Catholic Apologetics class at the St. Joseph’s Residence in Enfield, CT, is cancelled for Monday, November 12, due to Veteran’s Day.
There are so many competing philosophies, denominations, and religions in the modern world. We Catholics are challenged daily by those who deny the existence of God and truth and insist that all religion is pure superstition. Some interpret the Bible in such a way that contradicts Catholic teaching, while others cite scandals as sufficient reason for angrily leaving the Church. What are the faithful to do amid such chaos and confusion? First and foremost, we must know and understand the truths and practices of Catholicism, and thereby be better able to explain and defend them.
Beginning on October 4, 2018, Timothy O’Keefe of The Fullness of Truth Apostolate will continue the talks entitled Answering Common Objections that examine and respond to some of the many challenges made to Catholic teaching. These talks will be held in the Holy Trinity Parish Center cafeteria on the first and third Thursdays of each month, from 7-8:30 pm. They continue from October to June. There is no set fee, but donations to the apostolate are greatly appreciated.
Holy Trinity Parish Center is located at 331 Elm Street, Westfield, MA. The Fullness of Truth Apostolate can be reached at (413) 568-4429.
Catholic Apologetics classes will resume again on Mondays at the Little Sisters of the Poor Saint Joseph’s Residence (1365 Enfield St., Enfield, CT), and Tuesdays at Christ the King parish center (41 Warsaw Ave., Ludlow, MA). Classes meet from 7-8:30 pm. The first classes will be held on September 18 and 24.
The Catholic Apologetics course is designed to give students a thorough knowledge of Catholic teaching, with an emphasis on understanding, explaining, and defending that teaching. It is an antidote to the superficial familiarity with the faith that is common among Catholics today, which makes us easy prey to the many enemies of the faith.
These classes are small, so there is always room for new students. There is no required commitment to the course; people may come for as long as they choose. There is no set fee, but donations are greatly appreciated.
If you would like to start an additional group in the southern New England area, I would be happy to consider it. I’ve been teaching this course for seventeen years now, and am willing to offer it wherever there is a sincere interest in Catholic truth. In addition to this course, I’m also willing to give one or several talks on the faith, as well as another course entitled, Fundamentals of the Faith.
If you have any questions, please contact The Fullness of Truth Apostolate at:
The Fullness of Truth Apostolate
P. O. Box 2301
In the document, Letter of His Holiness Pope Francis to the People of God, the pope recently addressed the clerical sex scandal crisis. One term that is found repeatedly in this letter is that of “clericalism.” Pope Francis apparently feels that the present Church crisis is primarily due to clericalism, and the bishops in America and elsewhere are quickly following his lead. As a result, one already finds the term “clericalism” in one episcopal statement after another. Even the media has seized upon it.
I would agree that clericalism is a serious problem in the Church. It always has been, and it probably always will be. But what, exactly, is clericalism?
Clericalism is one manifestation of the capital sin of pride. The glossary of the Catechism of the Catholic Church defines it in this way:
“Pride is undue self-esteem or self-love, which seeks attention and honor and sets oneself in competition with God.”
In other words, to be proud is to be full of yourself. It is to have a disordered infatuation with one’s own qualities, achievements, status, and opinions and to crave or even demand praise from others. We are all guilty of the sin of pride and we especially act on it according to our particular station in life.
Clericalism is that manifestation of pride that afflicts men of the cloth – popes, cardinals, bishops, priests, and deacons. It takes many familiar forms: misplaced pomp in liturgical and other public appearances; excessive signs of external respect; emphasis placed on clerical opinions on Church matters, to the belittling of the opinions of lay people; an aloofness and air of superiority; a tendency to look upon the laity as personal servants, and to disregard lay concerns as unimportant.
Christ warned the Apostles about clericalism. He said,
“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and the great ones make their authority over them felt. But it shall not be so among you. Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave. Just so, the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mt. 20:25–28).
The man who practices clericalism does just what Our Lord proscribes. He makes his authority over others felt in oppressive ways. He does not serve others, but insists that they serve him. And he enjoys every bit of it. Let me give one concrete example of clericalism. Many years ago, when I was employed by the Church as an organist, I was socializing in a friary with the priests shortly before a Confirmation ceremony. A priest who had just been ordained said to everyone present, “When I’m finally made a pastor, it’s going to be ball-and-chain.” Everyone laughed. From what I’ve heard about this priest, I’d say the prophecy has been fulfilled.
Now, let’s suppose that the pope and the bishops are correct in their assessment of what ails the modern Church, that it’s primarily clericalism. If this is so, then I would expect to see some predictable forthcoming changes. For example, let cardinals be addressed, not as “Your Eminence,” but more humbly as “Cardinal so-and-so.” Let bishops be addressed, not as “Your Excellency,” but more meekly as, “Bishop so-and-so.” Forsake the kissing of episcopal rings, and such expressions as the bishop’s “throne” and the bishop’s “palace,” wherever these practices are still in use. And let’s simplify clerical and liturgical vestments as well, so that the pomp in Catholic liturgy is directed entirely to the glory of God, and not to man. Such changes could be only the beginning of purging the Church of arcane signs of clericalism.
Does anyone really expect to see these changes? If you do, then I’ve got a drawbridge I’d love to sell you.
The present crisis is not due to clericalism. Clericalism does not make a normal heterosexual male want to sexually molest another male or a child! Such a term only provides an easy escape for those unwilling to admit and confront the far more malevolent problem in the Church; namely, rampant homosexuality. The liberal pro-gay media has escaped this admission by defining the crisis as one of pedophilia. The ecclesiastical powers that be have done the same. But the statistics prove otherwise. Pedophilia consist of sexual relations between an adult and a child thirteen years old or younger. There have been many such incidents in this crisis, that is for certain. And one of the most disturbing aspects of this is the realization that men this sick, with such an extreme sexual-psychological disorder, have been ordained in droves, in spite of the various examinations candidates for the priesthood must pass. Is this not suggestive of collusion? However, the statistics reveal that approximately eighty percent of the sexual abuse in the Church has been committed against boys older than thirteen. In other words, the present crisis is one of bishops and priests having homosexual sex with teenagers and seminarians, boys and young men. That is the unpopular but well-documented fact.
