A Divided Church and a Movement with Momentum

This morning I was over to Public Catholics new Patheos site. If you haven’t visited Rebecca there, go soon, it’s better than ever. While I was there I decided to drop in on one of my old favorites that I’ve been neglecting lately: The Anchoress. Elizabeth Scalia, the author is the editor of the Catholic Portal at Patheos, and nearly always has something worthwhile to say. Today was no exception. I ran across this gem on taking the long view, you know that I work mostly in the medium term, nobody does long term like serious Catholics. Enjoy, and Heed.

(Image courtesy of shutterstock.com)

Over at Egregious Twaddle, Joanne McPort asks (and answers) whether the church can survive the times:

The received narrative paints a Church disproportionately and irreconcilably divided between The People, a vast international sea of those who reject doctrinal pronouncements, tradition, and authority in favor of relevance, inclusivity, and individual conscience, and The Bishops (among whom the Pope is just one of the boys), a tiny aged and withering cabal of whited sepulchers fanatically and fruitlessly clinging to the power to hate, oppress, abuse, and impoverish Christ’s true followers. It’s Jesus v Pharisees all over again, they want us to believe.

My two cents: if we humans could break the church, we’d have done so by now. God knows, we’ve tried our bumbling best to.

But I understand why Joanne is asking. It feels, right now, like division is everywhere — like our nation, our society, and yes our church, are on the verge of being irreparably ripped and divided.

Some of that sense, I think, comes from a certain conceit we Americans have; believing we’re “exceptional” or “indispensable” we sometimes act like there was no history before ours, and that there can be no future without us, and that we are only “us” when we are John Wayne and Gary Cooper and Rosie the Riveter and Apple Pie, and none of that seems so congruent with what appears to be our future, because the thrust of narrative is always forward, not backward.

I imagine that in any era of upheaval there is a wondering: how can there be (a France; a Russia; an England) if the nation we have been seems today so unsuited for our shared future? And yet, there is still an England; still a France, still a Russia.

One of the things I love about being Catholic is that as a church we are committed to taking the long-view of things: lots of time passed from Eden until the Resurrection; more time will pass before the Second Coming, and that helps to give perspective. When I was asked once, how I dealt with “the head of your church being a foreigner”, I realized it had never occurred to me that our pope was a “foreigner” because he and I were part of the same Body, and that this particular Body transcended history or nations, governments and ideas. Civilizations rise and pass; Governments are raised and tumbled; fashions and social trends ebb and flow; ideas mutate.

What is true is forever battling what is false, and some false ideas — because they are powerful, seductive ideas (or seductive ideas of power) — linger, like the weeds in wheat; they seem so very like what we call “good” (or even like “the best part” — the loin of the good) that we cannot resist them, or how they make us feel about ourselves.

Continue reading A Divided Church and a Movement with Momentum.


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3 Responses to A Divided Church and a Movement with Momentum

  1. Living abroad, I had to deal with a lot of anti-American bias. You begin to understand, after a time, how other cultures see you. What is scary is when you start to see your own culture through their eyes…but then, eventually, you begin to feel like there are no longer any borders. The world somehow becomes so much smaller than it once did, and you are changed somehow through it all. People are just people, no matter where they are from or live.

    That is the great thing about the Church – it unites us all as one body. All the division within probably does come from some conceit – but like anyone who has lived in enough places, that breaks when you begin to unite with something larger. Christians need to unite with that larger unity, and break out of their own little worlds.

    Good post.


    • Thanks, CNG. You’re right, even on the blog I see that, especially since finding you and Jessica. It brings me a whole different perspective which is valuable.

      And why were hiding this comment in my spam filter, anyway? 🙂


      • JessicaHof says:

        Gradually we are realising what St.Paul meant whence said that in Christ there’s either Jew nor Gentile. We are all one in Him 🙂


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