True versus Safe

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February 22, 2019 by lucieromarin

A creed being true is not the same as a church being safe.

You’ll find conservative Catholics encouraging one another with words to this effect: “I’m not Catholic because my bishops are holy; I’m Catholic because my religion is TRUE!” Even leaving aside the fact that people’s issues are not that bishops not saints, but that they are criminals, this form of ‘encouragement’ assumes that disenfranchised Catholics have left for want of education rather than want of security.

If you knew that your parish church had ten funnel web spiders sitting on every pew, a gas leak, and a roof that was expected to collapse at any minute, you would not go to Mass there just because you know what the Eucharist is. You would seek a different parish. If you subsequently discovered a massive network of funnel web spiders throughout the parishes in your diocese or the world, you might easily find yourself saying, “Indeed, I perceive with my faithful Catholic intellect that Christ was Divine. However, I shall wait until the exterminators have been called before risking death by poison this Sunday morning.” If the word on the street was something to the effect of, “Well, it’s been a while since the funnel webs were sighted, but no one will actually confirm whether or not the exterminators were called in and anyway you should be more committed to the truth than that,” you might be willing to risk it, but you could, perhaps, understand your neighbour not feeling obliged. So, if you’ve discovered that you’re part of a worldwide system in which you can almost guarantee that any predator of any kind will be covered for, no doctrine can make you feel safe in that system. Only an exterminator can do that. After all, if the truths of the Catholic faith did not protect the existing victims, they’re not going to protect you. And Christ has never taught that Christians have an obligation to be or feel unsafe or to tell those who feel unsafe that their problem is simply disloyalty born of intellectual failure.

I’m not suggesting that the creed has ceased to be true just because a culture has ceased to be safe. I am suggesting that we change our apologetic to meet the real need rather than the supposed need. Need must be met directly. If disenfranchised Catholics have left a church or the Church because it no longer feels safe, the thing to do is to make it safe. The thing not to do is to misunderstand their reasons for leaving and then to presume to correct them on a point that they were never making.

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