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She's not perfect, but she's mine and I love her....

Let's face it, Catholicism isn't necessarily the most "do what you want" religion out there. She doesn't teach us to do what we want. Instead, she teaches us to do what is right. She teaches us to do what God wants us to do, so that we may be more like God, and one day deserve to be in His presence. The media has been remarkably quiet regarding the uglier side of the protests going on in Spain. Besides the "Pope greeted by protests" and the "Pope's visit to Spain generates protests," the only thing that really generated headlines was one pilgrim's threat to retaliate against World Youth Day protesters. Forget about the protesters hurling insults at the world's youth. Forget the protesters giving nuns the finger. While you're at it, you can even forget the vulgar signs they are waving. When people watch the news, they don't want to see a mass of pilgrims praying the rosary. They don't want to see a bunch of kids excited to see their Papa. They don't want to see faith. They don't care about faith. What they really want to see is controversy and any ugliness (exaggerated or not) that can be found in the world of Catholicism.

JPII was the man..and though I'll admit that I wasn't Papa Bento's biggest fan a few years ago....
I got to say that I'm a big fan of his these days....especially since he supports Latin.
And there appears to be plenty of that at WYD. Only, it's not coming from the Catholics as much as it is coming from the protesters. Spain is hurting (who isn't?)...and there's all sorts of tempers rising. Believe it or not, and a good amount of that anger and frustration is currently being directed at our kids off at WYD.You see, no matter what happens...whenever something goes wrong...inevitably, some fingers always find themselves pointing towards Catholicism.

We're the perfect scapegoat because:
1. We get high on sharing in our Lord's suffering (offer it up as penance).
2. Praying for enemies is always a plus (if Jesus did it...it must be good)
3.We're taught to be humble (getting blamed for everything is a great lesson in humility...ask any middle child)
4. Faith tends to get stronger when you have to fight for it
5. You will better learn your faith if you find yourself constantly having to defend it

So, in essence, these protesters are doing Catholicism a favor. Well, not just the protesters...but the media in general. You see, they barely ever report the good stuff and good people associated with the Catholic faith. Forget the Catholic charities who are currently aiding places like Somalia. Forget that group of monks from Iowa that donated a handmade casket to the young girl killed in Arizona. Just because our Pope happens to be German, forget those priests that laid down their lives for their Jewish brothers and sisters in Nazi Germany. Seems to me like the media is never very friendly when it comes to us Catholics. I guess being Catholic has made me a little sensitive to how the Church is portrayed by the media...but I sometimes cannot believe how far the media will go sometimes when it comes to blaming the Catholic Church...

Regardless of what we do for the world...it seems like the world never tires of blaming us for stuff and accusing us of stuff. One example of this that really bugs me is how people out there (like some current protesters in Madrid) are convinced that Africa's AIDS problem is the Church's fault. This particular accusation irks me, especially considering what the Church teaches about sex, love for one another, and responsibility. The world seems to think that throwing condoms at everyone will solve the AIDS crisis. I beg to differ. I say that respect and self control will do a lot more for the AIDS crisis. In my opinion, the AIDS crisis would have never gotten to this point if everyone had read "Theology of the Body" and taken its words to heart.

Yet, the protesters (and the media in general) say it's the Church's fault when Africa suffers from AIDS...because we all know that the people will listen to the Church when it comes to condoms....even when they don't listen to the Church's teachings on premarital sex, extramarital sex, drug use, respecting your partner, etc. I'm going to just put it all on the table right now and say that I actually support the Church's teachings on condoms, sex, and all the other stuff JPII discussed in "Theology of the Body" (a book that none of the WYD protesters read...I'm sure). I will also venture to say that if the world doesn't listen to the Church's teachings on these matters...then it certainly doesn't listen to the Church's teachings on condom use. Let's face it, some people will just never understand that the Church is here to serve God and administer to the world's spiritual needs...not our physical desires and weaknesses in self-discipline. The Church sets her sights on heaven, not the world...and maybe that's why the world and the Church are often at odds.

Just think about it for a second so you know where I'm coming from.... If you selfishly decide to cheat on your spouse and put yourself (as well as your partner) at risk for HIV...then I highly doubt you will listen to what Catholicism has to say about condoms. Yet, the world will continue to blame, harass, and degrade my mother over what's going on in Africa and elsewhere. Fortunately, however, the my mother is stubborn and holds her head up high with dignity. You see, my Church was built upon a rock that is not easily swayed by public opinion...regardless of how "outdated" it is to adhere to God's word. Yet, as hated as we can be at times, those true to Catholic teaching will keep doing what we do best...turning the other cheek and putting God before our own pride and our own wants. As much as I wanted to punch some protesters at Il Papa's visit to NYC 3 years ago...I held it back. As much as I wanted to shove soap in their mouths after hearing some of the things these protesters said about my Church...I held it back. People may continually try to bring us Catholics down by shouting obscenities at us, but we are continually called to help and love those that abuse us...those that hate us.

We are called to pray for them....to love them and to show patience. Regardless of what people have done and continue to do to my religion's good name, there are also still plenty of Catholics who are more than willing to donate time, money, and effort to Africa....or anyone else in need (regardless of whether they are gracious for the help or continue to spit in our faces). That's just how we roll.

Can every protester at WYD say the same? They may complain about what the Church does to Africa...or refuses to do for Africa. However, what have they done for Africa....or they're fellow man? You can wave as many banners as you want in front of a procession of children on their way to mass. You can even shout obscenities at elderly padres and sisters...but none of this helps the people you claim to be a voice for. In fact, it just demonstrates that you are the monsters that you claim to be protesting against. You are the power that oppresses others from worshiping as they please. You are the entity that refuses to acknowledge equality. You are the institution that squanders time and money to sell hopelessness and hate. You are the organization that refuses to respect the rights of others. You're the ones that are hating your fellow man and jeering at them.

You may shout "God, yes. Church, no" at kids going to mass or at kids kneeling before you all in prayer.  However, I doubt that these words of yours were inspired by God. You may think you are fighting for a just cause (by abusing pilgrims and hating on your neighbor)...but I am pretty sure that you're in the wrong here. Furthermore, I feel that you are the pot calling the kettle black. You probably spent more of your time, money, and effort just getting to Madrid to protest...than you ever spent (or will spend) on Africa. If you really wanted to help Africa, the GLBTQ community, the poor, etc....you would not be in Madrid hurling hateful slogans. You would, instead, leave those kids alone and volunteer your time in doing something that would benefit the people you are "defending." Judging by their lack of respect for their fellow man as well as their lack of understanding...I highly doubt that the protesters ever did much to help their fellow man. This goes for the starving, those ravaged by AIDS, the oppressed, and any other suffering individual.

Regardless of what the media would have you believe...the Church teaches us to love our fellow man without fear and without limitations. We are taught to respect our fellow man. We are taught to respect God. We are taught to put our spiritual needs above our physical desires. We are taught to respect and love one another because ALL of us were made in the image and likeness of God. The world doesn't understand this. The world tells us that we are simply animals that must cave into impulse rather than fight it off. It tells us that we ought to strike back at those that threaten or attack us...rather than pray for the attackers as some of the kids have been doing. To all you at World Youth Day, my prayers are with you...and God is with you.

Pax Vobiscum

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