This is a bit long, but I think it’s well worth watching.
This is my position on global warming:
I don’t know.
How did I arrive at this non-opinion?
I listened to the dueling experts, and got so confused that I decided to stop thinking about it.
Here is my opinion on climate change:
How did I arrive at this vague opinion?
I experienced two unprecedented, record-breaking killer tornadoes in 10 years. I watched as unprecedented weather cycles exploded all around. I saw the photos of the ice caps melting, and what happened after Sandy hit New York and Katrina took out New Orleans.
I think — not know, but think — that something’s happening.
I would like to know for myself, but that would require more effort than I’ve been willing to put into it. The fact is that the only way to even begin to understand all this is if I have the math and the science chops to read the original research — all of the original research, from both sides — and then have the chops to understand and synthesize it. After all that, I’d still be giving my opinion as to what it means. But it would be an informed opinion.
I might, if I, as Okies say, went to school on it, be able to figure out the research. But it would be like bailing out a lake with a bucket to get there. I just don’t have the push to take it on.
There clearly are big money political agendas at play in the argument. We are obviously being propagandized and lied to.
I don’t have the science and math chops to grok the original research on climate change and global warning without making a huge effort at self-education. But I do have the political chops to recognize this hysterical and dishonest tsunami of political propaganda for what it is.
We’re being manipulated in a crude and overbearing fashion. I am, to be honest, a bit flummoxed by how emotional and crazy-acting people who’ve been through this “education” program become whenever someone questions the craziness they’ve been taught. It’s weird to see heretofore passionate Catholics who’ve condemned others for choosing their political kool-aid over the Church flip like a flapjack and do the same thing themselves.
I understand, or I think I do, why they get so angry and out of it when they do this. It’s because they’ve become addicted to being propagandized and the addiction has cut off their thinking, reasoning brains.
If I can get even one or two people to calm down and start thinking with their own brains instead of warping out on repeating what they’ve been taught by people who are manipulating them, I will consider this blog a success. It isn’t so much what they decide, it’s that they, and not the pundits, need to be doing the deciding.
My feeling, which I’ve expressed in the comboxes, is that Pope Francis is the only disinterested party who’s spoken on climate and global warming. He is also the only honest man of the bunch. I trust that Pope Francis is speaking from the heart of Christ and that he — and he alone of all the many blabby pundits opining on this topic — is speaking on behalf of the poor, the disenfranchised, those without voice in the world’s affairs, and indeed, for all of us.
I absolutely believe that Pope Francis is speaking for the common good.
He’s the only commenter in this whole thing that I respect and trust.
So, I take what he says, including things he says when he evaluates scientific data, very seriously indeed.
I chose Christ. I am convinced that the simplest way, indeed the only way I can follow Christ with surety that I am doing it right, is by following the teachings of the Catholic Church.
I’ve done my deal on being my own god and making my own rules. I’ve sown and reaped the whirlwind of my own moral devisings. It is to me a sign of peace and hope that I can follow the teachings of my Church and not be forced, as Scripture says, to “rely on my own understanding.”
I want to trust in the Lord and do good.
That means, among other things, that when Pope Francis says something, I don’t go off in a rage and throw dirt in the air and pound a stick on the ground like an angry ape. My first reaction must be respect and trust.
I haven’t cancelled out my thinking brain. I took exception to his call to do away with life sentences because I honestly believe that there are certain people who must be locked up to ensure the public safety. But me, taking exception with the pope, is, as we say here in Oklahoma, as rare as hen’s teeth.
Even then, I did not dismiss what the pope said out of hand, and I certainly did not dismiss it in favor of some vicious talking head on tv or internet pundit. I based my reaction on a lifetime of dealing with both the perpetrators and the victims of violent crime in my former house district.
I looked at it from the perspective of someone who has considered these matters for almost two decades while living with the responsibility of having to decide. I have given a lot of thought and had to make many hard decisions about how to create laws that would allow for both justice and the public safety in these matters.
In short, I had a lot of experience and knowledge on which to form my opinion, and I tried to base my conclusions on what is best for the common good. More to the point, I did not — and will never — challenge Pope Francis’ authority in my life as my papa, the Holy Father.
For the same reasons, I am going to accept what he says about global warming. I don’t have the knowledge, understanding and longtime experience in the area of climatology to form an intelligent opinion. I honestly do not know of my own understanding what is fact and what is flim-flam in the discussions of global warming.
I am certain without doubt that there are lying liars afoot and that the reason for all the lying is $$$$$.
The one person I trust who has spoken on this is the pope.
Now, I’m going to let Public Catholic readers thrash this out. But be warned: I am a Catholic woman and this is a Catholic blog. Disrespecting the pope is not allowed here.
Deal Hudson is all agog because Pope Francis had the temerity to condemn international arms dealers who are providing the weapons that enable groups such as Boko Haram and ISIS to engage in their mass slaughter.
