So apparently some bishops made merry down in Rio at World Youth Day doing a silly dance thing. The horror.
Then a priest with absolutely no discernible pastoral responsibilities who spends all his time on line decided to gripe about this and use that “Be This Guy” image of the dude refusing to offer a Nazi salute to do it. His complaint was that the time of merriment was a horror and a scandal to all right-thinking Catholics because the bishops who made merry were guilty of unseemly trendiness, fitting in, and so forth. A happy time of Open Season on bishops was thereby declared in comboxes across St. Blog’s, because nothing in the world is more important than being hysterical about some bishops making merry for a couple of minutes.
Then somebody got offended by the linkage of the Nazi pic to the bishops and their making merry and denounced the priest with no discernable pastoral responsibilities for comparing the bishops to Nazis.
Now people are writing me to denounce the denouncer and defend the priest with absolutely no discernible pastoral responsibilities for his brave stand against bishops making merry at World Youth Day and the hideous horror of it all.
Meanwhile, others are writing to say that the bishops and Pope Francis are indeed National Socialist Marxists and the priest with no discernible pastoral responsibilities whatsoever is right to denounce them as such (even though he himself insists that the use of the image was not intended to compare the bishops with Nazis).
Me: This is what happens when I’m off line for the weekend and the mail piles up.
Attention world: I could not care less that some bishops had a little fun at World Youth Day. It looks sort of goofy to me and is a bit awkward to watch a bunch of old clerics doing some silly hand jive. Like Al Gore doing the macarena or Nixon trying to disco. But you know, compared to the Hiroshima Martyrs, I just don’t think reactionary Catholics and priests with no discernible pastoral responsibilities who spend all their time blogging are suffering all that much from a moment of episcopal merriment. Rather, I think all those freaking out over this need to unclench their sphincters. Rather than waste time ginning up a mob online to wig out about this, I think the priest with no discernible pastoral responsibilities would be better employed saying Mass, visiting the sick, hearing confessions, or doing almost anything else besides blogging about this trivia. If he can carve out time from his busy schedule of doing nothing discernibly priestly whatsoever to go on a Caribbean Cruise during Lent (only calling it off to dash off to Rome for a busy week of doing nothing discernibly priestly there while chatting about the new pope on line), it appears to me that getting bent out of shape over a moment of merriment at World Youth Day is a major Log in the Eye Moment and a bit of reflection on that would not hurt.
Likewise, I think getting worked up over the “Be This Guy” image (whose obvious intent was not “The bishops are like Nazis” but “Don’t be mindlessly trendy”) is mostly a waste of time. I’m not keen on priests with no discernible pastoral responsibility ginning up mobs of angry people and poisoning a good thing like World Youth Day by urging a throng of reactionaries into bitching about it. But I don’t think he was comparing anybody to Nazis.
Finally, I think the lunatics who come out of the woodwork, egged on by the endless reactionary bitchery directed at Francis, the bishops, WYD and such–who seriously accuse Francis and the bishops of being National Socialists, socialists, Marxists, communists and so forth–need to take a chill pill.
There is something in reactionary Catholicism that is deeply and fundamentally hostile to evangelism and that regards the sight of 3 million people being exposed to the gospel with something like horror. I do not get that at all. It’s like reactionaries *long* to drive away the rising generation and deeply loathe any sign that someone may come and knock on the door fo Fortress Katolicus and seek entry.
Mostly I find it just sad that an event as joyful and glad in Christ Jesus as WYD is made into an occasion of acrimony at St. Blogs. I just want to tune out the whole tedious row and rejoice in the sign of hope at what I see in Rio and what I saw at Franciscan University this past three days.
Can’t we be happy for a change?
Update: Props to Padre for taking the Nazi pic down. For my part, I will try in future to first respond to these exasperating contretemps by email rather than here.