Yesterday I shared the best speech coming out of the Synod on the family thus far. How telling that this robust defence of church teaching came from a lay woman not a Cardinal! Yet it is not surprising because, if this chaotic Synod has taught anything thus far it is simply this; modernist bishops have abandoned the faith or never really understood it. And given that they are educated men we must settle on the former. Faith is being abandoned in pursuit of something else.
Perhaps Pope Francis should therefore stop the Synod and change tack. Instead of pushing for greater catechesis of engaged couples and families he should push for greater catechesis of clergy. After all if they should remain ignorant or dismissive of the Catholic faith then what good will any catechesis be that they offer? It would do more harm than good and hasn’t this been the story in Catholic schools and colleges for over a generation in any case?
If that seems harsh then consider the sub standard level of argument being promoted by the modernists at this Synod and then tell me I am wrong. For repeatedly we witness arguments put forth which are so intellectually weak as to be laughable- yet nobody is laughing because the threat is grave and it is real. Indeed so bad is it in certain cases that I would expect a better contribution from the St. Anselm’s Sunday School.
A) Conscience is everything. Cardinal Blase Cupich wins the award for most ridiculous statement thus far. In an interview he came up with this;
People must] come to a decision in good conscience … Conscience is inviolable… I think that gay people are human beings too and they have a conscience. And my role as a pastor is to help them to discern what the will of God is by looking at the objective moral teaching of the Church and yet, at the same time, helping them through a period of discernment to understand what God is calling them to at that point. I think that we have to make sure that we don’t pigeonhole one group as though they are not part of the human family, as though there’s a different set of rules for them. That would be a big mistake.
Really? The yardstick by which sin is to be defined is personal conscience? What planet is he on? We only need to re-read his words and replace ‘gay people’ with another group whose sexual behaviour is less acceptable in modern society to show the weakness of this argument. Would we say the same to a prolific swinger who engages in sex with strangers or a pedophile? Would we say that, so long as they don’t feel guilty, all is well? What about wife batters? Forget the issue of homosexuality, we will learn nothing useful about that matter here, for the argument is so weak as to be risible. It is the logic I am attacking.
Conscience is important but it is far from reliable as a guide to our moral state and spiritual health. Ultimately, as the victims of abuse cry out to heaven, sin is not just between us and God. And all too often we delude ourselves about sin and the truth is not in us. Here is what Cardinal Newman had to say on the subject.
Conscience is the highest of all teachers, yet the least luminous … [because] the sense of right and wrong, which is the first element in religion, is so easily puzzled, obscured, perverted … so biased by pride and passion, so unsteady in its course.
B) A delight in gradualism The modernists, being lovers of a false mercy with no regard to justice, delight in the idea that we could dispense with doctrinal statements to meet people where they are. The suggestion is made that people would then be guided to live a better Christian life. But on the evidence of parishes where permissiveness reigns I would not hold your breath for it!
Of course there is merit in our being gentle with people. This approach can help at the grass roots and evangelistic level. We do need to accept sinners where they are and ensure they encounter welcome and acceptance. But as a formal way for Cardinals to deal with mortal sin? It is totally lacking. Confusion creeps in when the Church falls silent. Just look at the famous “who am I to judge?” misquote.
To reveal the flaw in the gradualist argument let us change the issue once more and step aside from the crusading agendas. Now imagine the following conversation in a confessional near you…
Penitent: I am a serial killer but not yet ready to give up killing. I do so want communion – can i receive the host if I just cut down a bit?!
Priest: No problem. You know the aim. I welcome you at the altar in the name of Jesus Christ who is mercy! What a grace filled step in your search for holiness my dear brother Hannibal Lecter.
Penitent: By the way you are next on my hit list. Your rump just screams out for grilling.
Priest: Oh…hang on?!
It doesn’t work so well when the sin involved scandalises us does it? And that is the point. Either something is wrong or not and social acceptability really shouldn’t come in to it. But it seems to where the modernists are concerned.
C) More power to national churches When I hear modernists desire autonomy at a national level I have to stop myself from banging my head against a wall. Are they mad? Are they living in a bubble? Have they not watched the disintegration of the Anglican communion in an age of mass communication? Have they not paused to consider that the greater the level of liberalism/lack of clarity the greater decline regardless of denomination?
People hunger for God’s truth not a for set of changeable rules according to your branch of the club!
Just imagine if the church went down this road. Overnight Catholicism would collapse and a raft of new protestant bodies would emerge. Each teaching something different. Each claiming the ability to discern God’s will. In America the church would no doubt tell us that homosexual sex is no longer sinful but Africans would not. They would however encourage polygamy. The situation would be so ridiculous as to be funny. Could we go on holiday for guilt free gay sex (if that is your bag) or to take up another wife in good conscience? And how would this play out on the day of judgement?
God: Sorry you refused to be faithful to your wife and I do not know you.
Me: But my friend had three wives and you let him in?
God: yes but he is from Uganda not Pembury!
Conclusion: The highlighted arguments, all of which have been aired during the synod in defence of changing teaching, make a mockery of the faith. And they all have a common thread besides being so weak as to be vacuous. Have you spotted it?
They all depend on relativist principles to make any sense at all. The notion that truth is not fixed but might change according to place, person and circumstance. But that never has been, and never can be, the teaching of the Catholic faith. Indeed Pope Benedict went so far as to name it a modern heresy that needs defeating. He called in nothing less than the ‘dictatorship of modern relativism’
That, in truth, is what the church is wrestling with at present. An assault on faith coming not from without but within. From those who duty was to guard the faith but who abandoned it long ago in pursuit of political and secular ideologies. What we have then is a division; between those who still stand by the faith of the ages (sadly seeming a minority) and those who have fallen victim to the heresy named by Pope Benedict- ‘that dictatorship of relativism’. And where the Pope himself chooses to stand is currently the million dollar question, though the signs look anything but good.
So let us keep praying. Let us hold the line no matter what chaos may follow. Let us number ourselves amongst those whom the church will one day thank, when the heresy is finally defeated. And let us thank God that this Synod is drawing people out from under their stones. By their fruits ye shall know them. And one only needs to dissect the logic put forth in the arguments to unveil the truth in all its glory. I feel that, no matter how bad the outcome, the way forward will be much clearer from here.