Thursday, March 26, 2009

Passover at St. Teresa's

An "Interfaith Seder" took place at St. Teresa's Roman Catholic church Saturday night, with Catholics, Protestants, Moslems, Buddhists and Hindus participating in the Jewish Passover ritual in the church hall. The pastor of this parish must be a dedicated Judaizer since his church seems to host this event every year.

It's fine to understand other faiths and even to observe their worship for educational purposes, but the problem with these ecumenical stunts is that their guiding spirit, or at least the impression they impart, is indifferentism, i.e. the heresy that all religions are equally true or at least equally pleasing to God. How do these priests participate in these things with a clear conscience?

I realize that a genial latitudinarianism has prevailed in American public life, at least since WWII and especially in pluralistic New York City, but Roman Catholic priests- of all people- should realize the serious, serious implications of Christ's statement that He is the Way, the Truth and the Life and that no one comes to the Father except through Him. (JN 14:6) These kinds of actions make a mockery of our Faith. If you take Christ literally- if you take Christ seriously- the logical conclusion is that Judaism (or any other non-Christian religion) is a false religion and I wonder then by what logical gymnastics a Catholic priest can justify participating in their rituals and praying to their God.

Yes, I know that the "nice" people out there will say that the god of the Jews is our God as well. To a point, we can say that we all have the same deity, since there is in fact only one God who created the universe. But to take the concept too far is to have it degenerate into the kind of mush-brained universalism that politicians are forced to spout in a multicultural society. We should expect better of our priests. When different people attribute completely different characteristics, actions and desires to their version of "God", then they are in fact worshipping different gods. Moslems also claim to worship the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, as well as venerating our Bible, Jesus and Mary. Yet somehow I doubt that even the liberal Christians at this seder would claim that Allah is the same being as our Triune God of Father, Son and Holy Ghost, just because they happen to share some of the same characteristics.

By the same token, the Jewish god is not our own. Their God still honors the Old Covenant and regards the Jews as His Chosen People, contrary to so much of New Testament Scripture. His ethical law is an eye for an eye, not turn the other cheek. He never incarnated Himself on earth and sacrificed Himself on a cross to save mankind from sin. In fact, in the holy books of the Orthodox, the Talmud, Jesus was, among other things, a sorcerer who was condemned by God to be boiled in excrement for eternity. The Talmud also states the Mary was a hairdresser who got knocked up by a Roman soldier, Jesus' actual father. How could we pretend that we worship the same God? And why is it alway such a one-sided affair? When will the Jews be coming to Easter Sunday Mass?

I just happened to have a copy of the Haggadah (the Passover liturgy) lying around. From a quick scan, I don't see anything in it that would explicitly compromise a Catholic priest (such as praying for the coming of the Messiah). Nevertheless, there is no reason for these priests to be doing this. Is it strengthening the Faith of their flocks somehow? Is it bringing non-believers to Christ? I don't see how. On the contrary, it's imparting the message that religion is a matter of personal preference or ethnic tradition, which we should respect but not take so seriously as to let it "divide" us. Just as we would politely eat the exotic dish we might be served at a foreign friend's home, this Interfaith seder teaches us that we should be just as cosmopolitan when it comes to God. Whether we're praying to Allah, Jesus, Yahweh or the Great Pumpkin, we're all rapping with the same God, which is the only important thing. Apparently, relativism is the only objective belief we're allowed to have anymore.

Our late Cardinal O'Connor embodied this spirit during his reign here. He frequently preached that Judaism was as valid a path to salvation as Christ and publicly congratulated people who converted from Catholicism to Judaism. I don't want to be part of a faith like that. I want to be a part of the traditional Catholic Faith that recognized the centrality of Christ in human history and His absolute necessity in human lives. I just wish our priests felt the same way.


Anonymous said...

Hi- I saw your blog and was interested in seeing if you would like to talk to NY1 about your thoughts on the upcoming installation of Archbishop Timothy Dolan? If so please send an email to Attn: Bree with your contact informaion.
Thank you for your time.

Staten Pilgrim said...

I gave thought to this offer and have decided to decline. In the first place, Bishop Dolan hasn't even begun his episcopate yet. What is there really to analyze? Secondly, even if I did have substantive criticism to level at the Bishop, I wouldn't use the secular media to do it. As I've mentioned here before, the secular media is not the place for the Catholic Church to air its dirty laundry. The media is not a friend of the Church. At worst, they're downright enemies. At best, they're friends only of strife, controversy and scandal. We should use the media to promote the Faith, but not fight internal battles in their forums. And third, I'm just a guy who writes his thoughts in a blog, hoping to commiserate with other local Catholics and possibly influence the clergy to a better performance of their duties. I have no ambition to be some sort of lay Savonarola, castigating the hierarchy from the pulpit of the public airwaves. When the grace of God allows it, reform will come from within the priesthood, not by compulsion from below or from without. So, my only public statement is as follows:

"May the Holy Spirit grant Archbishop Dolan the wisdom and strength to lead the people of this diocese to greater holiness and faithfulness to the Gospel.

Anonymous said...

There is nothing in your blog that sounds like Jesus talking. Jesus loves all the people, unlike you who think Catholicism is the one true religion. That's what all religious fanatics say about their religion, and they are very dangerous people.

May 5, 2009

Staten Pilgrim said...

I love all people too, but that doesn't mean I should approve of falsehood. There is such a thing as absolute truth. Jesus Christ wasn't some wishy-washy latitudinarian. He said "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (JN 14:6). Before you condemn me for "intolerance", read your Bible.