There are many Catholics these days who embrace a loss of Catholic identity and find its loss to be but gain; for it is a mighty tool to be wielded for the sake of ecumenism. To such an end the use of secular conclusions for both the troubles within the world and the Church now trumps Catholic praxis that both fortifies and preserves Catholic Teaching. So the thinking seems to be that even a false peace is more important than truth and that half truths are not only permissible but necessary to win ecumenical favor with the world. To this ecumenical end the means are no longer important enough to endure division. Unity at any cost, even the loss of faith, seems the battle cry and they are gaining adherents to this movement in unprecedented numbers; perhaps even eclipsing the rush to Arianism that was endured early in the history of the Church.
Ecumenism has wrought in its wake a promotion of the idea of the salvation for those outside of the faith. Though the Church has always given the Lord full reign and sway over decisions regarding the salvation of souls, it now seems unimportant whether one is of one denomination or another, of the same religion or even whether or not a soul adheres to any religion whatever. As the late Fr. Gabriele Amorth once lamented (in words to the effect): more people will be saved during our lifetime due to invincible ignorance than by any other means.
Have we downplayed the clear teaching of the Catechism and overplayed the exception to the rule? For the teaching is most plainly stated in the Catechism of St. Pius X:
27 Q. Can one be saved outside the Catholic, Apostolic and Roman Church?
A. No, no one can be saved outside the Catholic, Apostolic Roman Church, just as no one could be saved from the flood outside the Ark of Noah, which was a figure of the Church.
29 Q. But if a man through no fault of his own is outside the Church, can he be saved?
A. If he is outside the Church through no fault of his, that is, if he is in good faith, and if he has received Baptism, or at least has the implicit desire of Baptism; and if, moreover, he sincerely seeks the truth and does God’s will as best he can such a man is indeed separated from the body of the Church, but is united to the soul of the Church and consequently is on the way of salvation.
16 Q. Is Baptism necessary to salvation?
A. Baptism is absolutely necessary to salvation, for our Lord has expressly said: “Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God.”
17 Q. Can the absence of Baptism be supplied in any other way?
A. The absence of Baptism can be supplied by martyrdom, which is called Baptism of Blood, or by an act of perfect love of God, or of contrition, along with the desire, at least implicit, of Baptism, and this is called Baptism of Desire.
It seems obvious that we have made of the exception, the rule — and of the rule, the exception. In doing so, it seems that the Catholic Church has lost much of its zeal for souls and has relativized all Christians to the degree that they no longer require the Eternal Teachings of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church which Christ founded and left to us. The question now remaining is whether we deserve the privilege of belonging to this Church if we no longer find Her Teachings and Sacraments essential to our quest for happiness. Have we lost the urgency to preserve the Teachings of the Church which was entrusted to the care of the Apostles and the Pope? For if ecumenism now dictates that we not engage in proselytism for fear that we make the Teachings clear to all men and replace such clarity with a muddy concept of unity in essentials whether or not the essential words of the Apostle’s Creed or Nicene Creed are understood in the same way and manner from one group to another, then the purpose of a Single Apostolic Church founded by Christ is no longer relevant. Relativistic truth is more than adequate and it seems no longer admirable or advisable to die the death of a martyr for such ideals and principles if they are not sacrosanct.
And sadly the idea in #17 above of perfect contrition is lost on us moderns. It is no longer important to feel shame, guilt or to undergo deep suffering in the soul for our many offenses against God and His Church. It is far more important to stress that God’s mercy will accept us as we are and that we have no responsibility to even desire or try to change that in our lives which is opposed to the Will of God. His love and mercy will supply for my lack of effort and cooperation with His Will. It seems funny to me why, if this is the prevailing attitude of Christians, we should bother with religion at all or why God would even require that we live a life on this planet since salvation became our inheritance immediately after His Resurrection from the dead. Reason could presume that since Christ’s Sacrifice on the Cross that men should be born into Heaven and reap the reward that Christ has won for us without all of the drama of a life lived in half light and half dark.
As these last 50 years have progressed so has our identity and understanding of Catholicism regressed. Our language has become more worldly and our concepts more political or sociological in scope. The ‘other worldliness’ aspect of religion has been decimated as we have one by one eliminated from our vocabularies a number of words or have modified their meanings into more practical expressions that aren’t necessarily related to spirituality or religion at all. A loss of the sense of sin, probably led this parade. On its heels came a loss of the sense of meaningful suffering, a loss of shame and guilt, a loss of a desire to bring non-Catholics to conversion or to strive to become a saint. We see now a corruption of caritas into kindness and niceties and a growing tolerance for every perversity that the world engages in. And the most common response or lack of response has turned into indifference if not a perceived bastardization of a virtue — bootlicking hiding behind obedience. But obedience to what? To Truth? Or have we made of our prelates gods to worship and adore whether they defend Catholic Truths or abandon them? Everything, and every change being made to our Church is not an expression of the Holy Spirit speaking through these men. To think that is to give up on a rational faith; one that is supernatural but which is in keeping with rationality as well. The Holy Spirit will eventually lead us to overcome the gates of Hell but it does not mean that attacks against the Church and the Truths of the Church will only come from without — from the world. It can and does come from within the Church itself as well and it would be wise that we be concerned about the latter; for it is of far greater danger than attacks from without.
I do not understand those who celebrate or ignore the internal attacks against our Church or against the Catholic Culture that has been handed down to us while those who obviously want to disassemble our Faith and turn it into that which it never was; just another Christian denomination — no better, no worse than any other. In fact, of late the idea is being floated that Christianity is no better than other religions. In other words we are just people and it does not matter what faith one belongs to. The cry these days seems to be that anybody, no matter their beliefs will (if they are sincerely trying to live a good life) go to heaven and reach the beatific vision. If we no longer believe that the Catholic Church makes a difference or that it is not the One Church that Christ founded for mankind’s salvation then we should just close the doors and live our lives as secular humanists. The final state of our souls will not be affected anyway; so why should we fight the world, the flesh or the devil.
So I no longer know what I am defending anymore. Apologetics is frowned upon and proselytism is anathema. Tolerance and acceptance of all things is the character of the new Church unless one believes as we all did around 50 years ago; in which case those people should all be condemned and brought to scorn. It is getting harder to believe that this is the same Church of the Saints. But then nobody said that following Christ would not be without crosses to bear, sheep to defend and wolves to be routed. I just never thought that in so short a time the Church Herself would turn to devouring its own.