While Christianity and Catholicism in particular have been taking hits, big-time — while clergy/bishop scandals continue to erupt; while evangelical mega-ministers resign for malfeasance; while cardinals face trial (see: Australia) — it is truly amazing (and to Church enemies, beguiling):
How no matter what this cardinal did, or what that bishop didn’t do, no matter the true horrors (and they were/are horrors) committed by a phenomenal number of priests (four to six percent of clergy involved in abuse, and rampant homosexuality, including among bishops); no matter the incredible failings of the hierarchy, not just in matters of scandal, but in the entire Church ambience and conduct of the liturgy (which too often is windswept — sterile), the devout are remaining just that: Devout. A remnant.
The strongest believers are budging not a bit.
The Rosary and Eucharist and novenas and prayer from the heart, the feast days: all maintain their potency independent of flawed men.
There’s no, “I won’t go to church any more” or “I don’t believe any longer.” Just the opposite. As a president once intoned, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”
A recently published paper suggests that declines in church attendance are confined to the “moderately” religious, while America’s strongly religious stay as firmly dedicated to their beliefs as ever.
The Spirit lives, more vibrant than ever. The Institution is another matter.
Reports the Freebeacon:
“Social theorists have in recent years argued for a so-called ‘secularization thesis’—as technology and science have advanced, religiosity in the Western world has declined. Proponents of this viewpoint to declines in average church attendance, self-reported religiosity, and other heuristics.
“However, this focus on average decline in religiosity masks the persistence of the portion of the population which, across many measures, remains exceptionally religious, according to paper authors Landon Schnabel and Sean Bock.”
And so, as even a formal study shows, whatever may come, there is that Rock.
That Rock was founded on a layman.
And once more, the laity must rise.
Excruciating it is to contemplate the number of vocations lost due to abuse of seminarians and altar boys. Might there be no vocation crisis, or at least less of one, if not for the crisis of homosexuality? A catch-22: homosexuals dissuade vocations and bishops cover up homosexual transgressions because they are short of priests.
If, for a time, the Church must shrink, so be it — if in retreat there is a wringing out that brings: purity. The False Church, the artificial one, the modern one, the academic one, the politicized-bureauractic one, for so long dominant, must and will fall as a first stage in purification.
Perhaps it even goes to the prophetic words of Pope Benedict XVI, who famously wondered if the future Church would be better off smaller in size but as stated purer in spirit.
“The Church in Germany is superbly organized,” wrote then Cardinal Ratzinger. “But behind the structures, is there also a corresponding spiritual strength, the strength of faith in the living God? We must honestly admit that we have more than enough by way of structure but not enough by way of Spirit. I would add: the real crisis facing the Church in the western world is a crisis of faith. If we do not find a way of genuinely renewing our faith, all structural reform will remain ineffective.”
“If the Church, in Pope Paul VI’s words, is now struggling ‘to model itself on Christ’s ideal,’ this ‘can only result in its acting and thinking quite differently from the world around it, which it is nevertheless striving to influence.’ (Ecclesiam Suam, 58) In order to accomplish her mission, she will need again and again to set herself apart from her surroundings, to become in a certain sense ‘unworldly.’ In the concrete history of the Church, however, a contrary tendency is also manifested, namely that the Church becomes self-satisfied, settles down in this world, becomes self-sufficient and adapts herself to the standards of the world. Not infrequently, she gives greater weight to organization and institutionalization than to her vocation to openness towards God, her vocation to opening up the world towards the other.”
+“In order to accomplish her true task adequately, the Church must constantly renew the effort to detach herself from her tendency towards worldliness and once again to become open towards God. In this she follows the words of Jesus: ‘They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world’ (Jn 17:16), and in precisely this way Jesus gives himself to the world. One could almost say that history comes to the aid of the Church here through the various periods of secularization, which have contributed significantly to her purification and inner reform.”
+“Secularizing trends – whether by expropriation of Church goods, or elimination of privileges or the like – have always meant a profound liberation of the Church from forms of worldliness, for in the process she, as it were, sets aside her worldly wealth and once again completely embraces her worldly poverty.”
+“History has shown that, when the Church becomes less worldly, her missionary witness shines more brightly. Once liberated from material and political burdens and privileges, the Church can reach out more effectively and in a truly Christian way to the whole world, she can be truly open to the world. She can live more freely her vocation to the ministry of Divine worship and service of neighbor.”
See also: Padre Pio and a homosexual bishop
[Footnote: Mailbag (Jim Ross): “Here are interesting quotes from a Rod Dreher article:
‘I remember walking through Manhattan with a priest friend in 2002, as the scandal was raging nationwide. I asked him how the Catholic bishops could have done the things they did, and how is it that they don’t react like ordinary Christians, when confronted with the horrors of priest sex abuse and clerical sexual corruption. He said ruefully, “They don’t believe in God.” What he meant was that they believe in the Church — the Catholic institution — as an end in itself!’
‘Along those lines, I have thought many times since then of something an old monsignor told a different priest friend as they observed a group of seminarians from their archdiocese headed off to Rome to study at the elite North American College: ’Those poor boys. They leave here in love with Jesus, and they come home in love with the Church.’ ”
I’m somewhat a fan of Malachi Martin
(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malachi_Martin). I read his novel “Windswept House” in the early 2000’s
(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windswept_House:_A_Vatican_Novel) which he wrote as a novel so he could tell the truth without having to deal with all the supporting documentation that a non-fiction expose would require. In Windswept House he describes the homosexual activity in the seminaries. So it was well known at that time.
Despite all the focus on the sexual side of things, I think the real problem in the leadership of the Bishops is arrogance.
Hope you don’t mind being a sounding board for my frustration – you are not obliged to read and respond to my rantings.”
who mislead and scatter the flock of my pasture,
says the LORD.
Therefore, thus says the LORD, the God of Israel,
against the shepherds who shepherd my people:
You have scattered my sheep and driven them away.
You have not cared for them,
but I will take care to punish your evil deeds.
I myself will gather the remnant of my flock
from all the lands to which I have driven them
and bring them back to their meadow;
there they shall increase and multiply.
I will appoint shepherds for them who will shepherd them
so that they need no longer fear and tremble;
and none shall be missing, says the LORD.