Wednesday, January 16, 2013

With allies like these guys, who needs enemas?

John Corapi once gave a basic explanation of good politics: “If I’m a king, and you want me to grant you something — a piece of land, some money, whatever — the last thing you want to do is insult my mama! Likewise, if you seek a political alliance with a larger, much more established group, it’s not smart to say anything like, “You're all evil and damned to Hell, but we’re willing to sully our hands with your acquaintance in order to achieve our mutual goal.”

As did Toby of Abolish Human Abortion, an Evangelical Christian organization:

Needless to say, this got around, and AHA’s webpage very quickly got bombed by irate Catholics, who shared the screenshot along with a note to have nothing to do with the anti-Catholic so-and-sos.  Not long after, the page admin put this up:

Katrina Fernandez quickly and rightfully pointed out that it was a “non-apology”.  (“Oh, and by the way,” she added as a Parthian shot, “you’re welcome for the Bible.”  Yeah, the Crescat and me, we’re simpatico.)  The admin failed to take ownership of the problem; his response says, in effect, “So what if we believe you’re unwitting disciples of Satan?  You’re taking your eye off the ball!”

I don’t know what prompted Toby to go off on his particular rant; for all I know, he might have been antagonized by someone else.  Nor am I going to say that all the acrimony and bigotry of the last five hundred years have been on the Protestant side.  Blame is not what we need; we need to repair our relationships and work towards understanding one another.

Let’s take as our example Mary and Mariology (or, as they would have it, “Mariolatry”).  Corapi’s joke was in reference to the Virgin Mother, in a talk about the rosary; often, in attempting to refute Marian doctrines, Protestant apologists come just shy of dissing on the Lord’s mother.  (Apparently, despite Luke 1:48, all ages will call her a mere instrument and nothing more.)

We could get wrapped up in a meandering discussion over the difference between adoration and veneration, haul out the Greek words latria and hyperdulia, and bemoan the inability of the English word worship to distinguish between the proper obeisance due God, the respect due a powerful person and the romantic fondness that may or may not be due one’s love-interest.  But all that chazzerai obscures what ought to be foremost: Catholics know the difference between creature and Creator: Mary is not a fourth person in the Catholic and Orthodox vision of Godhead.

The late “Father Mateo” said it best:
It is not necessary for men and women here at prayer explicitly to know these technical terms [latria, hyperdulia and dulia].  It is necessary only to know that God is God and all others are not God.  We Catholics know this; we are in no doubt about it; we know the difference — not because we are particularly bright, but because we are no longer strangers and sojourners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and the prophets, with Jesus Christ himself as the cornerstone (Eph 2:19-20).
If someone says, “I do not consider Mary, the saints, and the angels to be gods or goddesses, nor do I treat them as such,” then he doesn’t.  You ought to believe him.  To insist, in the face of his denial, that he does regard these creatures as gods is not only the sin of rash judgment (Lk 6:37; Rom 14:4; 1 Cor 4:3-4) and a grave failure of Christian charity, but it is [also] a deficiency in common sense.  It is bad use of Scripture, bad theology, bad Church history, and bad manners.[1]

Judge not, that ye be not judged.  For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again” (Mt 7:1-2 KJV).  As the cancerous “culture of death” metastasizes, it grows more explicitly and virulently anti-Christian.  In the face of this growing threat, “We must, indeed, all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately,” as Benjamin Franklin may or may not have said. 

It may be too much to expect silence on the matters that divide us.  It is not, however, too much to ask that our separated brothers and sisters refrain from further attempts to deny us our share in Christ’s salvation.  That’s not your judgment to make.

[1] Refuting the Attack on Mary (El Cajon, Calif.: Catholic Answers, 1993, 1999), pp. 78-79; emphasis in original. “Father Mateo” was the pen name of an unknown priest who taught New Testament Greek at a major university.