Religatio religionis [English Version]

· Religion

On  Religious Scandals, with Special Emphasis on Roman Catholicism and the 2014 Synod on the Family


Our objective in this essay is to demonstrate several scandals by religions, especially the error of those who would want to modify a denomination’s tenets in order to have it meet the necessities of the moment. Special emphasis is given to Roman Catholicism and its October, 2014 Synod on the Family. This may be taken as a contribution to the consultation with the laity it requested – as this writer did not expect his opinion to be solicited, nor would it have been seemly, as argued below. Perhaps we may cause someone to reconsider his or her views.

The Impetus for this Relation

The immediate spur for creating this text was a synod about the family in the Vatican. The media report of the events reminded us of a campaign quip by Ronald Reagan, in which he claimed that  the Democrats had gone so far left, that they’d left America. Here, we ask, if, according to a Gospel, “Thou art Peter, and upon this rock, I will build my Church, and the gates of hell cannot prevail against it” – where has the Rock been placed?

This question is asked, because this writer has been following religion closely at least since his second year of university studies, in which he took a course on the Renaissance and Reformation, followed in the third year, by Special topics in the Reformation and Counter-reformation. His exposure his been to both liberal and conservative weeklies, books on theology, and catechisms. He has seen the Dutch Catechism in a Toronto book-store, and unwittingly, bought a used German edition in Latin America. He owns the Official Catechism of the Catholic Church, and an Enchiridion of the same Faith. He has noted that the old Code of Canon Law was more explicit than the new.

Breadth and Limitations of Our Considerations

In order that, for Internet readers, this document is as inclusive as possible, his religious affiliation, if it exists, is not identified. In text, or by word, he has been exposed to Adventism (Seventh Day), Anglicanism, the Baptists, Calvinism (through the Institutes), Islam, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Judaism, Lutheranism, Methodism, Mormonism (Church of the Latter-Day Saints), Presbyterianism, and Russian Orthodoxy, as well as Mennonite practice, and Zwingli’s doctrines. Apparent bias can be explained by this writer’s living somewhere in Latin America, where it is easy to study Catholicism closely; though, if the need exists, more than a rainbow of religions are represented.

The author has, or has had, one of the following purposes in his studies:

1) to increase knowledge about the religion practiced,

2) to motivate him to conversion to another religion, and

3) to convince a lapsed subject to return to the fold.

While any of the above could be applicable to the various branches of Buddhism, Confucianism, Hindusism, Islam or Judaism, the author has not studied these in sufficient depth. For the sake of argument, he may have practised one of these, such as is the habit among certain Hollywood stars; or possibly, he may have been born into one of the aforementioned.

There will be some euphemistic expressions, obliged by the character of this web page, apt for all ages. Euphemisms have the advantage in that they keep the concepts behind the words hidden from the young, while allowing adults to speak freely even in the presence of the former. It may reduce the sparkle, or fire of the text, but it also obliges civility in composition, and in any comments readers may wish to make. There is any irony in this, as in being intended as apt for as wide an audience as possible, it limits interest to those who care to follow the particular style. In Catholicism, this would be something like a Vatican document. While the fire-and-brimstone approach would be preferred as a strategy to gain more readers, it is too controversial for our immediate objectives.

From the foregoing, it may be seen that while trying to be as inclusive as possible, we have a specific focus on events in the Catholic Church, which has the privilege, or misfortune, of being in the news most often in the Western World.

Monolithic Values of the “Western” World

Very briefly here, we wish to point out that, with the exception of the “Roaring Twenties”, there used to be very few scandalous situations countenced in the Western, or westernized world until the “Swinging Sixties”. After that, laws made prior scandals into norms.

Before 1960

According to a BBC report, at the time of her coronation, Queen Elizabeth II had much more power. No specifics were mentioned, but she still is the head of the Church of England, though clearly with less powers than Henry VIII. In a way, what the British used to call the Church of Rome was about as powerful, and as uninteresting to the masses as the British Monarch is today. However, in Western Europe and the Americas, as well as in many other parts of the globe, both written and unwritten constitutions enshrined certain principles that were common to all, and these were concepts also found in the teachings of major religions. The one weak point was on divorce. It was related by a history teacher, that to get a divorce in the early years of Canadian Confederation, it was necessary to get parliamentary approval from the United Kingdom, thus limiting the possibilities to the rich. In the 50s, and early 60s, divorce was still not too common, but the series “Divorce Court” on American television still claimed that it was acting to fight the rising trend.

