At the end of February, an article bearing my signature appeared on NewsBlaze. It was called “Fools on Parade” and it was mainly focused on the misleading behaviour adopted by the church, especially for what concerns openness towards non believers and, in general, towards all those people who are not perfectly accordant with the Christian ethical and natural criteria. I was flooded by comments and responses, I almost feared my in box would explode at some stage, but one of these replies appeared on NewsBlaze and it caught my attention. It is short but, at the same time, very explicative and profound. Therefore, I thought to write a reply to the reply itself.
This is the content of the reply I received:
“This article is very well written and the ideas are exposed in a coherent way. I do believe that the Head of the Catholic Church is homophobic and a largely reactionary individual who is a victim of his education, generation and that the church does need to adapt to the existing world in which we live. The notion and precepts of Christ are clear when he said the most important commandment was ‘to love your neighbour as yourself’ and also ‘judge not lest thou be judged’. Also ‘the Law was made for man not man for the Law. I know many catholic clergy wince when they hear his Holiness make statements which hurt others through a lack of subtlety of language. I am a practising catholic but I insist on my rights to oppose any doctrines which I find in my heart and conscience abhorrent to my Christian belief.”
First of all, let’s start with the statement which says “adapt to the existing world in which we live.” God’s reign in this world? Not at all. Especially in Italy, the problem of collusion between the Church and the “secular power” (meant as material, opposite to the spiritual one) is evident.
While Christ stated that his reign did not belong to this material world and the Church, which should ideally represent the concrete externalization of this reign, is pleased to be mainly oriented towards the sky and claims to care only about spiritual topics, we sadly note how the Vatican is undoubtedly tangled in a fathomless series of “worldly” questions: its Head sticks to material sovereignty; in the middle ages the Church even directly control princedoms while, nowadays, it demands to impose its voice and its directives in every aspect of society, from politics to economics, from literature to arts.
It is vital to be able to penetrate the heart of the Church’s mission in the world in order to fully understand the reasons and the goals of its work. Its action is undoubtedly spiritually oriented: the Church doesn’t belong to this world. At least in theory, but the facts show us that, working this way, it is forced to create institutions that do have a solid material base, modelled on historical contingencies, in order to reach people’s souls.
The Church needs money and therefore, it has an economy which is strictly related to the general Italian economy and contemporary times. It operates its work in a world which is politically and socially organized. We can recall the Roman Empire, with its division between free men and slaves, feudalism in middle age, absolute monarchies in modern times, bourgeois democracies in the XIX century and workers’ ones in the XX. The Church has to adapt its apostleship and its figures coherently with the diverse character of the contemporary world.
The Church holds a doctrine that has to be presented to men, a divine doctrine which requires it to be turned into a human language, which would necessarily show the signs of the philosophical ideas which characterize any determined culture. It is evident then, that the Church, in order to achieve its spiritual goal, has to build up a means of action that will carry the evidence of the profane structures in which it lives.
These profane structures are not perfect at all and this triggers unavoidable imperfections in the Church’s internal organization itself. How many difficulties, for example, were triggered inside the Church because of its adaptation to the feudal scheme, although it had started with a charitable and apostolic intent!
The profane structures are continuously developing; the past ones sometimes appear to be coarse and worthless, maybe even a bit irritating. We can recall slavery and many other costumes that characterized the middle age. Many superficial people, that never represent a minority, unable to understand the historical evolution, unfairly support the Church by claiming it had to accept the realities at the time. It is true, though, that the Church rarely faced them directly and often, preferred to stir in souls the provision of a better and right future world. Therefore, they didn’t face slavery with a revolution, but they fought it with the weapon of charity, which is born as an imperfect produce of contingent historical events.
The evolution of profane structures also involves the necessity of further adaptations of religious schemes. These adaptations always occur with a rather baffling slowness: we stick to outdated forms, instead of setting the gear of history.
If men, who appear to be faithful to the Church’s spirit anyway, haven’t managed to address material affairs to perfection they along with the Church, hoped to reach, we can actually say that the main cause is not only their ambitiousness or incapacity; the holders of the guilt are definitely the strong resistances of those who demand to build a perfect world upon intangible and misleading ideals.
A perfect world society is not that which men may achieve by praying and staring at the sky, since this perspective is the result of the contradictory behaviour of the Church, for what concerns the administration of material questions. The Church cannot adapt to the world that has shaped it and keeps on modelling its structure, coherently with historical processes and facts.
For what concerns the Law, instead, we have to notice that, throughout history, political events have shaped the way the Church would deal with believers’ souls. The Vatican doesn’t simply stare at the Italian political events. Its hands are not still: as we said, one reaches to beg while the other is used to slap Italian politics. This double behaviour is acted in accordance with the law: the perfect alibi is the supreme guarantee of justice, the Italian constitution. It is necessary to say it with a loud voice: this reconstruction is just fake. The Vatican’s interferences are not protected by free speech or freedom of religion; the Concordat is not protected by the Constitution.
The Catholic Church draws on the public resources of the Italian state: every year millions of Euro are hijacked by the central government and the local institutions, that have become even more “diligent” in recent times. This doesn’t prevent the Vatican heavily dangerous incursions in the public life of the country: it is impossible that a legislative measure is approved without its consent and when this happens the resistance of the Church tries to prevent them from being applied.
It is a grotesque situation that has its origin in the Concordat signed on the 11th of February 1929 by the pope Pius IX and Benito Mussolini, who was defined as a “man of providence” by the pope himself. That pact was accepted by the republican Italian constitution by means of the article 7. In 1984, the Concordat was renewed by the pope John Paul II and the then prime minister Bettino Craxi.
Article 7 was a provisional regulation and has nowadays expired. Besides, those which are operated by the Church appear to be a real incursion of a foreign power in Italian politics and the concordat privileges would unavoidably create unequal treatment for Italian citizens who profess other religions or are actual atheists. How can we be assured fair treatment when the influence of a foreign power that professes an allegedly divine law, which is not even written in a proper constitution, civil or penal code, exceeds the regular, material and worldly law?
The Vatican simply and incoherently demands that men adapt themselves to this smoky and mysterious divine law. This is definitely contradictory: it contrasts the statement that says “the law was made for men, not men for the law.”
As the previous article said, fools are on parade. We can say fools are everywhere.