I often get extremely disheartened at the way the Church is under constant attack from within. I accept that the Church will naturally be subjected to constant attacks from outside, as Satan frantically and desperately attempts to destroy the Church. However, I find it extremely heart breaking to come to terms with the fact that so many attacks that take place on the Church, come from within the Church.
These attacks, from within the Church, take so many clever guises and they are sadly always presented as being for the greater good of the Church and, of course, in accordance with the will of Christ. Those who engage in these attacks on the Church generally muster the support of very intelligent and highly persuasive individuals to help their cause. It is therefore often very difficult, at face value, for ordinary Catholics to recognise the attack on the Church for what it really is. On the contrary, it is in fact quite easy for the ordinary Catholic like me to fall into the trap of believing that what is being proposed is extremely reasonable and therefore actually acceptable. This is clearly, what they hope to achieve.
Those intent on attacking the Church also rally the support of priests, religious, and theologians for their cause. This is done specifically to give their cause added credibility and to increase the extreme difficulty that ordinary Catholics already have in trying to discern the truth. It is quite horrifying that these priests, religious, and theologians allow themselves to be used in this way.
What is equally horrifying is not only that priests, religious, and theologians are engaged in this way, but also that on many occasions these attacks on the Church are actually organised and managed directly from the premises of the Church. Once again, how does the ordinary Catholic differentiate what is of the Church and deserving of support or not, when the attack comes directly from the Church premises?
Let’s not forget to mention of course how the Catholic newspapers today serve as one of the biggest and most successful platforms from which to launch an attack on the Church, all fooled by the belief that as a ‘newspaper’ they have some sort of ethical duty to provide a voice for all, just like a secular newspaper would do.
The complete and utterly shameless ways that are used to enable ordinary everyday Catholics to be deceived must leave us with no doubt whatsoever that a firm and no nonsense response is required to protect the Church and its members. We cannot allow this to continue unchecked because, if we do, we are increasing the probability of one of our children, our family or our friends being exposed to their treachery and succumbing to their false teaching. This is an extremely serious matter and we must, as quickly as possible, oust those who attempt to attack the Church from within. This is literally a matter of life and death.
This will of course not be easy. Often these efforts will be complicated by accusations that those doing the ousting are behaving uncharitably. One has only to read the comment section of any Catholic newspaper to see this in action. Take note of the comments in reaction to the person who has the courage to speak the truth. Seldom is any effort made to address the contents of the person’s response itself. This is because they frankly have no interest in dialogue, despite what they may say.
Instead, their only objective is to embarrass and humiliate the person in order to silence him or her. They do so by branding him or her as uncharitable, confrontational, disrespectful, bully and many other hurtful labels. They firstly want any others reading the comments to be too afraid to even consider supporting the person. Further, they hope, and sadly, they’re often successful, that the person will simply ‘run away’ from their bitter and hurtful attack. Their behaviour is intent on silencing the person at all costs while of course maintaining the perception that they are the victims in the entire matter.
If this behaviour does not stop the person then they will begin with the next range of options: censor and delete the person’s comments; enlist people to address ‘letters of complaint’ to the newspaper about the allegedly hurtful and confrontational content, in order to get the person banned completely.
The reason that these attacks on the Church generally continue, despite the fact that many Catholics actually find them unacceptable, is that most people naturally want to avoid any unpleasantness. Life is tough enough without having to complicate it any further and it is this sentiment that is exactly what these groups are banking on. They persist because they have shown that more often than not, they can simply wear other people down and in that way get their own way.
Consider Pope Benedict’s words during his homily at the Chrism Mass earlier this year. Speaking about those who simply refuse to obey the Church’s teaching on the ordination of women and who persist in this regard, Pope Benedict says: “Do we sense here anything of that configuration to Christ which is the precondition for all true renewal, or do we merely sense a desperate push to do something to change the Church in accordance with one’s own preferences and ideas?”[i]
This morning’s gospel reading does of course always give me great comfort whenever I become disheartened and despondent at this constant attacking of the Church. It is very short so I will repeat it below.
“In the evening the disciples went down to the shore of the lake and got into a boat to make for Capernaum on the other side of the lake. It was getting dark by now and Jesus had still not rejoined them. The wind was strong, and the sea was getting rough. They had rowed three or four miles when they saw Jesus walking on the lake and coming towards the boat. This frightened them, but he said, ‘It is I. Do not be afraid.’ They were for taking him into the boat, but in no time it reached the shore at the place they were making for.”[ii]
It is nice to be reminded that despite the winds of persecution that the Church constantly faces from every side, even sometimes, like the waves, breaking into the boat, Christ is always their with His Church. He will ensure that the Church will not be deviated from course and the Church will arrive, on time, at its planned destination, with all of those who remained faithful and safely within her.
We need Catholics to realise that they must be prepared to stand their ground and remain in the boat, despite being battered with unflattering and hurtful labels, because the destination is so truly magnificent and worth it.