"Swimming against the tide [as Pope Francis instructs the young and the not so young through them] means limiting one’s access to positions of prestige and power in society. It means that those who choose to live by the Catholic faith will not be welcomed as political candidates to national office, will not sit on editorial boards of major newspapers, will not be at home on most university faculties, will not have successful careers as actors and entertainers. Nor will their children, who will also be suspect."
Many Catholics are upwardly mobile and want to get ahead in life and want to stay there if they are already there! How many will jump the barque of Peter if what Cardinal George says in the above quote is true? How many Catholics will fail the test of Faith given them and perhaps through the grace of God? Time will tell, but we already see the results of this test in many prominent, upwardly mobile Catholics. May God have mercy on them!
The Cardinal’s Column
Francis Cardinal George, O.M.I.
September 7 - 20, 2014
A tale of two churchesOnce upon a time there was a church founded on God’s entering into human history in order to give humanity a path to eternal life and happiness with him. The Savior that God sent, his only-begotten Son, did not write a book but founded a community, a church, upon the witness and ministry of twelve apostles. He sent this church the gift of the Holy Spirit, the spirit of love between Father and Son, the Spirit of the truth that God had revealed about himself and humanity by breaking into the history of human sinfulness.
This church, a hierarchical communion, continued through history, living among different peoples and cultures, filled with sinners, but always guided in the essentials of her life and teaching by the Holy Spirit. She called herself “Catholic” because her purpose was to preach a universal faith and a universal morality, encompassing all peoples and cultures. This claim often invited conflict with the ruling classes of many countries. About 1,800 years into her often stormy history, this church found herself as a very small group in a new country in Eastern North America that promised to respect all religions because the State would not be confessional; it would not try to play the role of a religion.
This church knew that it was far from socially acceptable in this new country. One of the reasons the country was established was to protest the king of England’s permitting the public celebration of the Catholic Mass on the soil of the British Empire in the newly conquered Catholic territories of Canada. He had betrayed his coronation oath to combat Catholicism, defined as “America’s greatest enemy,” and protect Protestantism, bringing the pure religion of the colonists into danger and giving them the moral right to revolt and reject his rule.
Nonetheless, many Catholics in the American colonies thought their life might be better in the new country than under a regime whose ruling class had penalized and persecuted them since the mid-16th century. They made this new country their own and served her loyally. The social history was often contentious, but the State basically kept its promise to protect all religions and not become a rival to them, a fake church. Until recent years.
There was always a quasi-religious element in the public creed of the country. It lived off the myth of human progress, which had little place for dependence on divine providence. It tended to exploit the religiosity of the ordinary people by using religious language to co-opt them into the purposes of the ruling class. Forms of anti-Catholicism were part of its social DNA. It had encouraged its citizens to think of themselves as the creators of world history and the managers of nature, so that no source of truth outside of themselves needed to be consulted to check their collective purposes and desires. But it had never explicitly taken upon itself the mantle of a religion and officially told its citizens what they must personally think or what “values” they must personalize in order to deserve to be part of the country. Until recent years.
In recent years, society has brought social and legislative approval to all types of sexual relationships that used to be considered “sinful.” Since the biblical vision of what it means to be human tells us that not every friendship or love can be expressed in sexual relations, the church’s teaching on these issues is now evidence of intolerance for what the civil law upholds and even imposes. What was once a request to live and let live has now become a demand for approval. The “ruling class,” those who shape public opinion in politics, in education, in communications, in entertainment, is using the civil law to impose its own form of morality on everyone. We are told that, even in marriage itself, there is no difference between men and women, although nature and our very bodies clearly evidence that men and women are not interchangeable at will in forming a family. Nevertheless, those who do not conform to the official religion, we are warned, place their citizenship in danger.
When the recent case about religious objection to one provision of the Health Care Act was decided against the State religion, the Huffington Post (June 30, 2014) raised “concerns about the compatibility between being a Catholic and being a good citizen.” This is not the voice of the nativists who first fought against Catholic immigration in the 1830s. Nor is it the voice of those who burned convents and churches in Boston and Philadelphia a decade later. Neither is it the voice of the Know-Nothing Party of the 1840s and 1850s, nor of the Ku Klux Klan, which burned crosses before Catholic churches in the Midwest after the civil war. It is a voice more sophisticated than that of the American Protective Association, whose members promised never to vote for a Catholic for public office. This is, rather, the selfrighteous voice of some members of the American establishment today who regard themselves as “progressive” and “enlightened.”
