Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Laity's Role in the Crisis of Faith

I am a fan of Michael Voris.  He never hesitates in saying exactly what he believes and usually brings real insight to the problems affecting our culture and the Catholic Church.  However, I had a problem with a recent Vortex video about the October 18 Al Smith Dinner in which Michael Voris really let loose on Cardinal Timothy Dolan.

This is what Michael Voris had to say the day after the dinner:
But when you turn to the situation of the Al Smith dinner you are especially revolted. This is nothing more than a sellout of the faith presided over by a Cardinal of the Church Timothy Dolan who is touted as some kind of conservative wonderman. He has cooperated in this insult to the faith with these moneychangers who are big time Obama cheerleaders.
His Eminence has openly declared in a Wall Street Journal article that he and other bishops failed miserably to teach the faith and defend the Church in the area of sexual morality. He and other bishops are constantly droning on about the need to re-establish a Catholic identity. You don’t establish a catholic identity by selling out the faith for your own personal popularity and to hob nob with a bunch of wall street moguls who spend their efforts and money to ensure that enemies of the faith keep getting elected.
Cardinal Dolan is a priest who has a duty to catechize and teach these men and others like them the faith that they either never got taught properly and or simply rejected, whichever the case. If they won’t listen then he needs to shake the dust from his feet, the words of the Master not mine. But he has not only not done that he has acquiesced to their bringing in Obama and refused the pleas of tens of thousands of faithful Catholics to rescind the invitation. He has ignored the sheep and opened the front door for the wolf complete red carpet and all.
I have certainly not held back my dissatisfaction with Cardinal Dolan, and prior to the dinner, I urged him to change his mind and dis-invite this enemy of the church.  I would most certainly agree that inviting pro-abortion, anti-Catholic Barack Obama to a Catholic function for a night of fun and frivolity was scandalous.  And there is no doubt that "tens of thousands of faithful Catholics" pleaded with His Eminence to rescind the invitation.

Parishioners from St. Francis Xavier in Manhattan
marching in the NYC Gay Pride Parade
But there are also tens of thousands of Catholics, and probably many more, who had so problem whatsoever with the actions of Cardinal Dolan.  Michael Voris needs to remember that Cardinal Dolan is the prelate for Manhattan, otherwise known as Modern Babylon.  Cardinal Dolan is not my bishop, I am in the diocese of Brooklyn.  But we're all a part of New York City, and I am here to say from personal experience that there are many, many Catholics in this city - regular Mass-attending Catholics - who have no problem with the use of birth control, who support a woman's "right to choose" and support "gay" rights.  I attended one church here in Brooklyn where the president of the Rosary Society told me flat out that it was necessary to use birth control because people just can't afford to have a lot of children.  In that same church in 2008, one of the leading members proudly wore her Obama button every day to Mass.

My neighborhood Catholic Church - which I never attend - has an active "Rainbow Ministry" which they describe as follows:  "Celebrating the covenant that God made with all of creation on earth (Gen. 9:13), this ministry seeks to welcome all of our LGBT brothers and sisters along with family and friends for prayer, discussion and social."  Gen 9:13 refers to the covenant God made with Noah, "I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth." You may have wondered why homosexuals have chosen the rainbow to represent them.  Now you know, and now you also know just how sacrilegious it really is. Why is a Catholic Church buying into this?

Most of these "Catholics" voted for Barack Obama in 2008, and I am sure many will vote for him again.  They see nothing wrong with their views and choices in life, and proudly march up to receive Communion (in the hand, of course) each and every time they go to Mass.  Many of them are "Eucharistic ministers" and lecturers and very involved in the running of their parishes.  They were not in the least scandalized by President Obama's appearance at the Al Smith Dinner.   While Michael Voris may not see Cardinal Dolan as conservative, you better believe that many NYC Catholics do see him as ultra conservative.

New York City is not the only place with renegade catholics.  Below is an article from a Seattle newspaper about Catholics who are going completely off the rails against their bishops and the dogmatic teachings of the Church,  It is important to note that it is the laity who are rebelling against the bishops following Church doctrine:

Catholics sign up, will show up, for same-sex marriage
The names of more than 1,000 Catholics will appear Sunday in a full-page newspaper ad endorsing Referendum 74 and same-sex marriage, which is passionately opposed by the church’s four bishops in Washington state.

