Friday, January 31, 2014

Not Birds Of A Feather

It was funny, you have to admit. 

No sooner had Pope Francis prayed for peace in the Ukraine, and released two white doves from his Vatican window, than a crow and a seagull swooped in for the kill.  Feathers flew, the thousands in St. Peter’s Square gasped, and the suggestion that God was saying something must have entered even the most skeptical of minds.

But, saying what? 

My thoughts gravitated to the missionary Church Francis is calling for.  He’s implored believers to go into the streets with open arms and hearts to dialog and evangelize.  

“A missionary heart … ‘makes itself weak with the weak … everything for everyone’... even if in the process its shoes get soiled by the mud of the street” (Evangelii Gaudium, 45).

Francis is fearful that believers, like the doves, will remain "shut up within structures which give us a false sense of security."  He prefers "a Church which is bruised, hurting, and dirty because it has been out on the streets" (E.G., 49).

Perhaps the mugging signaled that street smarts are useful to bring with you into the streets, so as to minimize the bruising, hurting and dirt.  “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” (Lk, 16:8). 

As if to confirm my intuition, the National Animal Protection Agency appealed to the Pontiff to end the practice of releasing doves because domestic animals are easy prey for predators.  “Animals born in captivity, not being wild animals, aren’t able to recognize predators as such and are thus incapable of fleeing from dangerous situations.” 

I don’t know about you.  But, that reminds me of aggiornamento Catholics vibrating with "the Spirit of Vatican II."

This signal couldn’t have been timelier.  Just days before, the White House had announced President Obama’s upcoming March 27th meeting with the Pontiff.  

Barack Obama oozes street cred.  He hangs with Jay-Z and Beyonce.  He plays hoops with LeBron and D-Wade.  He smoked gange with Bob Marley.  OK, I made that last one up.

As Ebony gushed on its cover before the President’s first election, Barack is one of the “25 coolest brothers of all time.”

Now, cool bro in chief is anxious to discuss his “shared commitment to fighting poverty and growing inequality” with the Pope.

These are genuinely Catholic concerns, and Francis is placing a heavy accent on them.  This has distressed those who don’t know Catholic Social Doctrine and, thus, can’t tell the difference between Catholics and Marxists.  It has unsettled even some who do, and can. 

Francis has been asking “God to give us more politicians capable of sincere and effective dialogue aimed at healing the deepest roots—and not simply the appearances—of the evils in our world” (EG, 205)!

He begs “the Lord to grant us more politicians who are genuinely disturbed by the state of society, the people, the lives of the poor” (ibid.)!

Is Barack “the one who is to come, or should we look for another”(Lk, 7:19)?  Even Barbara Walters knows the answer to that question.

At their meeting, I imagine Francis will say: “Jesus Christ loves you; he gave his life to save you, and now he is living at your side every day to enlighten, strengthen, and free you” (EG, 164).  Barack will respond: “Yes we can!  We are the ones we have been waiting for.”

Francis will remark: “It is not progressive to try to resolve problems by eliminating a human life” (EG, 214).  The President will rejoin: “I actually believe in redistribution.  Let's spread the wealth around.”

I say, “Beware the ides of March!”

Both men speak about inequality and the poor.  The Pope speaks in the tradition of his Church and, more importantly, its Founder, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity. 

The President speaks in the tradition of his Party, but not of his country’s founders: men he considers to have had blind spots reflected in a deeply flawed Constitution that constrains him.

America’s founders devised a system of limited government and separated powers.  The President betrays them daily.

Whether one concurs with Francis’s views on economic morality or not, it’s hard to question his authenticity, sincerity or motivation.  Not so Barack’s. 

The same holds true for Francis’s Church, and Barack’s Party. 

The latter speaks a good deal about poverty and growing inequality.  Yet, after two years of completely unobstructed rule (rather than governance), and five years of media-conferred hegemony (not to mention the fifty that preceded them), it has given us more of both. 

It has killed jobs that provide the dignified work so important to human dignity.  Even more importantly, it has maimed the spirit of initiative that creates them. 

It has unilaterally mangled the nation’s health care system after lying about its plans and intentions, about what it knew and when it knew it.

The Obamas have enriched themselves and their cronies and lived like kings while doing so.    They are like those who "devour widow's houses and for a pretense make long [speeches]" (Mk. 12:40). 

Even Judas invoked the poor.  “To what purpose is this waste [Jesus’ anointing at Bethany] (Mt. 26:8)?  For this might have been sold for much and given to the poor.”  St. John tells us the real reason why Judas “said this, not because he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and having the purse, carried the things that were put therein” (Jn. 12:6)

My intent is not to compare Democrats or Barack Obama to Judas.  Rather, it is to note that even a betrayer can invoke noble causes on behalf of less than noble purposes.

I don’t trust the President and his Party's devotion to equality.  They speak of bipartisanship, principles and dialog when they are out of power, but practice unilateralism, opportunism and harassment when they are in it.  “You shall know them by their fruits” (Mt. 7:16). 

Francis, I know by his love (Jn. 13:35).

It will be hard to discern the actual outcome of the March encounter between leaders, let alone its accents and nuances.  Media reports will proclaim that Pope Francis has blessed the President’s agenda and embraced his Party’s economic platform.  It would be wise to discount them.

Democrats are counting on the Pope’s aura to shield them from the electorate in November.  How ironic that anti-Catholics should seek protection by hiding under the Pope’s cassock.

Catholics in America are baptized Democrats.  In 2012, Hispanic Catholics voted overwhelmingly for the Party imposing an unconscionable mandate on fellow Churchmen.  We aren’t able to recognize predators and are thus incapable of fleeing from dangerous situations.  We are easy prey.  

The good news regarding the other day’s bird attack is that, despite the crow’s repeated pecking, the beleaguered dove escaped. I have hope, notwithstanding my apprehension at the upcoming meeting, and God’s foreboding signal.  

“We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him, who are called according to his purpose” (Rom. 8:28).

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