From a reader…
I the better part of 60 years old and have been concerned for a number of years that the Roman Catholic Church is literally disappearing.
With the last article I read, I’m fairly certain it’s gone. The article explained how 75% plus of today’s parishioners are okay with and even welcoming the LGBT and Q community into the church and a mere 25% of “older” parishioners have a problem with it. Fr., my catholic faith means everything to me but this has become extraordinarily upsetting and disruptive. I will do anything to keep from losing the church all together. Have you any advise for those of us in the 25% bracket?
We have been down this road before.
In the 4th century, Holy Church struggled with the central questions, “Who is Jesus?”, “How does this God-man work?” It’s hard to think of a more central question to Christianity.
There were those, who went be the nickname “Arians” (an Egyptian priest Arius who answered this question incorrectly), who maintained that Jesus was a creature of God the Father. He was not equal to God in His nature. Rather, He was a created being who was somehow raised to the Divine dignity. He was not eternal in the sense that the Father was eternal. As a creature, even as the highest creature, there was a time when he was not. This error took hold and became widespread.
In response, Holy Church had a Council at Nicaea in 325. The Council Fathers defined that Jesus is God, always has been God, and that He is “consubstantial” with the Father, homoousios to patri. He has the same nature and is, therefore, divine, eternal, etc.
Sadly, Nicea did not end the debate. Heretics continued to push the Arian error. Liberals are ever the same, in every century. If the vote doesn’t go the way you want it to, call for another vote, and another, and another… until you wear down the opposition and you get your way. And the Devil, the Enemy of the Soul, aids them.
In 358, the Emperor Constantius called another council to hammer out the issue. At this Council at Ariminum (modern Rimini), the majority of the bishops voting there favored the language that the Son of God was like to the Father, was of like substance – homoiousios – not the same substance. That Council didn’t use the language worked out at Nicaea: that the Son and the Father are consubstantial. Only a few bishops there were in favor of the wording of Nicaea. St. Jerome wrote, in response to this Council, “The whole world groaned, and was astonished to find itself Arian.” Pope Liberius rejected the Council’s formulated Creed, which prompted a split among bishops and even the election of an anti-Pope.
Today, it seems as if the Church has groaned and found Herself modernist. Mix that in with indifferentism and all the “gender” and homosexual garbage and you have s seriously poisonous formula from Hell.
We have clear teachings from a long line of modern popes, from Pius IX onward. Despite a constant drumbeat from some quarters that we have entered into a “new springtime” we see empty convents, empty seminaries, parishes closed, the Church receding from the public square, and our beliefs mocked, ridiculed, and largely ignored. We see countless baptized family members and friends sleeping in on Sunday morning, going to other churches, or playing golf, tennis, shopping, anything but what they should be doing: giving due worship to God. We look around the sparse pews at those who are there at Mass (but who never GO TO CONFESSION) and wonder if they truly believe what the Church teaches, or if they’re just there out of force of habit. We look for leadership in this age of great confusion, but only hear more confusion. It’s at the the point where it’s easier to tune it out rather than to try and figure out what’s being preached.
It is easy to become dispirited, depressed, distraught.
That is precisely what the Evil One wants us to become.
What should be our response to heresy, to a lack of belief, to confusion and immorality in the Church?
Our response should be the same as the response given by St. Jerome and the faithful Catholics in the early Church: strive to become holy.
Be saintly. Fast, pray, study, then pray and fast some more. Perform corporal and spiritual works of mercy. Storm heaven with prayers. Pray for each other, especially those on the front lines, our good priests and bishops (yes, there are many). Pray for the weak and the errant ones, too, for the love of God. They are on the road to Hell.
Also, we MUST MUST MUST revitalize our liturgical worship of God! Save The Liturgy, Save The World has been my battle cry for years. Nothing that we undertake in the Church will succeed unless we straighten out our sacred liturgical worship.
