Saturday, 12 June 2010

Di-ve: CUTTING EDGE: Not a pick’n’mix
Tuesday, May 25, 2010 -- 11:50CEST; by Vanessa Macdonald

Why do we find it so hard to accept that the Roman Catholic religion is not a pick’n’mix buffet?

What is the problem? Perhaps that we are signed up to it when we are just babes-in-arms, just weeks old, with absolutely no understanding what it represents. We get another chance to affirm this decision – duh - when we are not even in puberty. So when we do reach the age of consent, we somehow assume that it is fine to look through the menu and ask the chef to prepare us something different… even though we signed up for a fixed menu.

Let’s see, do we want sex before marriage? Contraception? Homosexuality? Divorce? Abortion? Married priests?

Never mind that these are not what the Church believes in. We think, heaven help us, that it is the Church that is wrong. Well, maybe it is, but it has every right to stick to its position. If it ever wants to review that position, then that is up to its higher authorities and certainly not to Rita from Birkirkara or Alfred from Bubaqra.

We are the ones in the wrong. We are on the wrong side of the fence. If you sign up to play for Birkirkara, you don’t insist on turning up in a Floriana kit. If you get married, you can’t expect to play around and still get your laundry done at home.

How dare we assume that we can have our cake and eat it?

There are many aspects of the Roman Catholic religion that I disagree with but if they are fundamental principles and I decide not to embrace them, then I hope that I will not be hypocritical enough to reject the Church with one hand and hold out my hand for the Eucharist with the other.

If you do not agree with the principles of Roman Catholicism or if you are breaking its rules, you should ask yourself what you are doing in church in the first place, why it is so important to you to be blessed by the Church and why it is so important to you to take the Eucharist (and I hope the answer is not that you do not want to be stared at if you stay in the pew).

You should be honest and ask yourself whether you are entitled to go up to Holy Communion, whether you are using contraception, having sex before marriage, cohabiting or committing adultery. What right have you to demand a sacrament from an institution that reserves sacraments for those who abide by its rules, or who at least repent for breaking them?

Archbishop Pawlu Cremona and Bishop Mario Grech were completely correct in their statement. The Church will also have its arms open and will keep its doors open for those who wish to come and listen. The point of Mass is to remind the congregation of the Church’s teaching. Of course the Bishops want sinners and lapsed Catholics (not the same thing – if you reject the teachings of the Church, then is it not a sin to use contraception, any more than eating pork is a sin if you are not Muslim or Jewish) to have the chance to come in and sit down and re-consider, just as the Nationalists would never bar a floating voter from a mass meeting.

But that doesn’t mean that we can have our cake and eat it. This is a religion. If you don’t agree with it; that’s fine. There are other religions. Why not review the options and choose another one that fits in with what we believe (beware that almost all of them have rules…) Why not opt for the path of least resistance that allows us to do almost anything we want? Is that what we want out of our religion?

We cannot expect the Church to turn a blind eye to such hypocrisy. The Church knows the consequence of reinforcing its principles. It knows that if all the non-virgin, contraceptive pill-popping, adulterous and cohabiting members of the congregation were honest enough to stay in their seats on Sunday, you wouldn’t need to sing more than a stanza of a hymn to get through Holy Communion.

If the time comes when the Church decides to review its position (would we expect Islam review its stand on pork in view of refrigeration and farm sanitation?) on any of the issues that we disagree it, then so be it. But the Church gave us free choice and if we decide to exercise that free choice, then we have to accept the consequences.

In the meantime, the Church has every right.


  1. Dear Dr Attard
    Your analysis is rather cut and dry; it appears quite logical and is quite accepted as common opinion and often proposed by catholic religious teachers. However we must realize that salvation is through Jesus Christ and we achieve it through a loving, friendly and trustful relationship with Him. Certainly the Catholic Church could be a means of achieving and developing this relationship but it is not the only means otherwise we would say that only faithful Catholics will be saved which is certainly not the case. This relationship is based on the intimate, true, faithful of self (often called the individual conscience) and accepting God (Jesus Christ) or any other name of the Supreme Being and sincerely following His dictates of conscience to us. I think that this is clearly illustrated in Jesus portrayal of the Last Judgment where He says: “Come you blessed by my Father enter into the Kingdom prepared for you from all eternity because I was hungry and you gave me to eat….” That of course to put it simply as Jesus did but of course Salvation is a mystery as everything else that touches on God. Salvation begins in him and ends in Him and not through our effort “I chose You not You chose Me”. Who can put any restriction on God whom He calls? Can anyone fully understand that? That is why we humbly trust God as Our Lady did the message of the Angel: “Let it be….” Who can understand the mystery that is in God!