It's really maddening, especially in this time leading up to the feast of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, how some who affirm 'bible-believing, born-again' Christianity are peppering the media with the most absurd speculations and sinister suspicions regarding the new Roman pope, Francis. Not to single out this particular community, something similar is also happening among the hyper-Orthodox in my own faith community. Though the opinions of the former are based on a historically invincible ignorance maintained by a kind of spiritual totalitarianism, the opinions of the latter, though more learned, are just as invincibly ignorant and totalitarian. Whenever anyone exalts anything but God Himself, the path is littered with the debris of divisiveness and dissent and ends up leading to a sort of black hole, something like the coven of sullen dwarves in C. S. Lewis' book The Last Battle, who keep up their dismal morale by chanting 'the dwarfs are for the dwarfs!'
Why is it that hatred and fear so unite people in strongholds, while those who love have so much freedom of movement, both physical and spiritual? The former despise the latter, and rally to slogans and put up black flags that say 'Orthodoxy or Death,' whether they are heterodox or orthodox in the Christian sense. The bible-worshippers in the first group resemble the church-worshippers in the second group far more than either group would care to admit. In fact, they absolutely abjure the comparison, yet they are so very much alike. Both despise moderation and—God help us!—any concept of compromise, seeing both as the work of the devil, yet it is only in moderation and, yes, even compromise, that we can yield our proud wills to the will of God, that He seeks not to impose on us by brute force, but wants us to walk into by love. Though both the heterodox and the hyper-orthodox condemn papal infallibility, they both arrogate a species of infallibility to their own beliefs, the first ignorantly, the second dogmatically.
To those who sincerely believe the bible and have personal faith in Jesus Christ, who work for good and refrain from judging their fellow men, may the Lord grant His great mercy, pardon and remission of their sins and transgressions, long and fruitful lives of repentance and discipleship, and abundant joy, and may they see the Kingdom of heaven according to the words of Christ. To those who sincerely believe in one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church, and the communion of saints, among whom the Holy Trinity of Father, Son and Spirit comes to live, who work for good and refrain from judging their fellow men, may the Lord grant His great mercy, pardon and remission of their sins and transgressions, long and fruitful lives of repentance and discipleship, and abundant joy, and may they see the Kingdom of heaven according to the words of Christ. Whatever I hope for and desire for myself and my loved ones in Christ, the same I hope for and desire for you, beloved brethren, against whom I have no complaint or accusation.
May we all approach the empty tomb of the risen Christ as one, and receive from Him eternal life, and great mercy.