Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The stage is set

Several people today have linked to Fr. James Schall's post from last week in which he warned that we may be edging closer to religious persecution of Catholics and a breakaway, "official" Catholic Church similar to what China has:

A situation analogous to that in China can be foreseen: an “official” break-away church that follows government decrees and an underground church that still maintains the central truths of reason and faith. One suspects that the degree of hatred for the Church is more widespread and deeper than we like to admit. The situation, however, is not so different from what Scripture would have us expect.

Things change almost too rapidly for us to appreciate their scope. With legalized same-sex “marriages,” as they are equivocally called, in which children are adopted, we will have mandates to educate them in Catholic schools as if no problem exists. The children, legally deprived of a mother or a father, will be presented as from “normal” families. Several writers have suggested that parents teaching children that problems exist with homosexual life or adoption will be investigated for “child abuse.”

Kevin O'Brien then continues the theme:
I will be bold enough to add another prophecy, based simply upon observing what we see today and what we've seen in the past generation. And that is this: two-thirds of the Catholic bishops in the United States will collude with the spirit of antichrist in the coming generation and will glibly and complacently join in the fun of the sham Christ and his sham Church. (Emphasis and link in original--E.M.)
I've written in a similar vein, myself. Here's something from a post I wrote during the Obama/Notre Dame kerfuffle:
Barack Obama has from even before his election adopted a strategy of "divide and conquer" when it comes to American Catholics. His goal is to associate with, reward, appoint, and honor Catholics who either openly and fiercely dissent from the Church's teachings on abortion, or who are at least willing to be good little quislings and keep their mouths shut about it in order to curry favor with him. At the same time, he doesn't shy away from marginalizing and excluding Catholics who are faithful to the Church's teachings, so much so that he has thus far refused to name a single pro-life Catholic to any position in his administration, not even to serve as ambassador to the Holy See. It is clear that Barack Obama thinks there are two kinds of Catholics: the ones who actually accept all that superstitious nonsense about the right of the unborn to keep on living instead of being ripped apart in their mother's wombs, and the enlightened ones who recognize that unfortunate viewpoint for the medieval nonsense it is, and who are more willing to follow the One than they are to follow the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Obama has gone out of his way to show which kind of Catholic he prefers. [...]

All the good little Catholic quislings who have made this grand illusion possible should be proud of themselves. Thanks to their actions, Americans are beginning to get the idea: there is a Right Sort of Catholic, and there is a Wrong Sort. And the Right Sort are the ones who think that the Church's teachings about abortion and other aspects of sexual morality are optional, regrettable, or wrong; but the Wrong Sort are the ones who accept the fullness of the Church's teaching in these and in all areas, and who are not willing to prostitute themselves and their faith for the sake of political profit.
Can anyone doubt that the future official state-approved American Catholic church, with no ties to Rome and complete obeisance to the secular laws, will be filled with, staffed by, and smiled upon by the Right Sort of Catholics?

Here is where non-Catholic observers tend to say, "Wait a minute, though. This is America. We have a Constitutional protection for freedom of religion. You won't really be persecuted for belonging to the Roman Catholic Church, and the idea that a competing state-approved fake Catholic church would ever be established is a complete phantom." These observers may be partly right--it may take longer for the dismantling of the Constitutional protection, and the rebirth of "freedom of religion" to mean "freedom of worship" as is presently underway, to reach their full maturity. But it is not right to say that no such curtailing of religious freedoms could ever happen; they are happening now.

Take the increasing mandate from various states to compel even religious adoption agencies to be prepared to place children with unmarried fornicating couples, same-sex couples, and the like, regardless of their religion's long-established teaching on the evils of fornication and homosexual sex acts and the right of children to be raised by a married mother and father--preferably their own, but acceptably a different married couple if the birth parents are unable or unwilling to fulfill their parental duties. In the eyes of these states, religion is simply a private, personal thing that should not in any way influence a person's actual conduct in public, let alone the policies and practices of an organization which owes its existence to the charitable teachings and practices of any specific faith. What I termed in my earlier post the "Right Sort" of Catholic agrees fully with this premise; he or she might state it this way, "I have the luxury of being able to ponder esoteric notions of good and evil, but children need homes and same-sex or fornicating couples have the right to be given children they can't or don't wish to make either naturally or by manufacturing." Only the "Wrong Sort" of Catholic will insist that virtue is meaningless when it does not lead to right action, and that grave harm is done when innocent children are deliberately placed in situations of intrinsic evil and inherent instability.

