Here’s one of the latest buzzes in the Catholic blogosphere. I really need to let some steam off on this one.
Major U.S. City Officially Condemns Catholic Church : Instructs members to defy ‘Holy Office of Inquisition’ (Excerpts with my emphases and comments):
A San Francisco city and county board resolution that officially labeled the Catholic church’s moral teachings on homosexuality as “insulting to all San Franciscans,” “hateful,” “defamatory,” “insensitive” and “ignorant” will be challenged tomorrow in court for violating the Constitution’s prohibition of government hostility toward religion. [Hm, there are some interesting phrases in this paragraph: “San Francisco”… “San Franciscans”… “Franciscans”–where oh where have I heard that before? That’s right–the Catholic Church! Could it possibly be that this city has Catholic roots? I’m pretty sure there are still Catholics in the city. Hence, the Board is clearly lying when it says Catholic teachings are insulting to all San Franciscans. In fact, the Board is insulting some of its own citizens.]
Resolution 168-08, passed unanimously by the City and County of San Francisco Board of Supervisors two years ago, also accused the Vatican of being a “foreign country” meddling with and attempting to “negatively influence (San Francisco’s) existing and established customs.” [This reminds me of how modernist liberal Catholics accuse Pope Benedict of disrupting long-standing traditions such as completely vernacular Masses, celebrants facing the congregation, Communion in the hand while standing, and let’s not forget guitar bands at Mass. How short people’s memories are–the sixties weren’t that long ago! If San Francisco’s “customs” are so “established,” then for cryin’ out loud, why is the city named after a Catholic Saint?! OH, and portraying the Vatican as some evil, manipulative foreign country set on destroying the American (or San Franciscan) Way of Life is sooooo nineteenth/twentieth century!]
The board’s resolution urged the city’s local archbishop and the Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of San Francisco to defy the Vatican’s instructions, concluding with a spiteful reminder that the church authority that issued the ban was known 100 years ago as “The Holy Office of the Inquisition.” [Ooooh, the Inquisition. By which I think they are trying to bring to mind the dreaded Spanish Inquisition, thus tossing in a gratuitous allusion to the even older and staler Black Legend. Boy, they’d just love me and my Dominican brothers and sisters–because Dominicans are a bunch of crazy Torquemadas running around torturing and burning people at stakes. What’s best is that they do this in order to try to scare Catholics into ditching the Vatican and making the Board their new magisterium. You know–the Board that isn’t behaving at all like an evil inquisition. That’s just priceless.]
Clearly, this is bothersome and troubling and just stupid for a great variety of reasons. I’m a bit bothered that this resolution is a couple of years old and I’m just now hearing about it. That is probably due to my being a very new revert at the time and not yet being really tuned into Catholic news.
But I am also concerned that this story may have gotten wrapped up in layers of apathy or forgetfulness. That maybe lots of Catholics have just sort of shrugged it off or judged that it has nothing to do with them, so why worry? If so, I can’t really blame them. Maybe I have done that very thing without realizing it. There’s so awfully much to be taken in by and concerned with in this world. A little murmuring, a little distant thundering of oppression and persecution here and there can easily get lost amid all the noise that bombards us. That is understandable.
But I can see it also being very dangerous. I think back to something my confessor told me about how evil works on our souls. Evil in itself is not very powerful–it can’t just suddenly come and steamroll us. It will begin by gently brushing against us, purring and whispering so that we take it up. When we take it up, it grows stronger and bolder. It begins to nudge and press and squeeze us. We might just accept that or not worry much about it. That acceptance or indifference feeds it further and makes it grow stronger and bolder still. Before long, it is pushing us off the pathway to Heaven, blotting out God’s light, and eventually severing us from God. Even then we may ignore or deny it–and stronger it grows. At last, we might realize the power it has gained over us–all by our own allowance!–but then we may find it too strong for us, too strong to push back, too strong to overcome. We may feel too far removed from God to even hope for salvation. That is how evil comes to reign–but if we are vigilant and resolute, faithful and hopeful, and if we avail ourselves of the remedies and safe havens provided by God and His Church, we can keep evil in check, defeat it before it ever gets control of us.
If this is how evil works on an individual level, might it not also be how evil works on a large, corporate, social level? We seem to hear only faint and sporadic murmurings–for now. We may accept them without much concern. We may be feeding them and giving them strength. This might go on for a while… years, maybe decades. We may have an ever-growing sense of the subtle evils and threats, but may still think, “What does it have to do with me? No kind of persecution can ever happen in this country.” So it may go until we find ourselves in a maelstrom of persecution–too much to effectively fight against.
So… I am glad to see that the St. Thomas More Law Center is not letting this go. I wonder if all Catholics could do more to stay informed and–most of all–not grow complacent or apathetic to the forces of evil and ruin in this world, the powers bent on our destruction. O Lord, please help us to use every recourse we have against such evil, ruin, and destruction.
I think I will start by getting into the habit of saying the Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel after Mass and every day. I will pray it not only for the Church and my loved ones and myself, but also for our opponents. Because clearly they have come under the sway of the devil. Large, corporate, social evils cannot occur without individual souls first succumbing to their own brushes with evil.