We've often been described as the family of God, the people of God.
Ever see a family where the children tell the parents what to do? Or have a
family discussion where everything is open as long as the kids get what they
want? Wouldn't we call that a dysfunctional family?
We have "conservative" Catholics who berate the Second Vatican Council for
departing from Church teachings, we have "liberal" Catholics who berate those
who hold to orthodoxy for departing from the "spirit" of Vatican II, and we
have the "orthodox" Catholic berated by both for holding to the Church, the
Pope and the Hierarchy.
Mostly though, we're familiar with such liberal groups as Call To Action
and FutureChurch, two groups which are, for all practical purposes, one and
the same. Needless to say, this split has caused great confusion, especially
for the young in religious education classes, and converts in RCIA classes.
(Unless of course the only 'catechesis' they're receiving is the liberal one.)
In August of 1996, Chicago Cardinal Bernardin attempted to heal this split
with what came to be known as the Catholic Common Ground Project. On the
surface, it sounded great, but was hampered in that it called for dialogue as
a path for this common ground. As Cardinal Law put it "Dissent from revealed
truth or the authoritative teaching of the Church cannot be 'dialogued'
away." (The Catholic World Report, Oct. 96; pg 35)
As Cardinal Hickey said: "Unfortunately, the statement of the National
Pastoral Life Center obscures the true "common ground" for any effort to
bring unity within the Church….Indeed, we are fortunate to have a reliable
and complete expression of our "common ground" in the Catechism of the
Catholic Church. But we cannot achieve Church unity by accommodating those
who dissent from Church teaching - whether on the left or on the right. To
compromise the faith of the Church is to forfeit our "common ground" and to
risk polarization." (Ibid)
Yet, groups like Call To Action, who supported and welcomed the Common
Ground Project, have shown their refusal to 'dialogue', prefering to dictate.
In their "manifesto", Call To Action claims:
" In 1990 we celebrated the 25th anniversary of the historic document of the
Second Vatican Council, The Church in the Modern World (Gaudium et Spes).
This document clearly turned the face of the church outward, and defined its
agenda as service to the entire human community. It stressed the importance
of the laity bringing Christian values to society's dialogue on pressing
issues in the home, the workplace and the political process."
Now the problem here is that they essentially reject the rest of Vatican
II. The statement itself is true, but only if you understand that Vatican II
was a series of teachings explaining the Church, it's history, it's mission,
it's worhip and structure, etc. and Gaudium et Spes was how THAT Church can,
and should, bring the message of Christ to the world. No, for Call to Action
it means changing the Church to suit the world:
" We see stalled progress by our church officials toward the reunification
of the Christian church, even though countless believers of all denominations
have already shared the experience of an ecumenically open church at the
local level. 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
Now here we see a call to make the Church more 'Protestant' to achieve
unity. Yet Vatican II doesn't call for this.
" 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…. Even in the
beginnings of this one and only Church of God there arose certain rifts,
which the Apostle strongly condemned. But in subsequent centuries much more
serious dissensions made their appearance and quite large communities came to
be separated from full communion with the Catholic Church-for which, often
enough, men of both sides were to blame. The children who are born into these
Communities and who grow up believing in Christ cannot be accused of the sin
involved in the separation, and the Catholic Church embraces upon them as
brothers, with respect and affection. For men who believe in Christ and have
been truly baptized are in communion with the Catholic Church even though
this communion is imperfect." (Decree on Ecumenism; Vatican Council II;
Vatican II never disposed of the teaching that outside the Church there is
no salvation. Rather it further clarified that those who believe in, and act
according to God's will, are members of the Church, even though imperfectly.
That though our separated brethren have elements of the truth, most of which
they retained from the Catholic Church, only the Catholic Church retains the
'fullness' of truth. Does one accept an error for the sake of unity? All
but one Bishop followed Henry VIII of England out of the Church, was he wrong?
Yet Call To Action further states: "We see many young adults and children of Catholic families who are
reluctant to affiliate with a Church they view as authoritarian and
hypocritical. We call for a fundamental change so that young people will see and hear God
living in and through the church as a participatory community of believers
who practice what they preach."
Here we get into semantics. The Church is authoritarian only in that it
teaches what Christ taught, no more, no less. In fact, the same can be said
of Christ. "You are my friends if you do what I command you" (John 15:14).
How dare Christ make following His commands conditional? How authoritarian!
Christ called on His followers to be obedient to Him and those He sent to
teach and guide us. "He who hears you hears Me, and he who rejects you
rejects Me, and he who rejects Me rejects Him Who sent Me" (Luke 10:16). Thus,
the question is, who are the real hypocrites here?
THURSDAY: Part Two