Mr Hudson doesn’t understand why the pope didn’t slam sex traffickers in this same speech. He’s even more flummoxed because the Holy Father has famously said “who am I to judge” about homosexuals who are repentant and doing their best to follow Christ.
Mr Hudson has a long political past, and I believe that he was speaking from that political viewpoint when he wrote his article. He was “outreach adviser” to the Catholic Church for President George W Bush’s presidential campaigns. What this means is that his job was helping the president gain votes from Catholic voters.
According to Wikipedia, “Since 2000, Hudson’s chief political activity has been to help organize the Catholic vote in support of conservative and Republican candidates.”
I think that’s relevant in terms of Mr Hudson’s reaction to Pope Francis’ remarks. Mr Hudson has a public history of viewing the teachings given to us by the popes in light of how they will “play” in electoral battles for power. It was his job to assess the Church as a political power base and come up with ways to use its teachings to craft political spin that would gain votes for one particular political viewpoint.
What that means is that he has a background of ignoring the moral implications of the teachings of the Church and analyzing them in terms of how this or that teaching can be used to gain votes. In order to do his job as a campaign adviser, he had to turn off the moral reflection on what these teachings meant to him as a Catholic and look at them through the absolutely amoral prism of power politics.
I do not say that as a condemnation of Mr Hudson. It is simply the nature of what his job was. He was a political operative.
I view Mr Hudson’s comments about Pope Francis’ condemnation of arms dealers in light of that understanding. In other words, I think they are politically motivated. Mr Hudson is not alone in this. He’s been joined by other defenders of the weapons manufacturing industry, all of them kicking the pope for saying the obvious.
I haven’t been able to find the text of Pope Francis’ remarks (Public Catholic reader JoAnna gave me a link to the speech. You can read it here.) so I’m forced to do as Mr Hudson does with his article and extrapolate from secondary sources. That’s always risky business.
For that reason, I went back and looked at earlier statements Pope Francis has made on this same subject. It turns out that his comments about arms dealers are not a new direction in his thinking. He has condemned arms dealers several times in the past two years, particularly those who sell arms to the likes of Boko Haram. He said this a year ago:
Apparently reacting to current acts of terrorism being perpetrated by the Boko Haram sects in north-eastern parts of Nigeria, Pope Francis early Thursday condemned all acts of terrorism, kidnapping and arms proliferation.
The Pope described the menace as “absurd contradiction” between the international community’s calls for peace, the proliferation of the global arms trade and the lack of attention to the suffering of refugees.
“Everyone talks about peace, everyone says they want it but unfortunately the proliferation of all types of arms is leading us in the opposite direction,” Francis told a group of new ambassadors to the Holy See.
At another time, he decried the power of the weapons’ industry’s lobbyists in government and the largesse they use to buy influence and coddle those who do their bidding, saying,
“And if you want,” he continued, “think of the great dining halls, of the parties thrown by the bosses of the weapons industry that makes the arms that wind up (in those camps). A sick child, starving, in a refugee camp — and the great parties, the fine life for those who manufacture weapons.”
Each of these previous comments were made in the context of the on-going bloodbath in the Middle East. The Holy Father made his comments yesterday in that same context. He made them as he was preparing to leave for a dangerous trip to that region of world.
Does that mean that Pope Francis intends for his condemnation of war profiteers to be limited to this one conflict in that one region of the world? No. When he says that these people are “so-called Christians,” that’s an obvious statement of moral teaching from a man who is the moral teacher for 1.2 billion Catholics .
Frankly, my reaction to his statement is … duh.
Does anyone seriously expect that the Vicar of Christ is going to support arms dealing and war profiteering? Are you going to jump in there and join with those attacking the Pope and defend arms dealing and war profiteering yourself?
It’s easier to understand the Pope’s point if we consider another set of comments he made. At some point — I’m not able to figure out if this was all in one homily or at two different times — he also condemned the Allied bombing runs in World War II for not bombing the train tracks over which people were taken to the Nazi death camps. This is the quote:
He spoke of the Armenian genocide in the early 20th century – though he did not use the word – and of the failure of the Allied forces to stop the Nazi genocide programme. “The great powers had photographs of the railways that brought trains to concentration camps, to Auschwitz, to kill Jews, Christians, Gypsies, homosexuals.
“But tell me, why didn’t they bomb them?” he asked. “The great powers, they divided Europe like a cake.”
Now, how does that jibe with his condemnation of arms dealers?
I think it simply means this: Weapons are objects. They are things. They have no souls. They do not think. They are tools we make. They can be used for self-defense, to hunt for food, for recreational target practice and for cold blooded murder of innocents.
The failure to bomb those tracks was a failure to use the weapons of war to save lives.
That does not, as Mr Hudson implies, smear the men and women in uniform who give their lives to fight these wars. We pray the Centurion’s prayer at mass. Jesus did not condemn this soldier. He praised him for his faith.
