Thursday, October 11, 2007

Where else shall I go?

A fellow blogger used the occasion of San Francisco's archbishop giving Holy Communion to two transvesite men dressed as nuns to state the following:

"Wake up, folks! This is the reality of the Church of John Paul II and Benedict XVI. Conservative Catholics longed for change, thought that these men would bring it, and what have they received? This."

Said blogger (a former Catholic) proceeded to quote Revelation 18:1-5, implying none too subtly that the Catholic Church is the Babylon of St. John's vision.

Here was my comment in response, which (for reasons inscrutable to me) didn't make the moderation cut:

"Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life."

I stopped fretting about the sins and failings (real & perceived) of popes and bishops a long time ago... it's not my billet. I am confident that the Catholic Church is the fullness of the Body of Christ, despite the faults of her members, and there is no where else for me to flee to, no utopian ecclesial community that will be without fault, if for no other reason then as soon as I joined it, it would cease to be such.

The teachings of the Catholic Church are the teachings of Jesus Christ, and I know that I receive Him and His grace & life when I dwell in her... that's good enough for me.
Warts and all, the Catholic Church is the place where I encounter Christ, in the fullness possible this side of heavenly glory.

Update: Said blogger now compares yours truly and other convicted Catholics to the people of Jerusalem who ignored the warnings of the prophet Jeremiah. But here's the thing: there's been plenty of sin in the history of the Catholic Church, which has been around now for much longer than Jerusalem was the capitol of Judah prior to its fall, and God hasn't destroyed it. Why? Because He promised that the Church would be pillar and foundation of truth, the place where His disciples would encounter Him even after His return to the Father. To compare the fall of Jerusalem to a supposed fall of the Catholic Church commits the crucial error of placing the Old and New Covenants and their promises and exactly the same level, when the very point of Christianity is that the New fulfills and completes the Old.

To posit that the Church can fail is to assert that Jesus cannot keep His promises.

Besides, if God didn't destroy the Catholic Church after Alexander VI, he won't destroy it because of John Paul the Great and Benedict XVI.

7 comments:

dan said...

First we must establish that the account given by your former-Catholic fellow blogger friend is an accurate depiction.

If it is, or you do not contest the account, your friend must now wait to see what shall become of the Archbishop. That is, what form or forms of discipline await him.

If, once the facts are established, he is removed from his post, defrocked, or whatever, then your friend has spoken too soon.

If he is allowed to keep his post and privileges, THEN we can say, such could not occur in a Christian organization.

Alan said...

Thanks, Chris.

Praised be Jesus Christ.

dan said...

Chris,

Thanks for the 'Update'.

Yes, your formerly-Catholic fellow blogger friend may be making some theological mistakes.

But your own blase' 'not-my-billet' attitude is increasingly difficult to distinguish from a bland moral complacency or even collaboration.

The 20th century was plagued by influential people who wouldn't even question the glorious Socialist future, even as the bodies of millions, tens of millions of victims piled higher and higher.

"There was some rough stuff" they'd admit of the Terror.

"Stalin was a hard driver", they'd allow.

Then they would make some excuses for the Soviet Union, and uh, move on.

No one (reasonably) expected perfection from your Church, or thought that it would be 'without faults', 'sins' or 'failings'.

It is terribly sad, but yes, an outwardly religious institution, may, in a fallen world, UNKNOWINGLY harbor those who prey on children.

Hideous crimes may be committed.

The question then becomes, what does the institution do when this becomes known ?

Do they assign the offender to a different set of children elsewhere ?

Cover it up ?

Hide the offender ?

Move the offender, repeatedly if necessary, across state lines or international borders, to keep him one step ahead of the police ?

Not in a Christian organization.

The Apostle Paul, under no illusions that he was writing to a "utopian ecclesial community" told the Corinthian church, in the case of a parishoner who had been sleeping with his 'father's wife':

"Put away the evil one from among yourselves."

(I Corinthians 5:13)

Chris Burgwald said...

Dan,

Thanks for your comments; I hope I can respond to them adequately.

