DAILY CATHOLIC    THURSDAY     March 18, 1999     vol. 10, no. 54


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          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 addresses the rationalization of so many who think they have the answers to what the Church should be, forgetting that they are not infinite but very, very finite. This human shell is all too obvious in the recent stubborn revolt of a parish in Rochester, New York where the priest was removed by Bishop Matthew Clark for disobedience, preaching heresy, and conducting Masses and ceremonies not approved by the Church.

Mass Suicide in Rochester, New York

          In a cult of community, it's almost inevitable that a cult of personality will emerge, sometimes with tragic results. In a 'cult' of community, we saw Jim Jones arise as a charismatic leader who led them to their death in a mass suicide. We saw the Heaven's Gate cult follow their 'charismatic' leader into a mass suicide to meet their 'god' in a comet. Mankind has always done this. Even Christianity is a type of 'cult' with Christ as our leader. In fact, that's how the term Christian came about, named after the 'founder' of the movement. (This was done as a mistake since a 'Christian' knew that the word Christ was a title, not Christ's name.) However, almost as soon as the Church was born, 'charismatic' leaders came to draw the faithful away.

          "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).

          The early Church saw 'Gnostic Christians' giving another gospel than the one the Apostles taught. So pervasive were they that they led many astray. St. Irenaeus (c.a. 180 A.D.), devoted volumes exposing their 'other gospel'. Same sex unions (this were the notion of the early Church allowing them came from), women priestess, etc. In fact, St. Irenaeus spoke how a 'lay' person one day, might be a bishop the next.

          Arius, a priest in Alexandria (256-336) taught that Christ was not God, that there is no Trinity. So 'charismatic' was his personality, so persuasive was his speech, that he led many out of the Church and into a 'new' church, Arianism. No matter the Church condemned it, no matter Arius was excommunicated. Sooner or later, they believed, the Church would come around to their way of thinking. After all, they were teaching the 'true' gospel.

          Pelagius, an Irish or English monk (355-425) taught that grace is not needed to attain salvation. That Adam would have died whether he sinned or not, that only Adam's children were affected by his sin (by bad example). That is, there is no original sin, therefore no salvation through Christ's redeeming death. This 'charismatic' person led many out of the Church. No matter the Church condemned it, no matter Pelagius was excommunicated. Sooner or later, the Church would come around to their way of thinking. After all, they were teaching the 'true' gospel.

          A German monk, Martin Luther, taught that it doesn't matter what we do on earth, we are saved by faith alone, and that by that faith, our sins will be covered by His blood as a clean white linen covers a pile of dung. "Inasmuch as I know for certain that I am right, I will judge above you and above the angels...whoever does not accept doctrine cannot be saved. For it is the doctrine of God" (Martin Luther; "Against the Falsely So-Called Spiritual state of the Pope and Bishops"; 1522). No matter the Church condemned it, no matter Luther was excommunicated. Sooner or later the Church would come around to their way of thinking. After all, they were teaching the 'true' gospel.

          Many others can be named. Jansen, Feeney, the list goes on and on. No matter the Church condemned their teaching, no matter they were excommunicated, they were all teaching the true gospel. Almost worse than the suicides of Jones and Heaven's Gate, these have committed 'spiritual suicide'. Excommunicating themselves along with their 'charismatic' leaders. "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).

          A priest enters a church in the Diocese of Rochester NY. The parish numbers only 200, but swells to about 3,000. A success story? Fr. Callan is a 'charismatic' personality. Over 10 years, he has gone his own way. He 'elevates' a pastoral assistant to an 'associate pastor' and has 'her' wear liturgical garments and join him at the altar during Mass. "But these encouraging and positive aspects cannot suppress concern at the varied and frequent abuses being reported from different parts of the Catholic world: the confusion of roles, especially regarding the priestly ministry and the role of the laity (indiscriminate shared recitation of the Eucharistic Prayer, homilies given by lay people, lay people distributing Communion while the priests refrain from doing so)" (INAESTIMABILE DONUM;April 17, 1980).

          "Only validly ordained priests can preside at the Eucharist and consecrate the bread and wine so that they become the Body and Blood of the Lord" (CCC#1411).

          Giving the Church's 'blessing' to at least five same sex 'marriages'. Though "They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity" and "Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided." (CCC #2358) "They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they (homosexual acts) be approved" (CCC #2357).

          At Mass, he would routinely invite non-Catholics to receive the Blessed Sacrament. "Ecclesial communities derived from the Reformation and separated from the Catholic Church, "have not preserved the proper reality of the Eucharistic mystery (ref. 1 Cor. 11:29) in its fullness,.It is for this reason that Eucharistic intercommunion with these communities is not possible for the Catholic Church" (CCC#1400).

          Though the Diocese tried to persuade Fr. Callan to recant, to teach authentic Church teachings, he refused. Subsequently, and sadly, he was excommunicated. He left the Church no other choice.

          A large number of his 'faithful' have followed him into excommunication. So 'concerned' were they that at a service in their 'new' church (in a leased building), Fr. Callan joked; "Something terrible happened yesterday, something I've been dreading for months. The dentist drilled a hole in my tooth." On Holy Thursday he plans to celebrate Mass (which he has been forbidden to do, his Bishop removing his authority to do so). This may well mean he will be dismissed from the priesthood entirely.

          But, we see that Fr. Callan feels that " I know for certain that I am right" (see Martin Luther) and that "In 10-20 years, when the Church changes, they'll take us back." It doesn't matter that the Church has excommunicated him, after all, he's teaching the 'true' gospel.

          "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).

          Pray for them, for in following a teacher who tickles their ears, they have committed spiritual suicide - and they think little of it. They don't know of as yet what they're going to call their 'new' church, but they assured everyone that the word "Catholic" will be a part of it. We know, in fact, that this can never be for the marks of the True Church are missing.

      Pax Christi, Pat

March 18, 1999       volume 10, no. 54


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