The present crisis in the Church is not one of clericalism or pedophilia, but widespread homosexual activity, abuse, recruitment, and protection of the guilty. This latter tendency has unfortunately been receiving all the attention, and it’s in this protecting of the guilty that there is the alleged clericalism. But every ring of scoundrels protects its own, so there’s nothing unique about this. The real issue is the behavior itself, the actual sin committed, which is then being concealed and denied. And that sin is homosexual acts. Until the pope and bishops can face this ugly truth, the Church will continue to be mired in scandals and to decline in her reputation and her ability to perform her God-given mission.
Although I do not have proof, I think it’s a safe presumption that many holy souls in the Church’s history – men and women from all periods and places – have been afflicted with homosexual desires. These persons have perhaps suffered in silence, confessed their occasional falls, and striven to the utmost to avoid temptation, by the grace of God. Perhaps heaven is full of such saints. However, especially in light of our age’s omnipresent encouragement to indulge in all forms of sexual sin, I am strongly opposed to the ordaining of homosexual men. This includes celibate homosexual men. Again, such persons may live lives of extraordinary sanctity, but there is far more to the priestly ministry than only personal sanctity; there is also fidelity to Catholic teaching.
A priest with a homosexual attraction will be surrounded by temptation for his entire life. The Church prudently and wisely teaches that, in order to effectively avoid sin, we must avoid the near occasions of sin, those circumstances which cause us the most potent types and degrees of temptation, those to which we are most likely to fall, based on our personal history. A homosexual man in the priesthood, having even the purest and noblest intentions, would nevertheless be contradicting the Church’s counsel to avoid the near occasions of sin.
An equally prudent and wise teaching of the Church warns, “Do not trust thyself.” Do not ever place faith in yourself, in the confidence that you will not fall to a temptation. Instead, presume that you will fall, and so, avoid the temptation. Saint Augustine once advised his fellow priests and bishops, “Don’t ever leave me alone with a woman.” A homosexual priest would again contradict this invaluable counsel of the Church, recklessly trust himself, and frequently be alone with one man after another. This is a reliable recipe for the commission of many sins.
There is another reason that I’m opposed to the ordaining of homosexual men to the priesthood, and it concerns teaching the faithful. To make an extreme understatement – the current state of biblical and catechetical teaching in the Catholic Church is deplorable, and it has been so for over half a century. There is a consistently narrow selection of Christian themes that are repeated over and over again, ad nauseam, wherever the Church teaches. Sometimes I feel as if every homily is the same as every other homily, except that the order of words has been rearranged. And we all know the themes: love, mercy, tolerance, acceptance, blah-blah-blah. It sounds like a campaign speech from Bernie Sanders. We hear and read this drivel week after week and decade after decade. But these themes, as much as they are somewhat biblical, are not accurately presented as Holy Scripture presents them. They appear to be, not strengths and virtues, but weaknesses and vices. For example: love, the most over-used and abused word in the modern homiletic vocabulary. Properly understood, Jesus Christ did not teach about love; He did not say one thing about it, except to warn us about it. Instead, Christ taught about the virtue of charity, which is about as far from the emotion of love as you can get.
The Catechism defines charity in the following way:
“Charity is the theological virtue by which we love God above all things for his own sake, and our neighbor as ourselves for the love of God” (CCC 1822).
Charity is God-centered, transcendent, and exceedingly holy. And if it is genuine, then it results in the acceptance of all that God has revealed through Scripture and Tradition, and the conformity of one’s actions to the divine moral law. But this is light years above the rubbish that is repeated day and night in the sanctuaries, halls, and classrooms of the Church today. Instead, we hear about love, love, love, without any clarifications that would distinguish Gospel love – charity – from worldly love – desire, often of the most disordered kind. After all, rock musicians sing about love all the time. Is that Gospel love? Absolutely not! So then, let our pastors and preachers teach us about the vast differences between charity and love.
I could carry on regarding the other redundant themes that we constantly hear and read about in the modern Church, but I’ll stop with charity. In my opinion, the above-mentioned narrow selection of Christian themes amounts to a new gospel, a false gospel; it amounts to an effeminate gospel. The teachings that are presented to us week after week and decade after decade are the by-product of an effete character. I dare say, it is all that a homosexual clergy, or a homosexual-influenced clergy, is willing to preach and teach. It is their system of belief, not God’s. It is the gay gospel of the world, rather than the Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ. For this reason, it is especially weak in the area of sexual morality.
This is not to imply that all or most priests and bishops are homosexual. Realistic estimates place the number at an average of about forty percent. But as with the rest of the population, in which homosexuals amount to only about two percent, the political, social, and cultural influence this population has is astounding. It’s a testimony to the effect a committed and uncompromising group of people can have on others. If only the Church would get the message.
My favorite spiritual writer – Dominican theologian Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange – once penned a passage that struck me from the first and has remained a personal guiding principle ever since. In a footnote, he wrote, ‘The greatest thing a man can do is nothing.’ This is pithy Thomistic wisdom at its best. The greatest thing a man can do is NOTHING! What on earth does this mean?
