Increasingly, I observe that there is a religion called “Catholicism”, which is based on the writings and traditions of the Apostles and has a consistent two-millennium tradition and track record, and another religion called “Catholicism” which is practiced by those born into it, which has different premises about the nature of man, of good and evil, and our responsibilities to God. I’ve had people tell me I’m getting it very wrong, but I don’t think that’s true. And I’ve had other people think I’m a saint, and I KNOW that isn’t true. All I know is that there’s a disjunct.
I recently had a pair of observant Catholics tell me almost braggingly about their year of premarital boinkery…they aren’t the first or only young people to jump the gun, and I of all people have BTDT, but…why are you telling me this? I may be wearing black because I just came from a concert, but I’m not a priest and this is not a confessional. Likewise, I’ve been told that a priest should ignore older people living together without benefit of clergy and invite them to the Eucharist, and that to expect them to point out that sin is sin is a violation of “grace”. Hey, forgiveness is a great thing, and I’m willing to forgive you beating me, but you have to put the baseball bat down first, because I want some evidence that you’re sorry.. Jesus is on the Cross for you, right now, so put the hammer and nails down already.
Much the same make-your-own-rules mentality surfaces in the Evangelical churches as well. “Mere Christianity” is rapidly becoming “merely a label”, or this notion that Christianity is doing what Jesus did. Well, hey, that’s part of it, and I’d be more open to that if you weren’t so convinced that Jesus was a Palestinian Communist agitator, or if you were more open to doing what Jesus did after Palm Sunday.
The folks who want the Church to be a democracy, who think they can make their own rules, are the same people who think that their own whims are the criteria for democratic governance, and that fundamental rules can be changed by majority vote. It’s a cancer that began in the world and is now beseiging the church….which will ultimately make the church useless for fixing it in the world…absent intervention by God.
Apropos of all of this. Fr. Zuhlsdorf’s comments on the Minnesota marriage battle led me to this piece on the decay of Lutheranism, and this description of the ELCA convention of 2009, which I’d totally missed at the time, even though I’d been born Lutheran:
When debate began on the proposed sex statement affirming homosexual relationships, a rare and completely unpredicted tornado struck downtown Minneapolis where the convention was held. It ripped off part of the convention center roof, but even more amazing is what happened to Central Lutheran Church directly across the street. That church had earlier hosted the homosexual lobby’s worship services. The tornado actually knocked the cross over on their steeple. This did not deter the vote which passed the proposal reportedly by 66.6%. Many observers did not dismiss these signs as coincidences.