Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Pope Francis.....Heavy Sigh

UPDATE: I'm sort of regretting writing this because I don't want to get lumped in with the wackos and crazies. But still, I want to emphasize that I don't have a feeling of peace about Pope Francis, as much as I like him and as much as I like him more than any other Pope since I've been born. The bottom line, as I mentioned in one of the comments on this thread, is that it's fatiguing to have to deal with the reality that no matter what Pope Francis says, it ends up being that damage control on the side of liberals has to occur and/or damage control on the side of uber-conservatives has to occur. It just seems that everything he says is couched in controversy and why should it be that way? Where is the peace in confident leadership?

Also, I need to emphasize that if you haven't read Steve Skojec's piece that I link to, you may be confused by parts of my below insecure rant, especially concerning annulment and divorce. 

Finally, for the record, as predicted, prominent Catholic bloggers such as Mark Shea and Simcha Fisher are saying to ignore the news story which prompted my rant. Deep down I know that's sage advice. However, I continue to stand by my line of questioning, which is: When will we NOT be discussing what Pope Francis really said and meant so that we can actually learn from and appreciate what he is trying to teach us? I LIKE Pope Francis! I want to respect him too!

I'm conflicted.

Really conflicted.

On the one hand, I love the spirit and mercy of Pope Francis. He is saying things and doing things that need to be said. He really is a breath of fresh air; he is acting like Christ and not a pharisee.

But - and I hate to say it - I agree with the assessments that claim he is either a complete dumb ass when it comes to media, or he is purposely letting the media run wild with his comments because, well, he really does want to change the Church in ways that are revolutionary (or heretical, depending on your point of view.)

It seems that for every good thing I hear him say - things I LOVE and agree with - there is another that just makes me shake my head and wonder what the heck is going on in the Pope Department.

I am especially grieved by my confusion and confliction because I will be travelling to Rome in the fall and I have a guaranteed audience with Pope Francis. I'd like to feel more wholeheartedly excited about it.

I've been trying for awhile not to have a knee-jerk reaction to Pope Francis. In fact, when he was first elected, I was mad as hell at the naysayers who immediately crowned him Heretic #1. Additionally, I have occasionally peeked at Father Z's blog and laughed my ass off at his efforts to back peddle while he tries to cover for Francis.....reading Benedict through Francis? Or is it reading Francis through Benedict? Either way - HILARIOUS! (Seriously, whatever it is that Father Z is doing with his life and ministry, which is still nebulously unclear to me, it must be that he "needs" to be seen by the higher-ups as someone consistently in support of the sitting Pontiff, because come on, given his Traditional Catholic schtick, I've gotta believe that deep down he's more than a little concerned.)

Now, I'm gonna come clean about something. As some of you know, I like love Mark Shea's writings. I pretty much agree with everything he postulates about politics, culture, and religion, with the exception of his pro-vaccination stance. I have watched him try to take down the anti-Francis crowd more than once and have agreed with his tactics and arguments. For example, yesterday his Facebook page proudly proclaimed that if you think the canonization of JPII and John 23 constitutes a crisis in the Church, well then, you're a lunatic.


But recently, Shea posted a link to a very long rant/ramble/argument by a Catholic blogger whose name I hadn't seen in years. According to Shea, the rant was further proof of Francis Hate and he wanted to highlight just how cynical and delusioned the hate was. Because I was more than a little surprised to see the name of this blogger - who used to be on my blog roll when I blogged as Cheeky Pink Girl (back when *I* was personally delusioned by the belief that to be a *good* Catholic, one had to be a judgemental, pharisaical jackass) - I clicked on the link out of sheer curiosity to find out what had happened to this guy.

Well, I took the time to read what Steve Skojec wrote. And I have to say, for the most part I didn't disagree with him. (For the record, it is a really long read, but I'd appreciate it if someone - anyone - would click over there, read it, and comment.) Now, let me be clear: The answer to every crisis in our modern Catholic Church IS NOT the Latin Mass. I need to say this up-front, because of course, rants like Skojec's automatically point to the Latin Mass and I don't want anyone to think THAT'S the part I agreed with. NOT! And also, there were a few spots where Skojec's math just wasn't adding up, jumping from point A to point K in a single leap.