A group of Jesuit-educated laypersons, the Young Adult Leadership Cohort, will carry the pro-Referendum 74 campaign a step farther by holding a pro-marriage equality demonstration at 4 p.m. Sunday on Marion Street at the north side of Seattle’s St. James Cathedral.
The developments Sunday are the latest in what has been a 10-month push back by Catholic laity, particularly in Seattle, against bishops’ opposition to and use of church resources to campaign against same-sex marriage.
In Washington and elsewhere:

–Two Catholic governors, Chris Gregoire in Washington and Martin O’Malley in Maryland, pushed their legislatures to approve marriage equality legislation. State Sen. Ed Murray, D-Seattle, a practicing Catholic, was chief sponsor in the Washington State Senate.

–Several prominent Catholic parishes, including St. James Cathedral and St. Joseph Church in Seattle, and St. Leo’s parish in Tacoma, refused a request by Seattle Archbishop J. Peter Sartain to serve as signature collection centers for a referendum to force a vote on same-sex marriage.

–A big contingent from Catholics for Marriage Equality marched down Seattle’s Fourth Avenue in the city’s annual Pride Day parade.

–More than 60 resigned Catholic priests in the Seattle Archdiocese signed a letter, earlier this month, endorsing Referendum 74 and described same-sex marriage as consistent with teachings of the Gospels.

–The pastor at St. Joseph, the Rev. John Whitney, responded to Sartain’s call for defeat of Referendum 74 with an “e-blast” to parishioners titled “Conscience and Ref. 74.” Speaking of the “call to conscience” in Catholic teachings, he told them that “authority never supplants conscience.”

The advertisements Sunday will appear in the Herald of Everett, the Seattle Times, and the Yakima Herald-Republic, a Times-owned property. 
About 5 percent of the names will appear as “anonymous” or “a church worker,” representing people so deeply involved in their parishes or church work that they do not want to incur the wrath of the hierarchy.A second demonstration is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Sunday outside St. Paul’s Cathedral in Yakima.
Yakima Bishop Joseph Tyson has been almost vitriolic in his opposition to same-sex marriage. Tyson sought to have anti-74 fund-raising appeals put in parish pews. He issued a pastoral letter describing Referendum 74 as a measure that “endangers our religious liberty and the right of conscience.” He has directed that appeals against marriage equality be included in church bulletins.Catholics for Marriage Equality is sponsoring the advertisements that will appear Sunday.
“The new civil marriage law in our state provides both for marriage equality for all and for everyone’s religious freedom: It explicitly guarantees that our churches can celebrate nuptuals as they wish according to their beliefs,” said spokesman Kirby Brown.
“The churches have nothing to fear. Love overcomes fear, and love is the basis of both church teachings and lasting marriages.”  [These catholics are making up their own rules and definitions regarding the meaning of love.  Just like the Protestants whom they are emulating, they have become their own Magesterium and are no longer in communion with the Catholic Church.]
The latest developments in Washington’s Referendum 74 campaign coincided with an angry speech at the World Synod of Bishops conference in Rome. It came from an American, Cardinal Raymond Burke, who heads the Vatican’s Supreme Court of the Apostolic Signature.
“Intrinsically evil” things — embryonic stem-cell research, same-sex marriage and abortion — have spread over the Earth in the half-century since the Second Vatican Council, Burke argued. The cause:  "indifference toward church discipline, if not hostility.”
Cardinal Burke's statement - that indifference toward church discipline is the cause of such evils as embryonic stem-cell research, same sex marriage and abortion - is extremely significant.  As I pointed out in a recent post, errant priests and bishops are nothing new in Church history.  Our leaders were and are frail men who are in need of our prayers. But never in Church history has the laity been in such open rebellion against the Magesterium.  The question is, how did we get to such an horrific state? 

