January 13, 2000
volume 11, no. 9

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    Pat Ludwa, a committed lay Catholic from Cleveland, has been asked to contribute, on a regular basis, a lay person's point of view on the Church today. We have been impressed with his insight and the clear logic he brings to the table from his "view from the pew." In all humility, by his own admission, he feels he has very little to offer, but we're sure you'll agree with us that his viewpoint is exactly what millions of the silent majority of Catholics believe and have been trying to say as well. Pat puts it in words that help all of us better understand and convey to others what the Church teaches and we must believe.

    Today Pat tackles the insidious surveys that so influence the media. According to the pollsters, numbers don't lie; but they fail to realize these surveys are couched in half-truths and authored by the father of half-truths. Pat dissects the numbers, revealing the mindset of so many supermarket catholics who have plummeted beyond the level of cafeteria catholics, by searching outside the Church for truths that can only be found within the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church founded by Jesus Christ. That is the gist of Pat's column today, And the survey says.......!!! For past columns by Pat Ludwa, click on VIEW FROM THE PEW Archives   If you want to send him ideas or feedback, you can reach him at

And the survey says......!!!

    Is America in need of evangelization? Do we need missionary priests and religious to come and re-teach us the faith?

    Talk to most Americans today about the decline of faith and you're likely to hear how recent polls say that some 90% of Americans believe in God, have faith in God. Then they'll contrast that with the apparent decline of Europeans who say they don't. "See, we're doing just fine." But ask the Americans to define what they mean by God, or having faith in Him, and you see that it isn't as it seems.

    A recent Gallup Poll did just that. It's findings were interesting, and a bit alarming.

    Of those who responded, only 54% said they were religious, while 30% said they were spiritual but not religious. 15% said they were either both or neither.

    The poll went even further and found some disturbing numbers. 55% of the American Catholics were more likely to determine for themselves how they should live. Relying on themselves rather than Scripture or Church teaching. Only 1/3 of Protestant respondents agreed.

    80% of American Catholics said that other religions besides theirs offer a true path to God. When asked if non-Christian religions could be seen as true paths to God, 61% of American Catholics said yes, as opposed to 42% of Protestants.

    80% of American Catholics feel that God will judge them and decide their eternal resting place according to their lives alone.

    94% of American Catholics say they believe in God, or some 'god-like' universal spirit or higher power.

    At least the Europeans are honest and one can discuss things with them. This new American religion is so vague and pliable as to be worthless. It reminds me of the person who says they aren't prejudice but won't associate with 'those' people.

    That we are free to determine for ourselves how we should live is absurd. True, in each person is a God given conscience to guide us. But we have to recall that our conscience may be informed, uninformed, or even dead. The man committing adultery against his wife may kill his conscience by rationalizing that he is not doing anything wrong. He may say that his 'relationship' is only about sex and not love. Or he may say that animals don't mate for life (though some do). He may even say that God wants him to be happy, and since his adultery makes him happy...

    If truth is relative, as some 55% of American Catholics seem to think, then there is no truth. True, there are relative truths. New York City is X miles away from Cleveland, but only Y from Pittsburgh, or Detroit, or Chicago. If we hold that we can determine the truth solely on our own, then we say that everyone can do so. The homosexual, the sexual libertine, the pedophile, the thief, the murderer, etc.

    "Do not be deceived; neither the immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God" (1 Corinthians 6:9-10).

    "For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a man" (Matthew 15:19-20).

    [In Scripture the judgment of conscience often is attributed to the "heart" (see Jb 27.6; Ps 16.7), which receives and retains God's law (see Dt 6.6-9; Ps 37.31; 40.9; Prv 7.1-3) and which can be enlightened by His gift of wisdom (see Ps 90.12; Prv 2.9-11). Again, the work of conscience in Christian life is assigned to the renewed "mind" (see Rom 12.1-2). But the technical term "conscience" seldom is used; indeed, no Hebrew word exists for this specific concept. In the New Testament "conscience" refers mainly to awareness of wrongdoing, especially the pangs experienced after one has done wrong.. (Christian Moral Principles: from "The Way of the Lord Jesus" by Germain Grisez; Chapter 3: Conscience: Knowledge of Moral Truth Question B: What is conscience according to the teaching of the Church?)]

    "For the wrath of God is revealed from Heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of men who by their wickedness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. Ever since the creation of the world His invisible nature, namely, His eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse; for although they knew God they did not honor Him as God or give thanks to Him, but they became futile in their thinking and their senseless minds were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools" (Romans 1:18-22).

    That we are able to determine our own truths is a teaching of the 'spirit' of Vatican II.' Not the Church, in Vatican II, before or since.

