclave, and the one or other Cardinal still manages, through friendly journalists, to get his name mentioned in the press, together with the one or other easy slogan making his name look so beautiful.
This morning, two of them have attracted my still sleepy attention: the Church is, says one Cardinal, supposed to bring “joy” to the world. If you ask another, the Church must “accompany” it.
This is the kind of Tofu Catholicism with which two generations of unfortunate faithful have now been fed. It tastes of nothing, but it is fashionable, and apparently considered healthier than the traditional fare.
Now, I have nothing against joy. If David Cameron were to be ousted today, I would experience a heavy dose of it. I also like Hope as a theological virtue, and try to practice it as good as I can. But when Catholicism – nay; the role itself of the Church – is reduced to “joy” something is going very, very wrong.
Tofu Catholicism does not confront one with the harsh realities of life, but rather sweeps the unpleasant news under the carpet or, if we want to remain by the culinary metaphor, neglects the possibility of death out of lack of vitamins. “Joy” becomes, for the clergy and the laity of the V II generation, an easy escapism which refuses to even consider the extremely harsh, but extremely real, threat of Hell. This Catholicism is like a Brothers Grimm's tale where the wolf is automatically neutralised, grandma is taken out of his belly amidst the applause of the crowds, and the happy end is simply taken for granted whilst everyone feels so good and holy. Whatever this is, this is not Catholicism. Let's hope we are spared a Pope of the “joyous” type.
The other easy slogan is the “accompanying”. How beautifully ambiguous! How wonderfully uncommitted! One can “accompany” pretty much anyone on this planet without doing the least for their salvation. One can “accompany” them through their divorcing and remarrying, their contracepting, their morning-after-pill taking, their “gay friends” boasting, without ever having to say one word about the grave dangers their walk leads into. Still, how good it sounds. Gentle. Caring. Full of understanding.
It is a clear indication of the V II clergyman that he tries not to mention Christ. If he does, he'll present a kindergarten version of Him, lest the sheep be scared. He'll rather “accompany” them, babbling tofu-tasting waffle about “joy”, and “accompanying” them all the way to hell.
Today marks the beginning of the Conclave.
O Lord, please give us a strong Pope.