Last Updated:Friday - 09/24/2010
December 19, 2005
WCR Letters to the Editor
We are all shepherds of God's flock
William Holt's letter to the editor ("Bring the lost sheep back," WCR, Nov. 21) provided some thought-provoking reading.
But Mr. Holt seems to be unaware of the fact the Catholic Church is not the only church people are leaving, and the reasons for not going to church, as given by the people who have stopped attending church, are known to most of us in religious life.
Celibacy and gender and the ordination of women do not score anywhere near the top among the reasons given for leaving the Church. Why would any of these things matter to somebody who doesn't go to church and doesn't plan on going?
However, I want to comment on Mr. Holt's answer to the question, "Where do we go from here?" Obviously, back to the drawing board.
Holt says, "Jesus wants us to spread the good news of the Gospel to all people as mentioned in the last chapter of Matthew and this implies we should have more priests doing good ministry."
That's a rather old and outdated opinion of ministry and evangelization, and I suggest Mr. Holt pick up a copy of Archbishop Thomas Collins' small booklet, Stewardship: "Well done, good and faithful servant" and read it carefully.
Evangelization or stewardship or mission activities or whatever one wants to call the work of increasing membership and spreading the good news of the Gospel is not reserved solely to the clergy. The clergy can't do it alone.
In some cases, the leadership will come from the bishops, in other cases from the people in the trenches - the priests, sisters and other religious and the lay workers in the Church.
But most of us in the religious life believe the big breakthrough will occur when everybody in the pew comes to understand what St. Peter meant by the royal priesthood to which all of us belong.
Mr. Holt should perhaps have a look at Reginald Bibby's book, Restless Gods. Bibby, a professor at the University of Lethbridge, is a Canadian expert on church attendance.
His research doesn't suggest the ordination of women and a married clergy will stem the tide when it comes to people leaving any of the churches. These reasons are seldom given when people are asked why they left their church or don't attend church regularly.
The early results of some samplings taken by the Anglicans suggest that ordaining women priests didn't bring about a significant increase in membership in the parishes to which these women were assigned.
It seems some new faces appeared, some of the people who objected to the ordination of women disappeared and the number of parishioners remained just about the same.
However, as all readers realize, it is too early to draw any definitive conclusions about the ordination of women from so small a sample.
Rev. Ron Hollohan
Change our hearts and minds
A thank you to Kathleen Giffin for herNov 21 column on "serving somebody." Catholics of every era have served somebody, by decision or indecision, by action or inaction; we either serve God or, by default, we serve Satan. There is no room to wiggle and no fence to sit on.
We are taught through Sacred Scripture that although God is all loving and all knowing, He is not reasonable! Thirty five years ago I openly dissented with and privately disobeyed several teachings of the Church because I actually believed that my innate intelligence, a broad education and some experience with the world entitled me to choose which teachings I would believe and obey - all while attending Sunday Mass and thinking of myself as a good Catholic.
I remember engaging other young or "enlightened" Catholics in discussions about Vatican II and the need for change; and how we would reduce the entirety of one pope or another with dismissive labels as "too old" or "too conservative"; as if we were their intellectual and spiritual equals. I now look back on my behaviour with a profound sense of sorrow and shame.
Twenty years later I began to dig into Catholic theology, doctrine, social teaching, tradition, Sacred Scripture and history. At first looking for the means to justify the views I held, but over time, I came to see my dissensions for what they really were - an heretical concoction of secular ideas, pretzel logic and intellectual vanity.
As an example, imagine my chagrin at discovering that abortions, abortifacients, birth control devices and homosexual issues have existed in many primitive and so-called civilized societies for at least 2,000 years before Christ was born. Christ surely was aware of them as both man and God.
Even the unsophisticated apostles had likely heard of some of these things. We can't be absolutely certain but St. Luke, a Greek doctor of medicine who had travelled widely before his conversion to Christianity, was probably well versed on all these matters. So much for the new sexual and social issues facing modern Catholics!
What I now know to be true is that God is a dictator not a consensus builder. He is neither liberal nor conservative. He is the Ultimate Reality, Truth Incarnate.
So, when Catholics speak of Christ, St. Peter or any of Peter's successors as too conservative or too liberal it is utterly irrational. Each pope must teach the entire Gospel and ensure that all teachings are scripturally sound. Any changes are painstakingly considered from a number of disciplines in order to ensure authenticity.
Catholicism must never become a designer church that ebbs and flows with the tide of secular politics and academic ideology. Each new generation believes the Church must change radically to remain relevant. With very few exceptions - most in the very ancient past - this is untrue. It is the hearts and minds of Catholics that must change.
Leave the Catholic Church to the faithful
Regarding the article in the Oct. 10 WCR, "Orders worry about gay priest ban," I fail to see what all the fuss is about regarding the Vatican's instruction to "exclude most gay men from seminaries."
In reality this document does not state anything new, as there was a similar policy statement released in the 1960s.
Further, development of this latest instruction has been in the works for the past nine years and was certainly overdue, given the recent sex abuse cases among priests.
To anyone with knowledge of these sex abuse cases, the vast majority - 80 per cent - have actually been instances of homosexuality (see Paedophiles and Priests by Phillip Jenkins).
It is evident that the Jesuit superior quoted in the article fails to recognize the difference between a person who is a "homosexual" and someone who is "gay."
As Father Benedict Groeschel explained in his series of talks, entitled Exposing the Real Church Scandal (available from www.CrisisMagazine.com), the term "homosexual" is much akin to someone suffering from an illness which is not a choice, whereas the term "gay" refers to someone who is a militant homosexual, who has an agenda to promote homosexuality as being "normal."
Shortly before his death, in 1978, Archbishop Fulton Sheen warned the U.S. bishops that unless something was done to deal with homosexuality in seminaries this situation would reach crisis proportions within 20 years.
Talk about prophetic!
It should be clear to anyone who's read the Vatican's instruction, that only men who refuse to accept celibacy - either hetero or homo - or those who take a militant stand against the Church's doctrine on homosexual behaviour, should not be admitted to the priesthood.
If this means that the number of men entering the priesthood will drop, then so be it. For the welfare of the faithful, it is better to have no priest than one who is an apostate.
One only needs to look to the Anglican Church to see what would happen if the magisterium were to similarly compromise its doctrine. Prior to 1930, every Christian denomination condemned contraception.
Today, the Catholic Church stands alone.
Similarly, many denominations now accept divorce and abortion, and the consequences have been devastating. To those who call for the Catholic Church to relax its moral positions, I say, please go and find another church and leave the Roman Catholic Church to the faithful.
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