It is the common view that the manly man is the character that is quick to curse, quick to punch, and has half-a-dozen women hanging all over him. He’s the handsome stud who’s sleeping with all the beauts. But this is exactly backwards. It takes no strength to indulge in one’s desires. It requires no heroism to surrender to temptation, vice, and sin. There’s simply nothing manly about falling. On the contrary, the strong man is the one who fights his sinful desires and wins. The Christian hero confronts his temptations like a soldier of Christ, defeats them by the grace of God, and retains his holiness. In the face of sin, the true man of God stands strong and does…nothing! That is, he does not act on his temptations, but resists them. Through the spiritual gift of self-mastery, he overcomes his most potent foe: himself.
This is precisely what the homosexual life style contradicts. It gives in to grave sin, it surrenders to extreme temptation, and it celebrates these mortal falls as victories in the name of a perverse liberty. But such a so-called liberty, such libertinism, is actually a dreadful form of bondage. As Our Lord said,
“Everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin” (Jn. 8:34).
In my opinion, the presentation of Catholic teaching and preaching has been deplorable for so long because homosexualism – an actual ideology, meaning a philosophy, world view, culture, and religion all based on the homosexual fixation – has dominated the Church on all levels. The fragmentary gospel that we nearly everywhere encounter in the modern Church is a gay false gospel that has surrendered to grave sin.
Until the Church ceases to ordain homosexual men, the gay false gospel will be the only Gospel we hear. May God Almighty give our pope, bishops, priests, and deacons the manly courage to confront this evil and reform His Holy Catholic Church.
Who can stomach it any longer? Priests, bishops, and cardinals; Roman collars, pectoral crosses, and purple piping; clergy from the rank-and-file to the high and mighty, having run like maniacal hedonists through the Holy Church of Jesus Christ, molesting, desecrating, and corrupting to degrees and depths it would be hard to fathom even in a secular institution. It is like a nightmare from which we cannot wake, with media report after media report disclosing behaviors one would expect only from a satanic cult. And it has been going on for years and years.
Thus far, the bishops have calmly managed the sex scandal crisis and have seemingly believed that the fallout would just go away, that we, the outraged faithful of Christ, would sooner or later forget about it and go back to sleep. The princes of the Church have held their press conferences and sat confidently at their tables and microphones, sipping their little bottles of Poland Spring water and reassuring us in a hundred different ways that the crisis is past, that they’ve established new guidelines, that things are so much better now. And it has been going on for years and years.
Pardon me, but I’ve been watching this scripted travesty of indignation for far too long – this dainty aristocratic curtsy more properly called “damage control” – and it disgusts me. Why? For one, because of the absence of genuine manly anger – even holy fury, such as inspired Our Lord to cast out of the Temple with a whip the money changers. Yes, if there’s one quality that is lacking in the awesomely up-to-date and totally cool Catholic Church, it’s the virtue of manliness. Effeminacy is everywhere. I noticed this when I was in Catholic high school. It was made still more apparent to me when I was considering a religious vocation and visiting monasteries. I was even propositioned by a priest in the confessional, a character I later learned was charged with two cases of sexual abuse. At the end of it all, I decided I would not spend the rest of my life looking over my shoulder, for fear that some prowling pervert was trying to get into my bed at night.
I dare say, we don’t need any more males in the priesthood. No – what we need from now on are men.
When the sex scandals first came to light so many years ago, I remember the initial reaction of Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz, a man I’ve always greatly respected. He said, when he first learned about them, that his immediate reaction was to think of…”a bat and a gun.” That’s all; a bat and a gun. It was the gut reaction of a man of God who loved God, the faith, and the faithful, and who, when he first heard of the scandals, wanted to respond to the crooks and their crimes with a bat and a gun. His reaction gave me hope that the scandals would be swiftly and courageously confronted, and that we could trust the leaders of the Church to take care of the problem once and for all.
Nope. Not by a long shot.
I have not seen a Bishop Bruskewitz for a long long time. I have not heard of a “bat and gun” reaction from the ecclesiastical powers that be for a long long time. Instead, I see and hear reactions that are disturbingly measured and calm, and it sickens me. I wonder to myself, “How can they take this so evenly, as if they’re cleaning up a little spilled milk on the kitchen floor? Do they not see what we see? Do they not love what we love? Or else, are they all a part of it?”
When I finally see a pope, cardinal, or bishop publically lose his temper, pound his fist with anger, send his water bottle tumbling, and demand that the guilty sexual deviants in the clergy do public penance and jail time, then I’ll know that a new breeze is at last blowing through the Church. When I see substantial numbers of bishops being removed from their pompous stations, then I’ll believe that we truly have a reforming pontiff. But until then, it will be the same old game with the same old actors and the same old jargon, and a fully merited mistrust and disgust from the laity.
I’ve heard our leaders say countless times that the Church needs “healing,” and I’m still hearing it. This is absolute nonsense. No, the Church doesn’t need healing, Your Excellencies. The Church didn’t sprain her ankle or stub her toe. She’s not limping just a bit. On the contrary, if we must use imagery, she’s lying flat on her face in a pool of feces, and the world is triumphantly laughing and walking all over her back. But the Church hasn’t been injured, Your Excellencies. No, she’s been betrayed by sexually deviant apostate clergy and cowardly colluding overseers. So please keep your insulting “healing” comments to yourselves, because they make it sound as if we’re the problem, as if we the laity are the disturbed ones that need the healing. What the Church needs, following decades of your systematic highly collaborated abuse and neglect, is nothing less than repentance and reform. Repentance and reform are the only proper Christian responses to grave sin, in case you’ve forgotten your catechism, Your Excellencies.