Many blame Vatican II as the cause of the spiritual ills in the Church.  Our current Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, who never hesitates to point out the spiritual crisis in the Church, and who was an actual participant in Vatican II, does not agree that Vatican II led to the crisis in the church, and in fact he speaks very highly of the council.  Many, especially among Traditionalists, dismiss this by labeling Pope Benedict XVI as just an old liberal.  These people will give no credit to our Holy Father for loosening the restrictions on the Latin Mass and promoting such traditional practices as receiving Communion on the tongue while kneeling.  My own personal feelings are that Father Joseph Ratzinger may have leaned liberal in his younger days, but Pope Benedict XVI is as rock solid (pun intended) as any Pope who has ever occupied the Chair of Peter.

I would contend that the actual catalyst of the crisis of faith happened shortly after Vatican II.  In 1968, Pope Paul VI issued Humanae Vitae, the encyclical in which he condemned the use of artificial birth control.  Many in the Church unashamedly and openly rebelled against the Magesterium of the Church when Humanae Vitae became the official dogma.  This rebellion included both the laity and the clergy at that time which has continued to this day, as can be seen in the above article from the Seattle newspaper.

Back in February of this year I did a posting on this blog about the history of Humanae Vitae and the Church's reaction.  I quoted the following from a PBS website.  (I have included my comments from the original post.)  The website first gave the mood of the Church prior to the release of the encyclical, showing that most American Catholics felt very strongly that the pope would have no problem with contraception.
In July 1965 a Gallup poll asked Catholic Americans if they thought their Church would ever approve of birth control. Sixty-one percent of the respondents replied yes. There was just cause for optimism. Oral contraceptives had been on the market for five years, and had not been banned by the Pope.

Change in the Air
Within the hierarchy of the Church, both bishops and priests around the world were boldly speaking out in favor of contraception and especially the Pill. The Church had convened a papal commission to study the issue, and reports leaking out from the meeting suggested change was in the air. There was a general consensus that the commission would recommend liberalizing the Church's policy. It was just a question of when.

Rock's Argument for the Pill
In the mid-1960s, one of the Pill's most prominent Catholic advocates, Dr.
John Rock, insisted that the Pill should be acceptable to the Roman Catholic Church as a variant of the rhythm method. He was confident that the Vatican would eventually accept his argument that the Pill was a "natural" form of birth control and allow Catholic women to use it for contraception.
But then cold reality hit both the priests and laity when Pope Paul VI took them completely by surprise and without equivocation condemned contraception as intrinsically evil.
The Pope's Encyclical
It was not to be. On the morning of July 25, 1968, the Vatican called a press conference to announce its decision on the Pill. In the papal encyclical entitled Humanae Vitae ("Of Human Life"), Pope Paul VI ended the speculation over oral contraceptives and birth control once and for all. He reaffirmed the Church's traditional teachings and classified the Pill as an artificial method of birth control. To go on the Pill or use any other contraceptive device would constitute nothing less than a mortal sin.  [We are talking about people's salvation, but that didn't and doesn't stop them from rebelling.]

