I want to make my blog useful for more than merely citing sources used in my videos. To that end, I want to present articles I’ve written (and will write) for various other outlets, as well as produce some original material for this site only.
This article first appeared in Oremus Newspaper, a small, family run traditional Catholic newspaper that is found in various FSSP and other traditional parishes around the US. It appeared in the September issue of the paper and was penned just before Archbishop Vigano dropped his nuclear bomb on the cover up being orchestrated from the top of the Church.
The Civil War in the Catholic Church
One of the unfortunate consequences of the renewed sexual abuse crisis in the Church is the growing conflict among the laity regarding what the nature of the scandal. I am of course referring to whether or not homosexuality is at the root of the scandal. There appear to be three principle factions: the first is the faction that is up front and vocal about the presence of same sex attracted priests and bishops at the center of the scandal. The second faction is comprised of those Catholics who deny that there is a homosexual crisis in the Church, represented by those voices calling this a crisis of clericalism. The third faction are those who are trying to remain detached from the debate. The battle lines are already drawn and it is a secondary tragedy in the unfolding crisis that points to the actual source of the crisis, the Father of Lies, who sews sin and division wherever he turns his gaze.
This conflict is nothing new. For many years, traditional Catholics have often not concealed suspicion or outright hatred of anything that can be dubbed ‘modernist’ or ‘liberal.’ Conversely, many self-described liberal Catholics have labeled traditionalists as ‘neo-palagian’ or ‘so-called Traditionalist,’ especially when traditionalists have failed to support Pope Francis’s latest reform efforts. The divisions in the faith historically go as far back as the actions taken by Archbishop Lefebvre that lead to the launching of the contemporary traditionalist movement in the Church, regardless of what one thinks of the SSPX. This conflict has quietly existed below the surface, occasionally surfacing during times of crisis or when controversial actions are taken by Church leadership. It was inevitable that this conflict would resurface now.
Perhaps the issue should resurface now. Perhaps it is finally time for this issue to be debated openly, with full attention from the mainstream Catholic media and the institutional Church at large. It may very well be the time for the laity and the faithful clergy to finally have this impending Church conflict resolved, so that the heart and soul of the Church can finally be determined. Maybe it is time for all of the internal divisions to be exposed to all, and for the ideological differences inside the Church to lead to open conflict that determines the future of the Church. Perhaps now is the time for a non-violent civil war in the Catholic Church.
Personally, I do believe this to be an issue of homosexuality in the clerical hierarchy. There is a tangible cancer in the Catholic Church, manifested in this crisis, revealing a serious issue of those who enabled it at the cost of the health and lives of many lay faithful, seminarians, and innocent priests. But the real problem runs much deeper than what we are seeing in the news presently. The issue that is the source of our collective woe is that of worldliness, and most of us are guilty of having become worldly. The institutional Church has become too focused on politics, especially in the United States and Europe, and too focused on money and power. And few seem to be talking about this problem, to all of our detriment.
It would be easy to give in to that desire for an internal conflict, to let the liberal versus conservative versus traditionalist lines turn into conflict inside the Church. To do so would be to give in to the spirit of the age. We would be guilty of furthering the cancer of worldliness inside the Church to open this ideological rift into an open conflict that would not do anything to resolve the issues in the body of Christ. The divisions between the laity are important and do need to be discussed, but that conflict should be reserved for another time. The duty of every Catholic is to inform the faithful Bishops and priests as they emerge that they have the full support of the laity as this crisis continues to unfold. That may mean supporting draconian measures taken by dioceses in the face of a reduction of available priests and Masses, driving greater distances to receive the Sacraments, and prudentially supporting faithful organizations with our dollars. It certainly means that the laity should strive for holiness. It seems unlikely that furthering divisions inside the Church will help anyone achieve holiness in this life.
However, that does not mean that we should be complacent, either. The laity must hold our leaders accountable. More importantly, the laity must offer penances and sacrifices when those guilty parties refuse to do so themselves. Our Lady of Fatima is said to have asked the laity to keep the Five First Saturdays Devotion, yet few do. Now is a good time to start keeping that devotion, as it calls for making valid communions of reparation for crimes committed against the Immaculate Heart of Our Lady. While clerical sex abuse cover ups are not among those crimes against Our Lady, acts of reparation are called for at this moment, from every one of us.
The Church is entering a period of redemptive suffering. St. Therese of Lisieux teaches that redemptive suffering is essential for the personal sanctification process. “I understood that to become a saint one had to suffer much, seek out always the most perfect thing to do, and forget self. I understood, too, that there are many degrees of perfection and each soul was free to respond to the advances of the Our Lord, to do little or much for Him, in a word, to choose among the sacrifices He was asking. Then, as in the days of my childhood, I cried out: ‘My God I choose all!’ I do not want to be a saint by halves. I’m not afraid to suffer for You. I fear only one thing: to keep my own will; so take it, for I choose all that You will!” The same is true for the Church: the members of the Church have sinned, and the Church must engage in redemptive suffering. Now is that time, and we can voluntarily begin that process through individual acts of reparation for the sins of the hierarchy. This is not easy, but it is sanctifying.
In paragraph 897 of the Catechism says that the laity “are made sharers in their particular way in the priestly, prophetic, and kingly office of Christ, and have their own part to play in the mission of the whole Christian people in the Church and in the World.” Regardless of where we stand on the politics of this crisis, all of the laity are called to renew the life of the Church. This is the time for that renewal, and there is no time like the present to start living that vocation. But be wary, for there is a very real threat that when the laity begin the renewal of the Church we face a real threat from the World to be moved to compromising the traditions of the Church for the love of the World. In a general audience in September 2011, Pope Benedict XVI linked the renewal of the Church to detachment from the sin of worldliness, and called it ‘essential to rededicating the Church to her mission’: “It is not a question here of finding a new strategy to relaunch the Church. Rather, it is a question of setting aside mere strategy and seeking total transparency, not bracketing or ignoring anything from the truth of our present situation, but living the faith fully, … stripping away from it anything that may seem to belong to faith, but in truth is mere convention or habit.” The words of the Pope-Emeritus are instructive. The sin of the Church, both laity and clergy, is worldliness. In that renewal we cannot succumb to our sin of worldliness again. Remain steadfast in the faith and solidarity with fellow Catholics. We must be transparent in how the Church addresses these issues, and the faithful must remain adamantine in resisting attempts to undermine the faith, both from without and from within. Now is no time for political infighting among the faithful, which only serves the Father of Lies, who is active at this moment in the fight for the soul of the Church. Remain steadfast and remember that the situation is only going to get worse before the tide turns and the Church is renewed.
© 2018, Anthony Stine. All rights reserved. You may reuse or copy this post by giving credit and providing a link.