The fact is, the clergy on a mass scale abandoned the faith and abused the faithful; they molested our children with their bodies and corrupted our minds with their heresies; they drove away our vocations, cried that there was a vocations shortage, and then declared that the only solution was to ordain married men and women; and they desecrated our Catholic institutions with that most disgusting sin that cries to heaven for vengeance, and will one day receive it. But the problem wasn’t pedophilia, as the liberals would have us strategically believe; the sexual abuse didn’t primarily concern boys thirteen years old or younger, because these amounted to minority of the number of cases. No, the vast majority of cases involved homosexuality – unnatural sexual relations between older men and young men fourteen years old or older – teenagers and seminarians. Homosexuality has been the primary problem in the Church for a full seventy years, and it remains the problem today. Until the bureaucracy of sodomites has been broken by outraged and courageous men of God, the Catholic Church will continue to be the devil’s favorite joke and an effective tool in the promotion of his filth.
Men who have the homosexual disorder must be removed from their influential positions in the Church and barred from ordination. Unless these reforms are enacted and enforced, we will be living in a professionally managed scandal-ridden Church into the distant future.
It is impossible to imagine what life must be like for holy and faithful priests and bishops, for those heroes of our era who have not succumbed to the moral and intellectual diseases of our age, who fulfill their duties as Our Lord would have them, and yet, who must endure the daily soiling of the priestly image by their disgraced brothers and fathers. We must always keep these men in our prayers, for they are suffering at least as much as we are.
At this point, I have lost all hope in the cast of characters presently running the Church into the ground. I have faith in none of them, except perhaps five. Signs of hope will appear when the old faces pass away and new ones replace them, and not until. There are two possibilities for such change: either mass resignations or the grave. I would be happy with either, for God’s Church and her mission are far more important than the reckless reigns of these pompous potentates.
From now on, I will assess the clergy – from pope to deacon – by one clear indicator: furious righteous anger. Either they have it, or they lack it. If they lack it, then they are definitely a part of the problem.
Wherever the Holy Spirit dwells, there is hope. We who possess the virtue of faith know that God will never abandon His Bride. And yet, in spite of the much-misunderstood promise of Our Lord that the powers of hell will never prevail against His Church, history demonstrates that He allows her to sink to deplorable depths of corruption. Yet, even when she forsakes Him, He refuses to forsake her. In fact, in the midst of appalling circumstances, such as those we presently face, God always raises up saints necessary to the challenges of the times. And I believe He will do so in these circumstances as well. God will purify, strengthen, and restore His Church with holy men and women, with saintly preachers and prophets formed for the times by the Hand of God.
The only infidels among us are those who give up on God and declare the devil the winner. No – we must never rest, quit, or surrender in the spiritual battle. As long as we’re still fighting by the light and strength of God, we’re winning.
This video recounts one of the saddest days of my life, an event that seemed to be the end of my dearest dream. On the brighter side, it was also one of the causes that led me to create this apostolate, especially The Fullness of Truth Radio Program.
Regardless of that devastating period and experience, which put a final end to my seeking a religious vocation, I remained firm in the conviction that evil must be overcome by Good. We must all fight the good fight of faith in the circumstances God has placed us, however unjust they may seem, even if we feel like a hopeless mass of handicaps and shortcomings and less qualified to serve than any other person on the face of the earth. Sometimes that is precisely the disposition God requires for a task – the painful awareness of one’s own weaknesses. By the grace of the Almighty, the nobody becomes a somebody.
Many years ago, when I was a flaming heretic and was far from God and His Holy Church, I was at the same time a devoted idealist. While attending Quaker meetings and studying Quaker writings, including the Journal of George Fox, I even more immersed myself in Transcendentalism, the philosophy of Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Amos Bronson Alcott, Margaret Fuller, Orestes Brownson, and so on. Transcendentalism was a distinctly New England school of thought that rejected traditional western religion in preference for eastern religion. It held a romanticized pantheistic view of nature, and practiced a simpler more organic manner of living. It denied such Christian doctrines as preternatural evil and fallen nature, emphasized individual freedom and responsibility, and regarded every person as reformable through education and culture. Transcendentalism was also intrinsically idealistic, in that it conceived of a relatively perfect society as attainable. Given enough thought, experience, and experimentation with forms, humanity would ultimately resolve the problems it had created and at last raise a new Tower of Babel that would not collapse in a state of confusion. In a word, Transcendentalism was utopian in spirit.
The Transcendentalists George and Sophia Ripley put their idealism to work with the founding, in 1941, of the Brook Farm Institute of Agriculture and Education in West Roxbury, Massachusetts. This farm was an attempt to establish a self-supporting utopian community whose life comprised a balance of work and culture. It was founded on both Transcendentalist principles and the socialist theories of Charles Fourier. A number of famous American literary figures either lived on, or regularly visited, Brook Farm. Nathaniel Hawthorne joined the community at its beginning, but remained there for only six months, until he had realized that such a life was not conducive to writing. His novel, The Blithedale Romance, is a hilariously sarcastic account of his less than ideal experiences living at this utopian experiment.
Brook Farm survived only until 1847 – a mere six years from its founding. It was never financially stable, and after a period of moderate growth, was devastated by a fire, and later, by an outbreak of smallpox. And that was the end of Brook Farm; reality was its end. Apparently, there were elements within man and the world that made the utopian dream an impossible fantasy. And yet, the fantasies of socialism continue even in our own day
Long ago, I abandoned the utopian hope. It was not so much the story of Brook Farm that liberated me. No, it was Gospel truth that set me free from such foolish vanity. Holy Scripture, the theological riches of Sacred Tradition, and even daily experience have demonstrated to me the inescapable realities of fallen nature and preternatural evil. Angelic and human sin are real, and everything that man does is directly impacted by them. And the remedies to these are found, not in man, but in God alone.
Nevertheless, many people in the last two thousand years have turned to the Gospels as a basis for a sort of Christian utopianism. Within limits, this can actually work, for the simple reason that such people have turned to God, rather than to human ingenuity. Many holy individuals have established religious orders with constitutions or “rules” based entirely on Gospel principles. And unlike those godless utopian experiments, these orders have endured for many centuries, successfully formed members in the life of communal charity and piety, and served as centers of learning and Catholic culture. The Rule of Saint Benedict is, for example, both a spiritual classic and an extraordinarily successful example of such a constitution founded on the Gospel. Fifteen hundred years later, the Benedictine order is still flourishing.