The part I agreed with is the part about the Eucharist being potentially demeaned and devalued due to actions that appear to be merciful, but that are really just putting a stamp of approval on mortal sin. And the takeaway being that Pope Francis is more than likely a big fan of pastoral guidance/solutions, and that actions/statements by Francis more than lend themselves to the belief that he might be, shall we say, a rather enthusiastic supporter of allowing divorced and remarried (sans annulment) Catholics back into the communion line.

Note that many of Skojec's allegations amount to nothing more than conjecture and attempts at mind-reading. Interesting to ponder? Yes. Something to think about more when I had the time and certainly nothing to blog about. I was gonna shut up about all of this, thinking and believing what all of us good neo-Caths are supposed to believe, which is that the media has it all wrong - they've misinterpreted Francis - because he has never officially said anything that goes against Canon law or the Magisterium, etc. It's just those stupid liberal newspapers and TV stations that have purposely twisted what Francis has said to fit their own agendas, right? Case in point: Francis' comments about homosexuality, in which he never once said that the Catholic Church believes homosexual behavior is OK.

But then today, this: Pope Stirs Communion Debate With Call to Woman 

Now, OK, I know it's mostly a fact that the media gets it wrong about the Catholic Church about 100% of the time, and why should this time be any different? I'll concede that observation as pretty much true. And yet, and yet.....I don't know how many more times I can see "untrue" stories like this in the media and not have it affect me and wonder to myself and have to repeatedly think about my defense of Catholic teaching the next time I get confronted about it.

See, I care about the Eucharist. I mean, why be Catholic if you don't believe it's the real deal? And if you believe it's for real, why wouldn't you be upset about even the HINT of a relaxing of requirements in order to receive our Lord in a state of grace?

I think the state of marriage and divorce in this country is a total crisis. Most everyone who got married in the Church from the 1960's onward was ill-prepared and was subjected to crappy catechesis to boot. So, yeah, I understand that there are legions of divorced and remarried Catholics who want another go of it with their Catholic faith and I think they deserve that chance. My answer is the Church's answer but with a BUT: Annulment, but streamlined annulments that don't take three or five years or cost $1000.

I stand opposed to those trads who think annulments are given out like candy because I think they should be given out like candy, given what's all went down in the Church in the last 50 years. A two-pronged approach on this is best: Married before the year 2015? Hand out annulments like candy! Married after 2015? Go back to the old way of dealing with annulments (and I mean the old way) because we should've figured out by now that if you want people to understand marriage is a sacrament, you need to properly teach them that, and let's start doing that NOW. No excuses anymore. Make them sign in blood that they understand what they're getting into, I don't care what you have to do, but just make sure to do it because somehow, someway, restoration of an understanding of what marriage is and isn't has got to happen or marriage just becomes a joke. No one will bother to get married anymore. Hello Europe!

If the Church allows divorced and re-married Catholics back to communion, guess who's next in the communion line, people? No, it won't be murderers or child molesters. Rather, it'll be practicing homosexuals. And homosexuals who claim to be married. And homosexuals who have manufactured children for their own vanity and will whine that we're excluding a family from the sacraments.That's who.

Don't accuse me of picking on homosexuals or singling them out. Instead, I am pointing out the obvious in that if you relax the standards of mortal sin for one kind of couple (the divorced and re-married with no annulment type), you will automatically open the door for another kind of "couple," which is the homosexual type, which is almost always the type engaging in mortal sin. And that's because (can you hear the bad catechesis sirens of the 1960's-1980's going off?) we are living in a time when NO ONE actually knows what marriage is or what it's for anymore. No one seems to care, either, given that most average Catholics have long accepted that gay marriage is no different than their own marriages. End result: One kind of married couple in mortal sin will be seen as the same and equal to another kind of "married" couple in mortal sin. Gather us in, indeed!

What does any of this have to do with Pope Francis? Maybe nothing. Maybe *I'm* the one jumping the gun here and there is no connection. Yet, I think it's pretty darn interesting that Steve Skojec, a professed traditionalist, predicts that the Church will split over admitting divorced and remarried Catholics back to communion and then not two weeks later I read a news story, which must have a liberal slant, saying Pope Francis told someone to do exactly that. 

