Susan and Chad, the contrasting parish council couple

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Susan from the Parish Council
Susan from the Parish Council

With the recent revelation that Susan and Chad (both from the Parish Council) are, in fact, a married Catholic couple with divergent views, I wondered how on earth these two could be a happily married couple. Apparently with 8 children (in total between them from current* and previous marriages). One of whom is gay.

*Apparently a valid and licit marriage according to canon law.

Pachamama
Pachamama

Right now, with the Amazon Synod drama fresh in our minds, Catholics, at least online, are being polarised into two camps – those influenced by the right wingers opposed to the papacy of Pope Francis, and those who continue to support Pope Francis as they did the popes before him. Never before, at least not in my experience, have we had Catholics attacking Catholics online the way Seventh-day Adventists attack Catholics and call us pagans, idolaters, and unscriptural. Catholics worship statues? No. Catholics worship Mary? No. Catholics worship Pachamama? No. (Note that Pachamama is an Aztec/Inca goddess, not worshipped by these Amazonians, who are non-Aztec non-Inca. That should give you a clue about the reliability of the propaganda and the fakeness of the news.)

Our Lady of Guadalupe
Our Lady of Guadalupe

What has happened is that the pre-existing anti-Francis crowd, which has been around all along, has latched onto this (as they have with other events) and used it (far more successfully than before) to persuade normal orthodox Catholics to side with them. Most Catholics, rightly so, are not taken up with the Amazonitis, as it doesn’t really affect them. Then there are those orthodox Catholics who can see through the fake news, and defend the pope and the Amazonians from the third group using facts, reason, and Christian charity – and for those interested in understanding, I recommend the Where Peter Is blog, run by a group of conservative, orthodox Catholics who defend the Church well. Third is the growing subgroup of orthodox Catholics who have been influenced by the anti-Catholic right wing. Subtly manipulation on the part of the extremists is slowly assimilating them. And let’s be honest – the instigators are anti-Catholics just as Seventh-day Adventists are, only working from within.

Anyway … this blog post isn’t meant to be about that, but it’s written and I’ll leave my thoughts there, as I can’t stomach a separate blog post dedicated to anti-Catholics within the Church.

Chad from the Parish Council
Chad from the Parish Council

Back to Susan and Chad.

So, with all these Catholics hating each other over the internet and attacking each other’s bishops and popes, how on earth can Susan and Chad get along as a married couple?

Two things seem to be key. 1. It would seem that they haven’t made their theology into a condemnatory ideology. 2. They are tolerant of those who disagree with their opinions. Possibly 3, although I can’t be sure – they recognise that their opinions are just that, opinions, and not magisterial pronouncements from the thrones of Pope Susan and Pope Chad.

Pipe organ
Pipe organ

They are certainly quite vocal and adamant about their opinions of how the Church should be. Both have moderate opinions, and both have far out opinions that don’t align with the last 100 years of Catholicism. They have issues about their preferred musical instruments, forgetting that both the organ and the guitar are relative novelties in the Church’s musical history, and, while both entered the Church via secular use, only the organ has been condemned and promoted by the Church and her saints. No official decree, either way, has been issued regarding the guitar.

Certainly, both have a brilliant sense of humour, which they aim at each other’s sensitivities. And they have no qualms about mocking their own.

Susan may prefer Ordinary Form Mass in English, with altar girls, and guitars, while Chad may prefer the Extraordinary Form, but at least they can go with each other to whichever time slot they chose for the day by casting lots.

This reminds me of an elderly couple in our parish. He is Catholic, she is apparently not. They’re there together. Theologically, they are further apart than Susan and Chad are (after all, Susan and Chad are both Catholic), yet they can worship together as a couple.

If a couple like the one at our local church can disagree on the papacy, disagree on praying to Mary, disagree on the nature of the Eucharist, disagree on how many books there are in the Old Testament … if THEY can have a happy marriage together in their old age, then I suppose it’s not impossible for Susan and Chad either.

Angry ant
Angry ant

Susan and Chad set an example for the Church. Instead of mocking in a denigrating fashion like too many on both sides, but of late especially on the right wing “radical Catholic reactionaries“, it’s wonderful that two people who feel so differently about how the Church should express herself can be so non-judgemental in real life, while expressing their differences with amazing humour.

Pope Francis in the Philippines
Pope Francis in the Philippines

That is how the various disagreements within the Church should be handled. Open discussion, open humour, and everyone knowing that the promise of Christ is truth, and the Church will not fail. Yes, there have been bad times, and there have been good times, and the Church is still here, and will still be here in 200 years when people look back at the Amazon Synod and think, “Fun times! They lived in a different world! They had birds, and even drove their own cars!

No fake news about the Church, no fake Twitter accounts to stir up trouble among Catholics and garner a following, no fake Facebook pages designed to mock fellow Catholics. No bigotry, racism, colonialist superiority, or opinionated arrogance.

Can Catholics manage that? If not, then the schism Pope Francis neither wants nor fears is getting closer.

Further reading:

My Last Word on the Fake “Vatican Pachamama Idols” Controversy – Eric Giunta

“Pachamama” Fiasco: Hysterical Reactionaryism, as Usual – Dave Armstrong

NCR’s Winters warns of a looming schism – Where Peter Is

How Schism is Ignited – Where Peter Is

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