Singling Out the Pill
In addition to condemning abortion and sterilization, the Pope singled out the Pill for its role in separating the act of sex from procreation. The Pill, Humanae Vitae declared, "opened up a wide and easy road... toward conjugal infidelity and the general lowering of morality. Man, growing used to contraceptive practices, may lose respect for the woman and come to the point of considering her as a mere instrument of selfish enjoyment, and no longer as his respected and beloved companion."  [We have seen these fruits of artificial contraception in abundance.  There can be no doubt that Pope Paul VI was being led by the Holy Spirit when he wrote this encyclical, and all who opposed it then and are opposing it now are fighting the Holy Spirit] 
Now comes outright rebellion among those in the pews as never seen before in the history of the Church.  Catholics, it seemed, no longer accepted the teaching authority of the Magesterium and felt they had a right to question the church and decide for themselves what is right and wrong.  This was the first sin committed by our first parents.
Disappointment Among Catholics
John Rock had lobbied long and hard in favor of the Pill, and Humanae Vitae was a bitter disappointment. "The hierarchy has made another terrible mistake," was all he could say publicly on the subject. Rock was not alone in his reaction. In the United States there was an immediate groundswell of resistance. At Catholic University in Washington, D.C., two thousand demonstrators, many of them priests and nuns, gathered to voice their dissent. A number of priests even resigned in response to the Vatican's decision. 
Public Opinion
Even though John Rock had lost the battle with the Vatican, Catholics around the world agreed with his view. A Gallup poll taken only a month after the encyclical found that only 28% of American Catholics favored the Vatican's stance. Among Catholics in their twenties, 8 out of 10 disagreed with the pope.
Ignoring the Vatican
Within just two years of Humanae Vitae, almost as many Catholic women used the Pill as non-Catholics. By 1970, two-thirds of all Catholic women and three-quarters of those under 30 were using the Pill and other birth control methods banned by the Church. In 2002, Humanae Vitae still defined the Church's position on birth control, and many observers of the Church believed that it contributed to the erosion of the Vatican's authority during the last decades of the twentieth century.
Although priests and bishops equivocated and even outright rebelled against Humanae Vitae, the Magesterium has never wavered in the least.  In my February post, I quoted from an article on the 25th Anniversary of Humanae Vitae published by America Magazine on July 17, 1993:
John Paul II has become increasingly absolute and intransigent on the matter. On June 5, 1987, he stated to a conference on responsible procreation: "The Church’s teaching on contraception does not belong to the category of matter open to free discussion among theologians. Teaching the contrary amounts to leading the moral con­sciences of spouses into error" (L’Osservatore Romano, English edition, July 6, 1987).
This did not stop the the dissidents in the Church in any way:
Indeed, the Sovereign Pontiff raises the stakes by tying the teaching to central truths of the faith (e.g., God’s goodness), a move often described in Germany as "dogmatization" (Dogmatisierung). This was protested by 163 theologians from Germany, Austria, the Netherlands and Switzerland in the so-called "Cologne Declaration" (Jan. 27, 1989). The concerns of this decla­ration were subsequently endorsed by 130 French theolo­gians, 60 Spanish theologians, 63 Italian theologians and 431 members of the Catholic Theological Society of America (Origins, Dec. 27, 1990).
Those who rejected Humane Vitae completely ignored the many warnings about the evils resulting from the use of contraception.  As Pope Paul VI wrote, contraception has directly led to the moral collapse of society:
Responsible men can become more deeply convinced of the truth of the doctrine laid down by the Church on this issue if they reflect on the consequences of methods and plans for artificial birth control. Let them first consider how easily this course of action could open wide the way for marital infidelity and a general lowering of moral standards. Not much experience is needed to be fully aware of human weakness and to understand that human beings—and especially the young, who are so exposed to temptation—need incentives to keep the moral law, and it is an evil thing to make it easy for them to break that law.

Use of contraception destroys love
and respect between men and women
Pope Paul VI warned of the corrupting effect on men's view and treatment of women, as we have seen played out especially in the hip hop culture, where women are called "ho's" and viewed almost exclusively as sexual objects:
Another effect [of contraception] that gives cause for alarm is that a man who grows accustomed to the use of contraceptive methods may forget the reverence due to a woman, and, disregarding her physical and emotional equilibrium, reduce her to being a mere instrument for the satisfaction of his own desires, no longer considering her as his partner whom he should surround with care and affection.
Humanae Vitae even warned us of the great danger the Church now faces in its fight against our own government here in the United States.  Pope Paul VI actually predicted that governments would force contraception, sterilization and abortion on its own citizens, as I posted earlier this year.  From Humanae Vitae:
Finally, careful consideration should be given to the danger of this power passing into the hands of those public authorities who care little for the precepts of the moral law. Who will blame a government which in its attempt to resolve the problems affecting an entire country resorts to the same measures as are regarded as lawful by married people in the solution of a particular family difficulty? Who will prevent public authorities from favoring those contraceptive methods which they consider more effective? Should they regard this as necessary, they may even impose their use on everyone. It could well happen, therefore, that when people, either individually or in family or social life, experience the inherent difficulties of the divine law and are determined to avoid them, they may give into the hands of public authorities the power to intervene in the most personal and intimate responsibility of husband and wife.