Or take the situation of Catholic health care agencies and health insurance companies being forced to pay for contraception. The state is using its brute power to force the Church to pay for something that is gravely, intrinsically evil, something that can (given a person's knowledge) kill the soul and destroy the user's chance for eternal happiness. Once again, the Right Sort of Catholic will say, "I don't really have a problem with birth control myself, and certainly it ought to be used to decrease the surplus population. Even if I did have some sort of mystic, ethical problem with it, though, the Church shouldn't be able to stand by and not pay for it in a society whose members demand that it be given to them free of charge. Might makes right, after all." Only the Wrong Sort of Catholic will point out that no one has the right to mandate access to grave evil, let alone to force others to pay for it.

How long will it be before the Right Sort of Catholics decide to start their own version of the Catholic Church? Not as long as we'd like, I suspect; I know for a fact that "womenpriest" conference attendees were already discussing this some twenty years ago (we had a family friend who was involved. Long story), and I can't imagine that today's crop of would-be Catholic priestesses are more patient and more hopeful of revamping the Church in their own image. In fact, by faking their "ordinations" and presiding over totally fake and completely inefficacious "sacraments," it may be argued that the creation of the future state-approved, fake, American Catholic church is already well underway.

So far, of course, the "Roman Catholic Womenpriest" movement claims (despite their excommunications) to be working inside the Catholic Church. They are not, of course. Their actions have placed them outside the Church--but they claim to be inside, and is any secular agency going to refute that claim? Of course not. I could easily see, in fact, a situation in which the "Womenpriest" branch of the fake "Catholic" church grows large enough to become the preferred church of politicians, glad-handers, movers and shakers, and others who want to be Catholic without actually having to follow any of the Church's teachings--sort of like the fake "Catholic" church this fellow belongs to.

In fact, I can see the situation unfolding as it might in some future dramatic retelling: America, having preserved religious freedom for over two centuries, is discovering what other nations at other times have discovered: that the freedom of churches ultimately will clash with the power of the state, which believes itself to be the only true arbiter of men's conduct and ideas. To proceed forward with the imposition of a totally amoral, secular, profit-driven view of humanity, though, the state must once and for all cripple religion, and the state's especial enemy is always going to be the Catholic Church, which has managed for two thousand years to outlive tyranny and shovel dirt on the graves of dictatorships. An epic drama looms as these two forces draw closer and closer to their inevitable collision...

The stage is already set. The house lights are going down; the murmurs of the audience grow softer. The first act in the play is about to begin--and there's precious little time to change what promises to be a tragedy into anything else.

41 comments:

Kimberly Margosein said...

This is not persecution. It means the Roman Catholic Church is not above the law. It means that when the RCC or a subdivision of it contract with the government to provide certain services, they do not get to pick and choose to whom they provide these services to. It means that your religious beliefs and doctrines are not automatically the law of the land. It means that just because you are straight, white, male and christian you are not ushered to the front of the line automatically. It means the government is not obligated to endorse or show favoritism to your particular doctrines. There are a number of nations that however endorse your worldview. Saudi Arabia and Iran come to mind.

Red Cardigan said...

Good grief, Kimberly, I could be executed in Saudi Arabia if I dared to try to practice my Catholic faith openly there. I once heard a mission priest talk about a stopover in Saudi Arabia and how he'd had to hide his priestly identity while there--but word got out, and a secret Mass was held at which he presided, knowing full well that any of the attendees could be jailed or killed for being there (it was not a small "house service" which are technically allowed but discouraged and often illegally punished, as I understood it, but a larger Mass in a bigger venue).

You can't possibly be that ignorant, can you?

Siarlys Jenkins said...

Either Father James Schall is paranoid, or, those who raise this nonsense most passionately intend, under cover of their faith, to overthrow constitutional government and re-establish political dominion of their faith. What they really mean by "collude with the spirit of antichrist" is 'Accept that in this country, our religion is only one of many, and doesn't get to dictate our profound sense of entitlement to all the others.'

I wrote that before reading Mr. Margosein's comment and Erin's reply. I believe that comparisons between Protestant Dominion theology, Muslims who seek to re-establish a world wide caliphate, and Roman Catholics who insist that they darn well are going to convert everyone and rule the world, are entirely appropriate. ANY faith can generate such totalitarian expressions. Human beings who are sensible enough to have learned something from the Thirty Years War refrain from enforcing their faith in that manner.

Erin, I don't really believe you would support such measures. But your fears are exaggerated, and feed those who would.

Red Cardigan said...

Siarlys, you know that in the UK there are already calls for the Catholic Church to be banned from celebrating marriages unless they agree to "marry" same-sex couples, right? You know that a future without Catholic hospitals, Catholic schools, Catholic charities, etc. will follow the present eradication of Catholic adoption agencies, right? You know that it's entirely possible for the Church to be declared a discriminatory organization for not ordaining women or "marrying" same-sex couples and barred from participating in "faith-based" programs, right? You know that in some future it's quite possible that wearing overt Catholic symbols such as a crucifix in public might be considered "hate speech" and thus not constitutionally protected, right?