Meanwhile, offer your suffering to the Lord. Put each and every care and petition you have into the chalice that Father prepares at Mass. Say your Rosary. Pray the Guardian Angels of other people who are going astray. Ask St. Michael for help when you see Hell reading its head.
Don’t let the devil get his claws into your heart and allow him to squeeze that hope out of you. God planted hope in your soul at baptism. He wants for it not only to grow, but to be fulfilled.
Never forget: We know the end of the story already. Christ the King will return in triumph and scatter all doubt and darkness. Between now and then, the path is cloudy, and there will be many and horrible setbacks. There will be moments when it seems as if utter defeat is on the horizon. But we know it’s not. Almighty God has told us so. He can neither deceive nor be deceived.
While no doubt there is a crisis of faith among Catholics, it’s important to be very wary of the Peace Disturbing Machine: that is, just about every source of news out there. That includes the stuff ostensibly on your side of the ideological spectrum. Here’s Michael Crichton (RIP) on the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect:
“Briefly stated, the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect is as follows. You open the newspaper to an article on some subject you know well. In Murray’s case, physics. In mine, show business. You read the article and see the journalist has absolutely no understanding of either the facts or the issues. Often, the article is so wrong it actually presents the story backward—reversing cause and effect. I call these the “wet streets cause rain” stories. Paper’s full of them.
In any case, you read with exasperation or amusement the multiple errors in a story, and then turn the page to national or international affairs, and read as if the rest of the newspaper was somehow more accurate about Palestine than the baloney you just read. You turn the page, and forget what you know.”
We are at the point where we don’t really read too much out there re:the Church, except for a few very trustworthy blogs and priest sites (like this one).
Even the National Catholic Register (the “good” one) has some blog post they tweeted out today entitled “Should good Catholics read “far right” blogs” –with the author having a spittle flecked nutty about people daring to wonder what the heck is up with the Pope, a bunch of supercilious and condescending calls to pray for the “lost angry, not Catholic acting conservative souls” but has not a single blog mentioned by name. Pretty weak sauce. And a huge disappointment from the Register. Not interested in that site much anymore.
I’d add three other things.
(1) Study history and remember that the Church is global. It helps build perspective and hope. Fr. Z. pointed out some low points in the Church, but they were by far not the only ones. Things have gotten really bad several times in history and in some portions of the world, Christianity was wiped out by bitter persecution and did not return until the modern age (e.g. most Muslim lands were once Christian, many Buddhist lands had vibrant Catholic communities before they were squashed). Yet despite this, the Church kept growing. During the Protestant Revolt, entire countries were lost, yet expansion happened in the New World. The Faith today is struggling in Europe and the Americas, yet it is booming in Africa. Do not lose heart, even if the world immediately around you is bleak.
(2) Listen to convert stories (e.g. EWTN Journey Home, etc). They help remind you that people outside the faith see the faith, even in this trying time. As bad as it is inside the Church, it is worse outside.
(3) Get a support group, not just with people who are your age, but with people who are younger than you. It will help strengthen your faith in the future generation and allow you to grown spiritually. If there is a strong pro-life group in or around your parish, join it. If there is a strong traditional group in your diocese, join it. Seek out others, pray with them for the health of the Church and sacrifice with them. And if there is truly no-one around you or you are home bound, find a community online (preferably with members close to you) and either ask if there are others around you that that has common cause or be a part of that community. Do not go it alone.
I was just thinking about this. My very orthodox bishop is being criticized by some for not doing enough. I was thinking of all the priests and the laity who want to go right along with the LGBT agenda and the flack our bishop has taken when he tries to realigned things in accordance with out faith. I know he has some very wonderful and truly Catholic priests trying to gather the truly faithful together and trying to guide more who are on the fringes into the true faith.
So I was reminded of the Arien crisis. It wasn’t just the priests and bishops–whole congregations of the laity must have believed in error.
