Feeling down with the Negative Press about the Catholic Church?

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What we can learn from the Bulldogs, Cubs and Almandin fans

We can learn from the winners of this year’s AFL Grand Final, Major League Baseball’s World Series and Melbourne Cup. From them we can learn about perseverance, loyalty and that being part of the faithful is more than about jumping on a bandwagon but, rather, staying on in the more trying times and that it does pay off.

The Western Bulldogs fans this year celebrated their first AFL Grand Final win in 62 years, the Chicago Cubs fans celebrated their first World Series win in 108 years and those who were supporters of Almandin celebrated the horse’s win after being told by veterinarians two years ago that the horse may never race again after a serious tendon injury. All three are examples of people who stood by their allegiances despite continuous failures, disappointments and setbacks but, this year, have great reasons to celebrate because they didn’t see them as bandwagons to jump on and then off again.

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Jumping on and off the bandwagon

The term “bandwagon” actually comes from an American politician in 1846 who used his bandwagon to get attention for his political campaign appearances. His campaign strategy actually became really successful and other politicians were trying to get a seat on his bandwagon – literally trying to “jump on the bandwagon”. However, over time, “jumping on the bandwagon” became a negative term meaning anyone aligning themselves to a movement, cause or group just because it is popular at the time but then jumping off just as quickly when it is no longer popular.

The last few weeks have not been great for the Catholic Church in Australia particularly in the press, news and social media. There’s the ongoing coverage of the Royal Commission and negative media reception, reporting and coverage regarding guidelines regarding cremations and also an email that was sent around a local Catholic school regarding Halloween. I myself received an email the other day from someone saying they were fed up with the inefficiencies of the Church in dealing with a personal matter and planning on leaving the Church in the coming weeks.

However, we don’t count ourselves part of the Catholic Church just because it’s socially advantageous, emotionally satisfying, bureaucratically efficient or because it’s considered normal – if we did so for any of those reasons, we would be jumping on the bandwagon and jumping off just as quickly when circumstances change.

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Why we are Catholic

The only reason why we should want to be members of the Catholic Church is because we want to be followers of Jesus Christ, not just to be fans – we don’t just like Jesus but we want to follow Him and that will sometimes entail the Cross whether it be in the form of suffering social disadvantage, disappointments in fellow members, bureaucracy or even persecution and ridicule. However, we know and believe that the final victory has already been won and we just have to live that in our lives as members of Christ’s body, the Church.

Moreover, there are many positive things happening that hardly get reported such as the 8,000 people that came through the Cathedral over five days at the end of October for the visit of St Padre Pio’s relics, the hundreds of individuals and families in Perth helped each week through our Archdiocesan agencies and the millions helped around the world by Catholic agencies especially in areas affected by poverty, natural disasters and war. All of these things and more we can be proud to be a part of as members of the Catholic Church.

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Final Note

So, if you’re feeling down about the negative press the Catholic Church has received over the last few weeks, months or even years; remind yourself about why you are Catholic – to be a follower of Jesus Christ and to be part of His Body, the Church. The Church is not a bandwagon but the Body of Christ and we need Him and each other. We will have successes and setbacks but the real victory has already been won by Jesus Christ for all time: we just have to claim that for our own and follow Him towards it.

Written by Fr Brennan Sia