I honestly believe that all of this is coming, and that my grandchildren or great-grandchildren will see it, unless steps are taken now to mitigate these effects of the eradication of the public expression of traditional faiths from our society.

Dominick Donahue said...

I agree that Schall is showing a certain degree of paranoia - as are many others. Conservative Catholics aren't a large enough, or politically savvy enough, faction that would be capable of taking over the government and forcing the establishment of their religion. For one thing, conservative Catholics have an unusual lack of interest in converting anyone and spreading the influence of Catholicism anywhere outside of politics. For another - well, numbers. They make about 8 percent at most of the population, don't have a united front, and are not popular.

On the other hand - we're not being persecuted, we're just suffering from our acceptance of tax money. If you take federal money, it gets spent how the feds want it spent. We can avoid this financial persecution simply by funding our own adoption agencies and charities. As for the marriage issue - we don't need state approval to marry people, we can use common-law marriage to its fullest extent.

And it's not a prelude to persecution to see Obama not appoint pro-life Catholics to his administration. That's just entitlement on pro-life Catholics' part, expecting to get juicy appointments without supporting the president who appoints people.

One final note: the Church in France since the Reformation was far more of a basket case, far more influenced and bullied by the government, and more schismatic than we are - and they were a Catholic country. We've got a long way to fall before things get even that bad.

Dominick Donahue

Siarlys Jenkins said...

Not exactly Erin. You may recall that one of the first times we "met" at Rod's old site was when I firmly opposed a hospital requiring a nurse of the Roman Catholic faith to participate in an abortion. I know it happened to her, but I also know it wasn't a legal imposition or a standard procedure... it was the arrogant act of an individual administrator.

Rod (in his new incarnation) has also mentioned the proposed British legislation. Someone who responded in the comments section pointed out that it was the authority to provide civil marriage licenses that was proposed to be revoked, not the right to perform the rites of Holy Matrimony. I would oppose such legislation, and I suspect such legislation would be declared unconstitutional here. We did fight a war of independence with Great Britain over two hundred years ago. They have always had an "Established Church," merely changing the head from the Bishop of Rome to the Monarch of England. The USA parted company from that practice in 1787.

To say "look what's happening in Britain" and "look what's happening in Canada" is NOT a good argument for what could happen HERE. Even the arguments that throw in the practice of some Supreme Court judges of referencing legal trends in other countries doesn't sustain the hysteria. Foreign law is, at best, persuasive, if the court chooses to accept it as such, not mandatory, and it never trumps the letter of our own constitution.

Now, Catholic hospitals... I grew up in a community where a number of people donated the money to build a nonsectarian "Memorial Hospital" precisely because the only hospital previously serving the community was St. Elizabeth's a Catholic hospital. The administration at St. Elizabeth thought that all quite unnecessary, but it was necessary. St. Elizabeth could go on adhering to Catholic requirements, and everyone else could have good quality hospital care without having to cater to those requirements.

Yes, abortion was one motivation -- state laws were strict in those days, but there were some therapeutic abortions that were legal, which St. Elizabeth's would not allow on their premises. Fine, they don't have to, as long as they are one option in the local health care scene.

Most Catholic hospitals running into trouble are part of largish conglomerations that are a great part of, even most of, the institutional health care available in a local area in today's corporate medical system. Naturally, people who are not Catholic, and therefore not bound by Catholic teaching, raise some ruckus if their own options are limited.

I have some sympathy with your position on adoptions. For one, I see a reasonable basis to give preference to adoption by married heterosexual couples -- although adoption by a stable gay couple is generally better than continuing to bounce around the foster care system. For another, I see no reason that a Catholic adoption agency should not arrange adoptions in accordance with Catholic doctrine.

However, once enmeshed in a state adoption system, it is no longer a strictly church operation. We need to back off the "all together now" approach to social services. Catholic agencies should arrange adoption for children delivered to those agencies by responsible adults who seek the principles those agencies offer. Other agencies can offer different criteria, all being honest about what those are.

"in some future it's quite possible that wearing overt Catholic symbols such as a crucifix in public might be considered 'hate speech' and thus not constitutionally protected, right?"

No, I don't. You need to study more Supreme Court cases. They are easily available on line. That particular question exhibits sheer paranoia and ignorance. It would take a constitutional amendment to accomplish such an end -- about the same strenuous effort required to define a fetus as a person within the usage of the Fourteenth Amendment. Neither is going to happen.

Kimberly Margosein said...

Ms Manning, speaking as a non-Abrahamic, I see your brand of Christianity and Saudi Arabia's brand of Islam as differing in only minor degree. Just one more prophet, that is all. Heck, Islam is more into Marianism (is that the right concept?) than the mainstream RCC.

c matt said...