I do see really good things going on in the background. Orthodox priests in the parishes encouraging study groups (to study authentic Church teaching), Adoration, Eucharistic processions, holy hours, Traditional Latin Masses… This is drawing the truly faithful together so that we know each other and we know we are not alone. I have met some really wonderful people and we have the backs of our good priests and and our bishop.
Meanwhile I pray for the misguided and do reparations.
How many of us do not endure the same angst of the questioner? Each day this situation presents itself – over and over. Father’s response is well-grounded and most helpful. I read at Catholic World Report just yesterday another supportive perspective: http://www.catholicworldreport.com/Blog/4895/12_thoughts_on_the_papacy_and_life_in_the_church_today.aspx
Almighty God created each of us, knowing us from before time, and intending each one of us for this epoch in salvation history. We are called to shoulder this moment. With our Good Friend, our Saviour, our God, Jesus Christ, all things are possible.
And He will triumph.
The good news is that God allowed this to happen (as opposed to caused it by His will) therefore, since He turns evil into good, we need to try to do the same. First, in my thinking, we can not close our eyes and ignore what’ s happening–we must discern and admonish as St. Paul direct us. Next, I find that all controversies of a spiritual nature, already have answers (there is nothing new under the sun) therefore, it is imperative that we double down on finding the truth in all controversy. That process teaches us our faith far better than had there been no controversy in the first place. As always, it isn’t the controversy, but how we react to it that matters. Humbly increasing our knowledge of our faith and the diabolical will scurry away from you.
“Unless a grain of wheat shall fall to the ground and die, it remains but a single grain.” Where our Lord has gone, we must follow. The only road to salvation is through the cross. But the Church, She will rise again more gloriously!
I empathize with the person who wrote this email. In fact, I do not know of any faithful Catholics who are not undergoing this same inner turmoil. The terrible reality is that in most places, the Bride of Christ is so wretchedly disfigured as to be almost unrecognizable. Catholics fall along a spectrum right now with the vast majority in the middle unaware and ignorant of the problems due to decades of poor catechesis and bad liturgy, and those tiny minorities at the far ends fully aware of what is happening and either rejoicing or lamenting. I pray that those in the middle are not fully culpable because they have not even been presented the truth, the real Bride of Christ. I pray for the conversion of those on the far dissident end to repent and turn back from savaging the Church and Christ’s teachings. The small minority who have found the truth, I fear, will be greatly held to account for our actions. We bear a great burden to pray and sacrifice for the Church. We may be held to account, not so much for what we have done, but what we have failed to do. We have to somehow balance between feeling like everything depends on us, which could be prideful, and feeling like God does not want our help to convert the world, which could be complacency. For some reason, God wants all of our labors to be joined to His, even though He is capable of doing everything Himself.
Those who have found the truth must not despise the Catholics who are still in the dark; we must be compassionate and pray for them and extend a gentle hand to show them the pearl of great price we have found. All the while, those who have found the truth must pray not to succumb to despair and bitterness.
In the back of my mind are Fatima and Akita and Our Lady of Good Success, along with Our Lord’s words to Saint Faustina that before He comes as a just judge he will give the moment of mercy. I feel an urgent need to pray for the Church, and I try to overcome my own sadness and inertia in prayer. We must stay confessed, and stay focused in prayer, not engage in circular firing squads, and try to leave the rest in God’s hands.
Think about it. can you even imagine what St. Paul would be called today and how he would be treated (even by those within our own Church?) Undoubtedly he would be “corrected’ “admonished” and much, much worse.
“As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord (and we’ll stick with St. Paul)”.
Thank you, Fr Z, for this very encouraging and hopeful post. Despite the darkness out there, we must soldier on, pray, offer sacrifices, and lead the very best Catholic lives that we can. Then we can leave the rest up to God. The Church will endure and grow; it always has and always will until that day when we at last enter the heavenly kingdom.
