Colleague S (for “secular”) comes out with a statement that is entirely wrong; say, about abortion. Colleague R (for “reader”; one of mine, that is) immediately counters.
R has, very broadly stated, two options.
The first is to politely point out that the Church has consistently been against abortion. It might work, though I doubt it. The problem with that is that whenever you present what the Church says as just an opinion, the natural reaction of the secular person is to reflect that he knows that, just as he knows (or so he thinks) that the Church is wrong.
The other option is the strong one. You tell your interlocutor that there can never be any justification for murdering a baby in the womb; which is why the Church always and consistently opposed it, and states that hell awaits those who commit such a heinous crime and die unrepentant. Bam.
S will not be pleased at the reaction. He will be angry at you. He might stop saying “good morning” when you arrive in the office (something, this, which seems strangely difficult to many office Brits anyway). But you can be sure of this: that whilst the polite disagreement, which does not add anything new or different to what he already knows, will immediately be deleted from his “internal hard drive”, the strong reaction will not be easily forgotten; perhaps it will, in fact, never be forgotten.
The fact is, the double whammy of strong statement and threat of hell is very rarely heard nowadays. This is why it will stick. It may be rejected. It will – initially – be rejected. But a seed will have been planted, that will stay there. This, my friends, is old evangelisation. A strong message, delivered strongly. The speciality of our great-grandmas and great-grandpas. The daily bread of our ancestors. The attitude commonly expected from every pulpit. Nowadays, even having a pulpit seems not nice enough.
With God's grace, this seed will start to sprout when conditions allow, which can be many, many years later. The statement having made an impression, the brain will recall it from the recesses of the memory also many years later. This is, literally, what “impression” means: the printing, the permanent mark of a statement or a situation in one's consciousness.
A mid-life crisis might happen one day. A bereavement. A grave disease. Any other kind of situation that knocks Secular Guy (or Secular Gal) out of his accustomed way of thinking. There is no saying what kind of seeds can begin to sprout in such situations, if they have been planted there in the first place.
Our duty is not to be liked. Our duty is to be truthful. I prefer to plant my seed at the price of hatred, but being sure the seed is there.
It is generally not true that gentle persuasion and suave words work. If this were the case, our softly-softly Catholic priests would have a huge following, and our churches would be full of zealous faithful so irresistibly won by their oh so soft, polite, whispered encouragements. It is beyond belief that after 50 years of failure there should still be those who never tire of telling us how honey attracts etc. Reality has spoken, and its verdict is resounding all over the Catholic world. Suave words only work, if at all, with those who already agree. And they could work, if seldom, only in a world already immersed in the very harsh truths of Catholicism. The Church of yesteryear could afford some honey, because it was made of iron. A church made of honey will go simply nowhere.
Read your Gospel, and see for yourself if Jesus refrained from very harsh words whenever the situation required it.
In many situations in life, the achievement of a given result demands that a price of sort be paid. You can't learn to play guitar just by wishing it. If you want to plant this particular seed, I am afraid you will have to pay that particular price. This is a mechanism inbuilt in Christianity, which functions in such a way that zeal attracts enmity or persecution. Methinks, Christ wanted it in this way so that by experiencing on an infinitely small scale what He endured on an infinitely vaster one, we may find another little way to unite our suffering to His; then this life isn't supposed to be a walk in the park.
If you are ready to pay the price of enmity for Christ you will receive a hundredfold what you have paid, with persecutions. That's the way it is, it's just how Christianity works.
Colleague S will not be pleased with you. You might notice he starts, perhaps, mocking or isolating you behind your back. He might well make you appear a jerk and a bigot with those – very many – who are like minded; but your deed will not go unnoticed in heaven, and your seed will hopefully sprout one day.
Make your point in a strong way. Impress it on your interlocutor.
Suave encouragements only persuade those already persuaded.
I have received a couple of very disquieting – I would say: delirious – messages from some confused Jew; possibly drunk, or else a foreigner without a good command of English.
