Sunday 23 March 2014

Have Some Priests Lost Their Faith?

Too many people (including priests of both Presbyteral and Episcopal rank) seem to have an image of Christ that is a kind of cross between Freud and Marx; a Christ for whom pastoral care means little more than alleviating emotional pain and removing social oppression. Does this constitute a loss of the Faith? Doesn’t Christ want us to have peace and social freedom? It seems to me that it at least suggests a loss of faith, because while such priests demonstrate natural goodness they decline to emulate Our Lord in His encounter with the woman caught in adultery by saying “Go and sin no more”. Yes Christ wants us to have peace and emancipation from unjust oppression, but the peace He wants us to have is Gospel peace, which inhabits the soul rather than the emotions; the emancipation He desires is from personal sin (in both the oppressed and the oppressor, since it is only by the conversion of the oppressor that social injustice can be overcome).

Surely most priests are full of faith and loyal to the Church and her enduring Magisterium, but priests unwilling to emulate Our Lord in His encounter with the woman caught in adultery fail both the Lord and souls: Our Lord showed the woman His love and mercy in forgiving her adultery, not by sanctioning it, yet for some Christ’s love and mercy are, it seems, to be shown by sanctioning adultery; they want to say, “Go, do penance, then return to your sin”. This is the spiritual reality they propose. If a Pope were to allow such a proposal to go through, one might find it hard not to say he had lost faith too.

The error here is that if one kind of infidelity to the sacrament of marriage can be tolerated (civil ‘remarriage’ after divorce), the door is opened to all lifestyles inconsistent with the spiritual realities of marriage: cohabitation, extra-marital sex and same-sex pairings. Yes these are more frequent than ever, and accepted by the secular culture, but for Catholics to accept them would be to choose secularity over the Gospel; to overthrow the whole of the Church’s teaching on human sexuality, to eliminate her claim to infallible authority –and to eliminate the call to holiness: penance prior to sin being enough to save.

None of us is worthy of Holy Communion: I receive not because I am good but because I seek to be good, since I sin on a daily basis (who doesn’t?)  But falling into sins on a daily basis is not the same as publicly setting oneself in formal opposition to Gospel teaching. At present the Annulment process is the just and honest way of ending distress in those whose marriages were truly invalid; the change needed is not an over-riding of the Tribunals by ‘pastoral arrangements’, but the snail-paced time the Tribunals are taking.

We have to pray for the blessing and courage of Pope Francis; to pray that he has a ‘Paul VI moment’ and not allow pressure from the world and priests of all ranks to persuade him to overturn the teaching of all his predecessors (and Christ Himself) by allowing teaching of Christ to be circumvented. We need Francis to stand strong, as did Paul VI with Humanae Vitae. Yes it brought Paul VI a heavy cross to carry, and it will bring Francis a cross too. But the cross is the only way to salvation; it cannot be achieved by submission to secular culture and formal (or at least material) sin.


  1. Hear, hear!

  2. I have been a divorced husband and father, alone now for almost 24 years.

    I have never heard of a Catholic priest raising a finger to work to heal our marriage. I have asked numerous, including bishops. I have precious little faith left myself. I think most clergy have lost their faith but, honestly, I think many never had any real faith, the kind that would compell them to, in true mercy, say the hard things.

    Most likely, after the upcoming Synod, I will cease to practice my faith, but do so quietly. It will take a monumental change in the direction, opposite that desired by cardinal Kasper and friends, of the Catholic Church to heal my broken faith. That is simply not going to happen.

    I have almost no hope left.

    Karl(my real name)

    Kind/encouraging words, as much as they speak to one's character, will not be helpful with me. Only a drastic change in the Catholic Church pastoral and annulment practices will begin to restore my faith. I am running on empty and have been for many years.

