Catholic Church

The abandonment of God by His people

Christianity 101 – The ‘elder brother’ syndrome

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It seems to have become the fashion these days, particularly in the US, to tell other Catholics who might disagree with one’s particular take on Catholicism that, “You are not Catholic.” The phrase, “You are not Christian,” tends to be hurled in a parallel manner by those of Protestant bent, in particular the evangelicals. Both phrases, however, are theologically incorrect, not to mention that such phrases are often used as weapons toward the ‘undesirable’ other Catholic/Christian by the ever-so-correct under the rationalization of evangelization. An analogous weapon seems to be the phrase, “You are not part of the Body of Christ.”

Leaving aside, for the moment, that the word Catholic means universal, not parochial, thus any parochialism or tribalism under the name of the Faith is to be eschewed, one becomes a Catholic Christian by being baptized with the Trinitarian formula in the Catholic Church. In a similar manner, one becomes a Christian, as the term has been appropriated and is understood by several evangelicals, by being baptized by another Christian using the Trinitarian formula. And let us not even consider here the baptism of desire and the baptism of blood.

So who is a ‘real’ Catholic? Who is a ‘real’ Christian?

Both of the above persons given as example are real Christians and the first is a Catholic Christian. This ontological change occurs no matter whether one of them professes what is either to the liking or the disliking of the other. Both of them form part of the Body of Christ, since both have been validly baptized with the Trinitarian formula – irrespective of whether the self-righteous like it or not, or if they can or cannot prop up their own egos. Whether one is a practicing Christian or a practicing Catholic, or a good/bad Christian or a good/bad Catholic, does not enter into the equation.

For Catholics, therefore, to tell other similarly baptized Catholics, “You are not Catholic,” because the former disagree with the latter, is an oxymoronic, but highly misleading, statement that is unreflective of the truth. The widespread use of these phrases also reveals what seems to be a fundamental misunderstanding on the part of the ‘phrase-throwers’ (who would ‘evangelize’ others), in relation to what and who constitutes the Church and the Body of Christ. This leaves one wondering if the situation is not one of the proverbial case of the blind leading the equally blind. The same holds true for those who consider themselves just Christians.

The spiritual pride of American Catholics of fundamentalist bent

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The self-righteousness and spiritual pride – there is no other word for it – of fundamentalist-leaning Catholics in the United States has to be witnessed to be believed. It is a phenomenon in itself. Such Catholics seem to believe that it is they and, presumably, they alone who are ‘going to save’ the Catholic Church from ruin by going to Hell in the proverbial hand basket. They consider themselves part of ‘the remnant’ that is supposedly protecting the One True Faith from error, including ‘error’ coming from the Vatican.

As you judge, so will you be judged, and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you. Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove that splinter from your eye,’ while the wooden beam is in your eye? You hypocrite, remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter from your brother’s eye – Jesus Christ.

Some of these Catholics refuse, even in public, even when asked directly, to accept the leadership of Pope Francis – the Vicar of Christ who holds in his hands the power to bind and loose in the Kingdom of Heaven (Mt 16:18-19). They do this despite knowing full well that such a refusal to assent, let alone consent, to the Magisterium of the Pope automatically places them, at the spiritual level, outside the very Faith and the very Church they profess to so love and ‘protect.’ Both assent and consent to the said magisterium are requirements of the Catholic Faith. Further, these individuals – self-appointed mini-demagogues who have far more in common with Sola Scriptura folks or the tight cult of Scientology, than true Catholicism – manifest no hesitation in engaging in widespread slander and libel, products of hatred, not just against the Pope himself, but also against priests who themselves follow the magisterium and who have done nothing to them.

Who am I to judge? – Pope Francis

A case in point is the recent release of the book Building a bridge: How the Catholic Church and the LGBT community can enter into a relationship of respect, compassion and sensitivity, written by a well-known priest. Apart from the fact that it does have an eye-grabbing title, there is nothing – absolutely nothing – in the book that goes against faith and morals. The book itself has been granted the imprimi potest by the Superior of the Society of Jesus.

It should be noted that this site has no skin in the game, so to speak, in relation to this book. But justice demands that we do not stand idly by while something that is good becomes the recipient of the above kind of hatred, by Catholics no less. Silence would, otherwise, be tacit consent.

What does all of the above thus tell you about the real agenda of said American Catholics? Who, in reality, is trying to construct a ‘parallel’ Catholic Church – a Church built into his or her own image – despite claiming to love Her and all protestations to the contrary? Rather than manifest docility to the Spirit and to the Church given to humankind by Jesus Christ?

None of such fundamentalism is from God or of God.

None of it.

On unity and diversity in the Church

Unity

Ubi Petrus, Ibi Ecclesia, Ibi Deus

Pope Francis on unity and diversity in the Church (Homily for Pentecost, 2017):

“By His presence and activity, the Spirit draws into unity spirits that are distinct and separate among themselves (Cyril of Alexandria, Commentary on the Gospel of John, XI, 11). He does so in a way that affects true union, according to God’s will, a union that is not uniformity, but unity in difference.

“For this to happen, we need to avoid two recurrent temptations. The first temptation seeks diversity without unity. This happens when we want to separate, when we take sides and form parties, when we adopt rigid and airtight positions, when we become locked into our own ideas and ways of doing things, perhaps even thinking that we are better than others, or always in the right, when we become so-called “guardians of the truth.” When this happens, we choose the part over the whole, belonging to this or that group before belonging to the Church. We become avid supporters for one side, rather than brothers and sisters in the one Spirit. We become Christians of the “right” or the “left,” before being on the side of Jesus, unbending guardians of the past or the avant-garde of the future before being humble and grateful children of the Church. The result is diversity without unity. The opposite temptation is that of seeking unity without diversity. Here, unity becomes uniformity, where everyone has to do everything together and in the same way, always thinking alike. Unity ends up being homogeneity and no longer freedom. But, as Saint Paul says, “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” (2 Cor 3:17).

“So the prayer we make to the Holy Spirit is for the grace to receive his unity, a glance that, leaving personal preferences aside, embraces and loves his Church, our Church. It is to accept responsibility for unity among all, to wipe out the gossip that sows the darnel of discord and the poison of envy, since to be men and women of the Church means being men and women of communion. It is also to ask for a heart that feels that the Church is our Mother and our home, an open and welcoming home where the manifold joy of the Holy Spirit is shared.”