Wednesday, September 20, 2017

The One True Church

Christ Gives the Keys of the Kingdom to Peter
Painted by Pietro Perugino in 1481 and 1482

Let's be frank here. Why would any Catholic remain a Catholic if he/she didn't actually believe that the Catholic Church is the one, true Church? I mean, seriously, why? I wasn't always Catholic you know. I am a convert. I know (first-hand experience) what it is like to be multiple different kinds of Christian. I know what it's like to be a Lutheran. I know what it's like to be a Baptist. I know what it's like to be an Evangelical. I know what it's like to be an Anglican too. I know what it's like to be all of these things, and you know what? In comparison to Catholicism -- it's easier!

That's right, in my own personal experience, it's much easier to be a Lutheran, Baptist, Evangelical and Anglican than it is to be a Catholic. In fact, it's vastly easier. There is less structure, less discipline and less rules in all of these Christian faiths. Why on earth would anyone want to follow Catholic rules on birth control when just about every other Christian denomination says it's perfectly okay and there is nothing wrong with it? Why on earth would anyone want to follow Catholic rules on mass attendance when just about every other Christian denomination says it's perfectly okay to skip a Sunday and go fishing once in a while? Or go to church on Wednesday instead of Sunday, or pick whatever day you like! Why on earth would anyone want to go to a confessional when just about every other Christian denomination says you can just privately confess your sins to God and keep it a secret? Why, oh why, would any Christian choose to remain Catholic when there are so many simpler and easier Christian denominations out there to choose from? I mean, seriously, if you want all the smells and bells of Catholicism, and still want to call yourself "catholic," but never have to follow all these strict rules, there is a very easy option out there. It's called Anglicanism, and in North America, it is virtually indistinguishable from Catholicism in outward appearance. There is an Episcopal (Anglican) parish in just about every city and town, especially in the United States. Don't believe me? Have a look and see for yourself. I just bet there's one near you.

My point here is that as a Christian in the United States, you can literally have it all. You can pick whatever form of Christianity you like, with any level of discipline and practice you like. You can even be 99% "catholic" by becoming a member of The Episcopal Church. Heck! If the Episcopalians are too liberal for you, you can even pick a slightly more conservative brand in the Anglican Church of North America. The United States of America has got it all! You don't need to be Roman Catholic, and follow all those rules and regulations, when you don't have to. Some of these churches, like the Anglican/Episcopalians, consider themselves "catholic" too, minus the "Roman" part.

So why would any Christian want to be a Roman Catholic, if he/she doesn't actually believe what the Catholic Church teaches? That's the mystery for me. What is it? Is it because of some kind of wacky cultural attachment? I'm thinking of mafia types as an example. Here you have a bunch of ruthless thugs who clearly don't believe or practice anything of the Catholic faith, but remain members of the Catholic Church anyway, mainly for cultural reasons. Everyone knows they don't believe or practice the faith, but they like to put on a religious show (so to speak) for the benefit of their family and neighbours, and to hide their clearly unCatholic and unChristian life of crime. I suppose another type might be your politicians and media persons, who again remain Catholic for much of the same reasons as the mobsters. They like to fool themselves, and their neighbours, into believing they're devoutly religious people, when in fact everyone knows they're not. I suppose I understand this reason, though I think its highly unnecessary and a little silly, especially in the United States where nobody really cares what type of religious show you put on.

What really confuses me is regular, ordinary, everyday Catholics. I'm talking about regular, working-class Christians, who are technically members of the Catholic Church, but clearly don't believe what the Catholic Church teaches. Why remain members? Is it for the same wacky cultural reasons as the mafia, politicians and media? I'm not so sure. These regular working-class people don't have to worry about putting on a public show of religion to maintain a certain image. They're just regular people, and like I said, this is America. Nobody here cares what religion you are. Seriously folks, this is a Secular society. Nobody freaking cares! So why remain Catholic if you don't believe it?

I suppose for some people it might be a social aspect. Maybe they've made friends in the Catholic Church, and they're afraid to leave them behind. I suppose I could really see this being the case with women. The female side of our species is highly social in nature. I can understand why they wouldn't want to leave the Catholic Church over friends. But let's seriously think this through, shall we? If you lose your Catholic friends by leaving the Catholic Church, were they ever really your friends to begin with? Wouldn't real friends be your friends no matter what? Let me tell you, when I left Evangelicalism I found out who my friends really were. I came to find out I had a lot less than I thought. But you know what? When I joined the Catholic Church I made a whole lot of new friends. So if friends are the only thing keeping you in the Catholic Church, then I would challenge you to reconsider. Who are your real friends? Wouldn't those be the people who remain your friends no matter what church you go to?

