What do union workers, abortionists, immigrants and those with same-sex attraction have in common? They are all used as convenient scapegoats by some groups of “Catholics.” Within the last week, I have heard or seen in print, Catholics demean whole groups of people by saying things like, “If they’re leaning on the shovel, they’re union workers” or “Throw the illegals (immigrants) in jail and send their kids back to grandma” or “He killed babies so we kill him” or “Sodomites are sodomites” or “Ragheads”, referring to Muslims.
Nice, huh? There are probably a thousand reasons ranging from political to social to spiritual why someone who professes to be Catholic can condemn a whole group of people in one breath and be oblivious to the contradiction (lie) that they are living. I don’t intend to explore all that here. When prejudice is at work, one excuse is as good as another. The fact that your daddy said the same thing or that the Old Testament says, “An eye for an eye” or about any other justification that can be unearthed in self-defense of bigotry is basically baloney.
The bottom line is that Committed Catholics are not allowed to spout vitriol against another group of people. Period. The rationale for what should be a self-evident fact is rooted in our union with Christ who has identified himself with every living person. So, in despising others, we despise Him. In ignoring the dignity of others, we ignore the Dignity of God. Jesus asked Saul on the road to Tarsus, “Why are you persecuting me?” Jesus told us over and over, “Whatever you do to the least, you do to Me.” Jesus’ most scathing words were saved for the self-righteous.
This begs the question: How can a Catholic march themselves up to Communion, receive the Body of Christ every week and then turn around and attack Christ present in others? How can this be? This is a scandal. Are we not called to judge a tree by its fruit? Absolutely. Are we supposed to turn a blind eye to behavior that conflicts with the teachings of the Church? No. But we only judge the behavior, never the person. We always love the sinner and hate the sin. We are bound, before God, to pray for those who persecute us, not to condemn them.
Pope Francis has spent much of the last two months pointing out to Catholics the flaws that we are guilty of and need to confess. Here’s a snippet:
“We all chat in Church! As Christians we chat! The chatter is hurtful? We hurt one another. It is as if we want to put each other down.: instead of growing, one makes the other feel small while I feel great. That will not do! It seems nice to chat … I do not know why, but it looks nice. Like sweet of honey, right? You take one and then another, and another, and another, and in the end you have a stomach ache. And why ? The chatter is like that eh? It is ‘sweet at first and it ruins you, it ruins your soul! Rumors (gossip) are destructive in the Church, they are destructive … It’s ‘a little’ like the spirit of Cain who killed his brother, his tongue; it kills his brother! ” Homily 5-18-13