From the archives: written on February 22nd, 2013….
A LETTER from a reader:
I totally agree with you — we each need a personal relationship with Jesus. I was born and raised Roman Catholic but find myself now attending the Episcopal (High Episcopal) church on Sunday and becoming involved with the life of this community. I was a member of my church council, a choir member, a CCD teacher and a full-time teacher in a Catholic school. I personally knew four of the priests credibly accused and who confessed of sexually abusing minor children… Our cardinal and bishops and other priests covered up for these men. It strains belief that Rome didn’t know what was going on and, if it truly didn’t, shame on Rome and the Pope and the curia. They are simply horrid representatives of Our Lord…. So, I should remain a loyal member of the RC church? Why? I found Jesus many years ago and our relationship has not changed — in fact it is even stronger now. The RC church is not the beginning and the end of all truth. If anything, the Orthodox church has just as much if not more credibility than Rome. The word “catholic” in the Creed is spelled with a small “c” – meaning “universal” not meaning only and forever the Church of Rome. There is only one true path to the Trinity and that is following Jesus and coming into relationship with the Trinity by first coming into friendship with Him. None of that is dependent upon the Roman church. All of that can be nourished outside of Rome. None of this is your fault and I admire your ministry but I just needed to tell you my story.
Dear reader, thank you for sharing your story with me. I rejoice that, despite the scandals you have encountered, your faith in Jesus has remained. And this doesn’t surprise me. There have been times in history when Catholics in the midst of persecution no longer had access to their parishes, the priesthood, or the Sacraments. They survived within the walls of their inner temple where the Holy Trinity resides. The lived out of faith and trust in a relationship with God because, at its core, Christianity is about the love of a Father for his children, and the children loving Him in return.
Thus, it begs the question, which you have tried to answer: if one can remain a Christian as such: “Should I remain a loyal member of the Roman Catholic Church? Why?”
The answer is a resounding, unhesitating “yes.” And here is why: it’s a matter of staying loyal to Jesus.
LOYALTY… TO CORRUPTION?
However, I cannot expound on what I mean by staying loyal to Jesus without first addressing the “elephant in the living room.” And I am going to be absolutely frank.
The Catholic Church, in many respects, has been gutted, or as Pope Benedict said shortly before he became pontiff:
…a boat about to sink, a boat taking in water on every side. —Cardinal Ratzinger, March 24, 2005, Good Friday meditation on the Third Fall of Christ
The priesthood has never suffered such an attack on its dignity and credibility as it has in our times. I have met several priests from various regions of the United States who estimate that over 50 percent of their fellow seminarians were gay—many living active homosexual lifestyles. One priest recounted how he was forced to lock his door at night. Another told me how two men burst into his room to “have their way”—but turned white as ghosts as they looked upon his statue of Our Lady of Fatima. They left, and never bothered him again (to this day, he is not sure exactly “what” they saw). Another was brought before his seminary’s disciplinary panel when he complained about being “hit on” by fellow seminarians. But instead of dealing with the impropriety, they asked him why he was “homophobic.” Other priests have told me that their faithfulness to the Magisterium was the reason they almost didn’t graduate and were forced to undergo “psychological evaluation.” Some of their colleagues simply didn’t survive because of their obedience to the Holy Father. cf. Wormwood How can this be?!