Perhaps it's the word "Catholic" that people are attached to. Maybe, like the mafia, politicians and media persons, they just like calling themselves "Catholic" and can't imagine thinking of themselves as anything else. I'm mentally picturing the "devoutly Catholic" mobster who dutifully puts 10% of his blood money into the collection plate at mass every Sunday, then kneels for communion on the tongue (oh so reverently) so everyone can see. I'm thinking of an "ardently Catholic" politician who proudly declares her Catholic faith on television, as she follows by defending her pro-abortion political record. I'm thinking of the "altar boy Catholic" news anchorman who continuously reminds his audience what a pious family he comes from, as he presents himself as an "expert" on the Church, all the while misrepresenting and maligning it. Perhaps its a similar motivation here, that the word "Catholic" has just come to mean nothing more than a cultural identity. It's sort of like being Italian, Mexican, French or Irish. It's just a cultural identifier. Still, I have to ask, why? This is America. Nobody cares here. People care no more for your religious preference than they do for your ancestral homeland. So once again, I must ask, who are you trying to fool? Everybody knows you don't believe what the Catholic Church teaches. Everybody knows you don't follow these teachings. So why carry on the charade?

So now we are entering a time in America when it will soon be very unpopular to be a believing and practising Catholic. We've already seen how the Secular Left, the Neo-Marxists, and now even high-ranking officials in the Democratic Party, have decided that the only good Catholic is a bad Catholic -- meaning one who doesn't believe or practise what the Church actually teaches. We have seen how those on the political Left find authentic and historic Catholic teaching "offensive" and demand that all Catholics abandon it. We have official resolutions from the City of San Francisco actually claiming this publicly. We have senators in the United States Senate actually saying this on television. We have media news people and pundits snidely insinuating this in their broadcasts and in print. We have political action groups loudly screaming it in the streets. How long will it be (one year, two, three?) before it will be in vogue to actually declare it openly? "Yes, I'm Catholic, but I don't actually believe all that stuff." To which I must openly ask, why then say you're Catholic at all? Why put yourself through having to make endless disclaimers about your life, faith and beliefs? Why?

Then of course there are the Catholic bishops, many of whom have already caved into the popular culture at large. One of them, Bishop Robert W. McElroy of the Diocese of San Diego, who most recently declared in an article that any Catholic, who really and truly believes the faith, is a "cancer" in the Church. Don't believe me? Here's the article. Read it for yourself. Basically, if you're a Catholic, who believes what the Church teaches about homosexuality, and insists that Church officials (priests and bishops) should back what the Church teaches, then according to Bishop McElroy, you're a "cancer" in the Church. Of course everyone knows what the appropriate medical treatment is for cancer. You cut it out! So I must ask of Bishop McElroy, when do you plan to excommunicate every faithful and orthodox Catholic in your diocese, who actually believes what the Church teaches about homosexuality? Or are you just a paper tiger spouting off a lot of hot air? Yes, I'm calling your bluff, and I'm waiting to see. What will you do Excellency? Are your words empty? Are you afraid to back them with action?

You see with bishops like this, who needs the Leftists, Marxists and Democrats? With "friends" like this, who needs enemies? Clearly, not even some bishops believe what the Catholic Church teaches, so again I must ask, why be Catholic? Seriously, if I didn't believe what the Church teaches about marriage and sexuality, why would I believe what the Church teaches about leaving the Church? If homosexuality is not a sin, then neither is the so-called sin of "schism" or "apostasy." If I believed, as many Catholics do, that it's okay to be in an active homosexual relationship, and that divorce and remarriage is just fine even without an annulment, that contraception is always okay, and that in some circumstances abortion is too, then there is no reason for me to believe that there is something wrong with leaving the Catholic Church. I mean, what difference does it make, right? So long as I'm going to church somewhere, what difference does it make if it's Catholic, Anglican/Episcopalian, Methodist, Baptist, Pentecostal, Evangelical, etc.? Come on folks! Just follow the logic here. If the Catholic Church is wrong about something as big as human sexuality, then it's probably wrong about Church membership too!

So why would any Catholic, who doesn't believe what the Church actually teaches, even remain Catholic? It's a mystery to me, and to be quite honest, I think it's stupid. It's one thing to disagree with the Church over prudential matters like immigration, gun control and national defence. It's one thing to disagree with the Church even on things like contraception, such as whether its always a mortal sin. But when you disagree with the Church over such clear-cut issues as abortion, euthanasia, divorce, adultery, same-sex "marriage," homosexuality, etc., what you're really saying is the Catholic Church has no real moral authority at all. It's all just one great big show of pomp and circumstance. So why be Catholic? Why carry on the charade? Why not be honest with yourself, and the world, and admit you're not really Catholic at all? I can see why some unfaithful clergy don't do this. They have a pension to look after. But if you're not drawing salary and benefits from the Catholic Church, why on earth would you stay? It doesn't make any sense. I'm sorry, but seriously, it's stupid. You have nothing really to gain, everything to lose, and you're living a lie.

