In the Lord of the Rings, there is a moment when Bilbo deliberately antagonizes a crowd of well-wishers by telling them “I don’t know half of you half as well as I should like and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.” This subcommittee of ecclesial functionaries have done something similar with this Reflections document–and to people who have no particular reason to wish them well. After repeated analyses, one can–with struggle–decode the document to the point where, if one is willing to be extremely nuanced in one’s reading, you can see that they have not abandoned the faith. But the fact that you have to struggle this hard to figure out what is going on is telling. Greg is a very serious and committed Catholic. But, like me, he’s a Catholic who prefers plain speech over bafflegab. I don’t think the document is the renunciation of Christ that the papers were proclaiming last week. Nor (once it is carefully parsed), do I think it says that Catholics have to shut up about Jesus.
But, that said, think about what faint praise that is! “American Bishops Document Barely Keeps Grip on Elementary Catholic Teaching!” It’s that sort of thing that makes life so hard for a faithful Catholic like Greg (and me). Who can blame him for being offended?