For the last couple of days I have been thinking seriously about the place of the Roman Catholic Church in the world.
I have always seen in its members a special sense of reverence. A holy focus on family and the sanctity of life. A number of inspiring celibate priests who have impacted my life ( a basketball coach and worthy opponent; a broadcaster who preached the message that brought me to point of decision for Christ; some provocative Christian writers and commentators – Muggeridge and Girzone).
Recently I have used this blog to comment on the riches of a newfound book entitled Altogether Gift: A Trinitarian Spirituality by Michael Downey.
My concern is usually with the perspective on Mary of Nazareth. It is as if a fourth person must be added to the Trinity. This is error. On another blog I wrote the poem Mary Looks Down. There are links on that blog to a number of other articles.
The very day of writing my poem I went shopping with Hilary at Walmart. As is my custom I passed by the bookstands. I saw a new book by the new Pope Francis (The Church of Mercy, 2014). I breezed through the index and did not see any chapter titles of concern. I turned to the last chapter and there it was!
The distortion persisted in and concerning Mary. Pope Francis is telling the entire Catholic world that Jesus would not leave from Calvary’s Mount without giving the Church a Mother, and her peculiar care. And for his authority the Pope uses John 19: 26, 27. He suggests that Jesus is telling Mother Mary in effect to adopt John the beloved disciple; telling John as representative of all believers to accept the “blessed Virgin’s” mothering and comfort.
Hold on now; back in the Upper Room at the Last Supper Jesus had assured His friends that they would be receiving another Comforter, the Holy Spirit. They tarried in Jerusalem, as did the mother Mary for the promise of the Father arriving on the Day of Pentecost. They all needed the arrival and energizing of the paraclete, the standby, the advocate, the Comforter, the Third Person. Mary included.
In making such an assertion Pope Francis is behaving like those in Peter’s seat from very long ago. He is assuming that believers do not have Bibles of their own to check him out. Or perhaps that Vatican light may again over-ride the very clear words of scripture.
Is it the case that without magnified versions of Mary Roman Catholicism cannot survive? I hope not. I also pray for light and clarity for a large body of people attempting to honour and follow Jesus as the “poor in spirit” and very intent upon blessing the poor and outcast (Matthew 25: 31-46).