I have a tendency towards sin. I am not proud of it. Quite often when I hear a holy man's sermon my ears burn.I suppose you have the same problem. So does everyone up to and including the Pope.
Concupiscence - the tendency to sin - is something that every human being in history (bar Adam, Eve, the Virgin Mary and Jesus Christ) were and are born with.
It's a result of Original Sin.
Now there's two issues I'd like to chew over with you on that subject, if you'll permit me.
The first is that I am a Catholic, that I have all the weaknesses associated with Original Sin. Therefore as with all those before me (and after!) I need the help of Holy Mother Church to stay on the straight and narrow. My very concupiscent nature makes me susceptible to fall off that road, all too often.
Thus I need the "props" that Our Faith provides, not least the Confessional. Regular Communion fortifies and strengthens us all. But there is also the example, "rules" and order laid out by the Church.
Heaven knows (yes, it really does) that without these I would be like a blob of jelly, spineless and weak.
That is why I am convinced we all need the help of the Church. Our Lord was not stupid. He left us His Church, with His Sacraments, for exactly this reason. His Love, His Charity, meant that as well as suffering His Passion and dying for us all, he left behind all we need to attain Heaven.
The world says that the Church must become "softer." The Church must become more "realistic" and (I shudder as the word enters my mind!) "relevant."
What "the world" really wants is a Church that is powerless to help us, that is as jelly-like, weak and floppy as we are. They want an emasculated Church, that would result in the blind leading the blind. Why does the world want this?
Never forget that the devil offered Our Lord the whole world if he would fall on His knees and worship him. The world today is a conglomeration of media-men, politicians and other opinion-formers, most of whom are anti-Catholic in nature if not in fact. Through omission or commission they seek to make the Church relativist.
Behind this herd of cats lies Satan. He wants a Church that is powerless to help us avoid sin, and certainly powerless to help us get up, dust ourselves off and get back on the narrow way. He wants the pews emptied - less bums on pews means less souls saved (as Linen on the Hedgerow blog wrote the other day, not attending Mass on Sundays and Days of Obligation is a Mortal Sin, and that is a victory for Satan).
The more Catholics are turned away from the Church, via false pride, sloth, greed - whatever the perceived motivation ("right" or "wrong") - then the more souls are in danger of falling away, forever. Didn't Our Lady show the children at Fatima the many souls falling into Hell?
God knows (yes, He really does!) that without His Church I would have fallen away too. There are 101 reasons for not going to Church, and the devil will always find the one that most appeals to you, dripping honey words in your ears that appeal to your pride.
The response to the paedophile scandal has been more souls lost. I know this because I hear this from family members, friends and acquaintances. The Church, to many (via the world's media) has become synonymous with this scandal, with hypocrisy, with absolute evil.
These people are human of course. They are concupiscent. They are open to the devil's honeyed-words. Souls are being lost.
The first job of the Princes of the Church is to save souls. One day they, like we parents, will have to answer for the souls under their charge.
So why is this scandal being allowed to go on and on and on? Certainly the media is milking it, but there can be no doubt that their ability to do so is the fault of the Church in not acting like Catholics in the first instance.
And why is the Church putting Pope John Paul II on the road to canonisation via the "fast track" system, when it must be said that most of this scandal happened under his watch? This does not sit well with people outside the Catholic bubble. Not addressing the issue smacks of the same cover-up that hit us in the face after the years and years of this abuse scandal.
I am sorry if I have genuinely offended any good and faithful Catholics, but I think we need to wake up and smell the coffee. The truth is that the paedophile scandal (which correct me if I'm wrong but happened primarily through the 70s, 80s and 90s?) has destroyed the image of the Church in the eyes of many -- including many Catholics.
Now maybe they are weak Catholics, but so am I! So are we all. There but for the Grace of God... etc.
The only way the Catholic Church can get to the bottom of this is to grasp the nettle. The acts and the nature of the people involved must, of course, be absolutely condemned, as I'm sure it has been. But the dualistic approach to moral relativism, immoral acts etc. such as has happened in Westminster Archdiocese viz the (homosexual) Soho Masses must be nipped in the bud by the Church authorities. It was this cowardice and relativism, this 'looking the other way' that allowed the paedophile scandal to go and grow underground.
