Blaming the Victim, Shooting the Messenger

November 07, 2023 00:31:15
Blaming the Victim, Shooting the Messenger
Crisis Point
Blaming the Victim, Shooting the Messenger

Nov 07 2023 | 00:31:15

/

Hosted By

Eric Sammons

Show Notes

When someone leaves Catholicism due to scandals in the Church, it does no good to accuse him of unfaithfulness or blame those who are exposing the crisis in the Church. But how should we respond?
View Full Transcript

Episode Transcript

[00:00:16] When someone leaves Catholicism due to scandals in the church, it does no good to accuse him of unfaithfulness or to blame those who are exposing the Cris in the church. But how should we respond? That's what we're going to talk about today on Cris Point Hill. I'm Eric Samuel, your host and in chief of Crisis magazine. Before we get started, you know, I'm going to say, go ahead and smash that like button. Subscribe to the channel, let other people know about it. We really appreciate when you do that. Also, please follow us on social media at Crisismag at all the various social media channels. Subscribe to our email newsletter. Just go crisismagazine.com. [00:00:49] I'm saying this quickly because I've said over and over, I realize also new feature which I think next week I'll start answering some of these questions. You can send a question to [email protected] that's [email protected] and I'll answer in a podcast. I've gotten a number of them. I'm collecting them, and I think next week I'm going to try answering. Unless some new news story happens or something, then I might not get to it, but I will as soon as I can. So I appreciate those who have already sent them in. Okay, this all started. The reason for this is that I got an email, and I get a lot of emails from people who are thanking crisis for helping them understand the Cris in the church and helping them in their faith. I get people who are send us hate mail, who hate what we're doing, say we're attacking the Pope and we're just terrible Catholics. I get people who leave the church sending me emails and explaining why they've left the church. And I got one of those recently and I put it up on Twitter and essentially the man has become Orthodox. I have left the Catholic Church and have become Orthodox. I know the problems in the Orthodox Church, but here's why I left. I was a daily Mass gore for many years, and after COVID, Daily Rosary, First Saturdays, confession, every two weeks. You name it, I did it. But increasingly I would get angry when I left Mass. [00:02:14] The increasing disrespect, the nonchalant liturgy, men wearing shorts and flip flops, women in mini skirts, yoga pants. And I wasn't sure if people or the priest even believed in the real presence, not to mention extraordinary eucharistic ministers. I could just no longer stand it. I went to many different parishes in my area, and it was basically the same. Then you have a pope that is bent on destroying what's left of the faith. To tell you the truth, the Catholic Church lacked any kind of challenge and was just very feminine. So I decided to go Orthodox. I found a masculine church, emphasis on morning and evening prayers, fasting, Jesus prayer and community. It was what I was looking for, a challenge. I don't care. That is mostly in Greek. That's another challenge. Learning Greek. I had someone say, I just like the aesthetics. That's not true. I feel closer to the Lord than I ever have. Sure the aesthetics help, but it's more than that. Orthodoxy is a true rebellion of worldly materialism. It is a serious religion. By the way, I haven't seen anyone wear jeans to church. So I got this email. [00:03:14] And just one thing to clarify so people know. I don't know if this person had ever listened to this podcast or read anything at crisis. I know he sent it because he watched one, the podcast I did on the incredible shrinking Catholic Church about why people are leaving the Church. And he basically said he saw that just recently. It was from months ago, so he thought he'd give his reason to me why he left. When I shared this on Twitter, a lot of people thought that it's because he's reading crisis that he left. And we'll talk about that in a minute. But I don't even know if he actually was a reader of crisis. But this is obviously as a Catholic, and I think any Catholic who reads this is saddened by it. I don't know how you could not read this and not be saddened by what he wrote, that essentially he found Catholicism lacking. It was not fulfilling him. It was something that, it was not drawing him closer to the Lord in his estimation. So he went to orthodoxy, Eastern Orthodoxy, and there he says he found more fulfillment. He drew closer to the Lord. [00:04:20] Now, when I reshared this on Twitter, though, I was just using it as an example of we need to really be passionate about reforming the Church, making sure the Church is able to passionately proclaim the fullness of the truth. To live it out, we need to be saints. Basically all this. But I was surprised because a lot of the responses I got were one of two things. Either blame the