In his homily given during the Diocese of Westminster’s Mass for Pope Francis Archbishop Nichols criticised blogs for spreading complaints and destroying love in the Church. Archbishop Nichols quoted Pope Francis’ reflection on the disciples complaining on their journey to Emmaus:
‘Pope Francis understands this in practical terms. He has already identified two kinds of behaviour that destroy love in the Church. They are complaining and gossiping. He is a practical man. He knows that we live in a society in which complaining and gossip is a standard fare. They sell newspapers and attract us to blogs because we love hear complaints and to read gossip.
But Pope Francis is clear: they should have no place in the Church.
He reminded us that the disciples, on the road to Emmaus were sad and complaining. He added: ‘and the more they complained, the more they were closed in on themselves. They did not have a horizon before them, only a wall.’ Complaining and griping about others, about things in one’s own life, is harmful, he said ‘because it dashes hope. Don’t get into this game of a life of complaints.’ Then, in another memorable phrase, he added that some ‘stew their lives in the juice of their own complaining.’
Archbishop Nichols concluded:
‘We, as Catholics, are always ready to profess our love for the Lord. But now Pope Francis is calling us to show that love in down-to-earth ways. How wonderful it would be if our Church was known to be a place that was free of the sound of complaining and the whisper of gossip! Then the light of Christ would indeed shine brightly.’
Here is Pope Francis’ actual reflection on complaining:
“They were afraid. All of the disciples were afraid,” he said. As they walked toward Emmaus and discussed everything that had happened, they were sad and complaining. “And the more they complained, the more they were closed in on themselves: They did not have a horizon before them, only a wall,” the Pope explained, according to Vatican Radio.
The disciples had had such high hopes that Jesus would be the one who would redeem Israel, but they thought their hopes were destroyed, he said on Wednesday.
“And they stewed, so to speak, their lives in the juice of their complaints and kept going on and on and on with the complaining,” the Pope said. “I think that many times when difficult things happen, including when we are visited by the cross, we run the risk of closing ourselves off in complaints.”
When all people can think of is how wrong things are going, Pope Francis said, the Lord is close, “but we don’t recognise him. He walks with us, but we don’t recognise him.”
Like the disciples joined by the risen Lord on the road to Emmaus, people can hear beautiful things, but deep down, they continue to be afraid, the Pope told the congregation.
“Complaining seems safer. It’s something certain. This is my truth: failure,” he said before adding that the Gospel story shows how very patient Jesus is with the disciples, first listening to them and then explaining things step by step, until they see him.
Complaining and griping, about others and about things in one’s own life, is harmful “because it dashes hope. Don’t get into this game of a life of complaints.”
Protect the Pope comment: There are two things to observe when comparing Archbishop Nichols references to complaining and Pope Francis’ actual words: firstly, Pope Francis is referring to Christians complaining about personal difficulties in life, not about all complaints within the Church. The Holy Father said, ‘I think that many times when difficult things happen, including when we are visited by the cross, we run the risk of closing ourselves off in complaints’; secondly, Pope Francis doesn’t mention blogs.
Archbishop Nichols has pushed Pope Francis’ words beyond their original meaning to express his own personal desire that ‘the Church would be free from the sound of complaining’. Here Archbishop Nichols words echo his intemperate demand that faithful Catholics complaining about the Soho Masses should ‘hold their tongues’. Is this the silence that he hopes for in the Church of England and Wales?
So long as pastors in this country lend their patronage and support to self-styled theologians who are Catholic who promote early abortion, homosexuality, same-sex marriage, contraception, and women priests, faithful and loyal Catholics will continue to complain to the Holy See that we do not have pastors who will defend the faith and protect the flock from wolves. Deacon Nick Donnelly