I don’t know exactly why that is, but I have noticed, all over the blogosphere, a noticeable (as a whole; you, my dear reader, are most certainly an exception) difference between Anglosaxon Catholic converts from Protestantism and cradle Catholics.
From my Southern European perspective, I cannot avoid noticing a rigidity, a certain lack of perspective (both human and historical) that I never saw around me growing up in Italy, back when religious feeling was still very strong among the old.
It is as if – possibly after peregrinations in several local Protestant churches, all of which left them dissatisfied in some ways – they would, upon knowing the Church, think that she must be the real deal and, therefore, without blemish. Sadly, the Church is, whilst undoubtedly the real deal, most certainly not without blemish.
Every tourist can, in Rome, visit the beautiful palace Pope Alexander VI gave, courtesy of the faithful’s purse, to his lifetime mistress and mother of his five sons.
Palace. Lifetime mistress. Five sons.
Let that sink in.
Episodes not quite as obvious as this, but, in their essence, like this one are countless. They are, in Italy, everywhere as the history of the Church is so closely intertwined with that of the Country. Italians, Frenchmen, Spaniards know this instinctively, because these episodes are a part of the cultural fabric of their Country.
When the Counter Reformation started, it is said that 90% of the priests were thought to have a mistress of sort (either an “official” one, or the willing, young, tasty domestic servant that was another very old European tradition). How must a devout faithful have felt, who knew his priest to have such a stain on his tunic? He certainly felt low esteem for his priest, and likely said it, too. But that this would come between him and the Church was absolutely out of the question; it would have been such a sinful enormity that it would have made, likely, pale the servant of the priest in comparison.
We see this rigidity in those “Bennyconverts” who, having converted to Catholicism under Benedict, seem to think that they have subscribed to that particular deal, and no other.
“I converted to Catholicism because I liked Benedict, but now I am confused and don’t know if I will stay” is another way of saying “I had a very bad conversion that was due to emotional and contingent reasons, and now the chicken are coming home to roost”.
The Church is forever, both on our planet and in our soul. You need to disconnect the institution from the people. Why do you stand up and sing “America the Beautiful” with full lungs even if a demented usurper lives in the White House, but doubt the infinitely more important, Divinely ordained, and Divinely protected institution of the Church?
When someone converts, he does not sign Benedict’s contract. He signs the contract of 2000 years of faithful Catholics inside the Church that Christ created, and which is the only one. There is no other shop and no other Truth, because there is no other Christ.
Francis, Cupich, Martin, and all those like them will soon be gone to their terrible judgment. To the Church, they are what a fly is to a horse. There will always be some pesky fly around the horse.
The Church is not, like a Protestant ecclesial community, defined by her leaders of the day. She is defined by the unchangeable Truths Her Creator gave her, and by the sixty generations of faithful who have abided by them during two millennia.
Benedict, Francis, Alexander, Father Georgina, and that guy Cupich are simply insignificant.