A Response to Two Articles in a Recent Edition of an Excellent and Prominent Traditional Catholic Newspaper
by Pauly Fongemie, Web Master
January 3, 2011
Last week there appeared an editorial in one of my favorite periodicals, must reading for anyone aspiring to become a better Catholic; the same edition carried an article by a pro-life journalist. Both articles took me a bit by surprise, not because the authors are wrong in of themselves, but because experience in the trenches of the crisis in society and in the Church at large provides me with a different perspective. While this does not necessarily render me right, neither is it evidence of error. I believe all three points of view are valid as such; it is simply that I believe matters have been over-simplified.
The central themes of these articles are essentially that Catholics are "apathetic" about the promotion of the Social Reign of Christ the King, and that Catholic pro-life advocates are inarticulate in their defense of the sanctity of life because their focus is that "they love babies." I will not name the newspaper, for the purpose of my own article is to provide a variant analysis while stipulating that the assertions of the authors is altogether true, as far as they pin-point real challenges that are as yet addressed adequately. I propose different causes for the decline in the desire for the Social Reign of Christ the King in general, and the anemic defense of human life on the part of some pro-lifers among practicing Catholics.
To the extent that Catholics are "apathetic" about anything at all, it is not because they choose lukewarmness or languor about Christ the King, but because they do not know that they are supposed to be champions of His Social Reign, as they have not been taught, to be blunt. Modern Catholics' tendency to respond to so many of the current challenges to the Faith with what is perceived to be inertia or ennui is part and parcel of the normal person's reaction when confronted with an uncertain trumpet. The "updated" Church, if you will, has been their constant teacher for two generations now, "on the one hand this," while "on the other hand, that," as typified by the majority of the pastoral practices as written in the documents of Vatican II and expanded and distorted by clergy and activist laity who think they are advancing the Faith by perverting its very substance. Apart from the occasional dim-witted person, Catholics are not any less astute than in any other age. They are, in fact, altogether perceptive on an intuitive level. They know that something is amiss, but they are uncertain what to do about it, or if they do, they recognize that their authority is limited to say the least. As one gentleman, nearing forty, said to me, "If they wanted to be Protestants, why didn't they just leave the Church? Now they are trying to make us Protestants." He had decided to hunker down, perdurable, unwilling to compromise the precious gift of holy Faith, for no one was going to force him to leave the only Church with salvation. A slightly older woman echoed his determination. She, too, is onto the game, if I may put it this way; she told me that she had written to the bishop. She never received so much as a form letter back. It is prayer and the Sacraments that sustain them both. They scarcely and wisely, for now, expect anything other than neglect from the establishment. Persistence is certainly not apathy.
When faced with mass confusion and confusion about the Mass, among other realities, it is within the human condition or psychology to withdraw, for no normal person can long endure such dissonance which tortures the soul. The diagnosis according to the first author is apathy; I do not hold to this view; the Catholic people in the west, which includes Europe, are confused, not apathetic. And well they should be. They have witnessed for over a generation rebels rewarded if they persisted and fidelity to Tradition punished and scorned; at the same time the growing secularization of their societies, with its doctrinaire and crushing edicts of the politically and religiously correct have transformed them from "soldiers of Christ" into silent "I'll do it my way" adherents, simply because they are trying to survive as best they know how. What person among us, save for the very few hardy souls who do not seem to mind being marginalized, can long sustain being at war day in and day out, often with their fellow Catholics, for all practical purposes left to their own? The war against Christ has been relentless, far-reaching and all encompassing.
