"If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." -- John 8:31,32
Extracted from the March 3, 2004 issue of New York Times, an article by Andrew Greeley entitled For Priests, Celibacy Is Not the Problem (payment is now needed to read it in full):
"THE LOGIC OF THE ARGUMENT IS SIMPLE: 4 percent of Roman Catholic priests have been sexual abusers. Priests are committed to celibacy. Therefore, the frustrations of the celibate life led to the abuse. Therefore, celibacy should be abolished.
"While perhaps not quite so starkly stated, this is the line of thinking that has been used by many to explain the sexual abuse scandals shaking the church. It will also shape the response to two reports issued by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops last week. Leave aside for a moment the fact that 96 percent of priests are not abusers -- is this portrayal of widespread frustration an accurate description of American priests?"
"There are not over a hundred people in the United States who hate the Roman Catholic Church; there are millions, however, who hate what they wrongly believe to be the Catholic Church." -- the late Archbishop Fulton Sheen
THESE DAYS, I'M CONTINUALLY AMAZED how so many people could misunderstand the faith of Catholic Christians so much. It all started with a few strange questions posed by two non-Christian colleagues last September: Why do you have corrupt popes in the Church? Why do you worship Mary? Why do you think that you eat the real flesh and blood of Jesus? And so on.
Recently, an innocent invitation to a lapsed Catholic (who's attending services at a Protestant church) to attend a mass brought on a similar torrent. Sure brought back memories of a number of accusations made by Protestant friends and colleagues in earlier days.
Reading Scott and Kimberly Hahn's conversion stories in Rome Sweet Home: Our Journey to Catholicism was another eye-opener. Among other things, learnt that a number of Protestants actually call the Pope the anti-Christ and the Catholic Church the whore of Babylon! O Perfect Joy!
Last week, a discovery of seeming religious discrimination in a non-religious street-finding site (owned by a huge local conglomerate with heavy government funding) probably capped it all. Here seems to be covert deception and discrimination against the Catholic Church -- 118 Protestant churches are listed, and yet not a single Catholic church (including those that are more than one hundred years old) can be found! In the online maps, Catholic churches (such as the Cathedral of Good Shepherd at Victoria Street, just opposite Chijmes) are labeled by their block number (for example, '31') while Protestant churches (such as St Andrew's Cathedral) are labeled by their names in capital letters. Several attempts to clarify the matter with the site editor and helpdesk via email had all been in vain.
Around the same period, the reluctance of three old friends (who happen to be Protestants) to worship side by side with me seem to point in the same direction again. One good thing that came out it is that i had a good heart-to-heart chat with one of them over dinner. And we had a 'deal' -- we'll try to be open-minded and read from beginning to end a book that the other person has chosen to explain her stance (Protestant or Catholic) in this matter.
Meanwhile, i wonder: Just how do these people arrive at their truth? How many of them come to their conclusions through first-hand experiences and not from mere hearsay (whether verbal or written)? How many have actually stepped into a Catholic church, observed and tried to understand the proceedings of a real Eucharistic celebration? How many have read the details in the official Catechism of the Catholic Church, or clarified their doubts with a practising Catholic layman or priest?
(See also Ascertaining Truth and What Do Catholics Really Believe?)