Friday’s news included claims that a UN environmental protection boss and an Indian bishop have been acting badly.
Maybe someone has decided that environmental protection is a fraud after they read those articles. Or at least stopped supporting outfits that promote responsible resource management. Or stopped being a Catholic because they feel bad about the news.
I don’t think either decision would make sense. I’d better explain that.
Rape is a bad idea. A very bad idea. (Catechism, 2356)
Hypocrisy is also a bad idea. (Catechism, 2468)
But hypocrisy happens. Sometimes folks with authority act badly.
And sometimes folks make accusations that aren’t true. That’s a bad idea, too. Partly because it gets in the way of justice. (Catechism, 2476)
I also think that I’ve got far too little information to have an informed opinion about either of Friday’s scandals:
- BBC News
That won’t stop me from talking about how I see problems like these, and why I won’t stop being a Catholic. The latter won’t take long.
I’m a Christian because I think Jesus of Nazareth really is I AM:
“Jesus said to them, ‘Amen, amen, I say to you, before Abraham came to be, I AM.'”
That claim, by itself, isn’t particularly impressive. Anyone can say ‘I am God.’ A few do, occasionally. (January 21, 2018)
Being tortured and executed isn’t all that unusual either, sadly. What makes Jesus stand out from the crowd is that a few days after he’d been killed, our Lord stopped being dead. (October 29, 2017; April 30, 2017)
Two millennia later, we’re still celebrating. (December 25, 2017)
I was a Christian long before becoming a Catholic. I thought following Jesus made sense. I still do. I became a Catholic, grudgingly, when I realized who currently has the authority our Lord gave Peter. (July 30, 2017)
I think Peter was and still is right:
“Jesus then said to the Twelve, ‘Do you also want to leave?’
“Simon Peter answered him, ‘Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.
“We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.'”
I like being an American, for the most part. My guess is that quite a few other folks feel the same way. Some were born elsewhere, moving here in hopes of making a better life for themselves and their families.
Part of the problem, I think, is that we inherited England’s tradition of feeling threatened by Catholic ideas.
Times change, fears and biases don’t. Not that I’ve noticed, not the basics.
Blaming our anxieties on Papists, immigrants, commies, Muslims, or other folks on society’s fringe is easy.
Thinking, and seeing ‘them’ as fellow-humans? That’s hard.
Realizing that irrational fears aren’t reasonable concerns, accepting the idea that everybody isn’t — and shouldn’t — be just like me, treating others the way I’d like them to treat me? Humanity got off to a bad start. I talked about that on Wednesday. (September 19, 2018)
Maybe the Indian bishop in Friday’s news is guilty. It’s possible. Like I said before, I don’t know enough about the accusations to have an informed opinion.
Assuming that a bishop is innocent because he’s a bishop is about as reasonable as assuming he’s guilty for the same reason.
It’s possible, I have no idea how likely, that the accusation is as well-founded as those in Maria Monk’s best-seller. (May 14, 2017)
The last time I checked, Catholics are a minority in India: about 1.55% of the population. That, and our clergy’s flashy uniforms, might make us an attractive target.
Meanwhile, there’s no shortage of priests behaving badly in America’s news.
Some accusations have been true. One incident would have been one too many.
But like I said before, I won’t stop being a Catholic because someone in our camp violates our principles and betrays our trust. I don’t follow a priest, a bishop, or a pope.
Once in a while I see someone expressing frustration that the Pope doesn’t ‘do something’ about a pet peeve. Or outrage that the Pope did do something.
An unspoken assumption seems to be that the Catholic Church can somehow force folks to be nice, or generous, or have the ‘right’ views, or resolve whatever crisis du jour is in play.
I remember an America where folks often acted as if the Vatican was a vast conspiracy, run by dark powers and hordes of toiling minions. I haven’t run into that sort of thing for decades. It’s another reason I don’t miss the ‘good old days.’
There’s a very slight bit of truth in that image. Very roughly a billion folks say they’re Catholic. That’s a big fraction of this world’s population. Vatican City, in Rome, has some remarkable architecture. Quite a few folks live there: around a thousand. That’s not a typo.
The Holy See is headquartered in Vatican City. It’s the Roman Catholic Church’s administrative service, sort of. Some folks who live in Vatican City work for the Holy See. Some don’t.
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is part of the Holy See. It’s the section responsible for ensuring that we know what we believe, that what we’re told is accurate, and that clergy behave themselves. It’s more complicated than that, of course.1
They’re not always successful. Gibberish seems to travel faster, and get more attention, than what we’ve been saying for the last few millennia. But I’ve found that truth wins. Eventually.
Ideally, maybe, we wouldn’t need a Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. This isn’t an ideal world. We don’t always behave ourselves, which is why we’ve got that section.
Maybe, with enough staff and resources, the Congregation et cetera could have studied every accusation made in every diocese around the world, swiftly and surely determined which were valid, and dealt with each incident.
That didn’t happen. The entire Congregation has no more than a few hundred folks running it, and they’re not dedicated exclusively to criminal investigations. That’s not even, I gather, their primary function.
I don’t think it helps that some countries, like mine, have a history of folks making wildly-inaccurate claims against Catholics and the Catholic Church.
I think it’s a good thing for George that his father wasn’t in the cherry tree at the time.
And that stories don’t have to be historically accurate to be true in another sense. (December 13, 2016)
And that’s yet another topic. Topics:
- “Remembering Wisdom”
(January 21, 2018)
- “Chasing Butterflies and Truth”
(January 19, 2018)
- “Love. And Science”
(October 29, 2017)
- “Wanting Truth”
(October 22, 2017)
- “Seeing the Big Picture”
(November 26, 2017)