Ten things you thought you knew about the Roman Catholic Church… that are actually sort of true. In no particular order.
- We’re a bunch of lazy drunks with more children than we can feed. Well, yes. I don’t really know how to defend us against this one. If there’s one thing that’s pretty consistent about practicing Catholics, it’s that we’re more concerned with vestments than investments, that we look forward eagerly to the communion wine (it does a good job of clearing a dry throat before the last song — ahem), and that it warms our little papist hearts to see parents herding their gaggles of skinny, snot-nosed, patched-clothes children.
- We’re cannibals. Of course we are! What better way to gain the magical powers of your once-deceased leader than to eat his spare parts? Even the Apostles knew that. Even the Church Fathers knew that. Even Martin Luther knew that. All of the other Christians who gave up the habit are a bunch of theological vegans.
- We’re superstitious. Damn straight. You say “superstitious”, we say “mysterious”, same difference. Demons lurk everywhere. They can even enter our bodies and posses us, which is why we sometimes require exorcism. Good thing we have our guardian angels to protect us, the saints to ask for help, and the Eucharist to fight Satanic influences from the inside out. Quick! Cross yourself with holy water, just to be on the safe side.
- We worship Mary. Not really, but we do think we can communicate with her (and the other saints) in the afterlife and get them to intercede for us with God. We also venerate her, as we figure being the Mother of God makes her something special. I know, it seems sort of crazy. Everybody’s a Special Snowflake nowadays, so why make a fuss over some woman just because she gave birth to the Savior of the World? Happens all the time. Trust Catholics to make a big deal out of nothing.
- We’re backward and don’t adjust to progress. Thank goodness. Few things are more frightening than modernity. It’s best to move slowly and carefully, so that we don’t accidentally step in it in our rush. I think the verdict is in on that policy, and it’s pure win.
- We don’t understand our own religion, and focus more on the appearance than on the substance. Oh, woops. We didn’t think anyone had noticed. Might be time to go dig up the catechism from the far, dark corners of the basement and flip through it again. But aren’t the churches pretty, even if most of the people at Mass don’t really comprehend what’s going on?
- We put our religion before our country. No duh. Why don’t others do the same? What is the point of having a religion if your beliefs alter according to where you live? I don’t even know what else to say about this one because it’s so ridiculous and self-incriminating.
- We don’t believe in the universal priesthood. Wrong. We do believe in it. All baptized Christians are priests, ministers, and missionaries. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be able to perform the sacraments of baptism and marriage, and we wouldn’t be able to evangelize or prophesy. It’s just that we believe that there are higher and lower orders of priests, and that their ministerial abilities are limited by their rank. Only priests in the Order of Melchizedek, the same order Jesus and the Apostles belonged to, can perform some sacraments, like the consecration of the Eucharist.
- We’re religious snobs. Yeah, we are. I’m not going to lie. Our church is just so big, old, and politically important that the other gazillion Christian denominations look like puny upstarts in comparison. It seems like every personal devotion is reason for schism nowadays. At first schism was the result of important theological distinctions, and the protesters seemed quite earnest, but it just keeps getting curiouser and curiouser. Scola scriptura apparently translates to “every man for himself”, and seems to result in men remaking the Church in their own image, as if their religion were a fashion statement. Add to that the fact that we are sure that all baptized Christians are members of our church — with some in a bizarre state of denial called “Anglicanism” or “Protestantism” or whatnot, as if they were children who were pouting in a voluntary time-out because they disagreed with the house rules — and you can see why it’s sometimes hard to take their arguments seriously and not just sigh, roll our eyes, and explain s.l.o.w.l.y. that they are clearly wrong according to the catechism. (Which is the correct answer to everything, rather than the number 42.)
- We’re prudish and perverse. I don’t actually know why people think that. I just put it in because it’s such a common denunciation and I needed an even ten. Also, it gives the readers an excuse to talk about sex while giggling and pretending to be scandalized.
So go ahead. Complain about us Catholics. Interrogate us on our beliefs. Ask us all of those questions you’ve always wanted answered, but were too embarrassed to mention. Whine, nag, and argue at us. Today is your day to vent, and for us all to toss aside any ecumenical pretense.