Saturday, April 18, 2009

When We Fall

Have you heard about Mel Gibson? He of the Passion of the Christ fame is getting divorced.

Here are questions I have personally been fielding over the last few days:

Isn't he Catholic? Why yes he is.

I thought Catholics don't believe in divorce? No we don't.

Won't he be excommunicated? No, his wife was not Catholic, so although he was married in the Catholic church he can still receive the sacraments, mainly the Eucharist. However, if he wished to be remarried in the Church, like Nicole Kidman and every other Catholic on the planet, he would be required to obtain an annulment.

Do you think this will make people think less of Catholics and the Catholic church? Yes and no. For those already anti-Catholic, it will, of course, stoke the coals of the fire that such a high-profile professed Catholic has fallen in such a major way. For some on the fence, it may diminish the Church's standing, for some it may not. For practicing and believing Catholics it is sad as all divorce is. It does not change what we believe or practice.

When any of us falls, it is not an easy thing to deal with. We must admit we have sinned and we must ask God's forgiveness. Those things are hard enough. If our sin is public and we are a high profile person, our penance must be public as well. And that could be brutal. We must face public shame and ridicule. We have to accept this.

What people who are not Catholic do not realize though is that God and his Church do not give celebrities a pass. We are all the same in God's eyes and when we fall, we all must answer equally. Mel Gibson is no stranger to controversy and public penance. We cannot know the penance God will require.

While we certainly know that Gibson's fall will not shine any bright happy lights on Catholics, we can be assured it will not tarnish her reputaiton to the point that we will cease to exist or be a powerful force for good in this world.

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