View from the choir

I am a Catholic layperson and Secular Franciscan with a sense of humor. After years in the back pew watching, I have moved into the choir. It's nice to see faces instead of the backs of heads. But I still maintain God has a sense of humor - and that we are created in God's image.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Pope Benedict - Bishop Clark

Pope Benedict has been coming under attack in recent weeks because of the manufactured sex abuse scandal in the Church.

I say "manufactured" not because I deny that abuse did and does take place - I was once myself an unsuccessful target of it earlier in my life - but because it has been distorted and exaggerated. Statistics show that Catholic priests are less likely to be guilty of abuse than Protestant ministers, teachers, and many other groups.

In terms of the Pope, yes, he may have made some mistakes. But many of his mistakes were similar to mistakes made by many other secular and church officials years ago at a time when the nature of sexual addiction was not understood.

Lately, however, he has been unfairly targeted by some outrageous attacks. Back when I was an editor, if any of my writers had written stories of the inaccurate, poorly-researched sort that have been foisted on the public (and then endlessly recycled) in recent weeks, they would have been called on the carpet.

I pray for him, the Church, and the deluded public - and for the misguided individuals who circulate these reports.

This is just another instance of the Pope (and the Church) being targeted. No matter what he does or says, it always seems that someone will use distortion, falsehoods (admittedly, sometimes out of ignorance), and innuendo to criticize. They will interpret what's on his mind, even when he has not made it clear what is on his mind, and always assume the worst. It's as if some people are watching him constantly just to find something they can attack him about.

It occurred to me that our own Bishop Clark and some diocesan and parish officials have likewise been the targets of questionable, sometimes uncharitable attacks. Yes, there have been serious mistakes made in this diocese - I have raised questions myself. But I have seen some legitimate criticisms become agenda-driven, either by the person initially voicing the criticisms or by those jumping on the bandwagon. Motives are interpreted, assumptions are made, and, sometimes the attacks have gotten cruel and personal in nature.

It's as if there's a witch hunt going on.

It seems to me that some people out to critique Bishop Clark and the diocese are as blinded by anger and hurt and private agendas as are some of the journalists and others who are out to get the Pope and the Church.

It's so easy to go too far when we get an appreciative audience.

I think we all need to think and pray before we act and react.


Blogger Ben Anderson said...

I don't know if that's a good comparison, Lee. The attacks against the pope were done in hatred towards the Church. The are mostly based on lies. The attacks against (the overwhelming majority at least) Bishop Clark's policies are based on facts and Bishop Clark's ongoing indifference to Rome and official Church teaching. They are put out by people who love the Church and love Catholicism. If Bishop Clark were to turn it around and embrace true Catholicism, I think you'd see a lot of people who used to criticize him get behind him and commend him.

9:10 PM  
Blogger Lee Strong said...

I do acknowledge that Bishop Clark has made mistakes - though obviously not serious enough ones that the Vatican has removed him. If he rejected "true Catholicism," wouldn't action have been taken? And who has the authority to define "true Catholicism" - the Church, or individuals who have their own spin on what it means. That sounds almost Protestant!

What I'm commenting on more is the venom that taints some of the criticisms. It's constant in some quarters and it almost seems as if they just look for any little thing to get in a dig at him or some other favorite targets. Even when commenting on other problems in the diocese, ones with which he's not involved, they sometimes use that as an excuse to poke at him.

He and other are targeted for mean-spirited humor, mockery, disrespect. Even if they are not motivated by hatred, that's the impression some of the comments give.

6:47 AM  
Blogger Ben Anderson said...

And who has the authority to define "true Catholicism"?

Well, that's complicated, but one thing we know is that the CCC is a sure norm of Catholic teaching. An individual bishop doesn't have absolute authority and can't teach in opposition to the CCC. So doing things like confirming the homosexual lifestyle, endorsing women priests, showing complete disregard for liturgical rubrics, etc is not "True Catholicism".

It's more than the fact that Bishop Clark has made some mistakes in the past and people aren't willing to forgive. The mistakes are ongoing, unrepentant, and thrust in our faces each week.

Sure each camp has people who can take things too far - that's a given. It's called original sin. But that doesn't invalidate legitimate complaints against the policies of Bishop Clark.

7:59 AM  

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