(Over the last few years, I have encountered some people I respect and trust so much that I value their counsel even when they deeply disagree with me – because of the quality of their steadfast faith. Among these are Pelianito, Mark Mallett, Dan Lynch, Anthony Mullen, Daniel O’Connor, the members who took an the task of running the TNRS Answers team, those who acted as Regional Coordinators during my visits last year, and some others who prefer to remain discrete. It has vastly enriched my life.
One of these people is Padraig Caughey, a man in Ireland who runs the Mother of God (MOG)Forum. It is widely followed in Europe, Australia and North America. Interestingly, I once said I hoped this site would be like a cheery Irish Pub. The MOG Forum is more lake a Wild West Saloon. It brings a lot of people together to discuss Church and faith issues. You have some who are erudite, some who are not but try their best to be, some who are gleeful agitators – but most are simply trying their best to discuss serious issues of faith in an amenable setting. I am amazed at how well Padraig gives people latitude but keeps it from degenerating into an outright brawl most of the time. I know that is a tough job.
Earlier today, Padraig sent me a note taking deep exception to my last post. He heartily disagrees with me on several points concerning the Pope’s comments on avoiding pregnancy and contraception. What he wrote me is entirely contained on one of the forum threads at MOG. I hope you will take a look at it. Interestingly, while I disagree with him on some particulars, I fundamentally agree with him on the matter of respectful dissent. The Pope and the hierarchy need to hear the voice of the faithful authentically. But it needs to be a respectful voice that is fully and firmly committed to the Barque of Peter. I have often heard Padraig get frustrated and angry, but he is firmly committed to the faith and the Church, so I always carefully consider whatever he has to say.
One of the themes that is growing to me in importance is the Church as the Family of God. Families fight and dispute with each other, but they are able to do so because there is a deep commitment to loving and wanting the good of each other. I hope to see the sort of atmosphere where people feel free to speak their honest hearts about serious issues – but don’t burn down the house because of faulty plumbing. Padraig sometimes wants to rip out the plumbing, but carefully protects the structure.
I think it would be a good Lenten exercise to deeply study the Book of Job. Job spends almost the entire book complaining of God and complaining to God, but his faith that if he could but get a hearing, God would explain and give him justice. His pious friends bitterly denounce him for his criticism of God. In the end, amazingly, God congratulates Job on has honest faith and is fiercely angry at the false piety of his friends. We are the Family of God. As we fight, may we treat each other as such, while expressing honestly our concerns.