Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Obama, the Bishops, and AmChurch's sacramentalized pagans

A reader writes:
Sometimes a woman can slap a man in the face to make him come to his sense. Sometimes she leaves him. I am not sure just what is taking place right now, but posts like these [see below] are signs of that maybe, just maybe a little fog is lifting amidst the cultural erosion ...
He then quotes Mark Brumley's remarks in (Ignatius Insight Scoop, November 5, 2008):
Part of the problem is that while we now have some bishops willing to speak out in a clear and forceful fashion, we have a generation of churchgoing Catholics -- I'm talking about the churchgoers now, not the Catholics in name only -- who are clueless about their faith and who have little judgment about how to apply it to the world around them. They go along to get along. These are people who may not have been evangelized, and so they are sacramentalized pagans. These are people who have not been catechized so they are spiritual babies having to confront issues that require a mature faith.

We need to make the most of this situation and do what we can to change things. Bishops will have to step up the plate. Priests will, too. And religious. And lay leaders. It is going to take an honest appraisal of the problem. No more happy talk about the Church in the U.S. Yes, we have a priest shortage. You want to know why? Because we have a Christian shortage and a Catholic shortage among Catholics. That's the unvarnished truth. The baptized pagans who occupy so much pew space in our churches have to be converted to Christianity. The liberal-Protestantish Catholicism-lite that substitutes for Catholicism has to be converted to real Catholicism. The bishops have to stop kidding themselves. And they have to be willing to take on their brother bishops when they're part of the problem and they have to be willing to confront their clergy when they are part of the problem.

There is more to be said but this will do for now. Let's all look at our own situation and ask ourselves what needs to be done in our own lives. That may require prayer and sacrifice on our part. It may involve having to confront others--charitably and lovingly, of course. It should get us involved more, if we're not already, in parish life.
Then our correspondent refers to an article by Karen Hall, entitled "What An Obama Presidency Means to Catholics" (Some Have Hats, November 6, 2008), a title for which she gives credit to "A good article by Russell Shaw" (Our Sunday Visitor, November 16, 2008 issue). Hall begins by singling out a single sentence from Russell Shaw's article:
I'd like to shed some light on this particular statement:
For the Catholic Church, the election underlines serious questions about the bishops' ability to educate Catholic voters to the moral implications of political choices considered in light of Church teaching.
The bishops have spent decades sending us the clear message that Rome is a long way away and what the Church teaches hasn't mattered since Humanae Vitae. Now they are puzzled as to why Catholic voters were hard to educate about the Church's teaching on abortion? Note to bishops: first you have to educate the Catholic voters as to why they should care what the Church teaches on any subject. Then you have to educate Catholics (me, for instance) as to why you have the authority to throw politically incorrect passages out of the Bible and/or ignore them as you see fit.

The bishops don't have a tough job ahead of them. They have an impossible job. They cannot explain why the Pope is right about abortion but wrong about female altar servers. They cannot explain why one bishop can read us the riot act and another can march down the aisle behind the rainbow Jesus fish banner. They cannot explain why "good Catholic" has a different definition in every diocese. They cannot explain why the priest in my parish could spend last Sunday playing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" on his clarinet (during the homily) and then make up his own Mass, or why the deacon could get up one Sunday and explain to Caleb that his favorite miracle (the loaves and the fishes) did not really take place. (That was the homily on the Feast of Corpus Christi. Hmmm... what other miracle might not take place?)

The bishops have created a Church that makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. There are as many answers to "what the Church teaches" as there are priests in my diocese. If I go for spiritual direction here or in Los Angeles, I will very likely be told what God really thinks, despite what the Pope might claim.

The bishops have created a situation so that, with the exception of the sacraments, I have no access to the Church. I can't send my child to a Catholic school because he will be taught that my friend Bob will come into his room at night and put his hands in Caleb's pajamas. (Yes, I could sign up for the "opt out" and buy the fairy tale that Caleb wouldn't ask his best friend, "What did you guys talk about when I had to leave the room?") I can't go to Mass without something setting my hair on fire week after week. I can't turn on my television without seeing the parade of famous pro-abortion Catholics who receive the occasional stern letter while the bishops continue to ignore Archbishop Burke and the Pope -- for reasons I absolutely cannot fathom -- continues to do nothing. Not even so much as to remove the three bishops who are leading the entire state of California into perdition. (One would think that the Pope would at least care about the souls of the bishops, if he doesn't care about the souls of my children.)

"What An Obama Presidency Means to Catholics" will be rough indeed. But Obama can't put a dent into what the bishops have done to Catholics, while the Church has done the equivalent of standing on the Titanic and yelling, "There's a big hole! A really big hole! The ship is taking on water! Bad things will happen if someone doesn't start bailing! Really, we mean it, we're telling the truth! Really really really!"

[Hat tip to J.M.]

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