Yesterday the ACP and various other groups held a conference in Dublin. As expected it was a liberal love-in, where the reform of the Church, attendees were told, is to be found in ordaining women, allowing priests to marry, promoting contraception, giving communion to couples in irregular relationships and blessing those relationships, also, I presume, allowing homosexuals to “marry” each other, permitting abortion and, one might conclude, overthrowing the Pope. In other words: throwing out the moral teachings of Scripture and most of the Church’s teaching and canonising desires and feelings as the only authentic guides to truth and the Christian life.
They cited Vatican II and how it had been taken away from them, mentioning the first 16 documents of the Council: listening to what they are looking for one wonders if they have actually read those documents. They want a new form of Church where inclusiveness is the hallmark – not faith I presume. It is obvious their definition of the Church is very different from what most of us believe it to be: since the beginning the Church was understood as a communion of faith, of those who follow Christ and his teachings. Given that these people reject many of those teachings, their definition of the Church is surely as loose as what people feel: that is certainly not the basis of any credible or stable organisation, much less a universal communion.
There was incredible naivety: incredible in that such naivety should exist in a group of people who are, for the most part, senior citizens. For one thing they actually believe that the abuse crisis would not have happened if women were in control of the Church. With all due respects to women, they are as sinful and corrupt as men. Yet since the radical feminist revolution there persists the myth that women are sinless and always righteous. Women are well capable of ignoring and covering up abuse as much as men. Indeed it has been known that some women have actually ignored the abuse of their own children by their husbands out of fear. The new law on mandatory reporting is going present problems in this area: will mothers who cover up the abuse of their children be granted immunity from prosecution?
In reality these children of the Age of Aquarius are spinning a cocoon around themselves. Ignoring reality, they hold fast to their liberal dream, a dream which has become a nightmare for so many. A dream that has devastated the Anglican Communion and other Christian denominations where attendance at Church has plummeted and these institutions no longer have any credibility in the eyes of most people. The fact that the Catholic Church is being attacked left, right and centre and the media feel the need to be a thorn in her side means that she cannot be ignored: she is credible – so credible she has enemies who are working hard to destroy her. Unfortunately among those enemies are those who claim to know how to “reform” her.
This dream of theirs has left two uncatechised generations, with a third being misinformed as I write. Three generations who have had the faith taken away from them and replaced with the fashionable opinions of a single, disaffected generation. Three generations who have been told that mere human thinking is the Gospel by people who think that their opinions comprise the word of God.
A dream which has devastated religious life, stripped it of its prophetic nature, and made it a sap for left wing politics. A dream which has led to rejection of the worship of God for worship of the self, even worship of nature: thirty years behind everywhere else, Irish liberals are dancing around trees and preaching free love – “Hey dude, it’s the Seventies here!” And in face of the appalling vista their dream has created in other countries and other denominations, they have shut their eyes and ears, refusing to see and hear and just keep chanting their mantra over and over again.
My advice to those who went to the conference yesterday: if what was said there reflects your opinions and what you want for the Catholic Church, then you had better have serious rethink. The Church will not change her teachings – if she did, she would no longer be the Church, but rather the creation of mere human thinking. You are not unique in your dissent, the Church has had many like you in the past, and she’ll sit this one out just as she sat the others out. That’s why it seems she acts so slowly in dealing with you – she knows you and your ideas will die out, as a merciful mother she’ll be patient and loving and hope you’ll get sense. (Take heart, faithful Catholics!)
The Church will reform, as she has in the past, but true reform, a new preaching of the Gospel and the moral teaching of the Church which actually respects life and human beings. She will experience a new Renaissance in faith, authentic orthodox faith. It will take time, but it will happen: there are many of my generation committed to serving the Church in this New Evangelisation, and among the generation coming after us there are already many young missionaries eager to get involved. You allowed such young people to speak to you yesterday; they spoke of the beauty of the faith and communion with Peter, the rock on which the Church is built. You ignored them, accused them of lecturing to you and wrapped the comfort blankets even tighter around you. The Church needs reform, no doubt about it, but it is you rather than the Church, which need to change beliefs. You no longer share the faith of the Church: time for a rethink or an exit. Be true to yourselves, as St Dominic Savio would say.
However rather than live the rest of your lives living with frustration and bitterness (realising that the vast majority of you are at least middle aged and most elderly), if you cannot return to the communion of faith of the Roman Catholic Church, I would suggest that you look around and see if there are other denominations which formally hold what you believe. The Anglican Communion, for example, needs members, they believe everything you believe: I’m sure they would be delighted to have you. And in their ranks you will have everything you want.