12 January 2009

An Op-ed by Liberal Catholics

I ran across an article that was published in The Seattle Times last week, and just about screamed in anger and frustration when it was done. Read the article here. Granted, it is an opinion piece, and I believe that everyone has a right to their opinion, but I do not approve of the way it was presented. It was written by two Seattle "Catholics" (in quotations because while they may have been baptized into the church, they clearly don't know what the church stands for) who use the article to complain about Catholic priests and bishops who spoke out against Prop 8 and I-1000 in the last US election.

From the article:

Yet some church leaders use their positions of ecclesiastical authority to threaten members of their faith community if they do not vote the way the leaders assert is the morally right way. In notable instances, the threat is that Catholics will be denied access to the sacraments, typically the Holy Eucharist. We think these are nothing more than raw attempts at bullying. The result is that many Catholics simply ignore the bishops who, in turn, complain they have lost influence.

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Instead of threats, Catholic bishops should encourage dialogue. Instead of pontificating moral certitudes, Catholic bishops ought to encourage conversations among the wide spectrum of views that populate their parish pews — or would populate them were the church known for its tolerance rather than for its rigid adherence to questionable dogma.

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We understand the Church has been administered like a monarchy for centuries. But, if the American bishops expect their fellow Catholics to accept their leadership on matters of public policy, then they must respect those among the faithful who, in good conscience, have formed their own differing views.

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Why? Are any of us so certain of the truth of our position on political questions that we cannot tolerate the input from our brothers and sisters of faith?

Or, do bishops and church leaders fear dialogue and discussion as posing a risk to unchecked authority?

Retired Superior Court Judge Terrence Carroll, left, served as chair of the Seattle Archdiocese panel on clergy abuse. Sam Sperry served as an editor at the Seattle P-I and on the Washington State Catholic Conference Board. Both are lifelong Catholics educated here in Catholic schools.

I really don't know where to begin to take this op-ed apart. It has so many falsehoods and misunderstandings it it's a wonder that the paper published it. Let's deal with the bullying allegation first. For Catholics, they have a very poor understanding of the theology behind the Eucharist. The Eucharist is the body and blood of Christ, and as we say before we receive it "we are not worthy to receive You, but only say the word and we shall be healed." No Catholic in a state of mortal sin should receive the Eucharist. This isn't limited to politicians- it's true of any Catholic in a state of mortal sin. It's not bullying, it's teaching the faithful the way they are supposed to. When parents tell their children no and state they will take away TV privileges or ground the child if the child persists in the behavior, it's not bullying, it teaching. Same thing with the bishops.

To deal with the allegation that the pews would be filled if the church was "tolerant" I'm going to use a quote a quote I took from Fr. Phillip's blog some months ago. "The Catholic Church owes no one a revision of her doctrine or dogma. She didn't change to save most of Europe from becoming Protestant, why would you imagine that she would change just to get you in one of her parishes?" The truth can't be changed just because it isn't popular. And last time I looked, it's the orthodox Catholic parishes and seminaries that are bursting at the seams and the flaky, don't preach the truth parishes that are empty.

I love how the authors pick and chose terms from Catholic theology, then warp them to suit their purposes. Case in point- "good conscience." Yes, Catholics are to develop a good conscience, but that conscience can only be formed by learning from the teachings of the Church and the scriptures. No good conscience can form views that differ from the truth.

The bishops don't "fear" anything- why would they- their Redeemer died over 2000 years ago on a cross. The only thing they have to do- the only thing anyone has to do- to achieve eternal life in heaven is preach the Truth. That's why they speak out- not from fear, but from concern for the souls of all the faithful. They would endanger their souls by NOT speaking up. Priests are only human and all the priests I know are more than happy to have a dialogue and discuss issues with their parishioners. Most of them wish their parishioners would dialogue with them on moral issues so they can discuss the Truth with them. The authors of the article seem to assume that discussion necessarily means that the priests will turn their back on the Truth they have based their lives on. And yet, the clergy are the intolerant ones. Huh.

The Catholic Church teaches Truth, plain and simple. It may disturb the relativists to no end, but that's all there is. The Church was established by Christ, and has steadfastly taught what he preached for over 2000 years. Just because you don't like the truth, doesn't make it any less the truth.

I'm so sick of these liberal Catholics trying to change the church to suit them. If you don't like it, leave. We don't force you to stay, and I can't understand why someone who doesn't believe what the Church teaches would want to stay. And, since the rest of the world is all to ready to accept criticisms of the church, you shouldn't call yourself Catholic if you really aren't.

I will leave you with one final thought from my patron saint, Joan of Arc. "One life is all we have and we live it as we believe in living it. But to sacrifice what you are and to live without belief, that is a fate far more terrible than dying."


Tim, a hopeful father said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tim, a hopeful father said...

rewording and reposting my comment:


I agree with all of your points. I understand your frustration and fully believe that their editorial is a result of poor catechesis.

You vent your anger in the second to last paragraph. Venting is good, but it might serve to inflame those who think otherwise and are wrong.

We can only try to show the facts in love, pray for those who are astray, and probably most importantly: double down our efforts in catechizing our children and those entering the Church via RCIA.

By the way, I really enjoy your blog. You are a wonderful writer.

With Best Regards


Sarah said...

Thanks Tim- and you are very right, catechesis is key. (And I was venting... My goal is to always follow up venting with something concrete, but I forgot to do that in this post.

If those who have been baptized into the church don't understand the teachings of the church, we have a big problem on our hands. Obviously we are failing to properly catechize our young people. The authors of this article went to Catholic school, so if they don't know their faith, the problem lays with their formation, and we need to pray for all Catholic schools and people involved in them. We also need to support the RCIA classes in our parishes and get involved so that when people give erroneous information on the church, we can be there to correct it.

As Bishop Sheen said, "few Americans hate the Catholic Church, but millions hate what they think is the Catholic Church."

And thanks for the compliment on the blog; it means a lot.