In today’s world everyone and everything has rights and respect. Whether it is whales, possums or even the Taliban; all except it seems, the Catholic Church. It is still quite acceptable in polite circles to be anti-Catholic and to engage in some old fashioned Catholic bashing.
On one hand the Catholic Church is not helping herself with the recent revelations of sexual exploitation by the clergy. There is no excuse or justification for these terrible sins.
Yet the media presents this as being an exclusively Catholic problem which somehow ties in to the fact that most Catholic clergy are celibates. On a practical level celibacy has nothing to do with sexual exploitation. Abuse rates in the Catholic Church are almost precisely the same as those of other Christian denominations and non Christian religions. It is the same as those in education, the police force, public service or any other field of work. But should a Catholic priest offend, it is very acceptable in our media to stir anti-Catholic sentiments.
When Mary McKillop was recently announced asAustralia’s first saint, the media raged with scorning articles mocking even the possibility that a miracle could happen.
Protestants scorn Catholics for their “worship” of Mary, the Mother of God. This is mixed with the chorus from others that the Catholic Church is the greatest offender when it comes to the rights of women in church. They simply ignore Mary as the greatest woman in the history of the world. They forget the pages of the Bible which is dedicated to her. It is as if she never existed.
Jesus did not leave us a Bible. It was the Catholic Church who gave the world the Sacred Scriptures. The process of discernment which led to the creation of the Bible is still continued today in what we call the teaching authority of the church. The church is not a democracy. It is not really a question of choosing what we are going to believe. It is a matter of choosing to believe or not. Jesus was not always politically correct. It should also be said that a faith which saves our soul is not about pleasing a “human rights commission”. Therefore, only men can actually say the words of Consecration at the Divine Liturgy. Equality of the sexes is not an issue here.
Examples of blatant anti-Catholicism are found too easily in our world. Many politicians often disagree with Catholic Bishops. These disagreements are usually the basis of anti-Catholic sentiment amongst them and in the media.
The role of the church is not to keep up with popular culture and fads. In this very pluralistic society of ours, the church’s insistence on the one, eternal truth can make it very difficult for some to comprehend.
The church is not obsessed with “new” things. It has rules. It presents its faith through mystery, grace and the sacramental presence of God. It follows concrete practices and beliefs. This is a problem for a world where truth is subjective and it seems of a temporary nature.
Choosing to be a Catholic is not the easiest of options; but it is a very rewarding one.
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