So why would any self-respecting American remain a member of the Catholic Church?

I'll tell you why. The one and only reason why ANYBODY should remain a member of the Catholic Church is if one actually believes what the Catholic Church teaches. If one actually believes what the Church has to say about issues related to God, Christ, the gospel, the sacraments, human life, marriage, family, sexuality, money, morality, ethics and even Church membership, then I suppose one has a good reason to stay in the Church and remain Catholic. If Jesus Christ really did give the "Keys to the Kingdom" to St. Peter (Matthew 16:18-19) and he in turn passed them down to his successors the popes, then I suppose we ought probably ought to listen to the Catholic Church has to say about things. If the Catholic Church actually has the moral authority to tell us who God is, and what he wants, then I suppose it has the moral authority to tell us how we should behave in both our private and public lives. And if the Catholic Church actually has the moral authority to tell us how to behave in our private and public lives, then I guess it also has the moral authority to tell us what Church we should belong to.

It really is that simple folks. Either the Catholic Church has the moral authority to tell us how to live our lives, or it doesn't. You see, when I was a searching Anglican, I came to the logical conclusion that the Roman Catholic Church can be only one of two things. You see, because of the things it claims about itself, it could only be either (A) exactly what it says it is, the sole "pillar and foundation of truth" in the world as it says in 1 Timothy 3:15, or (B) it is the most diabolical religion ever created by Western man, precisely because it claims to be the sole "pillar and foundation of truth" in the world.

If the Catholic Church is what it says it is, then we had better believe what it teaches and live our lives accordingly, but if it is not, then the whole thing is a joke, and worse yet -- evil -- so we really should get out!

You see, there is not a single Protestant denomination that claims to be the only true Church. There is not a single Protestant denomination that claims to have been founded by Jesus Christ himself. There is not a single Protestant denomination that claims to be the sole "pillar and foundation of truth" in the world. Do you know what some American Protestants call a church that makes such claims about itself? -- a cult! That's right, they call it a cult. And I suppose they would be right, if the claims were not true. Nearly all Protestant denominations acknowledge that there are other churches nearly as good as themselves, and most Protestants (especially those in America) really don't believe it matters what church you belong to.

So the questions I want to leave you with are as follows...
  1. Is there really a "one, true Church?" 
  2. If so, which is one it? 
  3. If not, why are you a member of a Church that claims to be it?
Let's be honest with ourselves here. Let's not kid ourselves any longer. If you're a member of the Catholic Church, and you don't believe the Catholic Church is the one, true Church established by Jesus Christ, then you're a hypocrite. If you're a member of the Catholic Church, and you don't believe the Catholic Church has the authority to tell you how to live you life on matters of marriage and sexuality, then you're a hypocrite. Why do you continue to support a Church that preaches things you don't believe in? It's hypocrisy, and quite frankly, it's rather stupid.

If, however, you really do believe the Catholic Church is the one, true Church established by Jesus Christ, and you still don't believe what the Church teaches on marriage and sexuality, you're still a hypocrite. Because you see, you claim to believe one thing out of one side of your mouth, then you say you don't out of the other side. It's a contradiction. It's hypocrisy. Of course we Catholics can argue over prudential matters that are not settled doctrine in the Catholic Church. With an informed conscience, we are allowed to think for ourselves! But when it comes to matters of established doctrine, like on marriage and basic human sexuality, then we had better be in agreement with the apostolic teaching of the Church, or else we are hypocrites.

Let's stop playing games here. This is America. Nobody is going to burn you at the stake for leaving the Catholic Church. You either stay because you want to be Catholic, or you go because you're just being honest with yourselves and you not really Catholic at heart anyway. Let's cut out the hypocrisy and charade.

Now, to my fellow Catholics who are struggling with some Church teaching, let me say you're not alone. I too have struggled with some Church teaching. I still struggle with some Church teaching now and then. That's what it means to be human of course. We're not all perfect, and we all struggle from time to time. I sin, ask forgiveness and I do penance, just like everyone else. There are some doctrinal and disciplinary areas I think the Church needs to spend more time working out. There are some disciplinary practices (not doctrinal but disciplinary) that I think the Church is just plain wrong about, and needs to change. But in all things, I accept the moral authority of the Catholic Church as having been given by Jesus Christ himself, to the apostles and their successors the bishops and priests. If you find yourself struggling, that's okay. We all struggle. What we must not do however, is decide that we know better than the Church, and start believing (and acting upon) ideas that are directly opposed to Catholic doctrine. It's one thing to sin, admit you're wrong, and repent. That's Catholic. It's another thing to sin, insist you're right, and tell the Church it needs to change its doctrine to accommodate your sin. That's not Catholic at all. That's heresy.

