Wednesday, April 16, 2008

I'm Sorry I haven't posted in some time. I've been busy with family and doing my normal Catholic research. Between the podcast and a local protestant minister I get with once a week to hash out our differences. I think I might need a little vacation soon.

I came across this this past weekend, and it says in a much more elegant way how I feel about cafeteria Catholics.

"The Forum: Church teachings vs. matters of opinion
by Phil Lawler special to
Apr. 11, 2008 ( - On Easter Sunday, Bishop Robert Hennessey, a Boston auxiliary, celebrated Mass at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel parish. That was significant-- indeed the bishop's presence prompted a prominent headline story in the Boston Globe-- because officially that parish has been closed since 2004.
Some parishioners at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel have actively resisted the decision of the Boston archdiocese to shut down their church. Every Sunday they gather there for a prayer service. But no priest is assigned to the parish; that weekly service is not a Mass. Unless they are attending Sunday Mass elsewhere, then, the defiant parishioners holding these prayer vigils are violating a solemn precept of the Church.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church (#2181) confirms the traditional teaching-- not changed by Vatican II, as many Catholics mistakenly believe-- that attendance at Sunday Mass is a serious obligation, and those "who deliberately fail in this obligation commit a grave sin."
During his visit to the East Boston parish, Bishop Hennessey explained that his presence was an indication of pastoral concern. He made that concern evident when he admonished them:
It is my firm belief that what happens here on most Sundays is not a good thing, that it could even put your souls in peril. I'm here as your bishop to remind you of that.
Perhaps the wording could have been better. The bishop's warning was based not merely on "my firm belief" but on the age-old and unchanging teaching of the universal Church. Still one can only admire Bishop Hennessey for voicing that message. He was fulfilling his role as a shepherd, bringing some corrective guidance to bear on a flock that had apparently gone astray.
And what sort of response did the bishop's warning elicit? The Globe report cited one parishioner who "shook his head. 'I don't agree with that,' he said." Another sniffed that the bishop was "trying to scare us away," while yet another dismissed his warning as a matter of "politics."
Maybe the Globe reporter selected quotes only from those parishioners who expressed skepticism about the bishop's message. But I suspect the newspaper's story is an accurate portrayal of the reaction from that unusual congregation. The people of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel parish heard the bishop's words, weighed those words, and found them wanting. In fact:
"What he said was just his personal opinion," said Rita Grillo, 42, who lives across the street and has attended the church for 38 years.
Now I wonder: In those 38 years, how often had Rita Grillo heard a priest defend the authority of Church teaching, and explain that some questions of faith and morals are not merely matters of personal opinion? For that matter, how many American Catholics recognize that the authority of Catholic doctrine is based on the teaching of Jesus Christ, and its accuracy is guaranteed by the guidance of the Holy Spirit?
Bishop Hennessey visited Our Lady of Mt. Carmel as a successor to the apostles. His message, in essence, was that the Lord Jesus expects them to attend Sunday Mass. The parishioners were delighted by his presence, the Globe relates; they recognized the bishop as a legitimate representative of the Boston archdiocese. But they did not recognize him as a teacher of divine truth.
There are, of course, many Christians who do not recognize the authority of Catholic bishops to convey Christ's teaching authoritatively. Ordinarily these people are called Protestants. Over the course of the past generation, unfortunately, Americans have come to accept, almost reflexively, the stand taken by "cafeteria Catholics," who honor only those Church teachings with which they happen to agree.
That attitude is not genuinely Catholic. It is not even logically tenable. If Church teaching is sometimes right and sometimes wrong, then the Church is a corruptible human enterprise. But the Church claims to be a divine institution. If you cannot accept that claim, you cannot profess the Catholic faith.
To embrace the authority of the Church requires an act of assent, a submission of the will, which can only be made when we are confident that the Church was founded, and her authority ensured, by the Incarnate God. Maybe the gift of faith is more precious and less common than we realize. "

Talk at ya Later

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