“It often grieves me when I see children of the Church squabble over what the Church allows. One may have preferences, and I respect that, but why seek to have everyone conform to my preferences when and where the Church allows diversity?”
These words of Monsignor Charles Pope, a priest of the Diocese of Washington, DC reflect a situation in the Church that troubles many of us.
In an article entitled “Walking in the wide Church and staying within the guard rails”, published on the archdiocesan website, Monsignor Pope speaks of the tendency many of us have to think that our way of practicing the Catholic faith is the norm and that those who do otherwise are somehow not real Catholics.
Monsignor Pope explains that “As a priest I am called to pastor people with a wide variety of liturgical preferences, political views, and opinions on social and ecclesial issues. Liturgically I celebrate a lively Gospel Mass, the Traditional Latin Mass, and also have pastoral duties related to the Maronite Liturgy and the Geez Rite and the Neocatechumenal liturgies.”
He goes on to say: “I often laugh when people try to label me or figure me out. I am against abortion so they call me a Republican. I am troubled by the death penalty (along with the Pope and bishops) and they call me a Democrat…I say the Latin Mass and they say I am a conservative. I rejoice at a Gospel Mass and they say I am off the hook. And all this time I am just trying to be a Catholic and a disciple.”
Those of us who pastor in the Church encounter this in our ministry every day. Outside of the Magisterium, there is great diversity in the Church. There always has been. A Church that can accommodate a Francis of Assisi and a Dominic Guzman at the same time has a wide spectrum of legitimate expression.
It is said that what makes a mosaic beautiful are the brilliant tiles of various colors that complement one another. A single color monochromatic work of art tends to be dull and uninteresting. Our Church is like a brilliant mosaic whose beauty glorifies God.
We should rejoice in our diversity.