However, even the Holy Gospel is checked by a morbid reality. Indeed, it is the very best manual on the inescapable dilemmas of reality, of the existence of fallen nature and preternatural evil, for it proposes the divinely established solution to both: the salvific intervention of Jesus Christ. The problem is, the Holy Gospel is ultimately rejected – in part or in whole – by most persons and by many Christians. Hence, even within the walls of a monastery, convent, or parish, the inability to govern all members and their activities by Gospel principles is a fact of daily life. Tragically, relatively few souls adamantly strive for the perfection of Christian charity; few seek to acquire a deep knowledge and understanding of the ancient and perennial faith; and even fewer strive to share in the Church’s mission of spreading and defending the Catholic religion. Most Catholics are content simply to know just a bit about their religion, to practice it on Sunday mornings, and to generally be “nice” people, according to the common definition of that adjective. And if pressed to be a bit more pious, their response might be, “I’d rather be lukewarm than fanatical.” As if those were the only two choices!
The truth is – and this is perfectly in accord with Our Lord’s warnings – religion is filled with persons who are only moderately religious, as well as many who are actually irreligious. And living under a Gospel-based constitution of whatever form – whether in a monastery, convent, or parish – will do little to change the Church’s tepid religious climate.
If this is true in the case of insular Catholic communities, it is all the more true in the case of larger societies such as cities, counties, and countries where there are all sorts of persons with all sorts of beliefs and non-beliefs. Such diverse communities should be governed by the natural law. But the Gospel? In my opinion, it’s simply impossible to govern them by the Gospel, for they have not individually embraced it.
I have arrived at this radical conclusion only after decades of religious searching, studying, reflecting, praying, and teaching. The Holy Gospel is meant, not for the masses, but only for those persons who would freely and fully embrace it. It was not given in order to form the constitutions of large communities; rather, it was given to the saints, to those who would repent, believe, be faithful, and by the grace merited upon the Cross by Jesus Christ, be saved.
Christ was not a utopian theorist establishing the basis for a new world government. He testified before Pilate that His kingdom was not of this world, even if His Church – the beginning of that Kingdom – was first established in it. His holy Gospel, in all its sacred glory, was intended by Christ to guide, not nations, but individuals and small communities – those who would respond to His call to come and follow Him into a life that this world would mock as absurd and reprehensible.
The Gospel should be offered to every human being. It should be preached with power and persuasion in every nation and to every religion, philosophy, culture, and world view, to both Jew and gentile, and theist and atheist. The mission of the Church is to draw into the Kingdom of God the elect, to fill that Kingdom with all who will be saved. But only so many people will care to listen to the Church’s message. Some will respond to the divine invitation, others will only appear to respond to it, and many will firmly reject it. This was all foreseen and predicted by Christ. One could even say that the mass rejection of the Gospel message is part and parcel of the Gospel message. As Jesus warned,
“Now this is the judgment: The light has come into the world, yet men have loved the darkness rather than the light, for their works were evil” (Jn. 3:19).
Let me take this theme one step further.
It is reasonable for a Catholic to want to live in an ideal Catholic environment, to be surrounded by the blessed sights, sounds, and scents of the true faith, to hear the prayers of the Holy Sacrifice in the morning, the pealing of the Angelus bell at noon, the singing of psalms at evening prayer, and the chanting of the Salve Regina before retiring for the night. It is understandable that he or she would like to be daily inspired and comforted by a rich Catholic culture, by Dante’s Divine Comedy, Chesterton’s essays, O’Connor’s short stories, Palestrina’s Mass settings, Frescobaldi’s organ works, and Gothic architecture. It would be wonderful if the Church’s faith could be appreciated by all, so that these pious cultural treasures could be found and enjoyed wherever one wandered on God’s green earth. But this requires a degree of acceptance of the Catholic Church and faith on the part of the world, and such an acceptance is a grave threat to the integrity of Catholicism.
The hard truth is that the Catholic religion is at its best when it is generally rejected, Catholics are at their best when they are generally persecuted, and the Church is purest, not when her leaders are adored by the world, but when they are generally despised.
I’m not implying that a brutal Islamic State is the cure to all that spiritually ails the Church. I’m not suggesting that we Catholics must at all times be enduring an apocalyptic degree of persecution, in order to be authentic. I’m only pointing out the obvious – that the world is not the believer’s friend, and the ideal Catholicism is the result of struggle.
I do not want to live in a Catholic country, in a society and culture where the Church is empowered and privileged. She is, due to the fallen nature of her clergy and laity, as easily corrupted as any merely human institution, and perhaps even more so. And she can, in the worst of cases, degenerate into a truly satanic state, as can be realized by a brutally honest examination of the clerical sex scandals. These were the result of weak men who were corrupted by a potent mixture of sexual deviancy, ecclesiastical authority, and the secular world’s adulterous embrace. Perversity, power, and popularity brought down the Church, and it is a lesson we Catholics must never forget.
Yes, we are every bit as vulnerable to the influences of evil as is the godless world, and perhaps even more so. For more than any other people or institution on the earth, a preternatural adversary seeks to devour us as a roaring lion – morning, day, and night. Therefore, we cannot afford to indulge in arrogant utopian fantasies. We cannot hope to govern the world with the Gospel or convert the masses to the faith of the Saints. We can just barely maintain the rudiments of the faith in our own little corner. Even within the sanctuary of the Church, we must courageously recognize that, wherever the Holy Spirit is renounced, absolute power does and will corrupt absolutely.
The faithful are, and are meant to be, only the remnant of a remnant.
