What must be done? Perhaps we should create another Church for things to work out? Well, that experiment has already been undertaken and has already failed (…) The crisis, caused by the many cases of clerical abuse, urges us to regard the Church as something almost unacceptable, which we must now take into our own hands and redesign. But a self-made Church cannot constitute hope.

— Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s essay on the abuse crisis

The ancient philosopher Xenophanes believed that if horses and cattle had hands, they would sculpt gods in the likeness of horses and cattle. I’ve seen a similar argument touted by atheists, parodying one of our most foundational doctrines: God would’ve not made Man in His image; rather it would’ve been Man to fashion God in Man’s image.

I’ve always thought this showed a serious misconception about the faith. I can assure the reader, the God I worship is not made in my image and likeness. If He was, He would certainly do many things differently, and act more in accordance with my ideas. One of the core frustrations of the religious man (a constructive frustration, necessary for spiritual growth) is the acknowledgement of how different God is from our desires and preconceptions. Progress in the path of faith means accepting this fact with increasing docility, and conforming our will to His.

Yet, even though I see the atheists’ argument as based on a misconception, I can certainly understand where they are coming from. For I think many religious people unwittingly give a bad example, providing evidence that Man often fashions God in his own image.

The most glaring example of this comes from liberal quarters. It is not uncommon for a liberal to observe the empty pews in the Church and conclude: “If only the Church would change her teachings on sexuality, if only the Church was more modern, the pews would be filled again.”

The conservative will correctly note that some liberal churches, like the Episcopalian Church, have done just that and their pews are nonetheless empty. But then the same conservative will observe the empty pews and conclude: “If only the Church would come back to pre-Vatican II liturgy, if only the Church would assert her doctrine more forcefully and clearly, the pews would be filled again.”

It seems like a completely different argument, but really it’s exactly the same. In both, our critic believes he has the solution for the Church’s woes. If only the Church would listen to him, and change accordingly, then the Church would be “saved”.

I argue, however, that doing this would not solve the problem. Actually, it would increase the problem, because it exacerbates the mindset at the root of the problem in the first place.

If you ask a non-practicing Catholic (the kind both liberals and conservatives want to entice back into the fold) the reasons for his non-attendance, he will probably say that he dislikes something in the Church, and that the Church should change that.

This is remarkably similar to the attitude of both the liberal and the conservative I mentioned before. It is the Church that should change, if this person is to come back. Mind you, sometimes the changes demanded may be entirely reasonable and fair (for example, the non-practicing Catholic who feels betrayed by the way the Church acted on the abuse crisis and demands a change that is sorely needed.) And certainly, the Church has “changed” in the sense of making pastoral accommodations to help many people from many backgrounds in their journey back home. But these changes were made authoritatively, which means they are still part of the Tradition of the Church, contrary to the changes demanded by both liberals and conservatives, that would require us to bury the authority of Popes and Councils (a more dramatic change than any Pope or Council has ever undertaken.)

However, I do not wish to focus on the reasons invoked by those who want the Church to change, but rather to focus on this attitude: that one possesses the solutions for the problems within the Church, and that the Church will only be saved when she implements those solutions.

As I said before, I sincerely believe that this attitude will not bring more people back to the Church, precisely because this attitude is at least part of the problem. Many non-practicing Catholics do not see the Church as relevant unless the Church changes to meet their expectations. So, why would that person rush back to Mass because the Church changed, not according to his expectations, but according to the expectations of someone else who says: “the pews will only fill if the Church does X”?

No, if the Church changes to meet the expectations of the conservative or liberal, then the non-practicing Catholic can reply: “well then, if the Church can change by demand, I will come back to the Church when she changes according to my own demands.” And here lies the seed of polarization. The Church becomes a battlefield between competing worldviews. There is no end in sight for the strife, unless one side unconditionally surrenders… something that is unlikely. In this case, the Church becomes no different from any secular institution, corporation or political body, where disputes and competition reign supreme. The Church is profaned, i.e. she becomes similar to profane, non-sacred, worldly realities.

I would like to propose a different perspective. I suggest we purge ourselves of the idea that we have the solution for everything, and the Church should change accordingly. In fact, I would challenge you to consider the following:

Pope St. Pius X, in his encyclical Pascendi Dominici Gregis, defined Modernism as the synthesis of all heresies. I’ve noted that this is not due to something intrinsically wrong with modernity per se. Rather, as St. Pius says in the very same document, Modernism is rooted in pride. And this pride is defined as:

[T]hat confidence in themselves [that] leads them to hold themselves up as the rule for all (…) which allows them to regard themselves as the sole possessors of knowledge (…) which rouses in them the spirit of disobedience.”

Pascendi Dominici Gregis, #40

It is this attitude that makes Modernism: the demand that the Church adjust herself to modernity as the ultimate wisdom, irrespective of whether modern values are compatible with a true understanding of Christianity or not.

I think that Modernism is indeed the synthesis of all heresies in this regard, because this attitude is fundamentally linked to the core source of all heresies and evils: Original Sin (the wish to live independently from God.)

For there is another misconception in atheist sectors: that God wanted to keep Adam and Eve in ignorance by forbidding them to taste from the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge. They wrongly interpret this as yet another anti-scientific stance in the Bible. But we know from a correct biblical exegesis that when Adam and Eve ate from the Tree of Knowledge, it was not because they craved knowledge, but because they wanted a life on their own terms, separated from God. Satan himself illustrates this, for he tempts them: “If you eat from the fruit of this tree, you will become like gods.”

This attitude is perfectly countered by Jesus, the New Adam, in the garden of Gethsemani. Foretelling His own death, Jesus prays to the Father to spare Him. Nevertheless, in the end, He yields by saying: “Thy will be done;” A cry echoed by the Virgin St. Mary’s fiat, for she was the New Eve crushing the head of the ancient serpent.

It is not strange, therefore, to see this same idea being conveyed in I our most fundamental prayer, the one that God Himself taught us so that we should know how to pray: “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

Here, in my opinion, lies the antidote to the mindset that we have all the answers and, therefore, the Church should change according to our understanding. It is not the Church that should fundamentally change to fit us, it is we who should be willing to change fundamentally in order to embrace the Church’s teachings.

Does this mean we should just passively acquiesce if we find the Church acting wrongly? Far from it. However, underlying our legitimate criticisms (which Pope Francis certainly welcomes) there must be a profoundly different stance from what we have seen so often in recent years. The critic must not fall into the temptation of becoming an accuser of the Church, but must be willing to change himself, his ideas, his prejudices, his solutions, his answers, his projects and his will, first and foremost before asking the Church to do the same. He must be willing to remove the beam from his own eye before trying to remove the speck from his brother’s eye.

This is why the worn-out comparison between the papal critics and St. Paul or St. Catherine of Siena simply does not hold water. Actually, it proves my point. The critics are the ones comparing themselves to those saints. But these saints would never self-canonize themselves in such a way. First, they didn’t criticize the Church for her teachings on faith and morals, but for not following those teachings. Second, their criticism was completely different from the constant gossip, partisanship, denigration and vitriol we see every day in social media, whenever the Pope is mentioned. They were not accusers, but collaborators. Not self-styled collaborators hiding their accusations under the guise of collaboration, but actual, real collaborators. The role of the accuser, as Francis has expressed several times, belongs to another, and there is no holiness in that one.

