In the past week or so I seem to be stumbling across the idea of some things or some people being Christian or Catholic in name but not in action quite a lot. The notion really reared its ugly head this morning however, when I was watching a vocations clip on YouTube and saw the following advert off to the side:
You think that’s bad? How about this one I came across while getting the image above?:
Seriously?! I mean really?! These are certainly bordering on sacrilege assuming they haven’t already crossed that line. Nothing like putting yourself out there as an institution supporting or providing a service for those who want to live out their Catholic faith and then turning one of the most important seasons in the liturgical calendar, and the most important event in the history of mankind, into mere taglines! Now, I’m sure they didn’t mean to cause any offense. In fact, whoever approved the ads must have thought they were exceptionally witty, and I’m sure plenty of viewers probably think so. The point is though that these ads are extremely thoughtless at the very least, and display an extraordinary lack of sensitivity to and understanding of the precepts of the Catholic faith and the significance of the Lenten season.
It’s bad enough when you’ve got secular society or other Christians mocking the Catholic faith, but there’s a serious problem when it’s being made a mockery of by groups who claim to represent or at least support the Holy Church and Her beliefs or teachings.
I mentioned that this is not the only instance of “Catholic in name alone” (or CINO – “Catholic In Name Only” as I recently heard it put) that I have come across lately. It’s funny how individuals and society put so much weight in what these people have to say. I mean, it’s really not that difficult to come across people who claim to represent the Catholic faith through trawling the internet or even just asking people you know, yet most of these people haven’t got the faintest idea of what they’re talking about, and they certainly have no claim whatsoever to any teaching authority within the Church. Yet society and the media seem to think that they can take everything these people say as conclusive evidence in favour of society’s agendas or condemnation against the Church, rather than recognising it for the heresy it is. As an article I recently read (or it may have been a clip I watched) stated, the only people with teaching authority within the Church are the Bishops and, to an extent, priests, and only if what they are saying is not heretical. For the media to portray individual opinions, particularly those of persons who are not faithful Catholics, as representative of the entire religion is just plain wrong. Ultimately it doesn’t matter how many dissenters there are who say things like “Well I’m Catholic but I think the Church is wrong about contraception/a woman’s “right” to choose/cohabitation etc,” the morality of these issues and the truth of Church teaching on them does not change.
That brings me to the recent controversy about the HHS Mandates the Obama administration is trying to force on religious institutions in the US, which would force employers to provide their employees with “health services” such as free contraception, sterilisation and abortifacients, even if these things are a violation of the employer’s religious conscience and morality. I’m not going to get into the debate about that here, but I find it ludicrous that those in favour of the mandate seem to think that they can put forward the opinions of dissenting Catholics or statistics about what proportion of Catholics use contraception, etc as hard evidence in support of the mandates. As Pope Benedict XVI once stated, “Truth is not determined by a majority vote.” Francis Cardinal George, Archbishop of Chicago, summed up the whole issue extremely well in a recent article in which he wrote:
“…behavior doesn’t determine morality. If it can be shown that a majority of Catholic students cheat on their exams, it is still wrong to cheat on exams. Trimming morality to how we behave guts the Gospel call to conversion of life and rejection of sin.”
Or, in another very beautifully worded passage:
“There have always been those whose personal faith is not adequate to the faith of the church… Bishops don’t claim to speak for every baptized Catholic. Bishops speak, rather, for the Catholic and apostolic faith. Those who hold that faith gather with them; others go their own way. They are and should be free to do so, but they deceive themselves and others in calling their organizations Catholic.”
Just remember, the Church has 2000 years of history and includes many of the world’s greatest theologians and moralists. Whenever we think we know better than what the Church teaches we should remember to do two things before we get on our soap boxes and condemn Her:
1) Do some spiritual or theological reading or ask for some spiritual guidance from a faithful and knowledgeable believer (Catholic Answers can be great for this if you don’t know anyone personally who can give you reliable advice) to understand WHY the Church teaches what it does before just jumping to conclusions; and
2) Pray for humility before just assuming that our individual opinions are right
St. Michael the Archangel, pray for us!