I think -- no, I know -- you're reading into my post when you describe my attitude as blase. I am most certainly not blase about the public scandal caused by the failings of bishops, whatever the cause (failing to properly address abusing priests, giving Holy Communion to those engaged in protest, etc.). Rather, I realized a few years ago that my protestations against such actions (whether made on this blog or in some other forum) were exceedingly unlikely to have as much impact as would that course of action which must be primary, at least for a layman in such circumstances: prayer. I pray (probably not enough) for holy & courageous bishops, especially in the U.S., and I've come to realize that such is the best course of action for me. I have nothing against righteous indignation, but I found that all too often I gave myself a pat on the back for online protests against such actions, a very prideful (and ineffective) approach indeed.

As to the question of whether or not the Catholic Church can be considered a Christian organization (let alone *the* Church of Christ) in light of the manifold sins of its hierarchy, my answer remains an affirmative one, which in no way denies the degree of sin which can be found in the Church. A profound degree of sin has been present in the Church right from the beginning (Judas), a reality which in no way excuses those who sin gravely, but one which also does nothing to negate Jesus' promises in regard to the teaching authority of His Church.

dan said...

Chris,

Hey, appreciate the helpful tone of your response.

Wasn't certain my OWN rhetoric hadn't outpaced my reason...

Glad you don't see yourself as blase'. Therefore, (and since you wrote a response) I have to at least say you're engaged.

On the other hand, you didn't sound very concerned yourself at the San Francisco Archbishop item.

Perhaps you're outraged.

But does the Roman Catholic Church share your outrage ? If so, what is being done ?

Also:

(1) Not sure we can attribute all the bad actions of the Roman apparatus to the "failings" of "bishops"

Someone APPOINTED these bishops, presumably based on some knowledge of their general outlook and character.

(Were the alternatives worse ? If yes, why ?)

(2) While we're on the subject, Dale Vree (New Oxford Review) says in his ads that the "lavender Mafia" extends into "episcopal ranks". Whose job would it be to take care of this, to investigate and purge these ranks ?

Are they doing so ?

If not, why not ? When the Roman Catholic Church refused to meet with me about 1996, my Catholic friends at the time blamed this on a "priest shortage".

Since then, I've learned that these "priests" seem to have time to fly off to gay resorts and have plenty of other, uh, extra-curricular activities.

I'm glad you pray for "holy and courageous" bishops.

I'm pretty sure you have a definite in mind a definite standard, a right and commendable standard, likely indistinguishable from the standard of Dale Vree or my standard.

Does the Roman Catholic Church share your standard ?

As for your believing the Roman Catholic Church to be a Christian organization despite the sin "in the Church":

Again, I didn't hold up some impossible utopian threshold for this. I allow that there will always be sin IN any church.

But: is it run by Christians along Christian lines, holding itself to Christian standards ?

It is not human frailty, or falling short of some ideal (i.e. rescuing eleven starving orphans when better planning could have helped twelve) to knowingly serve Holy Communion to two transvestite men dressed as nuns.

It is a deliberate inversion, a willful abomination, even by your lights.

Even assuming that a person who COULD do such a thing would be promoted very high in a Christian organization (they'd likely had serious problems before, and have a history, an ecclesiastical "rap sheet"), certainly AFTER this abomination, the perpetrator could not keep his position in a Christian organization.

So I guess we wait.

Keep us updated ?

maureen said...

Hi Chris,

It's been a long while since I visited the parish so I was delighted to see that you are still blogging.

I think what's being missed in the other blogger's argument is the supernatural nature of the Church. Given this nature, the most important thing that one can do and the best way for one to seek a cure is through the very praying that you suggest.

I imagine that it is also important for Catholics to become holier and more spiritual people, since God tends to give us the priests that we deserve.

Generally, I think treating the Church as one would a secular organization is a mistake because such action is rooted in the same mindset as the original sin being condemned -- a secular or sociological viewpoint.

dan said...

Maureen,

Certainly I can't speak for the "other blogger" if you mean Chris's formerly-Catholic friend.

But from Chris's report he seemed to be implying that today's Roman Catholic Church qualifies as the Harlot from the Apocalypse, a bit different than a "secular organization" to say the least !