We may wonder what the official archdiocesan paper of Toronto – or, perhaps it is, like L’Osservatore Romano is to the Vatican, more vaguely quasi-official – is up to when we read the following, which signify, if nothing else, what is deficient in modern Catholic media:
Here’s, a headline from the July 14-21 edition: A picture of a sombre and resolute Justin Trudeau, with the title ‘Defending Faith’, which is about as much a mockery of that title Defensor Fidei as its being bestowed on Henry VIII and his increasingly irrelevant royal successors. The article within waxes glowingly on Trudeau’s defence of ‘religious freedom’; has the author (Michael Swan) heard of the bill to outlaw ‘Islamophobia’ and any ‘hate speech’, which means anything critical of homosexuality, transgenderism. The irony is complete with a headline on the bottom of the front page “Another summer job grant refusal”. Yes, Trudeau again, denying federal money to any who dare criticize the right to murder the unborn in the womb, at the whim of the mother.
In the same issue is more misguided theology – forgive the term – from Father Ron Rolheiser, whose picture, with a hand curled over his chin in thoughtful pose, denies one the option of knowing whether is he wearing his Roman collar, or not. I dare not summarize his column – what would one say? – but will offer a couple of howlers: “The heavenly table is open to all who are willing to sit down with all.” One may ponder what that even means, but the pastor gets a bit more specific towards the end, when he confesses that “as I get older, approach the end of my life and accept that I will soon face my Maker, I worry less and less about going to hell and worry more and more about the bitterness, anger, ingratitude and non-forgiveness that still remains (sic) in me. I worry less about committing a mortal sin and more about whether I’m gracious, respectful and forgiving towards others”.
Behold, thus, the theology of Ann Landers.
Saint Jean-Vianney and Saint Alphonsus Ligouri – to mention but two holy and disciplined men celebrated of late, who believed most firmly in mortal sin and hell – would take some issue with Father Rolheiser’s rickety frame of mind and disordered hierarchy of values. The only thing that can exclude one from the kingdom is ‘mortal sin’, the avoidance of which should preoccupy some level of our moral focus and attention. We should also focus a majority of our efforts to growing in virtue, which means loving God first and foremost, and loving neighbour for the sake of God and his own salvation – respectful and graciousness being rather minor and ancillary in the scale of virtues.
And, finally, while on hierarchy of values, again from Mr. Swan, from the July 28-August 4th edition: In June, for the first time ever, Canadians told pollsters their number one concern is the environment. This puts Canadians on the same page with Pope Francis, who has called on everybody – Catholic, Christian, non-Christian, even atheist – to face up to the reality of man-caused climate change in his 2015 encyclical Laudato Si
Is the ‘environment’ really the Holy Father’s “number one concern”? And should it be ours, when we are facing – just a short list – abortion-on-demand, euthanasia, a moribund demographic, skyrocketing divorce and cohabitation, collapse of family life, feral children, rampant drug use, listless an despairing youth, a wrecked school and health system, and more or less society disintegrating all around us. But they’d probably blame all that on climate change.
The environment is a concern, in a local way, prescinding from whether or not anthropogenic climate change is a reality – which I doubt, and on which contingent topic we are not bound in conscience by the Holy Father’s opinion.
The medium is the message, wrote the Torontonian Marshal McCluhan. The message here is to immerse thyself in truth, dear reader, and in that light read and peruse what media you will.