The nude photograph of Agnieszka Radwanska has caused quite a stir in and outside of the Catholic Church. Agnieszka is the fourth-ranked world tennis champiom who recently posed naked for ESPN Magazine. When the photo went public—and viral—she was dropped from the Polish Catholic youth movement Krucjata Mlodych (Youth Crusade), for whom she was a spokesperson. All news accounts claim that she is a devout Catholic.
By posing naked, this poor young woman has denied Catholic teachings of modesty and purity. Not to mention that she has most likely led many people into committing sins against the flesh. Yes, Agnieszka, we are our brothers’ keepers.
But lest we start acting like pharisees, let’s take a closer look at this situation. Maybe this young woman really does think she’s a devout Catholic. If that’s the case, then why is there a disconnect between what she professes to believe and her unfortunate display? That in itself is a problem and within the Church it’s a problem of epidemic proportions. In fact, she is just one of the many symptoms of a grave illness plaguing Holy Mother Church: priests behaving badly, the use of artificial contraception, abuse of the Liturgy, abuse and neglect of the Sacraments, woeful catechesis, and cafeteria Catholics. We are all to blame for this incident. We haven’t been listening to the prophets of our age, the church leaders and holy men and women who repeatedly tried and continue to try to bring us back to the heart of the Church. We let our Church get sick. We didn’t defend Her, cherish Her, revere Her, obey Her.
Those of us who fill the pews each week ought to thank Agnieszka for holding up a mirror and forcing us to take a long, hard look at ourselves. We need to look honestly at our tarnished reflection, identify the illness, and then eradicate it.
The Catholic Church is one body. Each of us makes up a different part of that body and we are all part of Her cellular structure. In order to treat the illness, we need to address it at the cellular level. In other words, we need to start with ourselves. I need to acknowledge my own sin before I can acknowledge anyone else’s. I need to fix my relationship with God before I can expect anyone else to fix theirs. I need to be converted and healed before I can help to convert and heal the Church. So does Agnieszka. So do you.
Let’s start by getting on our knees and praying for ourselves, then for reach other, then for the Bride of Christ.
St. Joseph, patron of the Universal Church, pray for us.
Photo courtesy of wikipedia.org.