victim, I. E. The person who wrote this, or shoot the Messenger, I. E. People like crisis or Taylor Marshall or Tim Flanders or whoever that talk about the crisis in the Church, blame them. [00:05:02] Shoot the messenger for scandalizing the faithful. [00:05:06] Now, I guess I was not surprised. I was a little bit surprised by it. But at the same time, I do understand that we are in a situation in which we see millions of people leaving the Church. But it's not just a statistic to most of us. We know loved ones, we have family members, we have friends, people that we care deeply about who have left the Catholic Church. And because of that, we're all hurting, we're all in pain. And so we want to find blame somewhere. We want to say, oh, it's that person's fault, because they just didn't have an internal conversion ever. Or it's the fault of somebody like Taylor Marshall for daring, for saying things, always saying negative things, or whatever the case may be, or crisis magazine, or one Peter Fiver, or the remnant, or lifesight news, whatever the case may be, we want to find blame and say it's their fault for why this happened. But I don't think it's as simple as that. I think we need to really be honest with ourselves and be mature and ask ourselves, what should we do? How should we think when somebody leaves the Catholic Church? Personally, I think that the first thing that you do when you hear about something like this, where somebody's left the church because they found Catholic life to be unfulfilling, I guess it might be the best way to put it. Life as a Catholic did not bring them, in their estimation, closer to Christ. It did not improve their life substantially, and they found it lacking in a lot of ways. That's essentially what a lot of people say when they leave Catholicism. It's just not worth it. Well, I think the first thing we should think when we hear this is obviously sadness, but self reflection. [00:06:55] First self reflection of ourselves. What have I done to be a bad example? What have I done that might have helped lead other people away from the Church? I think we all should ask ourselves that. None of us are perfect. We all probably say, do things that might harm people's faith, whether intentionally or unintentionally. So I do think we have to that self reflection, that's the first thing. The second thing is we also then have to look at our own church. Instead of being defensive and saying, well, the Catholic Church, they were just looking at the externals. They need to look at internals and not really realizing that the externals matter. [00:07:34] The externals matter very much. This is something I just feel like so many modern Catholics don't get. And it's really the proselytization of our Catholic ethos or Catholic mentality that we just look at the internal. We say all that matters is that you have this relation with Jesus. We might not say it like that's how Protestants say it, but we basically say, well, if you understand, if you know the truth of what's going on at Mass, it doesn't matter if there's felt banners, it doesn't matter if there's terrible music, insipid homilies, if the Mass is said with a lack of reverence, none of that matters because Jesus is there. That's a Protestant mentality. I'm sorry, by Protestant I mean a mentality that thinks the spiritual and the physical are not united, are not combined, and they are combined in humanity. This is one of the biggest errors of Protestantism, in my mind, is their lack of an incarnational sense of Christianity. That's why they reject the sacraments. The sacraments matter, and we know this. As Catholics, you have to actually have water poured over your head to be baptized. You can't just say, I receive Jesus as my Savior, and then consider yourself a member of the Church. No, you need to actually have physical wire poured over your head. [00:08:53] Likewise, you have to actually eat the appearances of bread in order to receive Jesus Christ in the. [00:09:03] So just the same, the physical, the externals matter a great deal. Now, is it true that if you have a deep faith that you could go to Mass, one that maybe isn't celebrated very reverently, not the greatest, and still receive many graces? Of course it's true. However, I would argue it probably would undermine your faith over time, because we respond to outside stimuli. [00:09:35] We respond if we live in an area of town, let's say, that is very downtrodden, not well kept up, nobody's mowing the grass, there's broken windows, stuff like that. [00:09:49] Our attitude about life and where we live is different than if we live in an area where everybody keeps everything very nice, neighbors are friendly, the houses are well kept, the lawns are mowed, all that stuff, it will matter, it will impact us, and we will likely move out of an area where it is not treated well because we know the impact it has on us. So likewise, in the spiritual life, if you are going to Mass and it's just a terrible experience, and yes, I use the word experience on purpose, if it's a terrible experience, then there is