It is sometimes said that the survival of the Catholic Church for two thousand years, despite the worst (and best) efforts of those running it (and members of it) is the best proof that the Holy Spirit guides it. To some (such as our friend Bosco) the fact that members of the Church commit crimes seems to be proof that it isn’t the real Church. Out of 12 Apostles. one betrayed the Lord, the leader of the group denied him, and most of the others ran away; it might be that in terms of percentages the modern Church does rather better than the original Apostles. In terms of the current Pope, things now seemed to have settled down into an on-going low-level guerrilla war, where those who never trusted him find in every speech a confirmation bias, and where those who hoped for a resurgence of the spirit of Vatican 2 watch in vain for the mirage to become reality. Compared to the situation the Church found itself in when the young Francis of Assisi began his ministry, we might, again, reflect that few things change. In the age of instant global communication, everyone has instant access, should they require it, to every piece of scandal in every country. The Church is also becoming better at not hiding its own scandals, so it is very easy for its critics to have an attack of the vapours and accuse it of being corrupt and riddled with homosexual priests. This is easy, appeals to those already convinced by their own prejudices it is so, and ignores the fact that there are no reliable figures on this one – estimates going from 15% to 58% prove only one thing – that no one knows. Equally, of course, no one could know how many such priests were actively breaking their vow of celibacy. Such is the obsession in some quarters with this issue, one might well be forgiven for wondering why all the good work being done by the Church is ignored?
For all the media reports on the issues which occupy the secular world, we see few on the work the Church does in the poorer parts of the world, or in war zones, or in those areas of the first world where the State is withdrawing from its old role in welfare. Anti-Catholicism is, of course, the last acceptable prejudice in the West, and it is increased by the fact that the Church is the only major body which consistently opposes the sin of abortion, and which points out the cognitive dissonance of saying that ‘all lives matter’ and then denying that babies in the womb matter. Caliban has never liked being presented with a mirror.
The Church, it must be admitted, often does itself few favours by the habitual resort of social media by some of its members who, for whatever reason, feel that criticising the Pope or the local bishops is the way to show what a good Catholic you are. But then, as I began by saying, none of these things are new, all that is new is that social media acts as a gigantic projection device cum echo chamber; that, combined with an ignorance of history, and a post-modern distrust of ‘facts’ is quite enough to keep the toxic brew bubbling away for many years.
In the meantime, as today is the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, I shall wish all our Catholic readers a happy feast day and pray my daily Rosary for your intentions.