It is still puzzling after all these years, just why Father titled his column, M-EDITATIONS, for most, if not all, have less to do with thoughtful exercise, and seem more as a pretext for the promotion of the "American Church:" [Nor do I comprehend the symbolism of the spelling.]
The Limited Dialogue Column
Father appears to have appointed himself the point man for [the now late] Cardinal Bernardin and [now outed, retired] Archbishop Weakland regarding the Holy Father's visit to America. He cites a false dilemma, which was portrayed by Cardinal Bernardin as really existing, which was posed to His Holiness, John Paul II: "When the Holy See reaffirms a teaching which has been a part of our heritage for centuries, or applies it to today's realities, it is sometimes accused of regression ... when someone questions how a truth might be better applied ... he is accused of rejecting truth or being in conflict ... " As if to say that Cardinal Bernardin & Company really care about such accusations against the Pontiff.
Unfortunately for Father Columnist's reasoning, there is no dilemma at all. First, it matters not if the Pope is accused of regression, for that is not a problem for any Pontiff, apart from the political, for it is the duty of the Vicar of Christ to be accused of regression, for the Church and the Catholic is not of this world, albeit in it for the time being, thus, by definition, in regression as in maintaining the traditions handed down to us by Christ and His Apostles. Fallen man has a vaunted opinion of his ability "to progress." The problem is not with the Pontiff but with those advocating the right to dissent. If there is a dilemma here it is because the dissenters want things both ways, to dissent while considered remaining faithful, which is impossible. Second, no sincere Catholic, asking a question for the purpose of clarification and or edification in re the application of moral theology to modern life, is ever accused of dissent. After all, it is God Who has said to man, "Come, let us reason together." It is not the sincere and humble Christian seeking an answer with the mind of Christ in view that has the problem, it is the one who already knows the answer but rejects it out of pride and self-will. The appellation of the term "dissenter" is accurately applied only to those who willfully dissent, while crying like spoiled children with temper tantrums when the Holy See does not applaud their efforts, which occurs so seldom in these twilight years, that the dissenters are crying crocodile tears. If only their charges were true!!
Father proffers a non-existent either/or, as if to suggest that the only solution is to give into the dissenters. I say this quite confidently because Father closes this column with the following, which speaks volumes of innuendo:
"This dialogue has been referred to as 'limited' because Pope John Paul II did not appear to respond to the needs of the Church in the United States. While referring to the points presented by the bishops, he went on to repeat standard Church teaching. Had the bishops truly expressed the real aspirations of the American people and the needed solutions, I wonder what response would have ensued?" [Emphasis mine. And note the implied disapproval in the phrase, "standard Church teaching."]
I can but reply that the needs of Americans are the needs of us human creatures the world over, the life of the Sacraments of the Church for salvation. Interestingly, Father takes the Pope to task for not responding favorably to a statement that Father admits was not genuine, that is, not the real one. Now since the statement of the bishops, as issued forth from Cardinal Bernardin is rife with implied dissent, pray tell, what does Father mean by the real aspirations?
A Call to Action and A Call to Reform Column
As the title implies, this column was an unabashed apologetic or screed celebrating "democracy in the Church" ala Chicago Call to Action, the revolutionary front of the modern-day modernists.
Among the highlights was this prescription from Father Physician for what is ailing the Church: "We call for extensive consultation with the Catholic people in developing Church teaching on human sexuality ... "
Orthodox [little o] Catholics, that is, Catholics, period, are always accused of concentrating exclusively on sexual sins. We would gladly give up "seeming to be obsessed" with defending the Church's teaching on this if only the modernists would cease their incessant call for "reform" of sexual morality. I have never met a modernist who had anything but sexuality uppermost in his theological imagination. Having to respond to a sex-obsessed dissenter is not being obsessed, it is, well, merely responding to one who is. If one's neighborhood were plagued by violent rioters, would it be thought an obsession to be prepared to defend one's home and family every time a rampage occurred? Of course not. It is axiomatic that one would be abnormal not to do so. So why should chastity be any different? Like their Protestant counterparts before them, modern heretics do not want to revolt, they just want to "reform": Not only do they use language manipulation to disguise what it is they want to change, they also employ deception to mask that they are even doing this.
It is heretical to assert that the Catholic people must be consulted before the Church can pronounce on moral doctrine. Christ in no way consulted with His disciples or the Pharisees before He expounded on marriage and divorce, or on anything else for that matter. Recall that when His teaching on the Holy Eucharist was such a "hard teaching," that "many walked away": Christ did not run after them, saying, wait fellas, let's discuss this like rational people. We can dialogue about My Body and Blood. I didn't really mean it like you think I did." If ever an occasion called for consultation, this surely would have been the time, if it were part of God's plan for doctrinal instruction.
A truly Catholic people, Father, has no need for a "democratic Church," for what makes them distinctive as Catholic and true to their Savior's will, among other attributes, is their participation willingly out of love of God in the hierarchical nature of the One True Holy and Apostolic Church of Jesus Christ. The family is not democratic, nature is not democratic in any species, including mankind. For some political-social policies that touch on practical matters without impacting morality per se, some consultation is permitted; but no one, no government, no expert, no agitator with a cause has the right from God to "develop" morality, simply because God is sovereign here. We have no right to decide what is good and evil without saying to God, "I will not serve, I will not obey." Father is supposed to be helping his people obey God, not find ways to excuse themselves from that part of the natural and Divine law and the Ten Commandments, that they are personally "uncomfortable with."
Father, who usually exhibits a profound distaste for anything "pre-Vatican II," does an about face and ends his column with a distorted application of Church history ["the early Church" period], which he says was more "democratic," and thus we should go back to this. Naturally he omits much of that history, etc., as briefly noted above.
If it were not so pathetic and so serious a situation, it would be quite amusing to observe the "American Catholic"------as opposed to Catholics who happen to be American------in rhetorical action. If they advocate something that is opposed by Christ through His Holy See, and that dissent cannot be squared by false analogies to the "early Church," they dress up the dissent in "new" clothing called "progressive." If the dissent can't square with the "later Church," they appeal to the "early Church." The proverbial heads we win, tails you lose strategy. By the time some of the people have caught on to the deception, it is usually too late to do anything about it because by then the error has been so inculcated into the minds of most of the people that dissent as a way of life is a fait accompli on the human nature level. Then they no longer care if the game is up. They will always devise new tactics to deceive and lead the majority astray as needed. This is what happened with the Mass. Recall that in the first few years after the close of Vatican II, the so-called "reformers" or "progressives" kept insisting that they weren't really changing anything fundamental, merely taking us "back to the early Church of simplicity?" Then, when the Roman Mass was dead and buried, or so they thought, two of their leaders, one a bishop and another a theologian, wrote books admitting what they had actually done; just like the homosexualists insisting to us and the media a few years back they did not seek "gay marriage." Now, of course, that is what they are doing openly and boldly, because they sense the older ploy is no longer necessary.
next installment: forward.