How Culture Warriors, Not Priests, Talk and Act

How Culture Warriors, Not Priests, Talk and Act August 9, 2017

Fr. Frank Pavone was last seen committing what his own bishop called an act of “desecration” of an altar:  using the corpse of a baby he has evidently refused Christian burial for decades in order to perform a 45 minute stump speech for Donald Trump.

Now he’s back, still stumping for Donald and, with unerring timing, choosing the exact moment when Trump is threatening to commit what the Church calls a “crime against God and man meriting unequivocal condemnation” in order to inform us:

“We want to see someone who is driving the liberals crazy. They have been totally unhinged since November and I’ll tell you what, it’s going to get worse and I don’t think it’s going to get better until they just disappear from the American landscape altogether with their destructive philosophies – good riddance.”

The key takeaways here are that all who object to this lying, incompetent crook and self-c0nfessed sex predator are, by definition, both liberals and people motivated solely by destructive philosophies.  It goes without saying, of course, that they support abortion since this Fr. Pavone, one of the biggest leaders of the “prolife” movement condemning them and he certainly wouldn’t condemn people who are prolife, would he?  No he would not.  So opponents  of Trump are ipso facto, babykillers.

And since they are babykillers, it only stands to reason that all Right-Thinking Catholics can join with Fr. Pavone in saying that opponents of Trump need to “just disappear”.

It’s a pity more priests don’t use their pulpits for telling the 62% of Catholics who did not vote for Trump that they need to “just disappear”.  That’s what Mass is all about, isn’t it?  “Come unto me you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will tell you to just disappear if you didn’t vote Trump.”

Some time back, the Pope gave an interview with America that helped kick off the four year long freakout that has been the relationship of American conservatives with Francis.

For years and years, the perception that Christianity was essentially a school of moralism and ethics with smells and bells was primarily the province of the Left.  The conservative Evangelicalism (and Catholicism) in which I was formed had, again and again, to remind theological liberals that Jesus did not come primarily as a social reformer or prophet teaching about ethics, but as the Son of God here to suffer, die, and rise.  Ethics, while important, are an offshoot of the essentially supernatural mission of the Son of God to make us participants of the divine nature.

But then, with the emergence of Pope Francis, all that seemed to suddenly change. When he said:

The most important thing is the first proclamation: Jesus Christ has saved you….

We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods. This is not possible. I have not spoken much about these things, and I was reprimanded for that. But when we speak about these issues, we have to talk about them in a context. The teaching of the church, for that matter, is clear and I am a son of the church, but it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time.

The dogmatic and moral teachings of the church are not all equivalent. The church’s pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently. Proclamation in a missionary style focuses on the essentials, on the necessary things: this is also what fascinates and attracts more, what makes the heart burn, as it did for the disciples at Emmaus. We have to find a new balance; otherwise even the moral edifice of the church is likely to fall like a house of cards, losing the freshness and fragrance of the Gospel. The proposal of the Gospel must be more simple, profound, radiant. It is from this proposition that the moral consequences then flow.

…conservative Catholics suddenly lost their minds and freaked out that he was abandoning “life issues” which were the “core of the gospel”.

What?!

No.  “Life issues” are not the core of the gospel.  Neither is the family, gay marriage, contraception, euthanasia, pacifism, a just wage, Laudato Si, climate change, or gun control.  It is not primarily about moralism at all.

Here’s the deal for anybody, left or right, who tries to turn the faith into a form of crowd control with a penchant for robes and funny hats. Christianity is essentially supernatural. A Christianity drained of the supernatural and ‘purified’ to its ‘essentially moral teaching’ is a Christianity purified of its Christianity. Any pagan can practice an ethical system and many pagans do. But it takes a real God Man to rise from the dead and that’s what Jesus did.

Christianity exists, not to bring the world news that prudence, justice, temperance and fortitude are admirable qualities for the very good reason that this is not news.

It exists to bring the world the news that God was born in Bethlehem as a member of the species homo sapiens, that he lived as a Jew among that species, and that he was subjected to the death penalty by a Roman procurator, not in cloud cuckoo land, but at a definite GPS coordinate outside the walls of Jerusalem and then buried in a tomb you can still visit today.

And it exists to announce that he rose from the dead, ate fish, was touched by the hands of men and women whose skeletons we can still see today, and then returned to heaven leaving behind 500 eyewitnesses to this fact who went to tortured deaths shouting it at the tops of their lungs.

Anything–including the family or precious babies–that is put in the place of that is being turned, by us, into an idol.  And the tragedy is not merely that God is insulted, nor that we wind up seeking our happiness, fulfillment and completion from creatures who can never satisfy us, but that we put an intolerable and cruel burden on the creature which it can never bear.

The tragedy of the sort of “prolife” cult that Fr. Pavone is now encouraging is that it is now eating itself from within.  What was once about saving babies and respecting life is now about using babies and seeking salvation through earthly power in the person of Donald Trump.  It will only end in tears if it does not return to its first love, which is not the unborn, but Jesus Christ.

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