Yes, I’m a Feminist. Why Aren’t You a Feminist Too?

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Jay https://www.flickr.com/photos/jryde/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Jay https://www.flickr.com/photos/jryde/

I’ve received a few jibes lately from Catholics, claiming that I must be a feminist. These comments are usually full to the brim with what are either implications or direct claims that I can’t possibly be a good Catholic, since I am … you know … the culture wars f word.

Truth told, I am a feminist. I’ve written about it, and, indeed, made whole speeches about it in many public forums. I don’t hide it. I’m proud of it.

In fact, I have a question for those of you who think being a feminist is such a terrible thing:

In a world with widespread and endemic rape,

In a world with female genital mutiliation,

In a world where women constantly suffer degrading name-calling,

In a world where many men consider it their right to beat and batter women,

In a world where baby girls, both before and after they are born, are routinely murdered, simply because they are baby girls,

In a world where the President of the United States calls women pigs and dogs, hints at incest, puts his own wife in a porn photo shoot (which pretty much answers the question, Does he love her? with a big fat “no.”) and is a serial sexual predator who sexually assaults women and brags about it in what he calls “locker room talk,”

In that world, why aren’t you a feminist too? 

I wrote about this last week for the National Catholic Register.

Here is what I said:

Pope Francis recently made a few remarks about women in which he tried to describe the phenomena that I observed over and again when I was a member of the Oklahoma House of Representatives.

He talked about women’s ability to bring “harmony” to the world. That isn’t how I describe it, but I think we are talking about the same thing.

The House District that I represented for 18 years had a large number of illegal immigrants. I refereed the arguments between them and the Anglos of my district on a daily basis. I was the one both sides called to settle disputes, help them with their problems, and often, just to listen to their gripes.

They taught me a lot of things, these magnificently good constituents of mine. They are wonderful, wonderful people, all of them. The hardest thing about leaving public office was worrying about who would take care of them when I was not there to do it.

One thing they taught me in a clear-cut way was the civilizing power of the female.

It is inaccurate to refer to the human race as “he,” or as “man.” Because the human race is not male.

The human race is also not female. It would be just as inaccurate to refer to all humanity as “her,” or “woman.”

The human race is not “man,” and it is not “woman.” The human race is men and women, male and female, together.

Take us apart, and we die. Literally. We go back to the half-humanity uselessness that is man or woman without the other.

I saw this in real-time among the illegal immigrants in my house district. Young men would wend their way across the border to find work. They were young, really just boys, and they were in a strange world with strange customs and a language they didn’t speak. They would rent a house and hole up together;  even 15 young men sleeping on floors and existing to work.

 They went out and stood on the corners or went to the right employment agencies and were hired as day laborers by the local businesses. There was no lack of work from businesses who wanted to pay slave wages. Then they came back, with money in their pockets and nothing much to do.It is to their credit that these young men didn’t usually do anything really violent. But they were trouble. All kinds of trouble. Because a group of men without women cannot function. They descend rapidly to the lowest form of their sex. If they hadn’t been believing and sincere Christians, it would have been much more difficult for me to manage the problems they caused, and they might have done much worse things.

Over time, they were joined by women, and as soon as that happened, everything changed. Men, without women, are a mess. They are dangerous, including dangerous to themselves. Their thinking runs along nutty lines of violence and swagger. They are destructive.

Women, without men hiss and spit and turn in circles.

But when you put them together, it’s almost like a science experiment when you combine hydrogen and oxygen to get water. Put men and women together and you get life. You get men who use their strength, aggression, and physical courage to protect, provide and build. You get women who use their incredible moral strength, intuition and insight to nurture and sustain.

Together, men and women are the creative force that has built all the good we call culture, society and civilization. Take them apart, and you get ultimate and uncaring destructiveness.

That is why we need both men and women in our government. (Read the rest here.)

 

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Pope Francis’ Prayer Intention for February 2017

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Republic of Korea https://www.flickr.com/photos/koreanet/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Republic of Korea https://www.flickr.com/photos/koreanet/

I’ve decided I’m going to post Pope Francis’ prayer intentions every month.

This one is challenging for those of us in the West because the Holy Father is asking us to do something that runs against our basic instinct for survival. Americans have always welcomed those in need, and we have a long history of reaching out to help others.

