March 30, 2000
volume 11, no. 64

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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 exposes the true Scribes and Pharisees today who point their accusatory finger at the Magisterium and the Vicar of Christ in condemning the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church because they refuse to kowtow to their demands which are diametrically opposed to Church doctrine. Like the Scribes and Pharisees of Our Lord's time, groups like A Call to Action, We are church, WomenChurch, 'catholics' for a Free Choice, and the rest of today's "brood of vipers" coil in readiness to strike with venomous vituperation, sinking their farcical fangs of falliciousness into the bloodstream of the Mystical Body of Christ. Pat shows, through the Word, that there is no difference from those Scribes and Pharisees who hoodwinked the masses and masterminded Christ's death to the modern Scribes and Pharisees who follow the same slithering path. That is the gist of his column today, Today's Scribes and Pharisees.

    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

Today's Scribes and Pharisees

        Legend has it that as the Emperor Nero was about to begin his persecutions of the Christians, and St. Peter was escaping Rome he came across Christ carrying His cross toward Rome. "Quo Vadis" (Where are you going?) Our Lord answered that He was going to Rome to die again. We know that Peter returned to Rome and was martyred there on Vatican Hill. He literally followed Christ's cross. Peter's and the Christians deaths were for political reasons. But what about Christ? Why did He die? (Other than the obvious one that He died so that we may live) Why was it necessary for the Sanhedrin to seek His death? Why was every string pulled, every avenue approached, in order to assure His death. After all, according to Roman law, He committed no crime, especially no crime warranting crucifixion.

        To some, Christ was marked for death because He was a social revolutionary, upsetting the status quo. But this isn't so. "Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfill them" (Matthew 5:17). "Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesars, and to God the things that are God's" (Matthew 22:21).

        Christ followed the law. He never taught to ignore any teacher of the faith. "Then said Jesus to the crowds and to His disciples, 'The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses' seat; so practice and observe whatever they tell you,'" (Matthew 23:1-3).

        So, obviously, Christ wasn't a social revolutionary as some try to portray Him. He observed the Sabbath, He did everything the law of Moses required Him to do. He even told the people to pay their taxes to Caesar. But He also chastised the tax collectors for taking more than they should. And He also chastised the Scribes and Pharisees who thought more of themselves and their wants than of God and His wants. "They do all their deeds to be seen by men; for they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long, and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues, and salutations in the market places, and being called rabbi by men" (Matthew 23:5-7).

        They were drawing attention to themselves, looking for the praise of men rather than God. Now, today, who do we see being trotted out as 'enlightened, good' Catholics? Cardinal Ratzinger? Pope John Paul II? Cardinal O'Connor? Mother Angelica? No, we see Fr. Andrew Greeley, Charles Curran, Hans Kung, Rosemary Ruether, Archbishop Weakland, et al, being given the place of honor. "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within they are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but within you are full of hypocrisy and iniquity" (Matthew 23:27-28).

        Giving the appearance of righteousness, they, in fact, are far from it. They were far from the light, even rejecting it since it would mean a change in their lives. "For every one who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed" (John 3:20).

        So, they had to find a way to blot out the light, to get rid of Jesus who exposed them for what they were. First, they tried to get the people to turn away from Him. They tried to make Him appear, not to be from God, but from satan. "Then a blind and dumb demoniac was brought to Him, and He healed him, so that the dumb man spoke and saw. And all the people were amazed, and said, 'Can this be the Son of David?' But when the Pharisees heard it they said, 'It is only by Beelzebub, the prince of demons, that this man casts out demons'" (Matthew 12:22-24).