Pope Paul VI rightly predicted the burgeoning industry of pornography as a direct result of contraception.  If the members of the church had not rebelled, there would not be hundreds of billions of dollars spent every year on pornography, destroying the souls and minds of millions of men and women.  The family would not be threatened with destruction through the acceptance of homosexuality and same sex "marriage."  Our music and other entertainment would not be the debased, raunchy and immoral garbage to which we are constantly exposed.

Numbers of unwed mothers
in the US has skyrocketed in
the last 50 years
Can we even begin to imagine not just how different the Church would be, but how different the entire world would be if Humanae Vitae had been fully accepted and embraced?  Is it just coincidence that since the rejection of Humanae Vitae, abortion has become legal around the world, with 60 million babies killed in the US alone since abortion's legalization in 1973 and untold hundreds of millions of babies killed through chemical means? Is is just coincidence that out-of-wedlock births and rates of sexually transmitted disease have skyrocketed as traditional morality has been completely discarded?

The rejection of Humanae Vitae changed the course of the entire world.  It is the difference between life and death or more specifically, the culture of life and the culture of death, as Pope John Paul II warned us.

Clown Mass and Magic Mass

The rebellion against Humanae Vitae was followed by another earthquake in the Church a little over a year later in December 1969 when the Novus Ordo Mass was introduced.  This was Pope Paul VI's attempt to make the Mass more relevant to the Church and bring greater participation to it.  Unfortunately, it had the complete opposite effect.  The deletion of the strict rubrics of the Mass that had been required for 1500 years, and, in an unprecedented move, allowing the laity into the Sanctuary during the sacrifice of the Mass for the first time in its history allowed both priests and laity to take great liberties with the liturgy. As a result, liturgical abuse became almost the norm.  For the first time in Church history we had clown Masses, folk Masses, puppet Masses, magic show Masses, liturgical dancing, children gathering around the altar during the consecration, to name just a few of the abuses.  It seemed all reverence was lost as headcoverings came off the women and people began coming to Mass as if they were dressing to clean out their basements and garages.  Despite Pope John Paul II's rejection of it, communion in the hand became the norm.  The Tabernacle was moved from the center of the church off to the side and in some churches, into a completely different room.  Reverence for the Blessed Sacrament practically ceased to exist.  Even now most people barely nod their heads when passing in front of the Blessed Sacrament, much less actually get down on one knee and genuflect.  People talk and carry on inside church buildings as if they were in a concert hall, with no thought that they are in a holy place in which the Lord and Creator of the universe resides.

It should be noted that all of the liturgical abuses we have seen in recent decades are in complete contradiction to the Magesterium, and have been strongly condemned by our current Holy Father.  In The Spirit of the Liturgy, written by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger and published in 2000, he wrote the following:
Dancing is not a form of expression for the Christian liturgy. In about the third century, there was an attempt in certain Gnostic-Docetic circles to introduce it into the liturgy. For these people, the Crucifixion was only an appearance. . . . Dancing could take the place of the liturgy of the Cross, because, after all, the Cross was only an appearance. The cultic dances of the different religions have different purposes - incantation, imitative magic, mystical ecstasy - none of which is compatible with the essential purpose of the liturgy as the "reasonable sacrifice". It is totally absurd to try to make the liturgy "attractive" by introducing dancing pantomimes (wherever possible performed by professional dance troupes), which frequently (and rightly, from the professionals' point of view) end with applause. Wherever applause breaks out in the liturgy because of some human achievement, it is a sure sign that the essence of liturgy has totally disappeared and been replaced by a kind of religious entertainment. Such attraction fades quickly - it cannot compete in the market of leisure pursuits, incorporating as it increasingly does various forms of religious titillation.
Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger also wrote the following:
The greatness of the liturgy depends - we shall have to repeat this frequently - on its unspontaneity.
The Holy Father very recently addressed the issue of tampering with the Mass in a message given in St. Peter's Square on October 3:
Therefore, it is neither the individual – priest or faithful – nor the group who celebrates the liturgy; rather, it is primarily God’s action through the Church, who has her own history, her own rich tradition and her own creativity. This universality and fundamental openness, which is proper to the liturgy as a whole, is one of the reasons why it cannot be designed or modified by individual communities or by experts, but must be faithful to the forms of the universal Church.
Is it just coincidence that rejection of Humane Vitae, which was a de facto rejection of the Magesterium of the Church, was then followed by decades of liturgical abuse in which we far too often completely lost the meaning of the Sacrifice of the Mass?  It's almost as if the Holy Spirit allowed the Mass to be taken from the church in response to the rejection of sacred Church teaching.  A direct result of tampering with the Mass was the loss of the meaning of the Mass and total loss of reverence.  We can only imagine how different the Catholic Church itself would be if we had not had the liturgical abuses of recent decades.  If not for liturgical abuse, people would actually be in the pews praying before and after Mass as they always did instead of loudly chit chatting with one another.  People would still be going to confession in large numbers.  There would be no receiving communion in the hand while standing but instead reverently kneeling and receiving on the tongue. Mass would be Mass - the re-presentation of Christ's Sacrifice on Calvary - not the Sunday morning entertainment hour that it so often became.

