Run in Circles, Scream and Shout

When in trouble or in doubt, run in circles, scream and shout. 

Based on conversations I have with Catholics in my private life, I’m guessing that what I’m about to say is big, unwelcome news for a lot of active, Jesus-loving Catholics in America today.

But, based on what I know is happening, it is long past time for someone to start saying it, and saying it often.

We are going to have to get used to the idea that the Church is under attack. I know that most Public Catholic readers are aware of this. In fact, I’m overdue in complimenting you on how thoughtfully you responded to last week’s media dipsy doodle over Pope Francis’ interview with America magazine.

Nobody tried to post any of the “run in circles scream and shout” comments I saw elsewhere on the internet. I think that I am blessed that this blog has attracted such an intelligent and thoughtful group of readers.

However, based on the things I read elsewhere, and more to the point, the things I’ve heard from my fellow pew-sitting Catholics, many of whom wouldn’t touch the internet with a stick, I would say that you are an extraordinary group of well-informed believers. That makes you important to the future of our Church.

Since you are the ones who have learned to think things through without taking a reflexive bite of whatever swill the media is dishing, you are also the ones who have the job of going into your parishes, prayer groups and families and setting things straight.

That’s a big job, and it’s going to get bigger as time goes by.

You see, the Church is under attack. As St Paul said 2,000 years ago, we are not dealing with the ordinary gossipy mealy-mouthedness of regular human communication. We are dealing with powers and principalities. In other words, the Church is being attacked by people who, without knowing it at all, are driven by a hatred for the Light that does not grow tired and will not stop until Jesus comes again.

The sad part is that the purveyors of Christian/Catholic/Church bashing claptrap are winning the information wars. People believe these folks, especially when they praise the pope for their false interpretations of his words. They fall right over the cliff of thinking that the Holy Father has pulled the moral rug out from under them.

Let me tell you something simple: That ain’t gonna happen. It won’t happen in my lifetime, or in yours, or in the lifetime of the Church.

The Pope will never obviate 2,000 years of Christian teaching to follow after what Elizabeth Scalia calls the “idols of everyday life.” No matter what bribery they offer him in terms of their praise and adulation for what he didn’t say, he will not do this.

The Church’s written teaching on abortion goes all the way back to the Didache, which is to say, to the beginning. The teaching on the sanctity of the sacrament of Holy Matrimony goes back to the wedding of Cana, which is to say, to the beginning of Christ’s public ministry. It was the first thing Our Lord did when He began to teach and preach.

The Vicar of Christ is not going to overturn these teachings.

At the same time, the teachings of the unfathomable value of every human being — young or old, gay or straight, man or woman, saint or sinner — goes back to that same Jesus and His words. The Christ Who told us that the very hairs on our heads are numbered by the God Who made us, is the same Christ Who instituted the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony.

It is all of a whole; one cloth. That is what we have lost in our politicized message. We cannot chose between human beings and say that one is more worthy of life than another. We can not do this about any human life, including our own, for the simple reason that every human life belongs to God. By the same token, we cannot pretend and proclaim that two men or two women are the same as a man and a woman. If it wasn’t for the enormous pressure being exerted by the culture, we would all see this for the fantastical delusion that it is.

That does not mean that two men or two women are any less human and worthy of love than a man and a woman. But it does mean that just because you call it “marriage” that does not make it a marriage. It just makes you a fool when you say it.

The reason I am writing this is because I think most of the people who read it see this already. I want you to understand that you are graced by that understanding and that this grace carries a responsibility. Our brothers and sisters are being whipped around like flags blowing in the wind by media flimflam about the Church.

They absorb the constant dribble of malicious criticism without giving it perspective or taking the time to learn what is fact, what is exaggeration and what is an outright lie. By the same token, they buy the whole deal when the press tells them that the Pope has overturned bedrock teachings of the Church.

What I want for you is two things.

1. Do not lose track of the fact that the Holy Father will never repudiate Christ and His teachings. He will not do it. So when you hear the next new whatever that the press says about him, judge it by that simple fact.

2. Communicate this to the people around you. Evangelize a bit by telling the truth. It won’t be easy. The American public has been so beaten up by constant manipulation and propaganda that they behave like a 300,000,000-member herd of spot-lighted deer. But if I have learned anything in 18 years of public life, it is that steady persistence and consistency win out over lies. They don’t right at first. But in the long run, the truth floats and lies sink.