And this brings us to another important point regarding those saints: their criticism was accompanied by fruits of holiness. And what is holiness but the understanding that our ideas are the fruit of an intellect in need of metanoia (i.e. conformity with the will of God), and not a personal reference point for “saving the world”? What is holiness but a humble willingness to be changed by the Church’s teachings, so that they will mold our lives, especially in areas of inordinate attachments to rigid preconceptions and ideas we are reluctant to forego?

It is my firm belief that only when Catholics change their attitude and become willing to be changed by the Church instead of trying to change the Church, will they be able to solve the problem of empty pews. Only when the Church becomes a source of inner renewal for Christians, so that it leads to radical and visible transformations in their lives, will the non-practicing ones be challenged on their idea that the Church is unnecessary for leading a good life. Only when the Church is viewed not as yet another political body, but as the Body of Christ, will she be found to be worthwhile to a cynical generation that has fallen away.

And only when they see Christians acting in this counterintuitive, yet joyful way, will the world start questioning. When they do, the Christian will reply to them: “You want to change the Church? But the Church changed me!” Only then will the scales fall from their eyes, allowing them to see that they had it backwards all along. And only then will they say: “I want to change in the same way you have! Please help me!”

Only a Church that is viewed like this can constitute hope. That was the Pope Emeritus’ point in the opening quote of this article.

As I began this article with Benedict’s quote, I would like to finish it with a a fuller sample of that same quote (my emphasis):

“What must be done? Perhaps we should create another Church for things to work out? Well, that experiment has already been undertaken and has already failed. Only obedience and love for our Lord Jesus Christ can point the way. So let us first try to understand anew and from within [ourselves] what the Lord wants, and has wanted with us”

Obedience and love. This is key for the discernment of our behavior as Catholics. Let us take up this task, by saying to Our Father: “Thy will, not mine, be done.

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Pedro Gabriel, MD, is a Catholic layman and physician, born and residing in Portugal. He is a medical oncologist, currently employed in a Portuguese public hospital. A published writer of Catholic novels with a Tolkienite flavor, he is also a parish reader and a former catechist. He seeks to better understand the relationship of God and Man by putting the lens on the frailty of the human condition, be it physical and spiritual. He also wishes to provide a fresh perspective of current Church and World affairs from the point of view of a small western European country, highly secularized but also highly Catholic by tradition.

To save the Church, my will be done

45 Responses

  1. Christopher Lake says:


    My brother in Christ, what you have stated in this article is the cry of my own heart, mind, and soul, articulated much better than I could, and I thank you!!

    It has always been perplexing to me that theological “liberals” would join the Catholic Church, while clearly not agreeing with some of her official teachings (often having to do with sexuality and gender, in various ways), and then work for those teachings to be changed. As a Catholic convert/revert, I don’t want to change the Church’s teachings– I want *them* to change *me*, by God’s grace, through the Holy Spirit!

    For a long time, I thought that this stance put me firmly in the theologically “conservative” part of the Church. In recent years though, especially during the Francis Papacy, I have come to realize that I don’t want to be classified, by myself or by anyone, as *either* a theological liberal *or* a conservative, precisely because from what I can ascertain, too many people in both “wings” of the Church are arguing and working for their own “brand” of Catholicism– and each one, in different ways, dissents from official teachings (and, sometimes, disciplines) of the Church.

    For example, it has been deeply saddening to me to see certain Catholic publishers, such as Ignatius Press, which defended Papal authority and teachings for decades, now publish material that directly opposes Pope Francis’s revision to the Catechism on the death penalty. I trusted Ignatius for years to publish books which helped me to be a more faithful Catholic (and they *do* still publish some helpful books, but with Francis, there has been a seeming change in their “Papal perspective!”). Now, I find myself thinking, to whom can I look for Catholic books to help me in my life of faith, when once-consistently-trustworthy Catholic publishers are becoming increasingly opposed to Pope Francis? Well, I can look, at least, to the writings of the Pope himself, and to those who respect and trust him, as I do, in his consistent claim (for which I see abundant evidence) that he is “a loyal son of the Church.”

    It is not my role in the Church (thanks be to God!) to challenge and “resist” the Pope, whenever he says or does something which may, possibly, refine, or even challenge, some aspect of *my previous understanding” of a teaching or discipline of the Church. It’s my role to listen to the Pope, be open to him, learn from him, and take very seriously the fact that *he and the Magisterium teaching in accordance with him* have the visible, living, doctrinal and disciplinary teaching authority in the Church, and I do not have that authority, for good reason– because this is God’s design for the Church, *not* mine in some subjective, partisan sense, and I want *His* will, not mine, to be done, on earth, as it is in Heaven. (Of course, none of this comment is, in any way, a defense of *any* of the terrible abuses in the Church, because those are clearly *violations* of God’s moral will.)

  2. Peter Aiello says:

    If we compare today’s Catholic Church with the New Testament Catholic Church, they are quite different; and not because of societal differences. The doctrinal emphases are very different. The NT emphasizes the Holy Spirit and its effects (Galatians 5:22-23).
    The mystical aspect of the NT Church has gone underground along with its means for a radical and visible transformations in people’s lives. The present Catholic Church emphasizes the Eucharist; and expects the Eucharist to provide what the Holy Spirit provides. The same is true of confession. This is not working. The elevated place of Mary in the present Church is totally absent in the NT Church. She has also become a substitute for the Holy Spirit in the minds of many Catholics.
    These differences are more than just developed doctrine. Would it be considered ‘change’ to go back to the priorities of the NT? I would say yes; but that would challenge the idea that the Catholic Church does not change doctrine, but only develops it without really changing it. Is this also developed doctrine?
    We don’t need a new church different from the original one; but at least with the original one, we have a solid basis for seeing what meaningful change would look like rather than fashioning a church in man’s image or Modernism, which seems to be the trend nowadays. I don’t know if this would fill the pews; but does that really matter?

    • Pedro Gabriel says:


    • Christopher Lake says:


      Your comment is, to be blunt, fairly dripping with contempt for the Catholic Church. It reads *exactly* like the “Biblically-based” anti-Catholic apologetics that I engaged in to attempt to evangelize Catholics out of the Church when I was an evangelical Protestant. I have heard your arguments, because they used to be mine, but I cannot and will not fall for them anymore.

      The Catholic Church officially teaches *everything* that is explicitly found in Scripture, including the reality of the Eucharist *and* the personal ministry of the Holy Spirit to the believer. I often hear about both truths in the homilies at my parish and in discussions with my Catholic friends. The Church also teaches many truths that are not *explicitly found* in Scripture but that are drawn from *Scriptural principles and implications* which have been handed down to us from the Church’s teaching authority. This is an application of 2 Thessalonians 2:15-16, and it includes the Church’s Marian teachings. The “emphasis on Mary,” which you dislike so much, was present and taught in the Church before the Church even canonized the New Testament– a collection of books which you would not *even have* without the Church but which you *use*, quite ironically, *against* the Church. Mary is very highly honored in the Church, because she is the mother of Our Lord. Without her loving, obedient willingness to carry Jesus in her womb and care for Him and raise Him into adulthood, we would not have the redemption and salvation which He brought to us on the Cross.

