For the record, I am not an authority on the Catholic Church, on Holy Scripture or on really anything or anyone. I’m completely comfortable with that truth. Additionally, I would not presume to hold myself up as a vanguard of morality. I am just a Catholic who is doing my best to make my way in this world.
To that end, I am a post-Vatican II Gen-Xer who was educated primarily in the secular school system with a one-hour-once-a-week instruction in Catholicism. I grew up in an era when no one knew what the Catholic rules were, or what to teach or which Catholic traditions were valid because Vatican II – while certainly containing many important and positive reforms – blew everything up and left little instruction on how to put it back together universally.
As a result, my early Catholic formation boiled down to God is love, Jesus loves you and unicorns are pretty. (For the record, unicorns are pretty. This is certainly not an anti-unicorn screed in any way, shape or form. Hooray, unicorns.) (Also, God IS love and Jesus DOES love you. That should be a given. I shouldn’t have to tell you that.)
Because of the post-Vatican II illiteracy on the subject of formation, I and many, many other Catholics ultimately memorized a mere four Catholic prayers out of the thousands that exist – The Lord’s Prayer, the Hail Mary, the Gloria Patri and the Act of Contrition.
Between the ages of 7 and 25, I went to confession three times; for the Sacrament of First Reconciliation, for the Sacrament of First Communion and for the Sacrament of Confirmation. After I was confirmed, I stopped attending Mass all together. My whole family stopped attending Mass because Mass had become a three ring circus of folk singers at the altar, social justice misinterpretations and nuns in jeans… and yes, my family enjoyed sleeping as well, so we were just looking for an excuse not to attend. The Church made that easy.
I never said the Rosary. I had only the vaguest interest in the 2000 year legacy and papal succession that draws a straight line from Pope Francis to St. Peter himself. And that would be of little concern to the universe of immortal souls, if I were a unique story. I’m not. I’m the norm. The erosion of Catholic faith over the last sixty years amounts to nothing less than cultural extinction.
But here’s the thing, the children of the 1970s and 1980s are now parents. Even the parents who would like to transfer their faith to their children are in a strategic disadvantage because they themselves have been so poorly formed that we literally find ourselves in the “anything goes” era of the Church, and we are reaping the results of that illiteracy.
Trust me, there are a lot of people who are happy to take advantage of your ignorance. For instance, Pope Francis…Look, I honestly don’t know what to think or say about @pontifex
I want to believe that he means well. I think that he probably thinks that he has his arms around this. I don’t know if he intends to muddle Catholic teachings by blurting out everything that he’s thinking at the exact moment that he’s thinking it, or if he’s clueless to the carte blanch he extends to enemies of the faith every time he speaks with no regard to the cultural tsunami he creates. Maybe the people around him are purposefully manipulating translations, or maybe this whole thing is a cluster of misinformation and bad intentions. I just don’t know anymore.
I do know that there is absolutely zero doctrine – as a for instance – that supports the idea that all forms of capital punishment are intrinsically evil. That has never been the official teaching. That is not scripturally supported. Yet the pope has changed the wording of the catechism to reflect this belief:
The death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person.
So outraged are the literate leaders of the faith that they presented an open letter to @pontifex about their concerns:
Though no Catholic is obliged to support the use of the death penalty in practice (and not all of the undersigned do support its use), to teach that capital punishment is always and intrinsically evil would contradict Scripture. That the death penalty can be a legitimate means of securing retributive justice is affirmed in Genesis 9:6 and many other biblical texts, and the Church holds that Scripture cannot teach moral error. The legitimacy in principle of capital punishment is also the consistent teaching of the magisterium for two millennia. To contradict Scripture and tradition on this point would cast doubt on the credibility of the magisterium in general.
Know this. If we establish for once and for all time that any teaching not in keeping with today’s cultural mores or idiosyncrasies is something to ignore, then Judeo-Christian foundations will wash away into a morass of clichés and feel-goodisms. For the full text of the letter to the pope, click here. Also follow @Church_Militant for updates.
