DAILY CATHOLIC    MONDAY     April 12, 1999     vol. 10, no. 71


To print out entire text of Today's issue, go to SECTION ONE and SECTION TWO
    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.

          This week Pat takes on the upstart liberal group Call To Action and their self-pontificating about what is best for the Church in America. The smallest of minorities seeks to change the majority because of their dissent and Protestant opinions, and herein lie the problems for they seek to change what Jesus established. Today and Thursday Pat will take us through their arguments and successfully refute their misguided logic in his column A Dysfunctional Family? with part one today.

A Dysfunctional Family? part one

          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 for reunion."

          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; UNITATIS REDINTEGRATIO)

          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?

      Pax Christi, Pat

    THURSDAY: Part Two

April 12, 1999       volume 10, no. 71


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