I don't think we will have an official American Cath Church in the sense that China does, as the US just doesn't have "official" churches of any kind. Just not how we roll. Most likely what will happen is both the real RCC and the fake ARCC will be pretty much treated as equal by the government. Although perhaps the RCC could do some trademark/name enforcement. Or, on an individual level, you could try suing the fake ARCC under deceptive practices acts.

c matt said...

If that is all the difference you see, you are not looking very closely.

Anonymous said...

I don't see it.

Mainstream Catholicism seems the norm in this very large state college town. We have the largest Catholic student body in the state, as well as many students wanting learn more, participate in the work of Catholics, and become Catholic. Besides the American students, our scholars represent many international cultures. Students bring their home-grown faith with them to campus, as well as carry it back to the rest of their personal lives.

One of the single most effective acts a citizen in a democracy can perform is vote making an informed choice. Citizens are most vulnerable when no longer allowed informed choice. Civil discourse is a by-product as well as informed disagreement.

The Church throughout its history has canonized many saints, recognized as living holy lives in their time. I don't see any evil-doers among their numbers recognized by the Church.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

When it comes to internal church governance, American law caters to whatever is decided by the highest judicatory body in the church. That is the courts' way of NOT having to decide questions of faith and doctrine.

The word "Catholic" is sufficiently catholic that Rome can't claim a copyright or trade mark, but no nonadherents, the ones Larry D calls "Catholyc," can claim to be "the Roman Catholic Church." Neither could the Tridentines. Whoever adheres to Rome will be the Roman Catholic Church. Everyone else can call themselves the Reformed American Catholic Church of Liberation if they want.

Rome may be increasingly defanged politically, which is as it should be. That has been going on for 500 years or so. But no church will be required by law to perform acts contrary to its own internal doctrines.

love the girls said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
love the girls said...

A priest I knew Fr. Joseph Ganssle, now dead, who I respect more than all others for his basic common sense insight, thought the persecutions would come in the second or third decade.

Thanks for posting on this, I've long assumed my children would some day the be martyrs for the Faith.

Kimberly Margosein said...

"sort of like the fake "Catholic" church this fellow belongs to."

Where is the picture of Mel Gibson? I don't see it.

Red Cardigan said...

Kimberly, if you would like to repost your penultimate comment without the gratuitous reference to the Scandal, go ahead. I'm pretty sick of your comments, though. Is there really any particular reason you like to take dumps in Catholic blogs, or are you just too much of a coward to mix with your atheist friends and challenge their ideas?

Siarlys Jenkins said...

Funny that this talk of "persecution" comes from people most enamored of pontificating that the government ought to be supporting the church and helping it out.

After finding a copy of Paul Blanshard's well-researched and moderately presented book "American Democracy and Catholic Power," I thought it was only fair to also pick up a copy of Michael Schwarz's "The Enduring Prejudice."

How pathetic that Schwarz denounces as "anti-Catholic bigotry" the notion that the Roman Catholic Church is NOT entitled to rule the United States of America.

To coin a phrase, some of my best friends are Catholic. If I discriminated against them individually because they are Catholic, that would be wrong. Because I respect them as human beings does not mean I have to respect the over-reaching power hunger of their bishops. Nor, is denying the church hegemony even close to martyrdom.

love the girls said...

Siarlys Jenkins writes : . . . Nor, is denying the church hegemony even close to martyrdom"

From other vantage points it's much easier to see.

What I find most interesting is the Catholics are all rather calm about it all, while others who are quite safe are up in arms. One would think the shoe was on the other foot.

John E said...

Can anyone doubt that the future official state-approved American Catholic church, with no ties to Rome and complete obeisance to the secular laws, will be filled with, staffed by, and smiled upon by the Right Sort of Catholics?

[Raises hand]

Yeah - I doubt that, if for no other reason than that the Constitution explicitly forbids the creation of state-approved churches - Catholic or otherwise.

Frankly, what I see here is an attempt to talk up an experience of a good, satisfying frisson of feeling persecuted without any risk of actual danger.

In fact, by faking their "ordinations" and presiding over totally fake and completely inefficacious "sacraments," it may be argued that the creation of the future state-approved, fake, American Catholic church is already well underway.

You are conflating two things here - the religious and the secular. The State has nothing to say about whether or not it 'approves' of any particular church or about the effaciousness of its rituals. Also, the State is not in the business of certifying, approving, or disapproving ordinations.

Your scenario is all very unlikely.

Red Cardigan said...

Kimberly, I've deleted your nasty last comment--and by last, I mean the last one you'll be allowed to put on my blog; from now on I'm going to delete you just like Rod used to do at Crunchy Con when you posted under several aliases (all of which I know, just so you know).

Go back to hanging out on model airplane forums--I'm sure it's far healthier for you.

c matt said...

