I had to chuckle just a bit when I saw this CNS report on Pope Benedict’s words yesterday referring to the apostle’s letter to the Galatians:
St. Paul refers here to the polemics that emerge where faith degenerates into intellectualism and humility is replaced by the arrogance of being better than the other.
We see clearly that today, too, there are similar situations where, instead of joining in communion with Christ, in the body of Christ which is the church, each one wants to be superior to the other and with intellectual arrogance maintains that he is better.
The pope raises a serious matter, chuckling aside.
In the domestic church, parents set the tone for children. Young people exposed to arrogance and superiority learn to spread it around to peers. I’ve seen many embittered young people who have learned hard (and unnecessary) lessons from the cruelty of parents.
The CDF’s treatment of theologians has been colored by a lack of due process, by secret procedures, and favoritism in the curia. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was responsible for this for well over two decades. The replacement of humility has a long track record in hierarchical Catholicism. Uppity bishops and laity may well have long memories. It does not excuse their sins against charity, but it makes these sins comprehensible in a larger context.
That said, I don’t envy the task of those who are charged with maintaining orthodoxy in belief. It’s a tough task to reign in the fringes–the SSPX is evidence enough of that on the Right, not to mention the St Mary’s of South Brisbane on the Left.
What concerns me is that the strident, aggressive, arrogant attitude has spread around quite a bit of Catholicism. I’m not quite sure as to the best way out. And I say that fully knowing I treat many other Catholics with my own brand of arrogance. The path that attempts to communicate the truth is fraught with pitfalls to unity, humility, and charity. I wonder if the pope sees the purposes of his talk and the purposes of his CDF were not always congruent.