        Besides anti-Catholic fundamentalists who attack the Church as the church of satan, we have so called 'catholics' who say the same thing - that the Church opposes the will of God and does evil by her teaching. So, in this regard, we see that truly, the new Scribes and Pharisees seem more to be in the camp of Call To Action than anywhere else. "But the Pharisees went out and took counsel against Him, how to destroy Him" (Matthew 12:14). "we need people with chisels inside (the church) chiseling away at that institution or it is never going to fall." (Sister Maureen Fiedler at the 20th anniversary meeting of the Women's Ordination Conference in the Washington D.C., November 10-12, 1995). "Now the chief priests and the whole council sought testimony against Jesus to put Him to death; but they found none. For many bore false witness against Him, and their witness did not agree. And some stood up and bore false witness against Him, saying, 'We heard Him say, 'I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and in three days I will build another, not made with hands.' Yet not even so did their testimony agree. And the high priest stood up in the midst, and asked Jesus, 'Have you no answer to make? What is it that these men testify against You?' But He was silent and made no answer. Again the high priest asked Him, 'Are You the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?' And Jesus said, 'I am; and you will see the Son of man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of Heaven.' And the high priest tore His garments, and said, 'Why do we still need witnesses? You have heard His blasphemy. What is your decision?' And they all condemned Him as deserving death" (Mark 14:55-64).

        The Church teaches that Christ is the Son of God, yet we read how that claim is challenged with 'enlightened' catholics. Christ vs. Sophia goddess. Rosemary Ruether once spoke of Jesus as a 'symbol' some might want to retain. ("Women and Spirituality; Mankato State Univ., Minnesota) A symbol? In fact, one of the hallmarks of the 'liberal consensus' (their own term) is that Jesus was not, and never claimed to be divine. We hear them rush to the defense of those like Fr. De Mello who "considers Jesus as a master alongside others. The only difference from other men is that Jesus is "awake" and fully free, while others are not. Jesus is not recognized as the Son of God, but simply as the one who teaches us that all people are children of God." (NOTIFICATION CONCERNING THE WRITINGS OF FR. ANTHONY DE MELLO, SJ June 24, 1998; Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith) This isn't Christianity, but a New Age notion of ascended 'masters'. Again, who truly sounds like the Scribes and Pharisees?

        "Then the whole company of them arose, and brought Him before Pilate. And they began to accuse Him, saying, 'We found this man perverting our nation, and forbidding us to give tribute to Caesar, and saying that He Himself is Christ a king.' And Pilate asked Him, 'Are you the King of the Jews?' And He answered him, 'You have said so.' And Pilate said to the chief priests and the multitudes, 'I find no crime in this man' "(Luke 23:1-4). Here we see Christ's enemies working to get the governing authority to condemn Christ. They claimed that He opposed paying the taxes to Caesar and placing Himself over Caesar (which would be treason and punishable by death). Yet the charges are false and trumped up. We hear the same today.

        Frances Kissling of "'catholics' for a Free Choice" with other pro-abortion groups, have worked long and hard to portray the Church as un-American, and recently have renewed their efforts to have the Vatican removed from the United Nations. "March 24 1999 New York, NY - Distraught by the Catholic Church's efforts to offer a pro-life perspective within the United Nations, Catholics for a Free Choice launched an effort to revoke the Vatican's non-member state permanent observer UN status. The group's leader, Frances Kissling-whose organization has no membership, no standing within the Church, and is funded primarily by the Ford Foundation-questioned the legitimacy of the Vatican state. 'Why should a few acres of office space and tourist attractions in the center of Rome have a voice in making United Nations policy?' she asked." Again, who sounds like the real Pharisees? "But they were urgent, saying, 'He stirs up the people, teaching throughout all Judea, from Galilee even to this place'" (Luke 23:5).

        "The anti-choice cause did not win in the nation's courts. They did not win in the court of public opinion. They did not win in the nation's elections. And its advocates will not prevail by trampling our traditions or trafficking in terror. These appalling attacks are assaults not merely against a single building or a single gender but against America's deepest principles. In nations with different traditions, they believe that power comes out of the barrel of a gun. But in this nation we know that true power comes out of disparate voices of a free people." (Transcript of Vice President Gore's Remarks Before NARAL; January 21, 1997) Is this a veiled attack on the Church? A strong anti-choice (pro-life) advocate. Is he implying that the Church implicitly or explicitly advocates violence? Among militant gays and their supporters, they claim that Church teaching condemning homosexual sex is a hate crime advocating violence toward gays. 'Stirring up the people.'