    "The teaching of Vatican II on conscience is mainly contained in one article of the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World (GS 16). It deserves close reading. "In the depths of his conscience, man detects a law which he does not impose upon himself, but which holds him to obedience. Always summoning him to love good and avoid evil, the voice of this law can when necessary speak to his heart more specifically: do this, shun that. For man has in his heart a law written by God. To obey it is the very dignity of man; according to it he will be judged"...The law mentioned here is called "natural law" in Catholic teaching. It is known by everyone, even persons who do not have faith, for its demands are "written in their hearts"--that is, known spontaneously. Conscience here is a co-witness with the law. The two together will accuse or defend, which implies that they must agree with each other. Vatican II expresses the same idea in its image of conscience as a voice of the law written by God in the heart--God writing it by creating persons of human nature...Since conscience expresses the natural law, which can be known by everyone, and since this law is objective, the Council proceeds to point out: "In fidelity to conscience, Christians are joined with the rest of men in the search for truth, and for the genuine solution to the numerous problems which arise in the life of individuals and from social relationships. Hence the more that a correct conscience holds sway, the more persons and groups turn aside from blind choice and strive to be guided by objective norms of morality" (GS 16). Here the Council speaks of "correct conscience." When correct, conscience demands that one be reasonable, not arbitrary; that one conform to objective or true norms, not to subjective substitutes chosen arbitrarily. But conscience is not always correct; the Council distinguishes two ways in which conscience goes wrong." (Christian Moral Principles: from "The Way of the Lord Jesus" by Germain Grisez; Chapter 3: Conscience: Knowledge of Moral Truth Question B: What is conscience according to the teaching of the Church?)

    We must be careful to cultivate a correct, an informed conscience, not one distorted or killed by one 'settling' for a truth pleasing to them, but one which may even cause them discomfort.

    One might ask, as St. Paul did, who conferred anything on them? Again, we see a reemergence of the heresy of Montanism, or a neo-Montanism, where the individual person is 'imbued' with the Holy Spirit to determine his own truth with no need for a teacher or teaching authority, the Magisterium.

    That some 80% think that there are other 'true' paths to God is also a dangerous trend as it can be used to distort the true teaching of the Church. "In order to establish this His holy Church everywhere in the world till the end of time, Christ entrusted to the College of the Twelve the task of teaching, ruling and sanctifying. Among their number He selected Peter, and after his confession of faith determined that on him He would build His Church. Also to Peter He promised the keys of the kingdom of Heaven, and after His profession of love, entrusted all His sheep to him to be confirmed in faith and shepherded in perfect unity. Christ Jesus Himself was forever to remain the chief Cornerstone and Shepherd of our souls... The Church, then, is God's only flock; it is like a standard lifted high for the nations to see it: for it serves all mankind through the Gospel of peace as it makes its pilgrim way in hope toward the goal of the fatherland above." (Decree on Ecumenism: Vatican Council II; UNITATIS REDINTEGRATIO; Chap. 1)

    So Vatican II teaches that there is but ONE Church, ONE truth, ONE path. Even Christ Himself said as much. "Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing" (John 15:4-5).

    "Jesus said to him, 'I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life; no one comes to the Father, but by Me'" (John 14:6).

    Now, other Christian denominations have parts of the truth, as do other faiths, but there is but one true path to God. Jesus is THE way, not A way. The Church is His Church, not A church.

    "These are the days when the Christian is expected to praise every creed except his own." (G.K. Chesterton; Illustrated London News 8-11-28) To use only a part of Vatican II and Church teaching, while ignoring the rest, is make an error, a mistake, a heresy, seem logical and good. "The whole truth is generally the ally of virtue; a half-truth is always the ally of some vice."(, G.K. Chesterton; Illustrated London News; 6/11/10)

    We have to recall that Christ established a Church (ref. Matt. 16:13-19). And THAT Church was to teach and guide His faithful in all truth (ref. Matt. 28: 16-20) And that Church was given Christ's authority to teach, to forgive sins, and to carry on His work of salvation on earth. (Lk. 10:16; Jn 20: 21-23; Jn. 21:15-17; 1 Tim. 3:15)

    The poll show that we are no longer just cafeteria "Catholics" (picking and choosing which teachings we want to follow), but supermarket "Catholics" as well (going shopping for the god or gods which suit us best.)

    Instead of following Christ as He asked and commanded His faithful to do, some 94% seem to think it's ok to mix and match God, with god/dess's. In short, creating their own 'god' in their own image.

    THAT 'god' who they created may not punish them, but what of God? "You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me before many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus... An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules" (2 Timothy 2:1-3; 5).

    "For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, inhuman, implacable, slanderers, profligates, fierce, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding the form of religion but denying the power of it. Avoid such people. For among them are those who make their way into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and swayed by various impulses, who will listen to anybody and can never arrive at a knowledge of the truth. As Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men of corrupt mind and counterfeit faith" (1 Timothy 3: 2-8).

    "I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word, be urgent in season and out of season, convince, rebuke, and exhort, be unfailing in patience and in teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own likings, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander into myths. As for you, always be steady, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry" (2 Timothy 4:1-5).

    If the recent poll is correct, then Americans need re-evangelization, a return to THE truth instead of settling for A truth or many truths.

    "I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life; no one comes to the Father, but by Me" (John 14:6)

    "What is truth?" (Pontius Pilate)

Pax Christi, Pat


January 13, 2000
volume 10, no. 9

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