      You can keep telling us, over and over, that in your view, the priorities of the New Testament are not the priorities of the Catholic Church. That assertion is very familiar to me as a former Protestant. I made the same claim for years. However, the hard truth is, your subjective reading of Scripture is woefully uninformed by the Scriptural readings of the early Church Fathers, which means that your reading of Scripture is uniformed by the very Church authority which, again, canonized the New Testament itself, and which, for that reason, *knows how to read and interpret the New Testament correctly*. You claim that in your interpretation of Scripture, your authority is the Holy Spirit. However, the Holy Spirit does not lead people to misuse Scripture to argue against the teachings of the Church that Christ founded, which canonized the New Testament, and which interprets it correctly, notwithstanding your protestations to the contrary.

      • Peter Aiello says:

        Maybe it depends upon the parish that you attend. I can only speak for the parishes and schools that I attended, and the period that I grew up in. It’s true that the Church has officially taught all truth, if you consider the New Testament to be official Church teaching, as I do. To imply that the Church has always emphasized the same balance of things throughout its history is a bit unrealistic. If I had contempt for the Church I wouldn’t be using its reading material in my personal life.

      • Peter Aiello says:

        Many Catholics have written on theological matters in the past 2000 years. Are they all correct? They can’t be. Which are official teachings of the Church, and which are not? Which teachings are tolerated by the Church even though they are not official teachings? There are many. The hierarchy has its job to do, and we have ours to make sure that we are not misguided by unofficial teachings which are not in line with Scripture.

  3. Marie says:

    Thank you Pedro, it’s a lot to think about.

  4. Laurie Mehta, OFS says:

    Thank you for this!

  5. Faith says:

    “Maybe my entire argument is wrongheaded. I have been wrong before, and will no doubt be wrong again; one more mistaken view is of no great consequence.”-Phil Lawler massively understating the consequences of his choice & others to try and tear down the foundation of the Church. May he and the others repent. I can practically predict their take on anything Pope Francis says; always with the admission that yes, the Holy Father’s words possibly could be taken another way…. and yes, of course, always prayers for Pope Francis. I wonder if there is a greater earthly reward to be had for blaspheming the Holy Spirit…

  6. jong says:

    Pedro good article on liberals and conservatives analysis.
    First, I want to play critics today as you never allowed my post in your several articles, thats your privelege and I respect that, although I was saddened.
    Second, I want to defend Eve from your narration. Other religion praises Eve, why?
    Your narration somehow deprived Eve of her God given dignity, why? Look at how Eve tried to resist Satan temptation. Satan first tempted Eve to eat the fruit but Eve said No, it is prohibited.Satan again tried to tempt Eve by saying “ok, how about touching only the fruit”?. Eve fall into satan trap this time like the Rad Trads snake tactics today, satan had “twisted the command”. But of course, Eve resisted Satan again, but this time She was force to utter a lie, Eve said even touching was prohibited.Then, Satan sees an opening then he “beguiled” Eve that he can touch the fruit and will not die. So, the serpent touch the fruit first.(Look at St.Hildegard Poem, also Valtorta poem but since it is a forbidden book be cautious use discernment.)
    Satan offer a quick path to Theosis by offering a false wisdom to Eve..
    On the contrary Mama Mary offer too a quick Theosis by Total Consecration(St.Montfort Way).
    Lastly, you qouted Pope Benedict XVI words but you forgot to connect it with his prediction on the future of the Church.
    Cardinal Ratzinger precisely predicted that the future church will become poor and small but a more pious one. Pope Francis already embraced this vision saying “How I wish the church becomes poor and for the poor”. Meaning the Vatican II Church will undergoes purification and it is happening now. Pope Francis like Gideon is separating the Obedient from the Disobedient thats why the Holy Spirit keep on inspiring him several doctrines and changes that will further separate all the disobedient souls. End times is a test of Love and Obedience of all the faithtful to the Pope., because the Final Confrontation is between “Obedience vs. disobedience” and “humility vs.Pride” and “Light vs. darkness”.(John1:5)
    A true Catholic must embrace and prepare for the church purification and death.It is the Church destiny written in CCC675.
    Jesus the Head of the Church suffers persecutions,passions,crucifixion and death for a glorious resurrection, the Church the Mystical Body must embrace the same path, “The Way of the Cross,”. God bless

  7. ONG says:

    Beautiful Homily of Pope Francis on the Motherhood of the Church:
    January 1st, 2015

    Mary is so closely united to Jesus because she received from him the knowledge of the heart, the knowledge of faith, nourished by her experience as a mother and by her close relationship with her Son. The Blessed Virgin is the woman of faith who made room for God in her heart and in her plans; she is the believer capable of perceiving in the gift of her Son the coming of that “fullness of time”(Gal 4:4) in which God, by choosing the humble path of human existence, entered personally into the history of salvation. That is why Jesus cannot be understood without his Mother.


    This, the Church’s activity and mission, is an expression of her motherhood. For she is like a mother who tenderly holds Jesus and gives him to everyone with joy and generosity. No manifestation of Christ, even the most mystical, can ever be detached from the flesh and blood of the Church, from the historical concreteness of the Body of Christ.

    Without the Church, Jesus Christ ends up as an idea, a moral teaching, a feeling. Without the Church, our relationship with Christ would be at the mercy of our imagination, our interpretations, our moods. […]


  8. ONG says:

    Here’s an older video from April 2012 by Bishop Barron on *Why Catholics Leave the Church*, both comparing and analyzing the reasons achieved by an earlier survey.
    I associated it with the Pastoral remedy exhorted in Evangelii Gaudium by Pope Francis, the New Evangelization and with what “Clericalism” has produced:


    • Marie says:

      Thank you for the link Omg. As someone who has really struggled with these very issues, which have nothing to do with the Church, and everything to do with pastoral care and public witness, I’m surprised, but not, that many people have had such experiences of disconnect.

      • ONG says:

        Well Marie,
        I guess we are all to blame in a way or another. Individualism and not the real sense of community might have a big say in this.
        I would go for the “Revolution” Pope Francis was talking about in that TED 2017 video address (if you got a chance to see it).
        Obviously such Evangelization must be well worked out in teamwork. For instance, one who invites X person to go to Y place, must be sure that the person gets warmly received and meets the right persons. That has been one of my thoughts for a possible follow-up after having had an evangelizing encounter with X.
        It certainly has to be locally and well-planned.

        I also remember Pope Francis often saying that he would have liked to see churches open 24/7, not like offices that show a sign with opening hours…
        Anyone who felt the need anytime for some spiritual solace could go straight in by seeing the door open…

        Surely difficult to imagine that today in chaotic modern cities… Utopia? 🤔

      • Marie says:


        Do you mean “The only future worth building includes everyone? I watched when you provided the link before, and again just now. This is exactly the message we need to hear and follow. 🙂 We are so truly blessed to have him as our pope.

      • ONG says:

        Yes, we are. I certainly cannot understand people that comments evil things about him, unless they have been inculcated that mindset by the “enemies”.

        Yes, “The Future You”, was addressed to a wide general public — it was not a homily or catechesis only for Christians (as some would surely criticize) — and it received a positive response by most nonbeliever commenters there.

        In regard now to the pastoral work needed to integrate those of same-sex attraction, Fr. Martin has been a pioneer in this field, ’cause he has understood what Pope Francis has continuously preached on Love & Mercy, and how the Evangelizing approach is to be implemented in order to be successful.

