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The Good, Bad and Ugly of Trying to Live the Faith

By Dr. Jeff Mirus (bio - articles - email) | Sep 04, 2012

To paraphrase Kermit the Frog, it’s not easy being Christian. News coverage over the past several days certainly bears this out. There is some definite good among the bad and the ugly, but all if it pretty much represents the Christian struggle for fidelity to God.

Let’s look at the good first. On the worldwide legal front there have been several distinct but difficult breakthroughs. The Kingdom of Bahrain has given permission for the bishop who ministers to two million Catholics in the region to move his headquarters to the island nation and build the largest church yet, even though Sunni Muslim clerics say anyone who considers a church to be a true place of worship “has broken in their faith in God.” Meanwhile, the high court in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh has struck down part of a 2006 anti-conversion law, insisting against legislators that “a person not only has the right to freedom of conscience, the right to profess one's faith, the right to change faith, but also has the right to keep secret one's beliefs.” And in the case of a mentally-handicapped Christian girl who has been accused of blasphemy in Pakistan, an Imam (Islamic religious leader) has been charged with manufacturing the evidence against her.

On the bad side, among many other things, we have three stories that illustrate an immensely wide range of difficulties. First, there are the incautious remarks of Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, who died on Friday. While some 200,000 people paid their respects, we are all left to meditate on the last interview he ever gave, earlier in August. Martini called for “a radical transformation” of the Church, alleging that it is “200 years out of date” and “tired”, that the “religious ceremonies and vestments we wear are pompous”, and that Church leaders need to find a dozen people who can “think outside the box” to effect a thorough reform. (I’m raising my hand….) Meanwhile, in Nigeria, women have been barred from wearing their traditional large head wrap (the gele) in St. Theresa’s Cathedral in Nsukka for the painful reason that it presents “security challenges” (as do large purses). And in Brazil, a notary has registered what is apparently the first 3-party civil union under recent legislation, further eroding the concepts of marriage and family.

Now for the ugly. The University of Texas professor who published a study showing the negative effects of gay parents on children was charged by homosexual activists with “scientific misconduct”; fortunately, a panel of faculty reviewed the case and found no grounds for investigation. In our own house, it is too bad that the furor caused by Fr. Benedict Groeschel’s recent remarks on priestly sexual abuse did not end so well; truth to tell, neither Fr. Groeschel nor those who hastened to correct him managed to speak clearly and honestly about the issues raised. It is also very sad that Catholic Relief Services keeps finding itself in the position of cleaning up its lack of internal Catholic commitment only after LifeSite News exposes its problems.

But wait, I’ve found humor in the ugliness, too. For example, the leader of “Nuns on the bus” will address—wait for it—the Democratic Convention. There is also quite a flap about the sale of fake designer goods in Rome on the streets adjacent to St. Peter’s Square. And finally, that self-proclaimed legend, Usain Bolt, who went so far out of his way to take all credit for himself, will finally get the recognition he seeks after his “second coming” at the London Olympics: The Pontifical Council for Culture has invited him to address a Vatican conference.

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  • Posted by: jwc015979639 - Sep. 04, 2012 8:09 PM ET USA

    Well, the bad certainly is bad, and the ugly ugly (and, in some cases, comical); but the good is cause for hope indeed. May governmental respect for full religious freedom spread even to our own shores!

  • Posted by: koinonia - Sep. 04, 2012 7:47 PM ET USA

    It is true there are problems; there are always problems. The problem today is not in the problems but lies in the inadequacy of the solutions offered. Thus, confusion and disorientation reign, but there are reasons for hope. The reasons for hope are the result of a redirection to the enduring principles that provide an anchor in tempestuous seas. A recent song states "You can get addicted to a certain kind of sadness," but those who know Christ can be victorious in this struggle for fidelity.

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