Dear Wide-Eyed Tiber Swimmer:

I visited the Tiber a few years ago. It was green. Looked disgusting. I imagine there is some bad stuff in that water, and once you get it in your eyes, well, it really messes with your vision. Assuming the best, that you will eventually get that stuff cleared out of your eyes, and your head, I’d like to give you some helpful guidance for that day when you find out things are not quite as advertised in the City on the Seven Hills.

See, once you get your vision back, you are going to discover that the primary appeal that got you to swim the river, that unity thing–well, it’s bunk. It’s all fiction. It doesn’t exist. It is like a puff of smoke: try to reach out and grab it, locate it, and it’s gone. Oh, you can find some like minded folks here and there, maybe an entire parish pretty much on the same page, but you can find that on the other side of the Tiber, too. Entire denominations worth. But the fact is, the Big Papa Man speaks out of both sides of his mouth. He has to. He’s got lots of folks to keep “in the tent” so to speak. So you can find a huge amount of disagreement over there on that side of the Tiber. Go to those called “theologians” and you will find rank liberalism and heresy on every hand, even on the part of those chosen to sit upon Pontifical councils and the like. It’s all politics, it’s all power, and everyone knows it. Just pop on into some classes at Boston College, Notre Dame, or any of a thousand other “Roman Catholic” institutions of higher learning across the globe. Get your fill of the liberalism, the unbelief, the questioning of Roman dogmas, the secularism, the women’s studies—you name it. It’s all there, and everyone knows it. And here’s the big secret: Big Papa and his Popettes turn a blind eye. Oh, once in a blue moon they will send the renamed Inquisition after someone, just to throw a bone to the conservatives, but in reality, they know they cannot do what they should to get rid of those folks. And so they keep on teaching, keep on educating, if that is what you call it.

Not only do you have that kind of disunity, but do be careful not to get yourself in between the Dominicans and the Franciscans and the Jesuits and any number of other groups when they start, you know, doing the unity thing. You could end up getting run over! Also—and this is very important—do not ask any of the really big questions, you know, the ones Rome has not figured out yet, despite infallibility and apostolic succession and being able to answer questions nobody ever thought to ask in the first couple hundred years of Church history, like all about Mary’s virginity and stuff. Don’t ask about predestination and election and that kind of biblical stuff, because, you see, while Rome can have absolute certainty about things like Mary’s physical state after giving birth, when it comes to biblical topics, her tradition is pretty shallow. I mean, you’d think after two thousand years she would have found time to infallibly interpret most of the Bible, but, so far, according to lots over on that side of the river, she’s only gotten to seven verses, and some folks say she hasn’t even started the process! So all that unity and guidance you thought you were going have—sorry, it was pretty much just false advertising. Hope you are not too disappointed.