In my neighborhood the other day, I saw a flagpole in a backyard, flying three flags, from top to bottom: (1) USA (2) rainbow LGBT flag (3) Vatican (Papal) flag. I kid you not.
Try to imagine someone who imagines themselves a staunch Catholic, to the extent they not only own but FLY a Papal flag…below the LGBT flag.
Sorry, but this person does not belong to the same Church that I do.
. . . can you even imagine what St. Paul would be called today and how he would be treated . . .
I don’t have to imagine. A Jesuit professor at my Jesuit alma mater in the 1980s saw fit to inform me (as if I was the last to find out) that St. Paul had “psychological problems.” For one as fed up as I was even at that young age with the Church establishment’s slippery relativism, that was just one more push out the door. Thank God I made it back a quarter century later, and I pray for those who haven’t and for the souls of those who now never will.
The gates of hell may not prevail, but that doesn’t mean it is not getting pretty rough out there.
2 Timothy 2 is worth a prayerful reading in times like these.
I’m half the original questioner’s age, but I sure as heck needed to read Father’s response today.
Thank you Fr. Z.
From the Editorial page of the Washington Post, July 2, 2016:
“This ‘Francis’ revolution in the Catholic Church is unexpected but welcome. It is long overdue. The old order of doctrine, tradition, and unchangeable moral principles can gradually be set aside. This new freedom and scientific understanding of the Catholic Church are what we now witness in the memorable words of this Argentine pope. They come from the last place from whence we might expect the long-awaited modernization of this venerable but stubborn institution.”
Can more be said?
Out of the mouths of secular materialists the truth in seventy-three words. What more need be said?
You can tell a lot about an individual by their friends.
We are clearly out of grace, but why? Perhaps misunderstanding “the universal call to holiness” is a major factor.
For instance, one instance of many, where have all our teaching sisters gone?
The Lord calls us ALL to be saints, certainly, but is there no privileged way? The influential theological avant-garde and their many disciples think not. But this contradicts our Lord: “And everyone who has left houses or brothers . . .will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life” ( Matt 19:29).
Missing, then, is the preacher who will brave the wrath of parents (of fellow priests and bishops, too) and cry out “full throated and unsparingly” with St. Bernard of Clairvaux that “in religious life one lives more purely, falls more rarely. . .receives more graces . . . dies more calmly and in Heaven receives a greater reward.” Much the same could be said of the priesthood, but is not. No, no, no, religious life and the presbyterate must evaporate to make way for the laity
To say nothing of depriving many young women of a swifter, easier route to holiness, this failure to echo Our Lord and to promote religious life has —among many, many other things— deprived our children of teaching sisters and their wonderful, formative influence. And it shows.
Are we really going to ride this theological hobbyhorse into oblivion?
My husband and I can assure you that the Church is not disappearing. We’re under 35 and have a huge group of Catholic friends who are orthodox, NFP-practicing couples. All of our young friends are hard-identity Catholics. And we all are having lots of babies. We’re the future of the Church, and the Church’s future is very bright!
Thank you, Father. This is so very helpful.
Thank you, Father. You and the commentators above have given me encouraging words at a difficult time. May God continue to bless you and your work, and the same goes for your faithful readers!
Holy Mass, Reception of the Blessed Sacrament, Confession & the Rosary…
A brave post, Father . . . and one of great consolation.
There was an episode of Star Trek where the crew visited a planet that was about to explode. On the planet was a Time Machine and the inhabitants would choose the period of history they wished to live in and then they would jump through the portal into that period. In that way they were able to escape the end of the world that they knew. I find myself doing the same thing – not physically of course, but mentally, emotionally, and spiritually – escaping into history to escape the present. The current degradation of our culture has made me appreciate as I never did before the people who lived through the pagan culture at the time of Christ. Mary herself must have seen terrible, terrible aspects of that harsh, unforgiving culture – I’m sure that crucifixions were as common a sight to her eyes as they were to the others of her time. She would have heard the same horrible stories of unjust trials, imprisonment – St. John the Baptist, anyone? – along with living in a country occupied by a foreign power (as well as the local corrupt officials) that leeched the people of their savings. Yet she endured all the way through her Son’s crucifixion and on to the end of her life. The world at her death was running pretty much the same way it had been running at her birth but although Mary was in this world she wasn’t of it and perhaps that’s a lesson for us all.
