The Editor of the Evangelist, a Publication of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, and a Publication that Advertises a Wide Variety of Goods and Services, Recently Refused to Publish An Ad for An Interfaith Chaplain.
“For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.”
— Matthew 25:35-36
A New Scandal Brewing?
The Evangelist, having received the display ad and having made changes to the ad several times, accepted the ad and accepted payment for the ad. The next day, the advertiser received an e-mail from the editor stating:
“We have become aware that you are not working through any parish or with the support of the Albany Diocese. Therefore, we are unable to accept your Compassionate Care Associates advertisement. We apologize for the inconvenience.”
Not only is this action by a minor employee of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany clearly discriminating, it flies in the face of pretty much everything the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany has been allegedly supporting (at least on the surface) in terms of interfaith, ecumenism, interfaith dialogue, ministry, etc. etc. Do we smell rotten hypocrisy at work.
Or can it be that the Diocese is playing dirty pool? It can’t provide adequate ministers to the sick and dying so no one is going to do so.
And what about the negative PR? What does this action broadcast about the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany and its love of all creation, its welcoming of all people, its embrace of all things serving the common good?
The Response is Deplorably Ignorant
Since we are here considering the response of an organ of the Roman Catholic Church as represented in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, New York, it is appropriate to cite some of the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church, the magisterium, which expressly embraces with a sense of anticipation and hope the commitment to ecumenism and interfaith dialogue as a duty of human conscience, but especially the Christian conscience, in relationship enlightened by faith and guided by love, the man Jesus the divine Christ himself, in his Passion, prayed “that they may all be one” (Jn 17:21). This unity, which the Divine has bestowed on his people and on creation overall, and in which I believe the Divine will is intended to embrace all people and all creation, is not just a Divine afterthought or a creaturely wishful thinking, but stands at the very heart of the Christ’s mission. It is heterodoxy to teach that this commitment, this duty, this vision of unity is some secondary attribute of a select community of disciples. Rather, I would assert, it belongs to the very essence of creation. (cf Pope John Paul II, Ut Unum Sint, May 25, 1995).
While it is not my intention to proselytize or to be disrespectful of non-Christian traditions when I figuratively or metaphorically use the name “the Christ”, I sincerely believe that our response to persons in crisis, suffering, dying must be such that we are willing and able to see the “Christ” in them and they in turn are able to encounter the “Christ” in us. Although many of us undoubtedly discover this ideally reciprocal response in the context of a religious or spiritual or faith tradition, even those without “faith” can be guided, supported to look beyond their own suffering to see the human dignity and goodness of those who suffer, and of those who minister to the suffering.
The “Christ” should be read here as the imago Dei (the image of the Divine Creator) not just the socio-political affiliation with a company club, a parish. Good works are good works, discipleship is discipleship, charity is charity, koinonia is koinonia regardless of your ‘company’ affiliation. We are all called to compassion and responsibility, unity, and those of us called to a ministry of pastoral, spiritual, emotional care of the suffering cannot and will not be deterred by the ignorant.
Hence, Compassionate Interfaith Pastoral Care, then the Evangelization or Catechesis, if Appropriate and Desired. The Church as Historically and Typically Approached this Ass-end Backwards!
Pope Paul VI famously quipped, «Da qualche fessura sia entrato il fumo di Satana nel tempio di Dio». (“Satan’s smoke has made its way into the temple of God through some crack.”) —Pope Paul VI, 1972. How true! But the traditionalists and conservatives feeling that the mainstream Church was falling into decline had no idea of how far afield the Roman Church had actually strayed. These fundamentalists believed they knew what that smoke might be and how they planned to halt its spread. From conservatives and their steadfast moral militancy, to separatists and their belief in the need for alternative communities, to Marianists and their tenets of mystical prophecy, the the obstreperous female religious and their disobedience and promotion of an almost heretical theofeminism—but the actual Satan was a special insidious liberalism and it’s that liberal laxity that is costing the Albany Roman Catholic Diocese dearly in terms of credibility and faithful. The Diocese lacks good leaders but has an abundance of negative defensive placeholders. But more on that later. The place is getting too smokey now.
Stay tuned for a continuation of this investigation on what the Roman Catholic Church says and what he Roman Catholic Church does, especially through its lay minions, affects all of us at large in our ministries.
We have given the editor until Monday, December 2, 2012, to organize her defense. On December 3, we’ll bring out the big guns. Let the games begin!
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Telephone: (518) 479-0525 / 466-4482 (Urgent)