Over on Facebook, there's one fellow whom I added as a friend to play a game who completely disagrees with both my Catholic faith and my conservative values and has taken to making that point quite clear to me. Respectful disagreement or intelligent discourse among adults is absolutely fine and always welcome, but this is neither. What it is however, is numerous condescending and snide little remarks criticizing my conservative and Catholic posts and aimed at my morals, values and faith.
I've never insulted him, never posted a single thing to his page or made a single comment that wasn't in reply to his initial remarks to me nor have I engaged in reciprocity. I'm not certain why he feels threatened by me and I could easily delete him from my friends list but I actually enjoy the fact that he is intent on challenging me, my faith and my values. I'd like to think that perhaps it's his way of reaching out, of seeking to understand the truth (John 1:37-39) because each and every time, he seeks me out and engages me first.
Ignorance or Incredulity?
Fact is that he comes to my page to read what I've posted and then comment on it. But then why come to my page at all if we're so different and why doesn't he just delete me? My faith and morals aren't so weak as to be threatened by one person or even a whole world of people.
Does he wish to convert me? Not likely, as he's made no intelligent or logical attempt at a theological or moral argument. Does he hate me for my beliefs? Perhaps, since he's a declared social liberal and likely a progressive. Based on quite a lot of bashing on his page of the Catholic Church, he definitely seems to hate the Catholic Church not for what it truly is, but for the lies that he is believing about it. (Fundamentalist or Evangelical perhaps?) For whatever reason, I've been flagged by him either as a mortal or moral enemy or both.
That said, this morning he came to my profile page and posted on my wall a link to a Yahoo news article reporting on the recent horrible Irish abuse scandal with the following remarks:
"Catholic Church Shamed by Irish Abuse Report"First, I don't rely on him for a chance at anything. Next, his opinion that this is a "real - ongoing issue" does not make it so. It certainly is news, and bad news at that, but this is merely a bash-du-jour to provoke a response. Issues such as this require much prayer and reflection to ensure we just don't open our mouths and say the wrong thing at the wrong time. I only wish others could do the same thing.
"Mighty quite [sic] on this one - Here is your chance to weigh in on a real - ongoing issue. How do you justify this?"
A Church of Sinners
I cannot and will not even attempt to justify the sins of another and to do so would be to condone intrinsic evil and is a sin itself. Nor will I speak to the details of this or of any other scandal as I do not know all the facts, only what is reported.
Even praying intently upon it to God His Father, Jesus still chose from among thousands of followers, a traitor to be one of his apostles. Even one who witnessed His miracles, performed miracles in His name and had his feet washed by Jesus Christ, betrayed Him for 30 pieces of silver. Why? Because he chose to let Satan enter into him as have these perpetrators and as do each of us every single day in some way. It is the "Price of Weak Faith".
The closer we get to God, the stronger the pull of sin by Satan. Everyone whom has ever chosen to walk the narrow path of faith has felt that pull. It is very real and it is very tempting. Knowing this, we understand that the devil tempts each of us and we arm ourselves with a deepening faith and a stronger Love of God and of one another.
A Church of Saints
We are indeed a church of saints and sinners. We can produce pope's like John Paul II and pope's like Alexander VI. People like Blessed Mother Teresa and Mother Angelica and people like Nancy Pelosi and Kathleen Sebelius.
The fact of the matter is that while the church herself is divine, the people within it are still sinners and all fall short of the glory of God. When things such as this happen it's compounded because they are in a unique position of trust. The sin is the same as if a lay person committed it, but the effects of the sin are obviously greater because of the betrayed trust. St Frances de Sales said "While those who give scandal are guilty of the spiritual equivalent of murder, those who take scandal — who allow scandals to destroy their faith — are guilty of spiritual suicide."
I cannot say it any more eloquently than Father Roger J. Landry did in this homily he wrote to his congregation in 2002 after the scandals in Boston that really puts it into perspective and I've already touched on a couple of the same points. Please read the whole article
"Answering Scandal with Personal Holiness"
What I will say is this;
This is a very horrible thing. My sympathies and prayers go out for all those involved, those that were abused, the abusers and even for people such as this guy, who are using other people's pain as weapons against the Church. May God bless and protect all those involved. May He comfort all those who seek to be comforted and may He forgive those who are truly repentant.