I wonder if you can say anything about the Catholic faith without people taking offense. No matter how benign, no comment on the web about Catholicism goes unchallenged. That goes for blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and pretty much everything else. Moreover, the idea of trying to understand a person by reading carefully what they're actually saying, or giving them the benefit of the doubt, is fading quickly from Catholic discourse. No matter what you write, there are Catholics ready to take immediate offense, to explode in righteous anger, to threaten to report you to the proper authorities or, most of all, to correct. The most common responses are these five: 1.) Your soul is in mortal danger. 2.) You’re uneducated and need to be schooled. 3.) I hate the church and so I hate you. 4.) You’re an unthinking tool of the Vatican. 5.) You’re disobedient and must be reported.
Here is a not-so-farfetched exchange, based on some very, very real experiences. Believe me, it would be hard to make this stuff up.
Me: I love Jesus.
Father Martin, with all due respect, I don’t mean to be critical, particularly to a priest, but I am compelled to point out that in your most recent post, you didn’t say “Jesus Christ.” As you know, Christ, from the Greek word Christos, meaning the Anointed One (years ago, all Jesuits understood Greek, but perhaps no longer), is the nomenclature that Holy Mother Church uses to signify Our Lord’s divinity. Father, do you somehow not believe in the divinity of Our Blessed Lord? I am terrified to conclude that you are also denying the Resurrection here. Father, I will fervently pray that you are not dwelling in error, as I have feared for you since I read this post and reread the definition of “heresy” in a theology reference book that I always keep handy. I pray every evening for gravely misled people like you, Father, and I must say this: my conscience obliges me to correct your errors. Do you fear for your soul?
Me: You’re misunderstanding me. Of course I believe in the divinity of Christ. And the Resurrection.
Father, forgive me for pointing this out, but I couldn’t help noticing in your last comment that you said you believed in the divinity of Christ. What about his humanity? As you surely know (or at least I hope Jesuits are still taught this, as I was in Catholic school) several ecumenical councils spoke definitively about his humanity (e.g., Ephesus, in 431 A.D.). I trust that you understand what that means, Father. This means that Jesus was a flesh-and-blood human being (Catechism of the Catholic Church No. 464). I feel obliged to ask: Do you believe him to be divine but not human? That is a heresy, as you know, Father, and I greatly fear for our church if priests are permitted spread such serious theological errors. It is, I would like to humbly remind you, the heresy of Docetism, (Nicea, 325 A.D., Catechism No. 465) where Jesus was not seen as a human being, but God simply "playacting" (as my dear theology professor used to tell our class) at being human. Surely you’re not suggesting that, are you, Father? Are you a Docetist? (Or, worse, a Monophysite?) Please send me your email address and I will forward you all the references to the councils so that you may read them, study them, and pray over them. I will do you the favor of awaiting an answer before I begin any formal canonical action against you.
Me: Look, I believe in both the divinity and humanity of Christ. I was only saying that I love Jesus. Can we perhaps move on?
I haven’t followed this thread and I don’t know what you posted about, but did you REALLY say that in your last comment? Move on??? Do you realize what it MEANS for a priest to tell a layperson like me to “move on”? Do you know how sick and TIRED we are of priests like you telling me what to do? I’ll move on when I WANT to move on!!! It’s this kind of clerical ARROGANCE that gave rise to the sexual abuse scandal. Is that what you want, Martin, a return to sexual abuse?!! And what’s with the “Look,” at the beginning of your snotty comeback? What’s THAT supposed to mean? Frankly I find that incredibly insulting. Who do you think you are??? I don’t think you can ever fathom the anger that people like me have for priests like you. I used to like the Jesuits once, back when they cared about the poor. Now all you do is cater to the WEALTHY in your schools!! LOOK—as you might say to me--I studied theology too, am a lifelong Catholic (no matter WHAT any priest or bishop tells me), and don’t need to be told to “look” at anything. By ANY priest!!! I see very clearly, thank you. I see what the church is up to. Read the papers!!! It’s all about squashing the laity. Have you ever even HEARD of Vatican II???? For those of you as angry as I am, and SICK of being treated like DIRT by the clergy, write to Martin’s superiors. Friend me on Facebook and I’ll give you all the addresses, which I got online at www.ImDisgustedwiththeChurch.com. Better yet, stop buying his books.