a chance you're going to end up leaving. Not just leaving that parish, but leaving the faith. [00:10:30] And so we have to be very honest about this. This is why it's not just a matter of rubrics or aesthetics or like he said, aesthetics. Like just, oh, we're just going to simply, all we care about is beautiful music or something like that. No, these things help prepare us for receiving Jesus Christ, for receiving the graces that come to us. They open us up to that. That's why the Church has always done this for thousands of years. It's not like all of a sudden the Church always did a Slipshot liturgy. And all of a sudden a few people in the past few years said, you know what we should do? We should really have this beautiful grand liturgy. That would help. And let's try and experience, see if that helps. No, the default has always been a beautiful and grand liturgy. [00:11:20] And then in more recent times, because of the modern world, we've rejected that. And we think it doesn't really matter that it's done reverently and it's done, in a sense, to really inspire all the senses. All the senses, physical senses. And so I think we do have to look at this, and these are legitimate criticisms I think this guy is giving. I'm not saying, by the way, just to be clear, I'm not saying he's right in the sense of leaving, but I think the criticisms are legitimate in the sense that, yes, it is scandalous if at Mass, nobody there seems to be taking it seriously. Now, just to be clear, I don't care that much what other people wear to Mass. Obviously, I don't want to be immodest. If somebody's wearing something immodest, that's not appropriate. I don't want some dude in a thong showing up or something like that. [00:12:18] But at the same time, I'm not one that's that big on people wearing jeans or whatever the case may be. I personally, I wear a jacket and tie to Sunday Mass every Sunday. But I learned that more as a Protestant than I did as a Catholic. I mean, I was scandalized at first when I first became Catholic, because I went to a Protestant church where we dressed up on Sunday. You wore your Sunday best. All of a sudden, I started going to Catholic Masses in the early ninety s, and everybody's wearing like, casual clothes. And I admit I was scandalized over time. I kind of was like, okay, let's focus on what matters. I don't think that's the point, though. It's not just what people wear, it's the fact that people aren't taking it seriously. That if Catholicism is the one true faith, but Catholics don't act like it is, that has an impact on people. It has an impact on people, and we cannot deny that. We can't just shove that under rug and say that person needs to be understand more deeply the faith. Well, sure he does, but that doesn't mean we don't try to do everything to uphold and lift up his faith. I mean, Romans 14 talks about this. St. Paul talks about weaker Brethren. He knew that you could eat anything as a Christian. You didn't need to follow the Jewish ritual laws about what you could eat and not eat. But he knew there were weaker brethren, as he mentioned, who were scandalized by this. He didn't say, those people just need to man up. Those people need to just suck it up. No, what he said was, we need to be understanding of the weaker brethren and help them and do what we can not to scandalize. [00:13:56] That's so, like I said, when somebody leaves church, we should self reflect. We should reflect on the church, and then we should, thirdly, we should look and see how the person is off in their criticism. Because ultimately, if you leave the Catholic Church, you are wrong. [00:14:11] You are wrong. You might have a lot of legitimate criticisms, a lot of legitimate reasons that led you away in a sense of, yeah, these things are bad, but ultimately, the step to leave this Catholic church is wrong. And so we should look at that and we should recognize that somebody should never leave the Catholic Church. And in this case, for example, I really wish the gentleman had known about the Eastern Catholic Churches or about the traditional Latin mass. [00:14:45] I don't know where he lived. And by the way, I did respond to him. [00:14:50] I'm not going to say, tell everybody what I said to him. But the point is, yes, I wish they had seen that there were alternatives where the faith is taken seriously, because I'm just assuming he's right, that in the parishes in his area, the. No sort of parishes, they are problematic. They have all these issues because we know that's widespread. It's not every single diocesan parish, but it's widespread enough that we know it's common. It's common. So we can understand and we can be sympathetic without agreeing with him or saying what he did was right. It's not that he's above criticism. Somebody who leaves the church is above criticism or anything like that. But we can also recognize that, yes, there are issues. We have to recognize that. What we don't want to do, though, when somebody leaves a church now, I'm going to come back to what I said before, is we don't want to blame the victim. Now, perhaps