It is unfair and untrue to characterize the American people as indifferent to the suffering of the world. We have demonstrated a willingness to do things which no other great power in history has ever done to  build, help and lift up people all around the globe.

Today we are challenged to find ways to continue with our basic goodness in the face of what amounts to an existential crisis for the whole Western world. Western nations are being flooded with immigrants and refugees whose viewpoints and cultural mores are antithetical to the founding principles of their own culture. Some — not all, but some — of these people refuse to assimilate. They have become violence vectors, breeding terrorist attacks and destruction.

There is a lot of name-calling and shaming being thrown about to try to bully people into standing down and not voicing their concerns about all this. At the same time, there is also a lot of vicious racist talk directed at people who are simply trying to live their lives and become part of the new societies in which they live.

It is not easy for anyone to wend their way through this morass of conflicting ideals and needs.

When the Holy Father asks us to pray for refugees, he is doing the right and the Christian thing. He has stubbornly hewed to the Gospel line in the face of backlash and hatred directed at him because what he is saying runs against the easy impulses that drive the rest of us.

That is to be expected. Anyone who honestly follows Jesus is going to be attacked. They will be attacked because Jesus is not convenient. He does not fit into our politics or our desires for self. He is Lord of All of us, including those who we do not like or fear.

I could say that these are difficult times, but all times are difficult to the people living them. What I will say instead, is that these are the challenges we face today, in our time. Difficult as it always is, our challenge as followers of Christ is to do the Jesus thing, not the smart thing.

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Is Jeff Sessions Confirmation a Tragedy for American Christianity?

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Gage Skidmore https://www.flickr.com/photos/gageskidmore/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Gage Skidmore https://www.flickr.com/photos/gageskidmore/

In a move that I regard as a tragedy for American Christianity, the United States Senate consented to President Trump’s appointment of Senator Jeff Sessions as the new Attorney General of the United States.

They did this, despite Senator Sessions past as a Jim Crow public official. They did this after silencing Senator Elizabeth Warren for the heinous crime of reading aloud a letter from Coretta King, who is the widow of Martin Luther King, Jr. This letter detailed Attorney General Sessions’ Jim Crow actions as a federal prosecutor.

I do not know if Attorney General Sessions has since had a turn of heart and changed in his racism. I do know that the Trump apologists who supported him in their usual knee-jerk, anything-Trump-does-is-holy-and-right manner did not bring such things forward. Instead, they resorted to the trashy, bully-boy Trumpian tactics of mis-using their power to silence legitimate debate and commentary.

The sad and frightening thing is that so many Christians supported this. We now have an Attorney General with legitimate Jim Crow bona fides, and very public and outspoken Christians put him there.

This is not the first time that Christians have abandoned following Christ to follow Trump. It is just one item on a list that is beginning to be too long to list in a blog.

It began with their decision that misogyny was ok, if it was candidate Trump who was calling women pigs and dogs and attacking women based on their appearance. It took an irreversible step forward when Christians — including Christian religious leaders — decided that sexual assault was ok, if candidate Trump was the assaulter.

It also began with candidate Trump’s dark race baiting against Hispanic people, with his demonizing of them and using them as a vote-getter. When Christian people bought into this, they bought into open, frank and outspoken racism. And they liked it.

It began when Christians decided that a First Lady who had posed in porn photos, including girl-on-girl sex, was fine with them. It went a step further when it came out and was confirmed by the editor of the publication in which the photos were placed, that candidate Trump had put his own wife in a porn photo shoot, that he was, in fact, “eager” to do it. What kind of man does that? What kind of Christian supports it?

It began when the tapes became public of Donald Trump, private citizen, bragging and hinting at sex with his own daughter, saying that what they “had in common was sex” and that he wanted “to date her” and agreeing with a commentator that she was “a piece of a–.” Again, what kind of man does that? And what kind of Christian supports it?

It moved right on through Christians supporting the obvious lies of a sociopathic liar and carrying this to the point that they became co-liars along with him.

President Donald Trump has become an idol, a false god, for many Christians. This has reached the point that they actually judge whether or not people are “christian” based on whether or not they are willing to blindly support his actions.

