- "characterized by intense emotion"
- "characterized by strong enthusiasm"
- "glowing or shining like fire"
There's nothing wrong with that, but there's much more to being Catholic than feeling good about the Church, or enjoying the music. There's also learning to use your reason and your will. (Catechism, 1676, 1767, 1768, 1776-1794, 2708)
Practicing the Catholic faith means finding out what the Catholic Church actually teaches.
The Church is quite clear on what its doctrines are. The "Catechism of the Catholic Church" (2nd Edition), available online, covers what the Bible, Tradition and the Magisterium have to say about what it is to be Catholic. (More about those three terms, in "The Roman Catholic Church isn't a Democracy" (February 19, 2009), and "The Catholic Church: Authoritarian, Which Isn't Necessarily a Bad Thing" (October 2, 2008).)
Ideally, Catholics growing up in America would have learned what the Church teaches while they were growing up. One of the problems I see with the Catholic Church in America is the weird stuff that passed for Catechetics over the last several decades. But, that's getting off topic.
Hardly surprising, in both cases. Here's what the two offices had to say:
" 'His Holiness took the opportunity to speak of the requirements of the natural moral law and the Church's consistent teaching on the dignity of human life from conception to natural death which enjoins all Catholics, and especially legislators, jurists and those responsible for the common good of society, to work in cooperation with all men and women of good will in creating a just system of laws capable of protecting human life at all stages of its development,' the Vatican wrote, having released the statement moments before the two met...."
" 'It is with great joy that my husband, Paul, and I met with his Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI today,' Pelosi said in a statement released hours after the meeting. 'In our conversation, I had the opportunity to praise the Church's leadership in fighting poverty, hunger and global warming, as well as the Holy Father's dedication to religious freedom and his upcoming trip and message to Israel. I was proud to show his Holiness a photograph of my family's papal visit in the 1950s, as well as a recent picture of our children and grandchildren.'..." (FOXNews (February 18, 2009))
In a case like this, the Pope's statement about "natural moral law and the Church's consistent teaching on the dignity of human life" was quite predictable. The fifth commandment pre-dates the Holy See by more than a thousand years, and it's not going to change: unless the Pope gets orders from a higher authority. He is, remember, just the Vicar of Christ. (Catechism 874, 882)
USA Today's column on the Pelosi-Pope match was a bit condescending. After starting with "The Catholic chat-o-sphere is not entirely lost in a guess-the-archbishop game...", we read "...Michael Paulson, at The Boston Globe does a nice run though of the waves comments, chiefly vitriolic toward Pelosi, on the blogs. He draws on Deal Hudson who writes at InsideCatholic.com:..."
This quote, excerpted from the column is, presumably, part of the "vitriolic" waves of comments:
" 'The Holy Father is a head of state and must, as a matter of course, meet with political leaders from every nation, regardless of their positions on issues important to the Church. It's also a good idea for Benedict XVI to meet with misguided souls like Pelosi, because you can never underestimate the impact of being in his presence on someone who is running from the truth as fast as she/he can.'..."Her Boston Globe source could have done better, I think. Here's part of a blog from someone in Los Angeles, who's also Catholic: the kind of Catholic who actually knows what the Church teaches.
"The USA is really in trouble when the top three positions in its government are filled by human beings as ignorant, as extremist and as cruel and heartless as the remorseless pro-abortion zealots Nancy Pelosi, Joseph Biden and Barack H. 'Punished with a Baby' Obama...." ("Pope Benedict XVI and Pro-Abortion Nancy Pelosi" L.A. Catholic (February 17, 2009))I wouldn't call those three politicos "extremist," but I've spent decades on or near college campuses: my threshold for "extremist" is set pretty high. I do agree with the the blogger, though, that none of them practices a political philosophy that's consistent with Catholic teaching.
Los Angeles Times (February 17, 2009))
First, although people like Pelosi and the Kennedys are, in the dialect used by American news media, "mainstream Catholics," I'm not entirely convinced that they're quite as near the 50th percentile of Catholic Americans as The New York Times, US News, and Los Angeles Times editors would like to believe.
Second, even if a clear majority of American Catholics 'ardently' believe that the Pope is wrong on most doctrinal points: so what?
Joshua 24:15) Actually following through on those bold words is something else. Particularly when 'ardent Catholics' like Nancy Pelosi are in positions of influence and 'mainstream Catholics' are assumed to follow in the footsteps of Pelosi and the Kennedys.
Following the teachings of the Catholic Church isn't made easier, when Catholics who understand what the Church teaches, and follow its rules, seem to be regarded as about on a par with the Yokums of Dogpatch. Only not as funny.
I'm not complaining. That's the way it is, and nobody told me that being Catholic would be easy.
Besides, I like to look the big picture. It's inconvenient, and sometimes a little embarrassing, to go against the Pelosis, Kennedys, and USA Todays, of the world. At that, I've got it easy: There are times and places where following God is just plain lethal.
Even in a worst-case scenario, though, I hope I'd have the guts to follow God and His Church. He's the one I'll have to face, sooner or later: so His opinion matters more than that of anyone else.
If that means I'm not in the 'mainstream,' so be it.
More-or-less related posts:
- "The Roman Catholic Church isn't a Democracy"
(February 19, 2009)
- "Pro-Abortion Slogans Sound Nice, Hide Nasty Facts"
(November 15, 2008)
- "Nancy Pelosi, Catholic Teachings, and a Reality Check"
(November 3, 2008)
- "Conservative? Liberal? Democrat? Republican? No, I'm Catholic"
(November 3, 2008)
- "The Catholic Church: Authoritarian, Which Isn't Necessarily a Bad Thing"
(October 2, 2008)
- "'You Catholics Don't Believe the Bible,' and Other Weirdness"
(September 26, 2008)
- "Pope Benedict XVI and Pro-Abortion Nancy Pelosi"
L.A. Catholic (February 17, 2009)
- Pelosi, Pope Have No Meeting of the Minds"
FOXNews (February 18, 2009)
- Pope: Catholic politicians must protect life"
The Associated Press (February 18, 2009)
- Pelosi & the pope: Talk about an odd couple"
Top of the Ticket, Los Angeles Times (February 17, 2009)
- Some want pope to scold pro-choice Pelosi"
Faith & Reason, USA Today (February 17, 2009)