Rorate Caeli

The Ecclesial Age of False Dichotomies
- Point and Counterpoint: Jesus Christ and Cardinal Maradiaga

Our Lord Jesus Christ:

"I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever; and the bread that I will give, is my flesh, for the life of the world." The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying: "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" Then Jesus said to them: "Amen, amen I say unto you: Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, you shall not have life in you. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath everlasting life: and I will raise him up in the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed: and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, abideth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father; so he that eateth me, the same also shall live by me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead. He that eateth this bread, shall live for ever." (The Gospel according to Saint John, vi)

Cardinal Rodríguez Maradiaga:

The President of Caritas International, Cardinal Oscar Maradiaga, said today in Lisbon that the practicing Catholic is the one who "puts his faith in practice" and that the one who "privatizes" it in the inside of a temple is a "ritualist".

"The ultimate question will not be, 'did you go to Mass or not,' but 'did you feed the hungry'. Therefore, we cannot privatize faith inside a temple, in a liturgical celebration," said the president of Caritas International at the 'Social Dimension of Evangelization in Today's World', promoted by the National Justice and Peace Commission [of the Portuguese Episcopal Conference]. (Source, in Portuguese; tip: Il Sismografo)

Why do the current men in power in the Vatican have to do so much of this either/or regarding Faith and practice? How is the liturgy, the essential public action of the Church, ever "private" or "privatized"? If Our Lord both commanded works of mercy and the reception of His Body and Blood, made present in His Holy Mass, in order to enter "everlasting life", why does the Cardinal have to condemn those Catholics who at least go to Mass and whom he calls "ritualists"? Merely going to Mass in our age in many secularized and Islamized areas of the world is by itself a strong witness to the faith, and those who go cannot be condemned - if their faith is weak and is to grow into piety and corporal works of mercy, they at the very least must be in full communion with Our Lord and in His grace, and they must be praised, not ridiculed as "ritualists", or as anything else, for it.

As for these elusive "practicing Catholics" of the Maradiaga-kind, the Cardinal should know where they are to be found: fewer and fewer of them, or any other category of Catholic, can be found in Honduras, where, during his tenure, those merely identifying themselves as Catholics collapsed in number:

In Honduras, the country of the most powerful man in the Roman Curia today after the Pope, Cardinal Rodríguez Maradiaga (who has been a bishop in the capital since 1978, first as auxiliary then as Archbishop), the hierarchy led by him managed the amazing feat of transforming that country in the first Catholic-minority nation in Central America, a vertiginous fall from 94% to 46% in the same period... . (source)

We can't have any kind of "practicing Catholics" (whatever may be the Cardinal's definition) when there are no Catholics at all left (nominal, "ritualistic", "justice and peace", or what have you).