Tuesday, July 2, 2019

The Current Danger of the Age

In the United States, a real danger for Catholics is emerging. I call it a real danger because it is not from those obviously bringing in false ideas from the outside which the faithful easily reject. It is coming from those who claim to be faithful Catholics while rejecting those with the authority to teach the faith—the Pope and bishops in communion with him—because they claim that the Pope and bishops are heretical, because they claim that what the magisterium teaches is not protected from error, because they call it an opinion or a prudential judgment.

To justify their claims, they cite their personal interpretation of Scripture and previous Church teaching, arguing contradiction between then and now, assuming that their own interpretation is true when that is what they must prove. They argue that the misinterpretation of the Pope and bishops by those outside or at odds with the Church is “proof” of their accusations of errors—ignoring the fact that these same people also misinterpreted the Popes and bishops who they do approve of. Then, when shown that their interpretation is false, either accuse the Pope or bishop of speaking “unclearly” or accusing the defenders of “explaining away” the “obvious meaning.”

The irony is, these super-Catholics who claim to promote the teachings of the Church against “modern innovations” are rejecting one of the major ones: That Jesus Christ established the Church, bestowed His protection on her, giving the Apostles and their successors (cf. Matthew 16:19, 18:18) the authority to teach in His name in a binding manner. When they teach in their role as Pope or as bishop, we are required to give religious submission of intellect and will, neither saying nor doing anything that contradicts this teaching, regardless of whether the teaching is ex cathedra or ordinary magisterium.

But when the Pope and bishops teach that we must do X or must avoid Y, Catholics are all too willing to scornfully reject those teachings if it challenges their preferred views. For example, most recently, we see some Catholics scorn and mock what the successors to the Apostles teach on the obligation to treat migrants justly, misrepresenting it as calling for “open borders,” encouraging migrants to “violate laws,” and “letting everybody in.” Whether they know this is false or they wrongly think it is true, they cannot escape the fact they do wrong: because the former is calumny and the latter is rash judgment. Both are undermining the consistent teaching of the Church. The people who do this are promoting error (in denying their moral obligations) and schism (by rejecting these teachings and encouraging others to do the same).

Below, I leave you with some of the texts that witness to the consistent teaching of the Church about our required obedience, showing it is no recently invented “papolatry.” The modern excuses of dissent were utterly alien to Catholics of the past and should not be used today either.

Texts to Study

So when S. Peter was placed as foundation of the Church, and the Church was certified that the gates of hell should not prevail against it, was it not enough to say that S. Peter, as foundation stone of the ecclesiastical government and administration, could not be crushed and broken by infidelity or error, which is the principal gate of hell? For who knows not that if the foundation be overthrown, if that can be sapped, the whole building falls. In the same way, if the supreme acting shepherd can conduct his sheep into venomous pastures, it is clearly visible that the flock is soon to be lost. For if the supreme acting shepherd leads out of the path, who will put him right? If he stray, who will bring him back? In truth, it is necessary that we should follow him simply, not guide him, otherwise, the sheep would be shepherds.

—St. Francis De Sales, Catholic Controversies

By unity is meant that the members of the true Church must be united in the belief of the same doctrines of revelation, and in the acknowledgment of the authority of the same pastors. Heresy and schism are opposed to Christian unity. By heresy, a man rejects one or more articles of the Christian faith. By schism, he spurns the authority of his spiritual superiors.

—Cardinal James Gibbons, Faith of Our Fathers

Hence We teach and declare that by the appointment of our Lord the Roman Church possesses a sovereignty of ordinary power over all other Churches, and that this power of jurisdiction of the Roman Pontiff, which is truly episcopal, is immediate; to which all, of whatsoever rite and dignity, both pastors and faithful, both individually and collectively, are bound, by their duty of hierarchical subordination and true obedience, to submit, not only in matters which belong to faith and morals, but also in those that appertain to the discipline and government of the Church throughout the world; so that the Church of Christ may be one flock under one supreme Pastor, through the preservation of unity, both of communion and of profession of the same faith, with the Roman Pontiff. This is the teaching of Catholic truth, from which no one can deviate without loss of faith and of salvation.

—Vatican I, Pastor Aeternus, Chapter III

I said: “Your Holiness, I have just discovered how easy Judgment is going to be.” “Oh,” he said, “tell me, I would like to know.” “While I was waiting to come into your presence I had come to the conclusion that I had not loved the Church as much as I should. Now that I come before Your Holiness, I see the Church personalized. When I make my obeisance to you, I make it to the Body and to the invisible Head, Christ. Now I see how much I love the Church in Your Holiness, its visible expression.” He said: “Yes, Judgment is going to be that easy for those who try to serve the Lord.”

—Fulton J Sheen: A Treasure in Clay

can. 751† Heresy is the obstinate denial or obstinate doubt after the reception of baptism of some truth which is to be believed by divine and Catholic faith; apostasy is the total repudiation of the Christian faith; schism is the refusal of submission to the Supreme Pontiff or of communion with the members of the Church subject to him.

can. 752† Although not an assent of faith, a religious submission of the intellect and will must be given to a doctrine which the Supreme Pontiff or the college of bishops declares concerning faith or morals when they exercise the authentic magisterium, even if they do not intend to proclaim it by definitive act; therefore, the Christian faithful are to take care to avoid those things which do not agree with it.

can. 753† Although the bishops who are in communion with the head and members of the college, whether individually or joined together in conferences of bishops or in particular councils, do not possess infallibility in teaching, they are authentic teachers and instructors of the faith for the Christian faithful entrusted to their care; the Christian faithful are bound to adhere with religious submission of mind to the authentic magisterium of their bishops.

—1983 Code of Canon Law

882 The Pope, Bishop of Rome and Peter’s successor, “is the perpetual and visible source and foundation of the unity both of the bishops and of the whole company of the faithful.” “For the Roman Pontiff, by reason of his office as Vicar of Christ, and as pastor of the entire Church has full, supreme, and universal power over the whole Church, a power which he can always exercise unhindered.” (834, 1369; 837)

883 “The college or body of bishops has no authority unless united with the Roman Pontiff, Peter’s successor, as its head.” As such, this college has “supreme and full authority over the universal Church; but this power cannot be exercised without the agreement of the Roman Pontiff.”

884 “The college of bishops exercises power over the universal Church in a solemn manner in an ecumenical council.” But “there never is an ecumenical council which is not confirmed or at least recognized as such by Peter’s successor.”

Catechism of the Catholic Church

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