Friday, May 2, 2014

The Insidious Poison of Rash Judgment

I follow many religious blogs. One thing that I find disturbing is the growing expectation that the Church under Pope Francis will take a wrong turn. Now, it's one thing to have opinions on ways of carrying out the Church teaching -- so long as it is done with respect and obedience to the successors of St. Peter and the Apostles.

However, it is quite a different matter when one places himself or herself as a judge over the teachings of the Church. That is, essentially, a vote of no confidence to the promises of Christ.

If Jesus is who we believe Him to be, then we can have faith that He will protect the Church under the Pope from teaching error in matters of faith and morals... even if branches of the Church should fall away.

Yes there have been times when we've had ineffectual or even bad popes. No, I don't think Pope Francis falls into these categories. But even when we did have such popes, they were protected from teaching error. Whenever there were divisions in the Church, our safety was in following the See of Peter. Not those in opposition to it.

So why are people thinking the Holy Spirit is on a coffee break during the pontificate of Pope Francis? Think about it... God protected His Church from even men like Alexander VI, John XII and Benedict IX. Pope Francis is certainly NOT a Pope like them. He is clearly a man who loves God and seeks to serve Him. Do you really think God will let him teach error?

I am inclined to think that the Pope is making them uncomfortable because he is hitting close to home. Yes, it's quite clear that the Church teaching is incompatible with modern liberalism. But Pope Francis is reminding them that conservatism is also incompatible -- that both political leanings fall short of what God commands us to do. Both political factions justify their positions as the right thing to do and demonize their opponents, but both have wrong ideas which we must reject.

Because following Christ isn't a matter of thinking "well I support A, B, and C and oppose D, E and F so I'm good enough." Following Christ covers the A-Z of our lives. I see Pope Francis reminding us of G-Z in our obligations. Our problem is we push everything into one of two categories, conservative and liberal. If anything sounds similar, we automatically categorize it as all-or-nothing supporting conservative or liberal agendas.

Now sometimes the Pope's "off the cuff" style may lead some to misinterpret what he said, or wrongly extrapolate on what they think this will mean. But we have an obligation to avoid rash judgment and calumny here:

2477 Respect for the reputation of persons forbids every attitude and word likely to cause them unjust injury. He becomes guilty:
—of rash judgment who, even tacitly, assumes as true, without sufficient foundation, the moral fault of a neighbor;
— of detraction who, without objectively valid reason, discloses another’s faults and failings to persons who did not know them;
— of calumny who, by remarks contrary to the truth, harms the reputation of others and gives occasion for false judgments concerning them.

2478 To avoid rash judgment, everyone should be careful to interpret insofar as possible his neighbor’s thoughts, words, and deeds in a favorable way:
Every good Christian ought to be more ready to give a favorable interpretation to another’s statement than to condemn it. But if he cannot do so, let him ask how the other understands it. And if the latter understands it badly, let the former correct him with love. If that does not suffice, let the Christian try all suitable ways to bring the other to a correct interpretation so that he may be saved. (Catechism of the Catholic Church).

That means assuming that the Pope is some kind of leftist based on personal or media (which has proven to be untrustworthy) interpretation of his words is rash judgment and, if he spreads this view and leads others to believe it, they commit  calumny.

It's an insidious poison that seems to be afflicting some of those Catholics seeking to be faithful... The poison that makes them doubt the rock Jesus built His Church on.

Think about it the next time someone proclaims the Church is turning leftward or rightward.

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