The confirmation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions was a tragedy for American Christianity because it aligns American Christianity with Jim Crow racism. The presidency of President Donald Trump is a tragedy for American Christianity for a number of reasons.

First, because so many Christians, including Christian religious leaders, have been totally and abjectly willing to reject Jesus Christ when His teachings contradict Trump. They are willing to accept pornography, adultery, incest, sexual assault, misogyny and racism without a quibble. In fact, they are willing to attack people who abhor these things and claim that it is not Christian to oppose them.

They have conflated blind following of President Trump with following Christ, even when following Donald Trump leads them in ways of thinking that are diametrically opposed to the teachings of Christ. Catholics among them wave around some something or other in Canon law that they say requires Catholics to turn a deaf ear and a blind eye to the evils of this administration on pain of not being a “real” Catholic.

This is a massive tragedy for American Christianity. I fear that it may end up ushering in an almost total loss of credibility for Christian witness in our society.

The standard reply for these things is to say, “But Hillary,” or, “But Obama.” The theory seems to be that these people were so bad that they justify drop-kicking the Gospels and denying Christ His Lordship in our lives to follow a false god who opposes them.

That is specious nonsense. I realize that I cannot reach the people who are so besotted with Trump that they have turned their backs on Christ. That will take the Holy Spirit. Or, I fear, it will take them, suffering the consequences of their blind followership of this demagogue. I fear that in a selfish way, because it means that we will all suffer those consequences along with them.

All I can do is what I am doing, which is to say straight out and without reservation that I am not following any false god anywhere and I urge those of you who still have the wits to think to do the same.

I am not and will never be a member of the “Resistance.” That is just mindless destructiveness, with no purpose, no goal, no reason other than its own brand of mindless hate.

I am not and will never be one of the Christian Trump Worship Cult.

I am in total support of my Hispanic brothers and sisters and those who believe in women’s human rights. I do not follow anyone who supports sexual assault. I do not listen to them and I do not regard them as moral voices.

Women have the right to live and breathe in self-respect, without being accosted and violated by sadistic billionaires who ram their hands up inside them, who call them names and who treat them as things. This is a basic human right. It is at the core of of the Christian witness that there is no Greek nor Jew, no slave nor free, no male nor female, for all are one in Christ Jesus. 

It is a real-life manifestation of the fact that male and female created He them in the Image and Likeness of God.

I believe absolutely in women’s human rights, and freedom from sexual assault is a human right. I just don’t think that giving women the right to kill their own children is the way to achieve human rights for women. Abortion is a knee bending to the devil misogyny, an accommodation to discrimination and the sexual double standard.

Ironically, President Trump is the personification of both misogyny and the sexual double standard. He exemplifies the attitudes and behavior that led so many women to support abortion in the first place. If Christians follow him in this — and right now, many of them are following him the way they should be following Jesus — they will destroy the gains they have made in the arguments for life.

If we want to do something about the influx of immigrants from Mexico, all we have to do is choose the good, positive and Christian response of going to work to help Mexico solve its problems. We need a Marshall plan for South America in general and Mexico in particular.

Opponents of this idea usually say it’s too difficult. But what is “simple” about destroying this country with rage, hatred and unchained evil? What has the demagoguing from the Republicans every election done that has resulted in good? Has the racism of Trump resulted in a healthy country? Has it brought peace? Has anything good come from it?

Doing things the Christian way often seems like doing them the hard way. But, unlike the devil’s way, it always brings good results in the long run.

The confirmation of Jeff Session as our Attorney General was a defeat for American Christianity because so many public and private Christians blindly supported it. It was a defeat because all they had to do was say no to this man and demand that the president make another, better, choice.

We are besmirching the name of Jesus with our fidelity to political evil. We are doing this by putting our political allegiances before the one thing that should be our defining allegiance in every single thing we do. That is our allegiance to Christ the Lord.

I am aware that a lot of people are angry with me, and some of them are going to stop talking to me and begin hating me because I say this. All I can say in answer is that racism is wrong. Sexual assault is wrong. Misogyny is wrong. Compulsive lying is wrong. Demagoguery is wrong.

I know it.

And they know it.

Which is why they are willing to believe any lie to continue supporting these things.

