The empty cassock...
Despite the claim by many militantly non- (anti-) Catholics, we dirty papists don't worship the Pontiff. Nor do we stand with maw agape in reverence to every utterance that falls from his lips. Without getting too deep into the apologetics weeds, with not many exceptions we certainly can disagree with the Pope.
As a struggling Christian who recognizes the Holy Roman Church, I'm of the opinion that the pontificate of Pope Francis is an absolute and utter disaster. Yes, the waters of the Tiber are a wee bit on the Barack-ish side. What Obama has done during his warp-speed fundamental transformation towards the stupidification of America, Pope Francis has his own addition to the lexicon of the 21st century Beta humans - Low Information Worshipers.
The Hottest Thing Since the Joan Baez Hootenanny Mass...
With a view from 10,000 feet, perhaps it's the latest version of the faux-Beatitudes as recently reported by the National Catholic Distorter that have left many of the faithful scratching our collective chins. In listing his "Top 10 tips for bringing greater joy to one's life" not once ... not once, did he mention God:
- "Live and let live." Everyone should be guided by this principle, he said, which has a similar expression in Rome with the saying, "Move forward and let others do the same."
- "Be giving of yourself to others." People need to be open and generous toward others, he said, because "if you withdraw into yourself, you run the risk of becoming egocentric. And stagnant water becomes putrid."
- "Proceed calmly" in life. The pope, who used to teach high school literature, used an image from an Argentine novel by Ricardo Guiraldes, in which the protagonist -- gaucho Don Segundo Sombra -- looks back on how he lived his life. "He says that in his youth he was a stream full of rocks that he carried with him; as an adult, a rushing river; and in old age, he was still moving, but slowly, like a pool" of water, the pope said. He said he likes this latter image of a pool of water -- to have "the ability to move with kindness and humility, a calmness in life."
- "A healthy sense of leisure." The pleasures of art, literature and playing together with children have been lost, he said. "Consumerism has brought us anxiety" and stress, causing people to lose a "healthy culture of leisure." Their time is "swallowed up" so people can't share it with anyone. Even though many parents work long hours, they must set aside time to play with their children; work schedules make it "complicated, but you must do it," he said. Families must also turn off the TV when they sit down to eat because, even though television is useful for keeping up with the news, having it on during mealtime "doesn't let you communicate" with each other, the pope said.
- Sundays should be holidays. Workers should have Sundays off because "Sunday is for family," he said.
- Find innovative ways to create dignified jobs for young people. "We need to be creative with young people. If they have no opportunities they will get into drugs" and be more vulnerable to suicide, he said. "It's not enough to give them food," he said. "Dignity is given to you when you can bring food home" from one's own labor.
- Respect and take care of nature. Environmental degradation "is one of the biggest challenges we have," he said. "I think a question that we're not asking ourselves is: 'Isn't humanity committing suicide with this indiscriminate and tyrannical use of nature?' "
- Stop being negative. "Needing to talk badly about others indicates low self-esteem. That means, 'I feel so low that instead of picking myself up I have to cut others down,'" the pope said. "Letting go of negative things quickly is healthy."
- Don't proselytize; respect others' beliefs. "We can inspire others through witness so that one grows together in communicating. But the worst thing of all is religious proselytism, which paralyzes: 'I am talking with you in order to persuade you,' No. Each person dialogues, starting with his and her own identity. The church grows by attraction, not proselytizing," the pope said.
- Work for peace. "We are living in a time of many wars," he said, and "the call for peace must be shouted. Peace sometimes gives the impression of being quiet, but it is never quiet, peace is always proactive" and dynamic.
As a Catholic, I'm appalled. Not exactly surprised, but still appalled. After all, Christ did send His mother to show herself to Sister Agnes Sasagawa in Akita, Japan in 1973 to warn mankind:
The work of the devil will infiltrate even into the Church in such a way that one will see cardinals opposing cardinals, bishops against bishops. The priests who venerate me will be scorned and opposed by their confreres...churches and altars sacked; the Church will be full of those who accept compromises and the demon will press many priests and consecrated souls to leave the service of the Lord.
The demon will be especially implacable against souls consecrated to God. The thought of the loss of so many souls is the cause of my sadness. If sins increase in number and gravity, there will be no longer pardon for them.
From the Diocese of Upper Kumbayah...
The late, great British writer and convert to Catholicism from secular humanism, Anna Haycraft (aka: Alice Thomas Ellis) once penned how she viewed the Church's 1960s dalliance with "Have a Coke and a Smile" Catholicism, better known as the Second Vatican Council, and it subsequent rupture with a previous 2,000 years of Christianity:
It is as though one's revered, dignified and darling old mother had slapped on a mini-skirt and fishnet tights and started ogling strangers. A kind of menopausal madness, a sudden yearning to be attractive to all. It is tragic and hilarious and awfully embarrassing. And of course, those who knew her before feel a great sense of betrayal and can't bring themselves to go and see her any more.
And what very well could be the best two-sentence summation of the simplistic and morals-free changes brought upon the Church since the '60s:
'But look what he did for the ecumenical movement," his friends cry. 'And look what he did to the Church,' we respond, 'Ecumenism seems to mean taking something pure and strong, mixing it up with something weak and polluted, slashing it about, watching the churches empty and then congratulating yourself on your progress.'
It's a crying shame, but I have to admit the present day mainstream Catholic Church has much more in common with the atheistic Age of Enlightenment than it does the moral powerhouse that was the papacy of Pope Saint Pius X or the muscular and unafraid reign of Pope Blessed Urban II.