Editorial: A time to stand

  • April 7, 2022

Two mercifully flown decades ago, Mr. Dan Brown foisted on the world from some printing presses the Luddites sadly missed smashing, a purported novel called The Da Vinci Code.

Craziness being next to oddly-ness in human nature, it shot up the best seller lists. It should, in fact, have kicked off the rise of “best sailer” rankings for books that deserve to be thrown across the room and out the window.

On the plus side, such authorial monstrosities tend to be, in the immortal words of Engelbert Humperdinck, that easy to forget. Negatively, a lasting figment that even literary amnesia can’t erase is the book’s character of a self-flagellating albino Opus Dei monk. Despite the prelature’s efforts to debunk the monk by pointing out that Opus Dei’s apostolate is lay people at work in the world — not masochists whipping up religious frenzy in monastic basements — the image endures. Indeed, it has become a thumb-nail caricature of Catholicism’s (albino??!!) dark side.

What should concern us as Catholics is less the worldly caricature than the extent to which Catholics ourselves carry it like a devotional card in our pockets, purses, hearts and minds. The concern deserves fair and frank airing in the aftermath of last week’s extraordinary meeting between Pope Francis and delegates representing Canada’s Indigenous and First Nations peoples. It’s one that should be in a robust phase by the time the Holy Father comes here as he has promised he will.

Make no mistake. As our Associate Editor Michael Swan reported from Rome, what transpired during hours of listening and dialogue between the pontiff and the delegates was an essential, albeit respectful, delivering of hard truths about the Indian Residential School system. It encapsulated our appalling historical misdeeds toward Indigenous nations. Nor should we assume all will be happy-clappy wonderous now that the Pope has apologized with a sincerity few can rival. Work — hard work — remains.

But that work must transpire in a posture free of overwrought and interminable self-flagellation. It’s true that an apology is only an acknowledgement, at best a first step to renewal. It’s been rightly said, too, what’s needed now is resurrection, that is renewal of life. But resurrection also requires rising up, i.e., standing up.

During the liturgy, there are times we kneel, times we sit, and other times we stand, fully present, in community, as we are, sins and all. One of those times is when we profess our apostolic creedal belief in God, in Christ, in the holy Catholic Church, in the forgiveness of sin.

We don’t pronounce it for prideful dramatic effect or as code to some half-baked writer’s throw-away imaginings. We do it because we believe in a Church, despite all its sins, worth standing for, worth following on the path of authentic reconciliation that will lead us, finally worthy of the promises of Christ, to Truth. Now, as always, is that time.

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