I think it is fitting here to publish Pope Pius XII's (yes: the hero who saved more than 800,000 Jews from persecution and very possible death) prayer for the conversion of the Jews in the English translation:
Let us pray also for the faithless Jews: that almighty God may remove the veil from their hearts; so that they too may acknowledge Jesus Christ our Lord. Let us pray. Let us kneel. [pause for silent prayer] Arise. Almighty and eternal God, who dost not exclude from thy mercy even Jewish faithlessness: hear our prayers, which we offer for the blindness of that people; that acknowledging the light of thy Truth, which is Christ, they may be delivered from their darkness. Through the same our Lord Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Whilst the translations I have found say “faithless”, my rusty Latin would indicate that the prefix “per” in oremus et pro perfidis Judaeis indicates “wrong”, the idea of “wrongness”. As in pervert (per and versus, in the wrong direction) or perjury (per and iurare, “to give a wrong oath”). Therefore, it seems to me that the translation should primarily convey the concept of “wrong faith”, rather than that of “no faith”; which last would almost seem to suggest that the Jews are atheists; albeit I do get that as there is only one faith all those who are outside of it are, strictly speaking, “faithless”.
I ask you to join me in this sincere prayer for the conversion of the Jews. Say also, in your charity, one or three Hail Marys for the offence to the Blessed Virgin of the possibly drunken guy.
Ecumenism, Mundabor's way.
You might have missed it, but some days ago a non-magisterial document issued by some retarded Vatican commission for the non evangelisation and the surrender to the world stated that there is no need to evangelise the Jews. I was expecting a formal condemnation of the Apostles for their intolerance and lack of understanding of the Old Covenant, but I think the Vatican commission for the dialogue with the infidels and the pleasing of the retarded stopped short of that.
It seems to me that a vast exercise in plate licking is taking place. Not only Francis is spreading heresy everytime his one and a half lungs breathe some air, but there is a sort of internal competition within the Vatican to curry favour with him, and push his heretical agenda in any way that would be noted by the Evil Clown. Unless, of course, the very same Evil Clown is the one who has planned the launch of this ballon d'essai in order to better promote his “my Rabbi buddy is 100% fine” agenda.
I am now eagerly awaiting for the angry reactions of Bishops and Cardinals to this affront to Christ and His Church, for their strong reaffirmation of the mission of the Church, and for their warning to Francis to either start running the shop like he is the Pope or consider asking the Castros for the concession of a humble abode, where he might spend his last days preaching social envy to the stinking socialists.
I wonder how long I will have to wait.
The Pope stated the obvious objection to his own view that one must not proselytize but rather dialogue and “walk with” people: “But, brother Pope, this is what we are doing, but perhaps we are converting no one or very few people….” Indeed! And the Pope’s answer: “But you are doing it anyway: with your identity, you are hearing the other.”
The idea that one can convert others merely by displaying one’s “identity” and “hearing the other” would have sounded like utter nonsense to the martyrs of Korea, who were put to death for preaching the Gospel in order to convert and save souls in keeping with the divine commission. And those same martyrs would probably have not believed it if they were told that one day a Pope would say this to the bishops of Asia: “And the Lord will grant his grace: sometimes he will move hearts and someone will ask for baptism, sometimes not. But always let us walk together. This is the heart of dialogue.” In other words, perhaps you will make converts while dialoguing, perhaps not. But don’t worry: dialogue is the thing! Evangelization has lost all meaning in Bergoglian theology, which is essentially the post-Vatican II Jesuit liberalism of the 1970s.
This is Chris Ferrara’s probably most pregnant statement in an excellent article dealing, once again, with the way the Bishop of Rome refuses to do his job as bishop, let alone bishop of Rome.
It is clear by now the strategy that this man is pursuing: to be what non-Catholics, lapsed Catholics and Anti-Catholics want him to be, but delivering some timid statement every now and then so that the Pollyannas may continue to believe he is an orthodox Pope; in the same way as the Waffen SS believed in Nazi victory in February 1945.
