14 September, 2010

Should the Pope face charges? - Macleans.ca

Folks have written to me asking why I cross post articles like this one from Maclean's Magazine in Canada. I do so for a few basic reasons.


First I do so because it is a significant part of the reality of peoples convictions about the Church in these sordid tales. Each story in itself does not inflict unique or specific damage to the Church (my sad little Diocese being the exception that proves the rule - as this article demonstrates once again), but their accumulation can over time  become  serious and genuine drifts which obstructs us from doing what Christ called us to: making present the Kingdom of God in anticipation of the Lord's coming. As a Canadian, I know that even a few snow flakes can be blown together into a drift which can imprison us until it is cleared away. Right about now, the snow that has been gathered by these evil winds has almost snowed in the voice of faith, locking them into the sanctuaries of Church and individual conscience.


I also post these stories as an alarm of both stormy times ahead and a weakened ark of faith beneath us. We are most certainly suffering the consequences of sins of our brothers and fathers. Scripture is right when it teaches that the sins of the fathers will set the teeth of the sons on edge. It was evidently a prediction of the extensive damage these sinners would wreck upon the barque of Peter.  He was telling us that this particular crime would bring decay to the ribs and planking of the ark of the church, threatening its ability navigate safely in turbulent waters. The ship of faith is still in danger of being  holed if the hands on the wheel do not steer with authority, strength and wisdom. We may be near or far from the end of the Church's mission; only God knows when that day will come. We need all hands on deck to pump out water and effect immediate repairs  if we hope to guide her to the promised port of entry into eternity without drowning her passengers and crew.


Perhaps it is a lack of courage on our part that has aided this work of evil and destruction. If we had served justice and called for mercy and compassion with fervor, people would have seen the Church as it is, a divine instrument sullied with human sin and frailty. Very few demand perfection of the Church, but it cannot be denied that many have been found wanting when measured by the standards of the religious life and leadership. Spirituality is not something that should only cloak the depravity of our souls. We must receive it into the center of our souls, binding it to our hearts with bands of steel so that it may charge us with divine purpose and love as befits the Body of Christ. However, it was not intended to be kept in there. We are to use it as a map and guide for our voyage together as social beings - brothers and sisters of species and genus. If this blog has stood for anything it is that ALL people, no matter their creed or conviction should be welcomed and encouraged to share any insight, teaching or conviction  on all and any areas of life,  spiritual and temporal.


I believe that there is such a thing as 'Truth'. I believe that 'Love' exists too. As a Catholic member of the Body of Christ, I believe in the Truth of Father, Son and Spirit. I believe also that we   share in a likeness of form and substance which implies a communion of purpose and a social path of reasoned cooperation to achieve the greatest good for the greatest number. Our social nature necessitates that we all respect the right to live our lives by the dictates of our conscience so long as it is a legitimate expression of that 'natural law' writ deep within each one's mind and soul; that crucible of conscience where beliefs, personal and collective are formed. That compass of mind and heart that points the way to our destination and which allows us to determine if we are 'on course' or not.


Surely it is right and proper for all to enter into any arena of common conscience where issues of truth and morality are weighed and debated, to speak freely, clearly and charitably their personal convictions. I pray and work each day that this blog be a place where such discussions can take place. I believe that it will be a midrash which emerges from the confluence of different ideas and arguments that will point the best way for us to set sail together. Only when  we (and I speak here as a Catholic cleric) have both spoken and listened with clarity and charity to each other may we hope to begin to assess and repair the damage done by the sins of our spiritual brothers and fathers when their hands guided our ship of faith.


The elders of the Algonquin nations of the Ottawa Valley are oft heard to say that a thousand mile journey  begins with a single step.  Living along the water most of my life has taught me that repairs to any ship  needs to be completed one task at a time, with each their part to right the ship if it lists and keep it on course, safe from shoal or reef. It is be a long and arduous but necessary task for Catholics if they wish to keep the ship, crew and passengers safe. But to mine a bit of maternal family wisdom, 'many hands make light work'. If everyone joins the conversation, the wisdom of these times will become clearer to discern for the wisdom of the Church is that its teachings of faith does not 'pull oar' in opposition to the wisdom discovered in the realities of our social and earthly relationships.  If there's more in common than opposed in 'how' we journey, (if not in what we expect to find at the end of the journey) the ship should stay essentially on course with forces balanced, sails full and the ship underway.


Here, and on the National Post's religion blog (http://life.nationalpost.com/category/holy-post/) I do my part to enkindle these needed discussions; to move us a step closer to a community of mutual concern and fraternal love. What are you doing to incarnate your convictions? If we are of true heart and prudent judgement,  should we not be able to accomplish much to improve our world, here and now, irrespective of whether we believe there is a better one to come?


Consider it a call all our 'better angels' to help make this a better place for all. Join the conversation. 

1 comment:

  1. Father Tim, it is because you speak the truth and state your honest feelings about the problems in our beloved Catholic Church that I believe what you say. If priests like you are silenced by the church people like me will leave. As a life long practicing Catholic in the Pembroke diocease I need to believe that good and decent men such as you are in the priesthood. Men who will speak the truth without considering what it will do to their 'career' in the diocease or the Vatican. What good does it do to rise up the ladder and lose your soul in the process? I cling to the hope that there a few more around here like you who are sick of the child predators making a bad name for all Catholic priests and making the faithful look like fools for practicing!

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