The following piece is part of an online exchange I recently had with an Irish atheist who claims to be a medical doctor and enthusiastically voted for abortion. He obviously feels that Ireland has gradually emerged from its Catholic darkness, with the outcome of the referendum of May 25 being only the latest proof. I do expend a lot of time and effort responding to such people, with the expectation that I will probably not be given a response from them. Regardless, my comments are there for others to read, so it’s worth the effort.
I’m posting this exchange because I think it offers a useful example of the manner in which a Catholic should respond to such charges made by an opponent of this nature. I do not believe in the milk toast, saccharin, hyper-sensitive, coddle-them-like-little-babes approach that is common today. If such an approach were effective, then the Church would be filled to overflowing with converts, since everyone in the Church has been using it for decades – popes, bishops, priests, deacons, and lay people. The fact is, such an approach was not used by Our Lord when confronting His staunch opponents, nor by the Apostles, nor by the great apologists and evangelists of the Church. It has the effect of misrepresenting the Christian religion as an ideology for the timid and effeminate, so I do not use it. At all times, Christian charity – absolutely – but charity often requires firmness and directness, as every parent knows. Treat people like adults, and they just might behave like them. Treat them like babies, and babies you’ll have.
The atheist’s comments have been altered for obvious reasons, but the substance is exactly the same. I’ve also given him a new name which I think is appropriate, in reference to Herod the Great, that maniac responsible for the slaughter of the Innocents. His taunting comments are typical anti-Catholic rubbish such as we hear all the time, which is the reason I’ve decided to post them, along with my response.
Doctor McHerod’s Comments:
I’m thrilled to know that you admit Ireland is no longer a Catholic country! Catholicism is a rancid wicked body of beliefs that I had the misery of enduring for a long time. But now the pedophile priests have had their day and I’m very happy about it.
The Catholic Church bears the responsibility for the happy outcome of the abortion referendum. You folks have driven away the good and enlightened people of Ireland, so that they can’t get far enough away from you. But I noticed in your previous comments that you enthusiastically encouraged people to vote against the introduction of abortion in Ireland. Well, where were you during the pedophile rampage?! I couldn’t find your enthusiastic posts denouncing such crimes.
The Catholic religion is so filled with flaws, as are all religions. There are 7,000 supposed gods, and none of them exist, just like your god. And that’s the reason you don’t stand a chance.
The Irish today are an especially well-educated people that can easily perceive your deception. But you can’t, so you are doomed! They have voted for divorce, contraception, gay marriage, and now abortion. And you still don’t understand it all; you haven’t gotten the message.
The Irish people are finally awake, and they no longer want you around. So, GOOD BYE FOREVER!!! CHEERS!!!
Let me answer your questions directly. I live in the United States. When it was discovered that perverted priests and bishops were molesting people here and elsewhere, I was immediately screaming about it more angrily than you are now, – online, in the classroom, and on the radio, and at some risk to myself in my own diocese. So please spare me the self-righteous finger-pointing.
I noticed that you twice referred to “pedophile” priests. Nice dodge. The vast majority of sexual crimes committed by priests – approximately 90% in the US – were not between men and very young children, but between men and boys and men and young men. That’s not pedophilia, that’s homosexuality, so call it what it is. The Catholic Church was, and still is, a rat’s nest of homosexual clergy. As a man who went to seminary for one year and almost entered a religious order, who’s been Catholic since 1990 and worked in the Church all that time, I can tell you this firsthand.
And by the way, what’s so bad about men sodomizing children? The only aspect your side really objects to is the forced nature of the act, that it was rape. Well, I couldn’t agree with your side more on that point, but I would go much further with my outrage. The evil in these sexual attacks is not only that they were forced on others, but in the very nature of the act itself: sodomy. Whether it’s forced or consensual, whether it’s between a man and a child, a man and another man, or a man and a woman, sodomy is a disgusting, unnatural, perverse, and damnable act. Do you agree with this? I don’t know; let’s hear from you. But if you do disagree, as the radical left does, then the only thing that actually upsets you in these scandals is the forced nature of the acts, and not the acts themselves; which means that, if only they had been consensual acts of sodomy, you would have been fine with them. And that is disgusting. But again, I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt for now and let you answer for yourself. But that’s the social, cultural, political left – crying out with indignation over the sex scandals in the Catholic Church, while promoting and defending sodomy far and wide, night and day, as just another intimate expression of affection.
Now go ahead and say it: “You should be ashamed to still be a Catholic. You’re directly supporting and condoning an institution of rapists. If you were truly opposed to it all, you would have left the Church years ago.”
No, Doctor McHerod, I’m directly condoning and supporting an institution of truth and grace that helps people of every type to grow in wisdom, sanctity, and the love of God, and to attain the end for which they were made – salvation. But are there rotten apples in the Church? To answer in the affirmative would be an understatement. There are rotten orchards in the Church – whole hillsides of stinking decaying fruit! But all such rot is the antithesis of Catholicism. If you want to know what genuine Catholicism produces, look to the saints, not the unrepentant sinners. Saints are the by-products of authentic Catholicism, while unrepentant sinners and scandal-mongers of all types are the result of the rejection of it. So, to heap the whole Catholic Church into one mass of guilt is to make an entirely emotional judgment, not a rational one. It is to accuse the numberless innocent Catholics – both clergy and laity – of guilt by association. Well, in that case, we are all guilty because we are all associated with corruption – both that of others, as well as our own.
I know how to support the good in the Church, but avoid the evil, how to condone the Gospel, the virtues, and the sacraments, but condemn whatever is contrary to them. I direct my resources and support very carefully and attend only the best of churches. Any Catholic who cared enough could do the same. If I see something contrary to goodness in the Church, then I withhold my support from it.