Her most crafty enemies have engulfed the Church, the Spouse of the Immaculate Lamb, with sorrows, they have drenched her with wormwood; on all Her desirable things they have laid their wicked hands. Where the See of Blessed Peter and the Chair of Truth have been set up for the light of the gentiles, there they have placed the throne of the abomination of their wickedness, so that the Pastor having been struck, they may also be able to scatter the flock. —POPE LEO XIII, Exorcism Prayer, 1888 A.D.; from the Roman Raccolta of July 23, 1889
As I write you today, news reports cf. http://www.guardian.co.uk/ are circulating that, on the day of his resignation, Pope Benedict was handed a confidential report detailing corruption, infighting, blackmail, and a ring of gay sex among prelates occurring within Rome and Vatican City’s walls. Another newspaper reports the claim that:
Benedict would personally hand the confidential files to his successor, with the hope he will be “strong, young and holy” enough to take the necessary action. —February 22, 2013, http://www.stuff.co.nz
The implication is that Pope Benedict has essentially been driven into exile by circumstances, unable to physically keep a grip on the helm of the barque of the Church as she lists in the storms of apostasy battering her. Though the Vatican has dismissed the reports as false, cf. http://www.guardian.co.uk/ who can fail to see the mystical Pope Leo XIII’s words as truly prophetic, unfolding before our very eyes? The Pastor has been struck, and indeed, the flock is being scattered all over the world. As my reader says, “Should I remain loyal to the Roman Catholic Church?”
Is it not a divine irony that it was Pope Benedict XVI himself, while still a cardinal, that he approved as worthy of belief the revelation to Sr. Agnes Sasagawa from the Blessed Virgin?
The work of the devil will infiltrate even into the Church in such a way that one will see cardinals opposing cardinals, bishops against bishops. The priests who venerate me will be scorned and opposed by their confreres…. churches and altars sacked; the Church will be full of those who accept compromises and the demon will press many priests and consecrated souls to leave the service of the Lord. —Message given through an apparition to Sr. Agnes Sasagawa of Akita, Japan, October 13th, 1973; approved in June of 1988 by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
But it’s not only sexual scandals. The heart of the Church, the Liturgy, has itself been ransacked. More than one priest has shared with me how, after Vatican II, the icons of parishes were whitewashed, statues shattered, candles and sacred symbolism trashed. Another priest described how parishioners, with their pastor’s permission, came into the church after midnight with chainsaws to hack down the high altar and replace it with a table covered in a white cloth for next day’s Mass. A survivor of the Soviet Communist regime came to North America, and upon seeing what was taking place exclaimed that, what the Communists did to their churches back in Russia, we were doing voluntarily our very selves!
But more than the outward sacred language of signs and symbols has been the devastation done to the Mass itself. Scholar, Louis Bouyer, was one of the orthodox leaders of the liturgical movement before the Second Vatican Council. In the wake of an explosion of liturgical abuses after that council, he said:
We must speak plainly: there is practically no liturgy worthy of the name today in the Catholic Church… Perhaps in no other area is there a greater distance (and even formal opposition) between what the Council worked out and what we actually have… —from The Desolate City, Revolution in the Catholic Church, Anne Roche Muggeridge, p. 126
Although John Paul II and Pope Benedict took steps to begin healing the breach between the organic development of the Liturgy over 21 centuries and the Novus Ordo we celebrate today, the damage has been done. Even though Pope Paul VI at last dismissed one of the founders of the ill liturgical reform, Msgr. Annibale Bugnini, “upon well-founded accusations of his secret membership in the Masonic Order”, author Anne Roche Muggeridge writes that…
…In sober truth, by empowering the liturgical radicals to do their worst, Paul VI, wittingly or unwittingly, empowered the revolution. —Ibid. p. 127
And this revolution has spread through the religious orders, seminaries, and classrooms of the Catholic world all but shipwrecking the faith of, really, a remnant of followers in the Western world. This is all to say that The Great Revolution I have been warning about has done its damage in the Church, and the pinnacle of it is yet to come as we will continue to see “cardinal against cardinal, bishop against bishop”. readPersecution… and the Moral Tsunami Even nations and continents such as India and Africa, where Catholicism is bursting at the seams, will feel and know the effects of the great confrontation before us.