Hey! Read closely so as not to misunderstand. I know. I can almost hear your thoughts screaming your disdain for this particular discussion in the wake of the priest sex abuse scandals. In the grand scheme of things, we can understand that the pope’s one mischaracterization of Catholic teaching pales in comparison to the enormity of the predator priest scandal that is destroying thousands of lives, destroying faith, destroying communities and inviting cultural contempt against lay Catholics who follow Catholic teaching.
You are right. But I can’t add anything meaningful to your absolutely appropriate outrage that would change the way you see that abuse, because what happened within liturgical ranks is completely outrageous and evil. You don’t need me to tell you that.
That’s the point. The word is “evil.” Say it with me. Evil. People dislike that word because that word requires a prejudgment of moral and immoral, and that would be censorious…holier-than-thou. People dislike traditional Catholicism for that very reason. It feels sanctimonious by today’s standards – as if traditionalists think that they don’t sin. And that is exactly how Catholicism found its way to this mess in the first place.
Catholicism – which is supposed to act as a lighthouse in a storm, forgot that the lighthouse is there for a reason. The Church gave into pressure and stopped teaching, guiding, standing for truth. That is exactly why the death penalty confusion works in lockstep with the chaos that’s unfolding in Pennsylvania, New York and eventually your state and/or diocese. Confusion begets anarchy. It’s gonna happen and when this is done, Catholicism will need another 2000 years to rebuild its squandered moral authority.
Those who are even marginally educated in the teachings and traditions of the Catholic faith will recognize the prayer written by Pope Leo XIII on October 13 1884:
St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the Devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly hosts, by the power of God, thrust into hell Satan, and all the evil spirits, who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.
Most sacred heart of Jesus have mercy on us. What many people don’t know is why Pope Leo felt the need to call upon the Prince of the heavenly hosts for protection from evil. It sounds…well, almost medieval and superstitious by today’s standards to call upon an angel against the evil of all evils when few can conceive of anything that qualifies as evil – except maybe plastic straws.
Here’s a news flash. Pedophile priests are evil. They’re not confused. Not born that way. Not bringing about a more enlightened truth. They are evil.
So Pope Leo wrote that prayer after supposedly overhearing a conversation between God and Satan.
The voice of Satan in his pride, boasted to Our Lord: “I can destroy your Church.”
The gentle voice of Our Lord: “You can? Then go ahead and do so.”
Satan: “To do so, I need more time and more power.”
Our Lord: “How much time? How much power?
Satan: “75 to 100 years, and a greater power over those who will give themselves over to my service.”
Our Lord: “You have the time, you will have the power. Do with them what you will.”
In 1886, Pope Leo XIII decreed that this prayer to St. Michael be said at the end of “low” Mass (not “high”, or sung Masses) throughout the universal Church, along with the Salve Regina (Hail, Holy Queen); and the practice of the congregation praying these prayers at the end of Mass continued until about 1970, with the introduction of the new rite of the Mass.
Hard to believe? Sadly, mysticism is often eschewed in modern Catholicism as it butts up against the scientific discovery that has been positioning itself as a god since Darwin began influencing Marx. That’s really problematic because if you can’t conceive of Creation, if you can’t imagine good, evil and redemption, then the whole bread and wine into body and blood falls apart and Jesus’s sacrifice is for naught.
Further, if you can’t give yourself over to the immutable laws of God, then there is no fixed right and wrong and the pedophilia that’s become a part of Church culture is no different than that of pedophilia in ancient Greece…a passing fad that ebbs and flows in acceptability. Censure of this sinful act would hold for as long as our standards could stand against moral relativism. If you doubt me, consider our new definition of marriage.
Bottom line, the end of death itself would be dead, and you would indeed be nothing more than a monkey’s uncle; the aftermath of a random genetic fluke.