Monday, May 30, 2011

Those who dissent from Church teaching place themselves in peril

It is intrinsic to the Catholic religion, that before one can become a member, he must satisfy himself that the answers to all questions of faith or morals are contained in a Deposit of Faith which has been revealed by God and entrusted to a Custodian established by God Himself and endowed with infallible protection against any change or error.  There are many who consider themselves to be "Catholic" even as they reject the Church's teaching while striving to erect a church in their own image and likeness.  One such deluded soul left a comment at this Blog accusing Catholic bloggers who are faithful to the Church's Magisterium of representing "a Puritan sect" anxious to "excommunicate" other Catholics. 

This sophomoric soul should reflect very carefully on the words of Pope Paul VI, in a discourse given to a general audience on September 1, 1971: "...He who thinks he can remain a Christian by his own efforts, deserting the institutional bonds of the visible and hierarchical Church, or who imagines he can remain faithful to the mind of Christ by fashioning for himself a Church conceived according to his own ideas, is on the wrong track, and deceives himself.  He compromises and perhaps ruptures, and makes others rupture, real communion with the People of God, losing the pledge of its promises."

The Church is a communion of persons with the Living God, brought about by the Lord Jesus in the Holy Spirit. And, as Pope John Paul II teaches in Christifideles Laici, No. 64, " awareness of a commonly shared Christian dignity, an ecclesial consciousness brings a sense of belonging to the mystery of the Church as Communion. This is a basic and undeniable aspect of the life and mission of the Church. For one and all, the earnest prayer of Jesus at the Last Supper, 'That all may be one' (Jn 17: 21), ought to become daily a required and undeniable program of life and action."

When we understand what is meant by the Church's communion, the words of Pope Benedict XVI make perfect sense: "..In order to remain in unity with the crucified and risen Lord, the practical sign of juridical unity, 'remaining in the teaching of the apostles' is indispensable." (Pilgrim Fellowship of Faith: The Church as Communion, p. 69, Ignatius Press).  But the false prophets of the "new morality," which is neither new nor morality, continue to insist that we are now living in a new era in which men have "come of age."  These mental and moral midgets, anxious to baptize abortion, homosexuality, contraception and a host of other evils, argue that there is now before us a new way, an easy way of following God which permits all things in the name of "love."

As these sons and daughters of Hell raise their angry voices against the Church, demanding that she "update" her teaching so that it will be more palatable for "modern man," the Church reminds us all in her authoritative voice that, "They are fully incorporated in the society of the Church who, possessing the Spirit of Christ accept her entire system and all the means of salvation given to her, and are united with her as part of her visible bodily structure and through her with Christ, who rules her through the Supreme Pontiff and the bishops. The bonds which bind men to the Church in a visible way are profession of faith, the sacraments, and ecclesiastical government and communion. He is not saved, however, who, though part of the body of the Church, does not persevere in charity. He remains indeed in the bosom of the Church, but, as it were, only in a 'bodily' manner and not 'in his heart.' All the Church's children should remember that their exalted status is to be attributed not to their own merits but to the special grace of Christ. If they fail moreover to respond to that grace in thought, word and deed, not only shall they not be saved but they will be the more severely judged." (Lumen Gentium, No. 14).

Those who reject the Church's teaching remain in the Church but only in a bodily manner and not in their hearts.  They have ruptured real communion with the People of God and place themselves in danger of losing "the pledge of its promises."  This is not a "puritanical" teaching.  This is the teaching of Holy Mother Church.  This teaching represents the mind of Christ.  And those who are authentically Catholic will embrace it as such.


Athol/OrangeCatholic said...

Like the bitter and confused souls in Athol who want Our Lady Immaculate to fashion itself after the Paulist Center in Boston. Building "Homo Church."

Paul Anthony Melanson said...

Or Sister Jon Julie Sullivan, who has asserted to another individual that "There aren't even words to tell you how many changes we need [in the Church]."

It is not the Church [an immutable and perfect society - see Mystici Corporis] which needs to change. We are the ones who must change. We are the ones who must pray: "Sacred Heart of Jesus, make my heart like unto Thine."

It is not Jesus [or His Mystical Body the Church] which must conform to us. We must conform to the Church.

Adolescent souls such as Sister Sullivan fail to grasp this.

Stewart said...

