Monday, January 25, 2016

Will Internet Catholics listen to Pope Francis this time?

In this case, Pope Francis echoes what I have heard multiple Church leaders say: The Internet is not a forum for flagrantly ignoring the Church's calls for how we are to treat our fellow human beings.  Disrespect, insults, slander, name calling, false accusations, defaming the character of others, assuming the worst and judging wrongly those we speak to are wrong. 

One of the byproducts of the Internet world of Catholicism is a new bar added to the Catholic cafeteria.  That is a place where our righteousness is based on lofty political and social ideals and theories that we likely could never impact.  Meanwhile, things like how we treat our fellow believers, if not our fellow human beings, are tossed aside like so many nickels and dimes. 

I know I've even been mocked and ridiculed on Catholic sites for being polite and not wanting to hurt people or insult them.  And when I have pointed to things like the Church's teachings on how we are to interpret the words of others, or that Raca and Fool are not supposed to be part of our daily allowance of discourse, I've been laughed at and dismissed in kind.

It's easy to be righteous by taking an unwavering stand on our Iranian policies, or what we should think of Putin.  What does anyone care what I think about those things?  It's even easy to take a strong stand on Hiroshima, the death penalty, or gun control.  I could be murdered.  Perhaps wrongly executed.  But the numbers are on my side.  In any event, it likely matters not if I'm wrong, and if I do things like oppose gun rights and someone else ends up dying because they couldn't defend himself?  Oh well.  In post modern martyrdom, by the degree with which I am prepared to tolerate the suffering and death of others have I declared my righteousness.

But how do I treat people?  How do I react to people?  How do I interact with those on the Internet?  I can do something about that.  It is within my grasp.  I can make an immediate difference in how I choose to deal with those who disagree with me.  And yet, that simple and obvious fact, that has to this point been spoken about the exact same way by every Church leader I've heard discuss it - including, now, Pope Francis - is not just ignored, but flagrantly mocked and ridiculed by Catholics who make it their entire business to point out other Catholics who don't listen to Church teaching. 

As I've said on other forums, standing at one bar in the Catholic Cafeteria is a bad place to be when spending all my time accusing others of being Cafeteria Catholics.

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