Some of the traditional Catholic blogs I read in Britain have sent a fine barrage of words back at the Archbishop in Westminster for his fine fair thee well homily in his Mass for Pope Francis on April 10.
Aside from the standard boilerplate homily came the demand for silence and obedience and a slap at gossip in blogs being the source of media stories.
Whether the gossip or media stories have any truth or weight seems beside the point. Archbishop Nichols seems to be talking for Francis?
I have already stated one way or the other that Francis with his shady past and direct knowledge of crimes against humanity in Argentina’s Dirty War made him the perfect candidate for pope to protect Benedict and his crew of crony criminals still lurking around the Vatican, hiding from international justice.
I have to wonder if Nichols talks for Francis or Nichols is thin skinned and afraid of the same fate as his neighbor to the north, Cardinal O’Brien in Scotland?
Pope Francis understands this in practical terms. He has already identified two kinds of behaviour that destroy love in the Church. They are complaining and gossiping. He is a practical man. He knows that we live in a society in which complaining and gossip is a standard fare. They sell newspapers and attract us to blogs because we love to hear complaints and to read gossip.
But Pope Francis is clear: they should have no place in the Church.
Don't get into this game of a life of complaints.' Then, in another memorable phrase, he added that some ‘stew their lives in the juice of their own complaining.'
And gossip, too, he says, is a betrayal of Jesus. For when we gossip we see the lives of other people as merchandise, something to be exchanged for our own advantage. He said: 'I don't know why, but there is a dark joy in gossiping. Sometimes we begin by saying nice things about another, but then we slip into gossip, making the object of our chatter merchandise to be bartered. Let us ask forgiveness because when we do this to a friend, we do it to Jesus because Jesus is in this friend.'
We, as Catholics, are always ready to profess our love for the Lord. But now Pope Francis is calling us to show that love in down-to-earth ways. How wonderful it would be if our Church was known to be a place that was free of the sound of complaining and the whisper of gossip!