Catholic or Christian: On the Outside Looking In
Hazel James, Johannesburg – I have a good Catholic friend who kindly lends me copies of The Southern Cross and although I do not belong to the Catholic Church, I read the paper with great interest.
As a fellow Christian, one thing that stands out quite frequently is the emphasis put on being Catholic, rather than on being Christian. For example, the blazing front-page headline of March 13 read “Pope: How to be a Catholic politician.”
I realise your paper is for Catholics and I am an outsider looking in, but I wonder if exclusivity is not a great weakness in your Church? Would such a headline not have had a greater impact on both Catholics and passers-by if it had said, “How to be a Christian politician?”
I am an Anglican but I worship in an ecumenical church of Anglicans, Presbyterians and Methodists. I jokingly call myself an “AngloMethPreterian’”!
The important thing to me is that we should be Christian first and our denominational emphasis secondary. We all believe in the same basic precepts of Christianity along with the Catholic Church. Today more than ever, everyone who truly wishes to serve our Lord should be seeking every opportunity for unity in the face of rising fundamentalism, racial hatred, nationalism and a host of other evils.
Is it not to our shame that we are so divided? At Easter we pray from the Anglican prayer book “for the holy Church of God throughout the world, that God the Almighty Father may guide it and gather it together so that we may worship him in peace and tranquillity.”
Christ prayed that his followers might be one. Is an attitude of exclusivity not part of what is weakening, rather than strengthening, the Catholic Church?
There is strength in diversity if we respectfully acknowledge one another under Christ and seek to work together to bring the kingdom of God. Surely it is better to dwell more on what unites us, rather than what separates us?
Let us all, as fellow followers of Jesus Christ, humbly acknowledge that no denomination has supremacy over another.