 

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America is Breaking Apart Over the Polarizing Worship of Little g gods

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by New Life Church Collingwood https://www.flickr.com/photos/nlcwood/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by New Life Church Collingwood https://www.flickr.com/photos/nlcwood/

America is breaking apart over the polarizing worship of little g gods.

We the People have become idiots and fools who follow one banner or the other blindly, without thought. To do this, we lie. We lie about the factual world around us. We lie about those who disagree with us. We lie about ourselves. And we lie about the nature of Jesus Christ.

We have becoming willing to attack anyone — even the Pope — if that person disagrees with the ever-changing teachings of our little g gods. We claim with a straight face that we are the arbiters of holiness, and we posit holiness in blindly following one little g god or the other.

From where I stand, there is no moral difference between those who worship the little g gods of the left, or the little g gods of the right. They are both idol worshippers, and they are both living in a self-made cage of self-imposed delusion.

Sad to say, most Christians have abandoned following Christ to follow their political gods. They trim their faith to fit their politics and denounce anyone and everyone who tries to tell them that this is not faith at all. It is delusion. It is madness. It is turning away from the sanity of following Christ.

Those who say they are Christians do not denounce Christ directly. Rather, they denounce everything He said. They cut the Sermon on the Mount and His clear teachings about the Judgement down to nothing. They attack the Holy Father. They pick and choose among the clergy, reviling those who disagree with their politics and making new little g gods out of those who agree with it.

It does not matter if one has given their soul to a little g god of the right or of the left, they have given themselves over to a nihilistic anti-Christ who plunges them into a constant bath of rageful self-righteousness, irrationality and lies.

People are making themselves into self-righteous, hate-filled, irrational wretches by following these false gods of politics. All they have to do is all they ever had to do, which is turn back to the real Christ, the real Cross, the real Jesus.

I know that I’m getting a bit boring by saying this over and over. But it needs to be said. I would not want to not say it over and over, because it is the only Way.

We need to turn back to Christ. By that I mean the real Christ, not the political christ of our own devising. Stop following political gods, which you made yourself of your own worst impulses, and follow Him.

If you do that, you will take your first look in a long time at humility. You will be like someone waking up from a drugged state to look at the mental and moral shambles you have made of your internal self, and you will wonder, “What was I thinking?”

I am asking you to exorcise yourself from the demonic little g gods of this age and follow Jesus. It is an urgent plea based on a deep love for you that can only come from Jesus. Do not continue to throw yourselves away by following the little g gods of this age. Follow Jesus Who died on the Cross, Who preached the Sermon on the Mount, Who gave us this good man for this time as His Vicar.

I wrote about this for the National Catholic Register. Here is part of what I said.

Most Christians want a comfortable enough, get-out-of-jail-free kind of faith.

They want to go to heaven, but not now. Heaven is for the distant future, when they are very old and die in their sleep after having dozed off in front of the television.

The best of them go to Mass on Sundays and drop a twenty in the collection plate as it passes. They may even read their Bibles and say a quick prayer before grace.

But Jesus, the radical revolutionary who overturned tables and cast the money changers out of the Temple, who called the Pharisees “blind guides, leading the blind,” that Jesus is more than they want.

They are both afraid of and unwilling to follow the history-changing Jesus who moves societies by moving individual human beings.

They resist and even denounce the Jesus Who radicalizes His followers’ minds with counter-intuitive teachings such as “Blessed are the poor,” and “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.” They don’t like the Jesus who said “You cannot serve two masters. You cannot serve God and mammon.”

That Jesus, the Christ, the God made human who calls us to be more than the petty greed and selfishness that is humankind’s pit in which we all wallow, is not at all to their liking. He is, at best, uncomfortable. At worst, He is convicting in ways they refuse to be convicted.

There are sins we readily denounce, and sins we love so much we are willing to denounce the priest who preaches on them and deny the Christ who judges us for them.

We don’t much want the Jesus of the Book. We want the comfortable, easy, other-people’s-sins-are-the-only-sins-that-matter Jesus that we can trim and shape to fit our lives and our politics so that we never feel a twinge of personal remorse or regret for any of our pet sins.

We do not want and will not accept the real Jesus who told the power brokering priests of His day that prostitutes and tax collectors would enter into the Kingdom of Heaven before they did. We want no part of the Jesus Who told the rich young man to sell all he had, give it to the poor and then come and follow Him.

