This really is a Thursday Three post, I promise, but I have sort of a rant before I start the list of three.
Pope Benedict XVI passed away at the end of 2022. If you listen to the progressive media, they’re all, “Oh, great, that Nazi pope died,” but if you listen to the conservative media, they’re all, “ZOMG, it’s the end of Catholicism as we know it!”
I’m a bad Catholic. I don’t follow every word the pope says. (This might make me some sort of heretic.) I don’t know very much about him. It’s hard for me to get into reading Pope Benedict’s theology because it’s just too complicated for my tiny brain. I don’t care too much for Pope Francis because so much of what he says has been misinterpreted, and I sometimes can’t help but think that he deliberately makes his statements ambiguous to placate a variety of people, at the expense of the Church.
People have left Catholicism because of popes’ bad decisions or, in the case of Pope John Paul II, how they handled (or mishandled) the child sex abuse crisis. I think these people forget that the pope is an old man who holds arguably the highest office in the world. He leads the universal church, for crying out loud. He’s a human being and nowhere near perfect. Not every word he speaks or writes is ex cathedra. We can’t idolize him. He’s not God. He’s a frail human representative of Jesus and fails spectacularly in that role because… we all fail spectacularly at being like Jesus.
Same with priests. They’re human, just like you and me. They make mistakes, sometimes tragic ones. They have failings. They commit sins, sometimes terrible ones. That’s why I can’t understand why people leave the Church and resign their faith over something a priest said or did. He’s a human being.
Actually, it’s the same with Catholic YouTube personalities or media figures or authors or anyone else. They’re all just regular people who have something to say. They may be right, they may be wrong. That’s why they can’t be followed too closely. They don’t have any real authority. Sometimes they do have helpful advice and can be a source of hope. But often, they’re a source of division and sow conflict in the name of getting more publicity. False prophets and all that…
So in all this mess, there are really only three things we can rely on:
- Jesus and his teachings (AKA the Bible).
- The seven sacraments and their infusion of grace.
- The saints and their example.