A Word from Your Catholic Friend: What Not to Say to Me Today

Here’s a bit of friendly wisdom for my non-Catholic friends and neighbors who may be wondering what the heck to NOT to say to me on a day like today when I’ve just received big news that my spiritual shepherd is resigning:

  • Wow, I heard your Pope’s quitting. This means he’s dying, right? Wow, that’s so sad.
  • Dude, I heard your Pope’s resigning — I guess they finally nailed him for all of that child abuse stuff he was involved in.
  • This is great. This probably means you’re finally getting an American pope now, right?
  • Awesome, women can now finally become priests.
  • Don’t be sad. It’s God’s will. (On second thought, maybe this one’s ok…)

These are simply a small sampling of the stuff that’s been floating around today. If you’re Catholic, remember that today is an opportunity to step up and to be a positive part of the New Evangelization. It’s a time to help educate our communities on the process at hand and on our trust that the Holy Spirit will guide our conclave of Cardinals. It’s not a time for odds making, for speculation, or for making statements that are counter to Church teaching. In moments like these, you and I — the average Catholics in the pew — should acknowledge our own feelings but should also realize that for most of the non-Catholic friends in our lives, what we say is assumed to be what the Church says. So we’re called to prayerfully consider our conversations, to use them to edify and uplift, and to avoid being a part of anything but the truth.

What would you add to my list above? What crazy things have friends, co-workers, or those who you know who don’t like Catholicism, or don’t understand it, said to you today?

About Lisa M. Hendey

Lisa Hendey is the founder and webmaster of CatholicMom.com and the author of The Grace of YesA Book of Saints for Catholic Moms and The Handbook for Catholic Moms. Lisa writes for several online and print publications, enjoys speaking around the country and is a frequent television and radio guest and host. Visit her at LisaHendey.com.

  • Kim Whelan

    Bravo! In my role as a parish secretary today, I spoke with a parishioner who was very upset about this situation and it was next to impossible to calm her down. I did take the opportunity to educate her a bit, but she was/is scared and panicked. I hope I was some comfort to her.

  • http://www.theworkingcatholicmom.com Mary Wallace

    I was told today by a Catholic, “This is awesome. Now we can modernize the Church.” No thank you…

  • http://dzehnle.blogspot.com Fr. Daren J. Zehnle

    I’ve had two whoppers so far today.

    First, about Catholics in general: “How will they talk to God now?!? Oh dear…”

    Second: “I hope Bishop Desmund Tutu gets it now.”

    • FWK

      LOL!

  • Colleen

    Amen! Thanks Lisa !

  • http://aspecialmotherisborn.blogspot.com/ Leticia Velasquez

    One friend put a link from Yahoo news about the people in Vegas who bet on who is going to be the new pope. Honestly, have you ever met a Catholic in good standing who did such a thing? It bothered me that she posted nothing else, not a link about his papal legacy, nothing on the resignation itself, nada. Yet she is a wonderful pro-life activist. She could have posted links from many pro-life, non-Catholic organizations who praised the Pope today for standing up for the unborn and the disabled. Nope.
    If her minister retired and all I mentioned was that some of his congregation were tax cheats, what would that person say?

  • claudia

    A friend told me: Well good, I diodn’t like that German Pope at all. I know I should have been more spiritual, but the truth is I would have strangled her. As a Catholic and a Roman I am very sensitive to what people tell me on these occasions. But this and other silly comments were balanced by two unexpected interesting remarks by two atheist friends. One said “I understand it must be very painful for a Catholic, after all the Pope is a Father and I guess you love him as a father”. Another friend of mine asked me if I was upset and how I felt. A true friend behaves like this, no matter her/his religion.

  • Inge

    Another one from Catholic friends about St. Malachy. Puh-lease!

  • Debra

    Love this. I am tired of hearing about conspiracy theories and private revelations when it all boils down to either we believe Jesus when promised the gates of hell would not prevail or don’t. The Church goes on.

  • http://myfertilitycycle.com Marya

    It is true the our Patriarch is leaving a big hole in our hearts…but this is Ok, as a child loves her father….and the Father loves his child. This separation anxiety is God’s Perfect plan for us…he does NOT desire for us to be separated. We are to be united forever. This longing, and pain, is perfectly correct. And we will rejoice as we pray for the next unveiling of God’s Plans for us. His perfect plan. It may be painful, but it will indeed be perfect. Keep remembering we are on the underside of a beautiful tapestry. Messy on our side, but gorgeous on the other.