The only ways the secular government in the US "approves" of any religious organizations (better way to put it is "recognizes" rather than approves) is through charitable/non-profit recognition (but then a totally secular organization could also be so recognized), recognition of sacramental marriages as binding secular ones as well, recogntion if you are discriminated against because of belief or adherence to said religion in certain circumstances, and maybe a few others. So, the state does in some sense "recognize" or "approve" religion. Persecution is more likely to be in the form of discrimination (lack of promotion/appointments) or loss of license for failure to follow regulations/laws that violate your religious tenets. True, it's not anything like being tossed to the lions, but it is persecution. For example, why should a Catholic med student who refuses to perform abortions be denied the opportunity to obtain a medical license if he plans to go into cardiology? For that matter, why would an OB who does not want to perform abortions be required to learn or do them?

Siarlys Jenkins said...

cmatt, in that generalized sense, the state not only "recognizes" religion, generically, but has set it aside for extraordinary constitutional immunity given to nothing else in our culture! And that is as it should be. Separation of church and state is intended to insulate the church from the profane hand of the civil magistrate.

However, no faith has any entitlement to any particular share of promotion and appointments. That's absurd.

A church needs no license to function as a church. It may need a license to extend an arm into licensed non-religious activity, just as a business organized to raise funds for the church pays tax as a business, forwarding the remaining proceeds to whatever purpose the owners choose.

When it comes to non-profits, I have advocated for several years that the status of IRS-approved non-profit tax-exempt organization should be abolished. Most voluntary organizations are not for profit, and therefore have no "income" to pay taxes on. I can argue at length and in detail that what comes into the collection plate, or is donated to a bona fide charity, is not "income" at all. I've already paid tax on my income, and I choose to GIVE some of what's left to accomplish something I believe in.

Non-profit tax exempt mostly means that if the government approves of what the organization does, donors can DEDUCT the amount of donations from their income taxes. Well, scratch that. It is better that nobody get such a benefit, and no common voluntary endeavor need seek the approval of the IRS. Then, among other things, there will be no discrimination against whatever the current regime considers politically incorrect.

Now as to the med student, I agree. It may not be a violation of the student's constitutional rights to require them to learn a bona fide medical procedure, but in the same spirit that animated Edward Kennedy and Orrin Hatch to sponsor the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (partially disabled by the Rehnquist court), a medical student darn well should be able to skip training in abortion and go into cardiology. (The OB/GYN board might take a dimmer view, but even then, I would simply require him or her to advertise in advance to potential patients that he or she is not trained in, and does not perform, any abortions under any circumstances. Surely there are plenty of pro-life women who would choose such a doctor as their own.

Anonymous said...

What is viewed far more easily, is the discrimination of those Catholics, Jews, and people with different skin tones than prejudicially associated with non-northern European ancestry here in the mid-east during the 30s and 40s. Banned from shopping, owning property, and in the case of Japanese-Americans, of even living within the towns they'd settled prior to WWII.

I just don't see us being persecuted in the ways described. I do see trials and tribulations in maintaining and fighting for a certain level of dignity and respect for human lives in the way the socially just way our Church advocates, but not without calls for delineating hypocrisy more clearly. I do see individuals questioning themselves and each other in attaining social justice, but not without solid moral actions on the behalf of the least of us.

Morris Howard said...

Siarlys Jenkins writes : . . . Nor, is denying the church hegemony even close to martyrdom"

From other vantage points it's much easier to see.

What I find most interesting is the Catholics are all rather calm about it all, while others who are quite safe are up in arms. One would think the shoe was on the other foot.

Lovethe Girls, I don't quite follow. Are you saying that denying RCC political hegemony is close to martyrdom? Are you stating that the Catholics who are calm are the ones in danger?

love the girls said...

Morris Howard writes : "Are you saying that denying RCC political hegemony is close to martyrdom?"

No. I'm talking about Catholics in the not too distant future being put to death for their Faith.

You can either see what's coming down, or you can't. Some can't.

John E said...

"No. I'm talking about Catholics in the not too distant future being put to death for their Faith."

What? Here in the US?

Joseph D'Hippolito said...

I will be bold enough to add another prophecy, based simply upon observing what we see today and what we've seen in the past generation. And that is this: two-thirds of the Catholic bishops in the United States will collude with the spirit of antichrist in the coming generation...

They've done that, already, and it has nothing to do with government "persecution." They're just following Rome's lead, which is to sacrifice its spiritual patrimony for secular influence, power, money, intellectual vanity, a class system that effectively renders the laity and lower clergy as serfs, and a permanent sense of institutional entitlement.

That's been going on long before St. Peter Damian wrote, "Liber Gommorahianus."

Not for nothing did St. John Chrysostom say, "The floor of Hell is paved with the skulls of bishops."

love the girls said...

John E writes : "What? Here in the US?"