        That there are *contrary forces* in this field (among others, e.g. migration etc.) may be illustrated by my previous example about X and Y.

        How could ever be possible to warmly invite someone to the Church when some churches (people there) would show a complete different attitude than expected? Wouldn’t it be absurd and paradoxical?

        Besides, you’re lucky to have Salt&Light there. I’m familiar with Fr. Rosica too whom I’ve heard earlier articulating things well for the English-speaking audience.

  9. Manuel Dauvin says:

    Excellent article. Caught myself the other day questioning a new priest’s choice of ad orientem (which I loved before the rad trads). Then I paused…who the bloody hell am I to tell another man in another trade how to do his job? I am a sheep in the pew. The ideal stance I glean from your article is that of a humble sheep trusting there are verdant pastures beyond the rocky terrain over which we may sometimes be lead.

  10. Lazarus says:

    After seeing so many squabbles on social media, I think modernim is the boogeymen. Pope Francis believes in Jesus as God, and the devil too. He does not deny supernatural realities or dogma. But every time anything is said that a person cannot resolve with his understanding of the faith is called modernism.

    As an article on this site said that there is both a subjective and an objective component to confusion. Whatever he cannot reconcile with his understanding is denounced as modernism. Now, in fact, I don’t think almost all priests are modernists. I just think many priests are too scared of upsetting parishioners by bringing up unpopular topics.

    There are some teachings of Christ that sound humanistic, such as pretty much the Gospel of Luke. These teachings sound “mordernistic” to those not aware of them. But they are indeed Catholic.

    Is modernism a real crisis today in the Church?

    • Peter Aiello says:

      I think that a church is modernistic when it approves of something from the secular culture that is clearly disapproved of in Scripture.

      • Lazurus says:

        Could you give me a few examples of modernism today? Even secular culture is built on top of a Christian anthropology (so far), so we can’t conflate secular society praising something with being antiChristian. For example, human rights are connected with human dignity.

      • Peter Aiello says:

        A church that accepts and performs gay marriages would be an example; or that says that homosexual sex is acceptable in the eyes of God.

    • carn says:

      “Is modernism a real crisis today in the Church?”

      Yes, though i think in part it is not so much agreeing to what the secular world wants, but as you indicate (“I just think many priests are too scared of upsetting parishioners by bringing up unpopular topics.”) of problem how to present Churcht teaching that conflicts with the wishes of the modern world.

      Look at this homily

      by a prominent priest who cares a lot about LGBT people. Its a “Pre-Pride Mass”, a mass on the eve before the “Pride” parade in Manhatten.

      If you would google for pictures of such parades (which you shouldn’t), you would quickly find that some participants don’t put much effort to be dressed decently and some also seem to celebrate all sorts of from Catholic perspective questionable sexual activities.

      The priest is probably aware of this due to him being engaged with the topic since a long time.

      Wouldn’t it be a good idea to use one or two sentences in an 17 min homily to note people in a mass being “pre” to events with lots of serious indecencies that they should care to avoid these parts of the “Pride” parade or at least – probably with a better wording – to avoid looking at naked butts when encoutering them (which is likely to happen when attengding “Pride” parade)? Or any other hint at the Church teaching about sexuality?

      Maybe. But the priest does not include such an information.

      I do not think because he denies the Church teaching about sexuality. But because he thinks it would not be the place and time to talk about it.

      Which others would consider ridiculous, cause when to talk about sexual sins when not during a homily in a mass “pre” to an event having some participants literally celebrating sexual sins?

      Accordingly, the priest gets attacked by others for being a modernist or at least unwilling to stand up to it.

      So i think the problem of how to voice the Church teaching against the secular world and the different answers different catholics have to that, causes a real crisis, apart from some catholics actually having fallen to modernism.

      Here someone from patheos also criticizing that priest for his general approach:


      • Marie says:

        Carn- There is no doubt there are priests waiting for the day that the Church becomes ‘enlightened’ and accepts gay unions. They are of the belief it is only a matter of time. They walk the line, ever so carefully, making sure not to come right out in support of it, but their message is clear nonetheless. They continue to mislead the flock by never confirming Church teaching as a benefit to us because they themselves do not understand it. The same for many nuns, who have mislead countless young women in their formative years. The reality is however, they are victims too, for they genuinely don’t fully understand the beauty of Church teachings. They see it as oppressive rather than liberating. This is why pastoral care and interaction is so important. It is in our actions that change will come. The message is nothing without explanation and a counter response that addresses the issues that lead people to embrace other ideologies.

        We do need priests willing to speak up, but not by reiterating the ‘rules’ but by explaining the teachings, what they mean, why they are of benefit, and the message of love behind them. The recent message sent by Bishop Mark J. Seitz, in his strong letter concerning the issue of migration was accompanied by his strong actions, and his willingness to get directly involved. Together, the message was crystal clear. The same needs to be applied to all Church teachings. Pro life, sexuality. etc. Embracing the truth behind the message, followed by a willingness to sacrifice to help those who are ‘not there yet’ in their thinking, or actions. Only then will change come. That is why, at this point in history, we have be blessed with a pope that drives this message home every single day.

      • carn says:

        “There is no doubt there are priests waiting for the day that the Church becomes ‘enlightened’ and accepts gay unions. They are of the belief it is only a matter of time.”

        You go further there than i do in stating this as a matter of fact, that there are such priests. BTW, wouldn’t there then also be such bishops or even cardinals?

        “We do need priests willing to speak up, but not by reiterating the ‘rules’ but by explaining the teachings, what they mean, why they are of benefit, and the message of love behind them.”

        I am a bit surprised that one the one hand you are convinced that there are priests (and depending on the answer above, bishops and cardinals) and that you seem on the other hand most worried about priests, etc. reiterating Church rules without explanations.

        Cause if there are priests guilty of being ready to ditch Church teaching and priest guilty of reiterating Church rules without explanations, i would – of course depending on numbers/influence – usually consider the former to be the far more serious problem, as they are ill-willed, while the latter only need to get better at their job (as explaining the rules is also part of the job of teaching).

        “The recent message sent by Bishop Mark J. Seitz, in his strong letter concerning the issue of migration was accompanied by his strong actions, and his willingness to get directly involved. Together, the message was crystal clear.”

        Not with me, but i am not among the flock of that bishop, so that is probably irrelevant, as it is relevant whether his flock and maybe other US Catholics understand his message.

        If you think there are also bishops or cardinals “waiting for the day that the Church becomes ‘enlightened’ and accepts gay unions” don’t you think somebody should try to ensure that they do not spent the meantime not with messing up or inserting into the synods their heretical ideas? Or at least try to limit the damage of such activity?

      • carn says:

        Upps, some relevant omissions/typos there:

        I am a bit surprised that one the one hand you are convinced that there are priests (and depending on the answer above, bishops and cardinals) [who want to ditch Church teaching] and that you seem on the other hand most worried about priests, etc. reiterating Church rules without explanations.


        should try to ensure that they do not spent the meantime […] with messing up or inserting into the synods their heretical ideas?

