Thursday, July 5, 2012

Losing Our Catholic Identity

I think the most important point to be gleaned from Michael Voris’s three “Special Reports” (all embedded at the end of this post) on the Supreme Court decision on Obamacare is this: many Catholics have forgotten how to be Catholics.

They’ve gone along with the world on so many issues, they no longer believe – if they even know – what their own Church really teaches. It reminds me of the Jews telling Samuel to tell God they wanted a king, instead of the judges God had been providing. Why did they want a king? “Because everybody else has one,” they said (1Samuel 8:19-20). So God gave them a king, and things started to go downhill.

In US culture, especially beginning in the early- to mid-20th century, Catholics started trying to “fit in” to the Protestant culture around them. And when the Lambeth Council decided in 1930 that artificial contraception was permissible for the Anglican churches, Catholics want to join in the fun, too. That’s why we even had to have a Casti Connubii in the first place; in that document, Pope Pius XI responded strongly and effectively to the Lambeth Council, affirming the evil of artificial contraception.

But at the Second Vatican Council, there was another push to move the Church into the “modern world”, and a big part of that push was about “fitting in”. Gaudium et Spes, the Church’s pastoral constitution on the Church in the modern world, gave only passing notice to Casti Connubii in its treatment of marriage, noting only that couples “may not undertake methods of birth control which are found blameworthy by the teaching authority of the Church in its unfolding of the divine law”. (par. 51)

This statement was footnoted:

14 …Certain questions which need further and more careful investigation have been handed over, at the command of the Supreme Pontiff, to a commission for the study of population, family, and births, in order that, after it fulfills its function, the Supreme Pontiff may pass judgment. With the doctrine of the magisterium in this state, this holy synod does not intend to propose immediately concrete solutions.

Given the strong statements made in Casti Connubii, one wonders why anyone thought there would, should, or could be discussion by a “commission”! I think at least part of the reason was exactly what Michael Voris talks about in his Special Report I: it was because Catholics wanted to fit in, and that meant accepting artificial contraception and the concept of “responsible” parenthood.

Voris says:

When we look at the health care law – Obamacare – what do we have? We have a law that pushes immorality in the form of abortion and contraception, and a rejection of conscience in the case of Catholic institutions that must now pay for abortion and contraception or close up shop.

How has this happened? That’s easy. Because Catholics in America have been so busy wanting to fit in and wrap themselves in the flag – not just of the stars and stripes, but the flag of social acceptance and political correctness, the banners of non-judgmentalism and tolerance..

Voris adds further explanation in Special Report III:

For too long, there has been this attitude on the part of many that we can just get along with the culture – that we can agree to disagree on some points and play nice-nice the rest of the time.

There is a foundational error in that approach and it is this: that the culture will treat the Church in the same fashion.

The Culture – political, educational, media, judicial, health, entertainment – has no such desire to live and let live. It must resist and tear down the Church because of one basic truth: the culture, the kingdom of this world, is aligned against the Church because the Prince of this world is Satan.

No one in the Church today – or pitifully few – want to talk in these terms because…well…the world will mock them… kind of proving the point.

Leaders have either failed to understand themselves or failed to preach the words and their deeper meaning of Our Blessed Lord at the Last Supper: “The world will hate you because it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own; but because you do not belong to the world, and I have chosen you out of the world, the world hates you.”

So then the Commission did its work, and many were aghast that in Humanae Vitae, Pope Paul VI did not follow the “majority” decision that artificial contraception should be a-okay for Catholics. In fact, liberal theologians, priests, and bishops were so aghast that they advocated outright dissent to HV, and even made statements to that effect (e.g., the Canadian bishops’ Winnipeg Statement).

And ever since then, the bishops have been failing to adequately present and uphold Church teaching. As Voris says:

…[T]he bishops caved, as Cardinal Timothy Dolan was forthright in admitting a few weeks ago in a Wall Street Journal interview. He said with regard to the absolute abdication to the culture, to the offering of incense to the gods of Rome, to the sell-out of the Faith by the shepherds with regard to promoting the Church teaching on sexual matters – specifically Humane Vitae.

