For 25 years of being a Roman Catholic, I’ve come to conclude that we, the Catholic Church, will always be under fire.
People from other sects and religions, agnostics, and atheists all label us as traditional and old-fashioned, close-minded thinkers, hypocrites, and enforcers of own beliefs and values. This is accompanied by an overwhelming amount of hate and sometimes, attempts to eradicate the Catholic Faith from one’s society.
Petition launched to designate Catholic Church as Hate Group in response to Pope's anti-gay sermon huff.to/ZlQ7ts—
Huffington Post (@HuffingtonPost) January 08, 2013
Lets be real. The Catholic Church just wants money. In ancient times you "paid" to go to heaven. If you were poor you went to hell.—
Maggie Allison (@MaggieAllison19) January 10, 2013
WireNews Co: Catholic Church Out Of Step With 21st Century: Human Overpopulation, Human Misery tmblr.co/ZWlqRtbPlm56—
WireNews+Co (@wirenewsco) January 10, 2013
The Roman Catholic Church will never change. There's no future for reflecting people in it! http://t.co/TZf0jwKq—
Hannelore Peine (@Peine01) January 10, 2013
Traditional and Old-Fashioned, Close-Minded
As a matter of fact, the Catholic Church keeps up to date with the ever-changing world. We just choose the changes to accept. The most important criterion is that it is in accordance to GOD’s plan and intentions. Just because we don’t approve of abortion, contraception, and gay marriage, among others, does not mean that we are backward thinkers.
This is also where being labeled as close-minded individuals come in. We are, actually, open-minded. We listen to arguments of opposing sides and also participate in discussion with them. But it doesn’t mean that we accept their arguments. Being open-minded to an idea does not mean accepting and incorporating it at the same time.
Hypocrites and Enforcers of Own Beliefs and Values
On account of the accusation of being hypocrites, there are far too many reported scenarios of supposedly hypocritical practices of Roman Catholics. We’re not convinced that such scenarios are validly hypocritical. The way I see them, they are the results of bursts of strong emotion against the Catholic Faith. They also come about from confirmation biases. As an example, an individual may use a particular scripture to reiterate that GOD approves of an unacceptable act without considering other parts of scripture that delimit that particular scripture.
In relation to being called hypocrites, we are also accused of “forcing our own beliefs and values on people who don’t share our Faith”. While they may have a point, the Catholic Faithful are also called upon to “spread the Word of GOD” and to “go forth and multiply”. So while people accuse us of pushing our Faith and values on them, we are only doing what is expected of us: to be “Fishers of Men” and share the opportunity to experience a GOD-orchestrated life.
This particular Catholic practice was frowned upon in the debate for the Philippine RH Bill. Many who supported the said bill said that the Catholic Church should not enforce their beliefs and values in relation to the bill. It never occurred to them that sharing GOD’s Word on the RH Bill (and subsequent refusal of its passage), including the repercussions of the bill on marriage and conception, is a core practice of the Catholic Faith.
There are people who would state that the entire Catholic Church is wrong and unacceptable, which is personally hurtful specially when coming from a stranger you’ve just discovered online and they make their comments public through social media. This is one of most disheartening attacks on the Catholic Faith — public humiliation.
Part of me urges to just keep silent and let it pass, but another part wants to fight back. It is actually more of an internal conflict for the Catholic Church. Should we increase our leniency and tolerance? But the things that they say and the dishonour they throw at us — shouldn’t we fight to defend our Faith and our GOD?
Case in Point
I’ve read these tweets yesterday (09 January 2013) pertaining to Filipino’s devotion to the Black Nazarene:
I condemn the Catholic Church hypocrisy RT @Doc_Bien: uneasy feeling trying to condemn how others practice their faith in relation to one's—
Noem Lardizabal-Dado (@momblogger) January 09, 2013
Black Nazarene procession is plain idolatry yet our Catholic Church tolerates idolatry & as far as I recall, idolatry is a mortal sin.—
Noem Lardizabal-Dado (@momblogger) January 09, 2013
Ritche Tribo Salgado (@tribong_upos) January 09, 2013
Somehow, the concepts of veneration and devotion got exchanged for worshiping. The Procession of the Black Nazarene is not an act of idolatry, wherein the image itself of the Black Nazarene is revered as a deity. As Roman Catholics, we do know that idolatry is a sin. People wonder why we keep supposed “idols” or religious carvings and artifacts yet know that idolatry is a sin. In reality, we don’t worship “idols” and religious carvings; it is a display of Faith. The “idols” and carvings aid us in picturing Jesus, the Saints, and the Virgin Mary in our prayers and meditation, but do not serve as the centerpieces of worship. Our focus is more on our Heavenly Father; the objects just help in providing the imagery for our prayers and meditation.
Whew! This was a heavy post to write and I admit, it feels incomplete. There’s a lot of hatred against the Catholic Church that is extremely hurtful. I actually wonder how our brothers and sisters in Christ are able to deal with this loathing. I think I know: ignorance is bliss? Maybe. But it wouldn’t be blissful when you feel the effect of hurtful words against the Church that you are a part of.
We will always be battered. Deal with it. Accept it. Grow stronger with Jesus Christ’s guidance. Triumph.