It would seem to me that this conflating of these two things — a condemnation of the refusal to use arms to save lives, and a condemnation of international arms traders — tells the story.
The people who are fighting ISIS are also using weapons. But they are using them in self-defense. The war against the Nazis was a war to save civilization. I think the war against ISIS is also a war to save civilization.
That is a vast oversimplification, I know. There is a danger in trying to judge between wars and labeling one side moral and the other amoral. The danger is that we all tend to see “our side” as the moral one. That can lead to justification of any war, any where, against anybody.
There are also a number of great dangers in an economy that is built on arms manufacturing, as the American economy has become. But that is beyond the scope of this post.
Finally, Pope Francis evidently also encouraged his audience to not place their trust in politicians.
Again, I say … duh.
Here is what he said:
“One day everything comes to an end and they will be held accountable to God,” he said.
In his Turin address to young people he also warned against putting too much trust in politicians, saying: “In Europe there is war, in Africa there is war, in Asia there is war. But can I have trust in a world like this? Can I trust the world’s managers?
“When I go to give my vote for a candidate, can I trust that they will not bring my country to war? If you put trust only in people, you lose.”
It’s no wonder that Mr Hudson is so upset with Pope Francis. The Holy Father is challenging Catholics to follow Christ instead of politics. He is directly opposing the political heresy that Mr Hudson served so ably during his time in politics.
Not only that, but he’s going against the biggest pork barrel around: The arms industry. He’s calling foul on the practice of selling weapons of war to mass murderers. He’s saying that you can’t serve both God and mammon.
Somebody else said that a couple of thousand of years ago and He got in big trouble for it.
Pope Francis is cracking apart the political heresy. Those who make their livings by it are responding by calling him everything but the Vicar of Christ.
Who’s going to win this argument?
The Catholic Church has been attacked by governments, powers, armies, and now pundits, for 2,000 years. It has suffered loss and peril. But it has always prevailed.
I’m pretty sure that most of the people who’ve been snarling and sniping about Pope Francis’ latest encyclical have not read it.
The reason I say that is that they are angry — purple in the face, hissing and spitting angry — about things it does not say. They are also angry about things they claim it doesn’t say that it in fact does.
Laudato Si has a simple underlying argument. Pope Francis reasons that our spiritual bankruptcy has led us into destroying our earth, along with destroying ourselves. He teaches that the loss of respect for the human through our attacks on the sanctity of human life have led us into an extreme individualism that has in turn led us to a destructive relativism.
This shallow and meretricious outlook on life has caused us to befoul and slime our own nest, our home, which is this planet Earth.
Our financial, economic, social and political institutions, all of which should serve the common good, now operate only for their own immediate competitive success, without the element of moral responsibility on the part of those who control them. This deforms human life on a mass scale and leads to the destruction of the planet on which we live.
He calls this destruction of human value and human community a destruction of the human ecology. His teaching is that the human ecology and the natural ecology are linked and interwoven, as they must be if human beings have dominion over the earth.
Laudato Si states at one point that the decision of whether or not to leave a dead planet to future generations is ours to make.
Media pundits have used false claims about what Laudato Si says to get gullible people worked up into a hysteria.
Here are 9 things that Laudato Si does not say, but that people have been told it does.
1. Laudato Si does not attack the free enterprise system.
2. Laudato Si does not advocate Marxism. (This would be laughable except that foolish people keep falling for it.)
3. Laudato Si does not advocate socialism.
4. Laudato Si does not support population control.
5. Laudato Si does not support abortion.
6. Laudato Si does not support contraception.
7. Laudato Si does not support a global tyranny of nutty “greenies” who would take away all our freedoms.
8. Laudato Si does not support doing away with private property.
9. Laudato Si does not recommend specific legislation or reforms.
Here are 14 things Laudato Si does say.
1. Laudato Si recommends support for forming small businesses on a global scale.
2. Laudato Si directly links disregard for the environment with the cheapening of human life caused by abortion, saying that when human life becomes conditional, nothing else is protected either.
3. Laudato Si specifically condemns the idea that population control is the way to “save the environment.”
4. Laudato Si specifically condemns business practices which ignore human rights and encourage human trafficking, drug trafficking, disruption of populations, seizure of individual’s property and wars for profit. It also condemns embryonic stem cell research and attempting to destroy the complimentarity between men and women.
5. Laudato Si calls for respect for local cultures and economic reforms which take the common good and human life into consideration.
6. Laudato Si says that all of life is interrelated and that human beings, as stewards of the earth have a grave responsibility to care for it.
7. Laudato Si condemns the out-sized consumption of goods by some parts of the world (ouch) which leads to impoverishment of people in other parts of the world. It calls us to look beyond consumerism to God to fill the emptiness of our lives.
8. Laudato Si says that access to life-giving water is a human right.
9. Laudato Si says that technology, if we use it incorrectly, can isolate and divide us.
10. Laudato Si condemns keeping poor people under a load of debt that makes it impossible for them to build lives for themselves.