The 1960s

In Europe, the United States, Quebec, and South America, students battled the police or military, often incited by leftist intellectuals, and stimulated by drugs. The well-intentioned naive may have supported some of the principles, not realizing who was behind them.

The Vatican held a council, swept along by the same naiveté, we would argue; the results of which were a supposed modernizing of the Church; and those who did not find it “modern”, cried “betrayal”. At the same time, the conservatives also considered the results to be treasonous. This argument is still going on after the synod on the family, held in October, 2014.

The Title

The Latin title plays with the words, marking the ambiguity of the situation – are things being tied up, or untied, thus either tidied up, or disordered by the workers of reformers – whether from without or within.

The Scandals

The Scandal of Religious Persecution through Death and Taxes

We will summarize this in the broad sense, including secular and idolatrous, extinct religions.

On the whole, nobody calls it persecution when, for example, an animist killed a member of a monotheistic faith, or vice versa. That rather, is “colonialism”.

Christians and Jews suffered from the very beginning, the former, for not accepting the divinity of Caesar, the latter under pre-Christian idolaters, then under the Romans, followed by the Christians and the Muslims. When tolerated, minority religions often paid special, high taxes, but again, this is more to the secular, than to the religious power. The same situation occurred from the time of the Reformation – the anti-Catholic group saw opportunities to plunder the wealth of the Church. That was the case of the English Crown, and certain German princes. Finally, such as in Nazi Germany, the secular power attempted to swing religion into a state-sponsored beast, leading to the Holocaust. Modern secular religions go back to the early Roman method of frontal attack – following the Holocaust script, some commentators see absolutely nothing wrong with suggesting that a Muslim country be bombed back into the stone age. In the age of toleration, zero-tolerance! Orwellian double-speak!

Those who think that the Catholic Church is still rich, if it still exists in their country as a minority religion, should ask why then Government need subject them to an income tax which never existed at the beginning of the 20th Century. It may be suspected that from the government cannot find sufficiently more to plunder. Ah, what was left to fleece, some enterprising lawyers are getting in legal fees for a legitimate scandal, according to the linked business website.

Whatever the religion, if God is merciful, His creatures often emphasize a vengative nature.The more a reasonable form of religion advances in understanding its own precepts, the less possible that a persecution of another can ever be “religious”.

The Scandal of Support for War and Unjust Laws

In summary, most of the supposed scandal of religion being the cause of war, was the result of noblemen or kings using religion as a pretext for battles. It seems not to have been stated precisely enough, that in addition to the opulence that Martin Luther found in Rome, it was the scandal caused on account of the financial necessity of a candidate for the position of elector of the part Spanish, part Germanic Holy Roman Empire, which was the cause of that sale of indulgences.

But has there been progress in the fight against indulgences? We see religious groups selling prosperity, love, domestic harmony; but worst of all, support for Leviathan, which may be interpreted as meaning the Devil, or the state, with no guarantee that they are distinct. A French king said, “L’etat, c’est moi”: “I am the state”, while Hitler and Mussolini had similar ideas, the former even trying to control religion in his favour through Lutheranism; the latter, more cunningly arriving at a modus vivendi with the Vatican. The Divine Right of Kings was not a Catholic doctrine, but our history teacher failed to tell us that. It is the highest reformulation of Paul’s Epistle to the Romans, 13:1-7, that the rulers are to be obeyed, and that the contrary position would be punished. Thus, there are religions, chiefly in the United States, which by that criterion, would expect compliance with the tax laws, while heartily supporting the imperial mission of that country’s military.

