Showing posts with label retirement. Show all posts
Showing posts with label retirement. Show all posts

Monday, February 18, 2013

The Church Can Never Change To What Today's Society Demands

"The Roman Pontiff can, and ought to, reconcile himself, and come to terms with progress, liberalism and modern civilization."

(Proposition condemned in Pope Pius IX Syllabus of Errors)


(Image found on the internet. Author of meme unknown)

One of the popular themes of the media in reporting the Pope's retirement is the proclaiming the death of the Church if it doesn't "get with the times."  What they generally mean by this is that they believe that the Church needs to change her teachings on sexual morality, and whatever will make that change is to be promoted.  Hence it is believed that if the Church ordained women, it might have a more "modern" view of abortion and contraception.

The problem however is the assumption that the Catholic Church is a merely human institution which picks and chooses what morality should be.  From that perspective, the Church seems irrational for clinging to her teachings.  The question is asked, "Why doesn't the Church just change the rules?"  Because this view does not know (or rejects) what Catholicism is, there appears to be no real reason except for a reluctance to change and intolerance.

But the fact is, the Catholic Church considers herself to be bound to follow the commandments of Christ, and she does not have the authority to change His commandments.  Yes she can change disciplines, such as whether or not to ordain married men or whether or not to abstain from meat on Fridays.  However, she believes she has absolutely no authority to change the teachings of faith and morality.  Things that corrupt what God calls us to do must be denounced.  Things that Christ established must be followed.

People who want the Church to "modernize" have a fundamental misunderstanding on what the Church believes she can do in the first place.  People may say that the Church must "get up to date or die."  But the issues of sexual morality the Church the Church took a stand on were issues in ancient times as well as today.  The sexual immorality of the elites was just as prevalent  in the first century as the twenty first century.  People committed fornication and adultery, they attempted to contracept and abort.

The 1st century writing, The Didache, points out:

You shall not commit murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not commit pederasty, you shall not commit fornication… you shall not practice magic, you shall not practice witchcraft, you shall not murder a child by abortion nor kill that which is born.

Witchcraft, in this case, is referring to the ancient attempts at contraception.

The point is, that which is true is always true whether a society recognizes it or not.  If owning people as slaves is wrong, then it was always wrong regardless of what a society may think of it.  Likewise with sexual morality and any other issue of morality.  The Church cannot change the sixth and ninth commandments any more than she can change the fifth commandment (Thou shalt not kill).

People are always free to leave the Catholic Church if they (wrongly) refuse to accept the claim that she is the Church founded and protected by Christ.  But people cannot expect that the Catholic Church to change what she believes she is obligated to do.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Do Not Be Afraid

Brothers and sisters, do not be afraid to welcome Christ and accept his power. Help the Pope and all those who wish to serve Christ and with Christ's power to serve the human person and the whole of mankind. Do not be afraid. Open wide the doors for Christ. To his saving power open the boundaries of States, economic and political systems, the vast fields of culture, civilization and development. Do not be afraid. Christ knows "what is in man". He alone knows it.  (Homily of Blessed John Paul II, Oct 22, 1978)

One of the things I see with some of my fellow Catholics is a sense of fear when it comes to the recent announcement from Pope Benedict XVI that he will retire effective February 28th at 8pm.  Since there has not been a Papal resignation in 600 years, it seems to be a shocking thing to us.

The important thing to remember is that Christ has promised to be with our Church always (See Matt 16:18 and Matt 28:20).  The successor of Benedict XVI will be a different person and will handle the Church in a different way to be sure.  But Benedict XVI handled the papacy differently than Blessed John Paul II.

We may like the changes or we may prefer things the older way.  But the important thing to remember is that when the new Pontiff is elected, he will be protected in the same way as the previous popes.

So come what may in the future, we can have faith in knowing that God will continue to watch over His Church.  Individuals may be persecuted and individuals may err.  But our Church is protected and the gates of hell will not prevail over her.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Reflections on the Announced Retirement of Pope Benedict XVI

I was certainly caught by surprise at the announcement of the Pope that he will step down, effective February 28th.  I was introduced to his writings in the 1990s during a time when I was beginning to study what the faith I was brought up with meant.  I found his works wise and insightful.

As many crises arose in the Church, I was impressed at how he and Blessed John Paul II stood up for the truth in a sea of relativism.  Portrayed as a hateful old man by many, I saw in him a deep love and understanding of the obligations of seeking and doing what was right that binds us all.

At the death of Blessed Pope John Paul II, I thought he would be a good Pope, but I thought his age would keep him from being elected (Because of that assumption, I thought Cardinal Arinze would be a good man to be elected if we couldn't have Cardinal Ratzinger).  So when the news came of his election, I was elated.  His work after his election showed this elation was justified.

During his pontificate, he continued the work of making clear the teachings of the Church, showing a profound love of Christ in doing so.  His encyclicals showed the recognition of the fact that a desire for reform of the world could not simply be done by government decree, but had to have at its base a love for each person from the moment of conception to natural death.

Despite the attacks he suffered with the misrepresentation of his deeds and words, he showed he was a Pope deeply in love with Christ and seeking to lead people to seeking Christ.

Now, he has stated he must retire due to health reasons.  I find myself saddened at the news, but trust he is doing so because he believes it is best that he steps down before his health declines to the point he can no longer lead the Church.

I thank God for giving us Pope Benedict XVI at the time he was needed, and offer my prayers for the Pope and for his successor.