I was most disturbed by Christina Odone's latest blog post for The Telegraph. If an educated, Mass-attending, Catholic woman, intelligent, knowledgeable of Catholic issues and perfectly able to work her way around a Catechism, can write such terrible words about more or less rejecting Church teaching because she wouldn't be seen dead sharing a fundamental principle with Vladimir Putin, then what does that tell us about the state of the Church? This lady has written some stirring pieces on abortion and other life issues, but suddenly, in public, she has caved in to the trendy views of her colleagues and associates.
Will Heaven of The Catholic Herald's post today, too, is disconcertingly steeped in a similar attitude of populism for its own sake. Damian Thompson of The Telegraph posted it to Facebook with a 'this is spot on' tag advertising lending his weight to Heaven's opinion piece.
If this is 'spot on' then Heaven help us all
Heaven's piece revolves around a 'poll of 12,000 Catholics in 12 countries reveals that they disagree strongly with the Church on a whole range of moral issues'. I don't doubt the accuracy of the report or the poll, but a worrying fundamental premise that this can ever be something of a 'game changer' for the Church.
'It's blindingly obvious to most Catholics that – away from a few hives of traditionalism – the faithful have departed from official doctrine. What were once views held only by radical Catholics have become mainstream.'
It may be obvious indeed, but that need not blind us. God leaves us free to reject or accept the Teaching of His Church. Will goes on...
To give you an idea, here are some figures from the Univision poll in question: 86% of French Catholics think priests should be allowed to marry; 82% of Spanish Catholics think divorcees who remarry aren't "living in sin"; 73% of Polish Catholics think abortion should be allowed in some cases; 93% of Brazilian Catholics support the use of contraception. Oh, and 54% of US Catholics support gay marriage. In other words, Pope Francis has an almighty challenge on his hands. If the Church's teachings aren't being taken seriously, what's the point of it?
Is this Catholic man serious? To my mind, this is just as worrying as the 'Odone doctrine' of abandoning principles for the sake of reputation. Surely, if the Church's teachings aren't being taken seriously, then someone, say, the Pope and the Bishops needs to take teaching it seriously, since they are charged with the duty to 'teach all nations' and to feed the flock of Christ. Could there be a link, perhaps, between widespread abandonment of Church teaching by the [un]Faithful and an eerie silence on unpopular teachings by the Bishops of the Church?
|"Hello, Lord. Yes, its me again..."|
The 'point' of it, surely is that the Church's message on life, the family, marriage, sin, salvation, Heaven, Hell and the whole caboodle is to save souls and help souls out of sin and into the love of God. If the Church convicts us of sin, then we may complain, but it is we, not the Church who errs, because we, as members of the Church are the guilty party, not Christ and His teaching.
If the vast majority of Catholics reject the truth of Jesus Christ and His Gospel, but, thanks to the sound teaching of faithful Bishops and priests, a small minority accept Our Lord's infallible teachings revealed through His Church, then those souls will be grateful, in the next life, that these Bishops did so faithfully serving Christ.
I pray, God willing, that tomorrow I will be able to go to Confession. If I deny that my sin is offensive to God and do not seek God's forgiveness for it. If I persist in my sin, refuse to repent of it and die unrepentant for it, then the Church's teaching still had a 'point', but I would simply have refused to recognise the purpose of the 'point' - to lead me out of darkness, into light, out of sin and into salvation, out of error, into truth, out of vice and into virtue.
Choices, choices, choices...
Mr Heaven continues..
It seems he [Pope Francis] has three choices: a) Persuade Catholics to adhere to the Church's doctrine; b) Water down that doctrine to accommodate them; or c) Carry on exactly as before. But all those options are flawed.
Wait there just one second, Mr Heaven. To persuade Catholics, or rather to teach Catholics to adhere to the Church's doctrine - the Magisterium - and to teach that doctrine is surely somewhere in the job specification of the Supreme Pontiff of the Holy Roman Church. If a Pope fails to teach Catholics right and wrong and the difference between the two, then I would question whether he is fulfilling his role appointed by Christ, to Whom each Pope answers upon Death. So the first option is not flawed at all. Except that apparently the Pope can't do this because...
The problem with the first idea is hypocrisy: frankly, the Church has lost its moral authority, especially on sexual matters, and I hardly need to spell out why.
Credit, please, at least a percentage of mankind with intelligence enough to see that a small proportion of bad priests does not equate to the Pope, the Bishops and the whole Church of God and credit them, too, with intelligence enough to discern that just because priests have committed grievous sins against children does not mean that the Church, in Her teachings, errs, since the Church does not condone, along with sodomy, murder, fornication, adultery, masturbation or any other evil, child abuse.
I am a wicked sinner, Mr Heaven. Does that mean that the Church's teaching is wrong, or just that I am a wicked sinner? I do not mean to chide, but this is basic Catholicism. The Pope knows this much and has described himself too as 'a sinner' while maintaining that he is a 'loyal son of the Church' who thinks Church doctrine should be safeguarded and taught. Back to Mr Heaven...
On the second point, Pope Francis's predecessors haven't left him much wiggle room – and obviously the Church isn't supposed to change with the times.
That will be because, thankfully, Pope Francis's predecessors humbly accepted that they were not God and could therefore not alter the Truth, the doctrines known to be contained within the Deposit of Faith handed down into their safe care for all generations hence and taught it, for their salvation and the salvation of the World. Popes don't generally look for 'wiggle room' on Church teaching unless they are anti-Popes or heretics. Generally, they just re-present the Church's teaching to every generation in mildly different ways. But wait, there's another 'option' for the Successor of St Peter...
'The third? Well, carrying on as before won't do anything to stop the next generation of Catholics lapsing. Nonetheless, it's 3) that is arguably Pope Francis's strongest option. If Catholics don't want strict doctrine, and the Church can't or won't water it down, he has only one choice: to refocus its ministry away from issues to do with sex and towards those in need, i.e. the poor and the sick.'
In other words. Keep schtum about sexual ethics, Your Holiness, because otherwise you won't be popular, the Church won't have 'credibility', we'll all be saved the embarrassment of being witnesses to the Truth of Jesus Christ, for Whom a cloud of Christian martyrs have willingly laid down their lives and died, rather than deny and we can all get along with the enemies of Christ and His Church like a house on fire. Mr Heaven, the Church is meant to stand in opposition to the spirit of the World and its lies and deceits and even if Holy Mother Church contains one billion poor sinners in need of Christ's mercy like me, a veritable mountain of personal sin in the lives of Her members along with even the wholesale rejection of Church teaching by closet apostates does not alter the Truth of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Who is the Way, the Truth and the Life. If you want His Holiness to abandon the souls of Catholics to the Devil and to eternal perdition, I would say then yes, option 3 is definitely 'a goer'. Is that what Heaven wants? Good grief. You can tell when I need to go to Confession.
My blog posts are too long and I comment on Telegraph blogs too much. Meanwhile, kudos to Cardinal Peter Turkson for facing a lion in the BBC HardTalk bear pit. Quite how the BBC can lecture the Church on child protection beggars belief. The interview has been described as a 'car crash'. Well, respect to Turkson. Any interview with the BBC will put a Cardinal in a car with faulty breaks. That's the nature of the beast.