Thursday 30 January 2014
Dangers for Liberals and Traditionalists in our Spiritual Warfare
Pope Francis once ascribed a certain pelagianism to those who seek doctrinal and disciplinary safety with a desire to recover the past. Apart from the fact that the comment can be read as saying there is no doctrinal truth (relativism) and the past is not our foundation (rupture) it seemed to take a very unpastoral aim at the traditional Catholic. (Can anyone update me and let me know if he has also spoken of the dangers inherent in liberalism?)
We can admit that the danger of pelagianism exists in traditional Catholicism simply because the traditional Catholic, by taking the battle with sin and error seriously, may try so hard that he lives a life devoid of joy. In looking for clear truth and safe living in accord with the truth he may, for example, give up all TV instead of only those programmes which induce him to sin; he may give up all music that is not Christian; he may end friendships with those not living a Christian life rather than enjoying them as best he can while remaining a sign of God calling his friends to holiness. In short, he may see sin around every corner and become scrupulous in the attempt to avoid it. Traditionalists do better when they remember that “Be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect” (Matt.5v48) does not mean “be a perfect reflection of God”, but “be perfectly human” (which does not mean ‘sinful’ since sin makes us less than human). All of us ought to enjoy life in all that is not sin, thereby enjoying all God has given us as a taste of the joys of heaven and witnessing to the joy of the Gospel.
On the other hand, progressive or liberal catholics are less likely to fall into an exaggerated battle with sin simply because they are liberal about what actually constitutes sin; they have lost the sense of sin, the mantra of “God loves you as you are” rarely being followed by “but He calls you on to holiness”. Liberals thus walk in greater spiritual danger than the traditional Catholic for they give free reign to Satan by advocating (or at least seeking to accommodate) grave sins such as artificial contraception, same-sex activity, irregular unions, euthanasia etc., for the sake of compassion and freedom. This is dangerous not only for the liberal who thus espouses himself to sin, but for society (which applauds him); for the Church (which is weakened by sin) and for the world (which is thereby derailed from God’s law). The spiritual danger faced by liberals is quite simply this: they espouse themselves to the culture of death and its instigator, the father of lies. Liberals need to remember and respond to Our Lord’s first public call: “Repent, the Kingdom of God is at hand” (Matt3v2).
What is needed is that all of us to foster unity. For liberals this means a faithful adherence to the Church’s doctrinal tradition; for traditionalists a faithful adherence to her spiritual wisdom, and for all of us a faithful adherence to sound pastoral care in the light of doctrine and spiritual wisdom. Not to be forgotten is the need for all of us to foster charity in dealing one with another, that the love of God may be made manifest.