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A Church of Saints and Sinners

8/10/2003 - 12:20 AM PST

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Deacon Keith A Fournier
( c ) Third Millennium, LLC


I don’t think a day goes by any longer without hearing, reading or seeing bad news about the Church that exists to demonstrate and proclaim the “Good News” - how truly sad the current state of affairs has become.

For me this morning, it was a political cartoon in my local paper that brought the gravity of it all home. The cartoon pictured two Bishops. One was speaking to the other saying “OK, suppose you were caught molesting altar boys or having sex with other menthe Holy father has been very consistent on this. Under no circumstances should you be allowed to marry them”

Of course, there was nothing funny about the cartoon. In fact, it is anti-Catholic and blasphemous. The cartoonist had an agenda- as do some members of the Press in their recent reports concerning the Catholic Churches clear teaching concerning marriage, fidelity and family.

As I served the altar this morning I was deeply grieved by what this all reveals. We now live in the kind of climate that allows these types of cartoons to actually get placed in our newspapers. In fact, because of the horrible crisis of morality among a small minority of clergy, what Pope John Paul rightly called “the mystery of iniquity”, some once ordained to lead us have contributed to fostering this kind of climate.

The fact is that our beloved Catholic Church is reeling from a scandal that has undermined her moral authority and has created an open season on this wonderful Church. The overwhelming majority of priests are faithful, sacrificial servants and they are also suffering deeply from the egregious sins of some of their brothers. Of course, the profane effort by this particular cartoonist was one more attempt to mock the Vatican’s clearly written directive entitled “Considerations Regarding proposals the Give Legal recognition to Unions Between Homosexual Unions” and to undermine its vital purpose in a culture racing towards an implosion.

The argument revealed by the cartoon is an old one. The insinuation is that only “perfect” institutions (or perfect people) can comment on such issues. I recalled again the words of an old Pentecostal preacher I met when I was as a teenager, right before I came home to my Catholic faith. "Son, if you ever find the perfect church, don't join it" he opined, "it won't be perfect anymore." How true.

This beloved Church which, in the face of a wholesale rejection of truth by some in other Christian communities, had the courage to release such a clear, authoritative reaffirmation of Christian teaching, is, always has been, and will be until the return of her founder and Savior, a Church of saints and sinners. Yet, she continues on – sometimes in spite of even some of her leaders -to be an instrument from heaven for an earth in desperate need of truth.

Last night I watched the “Bishop elect” of another Christian community attempt once again to tell the world that, in his words, “God is doing something new.” What he apparently means by that clichéd comment is that God has changed his mind about the heart of the claim of the Christian Church for two thousand years. The fact is that Christianity has always proclaimed that marriage is a special state, reserved for a man and a woman, ordered toward the communion of persons. He wants to tell the world that God has changed His mind about the clear teaching of the Church for two thousand years, written as well in the natural law, that conjugal love is to be sexually expressed in the conjugal act, and always open to new life.

This sadly deluded Christian, who in another age would have been called to repentance for apostasy, immorality and heresy, is now being held out as some new champion to the public. He is claiming, to all who will listen, and many will, that God has changed His mind about marriage being the rock of family and the unbroken understanding, confirmed by all social science, human reason and experience that the two parent heterosexual family is the safest place for children to be raised and where they can best flourish as human persons.

This is blasphemy. The irony is that the Christian way concerning faithful, monogamous marriage as the place for sexual intimacy, the communion of authentic married love and the begetting and rearing of healthy, happy children IS the new way. Yet, faithful orthodox Christians are being presented as somehow narrow and not liberated.

The current cultural situation we face as Christians in America is not an unfamiliar one - if we look at it in terms of Christian history. I do not care how “scientifically advanced” we think we have become, or how “modern” the issues purport to be, we humans do not really change all that much, at least without grace. The struggle we are engaged in as Christians in this culture still concerns a clash of world views, personal and ...

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