|Bishop Thomas Paprocki of the Diocese of Springfield, Illinois|
His Excellency, Thomas Paprocki, Bishop of the Diocese of Springfield, Illinois, recently issued the following statement on his Facebook Page. By the way, if you haven't already done it, please go to Bishop Paprocki's Facbook Page and give it a "Like." Here's the statement...
These norms regarding same-sex “Marriage” and related pastoral issues are necessary in light of changes in the law and in our culture regarding these issues. Jesus Christ himself affirmed the privileged place of marriage in human and Christian society by raising it to the dignity of a sacrament. Consequently, the Church has not only the authority, but the serious obligation, to affirm its authentic teaching on marriage and to preserve and foster the sacred value of the married state. Regarding the specific issue of funeral rites, people who had lived openly in same-sex marriage, like other manifest sinners that give public scandal, can receive ecclesiastical funeral rites if they have given some signs of repentance before their death. Jesus began his public ministry proclaiming the Gospel of God with these words: “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15). People with same-sex attraction are welcome in our parishes in the Catholic Diocese of Springfield in Illinois as we repent our sins and pray for God to keep us in His grace...
We are all called to repentance and the sacraments are NOT entitlements. As a heterosexual married man, even I can be denied the sacraments if I live in a scandalous way, and I'm even supposed to deny myself the sacrament of communion if I know I've committed a mortal sin. The sacraments are not entitlements. Jesus came to forgive our sins, not condone them. He told us to repent. Go and sin no more. It is the Church's responsibility to safeguard the sacraments and yes, even withhold them to encourage us to repent of our sins. It's not "hate" when you're just doing your job, as Bishop Paprocki is. It's not "bigotry" when you try to stop people from committing spiritual suicide by receiving the sacraments while in a state of unrepentant mortal sin.So therein I believe I addressed the root of the problem. Naturally, while my own statement received several positive "likes" it was also derided as "hate-filled" and "bigoted." Of course, I expected as much. It was so predictable. Here's the problem, as I see it. We now live in a culture of total entitlement, and within that culture of total entitlement, there is this notion that the Catholic Church is somehow a public institution, on par with a state Church. So, those who feel entitled naturally want the Church to entitle them, as if it were part of the state. They expect that if they will only just apply enough pressure, the Catholic Church will bend to their will, and give them exactly what they want. So exactly what is it they want? Well, here's the list. Such people are expecting one, or more, of the items below to be implemented by the Catholic Church...
- Total acceptance of their homosexual temptations as a "God-given grace."
- Total acceptance of same-sex "marriage" as a sacrament.
- Performance of same-sex "weddings" in Catholic churches.
- Elevation of homosexual relations as at least on par with, preferably superior to, heterosexual relations.
- Acceptance of transsexualism as "normal" and "grace-filled."
- Ordination of homosexuals openly, with blessing and encouragement given to homosexual activity by such clergy.
- Ordination of women, since gender is fluid anyway.
- Promotion of adoption of children, by Catholic charities, to same-sex couples.
- Teaching that Jesus Christ as at least ambiguously homosexual himself, as were some of his apostles.
- Teaching of some or all of these things to children in Catholic schools and Catechism classes.
The Homosexualist Agenda is pretty universal both inside and outside the Catholic Church. There is nothing new here, and it's not personal. The Homosexualist Agenda is the same for all churches. Those of us who were formally Anglican, like myself, sadly watched this unfold in The Episcopal Church USA, as well as various other denominations. Baptists and Pentecostals are in their cross-hairs too, they just haven't gotten to them yet. Right now the Homosexualists have all of their attention focused on the U.S. Catholic Church, because you see, we're the next domino to fall. If they can get America's largest Christian Church -- The Catholic Church -- to crumble beneath their will, all the rest will fall in short order thereafter. The Baptists will scatter to the wind. The Pentecostals will too. You have to understand, it's nothing personal. It's just business. They have an agenda to push, and the last stronghold standing in their way is The Catholic Church. So they must attack us. They must break us. We shouldn't take it personally. It's just business to them.
The attack methods are predictable and banal now. They accuse us of "hate" and "bigotry" for not accepting all, or at least part, of their Homosexualist Agenda. They frame themselves as the "poor, persecuted, minority" and the Catholic Church as the "rich, powerful, persecutors" who want to "deprive" homosexuals of their "human rights" for the sake of "bigotry" and "hate." You have to understand that these accusations, these terms, are just the tools of the trade. It doesn't matter if they think they're true or not. I'm sure the promoters of such terms know there are a few useful idiots who really do believe this stuff, but for the most part, it's just verbal leverage. Again, it's all just business. We shouldn't take it personally. The objective is to bully the Church hierarchy with bad press. That's what it's all about, until one of these bishops cracks. That will be the proverbial "chink in the armour" they need to bring the whole Catholic edifice down -- or so they think. Why not? It's worked with other religious organisations.
The fact that many Catholic clergy are closeted homosexuals doesn't help one bit. It only makes things worse. You can tell who they are by their silence on these matters, or sometimes by their public support of the Homosexualist movement itself. This leads to weakness on the part of the laity, who are afraid to speak up, and afraid to act in accord with Church teaching. They know they won't have the support of their homosexual-friendly priest, and in some tragic cases, not even the support of their homosexual-friendly bishop. So they hide in the shadows themselves, holding their tongues, all the while allowing the Homosexualist movement to continue to infiltrate the Church.
Then there is another movement going on, and this one is much bigger than the Homosexualist one. This is what I call the Entitlement Culture, and it's been well entrenched in the U.S. Catholic Church since the 1970s. It presents a much greater threat than the Homosexualist movement, even though the two often go hand-in-hand. The Homosexualist movement is dependent on the Entitlement Culture, but the Entitlement Culture is not dependent on the Homosexualist movement. In fact, the Entitlement Culture has been operating independently of the Homosexalist movement for a long time.