No, not here. Mexico, 100 years ago, because it could never happen here in the U.S..

Just like it could never happen in Catholic Mexico 100 years ago.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

"You can either see what's coming down or you can't."

And what YOU see either is what's coming down, or its your personal fantasy.

Time will tell.

Mexico, 100 years ago, suffered a severe anti-clerical reaction, because the priests had acted as apologists for tyranny, and accepted the luxuries of state established religion. Fortunately, we don't have to worry about that in America.

Elizabeth said...

Erin, there are already other catholic churches in the US.
The Old Catholics, the Reformed Catholics, the Independent Reformed Catholics, Liberal Catholics, Apostolic Catholics, Independent Catholic Churches, the Polish National Catholic Church of American - not to mention Anglo-Catholicism and my personal favorite, the Anglo-Lutheran Catholic Church. (If only they'd found a way to slip Methodism in the name.)

There is no need whatever for any government agency to lift a finger to try to damage Catholicism. Catholics who behave like Protestants are doing it without any official pressure at all.

elizabeth

Siarlys Jenkins said...

Thank God for Catholics who act like Protestants. Those Catholics who wish to adhere to the teaching of the Magesterium remain free to do so of course. I think what gets the goat of said Catholics is that others are free to ignore the magesterium. The very thought that people could do such a thing and get away with it!

Red Cardigan said...

Well, Siarlys, I believe firmly in God's gift of free will. I also believe that my fellow Catholics who freely, with full knowledge and sufficient reflection, reject the teachings of the Church as articulated through the ordinary Magisterium in order to act like Protestants are at grave risk for the loss of their eternal souls. So, no, I do not thank God that they choose to risk Hell so lightly and so foolishly.

I have begun, Siarlys, to pray for you especially at Mass, and especially during the consecration. Of the last two people for whom I was privileged to pray in this way, one is Catholic now, and the other is on the very brink (and I'm still praying for you, if you know who you are). :) Thank God that with our free will we are sometimes able to fall in love with the truth, and to pursue Him with all our hearts!

Joseph D'Hippolito said...

Erin, what exactly does "acting like Protestants" mean? If it means believing in Christ's redemptive and atoning sacrifice as the only means of salvation, as opposed to membership in any church body, then count me in!

If you think Catholicism is so hot, Erin, then why don't you study Pope Leo XIII's vision, in which he sees Christ consigning the Church to Satan? How do you think the prayer to St. Michael the Archangel came about? Why don't you study what the Third Secret of Fatima really says? Why don't you study the prophecy of St. Malachy, who said that Benedict ("The Glory of the Olive") would be the penultimate pope, that his successor ("Peter the Roman") would be the final pope and, afterward, that the Vatican would be destroyed?

God is pouring out His Spirit in these Last Days (which, btw, started at Pentecost) to anyone who will receive Him...and, in the process, will dispense with denominational snobbery, self-satisfaction, arrogance and entitlement. The Church will be saved if it repents of all those attitudes. If it doesn't.....

Word verification: phyper

Who has to be paid, one way or the other.

Red Cardigan said...

"...why don't you study Pope Leo XIII's vision, in which he sees Christ consigning the Church to Satan? How do you think the prayer to St. Michael the Archangel came about? Why don't you study what the Third Secret of Fatima really says? Why don't you study the prophecy of St. Malachy, who said that Benedict ("The Glory of the Olive") would be the penultimate pope, that his successor ("Peter the Roman") would be the final pope and, afterward, that the Vatican would be destroyed?"

Short answer: because I'm neither insane nor foolish, Joseph. Longer answer: because if one's idea of "true" Christianity divorces Christianity from the Church so as to consign all the people one personally dislikes to Hell because of the misinterpretation of some vision or because of a dodgy prophecy that does not mean what you think it means even if it were really of St. Malachy, then one's idea of Christianity is sadly lacking.

The Church, with the voice of the Holy Spirit and the sacramental life of Christ, calls out: Come to me, and find salvation! Joseph, with a handful of grudges against the Church, no sacraments to offer whatsoever, and no proof that the Holy Spirit is inspiring him at all (and lots of proof that He isn't, for those who've read you for a while), calls out: Come to me, and find salvation outside of the Church! Sorry, Joseph. I follow Christ and the Church He founded as the ordinary means of salvation for all of humanity.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

Before I say anything else Erin, I appreciate your prayers for my welfare. Whether either of us is right, or wrong, or differently mistaken, or both right in some manner cognizable only by God, I believe your expressed concern must in some manner be beneficial.

If anything could drive me to the Roman Catholic Church in the immediate future, it would probably be Joseph's denunciations. I've said before that if I were to seek an authority to tell me the true meaning of Scripture and of Jesus's life on earth, I would prefer an authority resting on several centuries of persistent scholarship over a lone man who tells me that the scales have fallen from his eyes and he now knows the TRUE meaning that has escaped all who preached in the name of Christ for the past 2000 years.