      • Marie says:

        Can- Yes I am more worried about priests, bishops and cardinals only reiterating Catholic teaching because I recognize the times we are in, and I see that following a rule is far less likely when it is merely a rule. Following a belief that we understand is best for us, and best for the world is far easier to follow. It is time to address the disconnect between the rules and practice. This only comes from understanding and witnessing. I could meet 1000 bad men in my life, and I will always know men can be good, just by witnessing one good man in my formative years. The same applies to all things. When we witness something good, we know it can be good, even if we ourselves have not reached it. The pro life movement needs a whole new approach if it wants to change hearts. Same with the approach to issues concerning sexuality. Without a deep understanding of these issues, change will not come. Telling people not to go to a gay pride parade does nothing to develop an understanding. You either knew that before, or you think that’s nonsense, but you are no further ahead in your understanding. If however, that message is accompanied with the whys and the hows, and why the Church believes this, and why supporting the message sent at a pride parade is harmful, and why loving our gay brothers is vital, etc, etc, then, slowly people with understand.
        This is no different than how most of us parent. We don’t just lay down the law, and demand that these rules be followed. We explain why we have these rules, why they are for their benefit, and we leave an opening for them to know we are there for them when they fall or fail. To do otherwise, and simply apply rules often leads to other problems, such as lying, cheating and stealing. It is simply common sense. We need to be active in promoting the faith, That starts with believing in the message and being a positive witness to it.

        I do agree that

      • carn says:


        “Yes I am more worried about priests, bishops and cardinals only reiterating Catholic teaching because I recognize the times we are in, and I see that following a rule is far less likely when it is merely a rule.”

        “Telling people not to go to a gay pride parade does nothing to develop an understanding.”

        But as far as i can see there are:

        Bishops/Priests telling people not to go to a gay pride parade (group 1).
        Bishops/Priests being silent about this (probably the largest group, group 2).
        Bishops/Priest telling people things, which could be mistaken as an encouragement to go to a gay pride parade (group 3).

        The type you ask for, that explains in a way relatable to modern people why they should not go there, is minuscle or non-existent.

        I cannot understand how one could see the first group as the greatest problem. Especially is one imagines that group 1 all join group 2, so that there are only group 2 and 3 left.

        I know, that is not what you want; but i just highlight it to show that group 1 is not the biggest problem we have; if they were gone, the situation would be worse.

        “This is no different than how most of us parent. We don’t just lay down the law, and demand that these rules be followed. We explain why we have these rules, why they are for their benefit, and we leave an opening for them to know we are there for them when they fall or fail.”

        Of course. But what is worse for kids, parents that lay down the law and fail explaining it or parents who encourage their kids to get into hookup, drugs, gaming addiction, pornography?

        While the first should get better, the latter are far more danger for their kids.

        And, the first type of parents are far easier to correct. Cause it is easy to understand that rules well explained are better followed than rules not well explained; so all it might take to make them into better parents would be showing them how to explain the rules better and that might be enough for them to pick it up, cause it is so straight forward that a well explained rule is superior.

        But what about the second type? There is little you can do, except take the kids away; cause these parents will laugh at you, if you suggest that they should not encourage their kids.

        So i really do not get it, why you consider the “rule” bishops/priest to be the more severe problem.

        Unless of course you mean it that way, that the silent ones and the dissident ones cannot be of any help, and that the “rule” bishops/priests are so to say the last hope and it depends on them whether they get that idea about explaining.

        But even then i think it would be unfair to consider them the greatest problem.

        They are then the last and therefore best hope (besides Christ) we have, stumbling and faulty and incompetent at explaining as they are. And those few “rule” bishop/priest should then be not encountered with scorn but with encouragement and politie suggestions for improvement.

        “I do agree that”

        Nice. But whatever we agree about, it got lost.

      • Pedro Gabriel says:

        What fails in your parents analogy is that you’re talking as if the kids are being prevented from being hooked up on drugs, etc

        But we know, from our current society, that most “kids” (people) are actually already hooked up

        So the three groups of “parents” are:
        Group 1: the hooked up parents that keep their kids hooked up too
        Group 2: the parents that say “you are no son of mine and I will expel you from my house and let you be homeless until you change”
        Group 3: the parents that try to make their kids change their life, but that never cease to show them love, and that are able to discern the best timings to address the problem instead of ineffectively keeping on hammering on an on, even if it is counterproductive

        The first group is indeed problematic, but let us not pretend that the second group is fine and dandy. Many people die of homelessness and that, in fact, creates a vicious circle where they will take refuge in drugs to alienate themselves from their homelessness. We have an epidemic of homeless drug addicts and an epidemic of parents keeping them out of the house and preventing them from feeling any love. That is a very serious problem

      • ONG says:


        Thank you for posting the homily. Hundreds of commenters found it excellently powerful and inspired.
        (The guy who wrote the article on patheos should have listened to it.)

        PS: I posted some extra links in a new comment you’d like to see.

      • carn says:


        “but let us not pretend that the second group is fine and dandy.”

        I did not pretend that the second of your groups is fine and dandy. I just suggested that they are less problematic than group 1.

        Also please note, that effectively i said that what you call group 3 is non-existent at least in respect to bishops/priest and gay parades. So my argument was mostly about the situation in which the best approach is absent.

        And in that case the “law” approach group is in my opinion the least damaging cause at least they spread correct information (unlike any other group, which in my counting ar either silent or spreading problematic information) and their intent is good (keeping their kids from drugs/their parishoners from gay parades); making them the best material to form some actually good response.

        Think of it this way, if there are parents who think its fine that their kid is a drug addict and encourage him to take drugs cause who cares and there are parents who think it is horrible that their kid is drug addict and try to get him from drugs by threatening to throw him out of the house, whom do you think would be easier to get on a good path?

        For the first parents you have to upend their entire worldview; the second parents just have to understand that their kid’s situation is such, that threats are currently of no/little use and suggest another approach to them and convince them that it is more likely to succeed than threats.

        Do you really think people like Cardinal Burke do not understand that just repeating Church teaching will convince few? Don’t you think they would appreciate if someone demonstrated in a way obvious to them a better way of convincing people to accept Church teaching?

        The only thing between Cardinal Burke and Pope Francis would be, that what Pope Francis does has not convinced Cardinal Burke that this is a good way to both share what the Church teaches and help accepting it.

        Are there any people you can name who manage to do what your group 3 does?

        That is succesfully inviting people to appreciate the wisdom of Church teaching.

        I cannot name anyone i would claim to succesfully do this (but maybe i am not aware about them), which brings me to


        “Thank you for posting the homily.”

        I wouldn’t consider this homily a good attempt at lovingly helping people accept Church teaching.

        You are aware that the group you linked as a positive example for gay outreach – Courage International – considers this preachers approach to be wrong?

        It looks a bit like you gloss over a very big contradiction, if you laud both Courage International and Fr. Martin for a consistent outreach to gays, etc.

        I consider that preacher not in group 3 of Pedro but more in group 1 of Pedro.

      • Pedro Gabriel says:

        “Think of it this way, if there are parents who think its fine that their kid is a drug addict and encourage him to take drugs cause who cares and there are parents who think it is horrible that their kid is drug addict and try to get him from drugs by threatening to throw him out of the house, whom do you think would be easier to get on a good path?”

