As well as Pope Francis, whose verbosity is already the stuff of Catholic legend, other senior figures in the Church too are unshy of granting interviews on the current state of affairs within the Catholic Church. They do so now in a climate which could well be one that carries considerable risk to themselves. I really expect that few, if any, Catholic Cardinals, Bishops or Priests wish to be seen as in any sense wishing to contradict or oppose what the Supreme Pontiff teaches.
What marks out a prelate like Bishop Athanasius Schneider, or Cardinal Raymond Burke, or Cardinal Robert Sarah from our beloved if sometimes contradictory Supreme Pontiff is the clarity of the message, but also the due reverence and respect they pay to the Pope, the Chief Shepherd of the Faithful, upon whom has been placed the task of feeding Christ's flock with spiritual nourishment. Bishops and Cardinals, however, also have this task of teaching Christ's flock. The internet, in particular, gives Bishops, Cardinals and Priests a particular opportunity to perform this ministry and we must be very thankful that the new media is being utilised to do just this, in a time when the Mass Media, while taking the lion's share in terms of conveying 'the message', does not have the monopoly.
In the wake of the storm left by His Holiness's recent interview at 35,000 feet it was refreshing and heartening, as always, to read the common sense, unsensationalist and very reasonable Daniel Blackman interview with Bishop Athanasius.
|Messengers of authentic love|
Authenticity is really a very important part of the Church. It is vital to the life of the Church, to what we believe and how we worship. We worship the authentic Christ, and when we worship an inauthentic Christ, we do not worship Christ at all. We do ourselves and others harm.
Perhaps one problem with Pope Francis's style and delivery - the often confusing messages we receive from him, is that if a particular teaching goes against that which we have received - at least the catechised - then people will quite naturally go towards the Shepherds who are happy to simply pass on that which sounds authentic, that which is authentic, that which has been believed always, everywhere, by all Christians.
The authentic Catholic teaching on Christ's divinity and humanity, the authentic Catholic teaching on the Sacraments of Baptism, Marriage, the Holy Eucharist and Confession, the authentic Catholic teaching on life, love, sexuality. These are all so important to our growth as we wish to follow Our Lord and attain to everlasting Life, the supreme gift which Christ so wishes to bestow upon us, the gift of knowing and loving God that He has given to us by His Passion, Death and Resurrection.
If any Churchman presents us with an inauthentic vision of the Catholic Faith - in any of its aspects - we have every right as Catholics to reject that vision. The Church has always been dedicated to verifying the authenticity of visions, apparitions and messages that people claim come from a Heavenly source. She tests the spirits, discerns what is true and what is false and has criteria for doing so. May God be praised that senior figures in the Hierarchy are willing to speak out and defend the timeless, authentic Catholic Faith from those who, lacking the necessary prudence that an occasion requires, may be seen to lead people away from the path traced by the Son of God.
We are not Angels. We do not have their superior intelligence. We can be easily misled, easily confused, easily scandalised and quite easily believe or live a lie, but deep within us we do have a longing for absolute Truth, the Truth Who is Jesus, the Way, the Truth and the Life. We have an Enemy who wishes to sow within us discord, enmity with God and enmity with each other. He knows all our weaknesses, the ease with which we can be attracted towards a perversion or distortion of the good. Deep down, we want authentic relationships with others, we want to experience authentic love, not a worldy shadow or imitation of it and we ourselves want to love others authentically. We can, too, with His grace, love God with an authentic love and our neighbour as ourselves. We can earnestly seek authentic virtue and reject,and hate evil. We can love goodness and truth. We have been set free by the Precious Blood of Christ to love Him in return for the love with which He loves us, for He has loved us first.
Perhaps you have been or are going to a 24 Hours for the Lord event in your parish, a now annual event of intimacy with Our Eucharistic Lord for which we can thank His Holiness Pope Francis in this time of grace and penance in preparation for Easter. Pray that more and more Bishops, Cardinals and Priests and Pope Francis leading the flock of Christ will feed us with the authentic Faith with zeal and with the charity of the Son of God. We need Shepherds and teachers set in authority over us who wish to share with the Church's children the authentic vision of Christ and the Christian life safeguarded and passed down the centuries for the Salvation of souls. We are called to imitate Christ. We are not called to accept a mere imitation or any false presentation of the Gospel.