I do not, and did not, expect you to thank God for Catholics who act like Protestants. That was strictly my own expression.

I find considerable fallacy in the attempt to define a "historical Jesus," but I do take a historical view of the Christian Church. I'm currently reading a book called Constantine's Sword, written by a man named James Carroll, who is struggling to remain Catholic while coming to terms with how his church treated the Jews at various points in his history. One thing that is clear to me is that there were many competing doctrines, until Constantine, for political reasons, ordered those invited to the Nicene Council to agree on something, and then kill those who still disagreed. I can't reconcile that with "the church established by Christ and his apostles as the ordinary means of salvation." And, as Carroll points out, the persecution of Jews was secondary to the persecution of fellow Christians for heresy.

I probably agree with Joseph that membership in any church body is not decisive. But, I don't believe that recitation of any doctrine is decisive either, nor do I believe in predestination of an elect. In fact, I believe that salvation is something we all view "through a glass darkly." If we listen to each other, rather than denounce each other, and then each exercise our free will, knowing we will inevitably be wrong in part, we may come a bit closer to the Truth.

In practice, for all the tyranny I have charge the Roman hierarchy with perpetrating, it presently lacks the obedience of a secular enforcement arm to impose its will on anyone. That frees you to be a rather different faithful daughter of the church than you could have been in 1400, and a more congenial one. You are free to denounce torture, rather than to exalt it as service to God. For that, I thank the Reformation, but also, credit the ability of your church to engage in healthy self-criticism.

Joseph D'Hippolito said...

Erin, you never answered my original question: What do you mean by "Catholics acting like Protestants"?

You claim that Christ founded the Catholic Church. Well, what if that Church becomes infatuated with its own sense of power, entitlement and intellectual vanity? There is historical precedent: the Israelites with whom God made a covenant, yet who broke that covenant by tolerating idolatry and the attendant social decay for centuries. Why do you think the Assyrian and Babylonian captivities happended?

Finally, Erin, what do you make of this hypothetical from Christ Himself: "When the Son of Man returns, will He find faith on the Earth?"?

Siarlys, if the Catholic Church really had the ability to engage in healthy self-criticism, then why did Luther, Hus, Wycliffe, Calvin, et al, emerge? Why hasn't Erasmus been given his due? (Most devout Catholics seem to have done to him what Stalin did to photos of former Party members). Why has the Church been dodging any responsibility for the clerical sex-abuse crisis (except for rhetorical platitudes), which has been going on ever since St. Peter Damian wrote "Liber Gomorrianus"?

God is not mocked. That's not a statement from some fanatic; that's from St. Paul himself. If the Israelites were punished for disregarding their covenant, what makes you think the Catholic Church -- indeed, any other church, such as the mainline Protestants -- won't face the music for doing the same thing?

Siarlys Jenkins said...

Joseph, there is no question that the Reformation FORCED a corrupt and lazy church to engage in belated self-criticism. To this day, some loyal Catholics get offended by the mere mention of the word "indulgence." But, to give credit where credit is due, Rome did cease and denounce the teaching that you can buy your grandparents out of purgatory. The church HAS engaged in self-criticism. It hasn't always arrived at exactly the conclusion I would have arrived it if I were setting the agenda of the Magisterium. But why should it? I'm not.

The fact that a devout and obedient member of the Roman Catholic Church can participate in Coalition for Clarity is a huge improvement over the days of the Inquisition, the Rhineland pogroms against Jews (or do you approve of those?), and Torquemada. Now when I hear "The church has ALWAYS condemned..." I take that with a huge grain of salt. History proves otherwise, however many individual voices of the faithful may have cried in the wilderness, saying what is now, but was not then, official doctrine.

I see two basic approaches within the Protestant heritage. One is to proclaim, as you do, "Rome is the Whore of Babylon, I now bring you what God meant His Church to be teaching all along." I don't buy either half of that, which is why I keep Calvin, and even Luther, at arm's length. They were right about some things, wrong about others, and arrogant as any Pope.

The other acknowledges that I/we do not have a complete grasp of God's Truth, although there undoubtedly is such a thing, and frankly, neither did any church council, any Bishop or Patriarch, any Doctor of the Church, including any Bishop of Rome. God knew that mankind would always grasp each new revelation imperfectly, and never authorized any earthly authority to pontificate in God's name, because such an authority would always be equally imperfect. We each have to struggle with seeking the truth, living by as much as we can grasp, with respectful fellowship toward our fellow believers, and listen as well as teach.

Erin has done a pretty good job of that. She finds the Roman Catholic Church to be what she says it is. As long as she doesn't endorse church authorities forcing me at the point of the sword to genuflect likewise, God bless her for it.

