Sunday, March 16, 2014

Credo: What Follows From Belief

In this day and age, it is common to encounter members of the Church who, while professing belief in the Church, seem to think that they are free to decide whether or not to follow the moral teaching of the Church.

That kind of thinking is a contradiction in terms.

To be a Catholic in anything more than a nominal sense is to recognize the role Jesus Christ intended for His Church... to preach the Gospel to all the nations, to bind and loose, to forgive sins and so on.  This isn't an advisory role. Jesus tells His Apostles: "Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained." (John 20:23).

The Church speaks with Christ's authority. Not because she usurps it, but because Christ gives her the authority to carry out His mission.

Thus, the "Cafeteria Catholic" has a dilemma:

If one believes what the Church teaches about herself, such a person must recognize that what she teaches concerning morality comes from Christ's authority.  Remember Luke 10:16... "Whoever listens to you listens to me. Whoever rejects you rejects me. And whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me."

However, if one rejects this claim of authority, there is no plausible reason to remain in the Church to change her teaching. Such a belief professes that the Church has no authority to impose anything, and the logical consequence is that there is no sense to try to stay, let alone change anything.

The "Cafeteria Catholic" approach is morally and intellectually dishonest approach where the person ignores the significance of what they profess to believe.

There are two things to be aware of when reading the above.  First, this isn't to be interpreted as a "let's clear the deadwood out of the Church" mindset.  Because we know the truth of the Church, encouraging people to leave is the wrong attitude. The purpose is to get all Catholics to recognize that dissent is a rebellion against God, not a faction. It is an attitude of conversion, not judgment.

Second, we must not think of this as THEY have to change. No doubt, the scandalous behavior of public dissenting Catholics must be challenged. But the obligation to follow the teaching of the Church applies to us as well. Not all dissenters are "liberal."  Many conservatives have been offended by certain social teachings of the Church, some going as far as to accuse the Pope of Marxist leanings.

If we who recognize the truth of the authority of the Church choose not to follow teachings we dislike because they go against our political preferences, we are not witnessing our faith and obedience to Christ... we're merely witnessing hypocrisy.

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