I’m in my 72nd year and I don’t lose a lot of sleep over the possible “disappearance” of the Catholic Church for, as Fr Z puts it, we’ve been there before and still we’re here! However, my main reason for such assurance is that it’s Christ’s Church not ours (thankfully), recalling what Jesus said to Peter, and we’re asked to rely on the power of God—”And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build MY (emphasis mine) church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it.” (Mt 16:18) (Mind you, I do still regularly pray for the Pope and the Church.)
As I wrote on my Fb page on 26 June, “An image I like is from the early centuries of Christian art. The ‘Barque of Peter’ is an ancient symbol for the Church — it often rides the rough, stormy waters, and is tossed around by strong winds as it makes its way through turbulent waters; yet by God’s grace it sails on having survived all—and I expect will continue to survive as she keeps her sails into the wind no matter what. On the small table behind my computer, I have my little ship “SS Faith” to remind me.” https://www.facebook.com/waltercowley
“The Faith today is struggling in Europe and the Americas, yet it is booming in Africa.”
Why is that? I think the answer is rather obvious. Study after study shows that as a region becomes more affluent, both in terms of money and technology access, contraception rises, along with liberalism. Why do you think Modernism rose in France and Germany at the end of the nineteenth-century? They were the technology leaders of the day. When America won WWI, but most particularly, WWII, liberalism, both secular and ecclesial, began its relentless progress in America. Give Africa 300 years and look, again. If we don’t destroy ourselves, first, I doubt Africa will look too much different than the rest of the world. Right now, much of Africa is functioning comparable to the West, circa 1100 A. D. There are pockets of technology in places such as South Africa. Compare them to the rest of the country, spiritually.
As far as the Washington Post, I have no idea what they are talking about. What, “scientific,” understanding of the Church? What branch of science could they possibly mean?
Look, my whole life has been ruined or at least seriously distorted by the insanity (and I use the word with care) of the experiments in the modern Western Church. I used to be so naive, so trusting because I thought the people who taught me were expressing the wisdom of the Church – the timeless things of God. It was when the internal logic began to contradict itself that I began to really do what I should have done from the start – my own research. The more I trace the threads of history and theology and compare it to what I was taught, the angrier I become. If I knew then what I know, now, I would have stopped many people in their tracks and, possibly, spared myself and others from a lot of suffering. I love the Church, but I have become increasingly intolerant of the nonsense. Yes, we are to become holy, but being holy did not stop Jesus from boxing, at least metaphorically, a few ears.
Let me be clear – it is not traditionalists who are the modern Pharisees or Doctors of the Law. It is the experimenters. The Pharisees were not yelled at by Christ because they were traditionalists, but, rather, because they were willing to modify the Law to suit their selfish needs and then pretend that that interpretation of the Law was there, all along – one need only look at the issue of the Pharisees not supporting their parents monitarily because the money was dedicated to the Temple (which, perhaps, they could then use for their own) – in a word, corbun (sorry, I mispelled that word) – that Jesus mentioned to the Pharisees. In this sense, Cardinal Kaspar, with his logic-bending of the common sense of marriage is closer to being a Pharisee than any traditionalist and for what? In part for the equivalent of the money (although, obviously for dubious theological reasons, as well).
One simply cannot argue with a Modernist. Their appeals to emotions never end and while conservatives must win every battle to break even, a liberal only has to win once to establish a precedent, so they are relentless.