11. Laudato Si exhorts us to develop solutions for housing crises which leave so many people homeless.
12. Laudato Si emphasizes the kinship and value of every living being. It also condemns extreme animal rights advocates who place greater value on animal life than human life and who would create a false tyranny with their ideologies.
13. Laudato Si calls for reforms of corruption in our financial systems.
14. Laudato Si says that the evidence for global warming comes from reputable scientific sources.
No wonder Rush Limbaugh hates this pope.
A lot of you are going to find yourself challenged by Laudato Si, precisely because Pope Francis does not give you the option of ignoring what he’s saying. You can decide to go against the pope. Or you can decide to walk with him.
But you can’t pretend he didn’t say what he said.
Pope Francis comes right out and says that global warming — along with a lot of other things — is leading us to a dark future. He points out the spiritual hollowness a society whose chief goal is to blindly consume, and whose community has dwindled to the internet. He says that access to life-sustaining water is a human right, and blasts corporatist control of the earth’s riches to the destruction of the poor.
This is a long Encyclical and unpacking it will take a while. But here is my first thought about it. It is a thought based on a memory and a historical fact.
The memory is of a conversation I had with a friend over a decade ago. My friend and I were talking about the universal sins of each time in history, sins that the people of that time are blind to. What we meant was that when a behavior is universally accepted and no one questions it, even great sins can pass unnoticed by the people committing them. Racism was once such a sin here in America.
Later generations often look back and are appalled by the cruelty and ignorance of their forebears. But they are committing their own sins of cultural blindness, even while they express their disdain for their forebears.
I remarked that I thought that one of the things about which future generations would look back at our time and ask “Why didn’t you do something? Were you blind?” was going to be the environment. If we bequeath a ruined earth to our grandchildren, what will they think of us?
The second thing I want to base my reaction on is a historical fact. That fact is simple. The Popes of the 1930s and 1940s did not issue an encyclical against the Nazis. An encyclical was drafted, and from what I’ve read of it, it was a strong and powerful document.
If that encyclical had been issued instead of shoved in a drawer, the many questions about what the Church did during those dark times would have a clear and compelling moral answer. I believe without doubt that if that encyclical had been issued, all of history since 1930 would be different.
Would the encyclical have stopped Hitler? Probably not. But it would have fueled the resistance to his evils by faithful Catholics. It would have either silenced the go-along German bishops who have become the shame of the Church or it would have exposed them for the anti-Christs that they were. It would have strengthened and ennobled the moral and prophetic voice of the Church for all time.
The failure to issue that encyclical was such an appalling failure of the Church that all of Christianity has been paying for it ever since.
Seen in the light of that memory and that history, I can say without equivocation that I am glad beyond glad that Pope Francis has taken the historic step of issuing this encyclical. I know that it is will unsettle a lot of Catholics who have up until now felt comfortable in their political fealties. I know that is painful. Believe me, I’ve been through such pain myself. In fact, I feel a bit of that pain with Laudato Si.
But it is necessary. Among other things, Pope Francis puts down the corporatist-created heresy that our followership of Jesus Christ stops where commerce begins.
Both the right wing and the left wing of our political spectrum want the Church to shut up and go along where their particular sins are concerned. They both claim, each with their own language, that when it comes to their sins, Jesus Christ is irrelevant.
They are both self-serving liars.
By writing this encyclical in such bold terms Pope Francis demonstrates what Hitler managed to keep an earlier pope from demonstrating: That Jesus Christ is the Lord of all life and that He is never irrelevant, no matter the topic of conversation.
Now, to get to the touchy matter of global warming. What to do with a Pope who does not equivocate when he says that reputable science shows that global warming is, in fact, happening?
First, the Pope does not say this as a matter of morality. He bases his statement on what he terms reputable scientific studies. I am not advocating that anyone drop kick the pope’s opinion on this in favor of Rush Limbaugh’s.
Pope Francis has a scientific background, and more to the point, he has nothing to gain and lot of to lose by making this statement. The talking heads of the world are highly paid mouthpieces who get their money from the people who benefit financially by the public not believing in global warming.
If I had to pick who to believe, it would be Pope Francis without any question. The vicious and totally untrue attacks on Pope Francis’ good name by the minions of the right have convinced me that nothing they have to say about the Catholic Church or our Holy Father is worth hearing. I think they’re all about the money. Their own money.
What Pope Francis does say as a matter of morality is that we have a responsibility to the earth, to all lifeforms and to the poor. This is sound Christian theology. It is the historic understanding of our call as Christians as regards these matters.
We can think — and by that I mean think, not be led around by pundit pied pipers who slander and slime the pope –and let think on matters of scientific investigation. We do have an obligation to think and not just repeat one-sided arguments that are designed to induce us to allow ourselves to be used.