In the days ahead, as we have already seen, we're going to see faithful Catholic put on the proverbial "hot seat" for their beliefs and practices. They're going to be persecuted just for believing that the Catholic Church is the "one, true Church of Jesus Christ." Naturally, if a Catholic didn't believe that, he wouldn't really be Catholic now would he? Still, we know where the Left stands on this. We know they are willing to tolerate religion, only insofar as religion is kept as a personal hobby, and the religious person doesn't really believe what the religion teaches. Then the Left is fine with us. After all, to them the only good Catholic is a bad Catholic, meaning one who doesn't really believe the faith. 

In the days ahead, as we have already seen, an increasing number of Catholic clergy (priests and bishops) will betray the faithful, and proverbially "throw them under the bus," in order to score points with their friends on the political Left. We've seen this happen already to staunchly faithful Catholic apostolates like Church Militant, The Wanderer and The Remnant Catholic newspapers. We've seen sweet little Mother Angelica assailed by Leftist bishops in the Church. Even some Vatican advisers, close to the Pope, have come out squarely against historic Catholic teaching and anyone who dares to defend it. 

Truly, if you don't actually believe the Catholic Church is the one, true Church, and that what she has always taught is truth, then there really is no reason to remain Catholic. In America, there is no incentive given by the state, the media, nor society at large. Even support within the Church, by her own leadership, is rather slim these days.

No, the only reason to remain Catholic these days is if you truly believe it. If you don't believe it, and you remain in the Church anyway, then the only person you're really fooling is yourself, and honestly, you're making yourself look rather silly. 

I know it may look like I'm trying to get people to leave the Church here. Actually I'm not. My motivation in writing this is to chide my fellow Catholics, to make them actually behave like Catholics, and stand up for the faith they say they believe in. That's why I'm writing this. I really don't want to see anybody leave the Catholic Church. What I really want is Catholics to start acting like Catholics again.


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Shane Schaetzel is an author of Catholic books, and columnist for Christian print magazines and online publications. He is a freelance writer and the creator of 'CatholicInTheOzarks.com -- Apologetics and random musings from a Catholic in the Bible Belt.'

Books Written and Recommended by Shane...

 Catholicism
for Protestants
A Catholic Guide
to the Last Days
A Reading List
for Serious Catholics


Monday, September 18, 2017

Martin Luther was an Anti-Semite

Martin Luther Nails his 95 Theses to the Door of Wittenberg Chapel
Painted by Ferdinand Willem Pauwels (1830 - 1904)

This year marks the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Revolution. Commonly known in history books as the "Protestant Reformation" I refuse to call it that, because nothing was "reformed" in Protestantism. The real reformation happened later, during the Council of Trent (AD 1545 - 1563), in which the Catholic Church reformed its practises and clearly defined its doctrine. Within Protestantism however, nothing was "reformed" at all. What we got instead was an endless revolution, which completely redefined the Christian faith, and set the Western world up for numerous religious wars and persecutions between Christians, followed by the birth of numerous Protestant denominations and sects.

The reason why this year is marked as the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Protestant Revolution is because on October 31, 1517 Martin Luther allegedly nailed his 95 Theses to the door of Wittenberg Chapel. The door served as a community bulletin board, which many people used to post messages, flyers and advertisements. It is entirely possible that Martin Luther did post his 95 Theses on that door, even though some doubt it, but if he did, it was hardly the dramatic act often portrayed in Protestant art (see above). This event, nevertheless, is heralded by most Protestants as the beginning of the Protestant Revolution.

Speaking as one who was baptised Lutheran, I must urge caution before revering this man as the "founder" of this event they call the "Reformation," and the religious movement commonly called "Protestantism." Martin Luther was an incredibly flawed individual, who verbally assailed anyone who disagreed with him, anathematised anyone who held to different beliefs, altered Scripture to fit his personal teachings, removed entire books and sections from the canon of Scripture, insisted that the pope is the Antichrist, believed the world would end within 100 years of his lifetime, and became what we in our time would call an anti-Semite. He is hardly a role model. That being said, I do not know a single Lutheran today who would approve of Martin Luther's teaching on the Jews, and I believe every Lutheran denomination has repudiated it. No Lutheran today, nor any Protestant for that matter, should be held accountable for this, since it was the opinion of just one man and has since been repudiated by just about everyone.