In the end, the only way to stop the Modernists is to shut them up. Logic won’t work. It must be issued as a command. How did we end (for the most part), Arianism? It wasn’t by reasoning with the Arians. Until Pope Patton comes, to set the Third Army in order, we must insist on the truth, in love, and refuse to listen to the temptation to take the easy way out. Gird your loins and steady your drooping knees. What a time for witnesses. Our mission is love, our armour is truth, and we are riding the bucking bronco of life into battle. In the end, we must be lambs with steel wool.
Masked Chicken, Pharisaism knows no particular time, place, or personality. I once went to a parish that was run by a supposedly orthodox Order with perfectly pretty Masses and a beautifully choreographed all male sanctuary and discovered some of the worst Pharisees of my life there, people who made unwelcome the poor, the single, foreigners, anyone who didn’t fit their idea of who is a perfect Catholic. And all to cover up some pretty unsavory behavior by priests and laity alike. It was like dealing with the Ashleys on “Recess.”
I escaped though, it is possible to learn from this and not be discouraged. God only wishes us to try as best we can. He reaches out to us without stint or stead.
Others are right that prayer, prayer, prayer is the answer.
Thank you for this post, Father.
It came at the right time.
Please don’t read this if you don’t like long comments – bottom line is I agree with the posters who have stated that these times are no worse than earlier times….For what it is worth, I recommend spending a little time with old Catholics (or, if you can’t spend time with them, I recommend spending a lot of time thinking about them) – the sort of run-down shabby-looking people, most of whom look like they have suffered not a little but a lot, and the sort of people whom you would guess may have lost a spouse or two along the way. They will cheer you up, to the extent that they are chronologically closer to the promised wonderful end result of our prayers. Anyway, maybe they spent a summer in France in the 30s where they met an astoundingly vivacious young Jewish girl whom G K Chesterton (amusingly, as he thought, in his almost always warm but once in a while cold heart) declared should be forced to wear distinctive Hebraic clothes if she lived in England; maybe they remember the 40s when not a single bishop or cardinal in America said a single memorable and effective word about the pervasive mistreatment of poor young people in Catholic institutions at the hands of cruel sinners who claimed to have a Christian vocation; or the 50s and 60s when people like the future Cardinals Bernardin and Law were, unless I am mistaken (and how I would love to be – Jesus loves Cardinal Bernardin and Cardinal Law as much as or more than he loves me) plotting ways to make seminary life unbearably difficult for our future good-hearted faithful priests; or the 70s and 80s and 90s when the Latin Mass was effectively prohibited and people like me who sent humble letters to a Bishop asking for a Latin Mass were treated to condescending unkind replies; or even the 2000s when anti-Catholics like Margaret Thatcher the abortion PM and Ted Kennedy the rich abortion senator were fulsomely praised by many priests and bishops, and even a sad Cardinal or two, even though neither one had publicly repented of their obvious violent sins. Sure, the young Chesterton and the young Bernardin and the young Law and the others probably wanted at some point in their innocent youth to grow up to be people who did nothing but good, and they are famous people, which may been a comfort to them, in that famous people know that non-famous people like to pray for famous people…. Anyway, I am not fortunate enough to know many old run-down Catholics, but I feel fairly certain – for reasons that someone who reads these words might make fun of if I explained them, so I won’t explain them – that the ones I do know are rarely tempted to think that these times are all that bad, or that our situation is one where there is no or even lessened hope for any one of us who asks Jesus for hope. Hope is almost all quite a few very old Catholics have and any one of them will tell you that these might be the best of times, in that it is easier than it has ever been to see how much our neighbors need our prayers.
@Masked Chicken, Truth, Love and no BS, you say?
For many years I was incredibly sadden by what I witnessed each Sunday at Mass. The sense of sacredness was gone, reverence was practically none existence , a pastor that refused to mention the word sin with music that was stuck in the 70’s. I would often ask my self, “is this what a Protestant service looks like?”. Then I discovered the TLM and my world was rocked. I couldn’t believe the beauty, sacredness and reverence of the faithful. Awful music gave way to beautiful Gregorian music that lifted the soul. I couldn’t get enough of it. I became a voracious reader of anything having to do with the old Mass. I started going to confession regularly because the pastor , unlike old milk toast , scared the heck out of me and started to pray the Rosery nightly . That was three years ago. My advice to anyone who’s dispirited , find a TLM it will change your life.
