Monday, January 03, 2005

What's Your Papa?

There is a certain animus that these sorts of articles generate in me. First, they miss the point of the papal "election" process. The average religion reporter hears the word "election" and snaps into American politic-speak. Notice that the language in the article gravitates to liberal and conservative. There is no such meaningful thing as a liberal Catholic or a conservative Catholic. However, the following creatures do exist: orthodox vs. heterodox Catholic, pious vs. impious Catholic, faithful vs. unfaithful Catholic. The language of conservative and liberal is so offensive to religious conversation because it misses the point entirely because of two factors. One, conservative and liberal are completely subjective. It depends upon where you stand on the chart. Two, because of its subjectivity, it reduces questions of religious truth to the standard of mere opinion. The election process actually allows for the Holy Spirit to work as was demonstrated in the Acts of the Apostles and the election of Mathias to succeed Judas (Acts 1).

Second, the "shadow government" of the Church line also interfers with clear understanding. Because of an unstated and assumed bias against the Supernatural origins of the Church, the reporter is forced to assume that political machinations are at work and that they are the sole force driving the action. This is not to say that in the Church's history there haven't been times when, scandalously, the Papacy and other offices have gone to the highest bidder. But why is the selling of Church offices a scandal? It is a scandal because we understand, implicitly, that it is the Holy Spirit, working with, through, and by human agency to appoint the men to the office who should have it. I would go so far as to suggest that, in the mysterious ways of the Spirit of God, that the Bad Popes and lackluster Bishops of history were permitted to afflict the Church so that the scene might be set for great good things to be made manifest. It's only a supposition of mine; I certainly can say that I don't have a direct line to the Man upstairs.

Third, the papacy is not a job; its purpose is not merely functional. Its purpose is to shepherd and to make present the chief shepherd of the flock. Because of a lack of comprehension and respect for the Church's beliefs, the papacy is made equivalent to the CEO of large corporation.

In short, reading discerningly when one reads the secular press is a sine qua non of effective Catholic evangelization in the new millennium.

Credits to Drudge Report for the article.

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