To be historically accurate, the Revolution, commonly called the "Reformation," did not really begin on October 31, 1517. Martin Luther's actions on that day were just a precursor to it. In fact, Luther remained a Catholic priest for another 3 years, and all those who followed him remained Catholics. They were just dissident or "cafeteria" Catholics, but they were still Catholics in a canonical sense. No official break with Rome had occurred yet. The real Protestant Revolution (commonly called the "Reformation") actually began on December 10, 1520, when Luther burned the papal bull of excommunication against him, along with the Church's Code of Canon Law, papal constitutions and various works of theology, declaring his schism with the Pope, Rome, and the Catholic Church. That's when the Protestant Revolution really began. It began with a bonfire and book burning, not the nailing of a theses to a door. Interestingly enough, Protestants often ignore this date.

Now in using the term "anti-Semite" I do so in the popular vernacular sense, not in the technical sense. The term did not exist in Luther's time. I understand the word "Semite," invented in the 1770s, technically refers to anyone who speaks, or who's ancestors spoke, one of the Semitic languages of the Near East, North Africa and Malta. So it could just as easily apply to Arabs as to Jews. However, in the popular vernacular sense, the term "Semite" is almost exclusively used to refer to Jews, and therefore an "anti-Semite," in the popular vernacular sense, is one who holds a sentiment of malice toward Jewish people, solely because they are Jewish. Hence, in the popular vernacular sense, I insist that Martin Luther was an anti-Semite. He was not an anti-Semite in a racial sense, but rather a religious sense, and this was due to his religious malice toward Jewish people. Some might argue with me on this, claiming that antisemitism is a purely racial term. I won't argue that that is the proper usage. However, the common and popular usage is understood as malice toward Jews. Luther is often cast as anti-Jewish, not antisemitic, because his malice was religiously motivated and not racially motivated. I say this is splitting hairs. It doesn't matter what his motivations were. What matters is what he said we should do to them, as we shall see below. Because of this splitting hairs, Luther has historically gotten a pass on his extremely unchristian malice toward Jews, having been labelled anti-Jewish rather than anti-Semitic. I will not give him this, nor will I split hairs on this issue. If Luther said any of these things in the 21st century, as he did in the 16th century, he would be labelled an Anti-Semite. So that's what he was as far as I'm concerned.