        Since I have been dealing with this second group for a few years now, I would say that you vastly overestimate the easiness with which they might change

        “The only thing between Cardinal Burke and Pope Francis would be, that what Pope Francis does has not convinced Cardinal Burke that this is a good way to both share what the Church teaches and help accepting it.”

        I have no doubt Pope Francis has tried

        I have been trying to convince you @carn, for over a year now, and I believe our progress has been very meager.

        I have been involved in Apologetics for more than a decade. Not just with Burke partisans, but with every kind of people, pagans, liberals, pro-choicers, you name it

        “All you have to do is just convince them” is so far off the end that I don’t even know how to answer it. No, we cannot “just” convince people. How effective do you think that is? Even for Francis critics?

        Just yesterday I replied to one guy who said that Amoris Laetitia was not infallible so he needed not assent to it. I showed that it was not true that he could just dismiss a document because it was not infallible. I quoted doctrine. I quoted Lumen Gentium. I quoted Donum Veritatis. Did he acknowledge what I said? No, he simply acted like an ostrich burying his head in the sand and kept repeating “nope, not infallible”. I’m not using hyperbole! His replies to my quoting of authoritative Church documents *clearly* stating you need to assent to non-infallible teachings was to repeat, verbatim: “it’s not infallible”.

        It’s. Not. Easy.

      • Marie says:

        Carn- It is interesting to me that you associate group 3 with “telling people things, which could be mistaken as an encouragement to go to a gay pride parade (group 3).” If group 3 is explaining the teachings, or in the case of parenting, guiding their child in the right direction, while constantly affirming their love, where does that lead to possibly encouraging something that they are discouraging? I read from that, and I could be wrong, that you are comfortable with the rules within the Church that you agree with, but want to leave an opening for the teachings you don’t, and put the blame on the shepherd who is explaining a message you do not want to hear. I had used the example of Bishop Seitz, and you claim the message was not clear to you. How was that not clear? By not clear do you mean the message was not welcome by you? There is a big difference.

        I’m not sure what I was thinking when I said “I do agree that”, but we do agree on some things. 🙂

      • ONG says:


        Are you sure you heard the whole homily?

        Where does it urge Catholics to go to gay parade and watch “naked butts”?


        //Fr. James Martin, SJ

        Be tough. Be free. Be hopeful.

        Homily: Pre-Pride Mass, Church of St. Francis of Assisi, June 29, 2019
        Thirteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time (1 Kgs 19:16b, 19-21; Gal 5:1, 13-18; Lk 9:51-62)
        Video and text

        What does it mean to be a disciple? What does it mean to be a Christian? What does it mean to be free? What might it mean to be all these things as a Catholic, as an LGBT Catholic, or as the family member or friend or ally of an LGBT Catholic?

        At first glance, you might not think that these readings would have much to say to us. After all, the First Book of Kings, was written in roughly 550 BC, when the Hebrew people were in exile in Babylon; St. Paul’s Letter the Galatians was written around AD 55; and the Gospel of Luke, the most “recent” of our readings, was written around AD 85. You might not think they would have much to say to contemporary Catholics, and maybe even less to LGBT people, but of course they do. The Bible is the Living Word of God and, if we are open to it, God’s voice will always be revealed when we read or hear these readings, no matter how ancient.

        Let’s start with the Gospel, where Jesus confronts, head on, the demands of his ministry.

        Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem, where he will meet his destiny—his passion, death and resurrection. Even before he gets there, he’s facing opposition, and he knows it. He has just passed through Samaria, where the people have rejected him. “They would not welcome him,” says Luke. Why? For religious reasons: the Samaritans had very different idea of what good Israelite was, and didn’t even recognize the Jerusalem Temple as the seat of God’s presence. In response to their rejection, his disciples want to punish the people of Samaria, but Jesus says no. He’s not going to punish them, but he’s also not going to be dissuaded.

        Then Jesus turns his attention to the demands of discipleship. And he is extremely blunt with the disciples. He fully understands the costs of discipleship and wants them to as well. “I’ll follow you,’ says one. “Really?” says Jesus. “You’re not going to have anywhere to sleep if you follow me.” Now, not all his disciples followed Jesus along the road—some stayed at home, like Martha and Mary—but many were indeed, like him, itinerant. That’s part of the deal, he’s saying. Two other disciples offer excuses based on family responsibilities: “I have to bury my father,” says one. “I have to say goodbye to my parents,” says another.

        But Jesus sweeps these excuses aside. Now, does he really expect that dead people will bury dead people. No, he doesn’t. But he is not above using hyperbole to make a point. If you’re going to follow me, you’re going to have to be tough. And if you’re going to follow me, you can’t look back.

        And Jesus goes even further than the Old Testament prophets. In the First Book of Kings, we see Elijah anointing Elisha as a prophet, by throwing his cloak over him. But first Elisha says he needs to care for his father and mother. Once he does so, he follows Elijah.

        Jesus goes beyond that. No, he says, no using your family as an excuse. Nothing comes before following me, not even duties to your family. Jesus makes that point elsewhere in the Gospel, when his family comes from Nazareth to the Sea of Galilee to confront him. We don’t talk about that episode very much because it shocks many Christians. But the Gospel of Mark reports that his family thinks that Jesus, who has just started his public ministry, is “out of his mind.” So his extended family travels all the way from Nazareth to Capernaum on the Sea of Galilee, where he is living, to “restrain” or “arrest” him. But when Jesus is told that his mother and brother and sisters are waiting outside his house, he says, “Who are my mother and brothers and sisters? Those who do the will of God.” Ties to God are more important than ties to the family.

        Finally, to drive his point home, Jesus uses an image that people in this agrarian society would have known well: once you put your hand to the plow don’t look back. Because what happens if you take your eyes from the team of oxen? They will plow in the wrong direction. Stay focused.
        Now, each of these readings, though ancient, has a great deal to say to all of us today, especially LGBT Catholics. Let me suggest three things.

        1) Be tough. The last few years have seen many positive steps for LGBT Catholics. And there are two big trends. The first can be summarized by two words: “Pope Francis.” His five most famous words are still, “Who am I to judge?,” which was first a response to the question of gay priests and then expanded to LGBT people. Francis is the first pope ever to use the word “gay.” He has LGBT friends. And he’s appointed many LGBT-supportive cardinals, archbishops and bishops. Another trend is that as more and more Catholics are coming out and being open about their gender identity, they and their families are bringing their hopes and desires into their parishes, and slowly the culture of the church is being changed.

        Yet it’s also a hard time to be an LGBT Catholic. Catholic schools are still firing LGBT employees who are civilly married when many other straight church employees, who are also not following various church teachings, have no problem keeping their jobs. Church leaders publish documents, issue statements and offer quotes to the media that betray not the slightest evidence that they have listened to the experience of LGBT people or their families. And of course on the local level, we still find in some places homophobic pastors, pastoral workers and parishioners.

        All the more reason to be like Jesus: that is, tough. And to, first of all, claim your rightful place in your church. Look, if you are a baptized Catholic and you are LGBT or are an LGBT parent or family member, you are as much a part of the church as the Pope, your local bishop, your pastor, or me. Root yourself in your baptism and claim your place in your church.

