Sunday, 22 January 2012

Start Defending The Church

Do Catholics understand the extent to which the Church is under attack? This is not some imagined phenomenon, which a handful of fanatical Catholics are blowing out of proportion. No, the attack on the Church is real and is steadily increasing.

Consider the decision, by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), that “health plans will be required to provide all FDA-approved contraceptives, including some that can cause abortions …[1]

Granted, the HHS has included a religious exemption clause. The clause is, however, a disingenuous attempt to gain support without budging on the stated objective. The wording of the exemption is so narrow that the only way Catholic organisations will be able to qualify for the exemption is by refusing to treat non-Catholics.

Despite various organisations, including the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), calling for an amendment, the Obama administration has refused to do so.

Archbishop Timothy Dolan, of the Archdiocese of New York, has rightly reacted, as all Catholics should do, by saying that, “To force American citizens to choose between violating their consciences and forgoing their health care is literally unconscionable. It is as much an attack on access to health care as on religious freedom. Historically this represents a challenge and a compromise of our religious liberty.[2]

One would think that, since approximately 22% of the US population is Catholic, the USCCB would have tremendous leverage amongst politicians, especially as they prepare to elect a new President in the US. Sadly, this does not seem to be the case. Politicians, even Catholic politicians, feel quite at ease in promoting agendas that oppose the teaching of the Church, while still being able to rely on the votes from their alleged “Catholic” supporters.

Catholics all over the world continue to regularly fall into the trap of deliberately choosing to ignore the truths taught by the Church. Even worse than ignoring, they choose to publicise their decision to ignore the Church. Why, I wonder, would you choose to remain identified as being a Catholic, if you clearly do not agree with the teaching of the Church or if you have no intention of defending the truths taught by the Church?

Take the example of the gay marriage proponents. The Church teaching on this subject is quite clear. Yet, many in the Church constantly fall into the trap of supporting, publicly, efforts to force the Church to support and effect gay marriage. Some claim they feel they are being uncharitable if they do not do so.

Wake up. You are being uncharitable if you, as a Catholic, manipulate or ignore the truth taught by the Church, in order to suit an individual or a group of individuals. This Church is not ours to change. Supporting an individual in making a choice that is, without a shadow of a doubt, proclaimed by the Church to be a sin, is not charitable. It is leading that individual into sin and we will be held accountable for these actions.

Let us also not forget that, by supporting any actions that lead individuals to disobey the Church, such as for example gay marriage, abortion, ordination of women and contraception, we are actually also actively attacking the Church. If we dissent from the truths taught by the Church, no matter how good our intentions may be, we are systematically working towards the total destruction of the Church.

How many people do you know that will claim to be a member of a particular political party, if they did not share the values of that political party? People are very quick to divorce themselves from a political party that does not support their values and political agenda. Yet, in a matter as serious as ones faith, people remain “Catholic”, despite not believing or supporting what the Church teaches.

This is so strange. We are clearly not in the same position that Luther found himself in, during 1517, when he felt he had no option but to present the 95 Theses. We have so many options available to us today. There are that many Christian denominations to choose from. For goodness sake, find one that does teach what you believe. Then move on and stop pretending to be what your actions clearly say you are not! In doing so you remain true to your beliefs and you do not destroy the beliefs of others.

At this point, I am unable to refrain from introducing my pet subject, the Catholic media. In my mind, there is only one thing worse than an individual who claims to be Catholic, even though the individual does not believe in the truths taught by the Church. It is when an organisation does so! Why, I ask you, would a newspaper freely choose to take on the character of being Catholic, if the newspaper does not believe completely the truths taught by the Catholic Church? This is simply deception, for the benefit of the profits that the newspaper relies on. How are they different to Judas in this behaviour?

I really wish the bishops throughout the world would have the courage to refuse permission, for any newspaper or magazine to be sold on Church premises, if it chooses to publish any material which challenges church teaching in any way, no matter how subtly and no matter what the stated purpose. (I don’t buy the excuse of encouraging debate or being a source of catechesis.) Chuck them out until they again show their willingness, through content, to conform completely to Church teaching!

Catholics, and by this I mean all Catholics who truly believe completely in all the truths taught by the Church, must join forces and begin to defend the Church vociferously from all attempts, by alleged “Catholic” individuals and organisations, to destroy our Church. We need to stop being naïve. Let us not fall into the trap of believing that their intentions are good, when their actions clearly say otherwise. Never forget that, even if their intentions are good, their actions are no less destructive to the Church.

"The Church" is the People that God gathers in the whole world. She exists in local communities and is made real as a liturgical, above all a Eucharistic, assembly. She draws her life from the word and the Body of Christ and so herself becomes Christ's Body.[3]

If we truly believe that the Church is the body of Christ shining out in the world then we must defend her like we claim we would defend our Lord himself.

[1] U.S. Catholic, Jan 20, 2012
[3] Catechism of the Catholic Church, #752

1 comment:

  1. Brilliant Mark and thank you. Indeed we must start taking our faith more seriously and come to realize that She is under attack. What is of greater concern though, as you so rightly point out, is the attack that is coming within the Church. We seriously need to pray for these people that they may wake up and realize what damage they are doing.

    On the “Catholic Newspaper” I couldn’t agree more. I feel obliged to write a letter to His Excellency in the Archdiocese of Johannesburg that selling the Scross at our Church’s be stopped until the newspaper changes the way it does things. I’m not sure if it make a difference, but I will most certainly try.