At The Dawn of 2011, Despite Bumps In the Road Catholic Orthodoxy Marches Onward

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It seems every time a kerfuffle pops up in the Catholic Church, many in engage in hand wringing and doom and gloom scenarios. The latest occurred with Pope Benedict XVI’s remarks on condoms, which were wildly taken out of context in his interview with Peter Seewald turned book Light of the World. Following these remarks, some of us have probably been peppered with questions from family and friends as to what this means, and if the Church has changed her teachings in the arena of birth control. Those of us who have welcomed the new orthodoxy taking place within in the Church during the last ten or twenty years, probably have wished this latest kerfuffle had never taken place. However, this in no way shape of form means the orthodoxy movement has stalled. Oddly, I received some gleeful e-mails from some who surprisingly seemed ecstatic to point out that my book; The Tide is Turning Toward Catholicism couldn’t possibly be correct. Hopefully, this article will point out that Catholic orthodoxy is alive, well and here to stay.

Church liberals who had long pilloried Pope Benedict XVI even before he was a cardinal, a simple university professor in the famed German town of Tubingen, seemed perplexed on how to treat the latest uproar. Some felt that he was moving in the right (or in their case left direction.) However, the more cynical among them knew that the Holy Father hadn’t changed a thing. They in turn left posts at the National Catholic Reporter decrying the German pontiff’s lack of pastoral ministry. Though I don’t know which saint said it, I am sure someone who was canonized uttered something along these lines; “God please save your Church from these overly pastoral pastors.”

The Holy Father was merely engaging in an abstract theological conversation much like a bunch of guys at a sports bar might conjecture what would happen if modern team x played historical team y for a mythical championship. Yet, the mainstream media along with some in the Catholic media went into a frenzy. The Holy Father was changing nothing in the Church’s teachings concerning birth control. The fault lie with those in the Vatican’s Public Relations Department in making sure the ubiquitous editor Giovanni Vian didn’t somehow put the Holy Father’s abstract scenarios into an excerpt for the L’Osservatore Romano. The comedy of errors in the Vatican could make one’s hair fallout.

Yet, I remember the words of a priest who once spent a considerable amount of time at the Holy See. He told me that the amount of miracles and jaw dropping examples of God’s Grace, that he personally witnessed behind the Vatican’s walls, still amazes him to this day. However, on the flip side the amount of sinister almost demonic style attacks amazes him to this day as well. The evil one knows where his primary target is located and he does his best to cause mayhem.

Despite some of the handwringing from fellow orthodox minded Catholics,  in her 2,000 years the Church has seen so many attacks that the latest kerfuffle is but a blip. Following the Protestant Reformation whole towns (in Catholic areas) saw priests and bishops abandon their posts. Bishop Francis DeSales was greeted with a volley of rotten fruit and empty churches when he entered Geneva, Switzerland. By the time of his death, half of the city had returned to the One True Faith, and many had come to see the lies and empty promises of Jean Calvin.

St Francis DeSales’ ordeal is a telling example for us some 500 years later. Like that dark period, the Church in recent times was engulfed in a horrible scandal. The scandal that brought on the Reformation primarily revolved around money and power, while the Church’s most recent scandal revolved around lust and deviancy. We must take the long, hard road example of St. Francis DeSales to heart, for if we try to repair any damage with a quick fix, we will find ourselves in worse shape than when we started.

In more recent times, the mainline liberal Protestant churches became of the world in the 1960s and 1970s. They are revered by the powers that be, especially in the mainstream media. By listening to the glowing media reports surrounding these churches, one might think they would be full, instead of empty. If you can’t stand for the Dogmatic truths of Christ and His Church, you most certainly will fall for anything. Sadly that is exactly what has happened, as there doesn’t seem to be a left wing cause or alternative lifestyle that some of the churches don’t support.