Pope Francis is trying to achieve the demolition of Catholicism as we know it, and its substitution for a vaguely new-age religion of “hearing one another” whose stupidity is only surpassed by the arrogance of the man so humbly proposing himself as Best Pope Since Peter.
I do not know what name one could give to such a mentality, but “Catholic” is certainly not one that jumps to mind. It’s the kind of waffle you could hear from a confused liberal elementary school teacher; not from a priest, much less a Cardinal, much less a Pope.
Francis goes around saying that Catholicism is an option; but he does not seem averse to the audience and popularity coming to him from his having the job that, of all jobs in the world, does not speak of options. It is as if the headmaster would spend his day saying to the pupils that school isn’t important after all, what counts is that they are nice friends people would want to be around.
Shall I, then, blame this obvious old atheist called Francis for the excrement he deposits at our door at least three times a week? Or shall I, rather, blame the brainless masses who continue to feel like they were “his friend” everytime the old nutcase is afraid of being Catholic, or feels the need to say something completely absurd in exchange for 3 days of media excitement?
Dio vede e provvede, says the wise Italian. God sees and provides. In this case, I can only draw some comfort from the fact that God is already providing for a better time… sometimes after Francis’ departure, or resignation.
But how long our punishment will be, and how massive the rape of Catholicism, I can only fear.
This is the statement of Bishop Jugis on “Charlottegate”.
That such an exercise in lameness and cowardice could be saluted with satisfaction in some quarters is a clear sign of how little we expect from our bishops, to the point that everytime they do not “pull a Francis” we see this as good news.
The bishop’s statement is below. My comments in red.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
The past few weeks have been very difficult for Charlotte Catholic High School. We have all experienced a great deal of pain. During this difficult time I want to express my support and encouragement for all the parents, students, staff and faculty at the high school. We must move forward toward healing with charity, the hallmark of our Christian life.
There we are again. Some people have “experienced a great deal of pain”. No wait, we all have. What sissies we all are. We are such sissies that we now need the “support and encouragement” of the bishop for everyone. Are the janitorial employees “staff”? If not, should they feel excluded? Aren’t they “experiencing a great deal of pain”, too?
Different viewpoints regarding Sr. Jane Dominic Laurel’s presentation to students on March 21, 2014, have been discussed in a variety of venues.
At the parent meeting on April 2, 2014, many expressed concern about the lack of advanced communication with parents regarding the subject matter of the assembly. Apologies were made at the meeting for that lack of advanced communication.
I’ll take it “advanced” means here “previous”. You see, the problem is that nowadays you can’t teach Catholicism without giving fair warning. “Achtung! Catholic morality will be touched upon”! Apologies were made for not telling in advance Sister would talk sound Catholicism. This is less than lame. This is positively gay (in the non-sexual meaning of the term: “stupid, lame, weak”. Isn’t it wonderful how the the vox populi reacts to PC impositions…)
The content of the Church’s moral teaching was not raised as a matter of contention at the parent meeting. All of our Catholic schools are committed to hold and teach the Catholic faith in its fullness and with integrity. The Catechism of the Catholic Church contains an explanation of our faith and is accessible to all.
Church teaching is not contested. It is just not talked about. So much so, that when this happens without “advanced communication”, a mess ensues. Clearly, the Bishop sees the problem in this “advanced communication” not having been given.
During this difficult time I support the continued work of Fr. Matthew Kauth, the chaplain; Mrs. Angela Montague and Mr. Steve Carpenter, the assistant principals; and Mr. Randy Belk, the dean of students; and all they are doing for our Charlotte Catholic High School students. All of us are indebted to them.
More “difficult time” stuff. Everyone and his cat is hurt. How sad. But the bishop supports everyone. These are the people who run a school in which Catholicism gives scandal. How nice of the bishop to support them. Keep up the bad work, folks.