The inevitable result is a crisis of belief for many Catholics. Throughout history, when Catholics and other believers in revealed religion have been forced to choose between being taught by God or instructed by politicians, professors, editors of major newspapers and entertainers, many have opted to go along with the powers that be. This reduces a great tension in their lives, although it also brings with it the worship of a false god. It takes no moral courage to conform to government and social pressure. It takes a deep faith to “swim against the tide,” as Pope Francis recently encouraged young people to do at last summer’s World Youth Day.
Swimming against the tide means limiting one’s access to positions of prestige and power in society. It means that those who choose to live by the Catholic faith will not be welcomed as political candidates to national office, will not sit on editorial boards of major newspapers, will not be at home on most university faculties, will not have successful careers as actors and entertainers. Nor will their children, who will also be suspect. Since all public institutions, no matter who owns or operates them, will be agents of the government and conform their activities to the demands of the official religion, the practice of medicine and law will become more difficult for faithful Catholics. It already means in some States that those who run businesses must conform their activities to the official religion or be fined, as Christians and Jews are fined for their religion in countries governed by Sharia law.
A reader of the tale of two churches, an outside observer, might note that American civil law has done much to weaken and destroy what is the basic unit of every human society, the family. With the weakening of the internal restraints that healthy family life teaches, the State will need to impose more and more external restraints on everyone’s activities. An outside observer might also note that the official religion’s imposing whatever its proponents currently desire on all citizens and even on the world at large inevitably generates resentment. An outside observer might point out that class plays a large role in determining the tenets of the official State religion. “Same-sex marriage,” as a case in point, is not an issue for the poor or those on the margins of society.
How does the tale end? We don’t know. The actual situation is, of course, far more complex than a story plot, and there are many actors and characters, even among the ruling class, who do not want their beloved country to transform itself into a fake church. It would be wrong to lose hope, since there are so many good and faithful people.
Catholics do know, with the certainty of faith, that, when Christ returns in glory to judge the living and the dead, the church, in some recognizable shape or form that is both Catholic and Apostolic, will be there to meet him. There is no such divine guarantee for any country, culture or society of this or any age.
We're already seeing that in Canada, where the leader of the Liberal Party has decreed that all Liberal candidates must fully support abortion. He calls himself a practicing Catholic.
Really. This is written by a Cardinal who allows a priest like Michael Phleger (who publicly denied infallible dogmas of the Church) to remain a priest in good standing even as he leads the souls in his care away from the truths of the Faith. Well now that I think of it, I guess the cardinal is correct after all. Those "Catholics" in name only have nothing to fear, but true Catholics watch out.You better not publish this Father or your blog might be shut down. You can't say anything negative, even if true, about a modernist bishop. Look what happened to Monsignor Pope. Just looking out for you Father.
Cardinal George is far from a modernist.
You can also add that, in many cases, they will not be welcome in their own parishes.
Some of us have experienced this for over thirty years. I am too conservative to get a job in my own home diocese, and that has been true. I am too conservative to be on most Catholic school faculties, which is why I taught at NAPCIS schools. And, I am too conservative to teach or coordinate RCIA which I use to do.
Why am I seen as conservative? Because I am a practicing Catholic.
This is not a Catholic dilemma, It is a concern for everyone who has to consider what they are giving to their ambition. Our only concern will be that we not extract our voice from the public square, at least in the USA, so that we don't abdicate the country to those who will use it's laws to persecute us. These problems are intended to make us want to withdraw. We can be apart, yet within the country and society.
We can still maneuver without quitting the battle. Two weeks ago the Gospel reading was about the wicked servant who was fired by his master so went around calling in debts to regain employment. Christ told us that when dealing with the outside world we have to deal with it on its own terms whole remaining true to our values. Not an easy task. But if a politician has made up his mind to sell to the highest bidder, Catholic money spends as good as any and, as Churchill said, we have agreed on the service, now we are only haggling price.