It is important to the max to listen and read widely about an issue as contentious as this. I say that because it is a grave issue. The wanton destruction of entire species and ecosystems, the loss of breathable air and drinkable water, the unnecessary deaths of millions of people to preventable illnesses that are caused by pollution, starvation and thirst are, all of them, intrinsic evils. The rape of the earth is a violation of our first compact with God to have dominion over creation.
We have, as Christians always do, the freedom to think and let think on the particulars of the science of these matters. But we have an absolute moral obligation to approach the question with integrity instead of political sloganeering, from a vantage of concern for the common good, the welfare of the least of these and the provision of a hope and future for the generations who come after us.
We are Christians and we are called to more than to live only for ourselves with no regard for anyone or anything else in all of creation or in the future.
This is my first blush impression of Laudato Si.
I’m going to read it carefully and write about it extensively. I think we may be in the presence of an encyclical as important as Rerum Novarum.
Make no mistake about it folks. Pope Francis is kind, approachable and unassuming. But he is not a wimp.
For other thoughts on the Encyclical, read All of Our Sin, All of Our Hatred, on Trial by the Anchoress, Reading Francis Through Francis by Kate O’Hare, So Much to Say, So Much to Learn by Kathy Schiffer, Should You Read Laudato Si? by Simcha Fisher, Patriarch Barthelomew on the Encyclical: We Count it a True Blessing, by Deacon Greg Kandra, The Pearl of Great Price by Mark Shea, 3 Sources to Understanding Pope Francis’ Encyclical by Pia Solenni, Laudato Si, Hold Your Breath, Make a Wish, Count to Three by Tom McDonald, Why is THIS Missing from Pope Francis’ Environmental Encyclical? by Dr Greg Popcak.
If you want a copy of the Encyclical, Laudato Si, go here.
My attorney colleague Tom Zampino has already found the answer to the question a lot of Catholics were asking. Pope Francis blasts abortion, population control in new encyclical, he tells us.
It’s important for those of us here at Patheos Catholic to give you that fact, since the media is likely to ignore it and go off chasing after whatever verbiage they can pull out of context to support their various agendas.
Remember: What you read in any of the five places I list here will almost certainly be propaganda. It won’t be designed to inform. It will be designed to support agendas which have nothing to do with Our Lord, and which most like are antithetical to the Kingdom.
Now, I’m going to have my breakfast and settle down to read this encyclical. I’ll skim it before I read in depth to give you that first blush impression I promised. Then, I’ll probably break my analysis down into several posts.
Rejoice and be glad people. This is the day the Lord has made.
By their agendas you shall know them.
In our agenda-laden society, you can almost write the scripts ahead of time for certain groups’ reactions to Pope Francis’ Encyclical on the Environment. In fact, you could have written what they are going to say six months ago, or a year ago.
Stretching it a bit further, I think you could have predicted how most of these people would have responded to this situation 10 years ago.
These are people who don’t have to read the Encyclical to know what they think of it, because they aren’t paid to think. They make their $$ by following a party line and spitting that party line out on command. They have no part in informing the rest of us, even though they may be working for what claims to be a news organization.
Their jobs are to shape our views by the use of propaganda, not to inform us so that we can come to our own conclusions.
These are good people to ignore. One of my goals here at Public Catholic is to help you see through these propaganda machines and think for yourselves.
Here are 5 of these groups to ignore on the subject of the Encyclical, or indeed on most any serious topic.
1. Anyone who makes their $$ selling a political viewpoint to the detriment of the truth and common decency. This group includes the Rush Limbaughs, Rachel Maddows, Michael Savages and other crazy means of the media. Don’t look to any of them for a factual or even slightly accurate rundown on the Encyclical. If you can’t predict what they’re going to say before they even read the Encyclical, you probably don’t know who they are, anyway.
2. Anyone who makes their $$$ by bashing Christians, Catholics in particular. This includes almost all atheist bloggers. Again, you can predict what they’re going to say before they read the Encyclical. If they make their money trading on Christian bashing and anti-Catholic bigotry, their opinions shouldn’t matter to you.
3. Politicians of either party who are currently raising large amounts of $$ for a political campaign. These folks will dance to the tune of whoever gives them the money to win their election. Each political party has its favorite watering troughs, but unknown to most voters, both political parties also go to the same troughs for a lot of their $. That’s because buying government is so cheap compared to the payback that it’s good money well spent to just buy everybody. None of these people will speak with authenticity and personal integrity about this Encyclical. Not one of them.
4. Catholics who hate the Church. Sadly, there are groups of Catholics out there who can not say a good word about our Church. I don’t now what’s wrong with them. But I think they are so angry and full of rage that their opinions can not be taken seriously.
5. People who just repeat words like Marxist without the first clue what they mean. Also people who repeat things they’ve heard from numbers 1, 2, 3, and 4 in a monkey see, monkey do fashion. They simply have nothing to contribute to the discussion since, for whatever reason, they have chosen not to engage their brains.
