Note from the Editor: Father Feelgood recently received two letters from one of his parishioners. I received a copy of them and have included a transcription and a picture of the original letters below. Enjoy!
Dear Fr. Feelgood Mercy,
We haven’t spoken in a while, so I’m taking this opportunity to reestablish connection and express some of my concerns, which I feel I should do as one of your parishioners. I just finished reading the fifth chapter of St. Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians and I’m confused; perhaps you could help me. For example, Paul speaks about pronouncing “judgment” on someone who is “sexually immoral,” but I thought we ought to refrain from judging, as Jesus said in Matthew 7:1. In fact, I’m sure you’re familiar with our Holy Father, Pope Francis, who said “who am I to judge?” So, why would Paul so arrogantly feel that he could judge someone struggling with sexual acts?
I’m even more confused because Paul says the Corinthians should not associate with the sexually immoral and he goes on to qualify this as referring to individuals within the church. The problem here is Pope Francis does not feel the need to judge sexually immoral priests within the church and even meets with Fr. James Martin, who is known for promoting homosexuality. I feel that Paul was not as merciful as our Holy Father and this concerns me because we claim he was inspired by God when he penned this epistle.
The matter becomes even more confusing because Paul says the Corinthians should expel the sexually impure brother from their midst. He says that they should “purge the evil” from among them and to “deliver this man to Satan.” I don’t understand why he would say such a thing when our Holy Father clearly says we are not to “cast off the wicked but to offer them a path to conversion through mercy and love.” Moreover, for those who might say I have twisted the words of our Holy Father in the quote above, he clearly does not believe that we should expel the sexually immoral for the same reasons I mentioned about judging above. By the way, he speaks about “Satan” as if he is a real person. Isn’t he just a myth or the collective evil of mankind and not an actual person? This is exactly why people think the church is superstitious and we just give them more ammunition when we say this epistle was inspired.
I am beginning to think that Paul was wrong, and the Bible is not completely inspired, because I see so much conflict between our current Holy Father and Paul in this epistle. Why was Paul so judgmental? I feel his attitude is why so many people today believe the Catholic Church was intolerant, judgmental and Pharisaical for centuries until the Second Vatican Council. When Pope Francis, quoting St. John XXIII said “[n]ow the Bride of Christ wishes to use the medicine of mercy rather than taking up arms of severity,” I feel we changed for the better. However, I’m unable to reconcile this with Paul’s epistle and the claim that it is inspired, since this would mean we are in discontinuity with the word of God. I eagerly await your direction.
P.S. I find it odd Paul mentions the Paschal sacrifice and seems to indicate it refers to the Eucharist. I didn’t think we could speak of the Eucharist in sacrificial terms since last Sunday you clearly said the Eucharist is “just a symbol, not a sacrifice.” This is more evidence Paul was not inspired. One other thing I have to say is that I loved the felt banners and the way you asked all the little children to extend their hands towards the Eucharist when you prayed the words of institution.
Dear. Fr. Feelgood,
It’s me again and once more I’m confused. I’ve noted how our beautiful church has engaged in ecumenical dialogue with the different religions of the world and I have some questions about this. I’m often told that non-Christians have retained certain “goods” like prayer or the desire to worship God and that we can find paths of commonality with them by exploring these and other points of commonality that we share with them. For example. St. John Paul II had different religious representatives pray for peace since, as Cardinal Arinze put it “every authentic prayer comes from the Holy Spirit.” Since whatever is “true or noble or authentic in another religion is a gift from God” then we are able to meet non-Christians at these points of commonality and engage in joint ventures.
However, father, I’m confused because I believe we are being inconsistent. Do not the demons and Satan himself have some “good?” For example, being is good and all beings share in being, so all beings have some good, including demons. Could we not say that Satan’s being, and the being of demons is a true gift from God and use this as a point of intersectionality in order to open dialogue between Christians and Satan? After all, Satan and the other demons were created by God and He intended for them to worship Him. Could we not reach out to these marginalized beings who live on the periphery and help call them to the fullness of the faith? Our Holy Father told us “the Gospel of the marginalized is where our credibility is found and revealed” and “we will not find the Lord unless we truly accept the marginalized” so what are we waiting for, let’s get to work!
P.S. thank you for reminding us last Sunday that we can have a reasonable hope that all will be saved because I’ve been concerned that the demons would spend eternity in hell and this brought me great comfort knowing that God will not condemn anyone to an eternal life of separation from him, including the demons!