In my recent post ‘So . . . start praying ?’, I was trying to make the point that what makes the Catholic Church the Church of God is that it is not a Church in which doctrine is malleable according to the will of humanity : indeed, I would have thought that the slightest consideration would have revealed that a Church which accepts that is possible is at risk, and a Church which declares that to be an inherent part of it can have little claim to be governed and guided by God, simply because it is a received truth that the Devil seeks to pervert man’s understanding of God’s word, so that he can lead mankind to Hell.
One of my commentors, BJR, said :
Do you ever consider that you might be wrong and that the co-religionists that you treat with so much disdain may be representing a more substantial view of Christianity than your own?
It seems that your swim across the Tiber was motivated by the appearance of a representation of a certain 'brand' of Catholicism that is without any depth and is uncertain to survive beyond the lifetime of the current Pope.
Well, no, yes - but, and definitely not.
No, I don’t consider that I might be wrong; because it wasprecisely becaue I realized that I was wrong before, in belonging to a Church which believed that it had the power to alter its teachings in accordance with the wishes of its members that I joined the Tiber Swimming Club.
Yes, I am quite prepared to believe that those whose views I disagree with – I don’t hold the people in disdain, only their views – ‘represent a more substantial view of Christianity than my own’ : the problem is that, whether they do or don’t, they are wrong. God’s will is not, and cannot be, amended by the wishes of mankind.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll no doubt have to say it again. There are points on which I don’t quite understand why the Church teaches things; and these are things that are not explicitly found in the Scriptures, and which do not necessarily appear to accord with common sense, or even with what appears to be reason . . . but regardless of my views and uncertainties, I accept that if I go against those teachings, I sin – so I must confess my sin, and do penance for it.
My opinion, however thoughtful and pious it may be, is irrelevant, and does not form an excuse. Where something is open to discussion, that’s fine : where it’s already been defined, then I either accept it or not : but if I don’t accept it, then I imperil my soul if I go against it in private, and I obviously and overtly cease to be Catholic if I start fighting against it in public.
As to the last point, ‘definitely not’ is a polite response.
Catholicism is not open to being changed by my convictions; and to suggest that it is without any depth is mere nonsensical verbiage. It will survive beyond the present Holy Father’s reign, because it has already done so for two thousand years, given or take . . . the fact that for about the last forty there has been a substantial minority which has sought to pervert it, largely by ignoring fundamental truths, is irrelevant; that’s a very short-term thing, which is of no great importance.
The fact is that the Catholic Church embraces the eternal – and unchanging – truth of God sent to us for our salvation; and nothing we can do will change it, even if we end up being the only people who adhere to it.
The Holy Father has suggested that the Church may end up smaller : and I think he may be right. I know that there are many who think he is wrong, and misleading people, and that bowing down to the nonsenses being promoted about a whole raft of doctrines would be the right thing for him to do . . . because that way so many more people would join the Church.
Well, they might be right, at that : but Satan would be laughing fit to burst, because they’d be increasing the size of a Church which no longer believed in the truths of God . . . not a good idea.
A final point : I have no disdain for those who disagree with me, and who want to change what the Church believes.
I’m not suggesting they’re not Christians; and quite probably good Christians . . . only that you can’t be a good Catholic if you think that your opinions are more important than the teaching of the Church : so I have no disdain for them, or for their sincere beliefs . . . my disdain is only for those who believe that their opinions are more important than the teaching of the Church, and that the Church should change its teachings to suit them : because that’s simply not Catholic.
I don’t say they can’t be decent Christians and have those beliefs : only that they must accept that they can’t be Catholics and do so, and that they ought to be honest enough to go elsewhere, rather than trying to interfere with the Faith of the rest of us.