June 06, 2004

Catholic Sell-Out

It's priests like these that give many conservatives hesitation in supporting the Roman Catholic Church, especially in its work in the Third World.

The aforementioned article highlights Father Joe Maier, a priest in Bangkok, Thailand. Father Joe has done some very good things and has created a school in the inner-city slums and taken in many starving and needy children in an attempt to give them a better life. This is all well and good... but then you dig a little deeper and you get things like this out of the article:

What's so unique about this scene is, the kids are praying to Buddha in a Catholic school. But that's just fine with Father Joe Maier, who says he doesn't care if the children say their "Hail Marys" to a statue of Buddha as long as they know some prayers to help them deal with life.

Here's another exchange that I found rather telling:

Father Joe went to Thailand with two assignments.

Fr. MAIER: To become a missionary priest and to work with the people and to convert them to Christianity and become holy, I guess. They converted me, though.

JONES (To Fr. Maier): Who converted you?

Fr. MAIER: The Buddhists and Muslims. I've only learned to be a Christian by learning from the Muslims and Buddhists: tolerance and calmness and peace.

And I find this last quote very telling about Maier's validity as a Christian worker:

Every week those tribes have to gather like a family council. They commune, give pause, and give thanks to the greater being. [Maier] has them learn prayers, but he doesn't enforce it upon them by way of stripping away their Buddhist identity.

In essence, I this sort of thing typifies the problem: taking a positive experience with a spiritual element and relabelling it "Christianity" by mixing in a couple of elements of Christianity and ignoring doctrine so that everyone is happy. While Christ came so that the world could be saved and came in love, He is not weak and willing to submit to other religions just so that their supplicants can feel free to be Christians without any discomfort.

This isn't to say that the entire Roman Catholic Church is responsible for this... but it's been my experience talking with those who work and minister, especially in the Third World, that this is hardly an exception. Rather than do the hard work of fighting local religion, many priests just incorporate large parts of it into Catholicism, and thus create problems for years to come and undermine the name of Christianity and confuse it with some bastardized version.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at June 6, 2004 12:52 AM | TrackBack