In a world where conspiracies are rampant, Catholics are not immune. Check out this story, in which conservative Catholics blame liberal academics for the current priest shortage! Unbelievable. But conservative Christians are certainly looking for people to blame when the world, society, and religion naturally evolve over time, as it should. Also on the Catholic front, a priest mourns the recent decision by the Pope to revive the Latin Mass, apparently nullifying some of the work of the much needed Second Vatican Council in the 60s. I knew that Catholicism under Benedict XVI would be regressive and, well, here we go.
Many of the new movements, confessions, and declarations popping up today are obvious attempts to hang onto old ways in a world that has, well… moved on. Reforming can be a very good and much needed thing. “Returning” to anything instead of carving out new space, though, is probably not a good thing. It’s akin to trying to shove everything back into a closet in which the contents have outgrown the space. It’s pouring new wine into old wineskins:
 He told them this parable: “No one tears a patch from a new garment and sews it on an old one. If he does, he will have torn the new garment, and the patch from the new will not match the old.  And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined.  No, new wine must be poured into new wineskins.  And no one after drinking old wine wants the new, for he says, ‘The old is better.’ ” (Luke 5)
There is always going to be tension between the new and the old. It’s the way of life and of evolutionary processes. Nothing is really gained by going backwards except to further isolate those who cannot be flexible. Jesus knew this and told the above parable to point out the inflexibility of the Pharisees and those who would not move with the new Kingdom and new Kingdom ethics. Sticking to this or that form because “it’s always been done” is stifling and allows no room for the Spirit to move. Confining people’s lives through ancient practices is also akin to stifling the Living Spirit. Sadly, it’s also a common tactic to demonize those who wish for change; feminists, religious progressives, those in gender studies, genetic researchers. It’s an attempt to blame such people for all the ills befalling society today rather than reach out in love and respect.
I’ve always been keen on inclusion rather than exclusion in the Body. It’s not for me to say who God loves or who God doesn’t love. I’m always amazed at the audacity of those who claim to know these things for sure. For me, love is the only glue and mercy the only test for inclusion. All else is idolatry.