Opinion: Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times, Backhanded Compliments of the Catholic Church
Nicholas Kristoff in an editorial entitled "Who Can Mock This Church" does just that - he mocks the Catholic Church. While I am always happy to see the little ones who serve so faithfully in the Body of Christ called into the public eye by any commentator, woven throughout this backhanded compliment are derogatory caricatures of Catholicism. His true intent needs to be exposed. He continues the anti-Catholic agenda of the New York Times.
CHESAPEAKE, VA (Catholic Online) - On May 1, 2010, Op-Ed Columnist for the New York Times, Nicholas D. Kristof, penned another opinion piece on the Catholic Church. It was entitled "Who Can Mock This Church?" Ostensibly, he wanted to call attention to some of the wonderful faithful Catholics serving selflessly in the world. Writing from Sudan where he met some of the many such servants of the Lord, he purported to be responding to his own rhetorical question. In fact, his editorial mocks the Church.
Was it irony? Was it ignorance? I propose it was something more. It was a "backhanded compliment". It was also an example of subtle Anti-Catholicism, the kind that is sometimes even more dangerous than the run of the mill kind which the New York Times now regularly spews forth.
A "backhanded compliment" comes disguised as a compliment but is actually a way of expressing disdain or demonstrating condescension. We are all aware of the more obvious kind of such verbal darts: "That dress is lovely; it does wonders for your figure", "You're smarter than you look", "You drive very well, for a woman". . Kristoff began his editorial with these words: "Maybe the Catholic Church should be turned upside down. Jesus wasn't known for pontificating from palaces, covering up scandals, or issuing Paleolithic edicts on social issues. Does anyone think he would have protected clergymen who raped children?"
It's like asking your colleague at work in front of the entire staff, "When did you stop beating your wife?" Even though the poor fellow never laid a hand on her and loves her deeply - no matter how he answers he is destined to have his reputation and standing in the community impugned. In fact, the question is designed to do just that! So was this awful introduction, written for the whole world to read!
He continues: "Yet if the top of the church has strayed from its roots, (It hasn't) much of its base is still deeply inspiring. I came here to impoverished southern Sudan to write about Sudanese problems, not the Catholic Church's. Yet once again, I am awed that so many of the selfless people serving the world's neediest are lowly nuns and priests - notable not for the grandeur of their vestments but for the grandness of their compassion. As I've noted before, there seem to be two Catholic Churches, the old boys' club of the Vatican and the grass-roots network of humble priests, nuns and laity in places like Sudan."
He is using his words as weapons. He appears intent on turning the faithful of the Church against her. He also seeks to denigrate the Church in the eyes of the world. He contrasts the vestments of those who serve at the Liturgy (by the way Mr. Kristoff, every priest wears vestments including those who work directly with the poor) with compassion. Some of the most compassionate ordained members of the Church I know also have some of the most beautiful vestments. The two are actually connected.
These Bishops, Priests, and Deacons love the Lord Jesus Christ and honor him in many ways; by recognizing Him in the face of the poor and by dressing in a manner which befits worship of the only true and eternal King of Kings and Lord of Lords when they serve at the Altar. This dig at Church vestments is one of the oldest slurs used by anti-Catholics.
It's just another version of the biblical story of the disciples who rebuked the woman who poured expensive perfume on the Lord at the house of Simon the Leper because the money could have been sold and given to the poor. (Matt. 26:7) One of the leading voices of objection was a man named Judas. Even St. John Vianney, the poor Cure d' Ars, and the Little Poor Man of Assisi, St. Francis insisted on proper vestments to honor the Lord at the Altar.
Kristof's suggestion that the Church be "turned upside down" reveals his true intent. He views the Church through a power matrix as some sort of corporation with misguided CEO's at the top. He wants to restructure it. However, the Church is a communion of all who have been baptized into Christ and are joined in Him with one another - for the sake of the world. This caricature of top down/oppressive institutionalism is an old canard of anti-Catholicism.
It also strikes at the heart of what Catholics believe about the purpose of the Incarnation of Jesus Christ. We believe the Lord came to establish the Church, founding it upon His Apostles. The Church is His Body. He structured it. He continues His redemptive work through the Church until He returns. The Church is not some-thing- an organization which we made up and can refashion as we see fit. Rather, it is "Some-One", the Same One who was raised from the Dead and is with us now in his Body until he returns.
The Church is the "new world" and is meant to become the ...
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