DAILY CATHOLIC     THURSDAY     August 26, 1999     vol. 10, no. 161


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.

          Today Pat brings up the fact certain dissidents don't like the way the "Old fashioned Jesus" looks so they're lobbying to come up with a new image of Our Lord. Just what the world needs!!! Make God in our image rather than allowing God to mold us in His image! Pat details the reason this will never work and the idiocy of discarding Perfection for imperfection as Pat reminds us in his column What's wrong with this picture?

          If you want to send him ideas or feedback, you can reach him at Padraic42@aol.com

For past columns by Pat Ludwa, click on VIEW FROM THE PEW Archives

What's wrong with this picture?

        What if you heard that someone was having a contest to change the US flag? What if they said that Americans had lost what it meant to be Americans and what America stood for? What if they said that we had lost the vision and ideals of the founding fathers and that a new flag would refresh and refocus us? Wouldn't you think that was absurd? Wouldn't it be more appropriate to assure that the vision and ideals of the founding fathers was emphasized in our schools so we could re-learn what they were?

        What would changing the flag do? And what of the people who sponsored it? Wouldn't one be concerned that they would invest it with what 'they' thought America should be? I mean, one wouldn't trust a contest sponsored by the KKK or the Communist Party of America would they? In fact, it would be doubtful that 'any' group in America would be trusted in 're-creating' the American flag.

        So why would anyone think that creating a 'new Jesus for a new millenium' would be any different? And considering that it's the National Catholic Reporter (NCR) sponsoring it, why would anyone think that the 'new' Jesus wouldn't be according to their vision?

        On Thursday the 19th of August, on the Today Show, the NCR reported a contest for a 'new' Jesus.

"The National Catholic Reporter announces an international visual art competition to find an image of Jesus for the new millennium"

        The first question, of course would be, "What's wrong with the One we have?"

    "One could go on to argue why this is so, or why people are looking elsewhere for solutions and solace and ultimate meaning, why so many churches, once full on Sundays across the world, are closed or nearly empty now. There are various reasons why Jesus is perceived to be less central to the culture than in the past. Today, He seems remote, elbowed aside in the secular world's hectic pursuit of success and good times. The popular image is vague, not compelling as He must have been on Galilean hillsides or at the Last Supper. If the Christian religion is, as we insist, some amazing relationship with its founder, with this Savior whose 2,000th birthday anniversary, approximately, it is, then the picture we have of Jesus becomes paramount. But we have lost touch with this Jesus, a down-to-earth person who at the same time incarnated divinity and pointed to a transcendent world."

        On the surface, this seems logical, except when we consider that a Jesus on Galilean hillsides or at the Last Supper wouldn't have been very compelling to the Romans or others outside of Israel. It wasn't even very compelling IN Jerusalem. As before, we see the image of empty pews and closed churches as the reason we need this 'new' Jesus. But again, isn't it the teaching of the NCR and their parent organization, Call To Action, that essentially encourages these empty pews and churches? I mean, if we are free to create our own theology and worship, what do we need pews and churches for? Again, we see the Church portrayed as a populist organization.

    "Scripture scholars and theologians have written endlessly about this Christ. Millions of words have been published. Yet the image is fading."

        Is it because of a picture that the image is fading? Or rather that the image is being eradicated? Replaced with a false notion of Christ? It's amazing that Call To Action and NCR are among the first to belittle anyone who writes about Christ and doesn't follow their manifesto.

    "Can it be that the spirit of the age excludes messiahs and saviors? Or that the mainline churches, wrestling with their various demons, have smothered the founder? Perhaps that is why our world fails to link the millennium to the person of Jesus Christ."

        Or is that the 'spirit of this age' wishes to remake the Messiah and Savior in their own image? Is it that they hope to smother the founder emphasized by the 'mainline churches' in favor of heterodox messiah that 'they' want?

    "While the project is, first and last, a visual art competition, its nature and purpose require that the theme be paramount. There are theological and philosophical considerations in this search for an image that will capture the hopes of a hankering humanity as we walk over the threshold toward another thousand years together on earth."

        An image capture the hopes of a hankering humanity? Christ does that already? The image of Christ does that. His birth, death, and resurrection does all that! However, we see that this contest must fit a set theological and philosophical criteria. Again, whose?

    "Entry in the competition implies submission to the rules and decisions of the judges and NCR,"

        The NCR and their judges will set it. Now, normally, this wouldn't cause much concern. But we have to recall, this is sponsored by a group and their publication that openly teaches that the laity, as the 'People of God' are the teaching authority of the Church, that called for an end to the Curia and a co-papacy. Who advocate radical feminists issues such as women priests, and the notion of Father/mother God or the God/dess.

        Contributors to the NCR are a who's who of Catholic dissent:

  • Rosemary Ruether, who openly attacks the Church and the Scriptures in favor of a 'new' neo-gnostic, neo-pagan theology. Who said that she could not tell her nun friend that she had more devotion to Isis, Diana, and Aphrodite than for Mary? Who said Jesus was a good 'symbol' for those who could not totally come to their new theology.

  • Mary Hunt, a "Catholic lesbian" who writes, "What unites us is not so much a man in Rome or a set of beliefs as it is an unwavering confidence that there is more going on than we can control. We call this the Holy Spirit. She always has her way, this time on homosexuality." (NCR; Aug. 13, 99) (Besides the absurd reference to the Holy Spirit as 'she' we see the rebirth of the heresy of the 2nd century, Montanism which taught that the Holy Spirit was given to everyone, a 'new' church of the Spirit. That they were privy to new 'revelations' of the Holy Spirit which no longer needed the guidance of Bishops or Popes. It was the original 'We Are Church' movement.)