Concerning his malice toward the Jews, I'll let Martin Luther speak for himself. Early on in the Protestant Revolution, he was sympathetic toward the Jews for resisting the faith and teachings of the Catholic Church. However, once he had completed his new theological groundwork, he expected the Jews to convert to his "purified" version of Christianity. When they did not, he turned against them in the most ferocious way. The following is an English translation of an excerpt of his later writings against them...
What shall we Christians do with this rejected and condemned people, the Jews? Since they live among us, we dare not tolerate their conduct, now that we are aware of their lying and reviling and blaspheming. If we do, we become sharers in their lies, cursing and blasphemy. Thus we cannot extinguish the unquenchable fire of divine wrath, of which the prophets speak, nor can we convert the Jews. With prayer and the fear of God we must practice a sharp mercy to see whether we might save at least a few from the glowing flames. We dare not avenge ourselves. Vengeance a thousand times worse than we could wish them already has them by the throat. I shall give you my sincere advice: 
First to set fire to their synagogues or schools and to bury and cover with dirt whatever will not burn, so that no man will ever again see a stone or cinder of them. This is to be done in honour of our Lord and of Christendom, so that God might see that we are Christians, and do not condone or knowingly tolerate such public lying, cursing, and blaspheming of his Son and of his Christians. For whatever we tolerated in the past unknowingly ­and I myself was unaware of it ­ will be pardoned by God. But if we, now that we are informed, were to protect and shield such a house for the Jews, existing right before our very nose, in which they lie about, blaspheme, curse, vilify, and defame Christ and us (as was heard above), it would be the same as if we were doing all this and even worse ourselves, as we very well know. 
Second, I advise that their houses also be razed and destroyed. For they pursue in them the same aims as in their synagogues. Instead they might be lodged under a roof or in a barn, like the gypsies. This will bring home to them that they are not masters in our country, as they boast, but that they are living in exile and in captivity, as they incessantly wail and lament about us before God. 
Third, I advise that all their prayer books and Talmudic writings, in which such idolatry, lies, cursing and blasphemy are taught, be taken from them. 
Fourth, I advise that their rabbis be forbidden to teach henceforth on pain of loss of life and limb. For they have justly forfeited the right to such an office by holding the poor Jews captive with the saying of Moses (Deuteronomy 17:10) in which he commands them to obey their teachers on penalty of death, although Moses clearly adds: "what they teach you in accord with the law of the Lord." Those villains ignore that. They wantonly employ the poor people's obedience contrary to the law of the Lord and infuse them with this poison, cursing, and blasphemy. In the same way the pope also held us captive with the declaration in Matthew 16:18, "You are Peter," etc, inducing us to believe all the lies and deceptions that issued from his devilish mind. He did not teach in accord with the word of God, and therefore he forfeited the right to teach. 
Fifth, I advise that safe-conduct on the highways be abolished completely for the Jews. For they have no business in the countryside, since they are not lords, officials, tradesmen, or the like. Let they stay at home.
Sixth, I advise that usury be prohibited to them, and that all cash and treasure of silver and gold be taken from them and put aside for safekeeping. The reason for such a measure is that, as said above, they have no other means of earning a livelihood than usury, and by it they have stolen and robbed from us all they possess. Such money should now be used in no other way than the following: Whenever a Jew is sincerely converted, he should be handed one hundred, two hundred, or three hundred florins, as personal circumstances may suggest. With this he could set himself up in some occupation for the support of his poor wife and children, and the maintenance of the old or feeble. For such evil gains are cursed if they are not put to use with God's blessing in a good and worthy cause. 
Seventh, I commend putting a flail, an ax, a hoe, a spade, a distaff, or a spindle into the hands of young, strong Jews and Jewesses and letting them earn their bread in the sweat of their brow, as was imposed on the children of Adam (Gen 3:19). For it is not fitting that they should let us accursed Goyim toil in the sweat of our faces while they, the holy people, idle away their time behind the stove, feasting and farting, and on top of all, boasting blasphemously of their lordship over the Christians by means of our sweat. No, one should toss out these lazy rogues by the seat of their pants. 
Martin Luther, "On the Jews and their Lies" (Von den Juden und ihren L├╝gen), written in AD 1543  
(more information here)
So to review, Martin Luther (the so-called "Great Reformer") advised that Christians should...
  1. burn down Jewish synagogues and schools;
  2. put Jews in ghettos;
  3. rob Jews of their religious writings;
  4. forbid rabbis from preaching;
  5. allow Jews to get mugged, robbed, raped and beaten on the highways;
  6. take away all the worldly possessions of Jews and not return them until they convert to Luther's form of Christianity.
  7. put Jews to work by manual labour.
This is Martin Luther in his own words folks. This is what he taught, and this is what he believed. Centuries later, his writings were used by the Nazis as justification for the concentration camps and the Holocaust. Personally, I find the celebration of this man and his teachings disturbing on so many levels. In my opinion he was not the hero people commonly make him out to be. When the celebrations begin this October 31, we should keep in mind that the man being celebrated was perhaps the greatest menace to European Jewry during his time. While the Catholic Church has failed many times to protect Jews, at least there were some valiant attempts to safeguard European Jewry in the form of papal documents and decrees prior to the Protestant Revolution. Martin Luther overturned all that for the entire Protestant world at that time (northern Europe). This is the man much of the Christian world will be celebrating this October 31. I won't be joining them. I sincerely hope you won't either.

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Shane Schaetzel is an author of Catholic books, and columnist for Christian print magazines and online publications. He is a freelance writer and the creator of 'CatholicInTheOzarks.com -- Apologetics and random musings from a Catholic in the Bible Belt.'

Books Written and Recommended by Shane...

 Catholicism
for Protestants
A Catholic Guide
to the Last Days
A Reading List
for Serious Catholics


Friday, September 15, 2017

Dropping the Siege Mentality in the Church

Super-Tsunami Hits City
Artistic Conception -- Seeking Artist Credit

In a previous essay I wrote two years ago, entitled Vatican II Actually Saved Catholicism, I postulated that the modernist tsunami that swept the Western World in the middle to late 20th century was universal in nature, and affected every aspect of Western life, including virtually every single Christian denomination in the West. I pointed out that the seeds of this tsunami were actually planted way back in the late 19th century, and that its devastating effect over our entire civilisation was inevitable. We are now living through a post-modernism age, wherein the tsunami has washed away all vestiges of the former world that was circa 1900.

