Friday, April 18, 2008
Funny Enough. The Pope arrived in the United States, so Bill Maher decided to blast the Catholic Church from his little HBO pillbox calling the Pope the author of the sexual abuse scandal within the Catholic Church and a former Nazi.
I could call Bill Maher names, but that's not very instructive and Mr. Maher's comments betray a very old and very deep American prejudice against the Catholic Church. It's seen in a colonial children's game called Hang the Pope and continues on to this very hour (visit CatholicLeague.org and review the past few years' of press releases). When a Catholic Church was constructed in South Carolina in 1873, the local paper referred to it as “a papist fortification for the troops of an enemy.”
So, Mr. Maher is nothing new.
Had the Catholic Church taken pedophiles and homosexuals among its ranks to a dungeon in the Vatican and beaten and starved them to death you can hear the hue and cry that would go up about the barbaric institution. As it is, the hue and cry is about the complicity with and encouragement of sexual predators by the barbaric institution.
You see, any stick will do when bashing the Catholic Church.
What is the real problem? In a word – incarnation.
The incarnation is what sets Christianity apart from all other religions. It is in the name of Jesus Christ as Emmanuel – God with us.
The ancient Greeks could not tolerate this violation – their world of perfect forms coming down and being corrupted by flesh and blood. It was simply impossible.
The incarnation is also a scandal for other religions that don't like mixing the divine with the human.
Incarnation is carried across two millennia and very close to your home by the Catholic Church as it asserts that it is an institution created by Jesus Christ to perform His work on the earth among men. This work is to be performed by men. Its visible, earthly, flesh and blood leader is the Pope who is protected by the direct supervision of the Holy Spirit to speak unerringly on faith and morals and her priests are empowered to bind and loose on earth with the authority that their actions on earth will be honored and binding in heaven.
It is with this level of incarnation that the Protestants take their leave. For them it is okay that Jesus Christ is God become man, but for God to work and be among men in the form of an institution with a telephone number, an address, and a website? Impossible. For Protestants and others alike, there are just too many bad Popes; too many bad Bishops; too many bad Priests; too many bad Catholics – they're just so, so, so – human. Disgustingly human. And, accordingly, cannot be divine.
So the protestations against the Catholic Church are, at their root, protestations and absolute revulsion at the thought of the incarnation. God cannot be here for here is too base, too defiled, too absurd, too unjust, too unfair – too human.
Consider – it isn't that all the faults and all the horrors you see aren't there, it is that they are there and they are part of the message of Christianity. It is that God is here – as close as He can get to man – and that you can actually get close to Him – as close to Him as you dare.
Welcome to the United States, Pope Benedict.