I started writing an article back when Cardinal Ratzinger was elected Pope, but life intervened, and I never completed it. While on vacation this week, I ran across that half-finished article, and decided that, as the topic is still relevant, I would go ahead and expand on it. With all the hype and hullabaloo surrounding the election of Benedict XVI as Pope, and other religious issues de jure, I have reached the conclusion that when it comes to religion, the left just doesnít get it.
All the wailing and gnashing of teeth that the Catholic Church is ďout of touch with the modern worldĒ, that the election of Cardinal Ratzinger to the papacy is a giant step backwards into the dark ages for Catholicism, is just one more indicator to me of the basically secular humanist stance of the left and their unwillingness or inability to achieve even a basic understanding of religious institutions.
In a nutshell, it isnít the business of the Catholic Church to bring itself into alignment with whatever secular crazes are sweeping the world (or the United States) at any particular time in history. It is the business of the Catholic Church to preach the word of God as revealed in scripture, through their Pope, whom they believe to be the rightful successor to the Apostle Peter, and through whom God speaks to guide His church.
If you are a Catholic, and disagree with the doctrine of the Catholic Church, then one would have to question exactly why you are a Catholic. It isnít as if anyone is forcing you to be one. We have no state religion here in the United States. You are free to be whatever you like; Catholic, Jewish, Protestant (pick your flavor), Muslim, Wiccan, or Atheist. You can change your religion as often as you like. No one forces you to belong to any particular church.
Which is another reason why I donít understand all the angst. If someone believes that rubbing blue mud in their navel and standing on their head will bring them closer to God, who cares? If they are happy in their beliefs, why bother them? And if you disagree, then fine. Use red mud if that makes you feel better.
As a Latter Day Saint, or Mormon in the common vernacular, I understand the position of the Catholic Church, though I disagree with it on many specific issues of doctrine. My Church too, is lead by a person whom we believe to be a prophet; one who speaks directly with God, on matters having to do with the guidance and direction of our church, its doctrine, and its members. As with the Catholic Church, our church is not a democracy, representative or otherwise. If you are a member, and have serious issues with church doctrine, well then, there is probably another church out there for you somewhere where you will feel more comfortable. We will be sorry to see you go, and willing to take you back should you change your mind, however we are not a debating society or a weathervane for societal change.
Because of our doctrines, we would probably garner similar press as the Catholics if it werenít for the fact that our church is less well known and has a lower profile. Weíll see what happens when our current prophet dies and is replaced, however I donít expect much; nothing much happened the last two times we went through that process.
A lot of the caterwauling over Pope Benedict XVI here in the United States seems to actually be coming from Catholics. Their problem, it appears, is that they want to have their cake and eat it too. They want to belong to an exclusive club, like the Catholic Church, but they donít want to follow its rules. And they seem to think that even though it isnít their job to run the ship, they have a perfect right to overrule the Captain and do so anyway.
Itís a very American thing; if I donít like the rules, Iíll simply ignore them. Thatís what being ďfreeĒ means, isnít it? It reminds me of a something I heard once regarding the Ten Commandments. Itís the Ten Commandments, not the Ten Suggestions.
Others view the Catholic Church (and other churches as well) as basically no more or no less than organized group therapy sessions, with no higher mandate from God on high, because they donít believe that such an entity actually exists. Of if he/she/it does, he/she/it takes about as much interest in our affairs as we do a hill of ants in the wilderness, and could care less how we govern our day to day lives. They view religion as a social event, not the word of God, so of course it should change with the social mores of the day.
To me, there is something wrong about claiming to belong to a particular faith, yet denying what that faith stands for and demanding that, in essence, God change his ways simply because they donít like it or find it inconvenient. It begs the question of whether such a person actually believes in God or not. Or if they really believe their church to be anything other than a social organization, much as those who pooh-pooh religion in the first place. If you believe your church to be the correct church in the eyes of God, then how could you consider changing what it is doing? Surely, its leadership must be at the very least, inspired of God.
So if you are ďout of stepĒ so to speak with your church, then how is it possible that you are the one who is correct, and your church is the one which is in error? On the other hand, if you truly believe your church to be in error, then it is quite obvious that your church cannot be the true church (assuming of course that you are correct). If this is the case, why stay with that church? Why not search among the hundreds (if not thousands of Christian denominations) for the one which is, in your eyes, the true church of God?
Of course, you could be one of those Christians who donít believe that any particular church is the ďone true churchĒ. Those ecumenical souls who believe either that the competing and conflicting doctrines are somehow all correct, or who believe that for whatever reason, God really doesnít care about all that doctrine stuff, and, because he is a God of love, will accept all equally (except for those they really disagree with, like Jehovahís Witnesses, Seventh-day Adventists, or Mormons). If that is the case, then, again, why waste any of your precious time here on Earth bloviating about the Catholics? And if you are Catholic, and believe this way, why stay?
To those not of the Catholic faith, get a life! It isnít your church; what difference does it make what the Catholic Church does or believes? Why get yourself in a tizzy over something that doesnít affect you one bit?
And for those of you feeling smug and superior because you ďknowĒ that all religion is a farce, that there is no God, and all of us who believe that there is are just a bunch of superstitious ignorant red-neck idiots, you need to get a life too. If being irreligious makes you feel good, fine. You tend to your knitting and we will tend to ours. Thatís what religious freedom is all about. We get to believe in the deity of our choice, and worship him/her/it as we see fit; you get to not believe if you so desire, and we donít burn you at the stake for it.
So leave the Catholic Church alone. Itís up to their leadership how they want to run their church. They donít tell you how to run yours (and if they do, you can just ignore them). For those of you who are Catholic and are upset, you donít have to stay. Unlike the Islamo-facists, the Catholic Church doesnít kill you if you leave the faith. They may excommunicate you, but then again, if you disagree with them and seek God elsewhere (or not if that is your desire), why should you care?
Anyway, as far as Pope Benedict XVI is concerned, I wish him well.