Yielding To The Truth
By Monsignor Charles M. Mangan
A November 11, 2005 Catholic News Service (CNS) article entitled "Mass absence--Poll reveals most American Catholics believe Mass attendance not obligatory," published in Catholic Online, reported on a recent national survey of Catholics in the United States. The result of the poll? 76 percent of the respondents maintained that "they could be good Catholics without fulfilling the weekly Mass obligation."
And that is not all. "A majority also said that a person could be a good Catholic without obeying church teachings on birth control, on abortion and on divorce and remarriage."
The CNS text goes on to describe how Mass attendance compares between older and younger Catholics as well as to mention various other topics from which many of those polled freely dissent.
One could spend much time debating the findings. Who were the participants? How were the questions stated? Did the inquirers demonstrate a bias?
Although those are legitimate concerns whenever evaluating a survey, perhaps our time would be better spent if instead of arguing as to whether the majority of Catholics in the United States adopt such positions, we acknowledge that evidently--whether a majority or not--quite a few seemingly do.
This realization is both disappointing and sad to me, but very real nevertheless. I am painfully aware that countless Catholics in our country choose their "own way" in accepting--in effect, rejecting--the fullness of the Catholic Faith.
Witness the recently concluded Nomination Hearing of Judge Samuel A. Alito, Jr., to the Supreme Court of the United States. Four self-described "Catholic" members of the United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary--Patrick J. Leahy (Vermont), Edward M. Kennedy (Massachusetts), Joseph R. Biden, Jr. (Delaware) and Richard J. Durbin (Illinois)--forcefully conveyed their opinion that abortion-on-demand should remain in place in our nation, notwithstanding the clear, binding and time-honored doctrine of their Church that innocent human life, including that still in the womb, must always be defended.
This discouraging fact of public dissent from the authoritative and monolithic Teaching of the Church, agonizing as it is, does not diminish in me the esteem with which I hold the proclamations of the Magisterium. Christ Himself, Who is the basis for all of the Church's doctrines, spoke the "difficult words," particularly in the famous "Bread of Life Discourse," even when He knew that some of His followers would abandon Him (cf. Saint John 6: 60-71)
More than ever, we must pray and fast for those Catholics who, for whatever reason, spurn the Church's mandates. Furthermore, we must make a pointed effort to know what the Church teaches and to embrace it, convinced that when the Vicar of Christ speaks in specific matters, it is the Voice of Jesus that we hear. "Whoever listens to you listens to Me. Whoever rejects you rejects Me. And whoever rejects Me rejects Him Who sent Me." (Saint Luke 10:16)
Finally, we confess that by virtue of our Baptism, we are teachers and evangelists. Our words and actions can sway other Catholics to adhere anew to the Teaching of the Church. Should we be ridiculed for standing up and promoting the Truth, we will take solace from the perennially comforting words of Our Savior, Jesus Christ: "Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you (falsely) because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in Heaven. Thus they persecuted the prophets who were before you." (Saint Matthew 5:11-12)
O Mary, Mother of the Church, help us and all Catholics to obey your Divine Son as He presents the Truth to us through the only Church that He founded.
http://www.catholic.org , VA
Monsignor Charles M. Mangan - Official, 390 66616-1125
Jesus Christ; Catholic Teaching: Magisterium
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