I love Pope Francis. Nuff said.
Sgt Bowe Bergdahl, John Corapi, Baby Bodies in Ireland and Letting the Facts Sift Themselves to the Top
Father John Corapi was just a smidgeon (and a very small smidgeon, at that) this side of Jesus to a lot of people.
I liked himself myself for quite a while. Then, one day, I was watching him on EWTN. He was talking about his escapades from his past and it occurred to me, “He’s not confessing. He’s bragging.” I noticed the way he almost leered when he talked about himself from what he was pretending he thought were his bad old days, and I realized, they weren’t bad old days to him. Not at all.
In short, I realized that this was a man in love with his sins and in love with himself. He was not the great priest he was pretending to be. He was something else, altogether.
I stopped watching him after that. A few months later, when the story broke that he had been credibly accused of all sorts of things, I wasn’t surprised. I’d seen it in his face that night.
I went to a meeting later in the week with a group of devout pro life Catholics. We were planning a pro life event. The talk was all about Father Corapi and the “lies” that were being told about him. The focus was on his accusers and what morally bankrupt people they were.
I listened for a while, then said, “I’m going to wait and see how it turns out.”
I didn’t say anything one way or the other about Father Corapi, just, “… wait and see how it turns out.”
There was a stunned silence and then one lady in particular fell to glaring at me. She glared throughout the meeting, and, so far as I can remember, has never spoken to me since. In fact, she still gets a case of the glares when she sees me.
Despite the silence and the glares, what I said was good advice, born of many years in the public eye and having been lied about over and over again by lying pros.
That was going to be my message about the wild story concerning the bodies of children that were found in Ireland a while back. Don’t believe the things the press is throwing around, and don’t disbelieve them, either. Just … wait and see.
My colleague, Frank Weathers, wrote a sterling post Saturday in which he gave us a few calming facts about that story to juxtapose with the hysteria in the larger press. You can read it here.
I am also going to suggest the same attitude toward the release of Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl. Sgt Bergdahl was the last American prisoner of war from the war in Afghanistan. He was ransomed from captivity in a prisoner trade a few days ago.
He’s being trashed by all sorts of people. I don’t know him or them. I do believe that at least some of the trashing is a tactic in the partisan political wars. I take everything that is said in that context with about 20 pounds of salt. When it involves attacking someone who can’t fight back to score points against one political party by the other political party, I add another 50 pounds of salt to go with it.
These people — and I’m not talking about Sgt Bergdahl — are absolutely ruthless. They’ll destroy anybody to get what they want. Destroying the life and reputation of one soldier to gain a few points would be like snapping a toothpick to them.
It does not matter whether you are talking about the Rs or the Ds. Their only concern is getting and keeping power. Everything else they say is a lie.
A good deal of the press has become aligned — primarily through the interests that own them — with one side of the partisan wars or the other. They’re not trying to inform you. They’re trying to persuade you. And the persuasion is aimed at concentrating power in the hands of one side or the other of this political divide for purposes of making money for those same interests that own the media outlets.
So, my advice about Sergeant Bergdahl is the same advice I would give about the bodies in Ireland, which is based on the same thought I had when John Corapi was accused. Wait and see how it turns out.
I’m not trying to persuade anyone as to whether they should be an R or a D. I’m convinced we need Christians in both parties. What I am saying is don’t be too quick to join the lynch mob for this soldier. He’s a person, not a political opportunity.
I’ve seen cattle get run all over a field by a German Shepherd dog who was just having fun. The dog would send them one way, then the other. The cattle ran and the dog had the time of its life.
Don’t be like those cattle. Stop letting yourself get tossed around by a media that’s mis-using its power. Wait and see how it turns out. Give the facts on this story and all the others like it time to sift themselves to the top.
Don’t let yourself be herded from one outrage to the other by gossip that’s posing as facts, propaganda and sensationalist lies. If you know a news outlet is literally owned by a set of interests, remember that when considering the news they cover.
Trust God, and Him only.
And wait and see what happens when the facts sift themselves to the top.
I won’t go into the details because I don’t know the details, and also because I can see from a distance that the details are rife with petty malice, self-righteous viciousness and lies.
It seems that Pope Francis kissed somebody’s hand and one of my colleagues said something about heresy and, of course, the money changer christians are all in a big kerfluffle because the Pope, once again, spoke out in favor of the poor. What’s more, he did this in direct violation of their true theology.
That theology is the self-serving, greed-driven Ayn-Rand-derived neo-con economic theory/theology that is being put on the altars of a lot of Christians’ hearts these days. It is being blessed and promoted in direct contradiction to the teachings of the law and the prophets and Christ the Lord by sin-sick clergy who are twisting the Scriptures to suit the politics of the destructive wing-nuts on the right of the political spectrum.