I am shocked to hear the disturbing reports of a lack of charity and respect at the parents’ meeting, and outside the meeting in conversations and in social media. There simply is no room in the Catholic Church for such displays of uncharitableness and disrespect. If we have failed in this regard let us make amends to God and neighbor. Even when we disagree, that disagreement should be expressed respectfully in love.
The words “shut up, bitch!” should not have been uttered. Shockingly uncharitable. I think we should agree with the Bishop. In future, please say: “with all due respect: shut up, bitch!”.
We ask the Lord Jesus Christ for His mercy and His healing as we approach the celebrations of Palm Sunday, Holy Week and Easter Sunday of the Lord’s Resurrection. Please be assured of our continued dedication to the mission to teach and live the truth of the Catholic faith at our Charlotte Catholic High School.
We bla bla, bla bla; bla. bla, & bla.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Most Reverend Peter J. Jugis
Bishop of Charlotte
I have read a couple of times in the last weeks about the fact that Catholicism is supposed to be made “attractive” for non-Catholics.
I do not think this mentality wil ever work,and I do not think it is right, either.
Firstly, we must consider that Catholicism is fundamentally unattractive. Compared with the fluffy ideologies that are smuggled around and were always peddled in the past, it cannot be said that Catholicism – but for it, crucially, being the Truth – would be the way of choice for many of us. Protestants promise salvation just for believing in Jesus, and new age legends even do away with hell, or basically with anything that you don’t feel like doing. By contrast, Catholicism teaches you to be seriously scared – though in a reasonable way – that you may lose the way even after decades of trying to be the best Christian you can.
Fear and trembling on one side, fluffy conviction of one’s own saintliness on the other: in the marketing race for the most attractive package, Catholicism never stood a chance.
Secondly, I see in this desire of making things attractive the big potential for a watering down of the Truth, and in any way a fundamental dishonesty. If one wants to downplay the harsh news, one will end up attracting a crowd that never really signed for the programme, and he must not be surprised if they turn their back when they are told a couple of inconvenient truths about – say – contraception, divorce, or sodomy. They will also think that they have been lured into Catholicism with false pretences and misrepresentations, and I will not disagree with them. Even those who would accept the harsh truths in the end would have to reflect that they have been lured into them with the promise of candies, like children.
Thirdly, the Church has been stressing for the last 50 years the “joy” of Catholicism, as if those outside of it missed some very special entertainment; but she has never explained to non-Catholics how it is that walking on a busy street on a Sunday afternoon there is no way to immediately spot the Catholics, purely out of their oh so joyous countenance. This cheap marketing has not worked, and the Church trying to shape Herself according to the world has lost Her grip on the world She is supposed to fight against, and shape in the process.
I was five years old when my grandmother first put me in front of a Crucifix and told me unless I ask Jesus for forgiveness for my sins, I will go to hell. You might say it was a bit too much and too soon, and I would personally go at it differently. But you see, I still remember the episode. My grandmother was probably concerned for the religious education I would receive from my parents, but again I do not think confronting a five years old with the truths of life was very uncommon in her young days. Yes, I started to cry, and I am sure many a little child before me had the same reaction; but almost fifty years later, I cannot locate any other episode so decisive in putting into me some sound fear of the Lord.
The Truth must be said whole. Honesty commands that it be so, and reflection confirms that it cannot be any other way. Let the non-Catholic readers of this blog be shocked at first contact. Let them be angry at me if it disturbs their fluffy feelings. But the harsh message will stick, at least for a while, and will hopefully be buried somewhere in the reader’s consciousness; to be fished back, perhaps, in ten or thirty years’ time, when the person in question will finally have the serenity to recognise that what he had read in that strange blog, that seemed so “harsh” and “uncharitable” at the time, was actually the truth said whole.
But there is a last reason, why it is better to say the Truth whole. We really do not accomplish anything; not out of our autonomous will anyway. Grace works in us, and leads us to the Faith. There is no way any marketing of mine, shrewd as it may be, might ever achieve anything, but God’s grace will have caused it to happen. If this is so, and it is so, there can be no course of action more reasonable that to say the Truth whole, and to leave it to Jesus to let His Truth slowly work on those He has, from all eternity, decreed they should be influenced by it.