In the year 2011 Americans in general and Catholics in particular, awoke to learn that their own government or country is making war not only abroad but against its own citizens who have obeyed the laws of the land, paid their taxes, and been good neighbors. The border to the south is an open sieve for thieves and mass murderers, while the person in charge of "Homeland Security" is abroad to beef up border security in Afghanistan instead, where the war of attrition only makes life safer for Islam, not Catholicism. Here at home the non-citizen has cachet, while the dues-paying citizen is barely tolerated and his righteous, just concerns discarded at will, by regulatory policy which bypasses the Congress. This is but one example of the war against Americans. Another, more insidious, is the "death panel" reinstatement, against the will of the last Congress and that of most Americans. Pressure to sign an end of life directive when changing technologies and the social policy that follows in their wake are a peculiar form of terrorism when it comes in the form of one's doctor who is financially rewarded to do so. Then there is the madness of men who despise all duly constituted law that thwarts their agenda suing the states that merely act to preserve the just, natural rights of their own citizens in lieu of the federal apparatus' abysmal failure to do so, an act of intimidation for other states that might rise up against the planned extinction in favor of some super-entity such as world citizenship or regional government. There is no such thing as homeland security for there is no longer any such entity as a homeland, but a territory consisting of competing factions with disparate goals that cannot be melded together. Today the new immigrant has almost no incentive to culturally conform, but rather to assert his uniqueness with special rights over that of the American who long ago pledged to be as American as apple pie. Now, arguably it can be avowed that so much apple pie has unwittingly led to the poor "health" of the Catholic people. To argue so is not to uphold the new ethic of non-conformity, for the over-arching modern ethos is decidedly anti-Catholic and pro-Muslim or anything that is anti-Catholic and or anti-Christ. In fact, the Church herself has taught us to be tolerant, so much so, that even truth defended with rigor is seen as a form of intolerance. It is unfortunate that we Americans, Catholic and non-Catholic, who have a grasp of the truth about carbohydrates---the good carbs versus the bad carbs---do not likewise grasp the nature of good tolerance, that is, just tolerance, and the unjust, the kind that violates the natural and Divine law, to which all human beings are subject, whether they choose to accept this obligation or not. Those who make this mistake are doomed to be subdued and chained to the most unjust of intolerance, beyond which even their vivid imaginations can conceive, Sharia law in one form or another, one possible scenario. Anyone, Catholic or not, who bothers to point this out is looked upon as some sort of extremist. Just as "tolerance" is an ironic manifestation of exclusion through compulsion, eliminating the very need for tolerance itself, so no one is taught now the good type of extremism---the righteousness of truth as mandated through the natural and Divine law. Like bad carbs, extremism in any form is considered bad. It has always been a mystery to me why the grace of discernment is granted to one Catholic and not another at any given time. Perhaps God has arranged things so because we are not meant to know.
Can Catholics turn to the Catholic Church---its duly appointed leaders for assistance, direction and inspiration? The answer, most sadly, is that with few exceptions, no, for these very shepherds entrusted with the flock serve to scatter the sheep by naively making common cause with those who are the very enemy of the Social Reign of Christ the King. The natural law has been banned from the pulpit and the dais in most Catholic circles, not by fiat, but by default. Likewise, the actual, once known social teachings of Christ have given way to the precepts of "social justice" as defined and mandated by the hard-core left or socialism, which the Pontiffs have condemned for centuries, as have they the communist manifesto and system. The bishops have not heard the official teachings of the Roman popes with the mind of true Catholics. Again the "on the one hand this," while "on the other hand, that." For instance the election of Obama: some bishops taught the Catholic's duty to the natural and Divine law, others supported Obama either outright or permitted their priests to do so, including from the pulpit. They know that some non-pro-life Knights of Columbus members have kept their membership, that many anti-life Catholic legislators receive public Communion while those regular folks who are divorced and "remarried" but trying to raise their children Catholic, to their credit, cannot receive and they, do indeed, refrain, again to their credit, whatever else may be their faults. It isn't that they no longer care, they do not understand about what it is they they ought to care about. They are confused, not apathetic. They are sorely hurting, more harmed against than scourges themselves. Hypocrisy, gross, pervasive hypocrisy, like the clerical scandals of monstrous, shamefully sinful proportions, has a way of demoralizing even the faithful; this is why Christ could ask, if there would still be faith on earth when He returned. We will get back to demoralization in a moment.
Intent on being political and social players in the terms of those arrayed against the salvation of souls, too many bishops have injudiciously, ironically, downplayed Martyrdom through a weak, non-visionary witness, thereby ensuring more persecution, rather than less, but with fewer Martyrs, especially themselves; this is why the Pontiff recently had to counsel the dispossessed in Moslem countries bent on the annihilation of Christians to persevere unto Martyrdom if need be. In some quarters in the USA a bishop here and there, as written up in at least one newspaper account, has so much as posited that "the Church is not about salvation, but the social Gospel." It isn't apathy you hear among the missing thunder of horses' hooves, with mounted soldiers of Christ to the charge, it is mistrust. The apathetic don't care enough to either trust or not to trust. There is still a sign of life and some vibrancy when the response is "I am not sure who to believe anymore." Not that weak bishops or good bishops with poor judgment are anything new. One only has to go back to the days of the loyal Catholics in Mexico a few generations back, when they obeyed and were slaughtered, trusting the promises of their prelates. It is one thing to die heroically for the faith, by those who know what is they are about, quite another because one is sacrificed because of the indifference of the very ones who should be sheltering the persecuted. Now, Martyrdom is indeed Martyrdom, whatever the impetus, but the example of deflection that is given the less stalwart of heart takes on a life of its own. The usual and normal response is outrage, forgiveness a distance second in due time, through the action of grace. Outrage is anything but apathy!