Joseph D'Hippolito said...

Siarlys, the Catholic Church isn't the only church that has serious problems with an institutional sense of entitlement, intellecutal vanity and controlling behavior. Protestant and Eastern Orthodox churches do, as well. Just do some research on the near schism in the Anglican Communion between the establishment liberals represented by the Archbishop of Canterbury and Western conservatives who seek to place themselves under the jurisdiction of more orthodox bishops from Africa.

Rome is no more and no less of a "whore" than Geneva, Canterbury, Wittenberg, Constantinople, Moscow, Colorado Springs, etc. (You're intelligent enough to know that I'm using those place names metaphorically). Scripture predicts a general apostacy in the "last days," an apostacy that seems to be budding as we speak.

I admire your reluctance to identify enthusiastically with any particular denomination. Too many Catholics effectively equate membership in the Church with salvation. As someone who was raised as a Catholic and worshipped as one for the vast majority of my life, I think I understand the mentality. It's one that effectively places the church establishment over God.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

I would agree that any organized religious institution claiming some sort of primacy or claim to obedience is placing itself over God, whether Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, or militantly atheist. (Militantly, meaning insisting on pressing its own denials on believers, rather than simply refraining from belief).

However, I am dubious about the picture of a "general apostasy," and as for "The Last Days," I suspect God knew what he was doing when he provided our sun with sufficient hydrogen to continue to function as the stable yellow star we rely on for another five billion years from now.

"He has shown you, oh man, what is good, and what does the Lord require of you, but to do justice, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?" With the rare exceptions of those who have received an undeniably direct revelation, fiercely proclaiming doctrine is not walking humbly.

A closing note on obedience: anyone is free to choose a life of obedience, particularly if they find in it a path to God. It is the imposition of obedience, the notion that "I know what God expects of YOU better than you do" that I find objectionable.

Joseph D'Hippolito said...

Siarlys, "the last days" refers to the time between Pentecost (when, according to Acts 2, the Holy Spirit descended upon the early Christians) and Jesus' Second Coming. Since Pentecost occurred2,000 years ago, that phrase should not be interpreted in terms of literal time (despite the fact that many of the earliest Christians did just that). Nobody knows when "the last days" will culminate.

As far as "general apostasy" is concerned, 2 Thessalonians 2:3-12 seems to imply that.

My points regarding the Catholic Church have only one motive: to wake Catholics out of their stupor and fight the evil within. That doesn't mean dropping the sacraments or becoming Protestants. That does mean, however, taking stands not only against clerical sex-abuse but against doctrinal revisionism, the hierarchy's collective sense of entitlement and its rejection of accountability (even through Canon Law).

Siarlys Jenkins said...

Joseph, of course I'm opposed to clergy sex abuse (which also has its Protestant counter-parts, albeit with less overwhelming authority behind the abuse), but I think Erin has a point that it has been played out and recognized, and isn't a permanent club to beat the church with. Also I am all for clerical accountability, although there is a limit to how much detail the blunt instrument of the law can deliver. There is such a thing as discretion, as well as abuse of discretion.

But where I would expect you and Erin to be ranged arm in arm against me is, I am all for reconsidering doctrine. Most doctrine is man-made, not ordained by God. I don't even mind that a body of believers finds comfort in certain doctrines. I've described myself as a lower-case nonmilitant unitarian. It doesn't bother me if some people think of God as a Trinity. Just don't tell me it is The Truth. Ditto for transubstantiation and a host of other doctrines.

Whenever a Scriptural reference "seems to imply" something, especially something that will happen in the future, I don't spend much time angsting over it. Jesus said all the law and the prophets hangs on two commandments. One could work for a lifetime to live up to those two, and fall short. Why worry about anything in greater detail?

Joseph D'Hippolito said...

Siarlys, I appreciate your honesty. Regarding 2 Thessalonians 2:3-12, I suggest you do your own research, if you're interested.

You are absolutely right that God has basically few requirements: to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with Him. The problem, however, is that it's extremely difficult (if not impossible) for humanity to do that perfectly, since human sin remains a problem. That's the whole point of Jesus' death: to atone for human sin and to redeem those who accept His sacrifice as their own. The whole point of Jesus' resurrection is to nullify the ultimate power of death (that being permanent separation from God's presence), as well as for God to confirm what Jesus said about Himself.

As far as being ranged with Erin "arm and arm" against you...well, I can only speak for myself. I do not believe that religion has either the right or the prerogative to use the state's police power to enforce orthodox belief. That was the fundamental problem with the Inquisition and the European governments that "established" various Christian denominations... and is the fundamental problem with Islam.

I might not agree with some of your beliefs or viewpoints but I have no right to argue that you should be imprisoned or oppressed for them. That's exactly what happened to Jesus at His crucifixion.