Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Against against understanding

484px Trophime Bigot Singer Candle

You know the caricatures of religious people that Richard Dawkins battles like windmills? Well, I have just read a blog post by one of them. He even self-applied the label "Catholic" and had his missive published in the "National Catholic Register" … Richard, all is forgiven! I'm with you to un-delude this guy - you can even have him as an atheist at the end!
"The world burns because nobody is willing to burn for it."

"[We are not] to dialogue with over a billion people whose lives are dictated by a false religion and a false ideology, an ideology that threatens to burn the world. [We are not asked] to understand them better."

"God commissioned [us] to convert the world, not to dialogue with it."

"There is no antidote to error but truth."

"We should raise money to send missionaries and pray for their souls when they perish for the effort, and then send more missionaries."
No, these aren't the words of Abu Qatada, but those of a "Catholic" blogger.

Let me just be clear about one thing - the above are not the words of a Catholic. Being a Catholic is "not to have a ‘label’ but to live and testify to faith in prayer, in works of charity, in the promotion of justice, in doing good," as Pope Francis is quoted in another article, ironically on the same website. Calling for "conversion, not dialogue," a refraining from understanding and raising money to send missionaries to their death are not "works of charity, the promotion of justice, [or] doing good."

And if that weren't enough, the author of the above expletives disqualifies himself from the Catholic life by distancing himself from the Church's teaching: "Well, if we listen to many Church leaders, we hear that we should seek to understand them better. […] And of course, we should seek to dialogue with them. Dialogue, dialogue solves everything. Baloney." Well, not just any old church leader, but Pope Francis himself, who has been explicit about the Church's desire to understand and dialogue not only with Muslims, but also with members of other religions, Christian denominations, agnostics and atheists. Everyone!

Does that mean that the Catholic Church and its leaders are not interested in spreading the Good News and in bringing Jesus to all, or as the blog's author puts it in his closing paragraph:
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. Do we love the world enough to even tell them about Him?"
Now that's baloney (in the parlance of our times). Pope Francis is monomaniacally focused on Jesus and on pointing to him at every opportunity. Just look at his daily homilies, where the word Jesus is by far the most frequently used. And you don't need to look any further back than his last Angelus message, delivered only two days ago to see what he is all about:
“Jesus tells us that there is a door to enter into the family of God. This door is Jesus. Everyone is invited to enter this door, to go through the door of faith, to enter into his life and to allow Jesus into their lives, so that he may transform them, renew them and give them full and lasting joy.”
But it is an invitation, not a conquest, a desire for friendship, not a call to use force. The basis is understanding, compassion, friendship. To look at Jesus and infer from His words that He wants us to make others believe in Him is not having listened to Him at all. Just like Jesus didn't set out to kidnap the apostles with a cohort of hired muscle, so we too need to invite instead of "burn and perish."