While I find myself in agreement with this article in principle, especially as it relates to proper deference to ecclesial authority, I find myself struggling to square away the notion that lay Catholics ought not debate theology and Church doctrine/teaching online without permission from their bishop. Certainly that is...excessive? I understand the thought process behind it as too many people out there, myself a prime example, are armchair theologians who turn keyboard warrior at the slightest offense and this does much harm to true efforts of evangelization. I am guilty of this more times than I can recall. But surely we are called to evangelize and this would include via social media. While it is not the ideal platform of evangelization it is still a tool which Catholics ought to use to reach people. Especially nowadays as more and more people unplug from the real world and spend every waking minute on their cell phones, tablets, computers, etc. Am I overthinking this article? With all the confusion coming from Our Father throughout this pontificate (God alone knows the truth of all the scandals and I leave it to Him to judge accordingly), certainly we lay Catholics are not to be expected to accept something that may be falsehood and to be silent in the face of it's propagation? Do I have a point here or are these still my traditional Roman Catholic trappings that I am trying to lay aside while exploring the East?
I do not think you are overthinking the article. We should not be silent when there are those moments that any Catholic--laity or clergy--are clearly promoting a teaching or belief that is NOT Catholic. Too many priests, especially in the Hierarchy of the Church, are in favor of homosexual unions. You may find this interesting. This is a teaching from the late Fr. Hardon after he was asked a simple question:
Fr. John Hardon: Three Reasons Why the Devil is So Strong Today...
by John B. Manos
Speaking in 1992, Father Hardon was asked this question “Minding the rise of heresy and the participation of even priests and religious in the acceptance of homosexuality, the changes in the Mass, and the so-called modern morality, why is the Devil so apparently strong today?”
Answered Father Hardon:
“For three reasons. And the Devil is extraordinarily strong and successful today: “
“First, as penalty for sins committed … in other words… we believe in the solidarity in virtue and solidarity in sin. We believe that the present generation can be suffering for the sins of the past generation.”
Judases in the Church. (!)
“Second reason, God is allowing the Devil to be so successful because those who should be guiding the Church in sound morality are not doing so! In other words, the Catholic Church depends, absolutely depends on the authority established by Christ when he ordained the apostles at the Last Supper. And, therefore, the Devil is so successful because the Devil, remember, he succeeded with one apostle, Judas. Judas was possessed by the Devil. Do you hear me? And he allowed himself to be possessed by the Devil to betray Christ. There are Judases in the Catholic Church today. And I am quoting Pope Paul VI. He knew exactly what he was saying.”
That More Grace Abound.
“Third reason, and consolingly, God allows such massive evil in today’s world being perpetrated by the Devil because God, in his Infinite Providence, plans to give extraordinary blessings on the generation before us. the century to come. In other words, in the spirit of St. Paul, where sin has more abounded … get the “more” … the grace will … get the future tense … the grace will even more abound. The 21st century, says the Holy Father, will be the holiest and most Catholic century of the Church’s history. But we’ve got to do our part. And I know I am talking to the right audience.”
It’s not a light accusation when Fr. Hardon says that someone was possessed – it is a technical and theological conclusion. After all, the Gospels record that at the last supper, Satan entered Judas. This was not hyperbole or metaphor.
What is more striking, is the quote from Paul VI. I had not heard that before, or if I had, I didn’t pay attention to it.
The context missing in this answer is that earlier in the talk, Fr. Hardon was speaking on the necessity of Catholics to earn (merit) grace by suffering their faith. He spoke on pain, real pain, as in the cross, being the method of earning that grace.
When we consider that Arius was a bishop, or Nestorius for that matter, it shouldn’t be a surprise that there’d be Judas in the Church, should it? Dante’s Inferno places many in hell, but people tend to write him off as merely politically motivated. He pictured Judas at the lowest level of hell with Satan himself — the worst punishment being saved for the treacherous, right next to the frauds.
Is it shocking, though, because Pope Paul VI said there are more than one? What else could explain the open and clear dissent that various bishops had from Humanae Vitae?
Or, even worse, in the failure of these Judases Paul VI mentions to lead the Church with sound moral authority, and with clear teaching on the sacraments, such as the Real Presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament or the indissolubility of Holy Matrimony? (I mentioned this failure in What Killed the Church… but I restrained myself from calling them Judases on my own estimation. Now I have authoritative statements of the same.)
And look at reason number 3! Think of the graces you can merit, however, in this time, by merely growing your faith and standing with the true faith! We are today like St. John Chrysostom, surrounded by error! Just keeping the basic faith of the Church is painful today! Others have left through schism, such as people I’ve known in my life who are now sedevacantists or in schismatic groups. Or other friends, unhappy in the Church teaching on contraception or marriage, have left for a nondenominational “feel good” church. Or worse, some that are Neopaganism, and worship their own will. They claim that the Church is somewhere else. Too bad… there was grace to be earned staying with Jesus in His Church. Maybe they will come to their senses yet by some of the graces we can earn enduring their taunts and jeers.
Imagine if the Apostles had done that merely because Judas showed up. St. Peter had it right: to whom would they go? No, sticking it out, hanging in there all the way until Easter is what God expects of us. Easter always comes.
Thank you for your well articulated reply. That gives me much to think about. God Bless.