How about yourself? Do you support evil of any type, in any way? Yes, you do. You just supported it with your pro-abortion vote. You are part and parcel of a movement that kills many millions of innocent human beings in the womb. They will die for the “crime” of being young and defenseless in a society with no heart for them. In order to pacify your consciences, you redefine them as non-persons.
And do these “non-persons” feel pain? Why don’t you watch a video of an abortion, and see for yourself whether that tiny victim embraces the abortionist’s deadly instruments, or desperately tries to escape them. No pro-life propaganda in that approach, but just the demonstrable facts.
Instead of looking to these pre-born children with any sense of humaneness, you take from them their right to live, and concern yourself only with their mothers, whom you care for by allowing them to become the murderers of their own flesh and blood. In taking from one the most fundamental right of life, you give to another the invented liberty to kill the innocent.
And apparently, this is motivated by your hatred for the Catholic Church and religion in general? Killing babies in the womb – babies who aren’t even Catholic – is a strange way of getting back at the Church. In fact, it’s a complete miss that strikes dead a perfectly innocent party.
But let’s take another approach. By any chance, do you pay federal taxes? Is your government in any way corrupt? Have any of your officials committed crimes, been bribed by donors, or failed to fulfill their campaign promises? Has your government ever supported unjust violence or war any place in the world? Those were rhetorical questions, of course. But do you at all give financial support to your government?
Did you ever attend a public school or a college? Our public schools are filled with sex scandals. There are now countless instances of female teachers having sex with very young male students. The latest involves a thirty-two-year-old Ohio woman who had sex in her classroom with a fourteen-year-old boy, and who told him to lie about it to the principal. The pictures of middle-aged women accused of rape have become a semi-regular feature in the news these days. Out of a consistent indignation, should we not, therefore, denounce the public school system as a whole? Should we not withhold all taxes that will be used to support it, and withdraw our children from it?
And what about Hollywood and its decades-long practices of systematic widespread abuse, harassment, and rape of countless girls and boys and women and men? You know, those rich and famous Hollywood elites who live in mansions or gated communities, who are outspoken anti-gun activists, and yet, make a living shooting guns and glamorizing violence on the big screen? Surely you’ve heard about Roman Polanski, Harvey Weinstein, Oliver Stone, Kevin Spacey, and most recently Morgan Freeman – that darling of the left? Except for Harvey, who interestingly has a knack for distributing anti-Catholic films through his company Miramax, all of these people are still out free and enjoying life. I’ll stop there with the names, but the list goes on and on.
Now are you still supporting the horribly corrupt institution of Hollywood by watching its movies, or have you been too busy taking part in anti-Hollywood protests? And can you point me to your outrage online? By your own reasoning, you should be publically denouncing and permanently boycotting Hollywood by refusing to enjoy any of its movies.
Come to think of it, are any of our famously outspoken social justice warriors presently boycotting Hollywood and all its movies? Hmph, I can’t think of even one that is.
What about the medical field? Have you ever considered the barbaric practices of medicine in recent centuries, including the horrific mental institutions and state hospitals from the twentieth century which used, for example, electro-shock therapy? Have you considered the countless doctors in all fields of medicine who have groped women during examinations, or neglected or misdiagnosed patients who then went to early deaths? How about the countless surgical errors that have resulted in the mistaken removal of healthy limbs or organs, or the errors on the operating table that resulted in worse health crises than the patients had when being prepped?
Doctor McHerod, have you been busily denouncing your own field of medicine and all its personnel for their intolerable cruelties to the innocent? Or rather, do you save all your indignation and righteous anger exclusively for the Catholic Church, or for religion in general, which you personally dislike? I see a double-standard of righteous anger here.
We could play this game all day and all night, moving on to such fields as science, the military, the police, and the media. I hope by now you’ve gotten my point.
The fact is, if you want to play the indignation game and be consistent about it, then you need to withdraw from all institutions and society as a whole to the innocent woods, where you can live in peace with your sensitive social conscience and high standard of social justice. Until you’ve done so, please spare me the selective indignation directed only at the Catholic Church. It’s old-fashioned calculated bigotry of the most obvious kind.
The truth is, you’re perfectly fine with corruption and injustice. The proof is in the fact that last week you voted for the most corrupt and unjust act imaginable – the slaughter of the innocent in the womb. The abused, the molested, and the raped have a second chance. With counseling and the compassion and support of others, they have the hope of recovery and a new beginning. But for the aborted there can be no such hope, but only a voter-approved agonizing end to their brief little lives.
May the God that you reject move you to repentance with His grace, restore your empathy and understanding, and have mercy on your soul before the Day of days when the opportunities for repentance will be past. I am praying for you, Doctor McHerod.
If anyone would like to propose atheism as a solution to the problems of religion turned rotten, please consider the following atheistic regimes casualty numbers:
- Jozef Stalin (USSR 1932-39 only): 15,000,000 people murdered
- Pol Pot (Cambodia, 1975-79): 1,700,000 people murdered
- Kim II Sung (North Korea 1948-94): 1.6 million people murdered
- Tito (Yugoslavia 1945-1987): 570,000 people murdered
- Suharto (Communists 1967-66): 500,000 people murdered
- Ante Pavelic (Croatia 1941-45): 359,000 people murdered
- Ho Chi Min (Vietnam 1953-56): 200,000 people murdered
- Vladimir Ilich Lenin (USSR, 1917-20): 30,000 people murdered
- Adolf Hitler (Germany 1939-1945): 12,000,000 people murdered
- Mao Ze-Dong (China, 1958-61 and 1966-69, Tibet 1949-50): 49-78,000,000 people murdered
Dwarfing these numbers is the casualty count of abortions in America since 1973: 61,000,000 babies murdered. The present US rate is about three thousand per day.
According to the CDC, the deaths of women due to abortion is a matter of voluntary reporting by abortion clinics. Chillingly, the number is therefore unknown.