In the midst of this tsunami, mainstream Protestant denominations fell, one by one, each caving in to the modernist deluge. The deluge was overwhelming to all of Western Christianity, and I pointed out that the explosion of Evangelical mega-churches was the direct result of this flood. Evangelicalism was the primary beneficiary of the exodus from mainstream Protestantism, caused primarily by the inundation of modernist ideology. When the mainstream Protestants started changing liturgy, experimenting with modern architecture, ordaining women and homosexuals, accepting contraception and abortion, and blessing same-sex "marriages," a good chunk of mainstream Protestants left for the morally higher ground of the Evangelical churches. How do I know this? Demographics tell the story, and I cited that in my previous essay, but I have a personal experience to add. My own parents were part of the exodus from mainline Protestant denominations into Evangelicalism. Had the deluge not happened throughout mainstream Protestantism, I would have been raised a devout Lutheran, and would probably have remained so to this day. My own conversion to Catholicism was initially driven by an attempt to escape the tsunami of modernism.

For all it's flaws, and there were many, Vatican II actually saved Catholicism from this tsunami. The tidal wave was going to hit the Catholic Church anyway, in fact, it already had. The Church was filled with modernists in the 1950s, even as far back as the 1920s. So when the Council was convened in the 1960s it had two main effects. The first was to deny modernists the doctrinal changes they so desperately wanted. Yes, some of the documents of Vatican II were vague, even flawed, but none of them carried the note of infallibility. It was essentially a pastoral council, not a doctrinal one, and that in turn made it subordinate to Vatican I and Trent. So frustrated were the modernists in the Church that they had to invent a fictitious "Spirit of Vatican II" to go forward with the changes they wanted anyway, lacking any real documents to back them. Second, it gave them a new liturgy to play with, not immediately, but some years later. The Missal of Pope Paul VI was a godsend, because even though it gave the appearance of suppressing the Latin Missal of Saint Pius V, in actuality it set it aside for those who love it, safely away from modernist meddling. This effectively allowed two main movements within the Church to develop independently of each other. On the one hand, it allowed the modernists to go ahead and experiment with near impunity for decades. While on the other hand it allowed traditional Catholics an opportunity to develop their own societies and communities using the mass of the ages, without having to worry about anyone meddling with it -- not even Rome! What Vatican II actually did, believe it or not, was protect the mass of the ages while simultaneously denying the doctrinal changes modernists sought by denying them the 'note of infallibility' needed to make them. This is why so many modernists within the Church today either refer to the nebulous "Spirit of Vatican II" for cover, or else they blatantly call for a Vatican III council to addressed the "unfinished business" of Vatican II. In other words, they subconsciously recognise the weakness of their own position, even while they triumphantly move forward with whatever they seem to want. Things were not actually as they seemed. It appeared that modernism was winning in the Catholic Church, but in truth, what was actually happening was this. The things most loved and cherished by traditional Catholics were set aside, out of the spotlight where they wouldn't be meddled with, so that those who love them could continue to be nourished by them, unmolested by the changes in the mainstream church. Can you imagine the catastrophe that would have happened in the 1970s and 80s, if the Latin Missal of Saint Pius V were translated into vernacular languages, and toyed with the way the Missal of Pope Paul VI was?

Sadly, something else happened during this period. Conflict developed between mainstream clergy and traditional laity. This happened in a reactionary way, wherein traditional laity tried to force some mainstream clergy to go back to the old ways. In turn, mainstream clergy then pushed back in the most extreme way, marginalising traditional Catholics, making it harder and harder for them to find traditional liturgy. In both cases, the reactions of both sides were uncharitable, unchristian and very uncatholic. For the traditional Catholics, which were the smaller group, it created a siege mentality.

A siege mentality is defined as a defencive or paranoid attitude based on the belief that others are hostile toward one. In other words, it's the mindset that everyone is out to get you. For traditional Catholics it was true that some clergy were hostile, but certainly not all of them. The siege mentality is a natural human response to abuse, and yes, traditional Catholics were abused by many mainstream priests and bishops between 1965 through 2007. It is also true that some traditional Catholics attempted to abuse mainstream Church clergy too, but I don't think the mainstream Church can use this as an adequate defence. In the fight between the giant and the dwarf, its the dwarf that always looks brave, and the giant that always looks like the bully. In the ecclesiastical quarrel between the mainstream and traditionalists, it is the mainstream Church (having adopted many ideas of modernity) that is the giant. The dwarf obviously represents the traditional Catholics. This is my perspective as an outsider, having come into the Church in 2000, and yes, that's how any convert would see it once the battle between both sides is defined and understood. The mainstream (modern) Church is still very much a giant today, while traditional Catholics are still very much the dwarf. In watching these two duke it out, I can't help but root for the dwarf. He is the underdog and he is bullied by the giant. It would be different if we were talking about a matter of doctrine here. If the traditional dwarf was a heretic, then yes, let the giant smash him to pieces, because he is a threat! But since most traditional Catholics are more orthodox than the mainstream Church on a good number of issues, again it is difficult to take the side of the giant. I can't help but root for the dwarf.