“We have gotten gun-shy in speaking with any amount of cogency on chastity and sexual morality. The flashpoint was Humanae Vitae: It brought such a tsunami of dissent, departure, disapproval of the Church, that I think most of us—and I’m using the first-person plural intentionally, including myself—kind of subconsciously said, ‘Whoa. We’d better never talk about that, because it’s just too hot to handle.’”

There you have it. Candid expression that the collapse can be laid at the feet, in the first place of the leaders. But quickly followed by a laity all too happy to walk away from Christ and embrace every sexual passion they could. This was an epic fail that we are now beginning to really feel.

It has caused such devastation and mass falling away from the faith that a whole new massive evangelization effort is now needed not to the heathens and pagans, but to the former Catholics turned heathen and pagan.

Indeed! In that interview with Cardinal Dolan, the paragraph before Voris’s quote says:

What about the argument that vast numbers of Catholics ignore the Church's teachings about sexuality? Doesn't the Church have a problem conveying its moral principles to its own flock? "Do we ever!" the archbishop replies with a hearty laugh. "I'm not afraid to admit that we have an internal catechetical challenge—a towering one—in convincing our own people of the moral beauty and coherence of what we teach. That's a biggie."

Well, he certainly seems to grasp the magnitude of the problem! But Cardinal Dolan also made this comment in the same interview:

"Some Catholics . . . are now saying, 'Fine, we'll get out of all that. It's dragging us down anyway. Rather than be supporting 50 Catholic schools in the inner city where most of the kids are not Catholic, and using a big chunk of diocesan money to do that, we'll just use it for the schools that have all Catholics, and it'll serve us a lot better.' . . .

"I find that, by the way, to be rather un-Catholic," he continues. "I don't know what that would say to the gospel mandate to be 'light to the world' and 'salt of the earth.'  It's part of our religion to be right out there in the forefront, right there in the nitty-gritty."

But the Cardinal also acknowledged that we have a big “internal catechesis challenge”! Where does he think that problem came from?  The schools haven’t been doing their job either. You can’t be “light” and “salt” if you’re just another cog in the wheel of secular society!

Part of the reason for Catholic schools’ failure is that the non-Catholics attending the schools have succeeded in watering down the very Catholicity of those schools. When non-Catholics have a problem with a Catholic teaching in the Catholic schools to which they send their children, they make a stink, and the administration either caves, or if it resists, it’s raked over the coals in the media – even the so-called “Catholic” media. Or else the bishop forces the administration to comply. Remember the 2010 story about a Colorado Catholic school being castigated for refusing admission to the children of a lesbian couple? Archbishop Chaput did stand up for the school and the reasoning behind the denial, thanks be to God. But in a similar case a month later, the Boston Archdiocese overturned a Catholic elementary school’s decision to deny admission to the child of a lesbian couple.

Frankly, I would not send my child to a Catholic school that was not teaching Catholic values! Heck, I even respected Catholic values when I was a non-Catholic teacher at a Catholic school, making sure I didn’t teach anything that was against Catholicism. And although I was happy to have the job, I wondered why in the world a Catholic school would hire a non-Catholic to teach anything (I taught a psychology class at the time). And yes, I did end up becoming Catholic, but I can assure you it had nothing to do with teaching at that Catholic school!

Okay, that was a rambling side note, but the point is, we’ve all but lost our Catholic identity in the country, from bishops to priests to laity. So can we expect Catholics to understand this whole “religious freedom” thing and vote Obama out of office? Or will that large percentage of Catholics using artificial contraception decide they’d just as soon have their contraception provided for free?

Here’s what I think: whether or not Obama wins re-election in the fall, we’d better get back to basics in the catechesis of our adults as well as our children.

But here’s what I’m afraid of: if Obama loses, everyone will heave a sigh of relief, and it will be business as usual, and Catholic identity will continue to slip and slide into oblivion.

And if Obama wins, God forbid, it will be too late…except for the remnant, of course.

Vortex Special Reports:

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please be courteous and concise.