Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Is There A Snare People Are Missing Here?

Beware of snare

I’ve recently read a blog article written by an angry convert turned priest that basically gives a message to Pope Francis of “I’ll do my job if you do yours,” (strongly suggesting the Pope was failing to do so). In the past couple of days since the summary was written, he has penned some more angry blogs. One gets a sense that he feels betrayed by what he has seen from the news and the documents released. He’s not the only one. While the rhetoric from some Catholic blogs are slowly dialing back the anger there is a problem that needs to be considered.

Why? Because when people begin to be so mistrustful of the Church, some people are tempted to leave to go elsewhere and others begin to view the Church as an anchor one is tied to. Not all of them, I grant you, but some do. It got me thinking about many of the blogs I follow and their takes on the synod. There is a lot of anger and fear showing up. There seems to be a lot of people who assume the Church is going to choose wrongly or implement badly. In some instances, there seems to be a sense of being “betrayed."

But the thing is, such reactions aren’t proportional to the situation, and that makes me wonder about the origin of the anger, fear and mistrust.

What if the devil is working on people through the extraordinary synod—but not in the way those who feel betrayed think? What if this time his snare is to catch the people seeking to be faithful Catholics and drive them away from the Church, whether overtly or mentally, by making them feel betrayal where there is no betrayal? What if they are so busy looking for signs of a snare aimed at making the Church teach error that they miss the signs of a snare leading them to their own rejection of the Church? The snare of believing the Church to be in error and the self to be infallible. The snare of making oneself the judge over the Church teaching.

That’s the kind of snare that can lead a person to decide that if the Church does not teach as they want, it means the Church has fallen into error. But if the Church is the barque of Peter, there is nowhere to jump to. It’s like the old Pre-WWII political cartoon by David Low:


Replace “Collective Security” with “The Catholic Church” and “Cut-throat Arms Race” with “Error,” and the image becomes quite appropriate. What happens when people are deceived into jumping off the raft . . . or even brought to the state of pondering whether the raft needs to be abandoned? This is a snare that the devil can set for the unwary.

It troubles me because people who should know better are acting as if words which could be tightened up and improved on are deliberately chosen and were chosen with the worst possible meaning. I mean, yes, Cardinal Kasper have proposed things I simply do not believe can be compatible with the words of Our Lord and the teaching of the Church. But  I really do not believe that what this cardinal desires for the Church to do (and I do think him sincere, although wrong) will be something the Church will ever teach.

See, I don’t feel betrayed by Pope Francis. You’d think I should be. In the past on my blog, I have indeed written against the bigotry masquerading as “tolerance” that leads the elites to label us as “homophobic” and the current effort by the US Government to legitimize same sex relationships as “marriages.” But the fact is, I don’t feel betrayed. Why is that? Because I don’t believe that Pope Francis has any desire to change Church doctrine. He has called himself “A faithful son of the Church” when asked for his positions on issues like so-called “gay marriage.” I believe him. There is no evidence showing he has ever supported legitimizing such relationships, and there is evidence that he has opposed it. For example, taking a leading role in the fight against legalizing it in Argentina.

So, applying reason here, which is more probable? That the Pope is going to change Church teaching? Or that some people have been deceived into believing the hype by the media and the anti-Pope Francis rhetoric by some Catholics?

I’m not angry, because I believe that Pope Francis loves Jesus Christ and loves the Church and wants to serve faithfully. From everything I have read of his writings before he became Pope, I believe he will not do anything to betray his flock entrusted to him as the successor of St. Peter. And, when the final synod is done in 2015, I believe the Holy Spirit will prevent him from teaching error when it comes to issuing the teachings that result.

Now yes, we will always have bad Catholics out there who try to twist the Church teaching to their own benefit. But we’ve had that since the beginning of Church history. We are to pray for the synod and make sure we defend the truth from those who twist it.  If we get angry and want to complain now because of how dishonest people tried to distort the meaning of the synod document, think how poorly we’d fare in the time of the Arians or the Donatists or any other era where it has happened where people have tried to call evil good, or good evil.

So, here’s my question. Are we risking putting ourselves in a snare because we refuse to trust the teaching authority of the Church to do the right thing? Are we so sure of our knowledge what the Church must do, that we won’t heed the voice of one who teaches with authority when his teaching goes against our own opinions? That’s an awfully risky path to take. There could be a nasty surprise waiting if one does not watch one’s step.

As for me, I’ll trust that God will protect the Church under Pope Francis from teaching error and trust that the Pope truly wants to serve and bring Christ to the notorious sinners—not by changing doctrine, but by trying to find a way to have the notorious sinners see and accept the truth of Christ. That’s the only path free of traps that I can discern.


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