The truth is, we want to walk past Lazarus. We want to do it because walking past suffering is a whole lot easier than stopping and stooping to care.

Following Jesus has a price that very few Christians are willing to pay. Following Jesus means going against the zeitgeist, stepping out of the parade and being different. It means not doing the popular thing, but choosing to do the right thing, instead. It means being inconvenient, both to yourself and to those around you.

At the very least, truly following Jesus means standing up in front of the gods of this world instead of kneeling down before them. It means walking away from the worship of the false idols of politics, wealth, power and fame and following Him. It means being an outlier in a society that demands absolute conformity with one viewpoint, one way of living and thinking, or the other. (Read the rest here.)

 

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Can You Do This?

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Long Thien https://www.flickr.com/photos/136682034@N03/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Long Thien https://www.flickr.com/photos/136682034@N03/

I read that anti-Pope Francis posters have appeared around Rome. I have one question for those responsible:

Can you do this?

This is a video of the Holy Father, performing an off-the-cuff exorcism while going down a receiving line. The Church has real power over satan, and that power flows through the Pope.

I can put up posters. I have put up posters. Many times.

But I can’t do this.

Can you?

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Timothy Putnam and the Weightiness of Becoming Catholic

Photo Source: Timothy Putnam, all rights reserved by Timothy Putnam.

Timothy Putnam and his wife, becoming Catholic. Photo Source: Timothy Putnam, all rights reserved by Timothy Putnam.

There is something weighty in the decision to become Catholic. Timothy Putnam

There is something weighty in the decision to become Catholic. Indeed there is. Sing it, say it, live it, my brother in Christ.

Timothy Putnam has “it.” That “it” is a genuine searching willingness to follow Jesus, even when — not if, but when — He leads us down pathways we would never have chosen on our own. It takes a bit more honesty and a lot more faith than most people are willing to commit to Jesus to stand up in front of the little g gods of this world, turn your back on them and walk away.

Faith, real faith, in the Living Christ is the key to following Him. If you don’t believe — really, truly, absolutely believe — that He is God, then you will not follow Him in this costly, unquestioning way of the Way.

Timothy Putnam follows.

He’s the best kind of follower, the only kind, that, when the bills are toted up, up yonder, matters. He’s the kind of follower who does not trim his faith to fit the world. He bases his activities in the world on his faith.

That is, indeed, a “weighty” thing. When it is coupled with the 2,000 year old teachings of the Church that Jesus founded and Peter first governed, the “weight” is the weight of a peaceful certainty that you don’t have to figure it out yourself. All you have to do is follow the path that is laid out for you in the Catechism, and that is explicated for you by the Pope.

Timothy Putnam has, like so many converts, a fresh and unalloyed love of the Church that comes from having been without it. Doing without the Catholic Church while you try to wend your way through the world can be hard going. It is the heavy slog of someone who has to make each and every decision for themselves.

Is it a sin to do this, or that, or whatnot?

We Catholics have that part easy. We can just put our foot down and slide to heaven by simply staying on the highway to heaven that is the Catholic Church.

But everything has a price. The free gift of eternal life was purchased for us by the ignominious crime of Calvary. We did our worst and God did His best and the result was our everlasting good.

The gift of following Christ has the continuous and ongoing price of being out of step with the world. There is no safe harbor for someone who does their best to follow Jesus and Him alone, no group of buddies, no political safe house where you can just do what your gang does and still follow Him.

If you try to follow Jesus, you are always going to end up an outlier. That’s just a fact.

For some folks like Timothy Putnam, it becomes even more fraught. Jesus calls a few people to step out on the ice of life and follow Him on a path the leads away from safe incomes and guaranteed benefits.

If you are single and He calls you to step out in faith into the shifting uncertainties of a ministry, then you risk a little. At most, you risk your own comfort. You alone suffer the loss of income. You alone must step through the chop of starting up, the long hours, the set-backs and the simple fact that faithful ministry does not and never will be a source of wealth.

But if you are the parents of what Timothy calls a “brood” of seven children, then stepping out is “weighty” for real.

I’ve met Tim’s family, and they are beautiful. His wife is as faithful and committed to Christ as he is. His children are intelligent, bright, inquisitive, fearless and good. Of all the things I know about Timothy Putnam, this is the best. He does not fail in his first vocation, which is to be a faithful father and husband.

