Last night, I met with friends for a last get together before my family and I get on the road to return to the East Coast later this week. We talked about all kinds of things, but when the topic turned to the Church and what’s coming, our conversation faltered somewhat as we searched for answers. Some of those present were relatively recent converts. Others cradle Catholics. Some attend a Novus Ordo parish, others are regulars at a traditional chapel.
All of us recognized the oppressive nature of what the Church is enduring. A dominant theme was the difficulty of evangelization in the present moment: how do we bring people into a Church so riddled with turmoil and experiencing such a massive failure of leadership?
One friend brought up the analogy I sometimes use — the Gospel story of Christ asleep in the boat during the tempest (Mk. 4:38). We spent some time talking about that. About how among the apostles were very experienced seamen, who knew how to handle themselves in rough water, but were nonetheless terrified that they would die. The subtext of the passage is reminiscent of how many of us feel. The apostles were incredulous almost to the point of anger with Our Lord. They could not believe He was sleeping while they were being violently tossed about. And when they approached Him, it was with a loaded question: “Master, doth it not concern thee that we perish?”
How many of us in our prayers — and, if we’re being honest, our lamentations — are asking God the same thing? “Lord, does it not bother you that the Barque of Peter is sinking? Does it not matter to you that there is an enemy at the helm?”
We know how the story ends. As is so often the case with Jesus, He tests our faith, and admonishes when it is found wanting. Because yes, at a word, even the winds and seas obey Him.
This week, the pope and members of the curia are on retreat. Ordinarily, most of us would consider this to be a good thing. Sadly, the retreat is being led by a priest who often dresses in public like a layman, and who apparently thinks “queer theology” is the best thing since Nutella on toast. What sort of spiritual fruit can such a retreat bear for those who attend it, let alone the flock they lead?
Meanwhile, we hear that the pope has encouraged young people to go online and tell the Church what they think — or as Crux put it, “give the Church an earful” — in preparation for the coming synod on Youth this October. Some faithful Catholics are encouraging people to go to the Synod 2018 Facebook page and Twitter account and let their voices be heard.
Of course, we know from the last synod that the process was rigged and the outcome pre-ordained. And we also now know that Francis doesn’t like to listen to those who resist his program of progressive reform:
Pope Francis continued: “There is doctrinal resistance, which you all know better than I do. For the sake of mental health I do not read the websites of this so-called “resistance.”
“I know who they are, I am familiar with the groups, but I do not read them, simply for my mental health. If there is something very serious, they inform me so that I know about it. You all know them … It is a displeasure, but we must move ahead. Historians say that it takes a century before a Council puts down roots. We are halfway there,” he said.
The Pope added: “When I perceive resistance, I try to dialogue, when dialogue is possible.”
“But some resistance comes from people who believe they possess the true doctrine and accuse you of being a heretic,” he said. “When I do not find spiritual goodness in these people, because of what they say or write, I simply pray for them. It pains me, but I do not dwell on this feeling for the sake of mental hygiene.”
Where Do We Go From Here?
Frankly, when I read the pope’s comments, I’m not discouraged. Quite the contrary, in fact. He’s at a point now where he feels he can no longer simply ignore his opposition, and in fact has to acknowledge it publicly. His attempts to dismiss his critics does nothing to diminish the substance of their criticism.
And do you know what that means? It means we’re winning the war for public perception. It means that the truth about what he’s doing is reaching the faithful, and they have found it wanting.
It also means the attempts to “reform” the Church are now coming ever more rapidly and audaciously, and will not stop, because the clock is ticking.
This is why the work we do here is more important than ever. And this is why we are asking for your continued support. After nearly four long years of effort, the tide is finally turning. OnePeterFive is no longer a voice crying out in the wilderness, but an essential part of a growing chorus who believe that not even the pope can usurp the teaching of Our Lord and His Holy Church.
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Publisher & Executive Director