I am reminded of a priest friend who went back to his Seminary a few years back only to exclaim "it is full of homosexuals" in a most dejected way. Catholics must learn from the ills that have befallen Anglicanism. You cannot be one thing and say another. Let your yes be yes and your no be no. If we say that homosexuality is an abomination, a disorder, then the priesthood and seminaries must be gone through with a fine-tooth comb.
Sounds harsh? Indeed. But when it comes to souls, Salvation, Heaven and Hell I do not think we can cut corners. Of course anyone with homosexual tendencies can and should be helped in a most charitable manner; but the priesthood must be closed off to them (as it should to people with other disorders such as alcoholism, an adulterous nature, etc.)
The fact that Catholic children were sexually assaulted by men with the indelible character of Christ's priesthood on their soul should fill us all with horror, grief, terror, remorse and shame.
Pussyfooting around issues when it comes to the Church, its moral character, its nature etc. has let too many souls fall away and let a tiny percentage [but one was too many!] of the priesthood become outright evil.
Let us learn the lesson and have a thoroughly Catholic Church run on Catholic principles, promoting the Sacraments and defending Catholic dogma and tradition.
The second issue is the issue of Original Sin itself.
A few months back I was at a local lecture on the Faith and the Salvific nature of Christ's Incarnation came up. It set me to thinking at the time, and its an issue addressed in the latest Christian Order (CO)mag too, that if one does not believe in Creation, in Adam and Eve, in our First Parents' fall from grace, then the Incarnation becomes meaningless.
A friend told me he overheard someone at his Church muttering that Creationism was ridiculous. Now if Creation is a "myth" then so is Christ's mission. His Death on the Cross in turn becomes meaningless because by their rationale there was no break between man and God, no rift, no loss of Heaven for Christ to remedy via His Passion and Death on the Cross.
Furthermore, as CO magazine makes clear, Creation is a Catholic Dogma. In other words if you do not believe that God created the entire world and all things in it ex nihilo (out of nothing) in an instant, then you are officially an heretic. I'm not a cannon lawyer but I think that means you should not receive Communion.
It is not a moot point. It is not open for debate. It is not an issue where there can be movement. Church Dogma is that God Created the earth and the beasts on it. Furthermore he created man; not a bit of slime that became a cell, that became a fish, that became a reptile, that became a mammal, that become a monkey, that became a man.
If you do not believe in Genesis (no, not Phil Collins and Peter Gabriel) and its account of Creation, then you cannot believe in Christ's Incarnation to break us free from the bonds of sin.
When Christ uttered the words "it is done/accomplished" He was surely referring to His Salvific mission to restore Heaven to mankind. Yet the very idea that we come from [soulless] monkeys and therefore cannot have lost Paradise through the actions of Adam and Eve, means that Jesus cannot have been the second Adam come to our rescue, nor Mary the second Eve conceived without sin to bring Our saviour into this world.
This heresy reduces Jesus to a "nice bloke" like we here atheists prattle on about on the telly. They tell us he was just a 'good guy' amongst many others (Buddha, Gandhi etc.) and we can pick n choose because really we're just talking soulless monkeys.
The Church has dogmas for a reason. It is not be constrain us, anymore than the need to breath oxygen constrains us or the laws of gravity constrain us. It is so that we my know, understand and dwell on the Truth.
"We call a man a bigot or a slave of dogma because he is a thinker who has thought thoroughly and to a definite end." G. K. Chesterton
So what am I asking for? As usual I guess I am asking for a Catholic Church, i.e. for Our Faith, for the Pope and for the Bishops to be Catholic, to be dogmatic, to fight for the Truth and above and beyond all else, in all they say and do, to fight for every soul!
To do all you can in your power to keep a soul on the narrow path to Heaven and to lose is a great sadness, but it is not your fault. But to be lukewarm, to let your sheep go wandering off the track and be lost in mists, in quagmire, in thorns and be torn apart by wolves, then their fate rests on your shoulders, whether you are Catholic parents, priests or Bishops.
Please God let us all be watchful and do our Catholic duty.
I am sorry that I have 'gone on' so much, but this something I feel strongly about, and not out of pride, for I am a very weak Catholic, like all of us far too prone to sin. It is because I need so much help and I do not want to fall away (and I wish others not to, and yet more to come back to the Faith, let alone be converted) that I really desire a strong, dogmatic Catholic Church.
I feel we have gone without it for 50 odd years and the pews have emptied as a result. Please. I am not, to quote Basil Fawlty, asking for an elephants ear on a bun. I just want my Catholic Church to be Catholic! It's not too much to ask is it?