Too many souls have lost The Faith, even among those who come to (or celebrate) Mass. The vote in Ireland (around 60% said ‘yes’ to homosexual “marriage”), shows just how far we have gone in abandoning the Gospel for modern secular views fuelled by emotion and bad psychology in the face of objective biological realties. Such a fuel burns even among some Cardinals who have argued against the traditional position held by the Church as defended by pro-life Cardinals such as Cardinals Burke, Pell, Müller, Brandmüller, and Caffarra (all of whom collaborated on the book, “Remaining In The Truth Of Christ”). Cardinals and Bishops who have argued against the five Cardinals just mentioned have, in their misguided understanding of mercy and social justice, abandoned their duty to protect their flock from the Father of Lies; they have abandoned 2000 years of Catholic teaching and natural law so as to adapt The Faith to subjectivity, which is contrary to The Revealed Truth and the good of souls. Make no mistake about it: the Church is in a battle against evil and the Culture of Death in a new and intense way, and we need to keep up our prayers for the exaltation of the Church and the good of souls -and for the recovery of The Faith in many of the Bishops and the support of those who prefer to simply administer their Diocese without raising the Church's voice on hot-button topics.
On this same topic, it ought to be disturbing to see the report from Guiseppe Rusconi (see Lifesite news here) outlining the dissatisfaction in the Roman Curia with Pope Francis and some of his remarks such as “Who am I to judge?” Many however, will simply dismiss the article, others will be scandalised. Whatever way we react, the story must be disturbing to the man or woman who seeks the peace of the Church and the good of souls.
It is important to remember that a Pope cannot add to, delete from or change established teaching; he can only guard it, penetrate it and hand it on incorrupt. So while we must accept infallible papal teachings we can, with due obedience and respect, question his words in homilies and interviews, and question any dubious laws he enacts, no Pope being above the Tradition he is called to serve: “A servant is not greater than his master” (Jn.15v20). Indeed to seek to change established teaching or to enact laws which undercut that teaching is to usurp the Sovereignty of Christ, which has probably been a temptation for many popes. Still, they can rely upon faithful Catholics and Cardinals such as those named above to call them to account if they veer from the Truth in word or in action, as Paul called-out Peter (Gal.2v11).
Too many in the Church are blind to the state of the Church today, which is lacerated by the world and suffering from an autoimmune disease. Fundamentally, this disease consists in a shift in focus from God to man: pastoral care must overlook sinful acts so as to be “merciful” (though it is not merciful to pretend that sinful actions are not sinful), and liturgy must be geared towards the affirmation of man. As for moral teaching, in recent decades the people of God have been allowed by their shepherds to consider their conscience autonomous from the teaching of the Church with the result that now, any attempt to teach orthodoxy by faithful presbyters, is met with antagonism from the people and rebuke from many of the Bishops.
I was once called to our curial offices (not by our current Bishop) to account for a ‘How to go to Confession’ sheet I placed in the Church and in which (it was claimed) I had failed to make room for the word of God as required by the New Rite of Penance. I showed my questioner where scripture was indeed properly included and he duly apologised, but then complained that I had incorporated an Act of Contrition that included the words “I am sorry for my sins because by them I have lost heaven and gained hell”. I was told it was inappropriate. I asked if we did not lose heaven by our sins and he said we did, but that it wasn’t appropriate to say it. (If it isn’t appropriate in Confession, one wonders where it could ever be appropriate). He then showed me a communication from a parent decrying the fact that I required the families of those children seeking Confirmation to attend Sunday Mass. The lady writing said it was not right for me to demand that people attend Mass to receive Confirmation –and my questioner told me she was right. I pointed out that Divine Law (the Ten Commandments); Canon Law and the Catechism are what make that demand; I only voice it. But he was not happy.
Laity are just as confrontational. I was once reproached by a lady where I regularly supplied a Sunday Mass because I had preached a sermon on the immorality of contraception, abortion and homosexual acts. The lady told me she was the catechist for marriage preparation in the parish and that it was "her job to teach on those topics, not the priest, and certainly not in a homily where people need to be affirmed and uplifted”.
In my experience there is great antagonism to anything that is not people-centred in our liturgy, and a commensurate antagonism to Catholic moral teaching. Here we come back to the Bishops: it is up to them to put this right; if they will be clear on teaching according to the Catechism; faithful to the rubrics of the Mass and the decrees of Vatican II, the people will follow and Rome will take notice. Indeed I respectfully suggest that it is not Pope Francis who is primarily at fault today, but the episcopate which, with rare exceptions, is afraid of being unpopular with the world and our own Catholic people. If the Bishops were to begin again teach faithfully, clearly and consistently what Scripture, Tradition and the Catechism teach, both in their own Diocese and through their Episcopal Conferences, Francis would not think of allowing anyone to toy with new teachings on marriage or changing Canon Law governing marriage and the reception of the Sacraments. Sadly, one cannot help but wonder if Francis realises his popularity is not because he shows compassion to the sick and disabled; because he kisses babies or because he speaks about the rights of the poor –none of these are unique to Francis. No, his popularity arises from the fact that he is seen as the pope who will abandon Gospel teaching and 2000 years of moral tradition; he is popular because people see him as the pope who will give them permission to live by their licentious and perverted desires. It is this which makes him -and those Bishops and priests who promote the same- popular.
Pray for Pope Francis and the Bishops in particular; they mean well and act from good heart but many act from weakened faith and bad theology. Pray especially for the Pope who, as Captain of Peter’s Barque but not its owner, must steer her safely in the direction of Heaven’s harbour through the strong winds of disordered societal change.