Back in the Fifties boxing used to be criticized for its regular Friday night fights which were called ‘bum of the week’ where it seemed that every washed up fighter who ever lived got a chance to pick up one more pay cheque ending flat on his back in the ring. This farce has only been equaled by the New York Times Book of the Month recommended selections that’s run for years which has promoted and sold mostly fat and insignificant books that have swelled the bank balances of publishing houses and gobbled up tons of valuable Canadian timber.
The New York Times has gained an aura of excellence and world wide acceptance that it doesn’t warrant. The depth and quality of its investigative reporting has slid. We see it in a recently published article, “Who can mock this church,” by columnist Nicholas D. Kristoff who says the Catholic Church should be turned upside down with the grass-roots of Catholicism made up of lowly nuns, priests and laity taking over from “the old boys club at the Vatican.” This is junk reasoning
There has always been a pecking order in any enterprise bigger than one person and the Catholic Church is no exception. Who do you think sends this network of humble nuns, priests and laity that Nicholas Kristoff says he admires so much, to the mission fields to make Jesus Christ known to a hostile audience, to risk their lives and often lose them?
In any large organization – like the billion member Catholic Church – we are all not called to be Marshall Mcluhans, a brilliant intellectual and an adult convert to Catholicism, but we are all called to blossom where we’re planted with the gifts we’ve got. But there has to be a group of people who can make executive decisions involving people and strategy. Some call it the executive branch; the Vatican calls it the hierarchy. It has the same function. How valuable is the Vatican bureaucracy is open for discussion. Pope John XXIII in an interview, was asked how many people worked in the Vatican. He said: “I don’t know how many people work here but I can tell you how many people are employed here.”
Churches have learned long ago that you just can’t give an apple-cheeked missionary a plane ticket and a list of Bible verses he or she’s memorized and send them off to a foreign country. They have to bring a lot more with them now than that. They got to know the languages and they got to know the people. That takes a lot more than money and training. It takes dedication and you can’t buy that in a store.
Kristoff raves about Father Michael Barton, an American priest, who runs four schools for children in southern Sudan who otherwise would go without an education. In Sudan since 1978, he learned local languages, survived a civil war, beatings, imprisonment and disease. Kristoff also enthuses about Cathy Arata, a nun from New Jersey, who moved to El Salvador during the brutal civil war and has put her life on the line protecting peasants. She has also trained 600 school teachers to improve agricultural techniques. Kristoff also praises Father Mario Falconi, an Italian priest who refused to leave Rwanda, during the genocide and saved 3000 people from being massacred. Kristoff admits there are many more like them.
Where Kristoff reveals his bias is in painting the Catholic Church hierarchy as basically evil which is not true. If Jesus Christ can have one of the twelve apostles He picked, Judas, a lying, money stealing, shifty, double-dealing traitor, we shouldn’t be surprised to have a few undesirables in our camp.
Would Kristoff get out the same paint brush he used on the Catholic Church and paint all financial advisors as Madoff Ponzis? I don’t think so.
What about Kristoff’s praise for the Boston Globe’s uncovering the Church’s cover-ups of child rape? Congratulations, Boston Globe. But how are you doing uncovering the story of the killing yearly of millions of unborn babies in the United States? Haven’t got around to it yet? A Church that publicly champions mothers and their babies – and unborn babies – shouldn’t be criticized. If the Church takes a strong position against condoms it’s only because they’ve never approved of Russian Roulette either. Homosexuality and same-sex marriage has never sold many baby cribs.
Catholics don’t see that there are two Churches, as Kristoff thinks; one for the seat warmers and one for the warriors but only one true Church standing 2000 years tall with a few knives sticking in her back.