“Your complaint is not with the Church; it’s with God,” said then-Archbishop James Stafford, responding to a reporter in the late 1990’s. The reporter had persisted in a series of dull questions on how does the church plan to keep its members when its teachings aren’t relevant to “today’s issues” such as divorce, abortion, etc etc. etc.
“The Church only teaches what God taught,” Archbishop Stafford continued, thoughtfully. “If a person has a problem with the teachings of the Church, then he or she has a problem with God’s teachings, not with the Church.”
Cardinal Stafford’s few, direct words years ago are applicable today, especially regarding Pelosi’s expressed outrage at her archbishop’s patient, clear directive on her ability to receive Holy Communion.
It’s not rocket-science.
The response to a reporter, mentioned above, took place in a private, media-only press conference which I’d arranged in the late 1990’s. Working in the public relations field, I’d had the privilege of being allowed to set up and run a press conference for Thomas Aquinas College’s commencement speaker that year, then-Archbishop James Stafford.
At the time, Cardinal Stafford was president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity and with the searing clerical abuse scandals continuing to grab headlines, the press conference I was allowed to host—although well-defined and framed, was nonetheless an opportunity indeed for reporters.
Interestingly, I had received many, enthusiastic “I’ll be there” responses from local media—including from the Los Angeles Times. But various media emergencies and shifting assignments resulted in only one lone reporter and his cameraman showing up, a reporter from the Ventura Star.
This nice man, in his 30’s, was really out of his league… but I’m not sure he realized it.
As I said, the reporter was a nice person. He shared that he really liked covering the “beliefs” beat because it was something about which he was interested. If I remember correctly, I don’t think he had been raised Catholic, but he had had some exposure to it.
Imagine. You are a reporter showing up for a press conference with a member of the Roman Curia, the head of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, and you have him all to yourself to interview for nearly 40 minutes….
What questions would YOU ask? What conversations would you want to explore?
In this situation, the reporter’s most driving questions revolved around rudimentary, unexamined assumptions about human existence and what’s important in life. There were not even any follow-up questions of depth.. just the same tired assumptions mainstream media and the dullest of classroom professors has fed to listeners and students for too long. It was sad to watch.
There was no “conversation,” just pelting the same question, phrased differently… In short, why can’t the Church be more like the way most of us chose to live our lives these days? That’s not good for your Church growth, you know!
Yes they made some small talk, established a bit of a friendly rapport… And the Archbishop Stafford listened to each of the reporter’s dull questions with keen attention. He genuinely listened. He respected the reporter enough to listen! (It was less than this poor reporter was able to do. The resulting news article was literally all over the map, out of context and disappointing.)
About halfway through the time allotted, the reporter asked his series of imagined-burning questions regarding relevance of the Church to “today’s issues.”
I had the impression that this reporter felt his drilling was cutting-edge, evocative, probing and challenging. But it was none of those things. I was on-alert throughout the interview, ready to handle any inappropriate or awkwardness that may occur (you never know), so I was closely keeping my eyes and senses on the Archbishop.
When asked those series of oft-repeated questions, Archbishop Stafford was silent, thoughtful.
And then, the archbishop calmly, kindly delivered the response I related in the opening paragraph of this article.
Archbishop Stafford got to the root of the matter in a single sentence. Bulls-eye.
Your complaint is not with the Church; it’s with God
The same response applies today to the out-spoken, outraged, self-professed Catholic and avid abortion advocate, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
“We just have to be prayerful, we have to be respectful. I come from a largely pro-life Italian American Catholic family, so I respect people’s views about that, but I don’t respect us foisting it onto others,” Pelosi said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” on Tuesday.
What kind of understanding of the Church does one have when accusing a high-ranking, extremely attentive-to-accuracy and thoughtful representative of Christ’s church as “foisting his views” onto others?
While Pelosi and like-minded public personalities such as Whoppi Goldberg (who is not a Catholic) are pre-occupied with throwing everything but the kitchen sink at Archbishop Cordileone, the simple reality remains the same:
The Church didn’t create human life. It didn’t make-up “rules” regarding human existence. God did that. He is the CREATOR after all. And who are any of us humans to purposefully kill the most innocent and vulnerable of any human, namely, an unborn or newborn infant?!
It doesn’t even make common sense. That’s our future we’re killing!
Put simply, in the words of the late Cardinal Strafford: “[Your] complaint is not with the Church; it’s with God.”