Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Dino D'Agata concludes his essay, The Pope and the President: From Notre Dame to Vatican City and Back, with these words:
[T]he Church’s claim—that it is the bearer of Christ Himself in the world despite many of the highly glaring flaws of its adherents, both clergy and laity alike, as well as despite its historical mistakes—is what was really at stake the day its leader, a human being whose task is to witness Christ and not to evaluate another human being according to ethical guidelines, met the first African American man to lead the free world. One would hope that many Catholics, starting from the bishops themselves, would understand that Christianity means a human encounter in which Christ makes Himself known through the very presence of the baptized believer—something the Holy Father exemplified for us in his encounter with Barack Obama—an encounter that cannot be reduced to either side’s “positions” on a variety of topics. One would hope that Catholics—conservative and liberal alike—take their cue from this and stop reducing their faith to a set of easily apprehended ethical tenets when the true ontology of faith is unpredictable, because it has to do with the mystery of how God takes on human flesh in the present—something that can potentially throw back any believer, liberal and conservative alike, because it removes faith from the realm of one’s own intellectual pretensions and transcends any facile reductions of what a human being actually is to what he or she thinks or believes.