The last several days—really, the last three months—have been enormously challenging for ordinary, lay Catholics. What some have called no less than a "civil war" is brewing, pitting bishop-brother against bishop-brother. It also divides regular Catholics. What's worse, we've seen—and will continue to see—many former Catholics stray and leave their faith.
How can we remain steadfast during these moments?
In times of trouble, Catholics respond through solidarity with one another. Catholic social teaching shows solidarity to be related to the virtue of justice, whereby we find ways to share the wealth of material resources we have with one another. This can be as simple as inviting neighbors to meals, or as complex as the social safety nets that underpin a larger society.
But solidarity has a deeply spiritual component, too. In times of need, we reach out to one another for support and comfort. Practicing solidarity forges real Christian friendships. We begin to recognize people to whom we can turn in moments of crisis. At those times—the loss of a loved one or an unexpected firing—it is through the comfort of friendship that we show love to one another. Most solidarity is not extraordinary. In fact, it is nothing more than sharing and being present with one another.
Now, in our moment of great confusion in the Church, we Catholics should not be alone. Strengthening our faith, and maybe even just enduring it, requires that we seek out fellowship with one another. This fellowship has to go beyond merely sharing the latest news of a scandal or putting forward our solutions to a problem. Most of us simply have to realize that in this fight, in this "civil war," our opinion simply won't matter.
Our fellowship must be about a renewal of time spent together, whether in simple conversation over a meal, or by lending a helping hand to a friend in need, or by inviting one another to visit the sacraments or to spend time in prayer. This is a moment when no Catholic can or should be alone. Our tribe is suffering and if we must be a bit prejudicial with our time, it should be in favor of reaching out to one another. Such connections might well end up being what help most to preserve our faith, or the faith of our friends.
It's all easier said than done. We're suckers for the latest morsel of news, of scandal, or even of gossip. If we're to revive a preferential option for our brothers and sisters in Christ, it'll come partly through abstaining together from the very things that ail us.
The facts we might feel confident about now are fewer than those we'd need to see clearly. But they are certainly enough to make us doubt. And we cannot overcome such grave doubts by reassuring ourselves mentally, rationally, that Catholicism is the one, true, faith. This type of reassurance reveals a deeper crisis. Instead, we need to spend time with one another, much like the apostles, scared and recoiled in the Upper Room for days after the crucifixion and days after the Ascension.
Moments of abandon are sometimes moments of glorious renewal. When it seems most like Christ has left us, He has asked us to comfort and console one another. Not to be naively confident or combative. The acts of humble solidarity strengthen and nurture our faith. That is something very good, indeed. And we have total power over it even during a time of widespread scandal, crisis, and corruption.
Mattias A. Caro is the Executive Editor of Ethika Politika.