Did you hear the one about the Papal encyclical whose subject matter was only on the radar of the enemies of the Church, while ignoring the rising level of violence against Christians residing in the Muslim world as the centuries-old conflict between the faiths reignited? Yeah, me too.
Looking for inspiration on how to remain a practicing Catholic during the reign of Pope Francis, a man who blithely encourages socialist economic prescriptions to nations, while failing to specify why the 21st-century results of those policies would differ from the 20th-century results of those policies. Only God, and perhaps Christopher Nolan, know the inception of that idea.
Naturally I turned to Mark Twain’s biography on St. Joan of Arc to help me through this particular bad dream. From the introduction:
… Joan’s notion of the Church includes Christ as its active head, the saints in heaven, the Pope as Christ’s Vicar, and good parish priests. Opposed to these warmhearted priests who console the people of God are theologians and bishops whose ambitions are sometimes self-serving and politically parochial. Both de Conte [Twain’s alter ego used to narrate story] and Joan have precisely the same regard for religion and secular authorities. If as men these authorities are sometimes misguided or unscrupulous, they are, nevertheless, necessary because they are God’s chosen means to govern His Church and His people. To de Conte and Joan authority is primarily a matter of legitimacy rather than merit. For example, both de Conte and Joan know that the Dauphin is the legitimate heir of the kingdom of France, even though both know that as a man the Dauphin has little self-confidence and less courage. Even after Joan’s military victories on his behalf and her testimony to him regarding the inevitability of France’s triumph over the English invaders, even after she made it possible for him to be crowned King, he was too weak-willed to offer the ransom to free Joan, a ransom which her Burgundian captors were required by the conventions of war to accept. Even though de Conte and Joan knew that the King’s hesitancy to act in a kingly way made him responsible in part for Joan’s martyrdom, they never once doubted his right to rule, nor did they secretly desire that someone more virtuous and talented—but someone other than God’s chosen ruler—were King. They may have wished that the King were a better man, but they never questioned his authority.
That I can embrace. The idea that obedience need not require ignoring the socialist cleric in the room. I may wish my Pope was not motivated by past theological and ideological defeats (not to mention a certain Malvinas ass-kicking), but I don’t question his authority.
As such, the one prayer I sincerely proffer my legitimate and to date unworthy Pontiff, John Paul II-ishly speaking; On his judgment day, may he not be judged too harshly for ignoring victims of oppression, causing those victims to despair at the immoral silence exhibited by the Vicar of Christ. † Amen.