The Anglican Church is literally imploding before our eyes, as not only many of the rank and file worldwide Anglican Communion faithful (called Episcopalians in the US) are coming home to Rome, but so are many Anglican priests, as well as few bishops thanks to the personal Ordinate offered by Pope Benedict XVI. In Britain it is estimated that more people attend Friday prayers at their respective Islamic mosques than attend Anglican Church services on Sunday morning. Recently, the leader of the Anglican Church, The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams stated that he welcomed Sharia Law being applied in Great Britain. (If this last paragraph intrigues you, please read If You Want The Political Left To Run Governments, Look At What The Religious Left Had Done To Religion (Left It In Tatters.) along with  The Jesus the Professional Left Chose to Ignore and The Coming Open Rebellion Against God and finally Mid Term Elections Show Why The Tide Continues To Turn Toward Catholic Orthodoxy.

The liberals within the Catholic Church would have us go two ways, both of which would be a disaster. For example Kathleen Kennedy Townsend recently wrote an op-ed piece in the Washington Post taking former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin to task for exposing the less than Catholic public views of her late uncle, President John F Kennedy. Governor Palin was merely reiterating a theme struck by many orthodox minded Catholics, including the likes of Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver, concerning the nation’s only Catholic President. In her book America By Heart, Governor Palin reminded her readers that President Kennedy downplayed his Catholic faith and was certainly no help to Catholic schools.

 It took a member of the Disciples of Christ Church, Lyndon Baines Johnson to allow Catholic school children to use the public school buses that their parent’s taxes were funding. It wasn’t merely Governor Palin that was in Townsend Kennedy’s crosshairs, but the beliefs of orthodox minded Catholics. Yes of course, a good liberal Catholic document wouldn’t be complete without some reference to Inquisitor, Grand Inquisitor and or the Inquisition. Naturally in the that department, Townsend Kennedy does not disappoint the liberal Catholic faithful.

Still another recipe of disaster for faith in the modern world would be the Rick Steves Route. Viewers of Public Television may be familiar with Rick Steves European Travel Program. In fact, it is certainly one of my favorite programs. During his recent Christmas Special Mr. Steves mentioned that he is a practicing Lutheran. I found this intriguing, which caused me to visit his blog. At his blog I found him to be a little more open about his political and religious views. He mentioned his fervent stand for Marijuana legalization along with his dismissal of Catholic views on not only theology (the Primacy of Peter) but also on sexuality. On his blog, Mr. Steves seems to relish going to Mass at St Peter’s in Rome and also hints that he may go to Communion, even though he states he is a staunch Lutheran. “As far as Communion in St. Peter’s goes, it’s don’t ask, don’t tell,” states Steves. I can’t imagine many Lutherans being happy if we went to one of their worship services and secretly broke one of their teachings. Again let me reiterate, I found this out by mere accident. I like Rick Steves’ show, but I had never visited his blog. Upon visiting his blog, I came to find out his true thoughts on religion (including the Catholic Church) along with his liberal social views. I am sure he is a nice man who seems to give generously to the less fortunate, which makes it all the more depressing that he espouses these views about the Catholic Church, a church that has done more to help world’s less fortunate than any Big Government liberal could hope to do.

In some ways Steves makeshift theology goes to the heart of liberal rebellion and dare I say the Protestant Reformation? It smacks of “go ahead you know what’s best, you don’t need some stuffy churchmen to tell you what to do?” Disobedience masquerading as relativistic intellect has been the downfall of many in the Old and New Testament. God gave Peter one set of keys, not 40,000.Though many conservative Evangelicals would be shocked to hear this, the leaders of the Protestant Reformation were the liberal vanguard of their day. Ever wonder why the conservative Puritans, who thought colored clothing and mincemeat pies were decadent, grew into the Unitarians? The answer is very simple; the tenets of their beliefs were based on rebellion.

