Conscience and Chaos | Dr. James Hitchcock | IgnatiusInsight.com
The "Gospel of Judas" is rediscovered, which leads some people to announce triumphantly that the entire New Testament story has been turned on its head. The Bible the Church has given us is fundamentally in error, essentially a lie.
When the Holy See states that the idea of Limbo has never been official doctrine (which it has not been), a theologian exults that soon the doctrine of Original Sin will be abolished.
A newspaper reports that "an ordained Roman Catholic priest" has come to town, something that is noteworthy because the "priest" happens to be a woman.
Theologians in Australia denounce their cardinal to the Vatican as a heretic, because he points out that "conscience" is not the ultimate criterion of truth.
The lay trustees of a Catholic parish appoint their own pastor, who serves entirely at their pleasure. The pastor in turn offers his support to a parish of the "American Catholic Church," headed by a "bishop" who has never even been a Catholic priest, which has as one of its tenets the acceptance of homosexual activity.
When the closure of a New Orleans parish is announced, parishioners complain that they are being denied the sacraments and manifest their love for those sacraments by repeatedly interrupting the celebration of Mass with jeers and angry threats.
In each of these cases something fundamental to Catholicism is being denied, sometimes, perhaps, without the people involved even realizing it. The Church teaches that women cannot be ordained, so that the woman who claims to be a priest is in fact not. The idea that "conscience" is not the ultimate criterion of truth for Catholics is not the invention of an Australian cardinal; any competent historian would consider it self-evident. If people value the sacraments, raucously interrupting the celebration of Mass as a means of protest indicates that they have little appreciation of what the sacraments even are.
The case of the lay trustees is significant because what starts out as apparently a dispute over property, which is not a matter of faith, ends with overtures to a church that denies an important Catholic moral teaching and whose priestly orders are questionable.
Some Catholics say that all they want is a "pluralistic"
Church, but it is no exaggeration to say that the above incidents (the
list could be a lot longer) manifest nothing short of chaos. A woman is
a priest and a man is a bishop because they say they are. A parish is
Catholic even though it is not in communion with any Catholic bishop.
A congregation expresses its love for the Mass by desecrating the Mass.
Other IgnatiusInsight.com columns by Dr. Hitchcock:
Homosexual Orientation Is Not a "Gift"
The Divine Authority of Scripture vs. the "Hermeneutic of Suspicion"
Ordeal by Ideology: The Grilling of Judge Roberts
The Supreme Court's Penumbra of Politics
Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger: Man for the Job
Confronting Modern Culture; Asserting the Gospel
Conservative Bishops, Liberal Results
Is Tolerance Intolerant?
The Myth of the Wall of Separation
The Church and the Media
Personally OpposedTo What?
Theory of the Enlightened Class
Dr. James Hitchcock, (e-mail) professor of history at St. Louis University, writes and lectures on contemporary Church matters. His column appears in the diocesan press, in the Adoremus Bulletin, and on the Women for Faith and Family website. He is the author of several books, including The Recovery of the Sacred, What is Secular Humanism?, and Years of Crisis: Collected Essays, 1970-1983.
Princeton University Press just published his two-volume history of the Supreme Court, The Supreme Court and Religion in American Life: The Odyssey of the Religion Clauses (Vol. 1) and From "Higher Law" to "Sectarian Scruples" (Vol. 2). He is also a regular contributor to many Catholic periodicals, including Catholic World Report.
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