  • John L. Allen Jr., who writes: "Convergence and solidarity within the Catholic reform movement seemed the leitmotifs at a congress of the International Federation of Married Catholic Priests held July 28-Aug. 1 at Emory University in Atlanta. The event drew 330 activists from 17 nations. In addition to 16 associations of married priests from around the world, approximately 25 other Catholic reform groups -- such as We Are Church, the Women's Ordination Conference and Catholics Speak Out -- were represented... The Atlanta event brought together the leadership ranks of a wide spectrum of progressive Catholic groups."

  • "Sr." Maureen Fiedler, of Catholics Speak Out who said in a telephone interview from Atlanta: "People here are not concerned only with a married priesthood...They're seeking a thoroughly reformed church, with full equality for women and gays and lesbians. All these issues have dovetailed."

        Fiedler struck the convergence theme in a homily. She predicted changes under the next papacy but warned that these changes may come with strings attached. "The acceptance of a married clergy is very likely to be one of the first changes," she said. "I will be among the first to applaud and celebrate this step toward resurrection as long as -- for example -- those who accept such a priesthood are not required to reject the idea that women can be priests... By the same token, if women are ordained, we cannot accept a requirement that we exclude our gay brothers or lesbian sisters, or that we refuse Communion to those of other faith traditions, nor can any of us take stands that exclude whole classes of people from church or priesthood."

        Nuff said?

        Who is really responsible for the 'tearing of the body of Christ'? Who is really responsible for so many having lost touch with this Jesus? Is Jesus changeable to the times? Is He different from the hillsides of Galilee, from the hamlets of medieval Europe and the streets of modern America?

        "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and for ever. Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings; for it is well that the heart be strengthened by grace, not by foods, which have not benefited their adherents" (Hebrews 13: 8-9).

        What has the NCR and Call To Action lost sight of? Christ! The same Christ who built His Church on Peter. The same Christ who gave the Apostles and their successors the authority to teach in His name, to guide His Church. And they reject that Church and her Councils, including Vatican II, in favor of a more pliable, changeable Christ and Church.

        We don't need a 'new' Jesus for the new millenium, we need a return to Christ and the teachings He has given His people through His Church. We need to re-evangelize. Not just non Catholics and non Christians, but Catholics as well. One doesn't repair a broken porch by simply repainting it, and one doesn't recover their faith with a 'new' image of Jesus. One doesn't change the Mona Lisa or Michaelangelo's David just because it doesn't inspire awe as it once did. One tries to show why we should be awed by them.

        "For I the LORD do not change; therefore you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed. From the days of your fathers you have turned aside from My statutes and have not kept them. Return to Me, and I will return to you, says the LORD of hosts. But you say, 'How shall we return?' "(Malachi 3:6-7).

        A new Jesus? No, what we need is a return to Jesus. A renewal in Him and His promises. " And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of Heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in Heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in Heaven" (Matthew 16:18-19) [The Papacy].

        " Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw Him they worshipped Him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, 'All authority in Heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age' (Matthew 28: 16-20) [The Magesterium, the teaching authority of the Church, teaching with His authority for all time].

        And while under their guidance, and faithful to it, we are "the Church of the living God, the pillar and bulwark of the truth" (1 Timothy 3:15).

        Or as Vatican II taught:

      " For the nurturing and constant growth of the People of God, Christ the Lord instituted in His Church a variety of ministries, which work for the good of the whole body. For those ministers, who are endowed with sacred power, serve their brethren, so that all who are of the People of God, and therefore enjoy a true Christian dignity, working toward a common goal freely and in an orderly way, may arrive at salvation. This Sacred Council, following closely in the footsteps of the First Vatican Council, with that Council teaches and declares that Jesus Christ, the eternal Shepherd, established His holy Church, having sent forth the apostles as He Himself had been sent by the Father; and He willed that their successors, namely the bishops, should be shepherds in His Church even to the consummation of the world. And in order that the episcopate itself might be one and undivided, He placed Blessed Peter over the other apostles, and instituted in him a permanent and visible source and foundation of unity of faith and communion. And all this teaching about the institution, the perpetuity, the meaning and reason for the sacred primacy of the Roman Pontiff and of his infallible magisterium, this Sacred Council again proposes to be firmly believed by all the faithful….. Therefore, the Sacred Council teaches that bishops by divine institution have succeeded to the place of the apostles, as shepherds of the Church, and he who hears them, hears Christ, and he who rejects them, rejects Christ and Him who sent Christ…… But the college or body of bishops has no authority unless it is understood together with the Roman Pontiff, the successor of Peter as its head. The Pope's power of primacy over all, both pastors and faithful, remains whole and intact. In virtue of his office, that is as Vicar of Christ and pastor of the whole Church, the Roman Pontiff has full, supreme and universal power over the Church. And he is always free to exercise this power. …. Bishops, teaching in communion with the Roman Pontiff, are to be respected by all as witnesses to divine and Catholic truth. In matters of faith and morals, the bishops speak in the name of Christ and the faithful are to accept their teaching and adhere to it with a religious assent. This religious submission of mind and will must be shown in a special way to the authentic magisterium of the Roman Pontiff, even when he is not speaking ex cathedra;…. And therefore his definitions, of themselves, and not from the consent of the Church, are justly styled irreformable, since they are pronounced with the assistance of the Holy Spirit, promised to him in blessed Peter, and therefore they need no approval of others, nor do they allow an appeal to any other judgment." (Lumen Gentium; Vatican II; Chap 3, The Church is Hierarchal, #18; 20, 22,&25)

    Pax Christi, Pat

August 26, 1999       volume 10, no. 161


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