Saturday, November 14, 2009

Does this repulse you?

Let me show you a couple of recent headlines from the secular media. First, from the CBC: 

Life sentence in 30-year-old Longueuil murder

A 61-year-old Longeuil woman has been sentenced to life in prison for the first-degree murder of her sister and her sister's partner in August 1979... (Source)

Do you find that headline offensive?  Does it make you feel that the Quebec authorities are too strict and grumpy?  I didn't think so.  Grave crimes require grave punishment, right?  Let's try another headline from the UK:

Ben’s law: Knife murder minimum sentence raised to 25 yrs after Kinsella campaign

Knife killers will spend up to a decade longer in jail after a successful campaign by the family of victim Ben Kinsella. Justice Secretary Jack Straw announced the tougher new penalties yesterday. It means a minimum sentence in most cases increasing from 15 to 25 years – just five below the 30-year term for gun murder... (Source)

Does that headline scare you? Does it make you feel like the authorities in the U.K. are mean or negative people?  No?  Me neither. Murder is serious business and requires a serious penalty.

So what's my point?  You might be asking yourself what I've been smoking. Let me show you a third headline:

Spanish Bishop Says Catholic Politicians Who Vote for Abortion Excommunicate Themselves

The secretary general of the Spanish bishops' conference, Auxiliary Bishop Juan Antonio Martinez Camino of Madrid, warned that Spanish Catholic legislators who vote in favor
of a bill to liberalize abortion which is currently before parliament would publicly place themselves in an "objective state of sin" and therefore may not receive Communion.

Does this headline offend you?  Does it make you think that the Church is too negative?  If you answered No to the first two headlines but answered Yes to the third headline, then you need to ask yourself some serious questions.  Why is it okay for secular authorities to enforce strict penalties for serious crimes, but it is somehow "harsh" for the Church to do the same?

Here's the point. There are some people in the clergy who think that bold statements like the one from the Auxiliary Bishop of Madrid are too "negative." These spineless clergymen think that being firm about Church discipline is un-Christian and turns people off. This has been particularly obvious in recent months as pro-lifers have been outraged over the Development and Peace scandal or the Ted Kennedy funeral scandal.  

Certainly, the Catholicism is much more than a set of rules and penalties. Catholicism is fundamentally about learning to know God, love God and serve God in this life, in order to be with Him forever in the next life.  This does not exclude rules and penalties, however, which help guide our actions.  God knows our weak human nature.  Without discipline and accountability, we easily drift away. Rules and penalties help keep us honest.

So why do these spineless clergymen refuse to publicly enforce Church rules on serious crimes?  We're not talkin' about petty mischief like spitting on a sidewalk.  We're talking about serious stuff here, like abortion.  So why the hangup from the clergy?  Do they not realize that without some rules and enforcement that chaos will necessarily ensue? Do they not worry about the possible damnation of the faithful who will go astray without the proper guidance and teaching? Or have they stopped believing in the concepts of sin and hell? Are they too afraid to take a public stand? Are they too cosy with politicians to rebuke them in public?

None of these possible explanations would be a valid one. I understand that clergy need to be "pastoral," but you cannot forsake the Truth in the process, otherwise Heaven becomes and open bar and the practice of Catholicism becomes irrelevant. In fact, some of these clergyman will openly say that hell doesn't exist and that everybody is saved. Indeed, if we are free to commit any serious sin, even abortion, without any consequences, then why bother with any other of the requirements of the Gospel? Why go to Mass? Why repent from sins? Why believe in the doctrine of the Faith? Why make any sacrifices? Why obey the clergy? Why pray? Why donate to your local church?

This brand of "pastoral" Catholicism leads to self-destruction. It is being aggressively pushed by priests in Quebec, with disastrous consequences. I've seen it with my own eyes and have heard numerous reports from others. The clergy in Quebec are so eager to make Catholicism as "burden-free" as possible that everything has become optional. But in the process, people are realizing that there is no point in practicing anything the Church teaches. Hell doesn't exist so everybody gets saved regardless of what they believe and how they live. Predictably, the number of practicing Catholics keeps plummeting and churches keep closing. The priests are preaching their churches into irrelevance and oblivion.

Until the Truth is proclaimed, people will not return to the Church. These clergymen need to realize that the Gospel is endowed with the power of God. It is not a human teaching. When you preach the authentic Gospel, the power of the Word of God will change hearts. If you preach a diluted pseudo-gospel, you lose that power and enter into a merely human philosophy of life. There's no power in there.