    1. Thank you for sharing this Karl.
      As you say, encouraging words will not change your situation, and you sound very hurt by your experiences. While you say you are running on empty, I think there must be a great faith in you to have remained in your situation for so long. The clergy you have spoken to indeed seem to have let you down, but I wonder too if your wife would have worked with them and you to heal the marriage? Clergy have all the weaknesses of the human race and this often diminishes acts of faith, such as saying the hard things, and hard things need to be said to us all at times. Also, it is very hard to work with only one half of a couple; they either have to do all the accommodating or find ways of trying to solicit change in the spouse when they are all but out of ‘internal resources’ (inner strength and motivation) with which to solicit that change. I hope you have the support of a loving family and a good circle of friends, especially faith-filled friends.

      I hope the change sought by Cardinal Kapser is not forthcoming; it would be a great injustice to people like yourself, which the Cardinal and those of his opinion seem to have overlooked. I pray the Holy Ghost moves powerfully at the Synod to derail their (predetermined?) outcome for that reason as well as for the integrity of The Faith. No one wants to sell short the mercy of God –we all rely upon it 100%, but mercy cannot be stressed at the expense of Truth and justice; God’s attributes are not divisible.

      I wonder about the Annulment process. It is too time-taking certainly, but these days so many marriages are likely entered without the required intention that there are probably many invalid marriages in the Church; a speedy annulment process and a clearer view of what makes a marriage invalid would help everyone concerned. I would like to know what kind of change you yourself would like to see ion the annulment process. If you feel like emailing me on that, please do so.

      If the Synod does not put the faith into action, try to hold on Karl. God will bring it right in the end. Synods and Papal Exhortations carry great weight, but not the charism of infallibility; they can be deemed to have been of imprudent judgement in years to come: no “Pastoral Arrangement” is Dogma, never to be abandoned.
      God bless you Karl.

    2. Dear Brother in Christ, I am very sorry for the way you have been failed by priests and bishops. Please know that all of us Faithful are suffering terribly due to the widespread abandonment by our spiritual fathers. However, we who know the Faith to be true may not turn our backs on God and the true Church, even though we must suffer the terrible trial of being a small remnant with many bishops, priests rejecting the substance of the Deposit of Faith. As you know a pope may err in any area outside of formal magisterial teaching. This does not alter the Faith, though it does terrible damage to the Church, through grave scandal and deception. Further, if a pope purports to make a formal magisterial statement which conflicts with the doctrine of the Faith or morals, he is excommunicate and not the pope. Please find other orthodox Catholics so that you can support each other. I know how hard it is. God bless you!

    3. Thank you, Father but no, thank you. The betrayal for me cuts way too deeply. I hope God is merciful. You would not like what I would say about the annulment process and the pastoral practices of the Church......dismal, intentional, calculated failures.

    4. Thank you to both Lynda and Anonymous.
      Respect and prayers offered.
      God bless.

  3. I don’t know if priests have lost faith, but so many of them have lost courage. They are simply afraid, to teach the Gospel, and to point out that the wages of sin is death. It is so much easier to just avoid the situation.

    I am sorry for those in a situation of divorce. I know two such couples, one who are long and close friends. Yes, they have a problem, a cross, but then who doesn’t?

    I am often reminded of the story by Bunyan, I think it was, who dreamed he met hordes of people all of whom had a gross infirmity and all of whom were desperate to exchange theirs with someone else.

    We must ask what is so important about the cross of divorce. As you say Father if this particular one is conceded, then the whole structure collapses.

    Pope Francis cannot change the rules on divorce - or any other of the other multitudinous potential problems that afflict Mankind. We just have to live with them - all of them.

  4. Dear Father

    Dorothy B has translated a very encouraging article on the Kasper issue which may interest you and your readers. It is over at Consistory Cardinals Opposed to the Kasper Report;

    God bless
    Alan and Angeline

  5. Hi Father

    Sorry that link to the article does not seem to have worked. It is to the blog called An Honour and a Responsibility on your list at right.

    God bless
    Alan and Angeline


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