I’ve written extensively about the wing-nuts on the left of the political spectrum and their Gospel-twisting clergy. But from what little I know, this particular hate-off was fueled and carried forth by the right-wing-nuts of today’s culture/politics-worshipping fallen (little c) christianity.
I’m quite certain that a lot of Public Catholic’s readers are going to come at me with pitchforks and torches for saying this, but my friends, you have got to choose. Follow Christ, or follow the apologists of your political party. You can not serve them both and you cannot follow them both.
On the one hand, we have the arguments of those who buttress claims that Jesus really supports abortion, gay marriage, euthanasia, etc. They use distorted lying interpretations of Scripture to support what is in fact, anti-Christ. On the other hand, we have those who claim that Jesus really supports transferring the wealth of the people into the hands of a few greedy campaign donors and impoverishing the people of this great nation in the process. They use their own distorted, lying interpretations of Scripture to support what is also and in fact, anti-Christ.
What is the difference between them?
They are two sides of the same coin. And they both are leading people down the wide path that goes straight to a hell that exists on this earth and in the next life simultaneously. We are making a hell of this heaven with our politicized christianities.
You cannot — can not — follow either of these heretical (there’s that word) — self-serving, false and evil wing nut christianities and follow Jesus. It is not possible. It cannot be done.
Choose this day, people. Choose who you will serve. Will you walk down the wide road of political expedience and ez-pz morality crafted by the lying liars of politicized little c christianity? Or will you and your house serve the Lord?
The christianity being taught by the wing nuts on both sides of the political spectrum is not the Christianity that leads to eternal life. This bastardized christianity is from the pit, and it leads straight back to the pit. There is no life in these teachings; no Gospel, no Jesus. They come from people who have sold their souls to the political store. Their words are justifications of evil. They are teachings for and about themselves, their greed, and their fallenness. They are not in any way about Him.
Which is why their fruit is lynch mob carrying-on on the internet and in other places. Their fruit is death, dissolution, impoverishment of the many for the few and destruction. They lead people into self-righteousness and crazy viciousness. They fuel slander, malice, envy and an endless cycle of cruel, hate-filled attacks that resemble a debauch more than a discussion.
The internet is full of what amounts to verbal orgies of hatred, directed in the name of Christ — in the name of Christ — at anyone who disagrees with the gospel of wing-nut political christianity.
I looked over the rim of my week off and saw the destructive hate-off. I saw it and I thought, there they go again. I can tell you that from that safe distance it was clear to me that satan was running the show. We are living in times when our world is falling away from Christ. The exhortations and temptations to fall with it are varied and many. But the most sinister come from fallen christians who try to induce us to live by the world’s lights while proclaiming that we are following Him.
Is that heresy? I don’t know. I’m not theologian enough to say. But it is blasphemy. It is taking the Lord’s name in vain. Of that I am entirely certain.
Here, for your delectation, are a few random quotes, pulled from my rather spotty memory. Read them and think. And stop supporting fallen religious leaders and political demagogues who have the temerity to lecture God on morality.
Cboose. This. Day.
Who said that?
Money is the root of all of evil.
It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.
Do not store up treasures on earth … store up treasures in heaven … for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
If you have done it to the least of these, you have done it to me.
You cannot serve both God and money.
My house shall be called a house of prayer, but you are making it a den of robbers.
But the deceitfulness of riches and desire for other things enter in and choke the word and it becomes unprofitable.
What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his own soul?
Who said that?
Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied.
The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.
Do not be hard hearted or tight fisted toward your poor brothers and sisters.
You have hoarded wealth in the last days. The wages you failed to pay the workmen who mowed your fields are crying out against you.
If a man shuts his ear to the cry of the poor, he too will cry out and not be answered.
He who mocks the poor shows contempt for his maker.
The righteous care about justice to the poor, but the wicked have no such concern.
He who is kind to the poor lends to the Lord.
A fortune made by a lying tongue is a fleeting vapor and a deadly snare.
Do not exploit the poor because they are poor and do not crush the needy in court, for the Lord will take up their case and will plunder those who plunder them.
Wealth is worthless in the day of wrath.
… many believed in Him when they saw the signs which He did, but Jesus did not trust Himself to them, because He knew men.
Palm Sunday is a bittersweet story because we know how it ends.
The same Jesus Who is greeted with hosannas at the start of the week, is betrayed with cries of “Crucify Him!” at the end of that week.
People will disappoint you, people will betray you, people will turn on you. That is the Palm Sunday paradigm and it is a fact of life.
