Pope Francis’ message is LOVE above all else. He strives to strike a conciliatory tone while some conservative bishops and cardinals appear to be focused only on the LAW. Sadly many American bishops display some of the harshest criticism of our Holy Father. Instead of reaching out to those in need of Christ’s love, they prefer to remind us of our sinfulness; our unworthiness. Instead of finding ways to evangelize and share God’s love, they prefer exclusion and divisiveness. It’s sad that in a world aching for reconciliation and peace these bishops have chosen a very narrow view of Christ’s Gospel.
Recently Archbishop John Myers from New Jersey has given a directive to his parish priests concerning those ineligible to receive communion. He seems to be primarily concerned with those “guilty” of sexual sins. So once again another bishop has decided to “police” the Eucharist. So who is worthy to receive Christ? The publicly pious person who refuses to support legislation that will serve the poor? The folks who attend weekly mass but find no time to serve those less fortunate in their communities? What about the priest who makes it abundantly clear that he has no time for pastoral care but reminds us weekly that we are sinful?
And who are the unworthy? Only those guilty of sexual sins? Ironic that a clergy still plagued by the sexual abuse of the most innocent among us is seemingly obsessed with contraception, homosexuality and infidelity. I am dismayed that many Catholics flock to protest at abortion clinics yet remain virtually silent about the abuse of minors by priests. When was the last time members of a parish stood outside a bishop’s residence protesting the grave sins of pedophile priests at the urging of their parish priest?
Some progressive Catholics have suggested that we boycott communion. Some have suggested that we band together wearing our rainbow attire in support of our gay brothers and sisters and sons and daughters. Others have just decided to walk away. None of these options will bring reconciliation to our church.
Having lived in Europe for a year, I’ve seen the empty churches; the cathedrals and abbeys that are little more than museums today. How sad that some American bishops seem to be working feverishly to empty our churches as well.
Come Holy Spirit, renew the face of the Earth! And when you’re done with me, maybe you could work on a few priests and bishops.