I know, I know.
Everybody and his dog is going to jump right over the starting gate and make absolute pronouncements about the Encyclical tomorrow. Some folks are even promising to tweet their responses as they read; kind of like taking their own mental pulse every few minutes and tossing the numbers out there on the internet.
I am not Everybody, much less his dog.
I’ll try to give you a smallish, first blush look at what I think, but it’s a long read and a longer ponder before I will be able to say with any intelligence what I believe the encyclical really means.
I expect that this will leave me in the corral still trying to saddle up when the wagon train pulls out of town and heads for Dodge. I also expect that a good number of you are going to be whipped to a frazzle by all the bizarro, politically-motivated sewage, both from the left and the right, that will be dumped on your little heads.
My advice — and I say this as someone who values and respects your thinking processes — is to hold onto yourself and not let the incoming tsunami of off-the-cuff verbiage drown your brain. For sure and for certain, don’t let it damage your faith.
Pope Francis is not going to come out with anything that contradicts 2,000 years of Church teaching, and he is not going to turn his back on the Church’s stand for the sanctity of human life and the value of every human being.
Far from it.
I fully expect that this encyclical will affirm the sanctity of human life and the value of human beings as they relate to the charge that God gave us to have dominion over creation. It may not go down well with our politics. I may have as much trouble accepting all of it as some of the rest of you.
But I can assure that I will accept it.
Pope Francis is the pope. I will try to understand his teachings, and I will seek to apply them in my life within the limits of my own experiences and abilities. Other faithful Catholics will do the same, and that will lead us into legitimate areas of discussion and disagreement. But we must — must — begin at the point of our common faith and our common acceptance of the teaching authority of the pope and our Church.
Thinking my way through the encyclical will not be done in a day. But I can promise you that I will do it prayerfully and with an understanding that I follow the Catholic Church and the pope.
Tomorrow is Encyclical Day.
Fasten your seatbelts. The nuts are going to be driving the commentary vehicle for a while.
Bishops are teachers, leaders and administrators.
They are also priests.
When a bishop becomes so exasperated with his flock that he no longer likes them or feels love for them, it’s time for that bishop to go back to God in prayer.
Bishop Tobin of Rhode Island has published a letter to is flock that is a case in point.
I can’t say what Bishop Tobin feels in his heart, but various comments he’s made and things he’s done lead me to believe that he’s more than a little disappointed in the people in the pews in his diocese. He runs a diocese that is more densely Catholic than most, but also less publicly committed to following the Church.
Bishop Tobin has experienced the personal and pastoral debacle of seeing members of his flock defy him and vote to pass laws legalizing gay marriage. He preached and taught the right things, but they didn’t listen, or rather, not enough of them listened.
Poor man, he took their sins on his own back and blamed himself for the failure of those who should have followed hm to do what was right. It must have been a bitter black moment for him as a leader of souls.
This exasperation, this disenchantment, with the people he is tasked to lead comes blasting out in a recent article he posted concerning the way that Catholics dress when they go to mass. He wants his flock to show their respect for the Lord by dressing up a bit when they come to Church.
Catholics are notoriously casual in the way we dress at mass. I wear a lot of jeans and t-shirts to mass myself. Maybe we should be a bit more polished in our appearance. Many of my fellow Catholic Patheosi think they should. Me, I’m not so sure that I agree. I think that casual is the new normal of our culture and there are much bigger fish for a bishop to fry than taking on the role of fashion cop.
But I’m not a bishop and I don’t set bishops’ agendas. If Bishop Tobin looks out over his flock and sees attire that is unseemly and disrespectful of the Lord, it is will within his job description for him to admonish the faithful to spiff up a bit. It is the job of Catholics in the pews to listen to him and try to follow his teaching. He is, after all, their spiritual leader.
What is unfortunate is that, when he attempted to do this, he let loose with his anger at the people he leads. Here’s a bit of what he said:
You know what I’m talking about; you’ve seen it too. Hirsute flabmeisters spreading out in the pew, wearing wrinkled, very-short shorts and garish, unbuttoned shirts; mature women with skimpy clothes that reveal way too much, slogging up the aisle accompanied by the flap-flap-flap of their flip-flops; hyperactive gum-chewing kids with messy hair and dirty hands, checking their iPhones and annoying everyone within earshot or eyesight.
These displays reveal a gross misunderstanding of the sacred space we’ve entered in the church and the truly sacred drama taking place in our midst. C’mon – even in the summer, a church is a church, not a beach or a pool deck.
Every member of the worshipping community should dress appropriately for Mass, but the obligation is even greater for those who fulfill public ministries during the liturgy – ushers, lectors, servers, and Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion. Because they’ve assumed a public role in the sacred liturgy and are in the public eye, it’s important that they give good example to others in the way they dress, speak and present themselves during Mass.