We’re going to have to get used to this. Things will get worse before they get better.

But that isn’t a tragedy. It’s an opportunity. It’s our chance to stand for Jesus.

My advice to you is, don’t miss it.

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  • FW Ken

    A good take on the interview, which is no surprise, it being from Abp. Chaput.

    The money quote:

    “The modern heart can only be won back by a radical witness of Christian discipleship – a renewed kind of shared community life obedient to God’s Commandments, but also on fire with the Beatitudes lived more personally and joyfully by all of us.”

  • Fabio Paolo Barbieri

    I would add this to what you say about papal teaching. Where Popes are concerned, the world has been spoiled. For as far as living memory goes, each ruling Pope has been a figure of unchallenged moral and intellectual eminence, and to list them in order – Pius XI, Pius XII, John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul II, Benedict XVI, Francis – just gives an idea of how many ways a man can be outstandingly good, each in a wholly different way from all the others. But it has not always been so. Some Popes in the past have been crooks who could take the worst modern politician and trash him fifty ways. And yet one thing has never changed: papal teaching. The only time a Pope has been found to fail in his teaching – the notorious case of Pope Liberius – it was by omission, not by commission. But murderers, lechers, thieves, gang leaders, abductors, homosexuals, in the papacy, have NEVER failed to teach the doctrine of the Church or to defend it under attack. When Luther’s schism arose, the Pope was Leo X de Medici, lecher, glutton, and one of the most worldly-minded people ever to hold the supreme chair. And yet even he was found to defend orthodoxy against this new assault. Understand: bad Popes are a minority, probably, if all were known, quite a small minority. And Liberius was not one of them in the sense of being personally a bad man. But they are the proof of the fact that the Pope is infallible, that is, that he is supernaturally defended from teaching error. It will not happen. It cannot happen.

  • Manny

    A very good message. Thanks. I have seen the attacks on my secular discussion sites.

  • jscalvano

    I went and commented on one of Leah Libresco’s post about the Pope’s metaphor about the church as a field hospital. Of course all of the non-Catholics immediately started talking about homosexuality. My first response corrected their misinterpretation of where homosexuality fit into the Popes metaphor, it’s not the major wounds but the high cholesterol. In my second response I chose to try and take the Pope’s advice and speak about more than just homosexuality. Assuming they were good people, I asked them a simple question. Was there ever a time that faced with a situation in which they could choose to do good or bad, according to their own ethos, had they ever chosen to do bad instead of good? I have yet to receive a response, though the commenters are quite happy to go on ad nauseum below where someone did decide to focus on homosexuality. I think Pope Francis has hit the nail on the head in saying that first of all he is a sinner. Until we can get people to admit they have done wrong and sinned, we won’t be able to convince them that they need Christ either. Arguing about homosexuality and abortion, for the most part, are not going to do that. The first truth in all of our lives needs to be that I have sinned and Christ has saved me. From that everything else will flow.

  • ThomasSanjurjo

    To extend the floating analogy, the deeper they take us, the more energy we’ll have when we rise, as well.

  • Bill S

    In other words, the Church is being attacked by people who, without knowing it at all, are driven by a hatred for the Light that does not grow tired and will not stop until Jesus comes again.

    Or, the people who are supposedly “driven by a hatred for the Light” are just good honest folks who are trying to make sure that this country is not governed according to any one religion which would violate the First Amendment.

    • Elizabeth K.

      Um, who, exactly, is seriously trying to create theocracy? This is a serious question–I’d really like to know. People voting according to their religious beliefs doesn’t count–every citizen has a right to vote according to what they believe is right, as I’m sure you’ll believe. So whence, precisely, does this threat of a one-religion-government emanate?

  • peggy-o

    Love this. I hear Harry Caray in my head saying, “Go Crazy folks, Go Crazy!”. We just need to remember Christ’s promise that the gates of hell will not prevail against his church and do not be afraid. Pope Francis is so inspired and makes a perfect trifecta with JP2 and Benedict. Faith, Knowledge and now Action. Right now he’s just confounding the worldly wise and humbling the proud. He’s made it easier for me as so many people are coming and asking me questions–its a great opportunity! Love is the weapon we need to overcome evil and he’s teaching us all how to shed our idols on the left and the right so we can practice our faith better.s