The spectacle of the Pope’s funeral in Rome is both awe inspiring and, frankly, vulgar. John Paul was a great man, a man who walked in the way of the Fisherman…to a point. I seriously doubt that Jesus would have been much at home in the Vatican palaces, with the billions and billions of dollars worth of furnishings, servants, glittering possessions. On the other hand, the millions of Catholics who love these trappings of power seem to not want to turn the clock back to the Church’s origins in the catacombs of Rome. Too damp, and it’s hard to keep the red wines at the proper temperature, don’t you know.
Among some evangelicals, I’ve heard the Church of Rome referred to as the Whore of Babylon; a perversion of the Christian faith. Most Protestants are more circumspect; they may think that all of this pageantry and immense wealth in the service of the church’s headquarters (as against helping the poor) is whoredom, they just don’t say so out loud. After all, it’s not their church now, is it?
And yet the Catholic Church isn’t just the gaudy display of unchristian wealth and unbiblical pomp and circumstance. It is Franciscan friars doing God’s work; Dominicans teaching and ministering to the poorest of the poor; and dozens and dozens of other religious orders doing God’s work all over the globe. I’d like to think that John Paul might have preferred the simple robes of the Franciscan, but that the greater good was served by sitting in the gilded throne at the Vatican.
As for the Catholic Church not being my church, well, yes, it is — we are all brothers in Christ. Which is why it pains me to see such a vainglorious display of wealth to honor a man who would likely have preferred to wear a simple robe and sandals as he walked in the path of our Lord.
| technorati tag | Christianity|