Before Christ’s second coming the Church must pass through a final trial that will shake the faith of many believers… —Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 675
WE WERE TOLD
And yet, as grievous as these tragedies are, as horrible as the tolls of abused victims have been, as devastating as the loss of souls is with the light of the Church nearly extinguished in parts of the world… none of this should be a surprise. In fact, I am astonished when I hear Christians speak as though they expect the Church to be perfect (when they themselves, who are the Church, are not). Jesus and St. Paul warned from the very beginning that the Church would be attacked from within:
Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheeps clothing, but underneath are ravenous wolves… I know that after my departure savage wolves will come among you, and they will not spare the flock. And from your own group, men will come forward perverting the truth to draw the disciples away after them. (Matt 7:15; Acts 20:29-30)
At the Last Supper, when Jesus commanded the Apostles, “Do this in remembrance of Me…”, He said so looking straight into the eyes of Judas who would betray Him; of Peter who would deny Him; of St. John and the rest who would flee from Him in Gethsemane… Yes, Christ was entrusting the Church not to supermen, but to poor, weak, and frail human beings.
…for power is made perfect in weakness. (2 Cor 12:9)
Men who would undoubtedly, even after Pentecost, have their divisions and strife. Paul and Barnabas parted ways; Peter was corrected by Paul; the Corinthians were scolded for their bickering; and Jesus, in his seven letters to the Churches in Revelation, called them out of their hypocrisy and dead works into repentance.
And yet, never did Jesus ever say He would abandon His Church. cf. Matt 28:20 Furthermore, He promised that, no matter how bad things would get inside or out of the Church…
…the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. (Matt 16:18)
The Book of Revelation envisions that, in the end times, the Church will be persecuted and the Antichrist will sift her like wheat. If you want to know where the real threat is to Satan, look where the attacks against Christ are most prevalent. Satanists mock Catholics and the Mass; gay parades routinely mock priests and nuns; socialist governments consistently battle the Catholic hierarchy; atheists are obsessed with attacking the Catholic Church while claiming that it is irrelevant to them; and comedians, talk show hosts, and mainstream media habitually belittle and blaspheme anything sacred and Catholic. In fact, it was Mormon radio and television personality, Glenn Beck, who recently criticized the attack upon religious freedom in America, saying, “We are all Catholic now.” cf. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mNB469_sA3o And lastly, as former Satanist and recent Catholic convert Deborah Lipsky writes from her dark experience interacting with demons, evil spirits fear the priesthood most.
Demons know the power of Christ that the church inherited. —A Message of Hope, p. 42
So now, to directly answer the question why, why should one remain loyal to the Catholic Church…?
LOYALTY TO JESUS
Because Christ, not man, founded the Catholic Church. And Christ calls this very Church His “body”, as expounded in St. Paul’s writings. Jesus foretold that the Church would follow Him in His Passion and sufferings:
No slave is greater than his master. If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you… they will hand you over to persecution, and they will kill you. You will be hated by all nations because of my name. (Matt 24:9, John 15:20)
According to the Lord, the present time is the time of the Spirit and of witness, but also a time still marked by “distress” and the trial of evil which does not spare the Church and ushers in the struggles of the last days. It is a time of waiting and watching… The Church will enter the glory of the kingdom only through this final Passover, when she will follow her Lord in his death and Resurrection. —Catechism of the Catholic Church, 672, 677
And what can we say of the body of Jesus? In the end it was mangled, twisted, scourged, pierced, bleeding… ugly. He was unrecognizable. If we then are the mystical body of Christ, and are not spared “the trial of evil…which ushers in the struggles of the last days,” what will the Church look like in those days? The same as her Lord: a scandal. Many fled the sight of Jesus in His Passion. He was supposed to be their savior, their messiah, their deliverer! Instead what they saw appeared as weak, broken, and defeated. So too, the Catholic Church has been wounded, scourged, and pierced by her sinful members from within.
…the greatest persecution of the Church does not come from external enemies, but is born of sin within the Church.” —POPE BENEDICT XVI, interview on flight to Lisbon, Portugal; LifeSiteNews, May 12th, 2010
Errant theologians, liberal instructors, wayward priests, and rebellious laymen have left her nearly unrecognizable. And so, we are tempted to flee her as the disciples fled Christ in the Garden. Why should we stay?
