Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Catholic Thing to Do

Pope Benedict has done it gain. His tin ear and tin policies has led him to reinstate the Pius X Society, a collection of renegade Catholics with a history of Anti-Semitism who were excommunicated by Pope John Paul II (not exactly a cutting edge liberal himself).
I don't mean to downplay the impact of anti-Semitism of the Pius X Society’s recall to the bosom of the Church, but if Jews have a problem with this, so too I believe will many, many Catholics, especially those who actually read the Gospels.
The concept of a militant Church shedding members by the millions may be okay with Pope Benedict but I am not sure the Christ who commanded his disciples to teach all nations would agree.
While the actions of many Christians might make it hard to believe, the essence of the Christian message boils down to just one word: Love. The mark of any Christian is his or her understanding that love is he foundation of all, not just their faith but existence itself. In the halcyon days of John XXIII, we used to sing a song called: “You will know we are Christians by our love.” But singing it isn't enough, it must be lived.
In the jungles of Central America, many Catholics, including one Archbishop, several Jesuit priests and their house keepers, nuns and lay workers followed love to a martyrs grave. But because in their work they sometimes brushed shoulders with Marxists, their martyrdom is an embarrassment to the Vatican and unrecognized.
Instead, we find organizations founded by fascists like Opus Dei and the Pius X Society afforded honored places in the Vatican.
Some of reaction to Pope Benedict’s action have focused on the activities of saint in waiting Pius XII in the thirties in reaching a compromise with the Nazis. But if there is any more dramatic point that political expediency of the Vatican may not reflect the "Catholic" view, the simple fact is that of all the religious and demographic groups in Germany (excepting Marxists and Socialists) the most opposed to the Nazi's were the Catholics, Pius XII be damned.
There was a report on Sixty Minutes some years ago about righteous Gentiles (I believe it was Poland) who hid Jewish children during the Holocaust. If discovered by the Nazi's, the parents were forced to watch while their own children were hanged, and then their posterity destroyed, they were hanged.
One woman, who was a little girl at the time, was interviewed by CBS. "I asked my mother, 'Why are we doing this?' She replied ‘Because it's the Catholic thing to do.’"
I happen to be a vanishing relic of American demographics: a second generation German-American, all four of whose grandparents emigrated to the US before the turn of the last century. Unlike Pope Benedict, the members of my family did not serve in the Wehrmacht and one of my cousins is buried in the American Cemetery perched on the bluff above Omaha Beach. (See
God is love, John the Evangelist wrote. In the words and work of the Pius X Society, I see no love and no God. In so many ways, large numbers of Catholics do get the message. The scandal is that it is often despite of, not because of, the Vatican.
I remain a Catholic, it’s just the Roman part that is getting difficult.