Friday 2 June 2017

One Answer Fits All?

In today’s Culture of Death & Destruction Catholicism gives one answer to many pastoral situations in regard to receiving the sacraments:
“I am divorced and civilly married to a new spouse…may I go to Holy Communion?”
“I am cohabiting because I think it is as good as marriage…may I go to Holy Communion?”
“I am in a homosexual relationship…may I go to Holy Communion?”
 “I am contracepting…may I go to Holy Communion?”
“I am living a transgender life…may I go to Holy Communion?”

The answer Catholicism gives is this: You are living a life contrary to the Truth (The Faith), so you are called to refrain from Holy Communion until you end your current lifestyle. Keep praying, keep performing acts of charity, and keep up acts of self-sacrifice so as to build the grace you need to come home. The Church will accompany you in this.

Sadly, it seems we are now expected to give a different answer: You are living a life contrary to the Truth (The Faith), so you are called to refrain from Holy Communion until you end your current lifestyle. However, as long as you believe you are at rights with God, you are welcome to receive Holy Communion.”

This is the kind of answer we now seem expected to give by liberal priests and Bishops ever since Francis made his famous “Who am I to judge?” statement. Well, no one asked Francis to judge anyone -but we did expect him to give the same judgement of a person’s actions that the Faith has always given: such lifestyles are anathema to God since they contravene His Truth and thus endanger the person’s salvation; we do not judge or reject any persons but are obliged to warn them of all we believe is harmful to them. We do not impose our teaching on anyone (a person’s own ability to reason should do this), but neither can we approve of contrary lifestyles.

Sadly, what we are seeing in the Church today, on the pretext of ‘accompanying people”,  is the eradication of Catholicism in pastoral practice by what I call ‘pastoral sentimentality’: tending to feelings at the expense of applying doctrine. Pastoral Sentimentality is where Doctrine is left intact but also left aside so as to tend to the emotional pain of the person rather than attend to their supremely important spiritual need. Pastoral sentimentality allows folk to receive Holy Communion while living a lifestyle that is contrary to the Truths of The Faith, which is sacrilegious, and we out not to be encouraging sacrilegious communions. Sadly, ‘Pastoral Sentimentality’ has been the way of the Church for five or six decades now. It has been the way and teaching of so many seminary professors, clergy and theologians. Thus today’s problems do not really stem from Pope Francis; so far, all Francis has done is use his papal authority to implement it (to the detriment of souls), without trying to formally impose new teaching. There is a massive deception going on here: leave doctrine formally untouched but change pastoral practice so that in years to come anew ‘theology’ (heresy) can be promoted based on’ the practice of the Church’. I think we are only at the beginning of the struggle for the integrity of the Church.

It is not Francis faithful Catholics must fight but Moral Relativism and Situation Ethics. However, since Francis is at least tolerating it if not approving ‘Pastoral sentimentality’ under the label of ‘mercy’, we must if necessary confront him, which he says himself he values, as reported by Catholic Culture here :

“It’s good to be criticized. I have always liked this.” That’s good to know. What a relief to think that all those stories we’ve been hearing—about the Vatican officials called in for tongue-lashing because they had expressed criticism of the Holy Father, the staff members of the CDF summarily dismissed for the same reason—must be wrong. And the angry speeches to the Roman Curia must have been misreported and/or misinterpreted.
But that’s not all. Pope Francis went on to tell the religious superiors: “And when criticisms make you grow, I accept them, and reply.”

We must be grateful that Francis has not formally taught any heresies, but we cannot be pleased that in today’s Church today the living out of the Faith is thrown away and lifestyles tolerated (if not actually promoted) that are contrary to The Truth –which is a following of the Father of Lies as opposed to the following of Truth. The world speaks well of those who accept its ways, but “woe unto you who the world speaks well of” (LK.6v26) –indeed it would better they have “a millstone placed around their necks and be thrown into the sea” (Lk.17v2). I think that if we did this, we’d have very few clergy left in the Church from top to bottom, and I suspect few in the pews too, since for many today the common good and social equality is all that seems to matter.

We are asked to accept ‘pastoral sentimentality’ as a gift of mercy from the ‘god of surprises’ –but there is not such god. The Blessed Trinity proclaims “I am the Lord, I change not” (Mal.3v6), while St Paul tells us God is “the same yesterday, today and forever” (Heb.13v8). We must then, refuse to accept “the god of surprises”. Scripture says: “I am astonished how quickly you are deserting the One who called you by the grace of Christ, and are turning to a different gospel which is not even a gospel. For some people are troubling you and trying to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be anathema” (Gal.1v6-8). We must not follow the new god and the new gospel and thus become anathema to Almighty God by casting away His Truth. We all have enough sins to be ashamed of -sins which arise from our weakness and concupiscence- without adding to them the deliberate choosing of lifestyles contrary to The Truth, thereby choosing instead to follow the father of lies.

Let us pray and make sacrifices that the Church may return to the living out of the Gospel. Currently, the Church is paying hypocritical lip-service to the Gospel by saying one thing while doing another. If anyone is the hypocrite Pope Francis so deplores it is those who say the one thing while doing another: ignoring Truth in so-called ‘pastoral practice’ where any lifestyle goes. Well-meaning seminary professors and ‘pastoral priests’ of both presbyteral & episcopal rank have surely sown darnel among the Lord’s crop. But we must not fear: the avenging angels are coming; the darnel will be rooted out and God’s Eternal Truth will once again flourish. Just be prepared to be the Sword of Truth that the angels wield; be prepared to speak up for the Truth and point out the errors you see around you in gentle, respectful but firm and clear manner.

Sadly, while the Church is in a bad sate, but there may be more to come: St Thomas tells us the punishment for sin is more sin: (Summa, Q.87#2) “Sin can be [accidentally but not essentially] the punishment for sin…” so we may as yet have to drink to the dregs the poisoned chalice we have fermented over the last 50 years. One day, however, that poisoned chalice will be dry and we will once again drink from the water which flows from Christ and wells up to eternal life.

Allowing a soul to live contrary to the Truth is dangerous to those who live that way -and to those who affirm it: they are like physicians who for fear of hurting the patient, reassures them that the malignant tumour is a only benign growth and leaves them to die from it. They are negligent, and perhaps even malignant forces who teach the new gospel of the god of surprises.