On fb, my friend Joyce referenced this Amy Welborn essay, “Against Popesplaining.” If you go, warning: it’s long.
I was struck by the liturgical bit referencing:
… a Vatican website that used to feature the liturgical season on its splash page, but has not done so much since 2013.
Perhaps you see this as a positive development. Guess what again. It’s not.
I fail to see how this current mania helps address Protestant concerns that Catholicism holds the Pope up above Jesus and Biblical faith.
My guess is that five years ago “Lent 2011” was put there not by B16, but by an employee a few rungs down the ladder. And likewise, the “a-liturgical” emphasis on the homilies, chats, and activities of Pope Francis is likely at the initiative of a different underling. Or perhaps it’s all about search functions on the Vatican pages and the webmaster there is just delivering what people are looking for.
I suppose one could scold the millions of surfers to .va and tell them to look for Jesus instead. It might be what many people should do. But it’s more likely that scoldy elder siblings don’t catch the ear of seekers today.
My recollection is that we had just as much confusion about the pope five years ago. Holocaust-deniers, Islam, LCWR, Dominus Jesus, and all sorts of stuff. I remember one or two fanpages for our pope emeritus. This one, even before the election of 2005.
Students of religious movements and even students of sociology and mass psychology could predict it: When you strip principles away, personalities and emotional connections step in to fill the vacuum.
Is this a real principle? I seem to recall some of the early reactions to Jesus. They wanted to make him king. They wanted to throw him over a cliff. I’m puzzled to think of what principles we Catholics have lost over the years? A sense of right and wrong about managing sex offenders? Investigating our own, giving no opportunity to respond to accusers? Encouraging tattletales?
Frankly, I think some people are just misguided. Jesus is too far away, so they go to Mary. Or Mary seems far off, so there’s a local priest or guru. I remember a lot of people in the last decade who built up substantial followings in places like the Vortex or the Sabine Farm.
I admire Amy Welborn as a writer, but this piece mystifies me. I don’t think she’s totally thought it through, or held up her conservative Catholic allies to the same scrutiny as what the internet wayback machine can give us.
Speaking for myself, I don’t feel I have to look over my shoulder to the Vatican and worry if the institution has my back or if I’m the next target of investigation. I understand the mission is about evangelization and discipleship. I’m not convinced I have to correct every misstep of thought or attitude, even among popesplainers. I didn’t think that way a decade ago when some Catholic e-outfits branded me a heretic or worse. I’d like to think I haven’t changed that much–it’s just that the sun is shining a little brighter these days. But maybe those who know me see it differently. What do you think?