Wednesday, 27 February 2013

The Church's Critics Coming Out of the Closet

Mark Dowd: Catholic pundit who has a real problem with Catholicism
Dr Joseph Shaw wrote a fine blogpost on his LMS Chairman blog concerning a Telegraph article by Peter Stanford.

Peter Stanford has a reputation for writing 'outside of mainstream Catholic thought'. That is to say, that Peter has a problem with the Magisterium of the Church and has a habit of airing his grievances with the Church's teaching in a number of areas. Mark Dowd of the BBC, too has been discussing homosexuality in terms of a 'time bomb' in the Church. Of course, to Mark, anyone in the Church who condemns the homosexual lifestyle is naturally hiding their homosexuality and fears it being exposed. This is ridiculous.

In Christ, all men are held together, be he Saint, be he sinner

While it is true to say that there exists within the Church an element of contradiction on the issue of homosexuality (a proportion of Catholics are, shock horror, homosexuals), it is also true to say that nothing changes or alters the truth of the Church's teaching. Obviously, if anyone is teaching the Gospel - anyone - and is acting in any way contrary to the Gospel, then that person loses public credibility and the privilege of teaching authority.

The idea that because a proportion of clergy and laity and perhaps even Bishops have, at one time or another in their past, present or future, committed sins against purity and chastity - even sins of a homosexual nature - that this naturally leads to the conclusion that the Church's position on homosexuality should change is laughable. It should be laughed at while of course those acting contrary to the Gospel in teaching authority should be 'rooted out' of their positions for the good of the Church.

For centuries, millennia, the Catholic Church has been able to hold both the Saint and the sinner to Her breast, loving both, urging both on to love God. Liberal 'experts' who now appear in the press and on TV to share their wisdom that the Church's position on human sexuality is on its last legs because Her members - even in positions of great authority in the Church - fall short of the glory of God are being woefully ignorant of what the Church's mission really is. These people entirely miss the point of what it means to be a member of the Body of Christ.

The Church only exists to save sinners and to help sinners change sinful lives and to help sinners to be Saints in order to get to Heaven. If She were not this, there would be really no point in someone like St Augustine writing his Confessions. He could, instead, have told his readers all his sins and then said, "But anyway, I enjoy sleeping around and so I believe the Church should change its teaching on sexual matters. This is the way I am and I don't want to change. The Church's teaching on human sexuality is so 300 AD. I'm a 5th century man who moves with the times."

The great problem in the Church, in my honest opinion, is not the array of sexual sins afflicting Her members. We are not really an 'issue' Church. The Church is against and condemns all sin, vice and evil, of course, but the Church is obsessed with preaching a Person - not an ideology. Who is this Person? Of course it is Jesus Christ. For the Church, sin is not just a thought, word or action (or omission) that is contrary to the will of God. Sin is what wounds not only a soul, not only that which offends God, but that which comes between man's relationship with God. Mortal sins destroy the life of grace in a soul. Mortal sins can be forgiven in the Sacrament of Penance as well as venial sins. The Sacrament of Confession restores mortally sick souls to life, to health, to the life of supernatural Grace. Man's relationship with God, though impaired or even severed by sin can be restored. That is, you know, why Jesus died on the Cross.

Peter Stanford, former Editor of the Catholic Herald
'Cafeteria Catholicism' is the rejection of Catholicism - a rejection of truth

All this a child can accept. It makes perfect sense. We are sinners. We need God's help to be good Christians. When we are not good Christians, we need God's forgiveness. Through His Church and the ministry of the Priest, the penitent who has lost Heaven and deserves Hell can 'get back on the horse' and back on the road to Heaven.

So, the great problem is not sexual sin. The problem is that Salvation is no longer preached from those with a mission to preach it. Even in a secular age, lay Catholics can support Teachers and Shepherds and can and should preach the message of Salvation - not the message of sin. Liberal Catholics are obsessed with defending sin because they cannot proclaim Salvation. Let's be honest here, liberal Catholics do not want to be saved or lead others to Salvation. They neither open the door of Salvation to others nor enter the Kingdom of God themselves.

This is true in vast arenas of the Church's life and mission and it is something that afflicts priests, lay people, 'public Catholics' and even Cardinals and Bishops. This is what sadly afflicts those who preach something of the effects of Christianity - kindness and forgiveness - but who lack the inner power of the Gospel to proclaim Salvation to their flock. That said, if a Bishop spends his entire ministry teaching on the evils of abortion, artificial contraception, IVF, embryology, masturbation, drunkenness, vice, homosexual acts and fornication, but says nothing of Jesus Christ, His mercy and forgiveness in the Sacraments, then his ministry is an utter failure.

See, its not really about homosexuality. It's not really about contraception. It's not really about fornication. It's about the failure of the Church to preach Jesus Christ and to offer the World Christ crucified. We all desire God's mercy and we all desire the truth. We are drawn to goodness. For centuries the Church's liturgy has been a sermon on the great mercy of God, yet now God's mercy and Salvation is a peripheral feature of the Church.

Benedict XVI: A voice rejected by many in the Church, from the Cardinal to the lay man

And so, instead, we have lay Catholics preaching something entirely different to Jesus Christ in the media because, fundamentally, they do not want Salvation, or are ignorant of what it entails to attain it, are ignorant of the Gospel and leave their audience in total ignorance as to what the Church is actually for: savings souls and getting souls to Heaven because of their relationship with Jesus Christ in His Church. If 100% of the Church's priests and Bishops were homosexuals who were devoted to prayer, devoted to the poor, devoted to saving souls and devoted to Jesus Christ and His Blessed Mother, I assure you, there would be no great crisis in the Church as there is now.