He is a manly man in the for-real Christian way of being a manly man, which is to say that he loves, cherishes and cares for his family. This genuine manliness is a far cry from the tinfoil manliness of abusiveness and swaggering braggadocio that is being sold right now. One is the basis for civilization. The other is one of the roots of evil and destruction.

When Timothy Putnam and his wife made the decision to give up a job as the Director of Family and Pro Life for the Diocese of Tulsa and take up full-time ministry, it was a weighty decision. It meant giving up the benefits and security of steady employment and just following.

The result was the thoughtful, teachful blog here on Patheos, A Belief Observed. If you haven’t read it, you should give it a look. The “belief” it observes is that of a faithful Catholic father, husband and growing voice in Catholic media.

In addition to this blog and other activities, Tim hosts a great radio program called Outside the Walls.

Outside the Walls airs Saturdays at 4 pm central time, and on Sundays at 11 am central time. It’s on Breadbox Media, which has been endorsed by its local bishop for its fidelity to the Church. You can download it on iTunes, follow it on Facebook, and Twitter,  or just tune in on your computer or radio. You can also book Timothy as a speaker.

Outside the Walls  is a compendium of Church teaching, Bible study and thoughtful discussion about living Catholic in the world today. All this is put together and presented by an actual, faithful, Catholic husband and father who walks the walk.

I believe with all my heart that faithful Catholics need to support and uphold one another. Tune in and give it a listen. Then, tell you friends about it. You’ll be glad you did.

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Pope Francis Highlights the Role of Mary in 2017

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by thierry ehrmann https://www.flickr.com/photos/home_of_chaos/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by thierry ehrmann https://www.flickr.com/photos/home_of_chaos/

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Pray with Pope Francis. Pray His Prayer Intention for January.

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons. http://www.presidencia.gov.ar/

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons. http://www.presidencia.gov.ar/

Pope Francis’ Prayer Intention for January will probably challenge at least a few of American Catholics.

The Holy Father is asking us to pray for dialogue with those who differ from them. I have a feeling that will challenge more than one American Catholic. We have become so angry and divided that many Catholics will be unwilling to even ask for peace with our neighbors. In fact, I won’t be surprised if a few of them become angry with the Pope for suggesting that we pray for such a thing.

Rather than run away from what our Holy Father has to say because it makes us uncomfortable and challenges us to reach out to other people, we need to take it to heart. Pray the Pope’s Prayer Intention for January. Pray for increased dialogue between and among people of different faiths.

Sitting down to talk to one another certainly sounds better than shooting at one another. Unlikely as that might seem, nothing is impossible with God

The Holy Father is exactly right. We are all children of the same God.

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Pope Francis is 80 Today!

Photo Source: Flickr Craative Commons by Arghya Banik https://www.flickr.com/photos/arghyabanik/

Photo Source: Flickr Craative Commons by Arghya Banik https://www.flickr.com/photos/arghyabanik/

Our Papa is 80 years old today.

If you would like to wish him a happy birthday, you can do so by making a comment in his Twitter account, @Pontifex, his Instagram account, or use one of the seven email accounts the Vatican created for this purpose.

I hope you take the time to wish our Holy Father a happy birthday. I also hope that those of you have fallen in to the trap of attacking the Pope will call a time out for the day and join the rest of us in sending him your good wishes.

We are blessed to have this good man as our shepherd in these times. It is foolishness not to know it.

 

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I Am Standing with the Pope. Glad You Noticed.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Republic of Korea https://www.flickr.com/photos/koreanet/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Republic of Korea https://www.flickr.com/photos/koreanet/

This isn’t about me, and I’m not trying to make it about me. But I’ve just had one of those experiences when angry people hand me a totally unexpected — and unintended — honor, and I’m too happy about it not to share.

I wrote a little post saying, in essence, that no matter what the reaction to Amoris Laetitia, I was standing with the Pope and his authority as head of my Church. The basic thing in the post was simple: Pope Francis is my religious leader. He’s the commander in chief of this earthly army for Christ, and I am — well I don’t even really qualify as a buck private — I’m more of a flag waving member of the cheering section, sending the real soldiers off to battle for Christ.