I have never noticed any “marketing” tendency of Jesus in the Gospels. Actually, it seems to me the contrary is the case. Whilst He revealed the Truth gradually to His Apostles, He was revealing a new religion, we aren’t; nor did he command to the Apostles that they evangelise people in installments. Yes, basic prudence will have to guide our actions, but it is my experience that adult people can bear some unpleasant news remarkably well. In the end, even five years old children cope well, too. And if it is a shock, it is a salutary one.
Say the Truth whole; in the appropriate manner and at the appropriate time, but say it whole, trusting that your duty is done when the seed is planted. God’s grace will, if it was so decreed, do the rest in God’s own time.
“Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I commanded you: and lo, I AM with you always, even unto the end of the world.” Matthew 28: 19-20
Let us make a small test here, and let me ask which of these Francis, the Bishop of Rome, is following:
1) Is he “making disciples of all the nations”?
2) Does he consider vital – as mandated by Christ – that they are baptised? How does he see their probable destiny if they aren’t?
3) Does he teach his people to observe his commandments? Or does he rather think there’s no need for that, because hey, they know already? (and by the by, do they?). Does he promote evangelisation, or “dialogue”?
If I were a religion teacher, I would give my fourth-grade pupils the following homework:
– explain what happens at death to a unbaptised atheist who refuses to follow what Jesus commanded, but “does good”: a) according to Christ, and b) according to Francis, and motivate your statements.
The homework would, if I were the teacher of that class, make for interesting reading.
This article, on a translation appeared on The Eponymous Flower, is the best piece of Catholic news I have read in some time.
Seen in context and weighing all the evidence and the sources, the main issue of the article appears incontrovertible: Christianity is on the march in many prevalently Muslim countries. We see here Christ at work under our eyes: the persecuted Church is the Church at its strongest and irresistible in Her advance; an advance paved by the suffering and the blood of Her martyrs.
It must not surprise that such news never make the mainstream outlets: not only is this extremely politically incorrect news for the champagne faggots in BBC style, but it is also a phenomenon that would, for obvious reasons, very seldom be mentioned in the Arab mainstream media.
I also agree with the author of the article when he says the answer to Islam can never be the supposed enlightenment of the secular world, but rather the provision of religious truth in place of religious falsehood. A godless “progress” can never quench spiritual thirst.
Read the article, and smile. Christ is not stopped by stupid clergy. He will punish us in the West because we have deserved the punishment – how hard He will punish our bad clergymen does not bear thinking -, but at the same time he will care that whenever the Church is persecuted she, in times, grows stronger.
Providence at work, and another example just under our eyes of how the Church works; even in the midst of destruction from inside, or persecution from outside.
I receive from a reader, servodeprata (welcome, by the way!) a link from the “Catholic News Service” (the source is, therefore, above suspicion).
The link contains the following pearl of wisdom from our Bishop of Rome:
“Do you need to convince the other to become Catholic? No, no, no! Go out and meet him, he is your brother. This is enough. Go out and help him and Jesus will do the rest”.
For the first time in the history of Catholicism, evangelisation is made without evangelisation. Actually, there could be no need for evangelisation at all.
In pure Francis style, this confused but so well-sounding piece of nonsense could mean one of two:
1. You don’t need to evangelise: Jesus will evangelise for you, when he sees that your meet-o-meter and help-o-meter has reached a high enough level, and he will then care for the conversion of the poor infidel.
2. You don’t need to evangelise because there is nothing like an “infidel”: people “go out”, “meet” as “brothers”, “love”, and “help”; this is all that is required.
I will abstain from any comment because I already had to make a big effort to edit what I had written above in a very soft “piece of nonsense”, and would like not to exceed certain boundaries.
I so much hope that this disgraceful papacy may go to an end soon, and be followed by a better one; a judicious heart attack, or something of the sort, persuading him to step aside and go back to the favelas.
