Have you ever had a conversation with someone (often times another “Catholic”) who is upset with something about the Church? I have had many of these conversations as a parish priest and find that most of the time people are (righty) angry about things, but often times don’t have accurate information or have all the facts correct, which usually means their anger is misdirected.
Sometimes this is due to people getting their information from secular news sources or hearsay from friends or coworkers. Other times it is because the Church has failed to educate them well in matters of what the Church believes and teaches.
I recently watched this YouTube video of a priest friend of mine discussing matters of faith with some protesters outside his church a few years ago. The initial reason for the protest was the Vatican’s visitation (or investigation) or a particular group of nuns (LCWR) who were suspect of embracing things that were contrary to the Catholic Faith.
The video (and this blog post for that matter) is not really about the Vatican and the nuns at all. As you will see, these folks are quite angry about a number of things, most of which they have misunderstood and that has been the source of their anger and frustration. I will say that I think the priest in this video displays supernatural patience and charity in dealing with their angry protest and how rude they were to him, continually interrupting him and ganging up on him not allowing him to answer their questions. I think the virtue that he possessed at this moment is necessary for all of us having similar conversations, and I will be the first to say that it is not easy at all to do so.
I think the video also highlights that fact that many people have a variety of thoughts about the Church and what it believes and what it teaches. I think the priest does a fantastic job in challenging these people to clearly articulate what it is that they believe and their failure to do so illustrates that many are arguing from emotion and passion that is oftentimes not grounded in truth or reality. Note their persistence in what the Second Vatican Council was about and their inaccuracy in understanding it.
I often hear people say that they can get different answers from different priests or different Catholics and how this causes them such confusion in their pursuit of the truth! I had one parishioner ask a couple of years ago why I prayed for the souls in Purgatory, because the priest who was there before me taught them that Purgatory didn’t exist!
It is always tough when put in opposition to another person, especially another priest. But I always give the same answer – it is not about what I believe or any other priest believes, it is about what the Church believes and to find the answer we need to go directly to the sources themselves.
We are so blessed to have the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the compendium of what the Church believes, which was published in 1992. While it doesn’t read like a novel, it is an excellent reference when discussing what the Church believes and teaches. It is only when we have all the facts and information that we can truly enter into a conversation that is based on more than emotion and feelings about any given issue.
I strongly recommend that every Catholic home purchase a Catechism! Let us all strive to understand what the Church truly believes before we engage in a conversation relying solely upon emotions and feelings.