It is appropriate that the cross is in the shape of the letter "T" which is the first letter of the word "Truth". Christ crucified was in that same form. He himself was among other things "Truth Incarnate". The crucifix serves as a constant reminder of the price one can pay in confronting the errors and falsehoods of the world. Satan who is the "Father of Lies" and all that is false likes nothing better than to see his minions and followers "crucify" the followers of Christ in His Mystical Body. We must always stand fast. True followers of Christ can never accommodate themselves to the errors of the world. We must always keep in mind that we have recourse to the Blessed Virgin and other members of the Church Triumphant to aid us in our battle with the Infernal enemy.
Its like the Amish got it right. Separate themselves from the World and live withing their own community. Clothes and lifestyle that distinguishes themselves from the rest of society. I guess Catholic Religious do this in Monasteries but will the lay people have something for them. There is the Allelujah communities and Ave Maria in Florida.
Supertradmom, me, too. I must admit the old parish tried to convert me. They invited me to sponsor someone in RCIA. They brushed over the Catechism and had stories about a A Great Spiritual Leader who fell from a cliff and turned into a bird. Seriously! We spent one evening in guided prayer, then quiet, in the chapel. The RE principle said she liked that part the least. I don't think we even recited the Rosary once. The Parish Council actually invited me to a committee to review and make recommendations on the Liturgy. I'll let you guess how that went. The straw was when the Parish study groups to help receive the Third Missal translation were openly undermining people's attitude toward it. I think that was the very day I went two miles down the road to the FSSP Parish. I could kick myself for taking so long.
It is so strange to me that Cardinal George and others like him are suddenly all aflutter about the rejection of Christian values in our society as reflected in our leaders and laws. But as a lay person I find nothing new in this, because anyone who has been paying attention would know if you don't share an atheistic socialistic world view, there are many jobs you may as well forget about becoming qualified for, including journalist, professor, scientist, and politician.
For a long time the politicians worked in conjunction with the likes of Cardinal George, and bishops, cardinals and even priests enjoyed political influence, and so never personally felt the effects of being excluded from the public square. But now it appears the political leaders have completed their conversion to atheistic socialism, and more and more the leaders of the Church are realizing they have lost their influence. Many are experiencing for the first time what they laity has been living for at least 30 years. This is a huge sea change for Catholic leaders who enjoyed political influence.
Although Cardinal George claims his problem is with the rejection of Catholic Christian values in the society, I really wonder if it is not more that the clergy is ignored and can no longer influence the outcome of political decisions. Because you have to wonder why he and other bishops and cardinals never have anything to say against Notre Dame, or Georgetown or even Loyola in Chicago, bastions of heterodox teaching. Is it the loss of Catholic values he abhors, or the loss of his political influence?
The Amish avoid aspects of the world not because they think these things are evil, but because they believe that they cannot be faithful, as they understand it, and have these things in their lives.
Catholics do not share that view. We do not believe that it is not necessary to separate from the world in order to live faithful lives. Some who are called to a monastic way of life find this the better path for themselves, but this is not the calling the vast majority of Catholics have received.
We are reminded by Gaudium et Spes, "The joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the men of this age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted, these are the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the followers of Christ."
The Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity teaches, "Our own times require of the laity no less zeal: in fact, modern conditions demand that their apostolate be broadened and intensified."
Really. All we have to do is wait for the next USCCB assembly. All will gather together with no fraternal correction whatsoever. Their implicit approval of each other's error will be on full display as they sell us all out for their gesture of "unity". This bishop lets homosexuals march and applauds them at Mass? Hey, it's none of my business! This retired bishop still gets his pension after writing a book admitting his homosexual life as a priest and prelate? Who am I to judge? This bishop tells everyone how great it is that America has progressed so far by electing the most pro-abortion president in history? Come one, what's for dinner in the lounge? We're all brothers….right?
The bishops who fought it out centuries ago in Nicea must surely be groaning at us from heaven.
After re-reading Cardinal George's article, I see I had not read it as carefully as I ought to have, and made a comment here that at best missed the point, and at worst, implied the Cardinal was reacting to being ousted from spheres of political influence. But I see now he is using the current difficult political climate as a teaching opportunity for his flock, pointing out how all of us, if we are serious about our Faith, will come to a point in life where we must decide between compromising our Faith to succeed, and losing out on opportunities we worked long and hard for. And he shows it has always been this way, even though it is more pronounced now than it had been in the recent past.
I retract my prior statement, and apologize for the distraction it may have caused.
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