  • Margaret Rose Realy

    From a cradle Methodist turned Catholic turned Agnostic: “I’m sure this will make it easier for future popes to quit when they get tired of the hassels.” and “Maybe now you’ll get a pope more in tune with what people *want* today.” (note, she did not say need) Gack!

  • Jessica

    A local journalist put up a FB post asking for blurbs from local Catholics to comment or send him emails with our thoughts on to today’s news. My first mistake was reading the comments thinking I would find sweet words & heartfelt memories. One of the milder ones was “He’s probably resigning to get married.”

  • paula

    Worst thing I’ve heard today: “It’s about time”

  • Jessica

    From a usually very thoughtful and diplomatic non-Catholic friend: a post nominating a “Catholic” “nun” who supports gay marriage and women in the priesthood as the next pontiff with the comment “too bad we don’t get to vote.”

  • http://www.dymphnaswell.blogspot.com Dymphna

    After due warning about the possibility of snarky comments being erased (on my FB page) a Catholic relative of mine said “I didn’t particularly like the man, but I give him plus marks for this.” (Great. I’m sure he was eagerly awaiting your opinion.)

    Someone else called it “a very cunning move.”

    I’m still waiting for the expected e-mail about St. Malachi.

  • Gail

    While I am not Catholic, I am Christian and am tiring quickly of the great amount of sensitivity and political correctness that is required of everyone…but only to selected groups. Its perfectly acceptable (to many) to poke fun at or be snarky toward Christians and Catholics, but certainly not toward other religious groups.

    My prayers for peace for all my Catholic friends at this extraordinary and historic time in the Catholic Church. I wish everyone could be thoughtful toward anyone who is of a different belief or faith, especially at difficult times like this.

    • midwestlady

      Thank you.

    • Charlene

      How very sweet and thoughtful of you! May God Bless you!

  • Pingback: Another Roundup of Reactions on Benedict’s Move

  • Russell Kron

    The worst things I’ve heard today came from a Priest, “cute and silly”….. knocked him down many notches in my book, and moved up on the Prayer List.

  • http://www.bede.org Stefanie

    Lisa — when JP2 died, I was in the midst of a 6-week line in Hollywood with other Star Wars nerds&geeks (we raised $65k for a children’s charity — it’s all good)…anyway, I will never forget how kind the other ‘line’ people were to me that day because I was the only practicing Catholic in line, they were so sweet and soliticitous. We had internet computers and they kept me updated throughout the papal conclave — and expressed deep concerned when ‘the German Ratzinger’ was elected. I spent a great deal of time, researching him, and assuring the others that this was a beneficial (no pun intended) occurance — although I had known absolutely nothing about him before other than that he was the head of the CDF. Little did I know that by doing so, the Holy Spirit was moving me into my next ‘job’ — to teach seekers about the Catholic faith via RCIA. You see, I had resigned from my 27-year-long corporate job on April 21…and was offered — unexpectedly–a week later, the part-time RCIA position.

    He has been such a gift to me, personally, and I am selfishly disappointed and in sadness that we will be without his current teaching. He has helped me to be a better teacher of the faith.
    (So often on Sundays, I have used Papa B’s homilies in order to teach our various groups. I will miss leaning on him for that.)

  • http://stmonicasbridge.wordpress.com Kristen

    “Does this mean you don’t have to give anything up for Lent?”

    That one wasn’t so bad and the person asking it was genuinely curious and said, “I have no idea ANYTHING about the Catholic church.” So, it took some humility to say that and I didn’t get offended, although I know it could easily have been a joke in other peoples’ hands.

  • Susie

    Thank you for this. The last two lines hit home to me. As my sister and I saw posted all over FB, it’s not only our non-Catholic friends who say insensitive or outrageous things – often it is the comments of “Catholic” family/friends.

  • Will

    What about “I heard that the guy who used to lead your church will no longer be able to use his head of state status to dodge his victim’s lawsuits?” Is that something that’s OK to say today?

    Or how about “GXVI really DOES want to connect with modern Catholics – he’s joining social media and giving up on the church!”

    Let me know.

  • Korou

    There are plenty of people with strong moral grounds to believe that Joseph Ratzinger is neither a good man nor a good Pope, who hope that the next Pope is an improvement.

    Saying so is not necessarily hatred nor anti-Catholicism.

    • Sagrav

      The Pope has been very careful to stack cardinal positions with hard line conservatives like himself. Do not expect any change with the next pope (or the pope after him, or the pope after him, etc).

  • Claudia

    You know Lisa this resignation is a perfect example of the New Evangelization. We have th opportunity, without sorrow, to explain how it all works. And why we follow an old guy (one if my faves – NOT).


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