In other words, nothing was learned from what happened in Germany, when the populace obeyed their demented Führer because of prior religious conditioning, supposing it was religious. In that case it would be scandalous, because it may be assumed that there was a failure to teach the principle that unjust laws must not be obeyed. In effect, the Nuremberg trials said the same thing. Now, if Americans, Britons, French, and Russians all participating in condemning those who followed unjust orders, how do these countries, especially the first-mentioned of the four, together with its two camp-followers, get away with similar crimes? As for the latter, an article has been seen, stating that in the infamous Lefortovo prison,  some Soviet guards tried to prevent a doctor  from  subjecting a prisoner, Vladimir Bukovsky, (who described his ordeal in the Washington Post [comment by Will Grigg on Lewrockwell]) to the cruelties that were expected. This, without any teaching of Western norms. As Paul of Tarsus said, the Law is written in one’s heart. Sure, we know that in Canada, cerca 1972, it was military policy, that in case of a doubtful order, it was to be obtained in written format – sure! What private could make such a demand of a superior of any rank? We do not even care to repeat our knowledge of how these people would subject their own countrymen to degrading treatment in war games. We would believe that these are the “good guys” on the world stage, not even half as bad as the toughest ones around, from the halls of Montezuma, to the shores of Tripoli. One general who sang those lines, ended up writing, War is a Racket.

Warrior Religion Support as a New Indulgence

In conclusion, in the West, while indulgences are no longer sold, well-being, according to some religions, depends on obeying the dictates of the state, whether it be for military duty, or the paying of taxes which never used to exist at the beginning of the 20th Century. In other words, the new indulgences are your purchase, in the form of taxes, and perhaps blood, religiously contributed to the State at the behest of a church which then promises the required salvation.

It is interesting to see how different countries see this question. Around 1980, U.S. bishops objected to naming a submarine  Corpus Christi, “The Body of Christ”. The military claimed it was in honour of the city of that name, not in honour of a “body”. Meanwhile, in Argentina, one military vessel was called Santísima Trinidad, or, “Most Holy Trinity”. Most religions, then, are guilty of this type of scandalous game, the Quakers being an exception, but then, what to think of Richard Nixon, who was born into that faith? Well, he did, with the help of Henry Kissinger, work to end the war in Vietnam, and he ended in ignominy. So, then, what kind of religions did his enemies practice?

Some of the money going to the churches, perhaps contributed in the misguided belief that this is the road to eternal happiness, goes towards the building of the personal empires of new pastors, who often end up not quite morally upright, though more easy to forgive than some in the Catholic Church, who have thus seriously weakened that institution in the eyes of many. The information on this, in one way, is so shocking, that one can only ask, if the failure of that particular Church to preach against moral turpitude is the desire that all co-religionists share the blame. The accusation has been made that infiltrators were deliberately unleashed upon that church. The year 2015 may support that thesis.

Scandal towards Atheists and Agnostics

The proliferation of religions, some with a standing of millennia, with almost all claiming to be truth incarnate, cannot but help confirm the opinions of atheists and agnostics. Could they ever be fair game for proselytism? Should one choose the newest, the oldest, the most-criticized, the least-mentioned, the most logical, the least demanding, the most fashionable, the most entertaining, the most arcane, the most ritualistic, the weirdest, the most studied, the one which agrees with one’s political beliefs, the one with the glibbest proselytizers or devotees, or the most visually attractive ones?

Scandal of Lack of Guidelines for Sacramental Confession

Those churches which have what is, or was called confession, lack a clear protocol for their believers, to protect them from several types of abuses. Public confession may lead to a betrayal by a member of the church. Secret confession, when personal, gave occasion to what is known as “solicitation”, but at least this fault was specifically condemned, and was expected to be reported to ecclesiastical authority. In the Catholic Church, revealing the content of the confession made the priest subject to a harsh penalty under Church law, but that did not necessarily repair the harm done. Happily, we have no knowledge of specific cases, though it is implied that weak priests, subject to blackmail for their known faults to security agents, may have given in to Communist interrogators.

Sly penitents, though, would never reveal their faults to someone who knew them. It would be easier in a big city. It was the extension of the system of the very early days, around the year 200 A.D., where under Tertullian’s interpretation of sin and the corresponding penalty, it became more convenient to postpone a confession until death was near – because the penance imposed could last for years, e.g., 10, for causing an involuntary death. In both cases, the idea was to avoid potential problems for the person confessing.

At least, in the early days of this practice, one knew what to expect. Now, the penitent has no idea of what the maximum demands are that may be made. An extremely clear definition might help avoid abuses. Let us imagine a most improbable scenario – that an infiltrated, indoctrinated, or just plain perverse confessor imposed the suicide bombing of a place considered immoral – such as that which happened for political reasons to to a nightclub in Berlin in 1986.