Me: I’m sorry I said “Look.” To clarify: I believe that Jesus Christ is fully human and fully divine. I simply wanted to avoid debating something about my personal spiritual life.
Just got a Google alert about “debating” and “Catholic” and came to this site. I didn't read your original post but I couldn’t believe your last comment. I had to read it twice. You’re kidding, right, James? You want to "avoid debate"? I guess that’s just what the Vatican wants priests to do…stifle any legitimate discussion of anything remotely controversial…stop people from thinking! That’s the kind of narrow-minded, anti-intellectual, soul-destroying attitude that I had thought (falsely) died with the Inquisition. (Which I just read about in an eye-opening book called The Church is Your Enemy, which you’re probably not allowed to read.) All you Jesuits take your marching orders from the pope anyway, don’t you? I’ve read all about your secret fourth vow, your “vow of blind obedience” to the pope, and how you’re not allowed to think on your own…what rot. The Pope’s Marines? I understand that Hitler’s S.S. was based on your group. Not surprising. I read that last night on www.WhoAreThePopesMarines.com. (And I saw it on a revealing documentary on The History Channel 2.) It goes without saying that you parrot anything, no matter how offensive or ridiculous or oppressive, that the Vatican or your superiors tell you. Part of that is, as I can see from your comment above…no debate. No wonder people are forced to leave the church…you don’t let them think! I bet you hate women, too.
Me: I don’t mean to stifle debate. By the way, our fourth vow is obedience to the pope “with regard to the missions.” It has to do more with Jesuits being available to places the pope wants to send us.
I saw a link to this appalling comment on www.WeAloneAreTheTrueChurch.com. Are you saying that you’re not obedient to the Supreme Pontiff? How can you even still considered a priest (sacerdos) in good standing? I’ll wager you that the Prefect of the Congregation for Religious would like to know about your inane idea of “obedience.” Am I correct in stating that you believe that Jesuits may pick and choose those doctrines to which they are obedient? Give me a good, old-fashioned Jesuit, a real Jesuit, of the kind that did not quail to speak the Truth, the kind that taught real Roman Catholicism, not the hippy-dippy, liberal, wishy-washy, Cafeteria Catholics which your last comment reveals that you so obviously are. Are you not deeply ashamed of yourself? Why don’t you hang up your Roman collar? I’ve been reading about your order on wwwww.IReallyHateLiberalJesuits.com, yes, all about the group that in days past was known as the Societas Jesu. (That means Society of Jesus, just in case, like most Jesuits, you "have no Latin.") I also read somewhere that your vocations are plummeting. I cannot say that I’m in the least bit surprised. It is thanks to “priests” like you who have blithely forgotten what it means to be fully obedient to the Magisterium. When I think of the glorious history of the Jesuit saints and martyrs (you might want to read some day about the North American Martyrs, when you're not busy opposing the church), and how we ended up with Jesuits like you today, I should feel less of a man were I not to weep bitter tears. For my part, I devoutly thank God on my knees every night that there are still a few real religious orders left which are fully obedient to the Roman Catholic Church. Rest assured that the Congregation will be receiving my letter quoting your last outrageous comment. And I pray that it is your "last" comment, if you get what I'm saying.
Me: I’m not sure how a simple comment degenerated into argument. Can we give one another the benefit of the doubt?
Father, I just saw your last comment when I stumbled upon this page. I didn't read your original post since I'm too busy right now, but I want to say this: That’s what people say when they are afraid of the facts. “Give people the benefit of the doubt.” Right. That’s the kind of squishy, feel-good, namby-pamby drivel that people say when they’re frightened of being proven wrong. So what are you afraid of?
Me: I’m not afraid of anything.
Then why aren’t you ready to attack and judge and condemn your fellow human beings?
Me: I love Jesus.