Bishop Fred Henry wrote an article entitled “A Shepherd Speaks” in Canada’s largest religious weekly blaming Pope Benedict for the Vatican’s lack of sensitivity in creating “a pastoral and theological brouhaha.”
Bishop Henry was unhappy with the Vatican’s handling of “Responses to Some Questions Regarding Certain Aspects of the Doctrine of the Church.”
I don’t have problems with the document itself, but I am disappointed in the overheated and under-nuanced media coverage that has fueled all kinds of unnecessary tears, anger and ecumenical upset.
I am equally disappointed with the Vatican’s lack of pastoral sensitivity, as it should have been better prepared to handle the very predictable pastoral confusion the document’s release created.
In combating the phenomenon of modern day relativism, attention must not only be focused on abstract truth but also on controlling the spin as the teaching touches not only minds, but hearts, souls and relationships.
So it’s the Pope’s fault that the media used a wonderful document to attack the Church?
I think we as Catholics have been attacked for so long that we’re suffering from some sad form of Stockholm Syndrome. We’re blaming ourselves rather than those who are too lazy to actually read or to understand the document. We get attacked and we blame ourselves.
Bishop Henry, in fact, admits at one point that some people who reacted badly probably didn’t read the document. Well, how can that be the Vatican’s fault?
Bishop Henry does go on and explain very well what the document means but he uses the same sentences and the same words that the Vatican used. To explain the document he quotes the document. Well, then I guess the document said it pretty well after all then. Case in point:
Vatican II didn’t say that the Church of Christ “is” the Catholic Church. The council document (Lumen Gentium) said the Church of Christ “subsists in” the Catholic Church.
The congregation points out that the latter phrase of subsistence brings out more clearly the fact that there are numerous elements of sanctification and of truth that are found outside her structure.
It is true that the document points out that there are “defects” in the other Christian communities, but hastens to add “these . . . are deprived neither of significance nor importance in the mystery of salvation. In fact, the Spirit of Christ has not refrained from using them as instruments of salvation, whose value derives from that fullness of grace and of truth which has been entrusted to the Catholic Church.”
I applaud Bishop Henry for attempting to explain the document but those who don’t want to understand the document will go on misunderstanding the document. Those who don’t like the Church will go on attacking the Church. It is not our fault.
When Jesus was put on the cross, he asked his Father to forgive us all for we knew not what we did. He didn’t say, “You know what Father this is actually my fault. I was a little abrasive back there in the temple turning those tables over. My bad. I probably could’ve explained to Pontius Pilate a little more clearly what was actually going on here so that’s my fault too.”