I hadn’t intended to take sides in the priest fight ensuing between Pope Francis and four cardinals. But, the stuff and nonsense I’ve been seeing directed toward the Pope just plain got to me. There are whole websites with large fanatical followings dedicated to destroying his credibility as the Vicar of Christ. There are Facebook pages authored by sick little people whose only purpose seems to be to tear down, do harm and create division among the faithful.

There are people who insist on referring to the Holy Father by his birth name as a means of disrespecting him. There are nuts out there who claim he’s not the pope. There are people who say he’s a heretic and is in apostasy. They quote — and misquote — canon law and papal encyclicals to “prove” this nonsensical garbage.

These sicko web sites who have dedicated themselves to attacking the Pope usually sell things and hit you up for donations as soon as you arrive on their turf. They are obviously making $$$ out of this hate enterprise they are running, and they equally obviously do not care one whit about the damage they are doing to the Church by attacking the Pope in this outlandish manner.

This whole thing is verging on being schismatic. It is also fodder for the mentals among the flock who need to rage about something in order to shout down their inner demons. Hating the Pope has become a kind of therapy for those who are damaged and hurting from the harms this sinful world has inflicted on them. It takes the place of drugs, overeating, cutting, and a lot of other ways of self-numbing.

I have every sympathy for these people. I understand the damage that the things that are done to us can do to our lives.

But that doesn’t mean that I’m going to follow them down the road. I sympathize, but I am not following these hate-filled web sites, Facebook pages and Twitter communities. I will follow the Vicar of Christ.

I am, as I said, standing with the Pope. Period.

I knew when I said this that there was every possibility that I would catch the angry eyes of the blogmeisters/Facebook-pagers/Twitter-storm-gurus who are fomenting this attack on the Church and her Pope. I knew that they are always in search of a new hate object.

These people need a steady supply of fresh meat to feed the angry crowd they’ve created so that it doesn’t get bored and look elsewhere. They are making their living by chopping away at the unity of the Church. If they don’t mind attacking the Pope, then they certainly aren’t going to mind attacking little old me.

Add to that the fact that members of this nasty tribe have had some success in getting writers fired for saying things they didn’t like, and you’ve got a leader, handing out the torches, and looking for someone to march on next.

I’m not saying that my little blog post got a full-on attack. But it did register a few hits. Evidently, one of the folks who drive this hate bus against the Pope said something or the other that was intended to take a bite out of me and that resulted in a little blast of comments on Public Catholic.

The difference between me and the people who have been hurt by being attacked by these folks is that I have nothing to lose. I don’t make my living doing this. I am not ambitious about my writing. I also don’t see myself as a theologian or a Church authority.

What I am is a pew-sitting Catholic who is grateful beyond words that I was allowed in this Church. I am a sinner whose main religious claim to fame is that I love Jesus with my whole heart. I am blessed every time I take the Eucharist.

If there was some way that I could reach out and enfold the whole world in the love of Christ that I have experienced, I would do it.

This little flurry of comments and whatever the hate-meister said about me that drove them wasn’t much in the scale of things. But being dinged a bit for standing for the Pope is an honor and I am grateful to have received it.

I am grateful to be a Catholic. I am grateful, blessed and healed every time I receive my Jesus in the Eucharist.

I can’t wish anything better for anyone than that they should know Jesus and His love. It’s what I truly wish for this sick and suffering world of ours.

If everyone really knew Jesus, there would be no more hunger or misogyny or racism or economic disparity. If everyone really knew Jesus, there would be no more war, no mindless hate. If everyone really knew Jesus, there would be no one to write hate blogs and no one to read them.

But we live in the time of Kingdom coming, a time when the Kingdom is here, in each of us who truly love Him, and not here in the way we sin in spite of this love; all this in a world that still writhes in the pain of its fallenness. We are witnessing a vast apostasy, a turning away from life to death by whole populations who reject Christ in order to follow their own, broad way.

I believe without doubt that these attacks on the Pope are ultimately an attack on the Church. The fact that those who foment them claim that they are doing what they do on behalf of the Church is just old scratch, talking through people to tell his lies.

I am standing with the Pope.

If that warrants me a few dings in the shooting gallery of the internet, I am honored to be of service.

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