Alas, we are being punished.
Still, one must try to see this tragedy of a pontificate with a bit of humour if he can, at least to safeguard his liver. As I read – and re-read, incredulous – the “no,no,no!”, inclusive of exclamation point, I was reminded of the late singer and of the famous song, and couldn’t avoid imagining Francis saying to Monsignor Ricca “they tried to make me go to rehab, but I said no, no, no!” after three or four Cardinals tried to persuade him it’s time to lock himself in a monastery and learn some Catholicism.
A Catholic rehab is truly what the man needs.
“In this pluralistic situation, we have no other option than consciously cultivating friendly relationships with all of them based on mutual respect and understanding that eventually could lead to mutual collaboration for the common good, for peace and harmony towards the development of the society. This is all what interreligious dialogue is about: Being rooted in our own faith, cultivating, despite differences, harmonious relationships among believers of diverse religions and collaborating with them for the good of humanity with shared values and convictions.”
These aren’t my words, but those of Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council of Inter-religious Dialogue.
One is reminded of Jesus’ words:
“Go ye therefore, and dialogue with all nations, making friends among them and collaborating with them in the name of humanity”
Or perhaps it was:
“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost”
Well, one of the two, anyway; though we do not want to be too fussy here. We are not stuck in the Forties, you know.
The Cardinal’s thinking is very simple: Jesus said to the Apostles to go and convert people of other religions everywhere, but he obviously did not have in mind our modern pluralistic and inclusive society. Nowadays, you might have colleagues and be in contact with people of, believe it or not, other religious convictions; a situation, you will understand, clearly unknown in Jesus’ time.
Now, whilst Our Lord’s suggestion certainly had its own validity in his own times, nowadays we must consider the necessity to “consciously cultivating friendly relationships based on mutual respect and understanding”. It is, of course, highly advisable that you have friends among your, say, Hindu colleagues. But you must not make the mistake of thinking that their conversion be a desirable end.
Your friendship will, on the contrary, be “based on mutual respect and understanding” and have this aim, that it may one day lead to “mutual collaboration for the common good”. If we allow the fact that Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life to come into the equation, strife and controversy will ensue! Jesus cannot have wanted that! Jesus was meek, therefore he would never have tried to disrespect people of other religious convictions by trying to impose on them His own view!
Remember, Christ did not come with a sword, he came to bring peace! (I’ll have to check this one, but take it from me…).
You see, you do not talk with people who do not know or acknowledge Christ’s divinity in the middle of a Country with strong Christian traditions – and are therefore at more or less concrete risk of damnation – in order to convert them. God forbid! What we want to achieve is
“peace and harmony towards the development of the society”
You see, there are people around who are stuck in the Forties and think that Christ always comes first. But they are clearly wrong, and nowadays we are “concerned” about them. Heck, these people even count their rosaries! Go figure! They think like Perl… erm… Pale… erm… Pelagians!
You see, this is why we haven’t mentioned Conversion or Evangelisation with one word. It would have been controversial! Nay, it would have been provocative! We don’t do “provocative”, we do peace and harmony, please check the above! And come on, is the risk of damnation so big? Don’t be a Perl… Pale… erm, one of those people!
In the end, why should we impose our convictions on those good souls! Aren’t these souls who “do good”?
This is the “New Evangelisation”, folks.
How superior to the strange, old ideas of those rosary-counters!
This article from the NBC is a rather good example of what is wrong with the perception (I am talking here merely of the perception: the reality might be much worse) of this papacy.
If the trend described by the article is true – and there is no reason to suppose it isn’t, at least at the level of momentary fashion and purely emotional excitement – the new Pope is found an attractive proposition by lapsed Catholics for the wrong reasons. They look at him and see a Church that is less like the Church and more like them. “Cool”, they say, “I like it”, and you can see the nods of appreciation of the sympathetic journalist.