At the core of the Entitlement Culture is the heresy of moral relativism. Moral relativism asserts that there is no absolute right or wrong, but rather that "rightness" or "wrongness" is determined solely by social norms. Whatever is considered normal behaviour in society, that is considered "right." While what is considered abnormal behaviour in society, that is considered "wrong." So for example, standards of right and wrong can change, and are always in flux, because society is always changing what it considers to be "normal," or in other words, what most people are doing. Sadly, there are many moral relativists within the Catholic Church and this drives, in big part, the Entitlement Culture.
The Entitlement Culture basically operates on the premise that if one bears the name "Catholic" then one is entitled to all of the sacraments, regardless of one's state of grace or condition of sin. In other words, it goes something like this: "I call myself Catholic, therefore I'm entitled to receive communion, so give it to me now, or you're a bigoted hater!" Actually, a lot more people fall into this movement than you might think. We don't just see this among Homosexualists. We also see it among fornicators, co-habitators, serial-monogamists, polygamists, masterbaters, voyeurs, artificial-contracepters, thieves, gossips, greedy people, those who defraud their employees of a just wage, etc. There is a sense in the U.S. Catholic Church that if one is just willing to bear the name "Catholic," or go through an RCIA program, or be raised in a Catholic school, that one is automatically entitled to the sacraments. There is a sense that repentance of sin is not necessary (Because in a morally relative society what is sin anyway?) and the Church's teachings on morality are subject to change. I think the later comes from weak clergy who are unwilling to defend Church teaching, and sadly, we've had too many of those in recent decades. In the end, the sum-total morality of most Catholics is simply: "Don't judge and be nice." In the eyes of too many people who call themselves Catholic, that is what it means to be Catholic. "Just don't judge and be nice."
So we come full circle now to the Paprocki Affair. Here in the Summer of 2017, an entire diocese is now on edge, solely because her bishop decided to actually do his job, and defend Catholic teaching! Think of it, a Catholic bishop actually behaved like a Catholic bishop, and now the proverbial "snowflakes are melting in the streets." Among them are the Homosexualists. We would expect no less from them. But also among them are those Catholics who subscribe to the Entitlement Culture. They fully expect anyone who bears the name "Catholic," even a professed "out and proud" homosexual in a same-sex "marriage," to be able to receive communion, and enjoy all the rites of a good and practising Catholic, including the Church changing its teaching to accommodate his or her vice. Yes. This is where we are today. You're not dreaming. This isn't a nightmare. This is reality. This is the Summer of 2017, Main Street, USA, and no, it's not going to get any better.
So where do we go from here?
Well, first of all we have to accept that this is our new reality, and it's not going away. The second thing we need to do is clearly establish to our surrounding communities that the Catholic Church is not a state-run church or a publicly controlled entity. We need to demonstrate to them that we Catholics are a separate and distinct community from the rest of society. We are in this world, but not of it. We interact with mainstream society, but we are not just another part of it. We are a called-out people. We are an independent nation. We have our own beliefs, our own norms, and our own laws. (Yes, our own LAWS, and this includes our own courts, lawyers and judges.) We are not subject to the ways of the rest of the world. We do follow the laws of the land -- to an extent -- but our own laws (just like our own doctrines) take precedence among our own members.
Very rarely do people attack the Amish. In fact, most people simply don't expect the Amish to be anything but -- well -- Amish! There is a reason for this. The Amish have firmly established themselves as an independent and autonomous community within society. They function under their own rules and everybody knows it. Obviously, most people wouldn't want to live under Amish rules, and that's why most people aren't Amish. Nevertheless, nobody tries to change the Amish, or make them comply with some social agenda. This is because everybody knows the Amish are just "Amish" and they're not going to change for anyone. They've firmly established themselves as a separate, independent and autonomous community within the greater society.
The same could be said of the Orthodox Jewish community. Like the Amish, they have established themselves as a separate, independent and autonomous community within the greater society. The same could be said of various Muslim communities, and so on.
Catholics certainly shouldn't withdraw from mainstream society like the Amish do, but we should re-establish ourselves as an independent and autonomous community within the greater society like the Orthodox Jewish and Muslim communities have done. This seems foreign to us right now, because we Christians here in the West haven't had to do it in over 1,000 years. The last time Western Christians had to do that was toward the end of the first millennium, when Christians had to live as separate, independent and autonomous communities within the larger Nordic Pagan culture of Scandinavia. Prior to that, it was within Germanic Pagan cultures in Europe. This condition was short-lived, because these societies converted rather quickly, once a critical mass had been reached. So they're not good comparisons. Probably the best comparison to be made in Western culture is nearly 2,000 years ago, when early Christians had to live under the thumb of the Pagan Roman Empire. My point here is that we Christians in the West have since then been so intertwined with Western government and society at large, that we literally don't know how to act in a separate, independent and autonomous way. We've simply forgotten how to do it. This is one reason why the Entitlement culture has steamrolled us for the last half century.
Probably our best example to model ourselves after is the Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic communities, who have lived under oppressive societies in Eastern Europe for decades and the Middle East for centuries. They know how to do it. You don't hear about Homosexualists going after the Eastern Orthodox communities so much, because again, they're thought of as "separate" and "independent" from mainstream society. Nor do you hear of their own members boasting an entitlement mentality, because once again, their own members see themselves as separate and independent from mainstream society. They have to follow their own laws, which are different from the laws and social norms of society at large. I think it's high time Roman Catholic priests and bishops begin cultivating this way of thinking within their parishes and dioceses.
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.'
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