the term victim is too strong. When we talk about somebody leaves the Church, they have agency, they're adults. They decide to leave. At the same time, though, somebody who wants to be Catholic and yet he has to endure a church that does not take itself seriously. [00:16:01] He is victimized. Frankly, I think we're all victimized on some level. [00:16:06] I'm not trying to play the victim like, oh, woe is me or anything like that, but we live in a time of great scandal, corruption and crisis in the Church. Pretending otherwise is just burying your head in the sand. And so I do think that to blame him, to gaslight him, to gaslight him. To think that what he sees with his own eyes isn't really true, that, oh, it's really not that bad. Everything is fine. The Pope is doing a great job. Your priest is doing a great job. Your parish is vibrant and thriving. Everything you hear said each week, how vibrant your parish is, he knows it's not true. And to gaslight him, to say, oh, no, it is true. You just have to believe not. I don't think that's a Christian way to look at it. If you look and you see that, if you look at Jesus, he got really upset at people who scandalize religious leaders, who scandalize the faithful. He used some harsh terms. What you don't see him do, though, is have harsh terms for people who walk away or leave. He has the harsh terms for people who scandalize people to leave. And that's what we need to be, too. Our harsh words aren't against this gentleman who left. I mean, we should definitely tell him he's wrong and explain why. But we should have charity and compassion for somebody like that. [00:17:28] But the church leaders, for example, who led to this, who Scandalized him. [00:17:34] That's who we should be really looking at as the problem. That's what Jesus did. [00:17:40] He got upset at the Pharisees who led people away, not the people who actually were led away. I mean, a compassion for them. [00:17:49] So we don't blame the victim. That's something we don't. A second thing we don't do is we don't shoot the messenger. [00:17:56] What I mean by this, it's not the fault of those who comment or report on the crisis. [00:18:03] For the crisis. The cris isn't the fault of people who are commenting on the crisis. This is a classic case of to shoot the messenger, of saying, oh, the whistleblower, so to speak. You blame him for the corruption in the company. [00:18:19] There's corruption in the company. Some guy reports it, let's blame him. He's the problem. If he had just kept his mouth shut, everything would have been fine. That's what you hear, here's the reality, though. Millions of people have left the Church over the past decades, but even the past few years, I can guarantee you that a very small percentage of them have ever heard of, a very, very, very small percentage of them have ever heard of the remnant or Michael Matt, or crisis or one Peter Five, or anything like that. That's not why they're leaving. It's not why everybody's walking out the door isn't because they read something or they heard something Taylor Marshall said, or they read something in crisis, and they said, oh, yep, yeah, this is out, you know, see you later. That is not the reason people are leaving. They're leaving ultimately, because, like I said before, they don't find Catholicism, the practice of Catholicism, fulfilling. Why don't they find it fulfilling? A lot of reasons for that. It might be because they're given some secular thing that they find that they think is fulfilling. Ultimately, it won't be a secular alternative. Some sports or some hobby or something like that. [00:19:36] Some mission, some social justice, whatever politics, whatever the case, may be some other religion. Or it could just be that they just didn't see the faith being lived out, and so they didn't realize it was possible. What was possible? I remember in the 1990s, when all of a sudden Catholic answers started really coming on board and really being popular. Scott Hahn became popular, stuff like that. A lot of people were like, wow, I never knew Catholicism was like this. I never knew that this is what the Church taught and this is what the Church believed, because they'd only experienced watered down Catholicism of the 1970s and the 1980s, when all of a sudden they started hearing people talk about the fullness of the faith, really believing it and defending it, they were shocked. I remember one of the most popular Catholic books of the past 30 years is the Lamb Supper by Scott Hahn. And I remember the reason was, is because most Catholics, their experience of the Mass was so uninspiring, so unfulfilling, they didn't really understand what the Mass was. And all of a sudden, Scott Hahn writes a book and saying, this is literally heaven on earth. When you participate in the Mass, you're participating in heaven on earth. [00:21:01] And they explained why, using the sacred scriptures. All of a sudden, people were like, wow, this is great. This really means something now. And that's the case still today, that so many people just don't know what the faith