It’s official. Ireland is a pagan nation. It is pro-homosexuality, pro-contraception, pro-divorce, and pro-abortion. It is liberal, secular, leftist, and progressive. It is faithless, immoral, and godless. It is conformed to the age and has embraced the spirit of the times. It has burned the banner of the Holy Gospel and stomped on the Word of God. It has insulted the saints, desecrated the sacraments, and blasphemed Our Eucharistic Lord. Ireland is a pagan nation. Period.
The vote to repeal the Irish Constitution’s Eighth Amendment by a two-third’s majority is a victory for ignorance. Why? Because a people formed after the Gospel, who affirmed the two Great Commandments, the Golden Rule, the Beatitudes, the Ten Commandments, and the natural law, and who understood the necessity of these moral principles in creating and maintaining a civilization founded on charity and justice for both the strong and the weak, would never have even considered such a repeal. It would have been morally unthinkable. But ignorance of the faith has prevailed, and now it will be helpless pre-born children who first pay the price. And this price will increase, as the abortion mentality stretches its rancid tentacles throughout Irish society, corrupting its culture, art, and education, strangling Christian virtue, and founding a hundred abortion-related practices and industries.
Legalized abortion will produce laws restricting public opposition and free speech, and will establish abortion mill zones where the Rosary cannot be prayed or pro-life counseling offered to desperate pregnant women on the verge of murdering their own flesh and blood. Funding for abortion facilities will be drawn from federal taxes. The government you make YOU fund the killing. Medical students will be required to take part in abortions as a part of their training, or they will not be licensed. An underground body parts industry will establish itself, whether legally or illegally. And any person who openly objects to the new “culture of death” will be regarded as a backwards lunatic who hates women and practices a religion that is a threat to Irish culture and freedom. You will feel like an unwelcome alien in your own home, among your dearest friends. Pro-life Catholics will be regarded as potential terrorists for their views. And then, one deranged individual among the pro-life fold will attack or kill an abortionist, and the laws against pro-life beliefs and activism will suddenly grow shockingly severe. On and on the abortion infection will spread, like a bacteria from hell, until the same methods that successfully introduced homosexual marriage and abortion will be re-employed to introduce the next leap into the bottomless pit of perdition: euthanasia.
I know the Irish. I’ve lived among them and listened to the stories of their lives for thirty years now. The Irish clergy left them hopelessly ignorant of the Catholic faith, precisely as happened in the United States. Catholics were formed to be mere Mass-goers, pew-sitters, and sacramentalists who couldn’t offer an effective word on behalf of the faith they professed, because they studied neither the Bible nor the Catechism. They were cultural Catholics who received Holy Communion weekly or daily and prayed the Rosary in ten minutes, members of the institutional Church, rather than disciples of Jesus Christ who were willing and prepared to spread and defend the faith, as every Catholic is commissioned to do by virtue of their Confirmation.
I have always identified Irish Catholicism as being unusually deficient in the catechetical domain – and directly related to this, superstitious as well, due to its infatuation with a pre-Christian Celtic spirituality that seems to saturate the Irish soil itself. All of this has left the Irish folk intellectually lame and spiritually vulnerable to the lies of the irreligious left, until good seemed evil and evil good, until murder seemed like equality and liberty for all. Finally, add to this the anger aroused by the horrific scandals among the Irish clergy and religious, including the Magdalene Sisters and the Christian Brothers, and perhaps the future was inevitable. One might even say that the abortion vote signified a denunciation of the Catholic Church itself. As morally insane as it is, many voted for abortion as a means of registering their opposition to the Catholic Church. The fact is, the Church lost the Irish people many years ago, so that this political outcome was entirely predictable. Indeed, in light of the vote in favor of homosexual marriage, a vote in opposition to abortion would have made no sense whatsoever.
Saint Patrick – that holy Brit – has been rebuked by brogues. Perhaps King Herod the Great – that murderer of the Holy Innocents – would now be a more fitting patron for Ireland. The druids have arisen to reclaim the Irish ignoramuses for the powers of darkness, with their “black laws of pagandom.” Yes, child sacrifice is returning to the Emerald Isle, as the land of saints and scholars, once known for producing countless Catholic missionaries who brought the ancient and perennial faith to a world living in heathen darkness, now degenerates into a Guinness-soaked godless domain. As Father John Hardon once warned, there is nothing as anti-Christian as a formerly Christian nation.
And all of this…in the month of Mary. May Our Lady of Knock still intercede before her offended Lord.
The battle goes on. The soldiers of Christ know no white flags. We do not surrender to evil. We make no deals with the devil, even as he takes our homes from us. Jesus Christ, His Holy Gospel, and His Holy Church have already won this war. All that matters now is fidelity to the true faith, even as our co-religionists burn incense to Baal and offer their firstborn to Moloch. There is no middle ground here, no neutral position, no moderate view, no place for conscientious objectors. There is no way to abstain from the battle between God and Satan, between the true Church and the anti-church. The only option is to choose your side – the right or the left, the sheep or the goats, the wheat or the weeds.
Be faithful…or be damned.
Pray for Ireland, which will have a referendum on abortion on May 25, 2018.
It is inconceivable that Catholic Ireland could possibly have come to this point, but the fractures in the faith were clearly revealed when the Irish legalized gay so-called marriage in 2015, making Ireland the first country in the world to do so by popular vote. Clerical sex scandals have continued to disgrace the Irish Church and eliminate the voice of the faith in public discussions of morality. It is all evidence of the tireless dedication of evil to its own cause, but also, of the failure of the Church to teach the faith clearly and thoroughly and to defend it courageously.
How easy it is to mislead Catholics who are either unformed or ignorant of the faith they profess.
Pray, pray, pray for Ireland.