It is Jesus, not Ideology, Who Saves

It is Jesus, not Ideology, Who Saves September 26, 2015

Mark, why do you hate conservatives?

A: I don’t. What I hate is idolatry. Because I’m a Catholic.

An idol is always a good thing. Otherwise, nobody would worship it. And conservatism is a good thing, because conserving is good. But the Thing that Used to be Conservatism is no longer good. It has become an idol.

Here’s the sign: The FOX Magisterium declared Francis a “False Prophet” today. The Right this week has made clear it hates his living guts–and the full-orbed Magisterial teaching of the Church. He has presented the teaching of the Church and for his troubles has been called Che Guevara’s Pope, a Stalinist, a Communist, the Worst Pope Since Alexander VI, an antipope, the Antichrist. etc. by the sober and not-at-all-unhinged Right Wing Noise Machine.

The reason that matters more than the naked hostility of the Left (which does, it is quite true, exist) is simple. Self-described “faithful Catholics” will never accept what Nancy Pelosi or Catholics for a Free Choice offers as “the Catholic Faith”. But many if not most “faithful Catholics” in the US have a *very* difficult time telling the difference between Movement Conservatism and the gospel and, when forced to choose (as they are being forced by this Pope) it is not yet clear which they will choose.

American Movement Conservatives have taught conservative Catholics to spend a lot of time fretting about their skins. They live in fear of persecution by Lefties or death at the hands of terrorists, or Mexicans, or criminals, or the government coming to take their guns. But as conservative media has made clear by its reaction to the Magisterium this week, they live in very little fear of their own sins, because the *real* sinners are Those Liberals Over There.

Jesus, in contrast, warns not about external threats but about threats to the soul: “Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Mt 10:28). Many Catholic Conservatives are now at the point where they can casually declare that Peter is a Che Guevara Pope, the worst pope since Alexander VI, a Stalinist, and a False Prophet, all while cheering for unjust war, torture, contempt for refugees, and a racist misogynist in a combover–and never pause for a moment to think it possible they may be wrong.

Why? Because they wear a Precious Feet pin that takes away the sins of the world. They have nothing to learn from this Pope. It is he who is the fool who need to learn from them. The Magisterium needs the firm guiding hand of a Conservative ideology that has for the past decade been so wrong about so much so many times for so long that only a fool would trust it.

If that is not false religion and idolatry, I don’t know what is.

This pope preaches Jesus Christ and him crucified. He proclaims good news to the poor. He does the work of Peter. And his number one enemies are now self-described “faithful Catholics” who have replaced the gospel with Movement Conservative talking points, litmus tests, and shibboleths. Not all of them, of course, and (please God) not most of them. But there are multitudes, multitudes in the Valley of Decision now that the Pope’s extremely attractive witness to Jesus–and the hysterical ugliness of Movement Conservatives and Reactionaries–has forced a choice on us. My prayer and confidence in the Holy Spirit is that truly faithful Catholics will decisively reject the false religion of Movement Conservatism as they have already rejected the false religion of American Liberalism and embrace the apostolic gospel proclaimed by the Church and her Holy Father, Pope Francis.

Therefore come out from them,
and be separate from them, says the Lord,
and touch nothing unclean;
then I will welcome you,
¶ And I will be a father to you,
and you shall be my sons and daughters,
says the Lord Almighty.” (2 Co 6:17–18).

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