In the latter stages of World War II, Adolf Hitler hit on a plan that he hoped would win the war for him. The Germans called the Watch on the Rhine, we know it as the Battle of the Bulge. One of the opening parts of the battle, and one that caused the Allied armies no amount of problems, was a select group of German Kommandos dressed as American soldiers and fluent in English. They would infiltrate Allied lines, change sign posts, cut communications, misdirect, misinform, in short cause havoc so the Panzers could roll through to the Channel and drive the Allies back across it. Did it work? We know that it didn't, but it was close. But thanks to the bravery of many soldiers, and a relative handful who held a key town (Bastogne), the German offensive sputtered, died, and was eventually rolled back. But this tactic is used in many places, in many arenas.
Today, we have three books that seem to be getting a lot of attention. Hailed by many as authoritative exposes' on the Papacy and the Church, many swallow them up. "Hitler's Pope", "Papal Sins" and now "The Sword of Constantine" are masterpieces of misdirection and misinformation. Either through poor scholastic research or intentional misinformation, these books are just the latest in the anti-Catholic literature. The difference is, and used for their defense, they're written by 'practicing Catholics'! But are they really?
"The papal theocracy was the 'Old Regime' to the Protestant Revolution. Papal primacy in Church and state was still acknowledged in theory, but at least in its latter prerogative practically disregarded." (Catholic Church History; Theological Humanism (1517-1648); Chap. III. The Protestant Revolution (1517-59) by Msgr. Eberhardt)
In many areas of the Church today, we see 'Catholics' who are more Protestant than Catholic, and in some cases they're even more pagan than Christian! We hear of 'Catholic' organizations and theologians disregarding Papal primacy in the Church as well as in the state.
"We claim our responsibility, as committed laity, religious and clergy, to participate in the selection of our local bishops, a time honored tradition in the church" (Call To Action; CTA).
Now, firstly, there was a reason why the Church ended the practice of having the above mentioned select their own bishops. Can you imagine a prospective bishop 'campaigning' for the job? And would it end with just local bishops? Why not priests as well? Or as dissident groups prefer "community appointed facilitators." In many Protestant denominations the local church 'interviews' prospective pastors. If a pastor tells them something they don't want to hear are they likely to get the job? So, in both cases, as the Church discovered centuries ago, the bishop or priest, would not be free to teach the truth come hell or high water, no, he would need to tell his 'flock' what they wanted to hear. Which leads to another problem.
"We call for extensive consultation with the Catholic people in developing church teaching on human sexuality, just as the U.S. bishops invited participation in developing their teaching on social justice for the pastoral letters on peace and economic justice" (CTA).
Now here we see a total display of disinformation. The bishops invited participation in how to best bring Church teaching to the world. CTA flipped it by making it appear as though they were invited to 'vote on the truth'. So, where we see the Southern Baptist Convention and the Methodist and Presbyterians hold 'conventions' to 'vote' on various church doctrines, we see various dissident groups calling for the Church to do the same! But how can it? It's sworn to only one truth, the truth of Christ handed down from Christ through His Apostles and their successors, the Pope and Magisterium. Where in Scripture can we see where Christ or the Apostles put a teaching to a vote first? Christ lost a multitude of disciples over His teaching on the Eucharist. If they're premise is true, shouldn't He have changed it? After all they 'voted' with their feet.
"We call for open dialogue, academic freedom, and due process" (CTA).
Now here is another misdirection. Are they really asking for open dialogue? Of course not, what they want is to dictate, not dialogue. The Common Ground Project was intended by it's originator Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, to be an opening to dialogue, but groups like CTA refused to accept the premise that it had to have a common base. Not even the Scriptures were acceptable. It also opens the avenue that any thought, regardless of how absurd, pagan, or whatever, was valid as a Catholic teaching. The Eucharist being the Body of Christ meaning the community rather than the Real Presence, the Mass a celebration (i.e. party) rather than the celebration of Christ passion, etc.
"We call upon our church officials to abandon their resistance on the remaining differences that separate the churches, and to translate the many result of their ecumenical dialogue commissions into serious concrete plans for reunion" (CTA).
In other words, make the Catholic Church Protestant instead of Catholic.
Isn't this just another form of Protestantism rather than the actual growth and development of Catholicism?
Even the churches and the Mass are not immune to this attempt of Protestantization. We see newer churches built to appear more like auditoriums than churches, every statue, every object which might 'distract' the person from focusing on God is removed. And even older churches are renovated and these 'offensive' objects are removed. The language and even music of the Mass has been 'secularized'.
"But in order to "work" in edifying man and glorifying God, in order to be sanctifying and holy, the words of the Bible and the Mass must be at least a little strange (like Christ). For 'holy' means "set apart," different, distinctive, not ordinary, not secular, not to be confused with an inter-office memo….language that sounds like pop psychology might comfort us and make us well adjusted (to our fallen selves and the world), but we need linguistic 'height' to sanctify us" (Peter Kreeft; New Oxford Review, April 2000).
"Real liturgy implies that God responds and reveals how we can worship Him. In any form, liturgy includes some kind of 'institution.' It cannot spring from imagination, our own creativity - then it would remain just a cry in the dark of mere self-affirmation. Liturgy implies a real relationship with Another, who reveals Himself to us and gives our existence a new direction." (Cardinal Ratzinger)
For many of these 'Catholics' the Church is simply an invisible group of people with similar beliefs, gathered in small faith communities, united only by their various beliefs in God. The Apostle Paul saw this even in his time and warned of it:
"But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if some one comes and preaches another Jesus than the one we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you submit to it readily enough" (2 Corinthians 11:3-4).
"I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and turning to a different gospel--not that there is another gospel, but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from Heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, If any one is preaching to you a gospel contrary to that which you received, let him be accursed" (Galatians 1:6-9).
"By rejecting conscience, certain persons have made shipwreck of their faith, among them Hymenaeus and Alexander," (1 Timothy 1:19-20).
"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" (2 Timothy 4:3-4).
"So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter" (2 Thessalonians 2:15).
"…know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and bulwark of the truth" (1Timothy 3:15).
There are many who say they are Catholic, and present themselves before us as such, but in their hearts, they are not members of the Church, if anything, they're protestant.
"we need people with chisels inside (the church) chiseling away at that institution or it is never going to fall" (Sister Maureen Fiedler of the Quixote Center; leader in CTA; chair of CTA's 'We Are Church' referendum).
Isn't it time we heed Paul's words and not Fiedler's?
Pax Christi, Pat