is. They don't really understand it. [00:21:16] But it's not those who are reporting that there's scandal stuff going on, because like I said, I get a lot of complaints, a lot of emails, but I also get a lot of people thanking crisis. And the main number one thing they thank us for is they say thank you. Now I realize I wasn't insane, I was being gaslit. I now can understand the cris going on in the church better. And I can understand that this is a crisis, this isn't the way it's supposed to be, and that I can pray for our leaders and I can live out the faith in my own life, in my own parish more fully. I don't have to go along with the watered down version that we're being sold and it helps them draw deeper in their faith. [00:22:03] And are we supposed to just ignore it? ARe we supposed to just keep our heads in the sand and act like we're going to act like it's not happening? Well, the fact is people know, honest people, they see what's going on. They understand things are not the way they should be, that there's a lot of scandal and corruption going on in the Church today. They understand that intuitively and so they look for ways to understand it better. And that's what crisis we're trying to do. That's what a lot of other commentators trying to do. [00:22:36] I'm not saying there isn't a person who hasn't left the church partially brought upon by commenters, including myself, that might have happened, but ultimately we're not marketing agents of the Catholic Church. [00:22:57] If you're a marketer for a company, you do everything you can to put the company in the best light at all times, even if it means fudging the truth or ignoring any problems. If you have a defective product in somewhat, you're still as a marketer, you're going to sell it like it's perfect. [00:23:17] Marketing in a lot of ways is deception. Is deception. You get paid to deceive people, sorry, marketers out there, but it's true. And so if people are, a lot of people seem to think that we're supposed to be Catholic marketing agents of the Catholic Church. That's not what we're meant to do. We're not meant to market the Catholic Church. We're meant to evangelize the way the truth and the life, Jesus Christ. That's what we're meant to do. There is a difference between the two. Evangelization is not marketing. [00:23:53] Evangelization is sharing the truth, the fullness of the truth, Jesus Christ. And when you do that, you can't have lies, you can't have deceptions. You can't hide things under the rug. [00:24:06] What would it mean if I'm sharing with somebody the truth about Jesus Christ and that he is the truth? But then when they ask, well, the Pope said, know, he said it was okay for divorcing married people receive communion. Is he right? What does it say if I lie to him and say, yes, he's right? [00:24:26] It's a contradiction. We have to share the fullness and truth. That doesn't mean we lead with that. Doesn't mean we lead with scandal, doesn't mean we lead with controversy or anything like that. Obviously, we shouldn't do that. [00:24:41] But ultimately, at some point, we're going to be asked about various scandals of various things going on in the church, and we have to answer them truthfully. And that's something that I think we all need to recognize. Now, it is true that tone and attitude matter. If you're constantly just railing on everything going on in church, then that is a problem. [00:25:03] One of the things, though, I think we recognize this, is that social media, it makes the negative rise to the top and the positive go down to the bottom. I see this in my own experience. Like, for example, on Twitter, I will share something that is critical of the Pope, for example. And it gets a ton of likes, gets a ton of engagement. People quote, feeding it, blah, blah, blah. [00:25:26] I then say something just about something nice about in my parish, something like that. It gets a few. It's really not the same. And so what happens, a lot of times, people who don't follow me, the only tweets they ever see from me are the quote unquote negative ones. They never see the positive ones. So they think, all I do is, I'm just negative all the time. And this is true of other people, like Taylor Marshall and people like that Taylor Marshall, even on a much bigger scale than me. And so the fact is that while I do think tone and attitude matter, we shouldn't be deceived by the social media algorithm that takes our negative comments and amplifies them and takes our positive comments and diminishes them. [00:26:10] And so that's why we shouldn't live on social media, by the way. And so ultimately, we do need to have a focus in our own lives on the positive, on things that are happening in your parish, for example, the good that's happening in the church. But be very open and recognize that there's a lot bad going on and people are scandalized, and we need to help them understand it. Like, if this gentleman who had gone to ortHodoxy, if he contacted me months ago, before he decided to go, if he had told me a situation, I would have urged him find a parish where