The Catholic Circular Firing Squad

By Jim Fritz

There are a few definitions of a Circular Firing Squad. It usually refers to a political party or other group experiencing considerable disarray because the members are engaging in internal disputes and mutual recrimination. More often than not it refers to the Republican Party whose members engage in behavior that ends up harming themselves more than their enemy, the Democrats; although, it sometimes works the other way around.

We are seeing it now with Catholics taking shots at our new Pope. To be sure, we have help from many other individuals and groups.

As an example, a national talk-show host (non-Catholic) quoted the Pope stating he was against “Capitalism” and citing its negative effects in his latest encyclical, Evangelii Gaudium. The only problem was in quoting the Pope, he omitted the word “Unfetter” which preceded the word ”capitalism” and completely changed the meaning of the Pontiff’s statement.

People who have not read Evangelii Gaudium tend to misquote it quite frequently, basing their remarks on what a journalist may have written in order to get his article published. Many people, including Catholics, believe the Pope is going to change church teaching because of articles based on misquotes of not only Pope Francis, but of other clergy. For example, some people believe Priests may now marry because of a journalist who erroneously stated the Pope is rejecting Church dogma and because of another journalist who stated a Vatican official indicated priestly celibacy is a theoretically reversible convention and not a dogma of the Church. Of course Pope Francis has no intention of doing this. Regarding the reservation of the priesthood to males, Pope Francis has reminded the faithful of Church teaching that Christ the Spouse who gives Himself in the Eucharist is not open for discussion.

Journalists often use very poor logic to make a point and to sell an article. I remember one of my grade school teachers, Mrs. Paulson, giving examples of this. She would say poor logic is defined by the following: A dog has four legs and barks. A table has four legs therefore a table must bark. I am amazed at the poor logic some journalists use to make a point. It is too bad they missed Mrs. Paulson’s class. As an example they may state: “Pope Francis belongs to a certain group, and John Brown of this group believes the earth is flat; therefore, Pope Francis believes the earth is flat.”

In addition to journalists, many Catholics are doing a pretty good job of misleading the public. They have formed a Circular Firing Squad, taking shots at the Pope and hitting the Church. Traditionalists are especially good at this and, in their eyes, for good reason. Pope Francis has shown he does not have sympathy for traditionalists or their cause. He feels some traditions/customs from the past are no longer understood or appreciated by the younger generation of Catholics and do not have the value they once enjoyed. This is true, but being a traditionalist I still love the old Mass. The new Mass, even in the original Latin Paul VI missal, has excised Catholic beliefs from the ordinary of the Mass and from orations. In addition, I still like to celebrate ‘The Assumption’ on the day of the Assumption and not on the following Sunday and so forth.

One of the disturbing trends of the Circular Firing Squad is to cite an error by a Cardinal, a Catholic School administrator, a Vatican Official or other person in authority and blame this on Pope Francis. Such individuals assume the Pope has the time to not only foresee this would happen, but to make a public reprimand in each and every case. Like, “Hey Mom and Dad, how come you are not chastising your errant children in public?”

In defense of those who find fault with the Pope, he has made statements which are not true. His Evangelii Gaudium is not an infallible document nor does he claim it to be. Pope Francis’s experience has been limited to Latin America, and this is not a good representation of the rest of the world. He does not have a good grasp of the free market economics in a more robust economy.

Pope Francis once made an infamous statement in a homily saying, “Has the use of violence ever brought peace in its wake?” indicating it has not. We know, of course that it has. We know the peace in Europe after the destruction of the Nazis and we know the use of nuclear bombs in Japan saved thousands of lives on both sides and quickly ended WW ll.

Pope Francis is not perfect nor were many of our past popes including our first Pope, St. Peter, who not only denied Christ three times, but, at times, appeared to exasperate Christ by his inability to understand the simplest of matters.

So what do we do about our beloved Pope? He has brought more attention to the Catholic Faith than any of his predecessors. He attracts non-Catholics. He was named Man of the Year in Time magazine. He has probably done more for religious unity than any other pope. He has just returned from Israel and obtained promises from the leaders of the Palestinians and the Israelis to visit the Vatican to work with him on a peace accord.

We cannot ignore obvious errors by our clergy when we see they are causing problems.

Some of our saints were quite critical of our clergy. These include St. Catherine of Sienna who criticized the pope. After all, even though our clergy are well-trained, the Book of Wisdom indicates some are often lacking in necessary wisdom.

One suggestion is to actually read Evangelii Gaudium with an open mind. Pope Francis is concerned with the poor. He is concerned about our priests. He loves our Church.

When Republicans form their Circular Firing Squads they lose elections. When Catholics use the Circular Firing Squads they are not only harming our beloved Church but losing souls as well.

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