One of the best posts EVER!
Between Fr. Z’s erudite pep talk and your post, I’m up for the fight!
Jack in KC
Not disappearing… contracting and entering into “safe mode” for lack of a better term. One need only look at what happened to Catholicism in England after the Tudors to understand that long standing religious practices cannot be simply snuffed out. While the novelties will come and go, the mainstream practices remain with a core group of Catholics dedicated to their faith. This is what I mean by safe mode. In practice, there may not be anything at all “safe” about it.
I know it is very easy to get discouraged in times like these. I understand why some Catholics may feel this way these days.
But I am reminded of a homily I heard at the Shrine of Sainte Anne de Beaupre, northeast of Quebec City in Canada. It was in the horrible, dreadful days of the priest pedophile scandals, right after the 9/11 attacks.
The good priest who preached to us gently told us that he was so grateful to be living in days such as these, and paused to let that sink in. He reminded us of how past generations of Catholics endured the persecutions of the Roman Empire, the Black Plague, the Reformation, and more recent persecutions of the French Revolution, the Russian Revolution, and the Spanish Civil War. He also told us that in difficult times, we must rely on the mercy of God, and trust that He will lead us through trying times. He reminded us of the Battle of Lepanto – when all seemed lost, the faithful turned to Our Lady and beseeched her intercession through the Rosary, and were saved in the face of sure defeat.
Father said that courage in the face of evil is the mark of a Child of God. And that all saints suffered on earth.
These are undoubtedly shocking, frightening times for those of us who are faithful Catholics. But now is the time for us to prove that we live what we believe, and to go forward confidently, trusting in the mercy of our good God. Even Jesus’ mother and best friends were persecuted and disgraced for their beliefs, and some were even tortured. Should we not also expect to suffer for our Faith? And shouldn’t we remain faithful, confident, and joyful Children of God?
God bless you, Father, and all your readers! – Susan, ofs
The problem starts, as I see it, with married heterosexual couples who use artificial means of contraception. There is no moral difference between a homosexual couple engaging in sex and a married heterosexual couple engaging in contracepted sex. Both are cases of not using, what the theologians delicately call, the ‘debitum vas’. So welcoming LGBTQs is no different from welcoming CMHs (contracepting married heterosexuals), and welcoming the latter necessarily leads to welcoming the former. What really seems needed is the teaching, boldly and unapologetically, of Humanae Vitae (Paul VI 48 years ago). Then the welcoming of LGBTQs and CMHs becomes not a matter of welcoming their sexual activities but of welcoming them to where they can learn, slowly if need be but still really, to overcome those activities and live according to the Gospel. Pope Francis, if his words are read fully and not in the misleading snippets of media headlines, means nothing else. Proper celebration of the liturgy is, I agree, vital here, and confession too. But — and I speak with due humility — teaching Humanae Vitae is way up at the very top.
SubjectVerb- I agree with you that Catholicism is not entirely disappearing, although it may seem that way in many dying parishes. I have only found the type of community you describe in Latin Mass parishes and a sparse few Novus Ordo parishes with an exceptional priest leading them. I currently belong to such a Latin Mass parish and have found many other families who are “reproducing a reckoning” for the Church and the world. It seems that faithful Catholics are consolidating and becoming concentrated in smaller, but stronger groups. I think we are seeing the first green shoots of the new springtime, although not in the places we are told that it is happening in the church. However, as we gain strength and numbers, I expect there will be more efforts to marginalize and isolate us both from certain quarters in the church and society. We will be given the choice to conform to the new morality or pay a price.
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