" 'Believers' of the world unite! You have nothing to lose but your faith!" With apologies to Marx, such might be the motto of those who hold that the adherents of all the world's religions can be called 'believers' because they believe in some kind of transcendent 'force' or god/goddess before which they fall prostrate or perform their pagan rituals.
The word 'faith' may used to indicate merely human belief or trust, such as when I say to someone: "I have faith in you." But when speaking of religious faith we must be careful to distinguish between this purely human faith and the supernatural gift of Faith which is given to those who believe in Jesus Christ and are baptized according to the traditional Trinitarian formula. Catholic Faith is of an entirely different order than the 'faith' of those who belong to other religions. Their faith in their false gods, or in a falsified version of the God of revelation, is a purely this-worldly faith that leads not to salvation, but to perdition. Such individuals must be called unbelievers or infidels.
This does not mean that we can take a 'holier-than-thou' attitude towards those who do not believe in Jesus Christ, or who are not Catholic. It does mean that we must be tireless in preaching the Gospel, but humbly and with love, hoping that they too will come to believe and be baptized. God does not take pleasure in the death of the sinner, and neither must we.
Unfortunately, the words 'faith' and 'believer' are used loosely by the contemporary church. In fact, the distinction between purely human faith and the supernatural gift of faith is being ignored. Those of all religions are spoken of as 'believers.' In his Easter message of last year, John Paul II spoke of believers of all the religions:
"May all the world's believers join their efforts to build a more just and fraternal humanity; may they work tirelessly to ensure that religious convictions may never be the cause of division and hatred, but only and always a source of brotherhood, harmony, love."
But it is precisely religious conviction that divides Christians from the rest of humanity, making them true brothers in the New Covenant sealed by the Blood of Christ. It is the very purpose of the New Covenant to form a new humanity, the head of which is Jesus Christ, the New Adam. Outside of this Covenant, among the descendants of the first Adam, true brotherhood, harmony and supernatural love are impossible. Without Jesus Christ human beings are essentially strangers.
The fruit of this 'dialogue', this phony 'openness' and false 'respect' on the part of the Vatican is an ecumenical madness throughout the Church. Female Protestant 'bishops' preach heresy from the pulpits of Catholic cathedrals; Jewish rabbis tutor Catholic priests and provide them with sermon materials; Cardinals build ugly, graceless pagan temples and call them cathedrals; young Catholics marry whom they wish and where they wish, and are lost to the True Faith.
It is commonly taught, or at least implied, in Catholic schools that other 'traditions' (religions) are to be respected as equal to or on the same level as our 'tradition,' which is Catholic Christianity. I have seen it happen. The end result is that the faith of young people in Catholic schools, universities, and, yes, seminaries and novitiates, is being corrupted or lost altogether.
Many of the young, especially among the girls, have taken up the practice of witchcraft. When I was up in Canada, a teacher in the school in my parish taught witchcraft in the classroom. In this case the person was asked to leave, but often the teacher is supported by the district supervisor or the school board, and the desperate parents have to start writing letters to the bishop, usually with little result.
A judge in Little Rock, Arkansas, recently ordered Harry Potter books to be restored to the shelves of an Arkansas school district library. Parents had complained that the books prompted children to disobey authority and pushed occult messages. The district was accused of committing censorship and trampling on students' rights to receive information. The children will now receive the 'occult messages' free from parents' interference.
There is a connection between this modern 'Catholic paganism' in Catholic schools and the problem of immodest dress. Weary and confused teachers have fought a losing battle with teens who want to dress like teen rock idols, whom their parents allow them to emulate. All sense of propriety or decorum is lost. Children are now allowed to misbehave and scream uncontrollably in restaurants and other public places, and, we might add, to do whatever they want in church. Why not? Their parents do.
Well did St. Paul prophesy of these latter times:
"But know this, that in the last days dangerous times will come. Men will be lovers of self, covetous, haughty, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, criminal, heartless, faithless, slanderers, incontinent, merciless, unkind, treacherous, stubborn, puffed up with pride, loving pleasure more than God, having a semblance indeed of piety, but disowning its power" (2 Tim.3:1-5).
Still, we must have compassion, especially for the young, who are victims rather than willing offenders, disillusioned and abandoned like the Prodigal Son. The doubting Thomas put his finger into the place of the nails and his hand into the side of the Risen Christ, proclaiming in faith: "My Lord, and my God." There is yet hope that by the preaching of the Gospel many will hear the voice of the Good Shepherd and recover the treasure they have lost - their Faith.
"The kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field," says Jesus, and "he who finds it hides it, and in his joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls. When he finds a single pearl of great price, he goes and sells all that he has and buys it" (Mt.13:44-46). What a treasure - our Catholic Faith!
"These (things) are written," says St. John in today's Gospel, "that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name" (Jn.20:31).