Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Why Can’t Catholics Be Honest with One Another?

The original title of this blogpost was supposed to be:

Why Does John Henry Westen Have to Beg Priests to Preach the Faith?

Which was inspired by this talk … and a facebook friend who asked:

Why can't we hear homilies by our priests and bishops such as the talk given by this layman?

Why indeed.

Then later on my facebook newsfeed, this popped up:

You think that might offer a clue?

Here we have professional Catholics using their officialdom to promote doctrines contrary to the faith.

You think that might be WHY we hardly hear of the faith in homilies?

In the late 80’s, pro-lifers used to say: if abortion is murder, act like it.

Inspired by that, I would say: if the Catholic faith is true, act like it.

But many professional Catholics don’t act like it, do they? They don’t really believe that sodomy is intrinsically disordered, that re-marriage is adultery, or that receiving Communion in a state of mortal sin is blasphemy.

There’s a reason why the Church is plagued by boring homilies and press releases from the CCCB that nobody reads.

Because the people who write these things don’t believe in the Catholic Faith. They may accept quite a bit of it. But they don’t believe in Catholic authority.

Which comes down to say they don’t believe in the Catholic Faith.

So why don’t we just let it all out? I sometimes fantasize about holding a televised audience participation forum—a la Phil Donahue. We could have a theme like “Divine Revelation: yay or nay?” and we could have a panel of guests representing a spectrum of belief of professional Catholics.

Then we’d all have our word to say. It could be designed like a townhall meeting with mics and Catholics – orthodox, liberal, poorly catechized-- could line up have a chance to react to the things being said, the rest of us could watch it live-streamed on Youtube while eating our popcorn and commenting on twitter.

And the purpose of this would be to lay it all out for the world to see, the state of our Church, the state of our leadership, the state the people’s faith, in order for us to not be in denial any longer.
One important detail: the person EmCeeing the event (which in my fantasy is me) would have to be someone not afraid to state uncomfortable truths or call people on their BS (ideally in a polite way.)  It would NOT be anyone from Salt n Light or the CCCB and especially not from Catholic (so-called) theology school. Preferably someone grassroots and definitely orthodox.

This to me would be part of the New Evangelization: to start talking to one another, and challenging people on their lack of adherence to the Catholic faith, instead of having people hide behind officialdom, as if their status, their church-approved ministry, their theology degree, was a seal of their orthodoxy.

It’s only if we talk to each other, if we challenge each other, if we make it obvious what people are thinking that things will change. When people are allowed to hide behind their officialdom and platitudes, nothing changes.

Ideally, if the hierarchy see the state of affairs, they may be forced to act. If they really believe the Catholic faith.

One of the things I suspect happens in these professional Catholic circles is that people across the spectrum of belief become friends. And relationships get in the way of challenge. You don’t want to hurt Liberal Joe’s feelings because he’s a really decent guy (and he really is!). He’s just misguided. Meanwhile Liberal Joe is leading people to hell with his misguided teachings on sexual matters.  This is why I think bishops don’t do a lot of correcting. They went to the seminary with a lot of professional Catholics they now oversee; they need their team to get things; they don’t want to undermine the morale of priests who are already doing a difficult job. So they don’t step on toes because if they step on toes and start correcting people, or firing people, or if their people quit, that makes their lives a lot harder. And then they have to go through the bother of hiring another professional Catholic with the right credentials (never mind the right faith!) to fill the position that was left vacant.

But if we had the conversation, then the confrontation of ideas would persuade people of their error. If we don’t talk openly about error, about the faith, nothing gets corrected. If we talk openly and honestly about belief, then the Holy Spirit can affect hearts and minds. If we all retreat into ourselves and our church ghettoes, then nothing changes. Hopefully this would help those professional Catholics who are soft on doctrine to understand how important it is to speak the truth.

Now that’s my little fantasy, born of frustration at what strikes me as the hypocrisy in the Church: calling itself Catholic without really taking the Catholic faith seriously, and allowing dissenters to undermine it. If we give people the opportunity to be honest, we at least give them the opportunity to not be hypocrites any more, and we all know where everyone stands, and no one hides.

But of course we all know that the hypocrisy serves a political purpose which is to do stuff like hold secret synods to undermine the faith. Which is probably why something like my fantasy Phil Donahue event will not happen (among many others).