Friday, May 29, 2009
There is something I consistently see out of people who claim to be "good Catholics", and it makes me wonder at their definition of terms. What lexicon are they using that makes them translate the Latin into that particular self-aggrandizing phrase?
Our wonderful Archbishop recently wrote a very pastoral (in the PROPER sense!) letter (1) to a disruptive dissident group in our Archdiocese. I am not going to post links to either the letter or the website I'm about to discuss as I don't want any more attention than necessary brought to this issue. Nor do I want the self-hating group of "Catholics" to obtain any benefit of publicity from my blog.
The real issue I want to discuss really has nothing to do with the heterodox problem children, anyway, but those who claim to be "orthodox" while wearing their vitriol on their sleeves.
How does one get dressed in the morning with that tacky stuff all over them?
I read the letter from the Archbishop and found it to be clear, concise, and to the point. The group it was directed at cannot mistake the point he is making unless, as the song says, they are "reading between the lines to misunderstand." (2)
And of course, from THAT group I expect such idiocy. If they AGREED with the Bishop and followed Church teaching, he wouldn't have written the letter in the first place!
What disturbs me is that another blogger posted the letter on his site with some minor commentary, and his post was very positive. He obviously supports the good Archbishop.
Unfortunately, his readers immediately began deconstructing the letter, nitpicking minor phrases, other readers began making weird arguments from silence as though perhaps they thought the Bishop should have written an extensive Apostolic Exhortation (3) instead of the letter that was proper to the situation.
This drives me NUTS! This is completely disrespectful of the Bishop who, one knows, is already going to be taking a massive hit from this group (which has not ceased to harass him from the very announcement he was coming to our diocese); does he really need to be brought down by "friendly fire"?
What is up with these "Armchair Archbishops" who apparently think they know more than one of the best of our Shepherds?
I'm quite certain such pastoral letters are difficult to write, especially when addressing a serious ongoing issue in a particular diocese. Of course the Bishop must hone in on the most immediate of issues, for who is going to read a ten-page exhortation? No one. My goodness, the Pope can't get people to read even his shortest of works, who's going to read the Bishop's if he doesn't get to the point immediately? He doesn't need to drag in what he's already said to this group, very publicly. He doesn't need to reiterate every teaching of the Church that MIGHT have bearing on the issue just to satisfy the snarkiest of "orthodox Catholics".
How dare ANY of us be so arrogant to nitpick a Bishop? It's treading a very thin line, one I've addressed in previous posts. Under Canon Law, we owe respect to our priests and bishops, and when we start making stupid and snarky criticisms of our leaders, what message does that send to others? If we profess to have respect for our Magisterium, guess what? It starts at home. It starts with the priests (which means not villifying them in blogs and comboxes), it starts with the Bishops (ditto), and it means that if we can't edify, we should maybe keep our mouths shut.
By the way, that applies to others as well. The blog I'm citing (but not citing) is one I read, although I avoid the combox as it tends to be overwhelmed with ad hominem attacks from overzealous followers. Most of whom, it seems some days, think they would make perfect Bishops. I thank God every day for the intervention of the Holy Spirit in that matter!
When we get snarky like that, it sends a message to the non-Catholic world, and rightly...they see it as infighting. Which it is. Completely unnecessary infighting, for aren't we actually on the same page? Allegedly? After all, we tend to agree that the letter is a good one. Then why tear it to pieces? Such an action completely undermines the Bishop, and for what?
There might be a time to criticize the words of a Bishop (NEVER attacking the Bishop or priest themselves!), just as there might be a time to criticize the words of others. But this can ALWAYS be done in charity. And perhaps blogs aren't the proper venue for such criticism. Perhaps there's a better way. Something more proper. Something more in line with humility and holiness and less in line with the hostile bashing comments typica to a secular newspaper article.
People, the world already hates Catholics. Don't invite more hostility, please. And don't encourage it.
Perhaps when a Bishop does something good, instead of deconstructing his words in order to ask why he didn't say what we think he should, maybe we should sit back, remember that the Holy Spirit is in charge, and, at least in the case of my Archdiocese, He is very much in contact with our Shepherd.
Maybe the lay-Bishops in their armchairs should stand down and let the Holy Spirit do his job, and maybe they (and we all) should do ours: to support the Bishop, pray for him, sacrifice for him, and act according to our Baptismal call to preach the gospel to all nations. We don't do a very good job of that if we're busy snarking off at the Bishop over inane details in a letter written for a specific situation.
Hmmm...I think I just might write a letter of support to our Bishop tonight.
(1.) A Pastoral Letter is one written by someone with Pastoral Authority regarding a matter of pastoral significance
(2.) Sabra Girl by Nickel Creek, lyrics: "Rosy the lines you wrote with your hand. Reading between them to misunderstand."
(3.) An Apostolic Exhortation is a document by the Pope explaining certain matters of doctrine, disciplines or practices, usually does not contain new teachings but is used to "exhort" the faithful to follow certain teachings and/or practices. It is commonly issues by the Pope after a Synod of Bishops