Friday, September 20, 2013

It's a Great Time to be Catholic in America

Sept. 20, 2013
Dear friends,
Because I am on the road today, I wanted to post my continuing reflections on the Pope Francis interview. These are subject to revision but represent my punchiest thinking at the moment. On Monday I expect to have absorbed the interview more fully and will likely have more to say.
1    1. Read the interview and note the distortion. The only ones obsessed with sex and abortion are the NYT and Washington Post, etc.
2    2. We can understand the Pope’s remarks as his way of internalizing the criticisms of our opponents and mirroring them back to us. Why? So we are more diligent in making sure that our concerns about the moral consequences of the gospel are not perceived as above the gospel. 
3    3. However, opposition to abortion and homosexual marriage are not on a par with opposition to Pharisaical regulations. They aren’t arbitrary impositions of standards that can change tomorrow. They speak to violations of human nature, the human nature that Christ came to redeem.
4    4. These are not small things and those who have given their lives to combating these evils, often clearly in the spirit of Christ, are now feeling thrown under the bus, delegitimated, befuddled and ticked off while the champions of abortion and homosexual marriage are rejoicing in a new spirit in the Catholic Church. This is unfair to all involved. Unfair to the prolife activists because their chief coach seems to be dissing their work and unfair to the champions of these evils for false consolation.
5    5. Who the h*** is in charge at the Vatican Press Office? Where are American bishops? Who is going to correct these distortions? Why doesn’t Cardinal Dolan stand up and bellow, “If the Pope is saying what the New York Times is reporting, then the Pope is wrong.” This would precipitate a media crisis and force a closer look at the subtleties and nuances of Pope Francis’ remarks. The press may then be forced to report more accurately the subtleties and nuances of the Pope’s remarks.
6    6. I’ve always said that unless you are God, the burden of accurate communication rests with the communicator not the audience. I wish the Holy Father would shoulder this responsibility. But maybe that is what he is expecting us to do as lay apostles.
7    7. I’ve been reading the comboxes and seeing Catholics who claim to be homosexuals exulting in the Pope’s remarks and looking forward to a change in Church teaching. These poor souls are bound to be crushed. They are wickedly undercatechized and now are being caught in what they will see as a bait and switch game. They need our compassion and support not our accommodation to their sin.
8    8. This is a great time to be Catholic in America. Ignore the petty voices who are trying to drive a wedge between Francis and Benedict. In the interview, he makes it clear that there is no space between them. Use every opportunity to ask people to consider the Jesus of the New Testament. Remember even most of those attending religious services have not had an adult encounter with love of God in Christ. Mercy is an unknown quality to them. This is a time to make God’s unlimited mercy available and a time to make Christ visible.
Al Kresta
President, CEO
Ave Maria Radio


  1. I have read the article published by the Jesuit Antonio Spadaro, who interviewed Pope Francis. Overall, I found what Spadaro let us see was a profound and interesting man of the church in Pope Francis.

    But I was struck that Francis, via Spadaro, expressed his concern about not being a "right-winger." The context was about the exercise of authority, and he was critiquing himself when, as a young man of 36, he was thrust into the role of provincial in the SJ, and he felt he made some mistakes not consulting others. I'm sure many of us who have had to exercise authority would share and express some regrets like his.

    But this seems like an odd topic of concern. I mean, I'm 57, and there isn't any big problem in the Catholic Church of our time with authoritarianism. The whole topic of authority seems to be a major issue in the Society of Jesus, and The Church at large. It seems to be a pre-occupation, and for many, including Bishops and Provincials, an obsession.

    I am beginning to believe that our Church is manifesting the same emotional struggle with the idea of authority as my teen-age children. In our town in Maryland, we can't go to our local parish because of the politically-charges left-wing dissent by the parish establishment – both clergy and laity. It is run by Marianists, and the former Pastor, who became Provincial for the Marianist Province, was fond of rabble-rousing at Mass, and even after he left, he would make it a point to travel back and denounce American Bishops who pronounced excommunication to try to guard The Church against the kind of corrosive politics that he himself believed in.

    I strongly believe that one reason why the "professional Church" has suppressed the so-called Eucharistic Prayer #1, the Roman Canon, is that it prays to Our Father that he help govern his Church. People who don't want to be governed, or to exercise authority, ought to contemplate the end of St. Matthew's gospel.

    It is painfully ironic that the Spadaro article ended with Pope Francis making an appeal to tradition and memory. I think that our poor Church has lost its mind. The Church threw out the central prayer of its very own cult, the ancient live oak, the sequoia of Catholicism, The Roman Canon, saying to itself and the world: we reject what our ancestors in faith handed down to us - we are creating our own "new tradition."

    "New Tradition" is ideological rhetoric from 5th Avenue marketing firms. I think one of the top American designers even had a clothing line by that name.

    The Jesuits, and the current post-Vatican II Church establishment, seem to think that they can assert an appeal to "tradition," while at the same time not having any traditions.

    In its thirst for life, I fear that the Church is drinking not from the living waters, but from the river of forgetfulness, the very River Lethe of Greek mythology. At the end of his life, Pope John Paul II wrote his last book, which was entitled: "Memory and Identity."

    Our Church needs to wake up and embrace its own identity. We need to break out of the destructive ideology of old versus new, which is constantly thrust upon us by the pagan pop culture. We need to enter the open field of what transcends time, the ancient living wood of tradition. We are suppressing continuity itself! If The Catholic Church wants to be itself, then it must show solidarity with our ancestors who prayed before us. We must embrace the truth of "Continuity," which admits change - and reject the false ideology of "Change," which admits no memory, no identity, and no tradition.

  2. Sounds like you disagree with Al that it's a great time to be a Catholic in America.

  3. No, I agree with Al, and admire him greatly. I think its a great time to be Catholic in America. Pointing more to the time of John the Baptist, or Thomas More. It's not fun...but it is a great moment for our generation...we will be judged by how we respond. Thank you Al, for your witness.