Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Observations In The Church of Rome (Pt.5) - A Love-Hate Relationship

I was talking to Claire the other day and complaining about the Pro-Life movement, the Rosary, and the RCIA program and she said "Are you even Catholic!?" because I was criticizing the Church so much. It was a funny question because I find if I criticized the Roman Catholic Church from the outside, I criticize it more from the inside, but these are very different criticisms and are motivated in an entirely different way.

From outside the Church I criticized all the typical Protestant complaints about Sola Fide, Sola Scriptura, etc. But little to none of that was based on evidence, and it was motivated by a direct hatred for the Church. My Grandmother told me that Catholic Churches actually had rooms where they tortured "Christians" (I only believed Protestants were Christians, and I didn't know the Orthodox Church existed.). Those were the kind of typical problems I had with it. I criticized it to show it's untruth's, illegitimacy, and charlatanism. Funnily enough, I went on a tour of our Cathedral yesterday and I didn't see the Torture room, but I bet it's just hidden.

If someone asked me if I was a Reformer, I would probably say yes. I am all for Reforming the Church, if that is understood to be, challenging it in new ways, trying to bring a spirit of renewal, and urging it to act as it should. But I am not a Rebel. My understanding is that the Church is not something you and 2 friends can start in your basement. And even though the 3 people in the basement might be starting it for completely Christian ideals and goals, I still couldn't call it a Church in the proper theological sense (but that's a whole other issue)

So from within the Church I criticize it because I love it. I believe in the Innerancy of the Magesterium's official Church teaching, but I also believe that this teaching is not making it to the Laity, the People of God, the rest of the Church. It exists in the Catechism, it exists in the speeches of the Popes and nearly everything they do. But it doesn't exist in the minds of most ordinary Catholics. And for this reason, I criticize day and night the Catholic Church. Not because of what it teaches, but who it teaches. It rarely makes it to the front lines as it were.

Just look at this quote from JP II
"God passionately desires and ardently yearns for our salvation... Nothing is greater than this: that the blood of God was poured out for us."- Pope John Paul II.

That's the gospel my friends, nothing could be clearer. And that's what the Church teaches officially. But like I said, when you get down to the local church you'll find the misinformation, the heresy (almost always Pelagianism or Judaism, ie. telling the story of salvation without mentioning Christ), and the apathy which is rampant (in my diocese at least).

I heard my dad explain once about the way that a parent gets angry at their children not because they hate them, but because they see them doing stupid things and not living up to their full potential. It is in this way that I get angry with my Church.

But as the hero of Western Christian theology said, "If you are silent, be silent out of love. If you speak, speak out of love."- St. Augustine. That's what I try to do.

Finally as a Reformer within the Church I find myself in good company, and I love this quote:

"The more administrative machinery we construct, be it the most modern, the less place there is for the Spirit, the less place there is for the Lord, and the less freedom there is. It is my opinion that we ought to begin an unsparing examination of conscience on this point at all levels in the Church." - Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI

If the Pope is for Reform, count me in.


  1. Your statement here is excellent, and reminds me of something Chesterton said in Orthodoxy:

    "No one doubts that an ordinary man can get on with this world:
    but we demand not strength enough to get on with it, but strength
    enough to get it on. Can he hate it enough to change it, and yet
    love it enough to think it worth changing? Can he look up at its
    colossal good without once feeling acquiescence? Can he look up at its colossal evil without once feeling despair? Can he, in short,
    be at once not only a pessimist and an optimist, but a fanatical pessimist and a fanatical optimist? Is he enough of a pagan to die for the world, and enough of a Christian to die to it? In this combination, I maintain, it is the rational optimist who fails, the irrational optimist who succeeds. He is ready to smash the whole universe for the sake of itself."

    While Chesterton's subject does this for the world, we must do it for the Church. We must hate it enough to change it, and love it enough to think it worth changing.

  2. that's the passage I had in mind when I wrote this. I couldn't find it to include it, I'm glad you put it up here.