Walk Away

Papal Visit -- 54 by Bullneck.Anti-Catholic signs like these are of the type that could be found outside of the L.A. Congress last week – the efforts of a small group of anti-Catholic protesters who show up every year looking for a fight.

Unfortunately, too many Catholics obliged. As I sat nearby, waiting for my shuttle to the airport, I watched with curiosity, frustration, amusement, and anger at the unfolding scene. It always begins with a Catholic deciding he or she needs to stand up for the Catholic Church by engaging these folks in a polite discussion. After the protesters feign dialogue for a few minutes, they unleash their barrage and before long, the shouting begins.

Catholic passersby feel the need to come to the aid of their fellow Catholic(s) who are at this point barely able to get a word in. What I find amusing is that each Catholic that “steps to the plate” feels like they have the answer (it’s like watching guys line up at the carnival to show their strength by swinging a sledgehammer to ring the bell…each one fails but the next one is sure he can do better) . They step in, deliver their salvo, and within a few minutes, find themselves going toe-to-toe in a shouting match. Among those who attempted to persuade the anti-Catholics was a young priest who ended up with the same results. I was especially disappointed that the priest didn’t just call all the Catholics to step away, invite them to pray for the protesters, forgive them for their bigotry, quietly pray the Nicene Creed to affirm our Catholic beliefs, and then disperse.

I watched this go on for about a half-hour and resisted the temptation to insert myself knowing that I would fare no better than anyone else…these folks are not there to dialogue…they are looking to pick a fight.

Catholics, don’t oblige them. Walk away!

That is not a sign of weakness. It requires fortitude…the same kind of fortitude that Jesus showed by keeping quiet as he was being unjustly maligned before his crucifixion.

The saddest part of all was that there was a junior high volleyball tournament going on in the same venue as the Congress and the parents and kids arriving for the tournament all had to pass by this scene. The looks on their faces said it all: why are all these people who say they are followers of Jesus shouting at eachother?

About Joe Paprocki 2682 Articles
Joe Paprocki, DMin, is National Consultant for Faith Formation at Loyola Press, where, in addition to his traveling/speaking responsibilities, he works on the development team for faith formation curriculum resources including Finding God: Our Response to God’s Gifts and God’s Gift: Reconciliation and Eucharist. Joe has more than 35 years of experience in ministry and has presented keynotes, presentations, and workshops in more than 100 dioceses in North America. Joe is a frequent presenter at national conferences including the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress, the Mid-Atlantic Congress, and the National Conference for Catechetical Leadership. He is the author of numerous books, including the best seller The Catechist’s Toolbox, A Church on the Move, Under the Influence of Jesus, and Called to Be Catholic—a bilingual, foundational supplemental program that helps young people know their faith and grow in their relationship with God. Joe is also the series editor for the Effective Catechetical Leader and blogs about his experiences in faith formation at www.catechistsjourney.com.

5 Comments on Walk Away

  1. Hi Joe,
    I was in NYCity this weekend and had gone to St. Patrick’s for 9am Plam Sunday Mass. While walking around the city we found ourselves, my husband and I, back in front of St. Pat’s just as the Archbishop was entering the Cathedral for the 10:15 Palm Sunday Mass. There was 5-6 men lined up across the street shouting “SHAME” at the Archbishop. They held up signs about being Catholic and Gay and proud of it. It took EVERYTHING in me not to stop and “dialogue” with these men.:) Instead I walked past and said a prayer for them:)

  2. Joe. You have struck a nerve with me!

    This is a prime example of Catholics living in a secular world. A world that wants to engage in politics and the kind of split screen fighting that we see on cable news. All weekend I saw headlines on the cable news websites or TV that were talking about the Catholic church celebrating palm Sunday under the huge cloud of controversy over the European sex abuse scandal. I didn’t read these articles. I know all that I need to know about these stories.

    I wonder about the motive of these new services…..and who is reading this stuff that obviously makes them want to focus on it even more? In my church yesterday (Palm Sunday), it was standing room only and we were all focused on the Passion…..not on any other political drama that the secular world seems to want to encourage.

    I heard someone say one day that EVANGELISM (a word we Catholics are sometimes afraid of) DOESN’T mean winning an argument, it means EXTENDING an invitation! I try to remember that…..but the world does make it tough.

    • Greg, you’re right, it’s very hard not to argue and there are indeed times and places where we need to stand up for ourselves. But we have to choose our battles wisely. I like what you said about inviting over winning arguments…very wise.

  3. I have been at a few Catholic events where these protesters show up and try to disrupt things. One of the things that bugs me is that 100,000 Catholics can show up and 6 protesters show up but in an effort to be “fair and impartial” the media gives them equal coverage and ignores the “math.” Another thing that people have pointed out is that the media will dredge up a “incident” right before a Church holiday or possibly a papal visit. I had heard about the Legionnaires of Christ controversy a few years ago and it was interesting that the news hits the fan this week. Anything to weaken the cause. It appears Cardinal Ratzinger had rare courage to take on a important man. He did the right thing. This should be cause for respect not ridicule.

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