Again, I TOTALLY LIKE POPE FRANCIS! I haven't really been "into" any Pope until him, which is why - again - it really upsets me that the one Pope I like and really want to love is the one that's starting to piss me off.

Unlike Shea, I do believe that all these media stories ARE adding up to something going on.

I sense that sooner or later, something - and I don't know what, maybe it won't be the divorced Catholics thing, maybe it will be something else - something is going to change at Francis' hand and it's gonna be big and it's gonna rock our faith. Would I go so far as to call it something "wicked" the way Steve Skojec did? Probably not. But I think it will be something that's gonna turn us on our heads.

I hope I'm wrong. I hope I'm a paranoid lunatic like Mark Shea is probably thinking I am after he's done reading this.

Or maybe it will be something so good and merciful and loving that it will rock all our worlds. That would be something, wouldn't it?

My husband, good and wise one that he is, says he will quietly wait and make no rash judgements and he will pray and hope and have nothing but goodwill for our current Pope. I mostly agree with him on this approach.

But I'm still keeping one eye open.

Heavy sigh. Insecure rant over for now.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Did You Break Up With Catholicism? Good! Now Get Over It!

Wanna know something that irritates me?

A friend in my Facebook feed.

He likes to post anti-Catholic stuff. Anything goes, but his pet issue is all the billions (laugh, snort) in gold, gemstones, and art masters held by the Vatican that could be sold to feed the poor and give shelter to the homeless. Other popular topics "shared" in a spirit of Facebook friendship include how wrong confession is, how contradictory the Pope is, how Mary is the height of idolatry, and of course, the never-ending stream of pedophile priests. Pretty much he'll post anything that demonstrates how thoroughly CHRISTIAN he is, with CHRISTIAN being defined as NOT Catholic.

I've been annoyed by this public line of thought from him for a long time. I tolerate it. I shut my mouth. Not once have I ever commented on any of this. (I know! Can you believe it?)

But then he posted something that made my mouth drop to the floor: He gave a public testimony about how he left Catholicism some 25 years ago.

Well, duh. I should have been on top of that one from the beginning. I feel like a fool for not catching it. The biggest Catholic bashers are almost always ex-Catholics. Especially ones who had no general understanding of what Catholicism is to begin with.

So here's what I'd like to say to him: If you broke up with your girlfriend 25 some years ago, how come you keep talking about her all the time? And do you think about your ex every time you have sex with your wife?

I feel the same about ex-Jehovah's Witnesses, ex-Mormons, ex-Christians, ex-Wiccan, and pretty much ex-anything. Left your birth religion? Left the spirituality of your youthfully ignorant choice? Great. But then shut the hell up, because if you keep talking about it, keep ripping on it, keep harping on it - well it sort of looks like you have unresolved issues and guilt and maybe - just maybe - might be trying reeeeeeaallly hard to justify your actions.

Am I wrong about this? I mean, come on, when you talk just as much about how wrong Catholicism is as you do about how right your particular brand of Protestantism or atheism is, I'm not exactly convinced of your convictions.

I don't begrudge anyone getting their 15 minutes of fame concerning their religious break-up. If you're really articulate about it, I'm cool with a blog post. Maybe even a book (but it'd better be damn good, because leaving one religion for another one doesn't make you unique or anything, especially if you were a contracepting, selfish, wine-soaked atheist, since those are a dime a dozen.) I'll even give you a pass for a quarterly "ANTI" Facebook post on the religion of your choice/scorn.

But really, if you've moved on, then please, do it. Move on. Get over it.

Either that or admit that some, probably most religious switcheroo decisions are emotional and knee-jerk and you end up back-pedaling for years as you try to figure it all out. That, my friends, is the real Facebook story that should get shared: Feel good now, rationalize later.

In the meantime, let me know when you find all those billions. Just remember that the Catholic Church is the largest and most generous charity in the world.

But, hey, why mess with facts when you're too busy trying to soothe your own conscience?