Certainly the people of God should dress with appropriate modesty when they go to mass. I agree that those who participate in the mass should make an effort to be visually presentable when they do so.
But I can tell the good bishop that long-term leadership of a group of people depends on trust and inspiration, not verbal flogging and public shaming.
Every person who comes to mass is a volunteer. Every single one of them has something else they could be doing. Every person who is sitting in a pew is there because, at least at some level, they are seeking Christ the Lord. That deserves respect, which is exactly what I think Bishop Tobin is trying to ask for himself and the mass in his misbegotten post.
I think that the bishop wants people to respect the mass, and I am guessing that he would also like for them to respect him. However, I do not think that talking to the people in the pews in the manner I quoted above will garner the respect he is seeking.
The reason why is simple: To get respect, you have to give respect, and Bishop Tobin disrespects his flock in this letter.
People will follow a leader through all kinds of hell and high water if they trust that leader. They will respect and support a leader who respects and supports them. That respect and support is the basis of trust and inspiration, and trust and inspiration is the basis of leadership.
When a leader — it does not matter if it is a priest or a president — disrespects the people he or she is trying to lead, they damage that essential element of trust and inspiration. When they do it repeatedly, they can destroy the trust, quench the inspiration, that is necessary for them to lead.
Bishops have a tough job. I’m pretty sure that it’s going to get tougher as time goes forward. Their authority is battered and tarnished by their own failings in the priest sex abuse scandal. The Church itself has become the sign of contradiction against the satanic influences that are ripping at our whole society.
Those satanic forces are gathering and will attack the Church without ceasing so long as it stays true to its mission of preaching the whole Gospel of Christ. Bishops, as the generals in the Lord’s army, are the top targets in these attacks.
But they can no go to ground and take cover. Bishops need to stand and lead. They must lead, and they must do it fearlessly and with the kind of strength and faith that only the Holy Spirit can give.
It is not possible for any man to do the job that confronts our bishops out of his own wisdom or strength. If God does not support these men, they will fail. That means that they have to unlearn the lessons of clericalism that have formed so many of our religious leaders and take on the humility of true followership of Christ. There is no other way for a bishop in today’s world to effectively do the job that is set in front of him.
Leadership requires a lot of those who take it up. Among other things, it requires self-discipline. That self-discipline includes a refusal not to indulge personal pique in public venues.
That’s what I read in Bishop Tobin’s remarks: Personal pique.
He is dangerously close to giving the impression that he flat-out dislikes the people he must lead. He needs to stop this and stop it now.
If he is genuinely concerned that the level of casual dress in his parishes has become so extreme that it endangers the sanctity of the mass, he must, as is his job, teach in that area. But it is imperative that he do so as a bishop, a priest, a father and shepherd of a flock that he loves and longs to lead to heaven.
There aren’t many chances when it comes to publicly dissing the people you lead. Such behavior violates the compact between leader and those who are led. If they trust you deeply, they will give you one or two second chances, but only if they love you deeply and trust you absolutely. No one ever gets more chances than that, and most leaders get no second chance at all.
All bishops, not just Bishop Tobin, need to take this to heart. I know what I’m talking about here.
I want to see our bishops succeed. I pray for their success. When I see a bishop shoot himself in the foot this way, I think it’s important to say something.
Bishops must respect and love the people God has entrusted to them. If they do that, they will find the job of leadership a natural outgrowth of the trust they receive in turn.
It was a rout.
They knocked one another down, running away from Him.
The temple guards tried to catch John Mark by grabbing his clothes. When his clothes tore lose, Mark ran away naked into the night like a panicked bunny rabbit.
A few days before, John and James had been arguing over who would sit at the places of honor in His Kingdom.
Now, they ran.
It was ignominious defeat, an end to all their boasting and bragging about their great loyalty.
Jesus has suffered many Gethsemanes since that night, many times when His followers ran from Him and straight into the maw of the world. People stampede the same as a herd of cattle. When they are panicked, they will run right over a cliff and to their destruction.
We are the weakest of followers for a Heavenly King. The question isn’t why we choose Him. The question is why He chooses us.
Given our behavior, that question is so confounding that only one answer is possible. That answer is love. He loves us, and love makes all things right, even our tawdry behavior.
The disciples ran that night because they were panicked, afraid for their lives. They also ran because, as Jesus told them, This is satan’s hour.
But satan doesn’t have just one hour. His taunts and beguilements are an ever-renewing source of spite, hate, malice and lies. This time in which we live is every bit as much satan’s hour as that night in the garden.
Satan will use any doorway into us, including what we think of as our faithfulness to Him. One clear sign that we can use to discern that we are on the wrong path is when we begin to base our righteousness on the sins of other people.
That is the first sin of cafeteria Catholics, of the red and the blue, the left and right. They are forever attacking one another and claiming righteousness for themselves based on the sins of the other.
