Since the creation of this blog, readers have appreciated the numerous and numinous commentaries submitted by Thomas More’s avatar, “Thom”. His latest deserves the limelight of front-page publication not only here but in Sydney’s “Catholic Weekly” if not the “Osservatore Romano”. The least – and the most – I can do is to post it upfront. Readers of it will not receive a Plenary Indulgence, but an embarrassing example of what I have called “Blind Faith : Blind Folly” :
Pope Francis appears to be revelling in his role as leader of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church and one can only wish him well in what must be in this day and age one of the least enviable jobs in the world. With 3 million or thereabouts to witness his final Mass on the beach in Rio one wonders if he will eventually rival his now sainted Polish predecessor in popularity. The beach crowd along with the millions who watched the Mass on TV had the added joy of a plenary indulgence – welcome for some no doubt but of doubtful efficacy for others. Pope Francis appears to be a humble and good man who will I believe eventually convene a Third Vatican Council to complete much of the unfinished business of Vatican II and much else.
I am reminded of the World Youth Day held here in Australia not many years ago. It was well attended by enthusiastic people young and not so young from around the world. There were reports at the time that certain businesses in Sydney of a distinctly secular and fleshly nature enjoyed much increased patronage during this period – which merely goes to show, if the reports were correct, that young people continue to do what young people do wherever they are – and one can be grateful for that.
I happened to be dining with friends at a cheap restaurant in Sydney during that week and at an adjoining table there were four youngish Catholics who were here for WYD. We got into a brief conversation because they were under the impression that one of my dining companions was a priest (he appeared to be wearing a clerical collar). I reassured them that he was not a Catholic priest – merely an Anglican one (which was also not true). They asked what the difference was. I explained briefly some of the differences before venturing even more briefly into an explanation of trans versus con substantiation. They interrupted me with the admonition that I would have to speak English – even though they spoke it well as it was their native tongue. It occurred to me that they had very little idea of what they were required to believe. They were nevertheless enthusiastic in their proclamation of their Catholicism. I imagine much the same happened in Rio and will happen again wherever the next WYD is held. Plus ca change – as the French say. Our tables wished each other well but those young Catholics were never to discover that I once claimed, like them, to believe various incredible things before maturing into a happy security in my unbelief.