        But make no mistake, Jesus is telling us: sometimes it’s going to be hard. Sometimes your family may misunderstand you, as Jesus’s family did. Sometimes you’ll feel unwelcome in places, as Jesus did in Samaria. Sometimes it won’t feel like you have a home, like Jesus felt when he had to sleep by the side of the road. Sometimes you’ll find that your friends disagree with you, as Jesus did when he told the disciples that revenge was not his way. But it’s all part of the journey. It’s part of being with him.

        Throughout all this, Jesus invites you to be tough. Claim your place in your church. Be rooted in your baptism. Know that you are fully Catholic. You know, lately I’ve been hearing that it’s not enough for the Catholic church to be “welcoming” and “affirming” and “inclusive.” And I agree. Because those are the minimum. Instead, LGBT people should fully expect to participate in all the ministries in the church. Not just being welcomed and affirmed and included, but leading. But to do that you have to keep your hand to the plow and you have to be tough.

        2) Be free. A second lesson from today’s Gospel is Jesus’s supreme freedom. Look again at what the Gospels say about Samaria: “They would not welcome him.” But Jesus doesn’t care if Samaria rejects him. Certainly he would like the Samaritan people to hear his word. We know this because, in the Gospel of John, he speaks at length to a woman from Samaria, the famous “woman at the well,” and she later shares their encounter with the people of Samaria. But if the Samaritans don’t want to welcome him, fine. He’s free. He moves on.

        Jesus is free from the need to be loved, liked or approved of. He is free from the need to be loved by the Samaritans. He is free of the need to be liked by the disciples, as when he rebukes James and John. And he is free of the need to be approved of by his family, who early on think he’s crazy. He is supremely free. And what is he free to do? To follow the Father’s will.

        Many people in the LGBT community feel unwelcome, like Jesus felt, as well as excluded, rejected and sometimes, as Jesus was, persecuted. It can be painful and enraging. And it’s okay to feel those things. It’s human and it’s natural, and sometimes those feelings should stir you to action on behalf of people and groups who are being persecuted! But, ultimately, Jesus asks us to be free of the need to be loved, liked or approved of. And to be confident in who you are.

        Notice that Jesus is also free of the need to punish. James and John wanted to “call down fire from heaven” to destroy the Samaritans who rejected Jesus. But Jesus “rebukes” his disciples for this. That’s not his way. He is free of the need for revenge. So be like Jesus. Be free.

        3) Finally, be hopeful. The life of Christian discipleship is not simply a hard row to plow, it’s not simply tough, it’s not simply a chore. As St. Paul says in today’s reading, “For freedom Christ set us free.” Isn’t that beautiful? The Christian life is not some terribly burden or “yoke” as St. Paul says, echoing the plow imagery of Jesus. No, it’s an invitation to live in freedom. Just as Elijah covered Elisha with his cloak, so all of us, LGBT or straight, who accept Jesus’s invitation are wrapped under what the theologian Barbara Reid calls the “protective cloak of his spirit.” We live in freedom. And in joy!

        And in hope too! It’s tempting for LGBT Catholics and their families to look at the present reality of the church and say, “This will never change.” Or “I feel unwelcome.” Or “I have no place here.” But that is not the only place Jesus wants us to dwell. The future will be so much fuller than the present, and Jesus knows this. We keep our hands to the plow not only so that we don’t lose our way, but so that we don’t take our eyes off the horizon.

        Sometimes LGBT Catholics say that they’re done with the church, with the faith and with God. Yet when looking for Christ in the church often they’re only seeing the present. But suffering and death are not the only things that Jesus experiences in Jerusalem. They’re not even the most important things. The most important thing is the Resurrection. And the Good News of the Resurrection is that hope is stronger than despair, suffering is never the last word, and love always triumphs over hate. Love always wins. So be hopeful!

        These readings, so ancient, so different, so seemingly far away, are actually tailor made for us today, for all of us who are called to encounter God. In these readings we hear God say to us: Be tough, be free, be hopeful. Be proud to be Catholic. And for my LGBT brothers and sister and siblings, be the LGBT Catholic whom you are called to be by Jesus Christ himself.//

      • carn says:

        “I have been trying to convince you @carn, for over a year now, and I believe our progress has been very meager.”

        Convince me that one should do the “the parents that try to make their kids change their life, but that never cease to show them love”-approach?

        Never ever has there been any need to convince me of that one.

        Convince me that Pope Francis is in a wise and clear way trying that? That to some extent. You convinced me about “trying”; not about “wise” and not about “clear”; and i guess that is not possible; but “trying” is enough i think for the time being.

        “I would say that you vastly overestimate the easiness with which they might change”

        The word was “easier”, not “easy”. As in “It is easier to summit Matterhorn than Mount Everest”.

        “How effective do you think that is?”

        I think it would be very effective if Pope Francis approach had led to a greater acceptance of Church teaching. But i don’t see that, more the opposite.

        Its hard to convince someone to scale down the “law” approach, if the alternative offered seems to be even less effective.


        “If group 3 is explaining the teachings, or in the case of parenting, guiding their child in the right direction, while constantly affirming their love, where does that lead to possibly encouraging something that they are discouraging?”

        To make it more clear, with that i had for example Fr. Martin in mind of whom a pre-pride march homily was linked here.

        Read the homily. Tell me, whether you spot any hint therein which even in a very mild way suggests that people should avoid sexual sins when attending pride march. I cannot see in this homily anything being in any way discouraging sin. But a lot of things that in my view could be misunderstood as encouragement.

        That i meant with “which could be mistaken as an encouragement to go to a gay pride parade”; only saying things that at best are understood neutral and at worst are understood as encouragement to sin without any hint of discouraging sin.

        “but want to leave an opening for the teachings you don’t, and put the blame on the shepherd who is explaining a message you do not want to hear.”

        No intent there. I would be happy with a shepherd who answers questions if i do not get his message, especially if done in a way that he first answers the question i asked and only then proceeds to this “that is not the question you should ask, instead think of …” stuff.

        “I had used the example of Bishop Seitz, and you claim the message was not clear to you. How was that not clear?”

        What extent of breaking secular law the Bishop considers in the current situation to be a Christian duty and what secular laws would have to look like so that there is no longer duty to break them.

        I do not mind breaking laws, but if a Bishop tells me that i should break secular laws i would prefer some hint to what extent. And i consider that important, cause that breaking secular law for the good cause is a tricky thing in that it sometimes turns even with good intentions into a horrible mess.

        “By not clear do you mean the message was not welcome by you?”

        As explained above, no.

      • Marie says:

        Carn/ONG- The Fr Martin homily is a tricky one. If he were working in tandem with another priest who handled the issue of chastity, I would be more accepting of his words. With what little I know of him, however, I do believe he strictly focuses on the critical issue of acceptance within the Catholic Church, but ignores any mention of abstinence. He would be one I would think is likely choosing his words carefully, and waiting for changes within the Church. At least that is how I see him, but I could be wrong. I do not see anything wrong with what he has said, but I agree that within his homilies, the beauty of chastity for all unmarried people should be promoted. His omission of any mention of this certainly can be very misleading if this is how he always speaks, which is all I have seen as well. He is not teaching the whole message, and whenever the whole message is not addressed, the opportunity to better understand the faith is lost.