The rest of that paradigm is that we — you and I — are the people in that statement.
I will disappoint. I will betray. I will turn on friends.
And so will you.
No one of us, no matter our station or our degree of piety, can traverse this life without being disappointed, betrayed, and turned on. Likewise, no one of us can traverse this life without disappointing, betraying and turning on others.
The point I am making is that Jesus was right when he told us, You can’t judge.
Can you imagine how we look to Him, with all our squabbling and finger-pointing? I can see Him, standing there, looking at the angry people around Him, upbraiding and shouting accusations at one another, “You, can’t judge,” He tells them. You, specifically you, with your many sins and fallen nature, can not judge.
To Jesus Christ, we must look like a bunch of toddlers, shoving and punching over a toy.
And that is the message of Palm Sunday. We, who say we love Him so much, will say “Crucify Him!” ourselves. Those of us who live in this time will not literally stand before Pilate, gazing at the physical wreckage of the Man who has been beaten almost to death, standing there bleeding and wearing a crown of thorns and shout “Crucify Him!”
We will live that betrayal of all that’s holy in our cruelties and petty meannesses to one another.
We hurt one another so savagely and so completely without remorse. I published a post a couple of days ago, in which I linked to a video of Pope Francis, giving a powerful homily against the sin of gossip. An enclosed place like the Vatican is probably honeycombed with destructive gossip.
I think all churches are. We exclude and isolate one another with our spiteful gossiping. And we don’t do it by accident. Gossip is as much a deliberate and destructive attack on another person as actually, physically, hitting them.
There are, of course, far splashier ways to betray our intimate others than gossip. Adultery comes to mind as a for instance.
The point is that Jesus, when He stood beside Pilate, beaten, humiliated and alone, was us. He stood in for humanity, suffering at the hands of humanity. He was raped, trafficked, starved, homeless, aborted, euthanized, murdered, battered, slandered, cast out, cast off, dehumanized suffering humanity.
When we go to church and proclaim our pious Christianity, we are the crowds shouting hosanna as He enters Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.
When we turn on, betray and abandon one another, we are the crowd, standing before Pilate.
When someone betrays you or hurts you, remember that Our Lord understands everything you feel. Take your humiliated rage to Him and ask for His help.
On the other hand, when you do these things to other people, you should likewise take your sin to Him.
He Who committed no sin became sin for our sake. He understands the separation from God, the empty darkness of self-righteous self-justification that sin brings into our hearts. He Who committed no sin became sin for our sake. He knows what we suffer because of our sins. He understands the plunging depths of separation from God and the darkness that enters our souls because of our sins.
Take your sins to Him and ask for His forgiveness.
Whether your are doing your turn as the sinner or you are going through a time as the one sinned against, remember that you can and will exchanges places many times over the course of your life. You will sin against other people, and they will sin against you.
There is only One Who understands the full depth of hopeless depravity that this is, and Who also has the power to free us of it and heal us from it.
The Palm Sunday paradigm is the paradigm of the crowd. It is a week, framed at one end with Hosannas! and at the other end with shouts of Crucify Him!
The Palm Sunday paradigm is us. All of us, without exception. It illustrates in stark black and white lines why, without a Savior, we are lost.
Gossip that demeans someone and makes them an outsider in their community is, as the Holy Father says, a form of social murder. When it occurs in a church, it kills a person’s relationships and place in the community of Christ. It isolates, alienates and sets them apart from other believers.
It can drive people out of their parish or even out of the Church. In extreme cases, it can maim their relationship with God.
Gossip is not the same thing as venting to a spouse or someone equally close. Gossip is talking to this one and that one and everyone who will lend an ear, cutting a person down and creating a wedge between that person and their fellows. When that happens, it goes beyond venting and becomes a weapon used to punish a person.
Oftentimes, gossip is a cowardly way to attack someone else when they haven’t done anything wrong, not even to the person who spreads the gossip.
Perhaps the most damaging gossip in a Catholic parish would be gossip that comes from the priest. Priests carry great authority. Their office embues them with a charisma that they would never have as a lawyer or a dentist.
Catholics place their priests on pedestals. They honestly believe that the priest is closer to God and has a higher knowledge of right, wrong, and what God desires than other people. They think their priests are holy. They trust their priests deeply. I’ve seen people go to their pastor for comfort like small children fleeing to their mothers more times than I can count.
A priest who gossips critically about a parishioner to other parishioners can destroy that person’s ability to live out their walk with Christ in that parish. A priest who gossips about a parishioner to other priests can spread that disability throughout a diocese.
Gossip wounds people. It destroys relationships. When it happens in churches, it can scapegoat and forever damage a person’s ability to be part of that community.