Sadly, we do have a crisis, but it is not a crisis of sexual ethics or a crisis that requires a revision of Church doctrine - as if an entire ocean of sin could sweep away God's laws! What we are experiencing, as Pope Benedict XVI made so clear is a crisis of Faith. It is a crisis that affects the modern Cardinal as much as it does the modern lay man or woman. We no longer believe in the power of Jesus Christ to forgive us. We certainly don't think He can heal us. We lack the Faith to be like little children and to trust Him like little children. We lack the Faith to be like little children and to accept what the Church teaches to be from God, or Divine origin. We believe that our own way is modern and therefore better - as if the heretics of the past did not think their 'way' was new and exciting! We have forgotten, as Catholics, how to pray, to hope, to love. We have forgotten how to love! We are told God loves us, but have forgotten or are left in the dark as to how to love God.

Of course, in Pope Benedict XVI, the Church has a light, we shall soon say, had a light, but as with the Lord Jesus, when light comes into the World and the Church and illumines Her with the truth, so often, even the Church members themselves reject the light and are dismayed by the truth. The light of Pope Benedict XVI has shone in the darkness of the World and the gloom of the modern Catholic Church.

His is a light that has illuminated the minds and hearts of all those who have listened to him and read him who hear the voice of the Lord and who love truth. If men and women in the Church in the modern age have rejected the message and pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI, the 'humble labourer in the vineyard of the Lord', then it is not because they don't understand what he is saying. It is because they have hardened their hearts in sin and error so much that they have become unteachable. This is true of the Cardinal, the Bishop, the Priest, the Religious and the lay man.

May God guide and protect you always Pope Benedict XVI, Holy Father, you who have been such a wonderful Shepherd to us. You have been a true Father in God to your flock spread throughout this unstable World. Thank you for your wonderful words and writings. Thank you for your humility and courage. Thank you for your visit to this country. Thank you for helping Anglicans to join Holy Mother Church corporately, for strengthening the brethren, for trying to heal divisions even within the Church and with other church communities. Thank you Your Holiness, for liberating the Traditional Latin Mass, enabling us to see in the ancient liturgy, that beauty, so timeless and ancient, so ancient and yet so new! The beauty that is Jesus! You have been an inspiration, Your Holiness. We love you. We thank you. Viva il Papa! Enjoy your retirement with the Lord Jesus and ora pro nobis! Whoever is elected your Successor, Your Holiness, you will be deeply missed and never forgotten.


Unknown said...

Bravo, Laurence! Absolutely brilliant post!

BJC said...

Liberals don't undersatnding Catholic teaching full stop. Its obvious from what they write. There are little or no references to scripture, none to tradition and none from encyclicals. The best they can do is quote each other and take passages from scripture or tradition few as they are out of context. There's a smattering of understanding here and there but when you get down to the nuts and bolts they just don't 'get it'. That's why they don't get sin and redemption. I think if you sat someone like Peter Stanford down and asked him some pretty basic questions like what is the supernatural life? Or what are the two sources of revelation for a Catholic? He wouldn't know. Its shocking to think he's been the editor of the Catholic Herald.

By way of passing Peter Stanford always reminds me of a Pink Floyd Catholic. The sort of guy who would roll up a spliff instead of going to confession and think it was the kinda the same thing. Come to think of it I wonder when was the last time he actually did go to confession.

Cettis Warbler said...

I couldn't agree more. Well said!

umblepie said...

Super post, thanks.

Jacobi said...

Agreed, brilliant, and Catholic.

Genty said...

Hear! hear!

Lynda said...

Thank you.

Natasa said...

What a beautiful post. God has graced you with great faith, deep understanding and ability to express it. I am so fed up with people obsessing about sex, both in the church and outside, and have been in need of a reflection such as you have given us here. I will go back to it whenever I feel overwhelmed with the latest scandal and wondering what our church is about. Thank you.

Nicolas Bellord said...

The problem with sexual sin is that it is habit-forming as St Augustine said. Once the habit has been formed it is virtually impossible to break it, of one's own volition, even if one wants to. I think this must be the experience of many with homosexual leanings who give up and just say that is the way they are and so they just continue. What is required is the grace of God to break such habits and to respond to grace you need Faith in the efficacy of grace. As you say Faith has to come first.

And do I remember somebody saying one cannot talk of salvation to the young?

Janet said...

Aye, Laurence, Benedict is not your guy, not your guy, not your guy. Go read Aula Magna on my blog and tell me where my interpretation is wrong. He's the right hook to Francis' right.

Anonymous said...

"If 100% of the Church's priests and Bishops were homosexuals who were devoted to prayer, devoted to the poor, devoted to saving souls and devoted to Jesus Christ and His Blessed Mother, I assure you, there would be no great crisis in the Church as there is now."

Hi Laurence. I understand the point you are making but I would like to clarify something. If a priest or bishop, who struggled with temptations to same-sex attraction is devoted to prayer, the poor, saving souls and is devoted to Jesus Christ and His Blessed Mother, he would not/should not see himself as a "homosexual".

We Catholics use the word "homosexual" to facilitate communication with the world, but amongst ourselves the words "sin", "temptation" and "perversion" suffice. There is only one type of sexuality, that which is ordered to the marital act. For more on this please watch/search for the following short video:

born this way church militant

Here is your sentence with the word "fornicators" substituting "homosexuals":

" If 100% of the Church's priests and Bishops were fornicators who were devoted to prayer, devoted to the poor, devoted to saving souls and devoted to Jesus Christ and His Blessed Mother, I assure you, there would be no great crisis in the Church as there is now."

I don't mean to be provocative. I think you were selling the potential for purity, through the power of the Holy Spirit short. And I don't think I am being fundamentalist in the bad way.

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