When Catholics rebelled against the teaching of the Church, all hell quite literally broke loose in the world, and it seems there is no turning back.  Now we have no choice but to face the consequences of our actions.

There were other contributing factors, but I feel that the laity's rejection of Humanae Vitae along with vast liturgical abuse has led to the extreme crisis of faith in the Church and in the world.  Catholics all know the teaching of the Church.  The Magesterium of the Church has never wavered on what is right and wrong.  Pope John Paul II was as pro life as anyone could be and constantly spoke out against what he labeled as the culture of death.  In addition to speaking out against the culture of death, our current Pope has spoken out many times on the terrible consequences of liturgical abuse, as shown above.  If Catholics had listened to and followed the lead of the Magesterium, we would not be in the spiritual mess we see all around us with hundreds of millions of souls at risk of losing their salvation.

Further, is it just coincidence that as chaos reigned in the Church, the world sank into more evil and darkness?  The Catholic Church is the arbiter of truth in the world because we are the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ.  We are the light of the world, as our Saviour told us.  If the Catholic Church is in darkness, the entire world is without light.

We can shake our fingers at the bishops and say it's all their fault, but can we really blame them for the fact that we have rejected Christ's Church?  And make no mistake, if you have rejected any dogma of the Church, it is the same as rejecting all of it.  Could the priests and bishops have preached more about it and emphasized the importance of this teaching?  No doubt about it.  They definitely do bear culpability.  But when we stand before Christ, are we going to be able to blame the clergy because we, of our own free will, chose to disobey?  Despite corrupt priests and bishops, past generations of Catholic laity stayed true to the teachings of the Church  because they stayed true to the Magesterium, which is held in place by the Holy Spirit and therefore can never be wrong.  What is our excuse?

Returning to the subject of Cardinal Dolan, I agree with Michael Voris that it was a terrible mistake to invite Barack Obama to the Al Smith dinner. But would Cardinal Dolan have felt this was the right thing to do if the majority of the laity in his own archdiocese of New York were not accepting of it?  Can we really just blame Cardinal Dolan?   If the laity was faithful to the teachings and dogma of the Catholic Church, Barack Obama would never have been president.  If Catholics were faithful to the Church, there would be no pro abortion and pro homosexual politicians pushing laws and policies that are destroying us physically and spiritually.  We would never have had the sexual abuse scandal that has rocked the Church in recent years.  If Catholics stood up for the teachings of the Church, the entire world would be a completely different place. We get the leaders and leadership we deserve.

As I have recently posted, putting the blame solely on the bishops and priests just won't cut it.  We have to start looking at ourselves and see how we, individually, have contributed to the spiritual crisis in the church and all around the world.  The Holy Father has given us the Year of Faith to do just that.  We need to rediscover our faith, rediscover the teachings of the Church and solidly embrace those teachings.  The one true Church founded by Jesus Christ and led by the Holy Spirit has all the answers we are looking for.  But we can't serve two masters.  It must either be the flesh and the world, or Jesus Christ and His Mystical Body, the Church.

1 comment:

  1. Oh Lord save us from these Demons! Evil has entered your Church please keep the true faithful near to you. Amen.


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