This was the case leading into 2007, but after 2007, something interesting happened. Pope Benedict XVI issued Summorum Pontificum, the motu proprio decree the liberalised usage of the old Latin mass (Missal of Saint Pius V) and made its celebration much more widely available. This was, and remains, a watershed event marking the end of an era. Priests and bishops, who previously marginalised traditional Catholics, no longer had a leg to stand on. Not that they every really did to begin with, but Summorum Pontificum ended whatever fantasy they previously excused themselves with. Traditional Catholicism was, is, and remains a perfectly legitimate expression of the Catholic faith. Case closed.

Of course that didn't stop some clergy from trying to continue their marginalisation of traditional Catholics. After all, the giant isn't going to go down without a fight. Nevertheless, the dwarf has been given a very powerful resource that levels the playing field. A good number of diocesan bishops are attempting to accommodate requests for the traditional Latin mass. While at the same time, the number of traditional societies and institutes have increased as well. We are currently waiting for the establishment of a personal prelature for the Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX). If and when that should come it will add yet another powerful resource to the dwarf. Yet even without it, the flourishing of traditional Catholicism is secured now for at least another generation. That being said, it's time to end the siege mentality. The time for paranoia is over. Traditional Catholics must move forward now with confidence that the giant has been dealt a significant attitude adjustment, and in time the dwarf won't be so small anymore.

A similar situation exists for some of my fellow Catholics in the ordinariates, though our battles were never with Rome to begin with, nor the local diocesan clergy. Our battles were outside the Catholic Church, with fellow Anglicans who did the same thing to us, in the way of the giant and the dwarf, but far worse. The battle that traditional Catholics fought with the mainstream Church was insignificant in comparison to the all-out-war fought in the Anglican world between traditional Anglicans and their local provinces. Many of us who fled to the ordinariates, as a result of the 2009 apostolic constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus, retain the siege mentality left over from that war. It's vitally important that we don't carry that mentality into the ordinariates. We in the ordinariates are actually in much better shape than our traditional Catholic brethren, because our war is completely over. We won! We achieved what our Anglican ancestors in the Oxford Movement could only hope for, which is full communion with Rome, and we are free from our mainstream oppressors in Anglicanism. The provision that Rome has made for us inside the Catholic Church is unprecedented, and we are at total liberty to continue in our traditional Anglican ways, now as Catholics! Thus it is time to eradicate any vestige of the siege mentality within us and move on. We ordinariate Catholics do not need to worry about any hostile bishop, whether Anglican or Roman, ever bothering us again. We are free of that now. In fact, the only enemy we have left is ourselves. If we will not allow ourselves to be liberated of the siege mentality, then we imprison ourselves inside a cage of our own making, with nobody to blame but ourselves. In most cases, diocesan bishops are friendly toward ordinariate communities, and we must not only be mindful of this, but we must build a stronger relationship on it. In those rare cases where diocesan bishops are not as friendly, this is usually because of ignorance and misunderstanding. The ordinariates are but a dwarf. We pose no threat whatsoever to the giant of diocesan life, and we would very much like to be included with it, if the giant will allow it. We can exist on our own, somewhat independently, but we don't want to. We can never impose our liturgy on the diocese, so there is no threat of that. We may be different, but we are equal. We would much rather be family with our diocesan brothers and sisters. We pose no threat whatsoever to the diocesan way of being Catholic, and the diocese poses no threat whatsoever to the ordinariate way of being Catholic. This is how we in the ordinariates must learn to think, if we have not done so already. Any sour relationship with diocesan clergy can be improved if we just drop the obsolete siege mentality and adopt this mindset instead.

I suppose dropping the siege mentality will be a little harder for traditional Catholics, who don't have quite the same sweetheart arrangement as we traditional Anglicans have acquired in the ordinariates. Still yet, they have to admit that they are in much better shape in 2017 than they were in 2007, or in 1997 for that matter. Parting ways with the siege mentality will do more to improve their situation by 2027 as well. It's time to put away the paranoia and move on. Yes, there are some wild and crazy things going on in the mainstream Church right now, but that doesn't stop any of us from living a traditional faith and learning how to become more holy. In this post-tsunami age of Summorum Pontificum and Anglicanorum Coetibus we now have at our disposal the tools needed to begin the process of rebuilding the Church after the modernist deluge.

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Shane Schaetzel is an author of Catholic books, and columnist for Christian print magazines and online publications. He is a freelance writer and the creator of 'CatholicInTheOzarks.com -- Apologetics and random musings from a Catholic in the Bible Belt.'

Books Written and Recommended by Shane...

 Catholicism
for Protestants
A Catholic Guide
to the Last Days
A Reading List
for Serious Catholics