Athol/Orange Catholic, that is really disturbing. Usually the same angry parish bureaucracy types who agitate against the Church and her teaching will absolutely freak out when they are questioned or challenged. They are blind guides. Hypocrites for whom the teaching of the Church is merely one opinion among others.

Ashley Pelletier said...

Pope John Paul II once said, "It is sometimes claimed that dissent from the Magisterium is totally compatible with being a 'good Catholic' and poses no obstacle to the reception of the Sacraments. This is a grave error that challenges the teaching office of the Bishops of the United States and elsewhere."

But many of those entrenched in parish and diocesan offices are actively dissenting from Church teaching while posing as Catholics. Many have lost their faith and simply go through the motions, trying to convince themselves and others that they are still Catholic.

They are living a lie.

Anonymous said...

So how do Catholics express dissent?
What is the proper forum?

Paul Anthony Melanson said...

There is no appropriate forum for dissent from Church teaching. As Pope John Paul II explained in Veritatis Splendor, No. 113:"While exchanges and conflicts of opinion may constitute normal expressions of public life in a representative democracy, moral teaching certainly cannot depend simply upon respect for a process: indeed, it is in no way established by following the rules and deliberative procedures typical of a democracy. Dissent, in the form of carefully orchestrated protests and polemics carried on in the media, is opposed to ecclesial communion and to a correct understanding of the hierarchical constitution of the People of God. Opposition to the teaching of the Church's Pastors cannot be seen as a legitimate expression either of Christian freedom or of the diversity of the Spirit's gifts. When this happens, the Church's Pastors have the duty to act in conformity with their apostolic mission, insisting that the right of the faithful to receive Catholic doctrine in its purity and integrity must always be respected. "Never forgetting that he too is a member of the People of God, the theologian must be respectful of them, and be committed to offering them a teaching which in no way does harm to the doctrine of the faith"

Paul Anthony Melanson said...

Pope Benedict XVI explains, "In a social milieu that encourages the expression of a variety of opinions on every question that arises, it is important to recognize dissent for what it is, and not to mistake it for a mature contribution to a balanced and wide-ranging debate. It is the truth revealed through Scripture and Tradition and articulated by the Church’s Magisterium that sets us free."

Dissent is polarizing and brings scandal.

Wendy said...

The Rise of the Culture of Dissent

By Russell Shaw

"The main driving force for the culture of dissent came initially from the organized assault on Humanae Vitae by liberal theologians. This more than anything else opened many people's eyes, including mine, to what was going on. According to Rev. Charles Curran, a leader of the dissenters who then taught at the Catholic University of America and is now at Southern Methodist, the anti-encyclical campaign "brought to the attention of all Catholics, perhaps for the first time, the right to dissent from authoritative, noninfallible papal teaching" (New Perspectives in Moral Theology, 1974). For not a few of us, however, it brought awareness that people like Father Curran were working overtime to promote dissent.

A week or two after hearing dissent preached from the pulpit of Holy Trinity Church, I found myself sitting in a suite of Washington's Mayflower Hotel with Rev. John Ford, S.J., the preeminent American Catholic moralist of the day, and Germain Grisez, a brilliant young ethicist who, at the time, taught at Georgetown University. Father Ford had been called in by Patrick Cardinal O'Boyle of Washington to help combat the upsurge of dissent from Humanae Vitae by some of his priests. Father Ford called in Grisez, and Grisez called in me. The three of us were working on a pamphlet to explain and uphold the encyclical's teaching.

From a limited perspective, the product of our labors was a success. The pamphlet was distributed widely in the Washington archdiocese. Some other dioceses reprinted it. People who read it called it a good job – but it failed to come close to stemming the tide. Probably nothing but direct divine intervention could have halted the momentum of dissent at that point.

Dissent spread quickly to questions other than contraception. Father Curran mentioned masturbation, sterilization, divorce, artificial insemination, homosexual acts, in vitro fertilization, abortion, and euthanasia. It would be easy to add other items to the list. The Church's Magisterium, it was said, was not competent to teach infallibly about norms drawn from natural law. But if magisterial teaching was not infallible – so this line of thought continued – it could be wrong. And if it could be wrong, then it probably was. In that case, to dissent was as much a duty as a right.

Where such reasoning leads is clear today in the rhetoric of someone like Boston College bioethicist Rev. John J. Paris, S.J. In early 2005, as the pros and cons of giving nutrition and hydration to brain-damaged Terri Schiavo in Florida were being hotly debated, he likened a 2004 address by Pope John Paul II on caring for people in a vegetative state to the kind of boilerplate talk popes typically give to the Italian Bicycle Riders Association. "It wasn't a doctrinal speech," Father Paris announced magisterially.