Cafeteria Catholics of the left claim, often rightfully, that those on the right ignore the cries of the poor, that their economic policies concentrate wealth in a few hands and impoverish all others. They are accurate when they say that this is not free enterprise, because it isn’t. It is corporate fascism, the corporatism that has been consistently condemned by every recent pope.
Cafeteria Catholics of the right claim, often rightfully, that those on the left attack the human, that they seek to destroy the very foundations of civilization with their destructive nihilism. Abortion, gay marriage, mutilating surgeries used on mentally ill people, euthanasia, egg harvesting, porn; these are the crimes of the left.
Both groups condemn the pope and the Church for violating the “teachings” of their side. The Pope is a sign of contradiction to this world. Cafeteria Catholics of both the right and left react violently when the Holy Father’s teachings contradict and lay bare their own departures from following Christ.
They don’t respond to this revelation that they are walking outside the faith with humility and a desire to change. They don’t even do as I often do when the Pope’s teachings contradict my shibboleths, by twisting and turning, arguing and complaining, before I ultimately give in and follow.
Hardened cafeteria Catholics respond to the teachings from the pope that contradict their politics by going into spittle-throwing, self-righteous rages. They attack and defame the pope himself for calling them to a conversion they do not want to make.
Cafeteria Catholics of the right have, for many years, condemned and excoriated anyone who departed from what they termed obedience to the Holy Father and the Magisterium of the Church. Their brittle self-righteousness in condemning everyone who departed from their standard of faithfulness has driven many people from the Church, turned people away from Christ.
It was not their faithfulness that drove people away. It was their self-righteousness, their ugly use of the Church as a club to beat their political opponents over the head.
But when the pope, this Pope, dares to teach the truth about corporate fascism, they turn hard about 180 degrees and attack the Church, and the Holy Father themselves. I have deleted the most appalling comments about Pope Francis in the past 24 hours, comments that come from the pit of spiritual death.
That, of course, is nothing new. I delete appalling comments about the pope and the Church almost every day.
Cafeteria Catholics on the left chime in on a regular basis, letting me know that the Church has failed to live up to their self-righteous standards, as well. The Church, they say, is cruel and has no compassion because it “condemns” the sick and elderly to suffering when a good dose of poison would end it for them.
The Church is cruel because, while it admits anyone, including homosexuals, it will not tell homosexuals that their sins are not sins.
The Church supposedly hates women because it will not support them in killing their children with abortion.
Both sides, cafeteria Catholics of the right and the left, the red and the blue, abandon the Church founded by Christ the Lord to bend their knee and give their loyalty to the false gods of this world. Both sides, cafeteria Catholics of the right and the left, seek to limit the Church’s teaching to areas that goad the other guy’s ox and not theirs.
Jesus Christ doesn’t mean all that much to either side. They will abandon Him on behalf of their political philosophies anytime. Any time at all.
They do not follow the Vicar of Christ. They follow the pundits and talking heads who taught them this false gospel of self-righteousness and condemnation of others in the first place. They are comfortable in their mushy wallows of false doctrine and self-congratulation. They like pointing the finger at the other guy and declaring that he is not faithful, while, they proclaim, they themselves are absolutely faithful.
Left wing cafeteria Catholics loved to attack Pope Benedict XVI. They piled onto Pope John Paul II. But they’ve decided to patronize Pope Francis by misinterpreting what he says to fit their politics. They are attempting what the right wing accomplished by doing the same thing with the teachings of the earlier popes: Self deification.
Right wing cafeteria Catholics breathe fire at Pope Francis. I’ve deleted comments from them that say outrageous things about him. This is especially poignant, coming as it does from people who have long based their claims to righteousness on their faithfulness to the teachings of the Church.
In truth, neither group of cafeteria Catholics is looking for leadership from the Pope. What they both want is validation of their sins. That, and holy verbiage they can use to condemn their enemies in the wars of this world.
They aren’t looking for redemption and forgiveness. They have no use for salvation that comes at the price of a cross. They have convinced themselves that they don’t need it.
They are so certain of their theological omniscience that they lecture the pope on Church teaching. They are so proud of their righteousness that they use themselves for the measure by which they judge what is right and what is wrong.
Cafeteria Catholics are exactly like the political movements they have made the lords of their lives. The only difference is that the puppet masters at the top of these movements know what they are doing. They got their 30 pieces of silver.
Their followers down below do not have the respect of those on top these movements. These hapless souls who’ve sold their birthright for a bowl of pundit porridge are just things to be used by those they follow.
Do not run away from the Lord of all life. Do not feed your salvation to the dogs of this world.
The simplest way to know that you are following Christ is to follow the teachings of the Catholic Church. Scripture tells us to Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.
I would make that more explicit. I would say trust the Vicar of Christ and do not follow the pied pipers of the media and the internet to your own destruction.
Save. Your. Soul.
Turn your back on the death-dealing philosophies of this world, whether they are from the right or the left.