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Donald Trump speaking at CPAC in Washington D.C. on February 10, 2011. Wikpedia photo by Gage Skidmore

Speak now, think later?

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By Mark Azzara

Dear Friend,

Twitter’s stock must be worth a lot these days (at the expense of the White House’s reputation) because you never know when President Donald J. Trump is going to create a new firestorm with a tweet that goes viral.

The Vatican’s stock also takes a hit on occasion when Pope Francis opens up about all sorts of issues, the latest of which appears to be an openness to ordaining married men as priests.

Both the White House and the Vatican (and often, bishops and even parish priests) must do damage control when the boss speaks without first having his words vetted by a team of advisers. But there is a big difference between the two.

In Trump’s case it sometimes comes down to a spokesman saying that he cannot explain the president’s latest tweet because it’s “beyond my pay grade.” At least, in the Vatican’s case, there are ways to make some sense of the pope’s words, according to one recent article.

The Vatican nevertheless has a dicier task than the White House because Francis’s pronouncements are expected to be thoroughly consistent with 2,000 years of Catholic teaching. It’s not so much that he’s breaking new ground because often he isn’t. It’s just that so many people are so ignorant of Catholic teaching that it sounds that way to them.

But what about prelates who vehemently disagree with Francis? Are they automatically wrong while the pope is correct? No, it means they disagree, and disagreement is OK in the Catholic Church, at least when it fosters genuine conversation that reveals truth.

That’s the source of the problem I’m addressing in this letter – the apparent lack of interest in conversation that leads to the revelation of truth. It’s a problem – a big one – whenever any man thinks he already possesses all the truth, because that attitude puts him way, way, way beyond his pay grade.

All God’s blessings – Mark

 

Mark Azzara

About Mark Azzara

Mark Azzara spent 45 years in print journalism, most of them with the Waterbury Republican in Connecticut, where he was a features writer with a special focus on religion at the time of his retirement. He also worked for newspapers in New Haven and Danbury, Conn. At the latter paper, while sports editor, he won a national first-place writing award on college baseball. Azzara also has served as the only admissions recruiter for a small Catholic college in Connecticut and wrote a self-published book on spirituality, "And So Are You." He is active in his church and a non-denominational prayer community and facilitates two Christian study groups for men. Azzara grew up in southern California, graduating from Cal Sate Los Angeles. He holds a master's degree from the University of Connecticut.

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  • Neal Schindler

    I like this quote from your article: “It’s a problem – a big one – whenever any man thinks he already possesses all the truth, because that attitude puts him way, way, way beyond his pay grade.”

    Consider also this quote from Rabbi Reuven Firestone: “Our tradition does not expect us to find the answers to the riddle of Truth, but it does expect us to grapple with the questions. In Jewish tradition, the unity and oneness of God does not require a unity of opinion and belief. In fact, it teaches the opposite. Judaism stresses engagement in a process of struggling to understand, a process that ideally includes engaging in the quest with others. It will never provide “the” answer, but the very process of seeking and trying out answers, according to both Torah and Talmud, is in itself a spiritual act.”

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