Dissent has not been confined to morality. The dissenting spirit can be seen at work in liturgical aberrations, as well as in numerous areas of theology, pastoral practice, and Catholic life. That what is involved here can be called a culture is apparent in the fact that dissent has had – and even now continues to have – the support of a powerful infrastructure of organizations, schools, periodicals, and publishing houses. Its weapons include propaganda, mockery, the suppression of opposing views, and the tried-and-true practice of rewarding friends and punishing enemies. It has enjoyed the toleration, and sometimes the patronage, of a substantial number of bishops, though fewer now than in the past. It has been a contributing factor, or worse, to the sex-abuse scandal, the religious illiteracy of young (and not-so-young) American Catholics, and the sharp drop both in priestly and religious vocations and Mass attendance in the postconciliar years."

Full article here:

Paul Anthony Melanson said...

Wendy, many of those who dissent from the Church's teaching fail to understand that their approach is very legalistic. This is most ironic since they will often accuse those who uphold the Church's authentic teaching of "pharisaism."

Dr. Germain Grisez, in a talk entitled "Legalism, Moral Truth and Pastoral Practice" given at a 1990 symposium held in Philadelphia, had this to say:

"Theologians and pastors who dissent from received Catholic teaching think they are rejecting legalism because they set aside what they think are mere rules in favor of what they feel are more reasonable standards. Their views are thoroughly imbued with legalism, however. For dissenters think of valid moral norms as rules formulated to protect relevant values. Some even make their legalism explicit by denying that there is any necessary connection between moral goodness (which they restrict to the transcendental level of a love with no specific content) and right action (which they isolate at the categorical level of inner-worldly behavior). But whether their legalism is explicit or not, all the dissenters hold that specific moral norms admit exceptions whenever, all things considered, making an exception seems the best - or least bad - thing to do. Most dissenters also think that specific moral norms that were valid in times past can be inappropriate today, and so they regard the Church's contested moral teachings as outdated rules that the Church should change."

Dr. Grisez reminded his listeners at the Philadelphia symposium that, "During the twentieth century, pastoral treatment of repetitious sins through weakness - especially masturbation, homosexual behavior, premarital sex play and contraception within marriage - grew increasingly mild. Pastors correctly recognized that weakness and immaturity can lessen such sins’ malice. Thinking legalistically, they did not pay enough attention to the sins’ inherent badness and harmfulness, and they developed the idea that people can freely choose to do something that they regard as a grave matter without committing a mortal sin. This idea presupposes that in making choices people are not responsible precisely for choosing what they choose. That presupposition makes sense within a legalistic framework, because lawgivers can take into account mitigating factors and limit legal culpability. But it makes no sense for morality correctly understood, because moral responsibility in itself is not something attached to moral acts but simply is moral agents’ self-determination in making free choices. Repetitious sinners through weakness also were handicapped by their own legalism. Not seeing the inherent badness of their sins, they felt that they were only violating inscrutable rules. When temptation grew strong, they had little motive to resist, especially because they could easily go to confession and have the violation fixed. Beginning on Saturday they were holy; by Friday they were again sinners. This cyclic sanctity robbed many people’s lives of Christian dynamism and contributed to the dry rot in the Church that became manifest in the 1960s, when the waves of sexual permissiveness battered her."

Dr. Grisez then went on to explain that, "Pastors free of legalism will teach the faithful how sin makes moral requirements seem to be alien impositions, help them see through this illusion, and encourage them to look forward to and experience the freedom of God’s children, who rejoice in the fruit of the Spirit and no longer experience the constraint of law.."

jac said...

Those who dissent from Church in the times being, have been confused, induced and encouraged in their errors by the turmoil which was trigerred by the VATII council.
A number of bad pastors (sad to say, they are not only priests and bishops) who have lose the faith have issued so much heresies, given so much bad examples in their ministeries and in their personal lives, in refusing to teach the bimillenal truths of the catholic faith, in distorting them, in questioning those which looked "outdated" that the dissenters are not so guilty as this article says.
We must pray firstly on behalf of the lost flock. The "wolves in sheep's clothes" aren't they already judged? I hope not, but I am afraid they are if they stay in they stubbornness.

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