Clarity is a need, considering the possible consequences of the rules stating that the penance must be accepted willingly as a prior condition for the forgiveness of sins. In fact, this, in the Catholic Church, is part of what some people are chafing against:  reluctance to comply with known maximum impositions. To avoid mentioning more controversial items, we will limit ourselves to the example, that in the case of theft, return of the stolen items, or its monetary value, is an a priori condition.

To recapitulate, although it is no longer the case that,  as soon as the coin in the coffer rings, so the soul from purgatory springs, money still seems to lubricate the system of churches excessively. There have been videos seen of ministers laughing, while jumping around in the amount raked in. On the other hand, the protocols designed to avoid scandal in some cases, let us say, confession, or pastoral counselling, for example, bring a host of new problems to the fore, in that they contradict earlier teaching, as exemplified in the story of the good Samaritan.

The Scandal of Changing Consuetudinary Practices

A further scandal is that of religions which see a need to redefine a tenet, thus showing an inconstancy worthy of the pagan gods, and not the God of Israel.The worst case examples up to the moment are those who predict a date for the end of the world, and are found wrong – so they try again – and again. Their followers must be simple dupes, but how does one get away from them politely, when they try to teach their beliefs? Others take positions, and modify them, according to the necessity of keeping their number of faithful – for financial reasons, no doubt. One gentlemen told me that at one time, certain clothing was not acceptable on the part of women, but a few years later, this rule was changed, because almost no woman was going to go along with the restrictive dress code. This is true for the moral code of what are considered the liberal churches. There is a fear among conservatives, that the Catholic Church may go that way under the current Pope, whose title, should the doctrine be modified, as the Press has suggested, should not be written with a capital letter, if teachings, rather than things such as penitential practices are touched.

The Scandal of the Baptized

Reformist religions immediately set about creating  Catechisms, such was the case with Lutheranism, the Church of England, and later, its derivatives. The Catholics followed with a Catechism of the Council of Trent. Thus, each one clearly enunciated its beliefs, of which Baptism was one. There may have been disagreement as to at what age this was to be performed, and as to how much water had to cover the body, but, whether by proxy or by personal decision, it implied agreement with the tenets of one’s respective faith. In the case of proxies, it may be held that the baptized rarely objected to their status, as they performed the same ritual with their children, thus validating their own Baptism, and in those cases where there was an “Easter Duty”, those of an age to know what they were doing, renewed their baptismal vows. This suggests that there could be no serious objection to infantile Baptism, in fact, the ceremony is probably less scandalous than that of at least some Hollywood depictions of complete immersions of the female body, suggesting something beyond a holy rite.

This suggests, that all ministers and priests who have not taught their respective catechisms faithfully to their churches or assemblies, and that all who fail to live by the obligations of their Baptism are a scandal to their religion. Furthermore, any rewrite of those Catechisms is comparable to political gerrymandering, and to those smaller religions which, confronted with an erroneous prediction of the end of the world, revise, and revise again.

We now follow with some specific scandalous issues relating to the Catholic Church. They are not new, but perhaps the presentation is. Consider what was read on a website on the day of writing this paragraph, that the Catholic should study his faith – does that mean [s]he should study only the latest statements from Rome, and ignore the historical statements which might inform of contradictions to the current batch of pronouncements? We believe, if the preceding, apparently contradictory positions can be reconciled, there was no innovation, otherwise, something is severely wrong.

Teachings during the Duration of the Baltimore Catechism, their current Status, and our Comments

The Baltimore Catechism was a famous Roman Catholic one, used in the United States and Canada; and held sway until it was followed by an updated product, which, however, still contained many of the old questions – though not for long. We do not claim that all of the following were found therein, but that they were part of the body of teaching at the time, significant in that the teachings fell upon the “baby-boomers”, for which reason, one would expect salutary effects. In the end, though, many of these chose not the religion seen as the “opiate of the people” as Karl Marx feared, but the road which Timothy Leary suggested.

Here are some of those original teachings given through Catechism classes based on the version from Baltimore.