Pope Francis does everything he can to at least let people perceive that the Church might, divesting Herself of her traditions, her pomp, her liturgical exactness, become a place where they can feel comfortable instead of encouraging them to change and feel (actually: be; let us stop talking about feelings all the time) comfortable within the Church. As a result, those who end up “feeling” nearer to the Church will do so bringing with them the expectation that the Church changes in order to keep them. It is a wrong allegiance based on the wrong premises. It’s the same as liking a school because it does not bother you with those unpleasant things like spelling.
Also note the astonishing shallowness of some of the arguments: if one has the gut to say with a straight face that he or she now feels nearer to the Church because the Pope used to travel by bus, how solid can be his (or her) newly found nearness to the Church? This is not much different from saying one is encouraged to go to Mass again “because the Pope washes women’s feet”. It’s the wrong mentality, and the impact with the Truth can be softened as much as the Pope can, but in the end it will be there and it will still be brutal. Unless, of course, this Pope does not manage the feat of converting himself to un-Catholicism so that un-Catholics may identify with him.
This Pope is arousing hopes in the wrong people (meaning here: in people with the wrong mentality) for the wrong reasons. With his shallow message of ostentatious simplicity he is deluding the shallow and being ostentatious in the other way. They are attracted to him because they see in him glimpses of what the Church is not allowed to be: the friend of all their mistakes.
The last person interviewed by the journalist, allegedly a 70 years old ill-lived man striding towards hell, points out to the fact that this is in the end just another “retro-Pope”, and points out to all the contradiction of the present situation: a Pope who will never manage to be who he cannot be, but might manage rather well to be the caricature of who he should be. The Pope can’t avoid being “retro”. He can only become ridiculous, or heretical, in trying to be less so.
We are informed today that an inter-faith commission of no less than 40 members (Catholics among them) worked together for no less than five years before reaching an agreement as to how to evangelise.
One is a bit taken aback at such news, as it is not very clear what the real aim of the exercise should be.
Catholicism has a very long tradition of evangelisation. Actually, the Only Church is the only one that can say that her tradition of evangelisation is as old as Christianity and has been, well, rather successful these last 2000 or so years. It is, therefore, difficult to think that the Church should learn something from Protestants about how to be… the Church.
One might, then, say that the participation of the Church in such initiative might have been of some benefit to the others, non-Catholic communities. Which creates the impression that the Church is helping Protestant to convert more people to… a heresy, and whilst it might be, again, said that it is better for a soul to convert to Christianity through a Protestant community rather than to remain, say, a Muslim, I have some problems in imagining, say, Jesuits of the XIX century thinking in the same way and helping, say, Lutheran missionaries in their effort of converting non-Christians.
Besides, the entire initiative reeks a bit of Christian relativism: if you start to spread around the idea that Catholics and Protestants can agree on a common ground of action (the communique makes clear that this is not a theological statement, of course; but the practical effect is not very dissimilar), the step from there to a Catholic believing that, from a practical point of view, there’s no big deal in being Protestant or Catholic is not very far.
I am obviously not saying that Catholics should obstacle Protestants in their effort of evangelisation of non-Christians. But I wonder whether this is right. Would Pius IX agree to such an initiative, I wonder? Would S. Pius X think that a “common policy” with Protestants is of any importance? Would they not say, instead, that Protestants are, before every consideration on evangelisation, certainly not allied of Catholicism, but rather conversion material?
This impression becomes, in my eyes, stronger, if one looks at the terms of the “agreement”: platitudes like “do not put the potential convert under pressure” (you don’t say?) and “don’t approve the destruction of pagan temples”. But wait, there is something that is completely absent from the agreement… oh yes, it is the Blessed Virgin! Now obviously Catholic missionaries will continue to stress the Marian role. But once again, a picture is drawn in front of us where Mary finds no place, and this is sent to the press the world over as a kind of achievement.
So this is what we have at the end of the effort: the impression that Christian denominations have (on a practical, working level) the same importance, and a flattening on platitudes which leave out of the guidelines what is specifically “Catholic”.
Doesn’t seem a great achievement to me.