As with the apple pie analogy, so, too, it ought to be conceded that demoralization is a form of apathy; but only if the demoralization sets in over every other consideration. This has not been my experience, either as to myself or those I worship with. I speak of the Social Reign of Christ the King from time to time---the Catholic in the pew simply has no idea what is meant by this or that there is a body of work expounding on it. They have only a vague memory who Pope Pius XI was. While they believe my sincerity and good will, they want to hear about it from their priests and bishops. If it's true, then it should still be true, now, not only prior to World War II. If the bishop is not advancing the cause, they do not see how they can effect what for them is a chimera from the past. All reference points are from Vatican II and that point is constantly being retooled. Cut off abruptly and permanently from Tradition, de facto de-Catholicization by definition, robbed of their rightful patrimony from the Apostles, the notion of the Social Reign of Christ appears quaint, if not absurd, certainly an extreme idea that only those who "don't quite fit in" would endorse or promote. The very idea of kingship has been leeched from their once thoroughly Catholic veins.
No, it is not apathy, it is Americanism, with all its heretical glory dressed up as patriotism, pure and simple, that is the culprit. Catholics joined the American dream enterprise so successfully that they are now part of the American nightmare, the expected course of events given the trajectory of the fallacies inherent in such expectations, that include "go along to get along." Catholics in the USA care, and they care mightily, but often about the wrong things and the right things in the wrong proportion. They are not stupid, but they are ignorant and they do not know they are. This is not their fault. The vineyard has been deserted essentially for more years than some of them are old. And they in their turn are having families, albeit smaller ones. And this brings us to the second, the supposedly pro-life focus on loving babies too much as opposed to the ontological right or wrong in of itself.
Pro-lifers, if inarticulate and less effective in the defense of human life follow the bad example of their hierarchy. In fact, it is more true to say they do not love babies enough, instead of too much. Silence on contraception and sterilization, in vitro, etc., is the rule more often than not. It is even a stretch to expect a rousing sermon on "Pro-Life Sunday" at this point. Oh most bishops are good about the abortion holocaust in re electing office-holders, but so few priests who back it up with conviction and a modicum of passion. Actual passion for the sanctity of life would be just too much to expect now.
Contracepting the next generation into oblivion, the average Catholic who is pro-life in that they do not want to support euthanasia and abortion is rendered helpless by his own complicity in the sins against the fifth and sixth Commandments. If he and his spouse have been faithful, he knows his children have parted from traditional moral precepts in this regard, if faithful in every other. He does not know how much he can say without appearing to be a hypocrite or a busy-body. I will always remember one young couple, and this is but one example, who approached me about the matter of contraception. They had heard from someone that the Church still teaches it is a mortal sin. They asked me if this was true, and I told them yes. They countered, that if this was the case, then how come Father never preaches on it? I responded, he doesn't preach that it is no longer sinful either. I happen to know he is at the rectory right now and that he welcomes visitors. Drop by and ask him if it is a sin. I know he is honest enough to tell you it is, even if he follows the bad example of those with more rank in the hierarchy. Just ask him, if you prefer not to take my word on it. They began offering myriad excuses why they could not and would not "bother" Father. They were contracepting and wanted to continue. Rather than at least think about the truth, it was easier to dismiss me as an inconsequential non-authoritative messenger ["Who are you to say such things?"] and avoid the other, the parish priest. Human nature one could say, but human nature revved up a notch by the neglect of the clergy. In fact, the real apathy is on their part not that of the laity.
The culture of death and PC has done the rest. Our supreme, damnably supreme court has discarded the natural law as the first rule of all law, in favor of pragmatism and personal political comfort. The entire culture is unmoored from right reason itself and headed for anarchy and then total tyranny. Moral suicide always leads to this when practiced on a wide scale and with enough abandon while paying lip service to Almighty God. Only a handful of bishops are articulate themselves in upholding the natural law basis for any law worthy of the name. As for the local priest, I can tell exactly when I last heard a stirring, inspiring speech on the natural law: I will never forget, because, you see, it was exactly never! Either it never came up in the seminary in a meaningful and useful manner or the priests are following the path of least resistance when they should be forging the way to social martyrdom, if not the more authentic kind instead. The laity are not so much inarticulate as disarmed and deformed by a doddering Church seemingly embarrassed by Truth and a morbidly stifling culture. Ask yourself why it should have ever been necessary for a priest to have to found an organization, Priests for Life in the first place. This is truly a scandal. Oh, not the heroic, saintly priest, the need to reach out to priests who are not pro-life as they ought to be. I mean, imagine this!
No more need be said.
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