Msgr Charles Pope is getting some attention for his essay against “comfort Catholicism.”
There is a growing consternation among some Catholics that the Church, at least in her leadership, is living in the past. It seems there is no awareness that we are at war and that Catholics need to be summoned to sobriety, increasing separation from the wider culture, courageous witness and increasing martyrdom.
He tags the 70’s, but I have to wonder if he’s mis-aimed and might really be railing against the 50’s. What constitutes life in the past? Full parishes with active spiritual and social life? The so-called beige Catholicism of the 70’s? The heady days of St John Paul II when vibrant young priests were going to be ordained by the score? The targeting of children by sex predators, women religious by the CDF, blogging dissenters by the faithful remnant? It seems like everybody has a golden age in mind and dark days to lament. My own sense is that no generation is really so great that squalor can’t be found, nor so impoverished that gems can’t be uncovered.
My main problem with calling for the hounds of war is that too many Catholics are already girded for battle. Battle against other believers who choose not to march in lockstep with them.
My friend Charles has posted a link on this facebook. My second objection to the whole meme here is a bit of wisdom I hear in the Anima Christi. Whenever I pray the line, “Within your wounds hide me,” I silently add “not mine” between the third and fourth words.
The point of Church as field hospital is not as a place to retreat for us to lick our wounds. The point is to welcome those who are wounded, even those outside the flock. Our modern culture certainly has victims outside of organized Catholic conservadoxy. What if we thought about binding other people’s wounds rather than our own. For a change.
Msgr Pope is a well-intentioned priest, to be sure. He writes of being counter-cultural. But the anger and war imagery is exactly how so many levels of our culture operate today. The hate on the internet. Tattletales and gossips getting other Catholics fired. Building walls. The desire to imprison our demons: political candidates, gays, feminists, immigrants, CEOs. It’s all part of an angry vector when people feel powerless. But being without power is often a good thing when we have faith.
War? Why bother going to war when we can go to work?