From the mailbag:
In your studies of the Catholic faith, since 1991, if you don’t mind me asking Eric (can i call you Eric?) when was it that you chose to believe in a book, yes a book if you don’t mind me calling it that, that has caused death, misery and upset across the globe through its misinterpretation and of course, abuse.
I would like your interpretation on the above.
My interpretation of the two articles (both about priests who are accused of abusing children) is simple: if the evidence proves that these men did commit abuse, they should be locked away for as long as possible. If evidence shows that anyone protected them in their crimes, including any bishop, he too should be locked away for as long as possible. Justice demands that such predators and their enablers be punished to the full extent of the law.
You claim that much “death, misery and upset” has occurred in history due to the Bible’s “misinterpretation and…abuse” (I assume the “book” you refer to is the Bible; technically it is not a book, but a collection of various forms of writings). I do not disagree. But I do not judge a religion or philosophy based on those who follow it poorly or abuse it, but instead based upon those who follow it best. This seems to be a logical way to proceed.
Let’s take an example from outside the religious realm. If you wanted to show someone the game of golf properly played, would you show him Tiger Woods or some weekend hacker you can’t hit it straight? It is those who excel in something that most clearly reflect its strengths and weaknesses.
For a Catholic, it is the saints who are the models we look to. We see in them those who have followed Christ to the best of their abilities. An example of someone who followed Christianity well is Mother Teresa. An example of someone who followed atheism well is Joseph Stalin. Which would I rather imitate?
Since my embrace of the Christian life in high school, my faith has not revolved around a book, but a person. I do not believe in a book, I believe in Jesus Christ. Even as an Evangelical the focus of my faith was Jesus Christ. Although at that time I believed the Bible to be the sole authority for the Christian (a belief I now see as faulty), I still looked to Jesus as the measuring rod of my faith. He is the prism through which we properly interpret the Bible. Fortunately for us, he gave us a Church which he promised would be able to interpret it with his authority. And one interpretation that I can be sure of: the abuse of children is evil and contrary to the teachings of Christianity (and just about every other religion, for that matter).
When I see cases of those who claim to be Christian committing horrible acts, two thoughts come to mind.
- Every sin is a horrible act, and I have committed many sins in my life. So I will pray for those who commit these acts that they might find healing and forgiveness in Christ, just as I pray the same thing for myself.
- The Church must have a divine foundation, because how else can one explain the fact that it has survived for almost 2,000 years in spite of such people within the Church? St. Gregory the Great, a pope in the 6th century, lamented that he “must worry about the invasions of barbarians, and beware of the wolves who lie in wait for my flock”. This has always been the case, and many of those wolves actually lie within the flock. Yet the Church has survived and continues to call people to a beautiful life in Christ.
I do not put my faith in other men, nor do I put my faith in a book. I put my faith in Jesus Christ, the one one who is able to give us the strength to rise above our weaknesses and become saints.
And yes, you may call me Eric.