Because Jesus not only said “If they persecuted me they will persecute you,” but added:
If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. (John 15:20)
What word? The word of truth that was entrusted with Christ’s own authority to the first pope and bishops of Christendom, who then entrusted that truth to their successors through the laying on of hands until this present day. If we want to know that truth with absolute certainty, then we need to turn to those entrusted with it: the Magisterium, which is the teaching authority of the bishops who are in communion with “the rock”, Peter, the pope.
It is this Magisterium’s task to preserve God’s people from deviations and defections and to guarantee them the objective possibility of professing the true faith without error. Thus, the pastoral duty of the Magisterium is aimed at seeing to it that the People of God abides in the truth that liberates.—Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 890
Having a personal relationship with Jesus does not guarantee that one will walk in the truth that sets us free. I know Pentecostals who lived in mortal sin because they believed the falsehood that “once saved, always saved.” Likewise, there are liberal Catholics who have changed the prayers of Consecration that would transform the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ… but instead, leave them as lifeless elements. In the first case, the one has cut himself off from Christ “the life”; in the latter, from Christ “the bread of life.” This is to say that truth matters, not just “love.” Truth leads us into freedom — falsehood into slavery. And the fullness of truth has been given to the Catholic Church alone, for the reason that it is the only Church that Christ built. “I will build my church,” He said. Not 60, 000 denominations that can hardly ever agree on faith and morals, but one Church.
Every single biblical logion about the primacy [of Peter] remains from generation to generation a signpost and norm, to which we must ceaselessly resubmit ourselves. When the Church adheres to these words in faith, she is not being triumphalistic but humbly recognizing in wonder and thanksgiving the victory of God over and through human weakness. —Cardinal Ratzinger (POPE BENEDICT XVI), Called to Communion, Understanding the Church Today, Ignatius Press, p. 73-74
If you examine nearly every major religion, denomination, or cult that is not Catholic, from Islam to the Seventh Day Adventists to Jehovah Witnesses to Mormons to Protestants and so forth, you will see one common theme: they were founded on a subjective interpretation of the Scriptures, revealed either by a “supernatural presence” or personal interpretation. The teachings of the Catholic Church, on the other hand, can all be traced through the ages, through apostolic succession, through Early Church Fathers and Apostles—not to the invention of some pope or saint—but to Jesus Christ. What I am saying can easily be proven in this age of the internet. Catholic.com, for example, will answer any question from purgatory to Mary, explaining the historical roots and biblical foundations of the Catholic Faith. My good friend David MacDonald’s website, CatholicBridge.com, is also loaded with plenty of logical and clear answers to some of the biggest and most unusual questions surrounding Catholicism.
Why can we trust, despite the grave sins of individual members of the Church, that the pope and those bishops in communion with him will not lead us astray? Because of their theological degrees? No, because of Christ’s promise made privately to twelve men:
I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always, the Spirit of truth, which the world cannot accept, because it neither sees nor knows it. But you know it, because it remains with you, and will be in you… when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth… (John 14:16-18; 16:13)
My personal relationship with Jesus is dependent upon me. But the truth that nurtures and guides that relationship is dependent upon the Church, guided for all time by the Holy Spirit. As said above, at its core, Christianity is about the love of a Father for his child, and the child returning that love. But how do we love Him in return?
If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love… (John 15:10)
And what are Christ’s commandments? That is the role of the Church: to teach them in their full fidelity, context, and understanding. To make disciples of the nations…
…teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. (Matt 28:20)
That’s why we should remain loyal to the Catholic Church until our last breath. Because she is Christ’s Body, His voice of truth, His instrument of instruction, His vessel of Grace, His means of salvation—despite the personal sins of some of her individual members.
Because it is loyalty to Christ Himself.
- Persecution… The Moral Tsunami
- When Cedars Fall
- The Scandal
- Will I Run Too?
- Why Are You Surprised?
- Removing the Restrainer
- Love and Truth
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|↑4||readPersecution… and the Moral Tsunami|
|↑5||cf. a speech given at the Eucharistic Congress in philadelphia in 1976; see Understanding the Final Confrontation|
|↑6||cf. Matt 28:20|