Retaining the Catholic principle
1st Sunday of October:
19th Sunday after Pentecost
Everywhere around the globe there seems to be a recurrence of open or covert attacks on Catholic tenets.
While in Pakistan and the Middle East Christian minorities suffer physically for the Faith, here in the United States a subtle, but far more dangerous persecution is occurring – the soft erosion of Catholicism from within. Here are two examples from the home front:
1. In a move to make “all students feel welcome” a Catholic high school in Ontario is about to open an exclusive Islamic prayer room at the request of Muslim students. “On top of the new homosexual clubs in Catholic schools, this is one more nail in the coffin of Catholic education,” Suresh Dominic of Campaign Life Catholics said.
Separate schools are supposed to provide an authentically Catholic environment, but they are now becoming indistinguishable from the public secular schools. Allowing other religions to set up shop in Catholic schools also risks sending the message that perhaps Jesus is not really “the way, the truth, and the life” as St. John tells us in the Gospel, but only one way amongst many.
2. Also, in an interesting article, Robert Royal of The Catholic Thing underlines the appalling figure of a poll that might make you stop and think: 39% of Catholics in a 2002 Boston survey said they would support an American Catholic Church independent of the Vatican. That was at the height of the priestly sex-abuse scandal, when the Boston Globe was doing the polling with the obvious intention of getting precisely that answer.
Royal goes on unfolding for us the image of a Catholic Church turned into a spiritual desert.
Mass goers – Mass goers, not the nominals – who think the Eucharist is a mere symbol; Catholic school religion teachers who don’t believe in God; Catholic universities who drive more students away from the Church than do secular institutions.
At that stage, the Catholic churches do not stand out from the “denominational” churches. All other churches in America have the denominational syndrome, meaning that for public purposes there’s no real difference what any religious group teaches so long as it is a socially acceptable behavior, variable with time. Once this syndrome is in, it is Luther’s free interpretation, the free for all, each his own… pope! This is the opposite of the Catholic principle, best explained by Hilaire Belloc:
The essential in our judgment [we of the Faith] is that there stands on earth an Individual to be recognized as we recognize human individuals – by the voice, the gesture, the expression. The chain of reason is complete. Is there a God? Yes. Is He personal? Yes. Has He revealed Himself to men? Yes. Has He done so through a corporation – a thing not a theory? Has He created an organism by which He may continue to be known to mankind for the fulfillment of the great drama of the Incarnation. Yes. Where shall that organism be found? There is only one body on earth which makes such a claim: it is the Catholic Roman Apostolic Church. That claim we of the Faith accept. The consequences of that acceptation are innumerable, satisfactory and complete. We are at home. No one else of the human race is at home.
Belloc’s friend, G.K. Chesterton has retraced in time the momentous dilemma which faced the Christians persecuted for upholding the Catholic principle:
The refusal of the Christians [to be mere participants in the Roman pantheon]…was the turning-point of history…Nobody understands the nature of the Church, or the ringing note of the creed descending from antiquity, who does not realize that the whole world once very nearly died of broadmindedness and the brotherhood of all religions.
To evoke the nature of the Catholic principle is to draw the battle lines in a country like the United States. Cardinal Burke explains the stakes of his own country:
a war between a culture of secularization which is very strong in our nation, and the Christian culture which has strongly marked the life in the United Sates in the course of its 200 years of history. Unless Christians demonstrate with strong positions, unless they give a firm witness and insist on what is just and good for us, both on the individual and social level, then this secularization will end up winning and destroying us.
However, with a weakened hierarchy and laity generally without convictions, the odds are against the survival of both natural and Christian laws. Yet, this diagnosis and prognosis are simply a symptom of what has already been sealed years ago by the Church authorities in Assisi. After 2000 years of superb struggle, Christian Rome has finally succumbed to the old temptation of the pagans, who were only too happy to offer Christ a niche in the Pantheon of the United World Religions (i.e., no longer the True God).
1 Cited from a LifeSiteNews article “Ontario Catholic school to open Muslim prayer room: ‘One more nail in the coffin of Catholic’ ed” published on September 21, 2012.
2 “The Catholic Principle” published on October 1, 2012.
3 The Everlasting Man [New York: Dodd, Mead & Company, 1925], p.214.