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Friday, May 29, 2015

I Love The Pope, Volume 5000, Continued

Well, the discussion continues, and after what could only be considered a firm rebuke by me for speaking uncharitably about Protestants, (some of you may find that ironic) and with a lack of proper filial deference to our Pope Francis, my interlocutor got around to saying that, well, the pope should be "demanding" the conversions of the Protestants, (Pentecostals in this case) and that they'd get the idea that they were part of the Body of Christ. (Well...) I followed up, saying:

"There are some who would make that presumption; these guys would not. They eschew all hierarchy amongst themselves. They are neither seeking nor purporting to gain some pretense of authority. As for Pope Francis, I do not assiduously follow his every pronouncement, nor should I. If he speaks in a manner contrary to the ecclesiology we've been given (or could easily be construed so), ignore it. But I have a feeling that he knows exactly the Church's self-understanding, and her mission, and is acting in accord with it. A frank and friendly dialogue as a part of the mission of evangelization had become papal SOP since prior to the Council. This is that. I don't think this is a real stumbling block for American Catholics though, since most of us can't even be bothered to go to Mass. Anyway, there are whole armies of men and women just sitting in Protestant communities, watching their own theological and institutional control mechanisms breaking down. (obviously) They may even be wondering, in dark moments, whether God has spoken to humanity at all. We need them, and they need us. There is nothing for them to presume upon, because liberalism is eating it. Am I glad that the Holy Father is meeting them, inviting them into the Ark before the Flood comes? You're d--- skippy, I am."

I added, "How'd that "demanding" go? Exurge Domine wasn't exactly an invitation for tea. The Lutherans took it rather well. /sarc"

I do say, I'm in close to top form today. I finished by saying, "This schism has gone on 5 times longer than the Donatist, and multiplied thousands of times. Suffice it to say, the people at the end of that ugly rainbow had nothing to do with it. We should be weeping and fasting, not yelling at them, as though they were Luther himself." (You may take that as an accurate reflection of my understanding of CCC, 818.)

Anyway, I'm really glad someone took the time to share Catholic teaching with me. I'm glad they didn't decide that it probably wouldn't be worth it. And I'm overjoyed that Pope Francis isn't too busy to evangelize. What's the worst I could say? That his genuine Christian affection for people makes him speak less precisely than a seminary textbook? Good, for one. For another, the catechisms and the textbooks haven't gone anywhere. Are we that lazy? Is there a serious contingent of Protestants that 1) openly desires union with the Catholic Church; but 2) believes that Catholic faith does not require it? Frankly, I felt the offense of the Church's teaching about itself (CCC, 816) from the first moment I began to consider full communion. I have lost friends merely for taking it seriously, to say nothing of actually becoming Catholic. I really don't think a few friendly discussions, shot through with fraternal love, are truly a scandal preventing conversion. I think fondly of one man; I'm not even sure what I did or said. All he could do was yell at me, at the implications of being separated from the Church Christ founded, as though merely by considering entering into full communion, I was invalidating every aspect of his Christian experience. The Church does not teach that. She does not believe that. But she still confesses that she is our home, our only one. I'm sorry, Alex Ford; I never meant to hurt you.

I'll tell you what, guys: I do think tossing about the word "heretic" out of some misguided sense of zeal doesn't aid conversion, even if it's accurate.

 All I've ever tried to do was speak up when I felt that prejudice or fear was causing us to ignore what the Catholic Church was saying to us, or to distort it. I told my friend Russ I didn't find a large amount of intellectual honesty on the Reformed side on that point. We just flat-out don't have the right to ignore as Christians the fact that the largest communion of Christians on Earth believes it is the Church Christ founded. One may disagree, but it is dishonest to beg the question in order to answer the challenge. It is lazy not to inquire whether the bases for that dissent have a reasonable foundation.

Yet I do consider it my duty to communicate my heartfelt desire for the unity of all Christians--in profession, in visible union, and Eucharistic communion--and any Catholic who fails to do so, no matter his other motivations, is disobedient to his own Church, and to God.

1 comment:

Amos Long said...

Excellent post, JK! I especially like your question, "Is there a serious contingent of Protestants that 1) openly desires union with the Catholic Church; but 2) believes that Catholic faith does not require it?"

Too often, we Catholics let our theories about how "the restoration of unity among all Christians" should take place distract us from the actual work of sharing life with and entering into dialogue with non-Catholic Christians. Thanks for putting first things first, in your own don't-argue-with-me-about-michael-bay-motown-philly-back-again-you-gotta-be-kiddin-me-Jason-Kettinger kind of style.