1. No matter where one goes in the world, Church services (the Mass) are held in the same language.)

a) when referring to the dominant Latin Rite Mass

b) certain ancient rites were allowed, but this was not common knowledge.

c) It was defined that there are three persons in one God: Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

The Present: The teaching that wherever one goes in the word, the Mass is held in the same language, has become a falsehood. Acceptance of ancient rites, at least with respect to the Tridentine Mass, has become intolerance, strange, when the objective, one supposes, was to be more accepting. Spanish translations in some countries changed several times, leading to further confusion. Rome fought with some U.S. translations because of their concessions to feminist. To what degree such problems existed in other parts of the English world, and perhaps in French and German-speaking areas, is not known by this writer. As for the Holy Ghost, this became the Holy Spirit, in order not to confuse the masses with friendly, and unfriendly beings from the afterlife.

Comment: The use of the Latin language, had it been retained, would have made a good counterweight to the dominance of English. Even a BBC report once suggested that Latin obliges clarity of thought. If this is true, no wonder that there is so much confusion now, although this is not to say that English is to blame. Furthermore, the Mass had Greek at the beginning, meaning that in 1960, a worshipper would have heard 3 languages. Something might have remained with the more intelligent, and fostered a desire to learn more. This writer, for example, always compared English and French texts on Canadian product labels. The same would have been possible with the side by side Latin and vernacular texts in missals. Far from being elitist then, the Church may have been encouraging the study of language. Far worse is the elitism of those who would pretend that 2000 years of teaching are now wrong.

2. The Church doors are always open (at least, in the daytime).

The Present: Many churches are locked for most, if not all, of the day, thus giving a second lie.

Comment: While doors of religious institutions may be closed for security reasons, it both reflects the sad fact that religion no longer is the moral compass of the masses, and reminds one of the churches and synagogues closed behind the Iron Curtain. Even if the number of priests per number of faithful is less, with the easing of obligations, can they not manage this one little detail?

3. There is an eternal flame burning in the sanctuary.

The Present. Eternal flames have become less conspicuous, if they have not disappeared in many places in Catholicism, although our research shows that they are common to Judaism, Lutheranism Anglicanism, Orthodoxism, and Catholicism – in principle, anyway.

Comment: Eternal flames still burn for dead soldiers. God, or Christ, seems to have fallen behind.

4. It claimed, no more contentiously, than by other religions, to be the “True Religion”.

There can be no truth in contradiction. Anyone who wants to be firmly anchored to a religion, would have to look very hard to see if this one [the Roman Catholic] gives what one is looking for. There is a gap between the official teachings, and the everyday pronunciations on the subject.

Comment: Anybody who had converted just before Vatican II was, then, a victim of a cruel joke. For what purpose had such a person studied so long, tried to get his life to conform to what it should have been?

5. In part related to the above, serious moral faults after “Thou shalt not kill” and before “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour, were dealt with euphemistically. Children understood them as “sins of adults”.

There are no more euphemisms, though one booklet asked, for an examination of conscience, for confession, if a person had fallen in love with someone [s]he shouldn’t. Such a soft approach was noted in the so-called Dutch Catechism. On the whole, the question was avoided, in order not to have parishioners upset.

Comment: Related to point 4, and this one, it may be asked, in the context of the synod on the family, to what purpose Anglicans have been coming over to Catholicism, if the latter is to accept what they had thought the Roman Catholics had rejected. As a matter of fact, to what purpose were children taught the morality of this religion, to be suddenly confronted with a new reality. To what purpose did books on morality for the laity exist? To what end did excommunication and penance exist? Prelates of modernity, you are not “worth your salt”. Perhaps your Keynesian state can help out.

6. The Church buildings and religious services were similar in to those of High Anglican, some Lutheran, and Greek and Russian Orthodox churches. A person who visits a cathedral in Montreal would not know, if he had been transported into the the Marienkirche in the German port city of Lubeck, or its cathedral, that the structures belong to the Lutherans, and had been spared by iconoclasts [though rebuilt after bombing, which makes the fidelity to the original design all the more striking.].

Traditional church buildings were supposedly designed to honour God, while teaching the illiterate. The new structures comply with the principle of a “poor church”, which if not of itself violating anything of the Tridentine declarations, (this question has not been investigated), and when mixed in with the social gospel, democracy, feelings, retreat from tradition, etc., becomes worse than iconoclastic. At least, some of the original reformers who objected to statues and other imagery, founded their belief on what they thought was tradition: what they understood as unerring Biblical text. Catholic reformers, on the other hand, argue like lawyers, or modern philosophers, pettifogging over the meaning of each word, and by that alone, have rejected tradition. Meanwhile, it was argued that the Fathers of the Church at Trent, or the Pope, had no right to promulgate a Mass to be celebrated for all eternity [see point 7].