        "March, 1999 Los Angeles, CA - Former talk show host Phil Donahue ( a graduate of St. Edwards Catholic High School in Cleveland, Ohio) spoke to a gay and lesbian bash in Los Angeles and 'railed against the Catholic Church's 'promotion of homophobia.'" Again, who really sounds like modern day Pharisees?

        The Scribes and Pharisees of Jesus; day pretty much forced Pilate to choose. The truth, by which he would release Christ since he found nothing that He was guilty of...or political survival? "Upon this Pilate sought to release Him, but the Jews cried out, 'If you release this man, you are not Caesar's friend; every one who makes himself a king sets himself against Caesar'" (John 19:12).

        Pilate turned Christ over, not because it was just, or because He was guilty of any crime, but because it was politically expedient to do so. Turning the people against Christ, and peppering the crowd with their supporters, the Scribes and Pharisees managed to coerce the governing body of Jerusalem, to act against Christ. Like wise, we see the same thing today. "In closing let me say, especially today, thank you, NARAL, for pushing through the important legislation that must be a bulwark against this violence--legislation like the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act "(Transcript of Vice President Gore's Remarks Before NARAL; January 21, 1997) That Act, of course, had nothing to do with protecting those who work in abortion clinics or going into them, but simply to silence pro-life protests and demonstrations. Just as they reworded laws protecting people from racketeering to include those people and organizations which demonstrate against abortion. And just like they'll use so-called 'hate crime' legislation to silence the Church in regards to abortion and homosexual acts.

        As Al Gore pointed out in his speech to NARAL; "And on this anniversary of Rove vs. Wade when some will try and tug us backward to a time before that historic moment, we must commit ourselves to moving forward beyond a debate about just abortion. We are not and we never have been pro-abortion obviously. We are pro-choice, pro-reproductive health, pro-education, pro-strong families, pro-women, pro-Constitutional rights, pro the spirit of the United States of American which will forever stand." Since the pro-abortion faction is "pro-choice, pro-reproductive health, pro-education, pro-strong families, pro-women, pro-Constitutional rights, pro the spirit of the United States of American which will forever stand.", then obviously, the Church is (supposedly) 'anti-choice, anti-reproductive health, anti-education, anti-strong family, anti-woman, anti-Constitution, and anti-spirit of the United States.' Just as the Scribes and Pharisees portrayed Christ as such for His day.

        Where may we find the true Scribes and Pharisees of today? Not in the Magisterium, but in the ranks of Call To Action, Dignity, WomenChurch, FutureChurch, etc.

        Where will we find the true followers of Christ? "If the world hates you, know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, 'A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted Me, they will persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all this they will do to you on My account, because they do not know Him Who sent Me" (John 15: 18-21).

        Contrast that with Call to Action, et al, who preach that the Church has to change to suit the world. If you still need a sign to see where the followers of Christ are? "Blessed are you when men hate you, and when they exclude you and revile you, and cast out your name as evil, on account of the Son of man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in Heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets" (Luke 6:22-23).

        And of the Pharisees of today? "Woe to you, when all men speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets" (Luke 6:26).

        Hate and intolerance are not found in the Church within the halls of the Vatican. You won't find it in the Pope and the Magisterium. The Holy Father proved that emphatically during his inspiring Papal pilgrimage last week. The real hatred and intolerance lies in those organizations and people who are the Scribes and Pharisees of today. Those who call themselves the 'liberal consensus'. Like the 'whitewashed tombs' Christ spoke of, they 'appear' pure and bright, but are in fact, full of dead men's bones and corruption.

    Pax Christi, Pat


March 23, 2000
volume 11, no. 59

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