Te Deum laudamus!: Fr. Perrone: Dissent almost always involves ‘below the belt issues’…

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Fr. Perrone: Dissent almost always involves ‘below the belt issues’…

Fr. Eduard Perrone during Benediction
at the outdoor Grotto

The conference for the 13th Call to Holiness has ended. Photos will be processed and up soon.  Today, there is an orchestra Mass (Solemn High EF Mass) at 9:30am at Assumption Grotto for Pentecost. There will be a tour at the Detroit Institute of Arts led by Johnette Benkovic after the Mass and there may be openings yet.

In his June 12, 2011 pastor’s column, Fr. Perrone talks about truth, and dissent, referring to a Scriptural passage that captures it better than any commentary can.

PENTECOST is often said to be the birthday of the Church. It marked the day when the Holy Spirit was first received, having been sent by the Father and by Christ at the Father’s right. Our Lord had promised the presence of the Holy Spirit in the Church as the One who assures that the Church remain in truth. The Church–the Catholic Church–has this guarantee of infallibility so that its authoritative decisions cannot err in faith or in moral truth. It is this very reliability, this certainty that the Church has–that its teachings are entirely without error–which gives us the confidence to put our wholehearted trust in them. And so, it is not because the Church’s doctrines seem ‘right’ or merely only ‘best’ that we adhere to them, but because they have the confirmation of divine authority behind them.

How utterly ironic it is then that there are those allegedly within the Church who invoke the Holy Spirit, petitioning Him to reverse what He had formerly revealed in the Catholic Church, as if He had erred in the past or possibly that He had made provisional teachings He meant to change in time. In either, there’s a clear case of blasphemy. If God can’t be trusted with telling unerring and permanent truth, then truth itself is–truth to tell–a lie. The contradiction is inescapable.

By the time you get this the 2011 Call to Holiness (CTH) Conference will have ended. The purpose of CTH from its inception has been to propagate the truth of Christ as the Church has received it: faithfully and entire. This initiative was necessitated by the organized efforts of said Catholics who wanted the Church to depart from truth and make it adopt beliefs and practices that are secular, sinful, and agreeable to the baser tendencies of fallen human nature. In short, the dissenters from Catholic truth (such as the American Catholic Council, Call to Action) want falsehood to be declared as if true. Can a more perverse proposal be made? Recall that original sin began with a deception and that Christ named Satan The Father of Lies. Such reflection however seems never to have been made by objectors to the Catholic faith, they who would prefer truth to conform to their wish and will. I’d like to offer some lines from Saint Peter’s Second Epistle (chapter 2) for meditation by anyone who may ever have harbored doubts about the veracity of Catholic teaching. I myself would never be so bold as to ascribe the following passage directly to our contemporary dissenters from Catholic teaching were it not God’s own word:

False teachers will secretly bring in destructive heresies…bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their lewdness, and because of them the way of truth will be reviled…They will exploit you with false words. Those who indulge in lust and despise authority, bold and wilful, like irrational animals, creatures of instinct… they will be destroyed… They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their dissipation… They have eyes for adultery, insatiable for sin. They entice unsteady souls. Accursed children!… For them the nether gloom of darkness has been reserved. Uttering loud boasts of foolishness, they entice with lewd passions of the flesh men who have barely escaped from those who live in error. They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. If, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overpowered, the last state has become for them worse than the first. It would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the commandment given to them. It has happened to them according to the true proverb: The dog returns to his vomit, and the sow is washed only to wallow in the mire.

Dissent from the Catholic faith has almost always involved the ‘below the belt’ issues, seeking the freedom to divorce, to use contraception, to have abortion, to engage in any and all sexual practices, to receive Communion without any conditions, to abolish priestly celibacy. It is to these specific ends (cf. the lewd things in Saint Peter’s Epistle above) that they want changes in Church structure and hierarchy. It’s not a power struggle against ecclesiastical authority pure and simple but wanting the controls so as to declare that what isn’t true be true. The Apostle foresees a terrible future for people who hold such opinions and who persuade others to adopt them.

Our Pentecost prayer would be adroitly aimed for the enlightenment of those who have been deceived and for the conversion of those who have wittingly disabused them.

Fr. Perrone

Te Deum laudamus!: Fr. Perrone: Dissent almost always involves ‘below the belt issues’….

An article from last year with some interesting insight from Fr. Perrone.

Are Catholics Free to Dissent?

There seems to be many who are confused about the above question. Most of their bewilderment arises from a misunderstanding about what it means to be Catholic, what our Catholic freedom consists, and what teachings are considered definitive and which ones are merely matters of discipline and practice which are alterable.

To become a Catholic, one must first study the Catholic Faith, including all of the major definitive teachings, profess agreement with those teachings, and then, having assented to the teachings, receive the Sacrament of Confirmation. This Sacrament of Confirmation binds us to hold these Truths with the rest of the Catholic Faithful even to the point of martyrdom should that be required.

Therefore, to break with the Church and the rest of the Catholic Faithful, is in a manner of speaking, a renunciation of the Sacrament in which we solemnly avowed our assent. To do so is much more serious than just the character flaw or lack of integrity we have exhibited: indeed, it is a willful resignation from the Mystical Body of Believers that we supposedly joined.

Suppose, for example, that an immigrant to the United States became a citizen of our great country but refused to pay taxes or to serve in the military during the time of war. We would be outraged by such a person and agree that he never should have received his citizenship since he fully understood what responsibilities his citizenship required. However, in this situation, the new citizen (though having no right to break the law) would have the right to try to implement changes that he finds more suitable. Even the Constitution itself could be voted on and changed, as it is a man-made document which is within our rights to oppose or change though amendments are extremely difficult to revoke or alter.

The Church, however, is not the same type of institution. It is not a democracy where men decide what things should be held and what things should not be held. Because the Catholic Faith is a Revealed Faith, revealed by God, Who can neither deceive nor be deceived, Her definitive teachings on faith and morals must be fully and completely upheld and defended. It can never be voted on or ratified but simply accepted or rejected by His human creations.

So in matters of Faith or Morals we either accept them, whole and entire, or we reject them. If we hold these truths we are in communion with the Church and if not, our communion with the Mystical Body,which is Christ, is broken.

We may object in matters of discipline and practice as they are not the dogma of the Church but we must remain obedient to them until such time that the practice is either changed or abrogated. It is not an act of disobedience to reject or criticize a practice that our conscience urges us to disapprove.

For instance, if I find that reception in the hand is a practice that makes the Real Presence of our Lord less recognizable and is thus creating a situation where people are losing their faith in this Definitive Teaching of the Church, I have every right to oppose it. I must honor the right of the Church to allow it, but I do not have to accept the practice as being either wise or what one would deem prudent.

So the answer to the headline: are Catholics free to dissent is dependent upon what manner of law we are speaking about. If the teaching is doctrinal, the answer is no. If it concerns practical or discipline related rules, the answer is yes with a caveat: we are obligated to be obedient to the instructions until such time as the rule is abrogated or changed.