Comment: Art, like Latin, was something worth learning, to ennoble one. To be ennobled does not necessarily mean to become a nobleman, but one Protestant teaching is, “Cleanliness is next to Godliness”, and good art, or, granted, its complete absence in an impeccably clean building fits the definition – a morally clean product offered both to God, and to His people.

7. Religious services were about adoring God, not about feelings. The Tridentine Mass was promulgated to be celebrated for all eternity.

It has been argued that the Fathers of the Church at Trent, or the Pope, had no right to promulgate a Mass to be celebrated for all eternity. The decadent period of Scholasticism, which argued about the number of angels which could fit on a pinhead, were more serious. After all, in computation, the question has become, how many textbooks can be stored on a memory chip of the same size as the one the Scholastics debated over. We could even say, they were ahead of their time, if angels are perfect beings, knowledgeable, we might consider how learnéd we could become by fitting several gigabytes of pinhead volumes into our own brains.

Comment: Any “feelings” in Church, at least a Catholic one, should be tied to tradition. Its antithesis is the “Dark Night of the Soul”. It is about being one with God, not with others. Love of one’s neighbour is to be shown once outside the doors, often lacking, often made illegal, and only occasionally corrected, for example, when some state decided that someone acting in good faith as a Good Samaritan could not be sued for negative consequences.

8. Teachings were not determined by consultations and votes of the majority, but by the “Holy Spirit”.

Now, consultations are made with the “People of God”, or voters with an agenda, and thus a priori, not imbued with the “Holy Spirit”.

Comment: It is highly questionable that a consultation can be made of the “People of God”. It is assumed that such a consultation [over modernizing Church teachings about certain life-styles, for the second part of the Synod on the Family] is made within the Catholic Church only, thus giving an exclusive character to the consultation, limited to the “True Religion”, which, on the other hand, is a downplayed feature of the same denomination. Well, which is it?

At any rate, should it be assumed that a non-church-goer is a member of the “people of God”, with an opinion equal to that of the “Faithful”? Or, does the person who goes to Church only to be seen (such as some politicians of unorthodox Catholic views) have an equal vote with the person who lives in conformity with the Gospel? Then, when a Synod or other Council is held, should the world see that it is not as transparent as it should be, when it has always been Church teaching, that the problem of Masonry is its secrecy, and now, the Church clouded itself in secrecy with the family synod, causing some conspiracy theorists to suggest that some fraternal organization of that nature has infiltrated the institution? When proceedings are secret, why are they leaked? When someone does not toe the line, [s]he is excluded from the vote. Elderly Churchmen are considered not to have the Spirit anymore?

9. Item 257 of the Baltimore Catechism #4, 1941 edition, refers to bad companions as a danger.

The reality: When was the last time that this was heard?

Comment: Our familiarity with this teaching was probably through a lower number of catechism.  It may have been understood with excessive rigor.  Someone who would fight, lie, steal, use bad language, talk back to the teachers, they were all bad companions.  We see that the sense is more restrictive – restricted, in fact, to those who might “have a lot to offer”.

10. Giving scandal is a sin. The simple definition of scandal is that it is an action which would lead another to fall into sin, even if the act were licit for the one performing it.

The reality is that there is so much scandal, and that there is a dearth of clear teaching on the subject, which probably helped catapult the number of objectionable acts sky-high. On the one hand, the teachings say that secret faults of another should not be revealed, unless they would cause grave harm to another. We know that this has not been the case.

Liberals might understand scandal more in the sense held by the media. The scandal for them, is that religions do not synchronize with worldly values. One Catholic author considered the procedures for matrimonial annulment a “scandal”, while nothing in those procedures would induce anyone to a morally objectionable act. Conservatives, though, are guilty of the same, in considering every trivial action on the part of the Pope as scandalous.

There have been Pope’s whose lives were scandalous, and even traditional sources, such as the Catholic Encyclopedia, do not fear to point out the evil of these men. We ask, are the present-day scandals the result of laxity?

