Thursday, March 15, 2012

Being a Catholic is Hard

If growing old is not for sissies, being a Catholic is never easy, especially if you try to remain faithful to the faith, be informed, and keep an open mind about the instituional church. I know the spiritual path has to be tough, but does the institution have to disturb and disappoint so routinely?

I am reminded of a story (apocryphal, I'm sure) about what Napoleon said to the Cardinal-Archbishop of Paris after being crowned Emperor in Notre Dame-Paris: "Your Eminence, I intend to destroy the Catholic Church." To which the Cardinal responded, "Sire, we in the hierarchy have been trying to do this for over 1500 years."

So I suppose the rock of Peter will survive the myopia of certain prelates as they ask us to listen to not-so-subtle arguments that we should vote against Obama because of "religious liberty" involving a choice (contraception) that most Catholics have made long ago: that Rome's teaching on this topic is untenable.

As E. J. Dionne puts it with his usual acuity (in Commonweal): Do the bishops want to defend the church's legitimate interest in religous autonomy OR do they want to wage an election-year war against Obama, thereby turning the church into "the Tea Party at prayer"?

I have a devotion to my parish and its fine people but know that I must endure reminders of the unholy alliance between the bishops and the ultra-right in ways that disrupt the reason I attend Mass: to pray (and to escape political battles).

Reading some of the extreme statements from Cardinal Dolan and others recently makes me wonder if the church hierarchy really wants to drive even more of the faithful away--or do they just want us to suffer a bit more? It is Lent, after all.

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