Sunday, April 18, 2010

Two Roman Catholic Churches

Nicolas Kristof in today's  NYT Op ed  "A Church Mary can love"  articulates what I have often thought about the Roman Catholic church -- he talks about two churches --one patriarchal and oppressive and one grassroots and radical in its demands for social justice and care for the poor.  I've always been fascinated by the Catholic church because of this dichotomy - in some ways it can be so full of grace and yet my secretary heard nothing of grace as she was growing up in it.  

   It survived as long as it has because it was able (at times) to be a big tent and encompass such a variety of people and points of view.  Yes, there was the inquisition but honestly if they were ALWAYS burning people who disagreed with the party line, there would be nothing left.  

I suppose this "saint and sinner" persona is no different than any other church or even each Christian but perhaps because of it is so old, it is so big, it so visible you notice it more.

Kristof says in his piece:

So when you read about the scandals, remember that the Vatican is not the same as the Catholic Church. Ordinary lepers, prostitutes and slum-dwellers may never see a cardinal, but they daily encounter a truly noble Catholic Church in the form of priests, nuns and lay workers toiling to make a difference. 

I believe this is true of not just the Catholic Church, but as the church catholic as well.

1 comment:

  1. I've wondered about some of this as well. What about the priests who went on missions into the wilderness, such as with the voyageurs? What about all the Catholic hospitals, adoption agencies, and other social service organizations? The Catholic church, or at least the nuns, were great at living out some of the commissions of Jesus. At one time, being a nun was the only place where a woman could actually do such work in our society. Does this sort of thing still happen? with any Christian group? [Lutherans and Methodists have had hospitals.] One large St. So and So medical center is now under completely secular administration.

    The Catholic orders have had a long tradition of education and universities, with open minded educational exploration, rather than party line Christianity that seems to be the case with some conservative Christian institutions. So that too isn't just a top down monolith.