It might happen, under certain circumstances, that two opposing real scandals are the only option in a concrete situation. How this is to be resolved has been discussed in this author’s Moral or Ethical Systems for the Determination of Correct Behaviour. There we find that laxity was never an approved doctrine.

Errors on the Church

It is false to say that the Church ever excluded anyone, except by excommunication.  Even this process did not mean, although someone might have thought so, that one was destined to go to Hell – the final determination was left to God. Those people to whom the synod on the family supposedly was to extend a hand of friendship had never been excluded from Church – they were excluded, under certain conditions, from the sacraments. Exclusion from sacraments was valid for everyone, one hundred years ago, who had not fasted since midnight, or had committed a mortal sin. This was later watered down to a three hour fast for solid food, one hour for liquids, water at any time, and no mortal sin. Finally, that was watered down again, to a one hour fast, and no mortal sin, though the latter seems to be a dead letter.

Now, one Catholic book for teenagers spoke about a common mortal sin, and how to save face when it was a family tradition to go to Communion together. Oh, no, I just ate a cookie [thus breaking the fast]! Had the fast been since midnight, very easy to break! At any rate, back then, frequent Communion was not the norm. With a three hour fast, it is also trying, not to eat a snack. With a one hour fast, and frequent communion, this little trick might not quite result in the desired effect. But it is noteworthy, the entire problem was created by liberalization of the rules of both fasting, and the idea of frequent communion among the laity. A discipline was substituted by a privilege, which now is being sought, not by those who are honest enough in their transparent hypocrisy, but those who, because they know they are wrong [the Law is written in their hearts], so they want to become as whitened tombs, indisputably correct – because a man-made law should so state!

Confession has undergone many changes since the beginnings of the Church, but there were always a series of sins that were considered so severe, that they definitely had to be confessed – these sins are not even formally included in the remaining excommunicable offences. [We have read of an exception, but that text may have been out-dated.] To be consistent, therefore, if certain elements of society have a lot to contribute to the Church, why exclude murderers, ipso facto excommunicated shedders of blood, with a crime crying out for vengeance? Not long ago before the synod, the Pope said that the Mafia was excommunicated, a statement which we understand to be lacking in theological correctness, as the penalty can only be placed on individuals. But, some of its members, more coherent in their beliefs, told their prison chaplain, that they would not receive the Sacrament if they had been cut off from the Church.

By the way, nothing was more open that the early Christian ceremony of excommunication, and posterior readmission to the Church. One proclaimed one’s sin to the entire congregation, one suffered the penalty in view of all, and one was happily received into full communion with the faithful once again. However, the penalty lasted so long, that one tried never to get subjected to it, by not confessing until near death.

The Synod was not Interested in Family.

Was the Synod interested in perhaps obtaining more church attendance, in order to obtain advantage of what is called the higher purchasing power of those who are not married with children? We care not to be so cynical.

The Catholic Church, although the Mass was traditionally oriented towards God, never took the view that it was all about God, and nothing about man. There were spiritual works of mercy, but also corporal works: feed and clothe the poor, visit the sick, etc. In the social teachings, it was considered right that one would earn enough to support his family sufficiently well, if without any luxury. While businessmen often lament the social teachings of the Church – even the most correct interpretation as this author would see it, that same businessman would probably less begrudge a 30% tax to the government, than a tithe and a voluntary 5% to the poor. In other words, to help the family, the Synod should have discussed how the economic situation leads to its break-up.

Another point in which the family synod could have made progress is in better supporting the teaching of Catholic doctrine to the young, and encouraging that the most suitable people find partners among themselves. This writer’s parents met in such a way in post-war Germany, where the Church took such an initiative. However, I suggest it be done a little more prudently than in a certain diocese in Canada, which tried something like that, with rock or pop music, including a country hit, “Behind Closed Doors”. Catholic values?

Well, as has been seen, the recent Synod did take place behind closed doors. And while the liberal religious institutions of all stripes claim to be opening doors, they, if they had previously followed a different route, end up shutting out some of their congregation.

Speaking in general again, for some, when the values seem to shift tectonically, it might be possible to change temple, mosque, or chapel. Some Christians choose their own ministers. Some create new churches.

As for the Catholics? Perhaps the Society of Pius X is the answer?.

If you enjoyed this article, you might also be interested in The Ten Commandments as Holistic Writ.

October 25, 2014.

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