they take the faith seriously. A traditional Mass parish, an Eastern Catholic parish, a novos, or a parish that takes it very seriously. Do whatever you can. The faith is too important. Don't leave just because you live in a situation where everything around you seems to be so bad. That does not represent the totality of the Catholic faith. And so I really do think that that's important that we do, that we let people understand the scandal in the scheme of things. One of the things that I've often said people are like when I say things against the pope or something like that, one of the things is that people think, is this somehow leading people out of church or will lead me out of church is like, no, I'm trying to put in the context of 2000 years that the Catholic Church the truth of, is not dependent upon the holiness or the good administration of a pope. And if you know Church history well enough, you know this. [00:27:40] The Catholic Church teaches the truth. It's the fullness of the faith. But it's often had, often, but, but it has had terrible popes, it has had terrible bishops, has had times of great scandal and crisis in the Church, yet still teaches the fullness of the truth. And so I think that's one of the things we try to do here at crisis. And I think other commentators do the same thing. They're trying to put this in the proper perspective, to understand that the scandal we live in today is just a small part of the overall picture. We can't ignore it and shove it under the rug. Pope explain it away and say, oh no, it's really not what you think it is. Even though, you know, you're an intelligent person, you know, obviously what this person is saying, what they mean. No, it's not actually what they mean. Because of some magic whiteboarding we're going to do based on faulty ecclesiology, that the pope can never say anything that would scandalize anybody, that doesn't help aNybody. It might make a few people feel good about themselves for a little bit, but ultimately they'll realize it's just not true. And so I'm not going to believe people like that. I don't want to say anything that's not true. [00:28:54] And so if somebody comes to me and says, hey, the Pope really made it seem like that divorcing remarried people should receive communion or that homosexuality is really not that bad, that you can bless same sex union, something like that, I'm going to explain to him what the Pope actually said, and not only what he said, but the impact of what he's doing and how it's bad, because they know it's bad, and they just want to hear a Catholic give them the truth, not be a cult member, a marketing agent, and act like it's not really bad. It is bad. It was terrible when John XX preached heresy, that preached that the beatific vision we wouldn't get until after the Last Judgment. It was terrible when Pope honors didn't support, didn't strongly stand up for Orthodoxy. It was terrible when St. Peter denied Jesus, but also terrible when he wouldn't fellowship with Gentiles. And so all these things are terrible. And if we act like they're not, then I think we do a disservice to Catholicism rather than a service to it. So, yes, we want to proclaim the fullness of truth, the beauty of the faith, that it is wonderful to be Catholic, while at the same time putting it in the context we are today. That, yes, there are a lot of challenges to being Catholic as well today, and we need to understand those and be honest about those. Okay, so I'm going to wrap it up here. Starting to lose my voice, I think, a little bit. [00:30:21] I just want to encourage people. Pray for those who have left the church. Pray for those who are considering leaving. Pray for those who are trying to help other Catholics navigate the crisis we're in today. We all need help. We're all trying to figure this out. And by that, I mean that nobody has all the answers. We don't know why, every single reason why people leave. We don't know everything. [00:30:44] We can't explain it all easily. But what we can do is we can pray for each other and really work to help those who are struggling with their faith, to put the scandals, put the cris in the context, the greater context of the beauty of our faith. Okay, I'm going to wrap it up there. So until next time, everybody, God, love.

Other Episodes

Episode

June 24, 2022 00:56:33
Episode Cover

The Baby Formula Shortage and God’s Design for Mothers (Guest: Leila Lawler)

With baby formula shortages, some have called for women to rediscover breastfeeding, but those calls have been met with outrage and attacks. How can...

Listen

Episode 0

February 10, 2023 01:01:50
Episode Cover

The Catholic Case for Guns (Guest: Rick Barrett)

Gun control is a perennially controversial topic in America, and many—if not most—Catholic bishops favor stricter gun control laws. But what is the Catholic...

Listen

Episode 0

January 12, 2024 01:02:02
Episode Cover

A New and Different College Arises (Guest: Jacob Imam)

A new Catholic college is starting up this year, and it promises to offer a very different kind of education.

Listen