“In our time the Church is experiencing one of the greatest spiritual epidemics, that is, an almost universal doctrinal confusion and disorientation, which is a seriously contagious danger for spiritual health and eternal salvation for many souls. At the same time one has to recognize a widespread lethargy in the exercise of the Magisterium on different levels of the Church’s hierarchy in our days.”
So begins an explanatory note that accompanies an 8-page document explicitly designed to counter some of the chief doctrinal errors of our time — many, though not all of which, are pulled straight from the pages of the playbook of the current pontificate. The signatories consist of three bishops and two cardinals, and their names should come as no surprise:
- Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke, Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta
- Cardinal Janis Pujats, Archbishop Emeritus of Riga
- Tomash Peta, Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Saint Mary in Astana
- Jan Pawel Lenga, Archbishop-Bishop emeritus of Karaganda
- Athanasius Schneider, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Saint Mary in Astana
No indication is made whether other signatures have been solicited, or will later be accepted, but it’s difficult not to hope that some additional brave bishops will lend their voices to this effort.
Within the text of the declaration itself, direct allusions are made to questions raised by Pope Francis and some of his writings, as well as other neglected but important topics facing Catholics in 2019. Some of the topics addressed are the problems of immanentism, the salvation of the Jews, the rise of Islam and paganism and the Catholic view of their beliefs, the importance of ecumenism as a means of conversion rather than pure dialogue, the fact of the existence of Hell, the issues with the pope’s jointly signed Abu Dhabi statement and its assertion that God divinely wills other religions than the Catholic faith, the problem of intrinsic evil (in particular as it pertains to irregular unions), abortion, IVF, euthanasia, gay “marriage,” and much more.
We intend to provide a more in-depth analysis of the document in the coming days, but for now we encourage our readers to read it for themselves (PDF link) along with the explanatory note (PDF link), which continues:
Our time is characterized by an acute spiritual hunger of the Catholic faithful all over the world for a reaffirmation of those truths that are obfuscated, undermined, and denied by some of the most dangerous errors of our time. The faithful who are suffering this spiritual hunger feel themselves abandoned and thus find themselves in a kind of existential periphery. Such a situation urgently demands a concrete remedy. …
We are aware of our grave responsibility as Catholic bishops according to the admonition of Saint Paul, who teaches that God gave to His Church “shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love” (Eph. 4:12–16).
In the spirit of fraternal charity, we publish this Declaration of truths as a concrete spiritual help,so that bishops, priests, parishes, religious convents, lay faithful associations, and private persons as well might have the opportunity to confess either privately or publicly those truths that in our days are mostly denied or disfigured. The following exhortation of the Apostle Paul should be understood as addressed also to each bishop and lay faithful of our time, “Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Tim. 6:12– 14).
Before the eyes of the Divine Judge and in his own conscience, each bishop, priest, and lay faithful has the moral duty to give witness unambiguously to those truths that in our days are obfuscated, undermined, and denied. Private and public acts of a declaration of these truths could initiate a movement of a confession of the truth, of its defense, and of reparation for the widespread sins against the Faith, for the sins of hidden and open apostasy from Catholic Faith of a not small number both of the clergy and of the lay people. One has to bear in mind, however, that such a movement will not judge itself according to numbers, but according to the truth, as Saint Gregory of Nazianzus said, amidst the general doctrinal confusion of the Arian crisis, that “God does not delight in numbers” (Or. 42:7).
There is a tacit acknowledgment in these words that times have become desperate, and that those willing to stand and be counted in the defense of the Faith are few. We are outnumbered.
Some will scoff at yet another declaration of what Catholics believe in lieu of more dramatic action, but this effort promises to be a significant and historical attempt to re-establish the fundamentals of Catholic belief at a moment when some prelates in the highest reaches of the Church have been tireless in their efforts to sow confusion and even to replace divinely revealed truth with a false gospel.
Stay tuned to 1P5 for more coverage of the declaration in the coming days.
Steve Skojec is the Founding Publisher and Executive Director of OnePeterFive.com. He received his BA in Communications and Theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville in 2001. His commentary has appeared in The New York Times, USA Today, The Washington Post, The Washington Times, Crisis Magazine, EWTN, Huffington Post Live, The Fox News Channel, Foreign Policy, and the BBC. Steve and his wife Jamie have seven children.