On being out of touch: With the times
Back in 1994 the local rag ran an editorial complaining that Pope John Paul II was “out of touch with the times.”
I reminded them in my usual gentle, non-confrontational manner that they were a bunch of idiots unable to grasp the fact that being out of touch with the times was the Pope’s job.
“Nowadays,” I instructed them, “to be in touch with the times means to follow the reigning liberal agenda which has brought us to an era of extreme disorder, mayhem and mass murder.”
That was eleven years ago, and the times have worsened to an extent I could not have imagined back then. Yet today, 11 years later, the idiots are still at it, still complaining about the late Pope’s refusal to go along with the times, to adjust to the rapidly changing mores and morals now gleefully embraced by our secularized society and the self-appointed elites in the media, in academia and in the political sphere.
To be charitable – a virtue I am now struggling to practice thanks to the Pope’s example – as far as the media is concerned, a lot of the criticism of John Paul’s refusal to go along with the times is borne of sheer ignorance. Most of them simply don’t know any better. Unfortunately, such ignorance helps feed the fires of malice toward the church burning in the bellies of many of their colleagues.
Yet their editors and superiors think nothing of sending them off to interview officials of the Roman Catholic Church about matters that require a certain understanding of the 2,000-year tradition behind them – an understanding they – and most of their readers – lack in great abundance.
Their superiors would not think of sending a reporter or TV commentator to interview a nuclear physicist about a new development in, say quantum theory, when he or she has no background in that arcane science, but they have no compunction about dispatching a reporter uniformed in religi0us matters to quiz an expert in church history or theology, about the ancient and ever-new dogmas of the Roman Catholic Church, or how they apply to our times and mores.
As one listens to them as they interrogate Bishop or Father or Sister so-and-so, one realizes that they are either totally unlettered in the subject, or are bound and determined to denigrate the church using their own ignorance as their weapon. If you don’t have any idea of what it’s all about, it’s easy to put your own spin on it.
The other night I heard a TV reporter interviewing a non-clerical theologian at Washington College in St. Louis Missouri who was presented as an allegedly knowledgeable expert on the Catholic Church. He mouthed the kind of nonsense one gets from this rather odd species of academics – using the current line to the effect that John Paul really did some good things like bringing down the Soviet Union, but, alas, was out of touch with the times in matters such as abortion and artificial birth control and sodomy, and for all I know, adultery.
His interviewer nodded sagely – after all, this was a theologian – a tenured professor – and simply had to know what he was talking about. It never occurred to him to correct this wise old bird when he spoke about Pope John the XXII when he meant Pope John the XXIII, or when he called John Paul II “John” Wojtyla instead of Karol Jozef Wojtyla, his real name.
See what I mean.
In recent days I have suffered through the rantings of feminist nuns lusting after ordination to the priesthood, feminist reporters advocating unfettered birth control and outraged at the Church’s stand against a practice that has seriously crippled the institution of marriage, correspondents avidly seeking Papal approval of homosexuality and the absurdity known as same-sex marriage, and barely concealed atheists attacking the very existence of the Roman Catholic Church and the papacy.
And the ever-present theme that ran though all of this was that old accusation that John Paul and his church were out of touch with the times and needed serious reform. Nearly everyone agreed, a Church they don’t understand, or despise because it puts limits on what the faithful can and cannot do and remain faithful, needs a new Pope who will get in touch with the times.
Let me say this loud and clear – it ain’t gonna happen. If it did, the Roman Catholic Church would no longer be the Roman Catholic Church – it would become at the very least like today’s Episcopal church which a friend once described as “The little church that can’t say no.”
Saying no to the times (and for that matter, The Times) is a Pope’s job. For saying no, he will make many enemies. But like John Paul II, he walks in the footsteps of Jesus Christ, whose vicar on earth he is. Christ said no – and he died a horrible death for being out of touch with the times.
When you speak of abortion and homosexuality and ordination of women to the priesthood and artificial birth control you are speaking about 2,000 years of dogma, and no Pope can change such doctrines. They are written in stone, like the Ten Commandments and they will survive the times.
As I wrote in 1994, as head of Christ’s church a Pope is charged with the obligation to delineate between what’s morally right or what is merely convenient. A Pope is expected to chart a course that leads souls to heaven. The course his secularist critics urged him to follow, and one they want his successor to follow, leads to Utopia which throughout history has always turned out upon arrival to be the Gulag.
As John Paul’s friend and biographer George Weigel has written “The false humanism of freedom misconstrued as “I did it my way” inevitably leads to freedom’s decay, and then to freedom’s self-cannibalization. This was not the soured warning of an antimodern scold; this was the sage counsel of a man who had given his life to freedom’s cause from 1939 on.”
It is a warning that his successor can and will sound, even if it shows him to be out of touch with the times.
Requiescat in pacem, Johannus Paulus Magnus.
“Published originally at EtherZone.com : republication allowed with this notice and hyperlink intact.”