  11. Christopher Lake says:


    I would agree with you that a church becomes modernistic when it promotes beliefs and actions which are clearly disapproved of in Scripture. The Catholic Church is conspicuous, even among many bodies of other fellow Christians, for continuing to oppose all-but-unquestioned marks of secular culture today, such as artificial contraception. From very early recorded Christian history until 1930, all Christian churches held to the Catholic teaching on that issue. Today, very few churches *other* than the Catholic Church still hold to that teaching. At least in my personal experience, most secular people, and many, many Christians, state that that the Church needs to drop its opposition to artificial contraception and “get with the times.” However, to do so would be to give in to secularist and modernist presuppositions. One of the things which convinced me that the Catholic Church is Christ’s Church is that I did not see her giving in to secularist and modernist thinking, as has happened, and is still happening today, with so many other historically Christian ecclesial bodies.

    Another aspect of secularism and modernism that I often see today is people reading the Bible and interpreting it in a extremely subjective way, as all-but-completely wrenched out of its context within the Church which canonized it. The atheist author, Richard Dawkins, does this in his writings. Unfortunately, some Protestant Christians also misinterpret passages of the Bible in ways which lead to resentment against, and/or hostility to, the Catholic Church. This was my own common practice in my Protestant evangelical past. We called it “being Biblical Christians,” and we were very sincere, but we were also mistaken. Even more tragically, some Catholics misinterpret Scriptural passages too, and see them as indictments of “today’s Catholic Church.” Such things can happen when one refuses to read the Bible within the interpretive context of the Church which canonized it.

    • Peter Aiello says:

      In the early New Testament Church, Scripture was only available for the earliest Christians at the temple or the synagogue. Many of those who walked with Jesus while He was on this earth were still alive to teach. As the writings of the New Testament became available, they were read within the Church itself by those in charge.
      When Bibles became readily available to individuals within the Church and those outside of the Church because of the invention of the printing press, you could not prevent individual interpretation of the Bible. I don’t see how you can read it or hear it without forming an opinion of what it is saying.
      The Spirit of Truth operates in individuals throughout the whole Church; and not only within the hierarchy. This was clarified in Vatican II’s Lumen Gentium 12. Individuals with the Spirit of Truth have a greater capacity to interpret Scripture correctly. This should not be hindered by those in charge. It cannot be hindered for those who are not members of the Church.
      This is the environment that the Church operates in at the present time, as messy as it is. We cannot go back to the period before the printing press.

      • Christopher Lake says:


        I have absolutely no desire to (in your words) “go back to the period before the printing press.” I have loved books for all of my life and cannot imagine a world in which I could not personally own and read them. Also, the first Bible that was printed with Gutenberg’s printing press was a Catholic Bible, with all of the books that Luther and other Protestant Reformers later banished, or, in some cases, simply *wanted to be banished* from their canon of Scripture. I celebrate the fact that the printing press made the Bible more available to the laity.

        The Catechism of the Catholic Church officially, *and strongly*, encourages the personal reading of Scripture for all Catholics, including the laity. St. Jerome is quoted in the Catechism, telling us, and all Catholics, that “Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ!” The Catechism also teaches that it is the Magisterium, teaching in communion with the Pope, which is the *authoritative interpreter* of both Scripture and Tradition. The Church has *always* taught this, before, during, and after Vatican II. Your quoting of one section of Lumen Gentium 25, out of context with the rest of the document, does not, and cannot, support your radically Protestant contention that *your personal interpretation* of Scripture is as accurate as the Pope’s *and* is the standard by which all Church teaching is regulated. If you want to interpret one section, which you love to quote, of “Lumen Gentium” correctly, then you need to interpret it, not selectively, in a radically Protestant way, but in the context of the entire document, and in continuity with the entire teaching of the Church authority which wrote it.

        You continually ask, “How do I know which Catholic teachings are official or unofficial”? As long as you make *your personal interpretation* of Scripture the standard for your submission to all Church teaching (which is an *explicitly anti-Catholic* position), I don’t really see how it even matters to you which Catholic teachings are official or unofficial. With that said though, if you are truly concerned to study the matter of official Catholic teaching, then you should spend serious time with Scripture and with the Catechism, which St. John Paul II called “a sure norm for teaching the faith.” A right interpretation of canonical Scripture will not contradict the teaching of the Catechism, because the Church that Christ founded, gave both of them to us, *not* to misread and misinterpret in ways which oppose the Church’s teaching authority, but to read *in continuity with* the Church that Christ founded.

  12. ONG says:

    “I am glad that we are talking about ‘homosexual people’ because before all else comes the individual person, in his wholeness and dignity. And people should not be defined only by their sexual tendencies: let us not forget that God loves all his creatures and we are destined to receive his infinite love.”
    – Pope Francis, The Name of God is Mercy

    Apostolate Website dedicated to those who experience sex-attraction:


    July 1, 2019 Phone calls – Questions and Answers on Same-Sex Attraction:
    Fr. Phil Bochard & Fr. Hugh Barbour


    • carn says:

      Well, you are aware about “by their fruits you shall know them”. Courage International is critical of what Fr. Martin does.

      If Courage International are the ones getting it right how to deal with gay, etc., then the fruits of LSN are positive, cause they regular refer to Courage International, give interviews to them and note when they have a conference. And they are also criticial of Fr. Martin.

      And for Cardinal Müller who spoke at one of the conferences they were involved in.

      On the other hand the usual Pope Francis-friendly media are as far as i could google mostly silent about courage international, while being rather positive about Fr. Martin. Only positive exception is America Magazine, which has an article by Courage International member (compared to quite a number of Fr. Martin). And NCR, which has an article condemning Courage International.

      So if take your suggestion that Courage International is fine serious and apply by their fruits you shall know them in a – i admit – rather extensive way, we would have to concluce, that LSN is a good tree, while the Pope-friendly medias are a bad tree.

      This is mostly to make it understanable for you, how much i am surprised that you mention them as positive example.

      And there is some old LSN article, in which head of courage international is cited at being disappointed that no input from his organization went into the family synods. Whatever to make of that, if you suggest courage international as an example of doing what Pope Francis preaches.

      • ONG says:


        I “listen to” people first, LIVE, esp. when they show to have a clear *standpoint* where everything they say (or later write) is anchored to a solid ground.

        You forgot to mention the other link (YouTube) I posted together (probably because you hadn’t/haven’t listened to it yet).

        Do it first, will you please? It’s on the *reality* of today!

        Next time I’ll tell you what I think of your usual criticism and critics!

        Fr. Bochansky, [not ‘Bochard’ as I wrote above] was the one that responded to the first set of calls.
        “Courage International” was quickly mentioned there at the end of the first hour, unlabeled; Otherwise I had never heard neither of it, nor of him before.

    • ONG says:


      The previous thread is too long and unfollowable.

      Fr. Martin knows well how Love & Mercy work with the Gospel = The opposite of how the legalists think.
      It’s Welcoming/Accepting/communion first, accompanying and slowly conversion later, all in due time…
      It’s not done overnight!

      True Love is patient and unconditional, and Divine Mercy *effects* the necessary changes.

      Here is a 43 mins long speech of Fr. Martin on Welcoming. You might want to start first @41:10 to get a hint.


      • ONG says:

        PS. Correction: He uses the word Community, not communion.

      • Pedro Gabriel says:

        Regarding Fr. Martin’s approach there is lot of polemics which are, I think, off-topic for my article. On the other hand, I think the thread is already too long, so I’ll close the comments. Thank you all for your contributions

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