Last night I attended my parish’s pastoral council meeting (I’m a member of the council). during the meeting my pastor asked us to consider how we would advise him to apportion the resources of the parish going into the future. What should be our priorities? he asked. I suggested that more catechesis for adults so that they can better know their faith would be good. There was general agreement; who could argue that it wasn’t needed?
Well, there was one fellow. He is the local agitator for Voice of the Faithful in our parish. I don’t mind disagreement with my ideas, but the reasons he gave were so far out as to stretch credulity. He actually said that people don’t need to know their faith any better as long as they could recite the Nicene Creed. He said what’s important is that people act like Christians in their lives. I agreed with him, but asked him how was one to know how to be a Christian if one didn’t know his faith. He didn’t really answer my question except to go on about how the Catholic faith is amorphous and constantly changing, citing the changing discipline of fasting on Fridays as an example. Switching gears, I told him that even if one could recite the creed, it doesn’t necessarily mean you understand it. He just asserted that everyone knows what it means.
Some people tried to argue with him and the pastor just looked at him with shock. Finally, I gave up and noticed one by one as others did too. How do you argue with someone so stubbornly obtuse? He not only argued patently absurd positions, but refused to even hear what others offered as evidence against him. The parish council president said he’s often approached at work by inactive Catholics who challenge on Catholic teaching, and he often feels at a loss to explain it. How does it help those people if he can’t help them understand?
I was in danger of a sin against charity (and if I go on much longer here, I will be again), so I offered him up in prayer, asking the Holy Spirit to illumine his mind and to soften my heart. Everyone comes from a different place with different reasons for why they are the way they are. My suspicion is that he flew in too close of an orbit of the former pastor who was noted for his, um, creative theology.