I chose to make this my first real post because it illustrates very well what can happen if we're imprudent or if we allow ourselves to be taken in by first impressions. The prudent man evaluates all facets of a situation, reflects, disects then acts. Sometimes, our emotions can get the better of us and that is even more the case when the first view of a situation seems to shock us.
Case in point: I recently found this video through my a feed. It came through Fr. Blake titled "The Humiliation of a Pope". He had reblogged it from someone else who had in turn found the link through someone else. I attach the link below:
It shows footage of Pope Benedict in Germany, and the caption was that the German bishops refused to shake his hand. The first thing I did, of course, was notice Cardinal Bertone, who of course, is not a German bishop and never has been. I don't speak German so I couldn't understand what the commentators were saying. Cardinal Bertone does not shake the Pope's hand but the first few of the rest do. Then we have about half a dozen who decline to shake his hand and then we get to the middle of the line where the president of the German bishops conference shakes his hand, followed by about 2 more but the rest - about 5 - then decline. So there we have it, a Pope humuliated in the most public way.
Except that is not what the video was showing!
The video shows Pope Benedict appears to show Pope Benedict, in fact, presenting members of the German church and the Vatican delegation to the politician whose hands they were shaking. That Pope Benedict had his hand held out was entirely natural since he was pointing at the various members. In fact, I had seen Pope Benedict do this many times previously but I was not in the right frame of mind to recognise this, having been misled by 2-3 different links on my way there.
The original link from which I viewed the video was then removed. I managed to find the link to the video on youtube though and even there the link was titled "Berlin, Germany: Catholic Cardinals and Bishops refuse to shake hands with Benedict XVI 22-09-2011". As I often do, however, I read the comments below and out of all of some 20-something comments, we had one who pointed out that Pope Benedict was in fact introducing members of his staff to the politician in question. Well, at least I was not the only one who had been misled! This was, rather comically, just a short while after I had sent the link to several of my acquaintants.
So, 2 important lessons here:
- Don't take everything at face value, even when it comes from a normally-reliable source!
- Read comments if the article or video allows this
Above all else, always reflect on what you have just seen!
Whatever problems we have in the church in Germany - and there are many - this is not proof of them. It is, however, proof that we should always try to be charitable towards others and not rush towards animus assumptions.
In this case, the misinformation was almost certainly not willful. However, in many other cases, the misinformation will be willful and it is up to you to do the heavy leg-work if you want a proper understanding. My intention is to help anybody who reads this blog understand how to do that.