A couple of observations from a priest out in the backwoods of Virginia. Well, Rappahannock, Virginia, anyway.
For years now I've been exchanging e-mail attachments featuring the same sort of theme (the boyfriend Jesus, etc.) with priest friends. My purpose is to annoy them. I've coined a phrase that works well in this regard: "Hallmarxism." Other examples are the "Christian" billboards that have messages such as, "'You know that love thy neighbor thing? I meant that.' Signed, God." Now, I can be as sentimental as the next guy, but the dumbing down of God's word strikes me as near-blasphemy.
I am a great fan of John Paul II. But I don't worship him. Just as a son loves a father, I'm not unware of his weaknesses. I'm a close observer of his episcopal appointments (chosen through a Vatican staff, certainly: but the buck stops with the Pope). As a priest, I have learned to live the maxim, "Expect nothing and you'll never be disappointed." The Church is particularly weak from the point of view of governance and the proper celebration of the Liturgy, as you point out.
With that said, who would have thought that the Catholic Church would have entered the 21st century with several politically incorrect doctrines intact? the unequivocal condemnation of contraception and its close relative, homosexual behavior; the non-ordination of women; and the strongest pro-life movement in Christianity today. Even the Church's bureaucracy over the last decade has finally come to support the pro-life movement.
As you suggest, there certainly continues to be confusion in the engine room. And there are a lot of freeloaders on board to play with the photocopy and fax machines. But I'm quite confident that the gates of hell shall not prevail even as I expect we'll have to keep bailing for a long time to come.
Thanks for your entertaining and incisive commentary. Best wishes for a happy and blessed new year.
Father Jerry Pokorsky
January 3, 2002
"Hallmarxism"! I promise I won't steal that, Father, but I just may have to borrow it.
January 11, 2002
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