Sometimes on Twitter I will post: “Twitter: to educate, entertain and annoy”. The social media platform is excellent for reproducing or creating thought provoking, punchy and pithy statements. Unfortunately a tweet is limited. Ambiguities proliferate. Misunderstandings abound. This is amplified by the fact that Twitter reaches a global audience. This is like flying an airplane banner across the skies of a huge city. Everyone can read it and therefore everyone will bring their own interpretation to it.
Over the years my activity on Twitter has gotten me into some hot water. I’ve been accused of being too conservative and too liberal. I’ve been called a racist, a homophobe, a Protestant, a MAGA priest. Letters have been sent to my bishop confirming the existence of tattletale Catholics–crybaby bullies who run to Daddy telling him to spank their naughty sibling.
Yesterday I tweeted, “Catholics talk too much about the Church and not enough about the gospel.” On the offensive scale (with 10 being horrible, horrific and horrendous and 1 being innocuous and obvious) I would have thought this was somewhere around 1.3. However, folks jumped in assuming I was dissing the church in favor of Our Lord–that I was rejecting Catholic doctrine and “Didn’t I know that the church and the gospel cannot be separated???!!!”
To clarify, I love the Catholic Church. I gave up practically everything to become a Catholic, and yes I am aware that the Church is the Body of Christ–the sacrament of salvation. I am critical, however, of our constant chatter ONLY about the Church and her problems. “The Church should be nicer to gay people” or “The Church should speak out more against gay sex” “The Church should ordain women” The Church should not ordain women” The Church should do this, should do that, should solve the poverty problem, should solve the climate crisis, should solve the political problems The pope should wear red shoes. No he shouldn’t. Canon 6,743 should be revised so that school restrooms in Catholic schools should have a Benedictine medal on the wall…Don’t revise Canon Law. The Canon Law Code from 1583 is the true one. The other modern ones are heretical.”
I exaggerate to make my point. But only a little. Call me a Prot in Cat’s clothing if you like, but it does seem to me that the Church’s mission is to proclaim in her words and works the Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ. This means something called “Evangelization” That means to mis-quote St Francis “Preach the gospel at all times…use works if necessary.”
Yes, we love our Catholic faith, but our constant introspection (usually accompanied by the pointing of fingers) only shows the world our self righteousness, our self absorption and our insistence on blaming others for our failures. Are you concerned about immorality, corruption, self seeking and heresy in the church? Stop grumbling about it and blaming others and do what you can with what you have where you are. Plead for the grace and self discipline to become a saint yourself and stop blaming other for being sinners. Are you concerned about homophobia, racism, injustice to women, the climate crisis, immigrants, the poor and needy? Good. Do what you can about that and give us a break with your hectoring, blame and self righteous virtue signaling because guess what?
If we all did what we can with what we have where we are–if we all walked and talked the gospel with sincerity of heart, hard work and big dollops of grace why then, the church’s problems would be solved.