A few weeks back, my article entitled “Sorry, You’re Not Allowed To Do That”ran here at Catholic Exchange. In a nutshell, I stated that Christianity is a revealed religion, and that Jesus Christ entrusted His divine revelation to the Apostles and their successors under the protection of the Holy Spirit. Neither you nor I have the authority to change the teachings of Christ, nor are we the arbiters of Truth.
Typically, some readers reacted by accusing both me and the Church of being “intolerant”, “foolish, “self-righteous” and “hypocritical” among other things. A sampling:
“…religion was created by human [sic] because they are social beings. They gather together to make themselves feel superior to others by believing they have it right.”
“Do you think yourself superior to someone because you are Catholic, because you are not. We are all equal. Nobody and I mean NOBODY has the right to look down upon someone else because they are different from them.”
“This attitude that our way is the only way has led to countless crimes against humanity throughout the history of the Church.”
“The authority of the Church does not give you the authority to condemn others….[H]ow can you dare to judge and criticize others who are following the plan God has for them?!… [D]o you hope to lead others to Faith by condemning them?…How can you limit your love only to those the same as you?”
First of all, how does one “feel superior” for simply repeating and submitting to truths and ideas that are not one’s own? If I were to declare the sun hot or the Pietà beautiful, could I legitimately be accused of self-righteousness? Neither declaration has anything to do with me, and both would be true whether or not I had ever existed or opined.
And as for the accusations against the Church, these folks have it exactly backwards. The Church, after all, does not claim to have the fullest Truth in order to condemn anyone, but in order to save everyone! Being entrusted with and then proclaiming revealed Truth is not arrogant, it’s a sacred duty at the service of all. The mission and authority of the Church is a gift to every human being, so that no one is lost.
Think about it: What kind of God would not leave a source of clarity and truth for all to see? How cruel that would be: We would be relegated to a lifetime of groping in the dark, never knowing what is true and what’s a lie, never understanding our place, never really knowing our Creator. The result would be existential angst and moral/social chaos. A loving God would not leave us there.
Clarity of doctrine and the moral law is a gift, not a curse, and a Truth-telling Church is mercy and inclusion, not judgment and exclusion.
We all understand that a lighthouse beacon does not exist to oppress and limit a ship as it navigates its way into the harbor, but exists to illuminate the way. If the lighthouse keeper dimmed or diverted or distorted the light, would it help or hurt those on the journey to the shore? Wouldn’t those souls aboard the ship benefit from the piercing clarity of light in the surrounding darkness? Who could believe that their course — their very lives — would be better served by hazy, inconsistent, or scattered points of light?