Now the Lutheran Church, the oldest of the Protestant denominations is splitting once again, the culprit this time is same sex marriage. Much to Martin Luther’s chagrin, there was a reason Jesus made Peter the first leader and not all of the Apostles. The Lutheran split is only compounded by the 40,000 denominational and non denominational churches dotting the Protestant landscape, even though Jesus exhorted Christians to be One (John 10:16.) 

My intent here is not to replay the Protestant Reformation. Believe me I am well aware of the corruption that existed in the Catholic Church during the time of Luther. However, pride and envy has been man’s downfall since the Garden. In one hammer swing to the church doors at Wittenberg, Martin Luther went from quite possibly being one of the greatest reformers that the Catholic Church had ever seen,  to a megalomaniac who thought he knew better than the Church that Christ created, as to how to aid in man’s salvation. Gone were the sacraments and parts of the Bible, and in came the Dictatorship of Relativism, where one could simply announce their plans for a heavenly journey, and so it would be. Some 1,500 years after the fact, it really is a bit much to say you know better than all the great religious minds before you. It would be akin to a History Professor in 3293 stating that he knew the truth about the Boston Tea Party, Bunker Hiil and Yorktown and not those who were writing about it, shortly thereafter.

Every time one of my articles reiterates the statistics concerning dioceses where vocations are booming due to fervent orthodoxy and traditional Catholic devotional practices, such as Eucharistic Adoration and Marian devotions, I receive e-mails (some nicer than others) from liberal Catholics and liberal Protestants upset at my assertion. According to their views, the young men and young women who embrace orthodoxy and traditional Catholic devotions simply haven’t come to grips with the modern world, while liberal young people who shun religious life all together have. A rather odd assertion but I suppose if you believe in relativism, you end up being ruled by the Dictatorship of Relativism. Oddly enough, besides orthodox minded Catholics, I from time to time get positive heartfelt e-mails from Evangelical Protestants buoyed by the fact that within the Catholic Church, the tide is turning to orthodoxy.

To conclude the Catholic Church has found herself in some rough patches. Many both inside and outside the Church have tried, with the best of intentions to twist mankind into something that ends up being contrary to God’s and purposes and plans. For example, the Reformation begat the Enlightenment, which begat the French Revolution, which begat Karl Marx and on the downward spiral plunges, but there exists an institution that though full of corrupt and sinful human beings, continues to march on some 2,000 years later. This institution is the Catholic Church and though we have had many bumps in the road, we march and process onward to preach the Good News that Christ handed down to Peter and everyone of the 265 successive popes (Matthew 16:15-20.) The doom and gloomers might want to ponder this fact as they watch the implosion of the pillars of the Dictatorship of Relativism. Yes my friends, despite some bumps in the road, the tide continues to turn toward Catholic orthodoxy.

Dave Hartline

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  1. You mention as an undesirable example 40,000 Protestant churches and name a few. They are distinguished from one another by their differing beliefs and practices. In the Roman Catholic Church, you find two factions, “us” and “them”, the liberals.
    It is illuminating to identify the large number of distinguishable groups within the Roman Catholic Church today, marked by their differences in beliefs and practices although not yet assigned formal names. Each considers itself the truly faithful. The concept of unity spoken of by the Pope and others seems to have little to do with the Catholic church as a list of clearly different, faithful Catholic factions would show. 450 years ago looks rather similar in some ways.

  2. There is a linguistic confusion which conflates the Church with Catholics. Jack B. writes of “the large number of distinguishable groups within the Roman Catholic Church today, marked by their differences in beliefs and practices although not yet assigned formal names”.

    There are many more than a large number: there are groups whose distinguishing characteristics is that they – that we – are all sinners. We may grumble about Rome and the Vatican and those clerics who are continuously interfering in our cosy lives. Looking at the Church is much like looking at a family. Would it be a family were there not regular disagreements? “Differences in beliefs and practices” are like the weeds that have ever encumbered the growth of the Church – the chaff, the tares. They will be with us until the end as Our Lord told us. We just have to live with it.

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