|BREAKING: Roman Catholic Church found in Italian capital of Rome|
The Bear presumes that nearly everyone reading this blog is a good Catholic. That his or her heart is in the right place. So there is certainly no belittling or rancor in anything the Bear writes about the choices people have felt they had to make.
Nonetheless, he must say that he disagrees with any solution that means leaving the Church.
And let's not get too cute. There is no doubt what the Church is, or, better, where the Church is. You will search far and wide in the history of the Church and you will not find a doctrine of "the invisible Church" meaning something separate and distinct from the hierarchical Church. Such a thought would have left all saints, all popes and all councils aghast. The one thing a Catholic doesn't have to do is search for the Church. If you imagine an "invisible Church of pure doctrine" that you can belong to, after you leave the "corrupt hierarchical Church," you are, frankly and in all charity, deluding yourself.
"The invisible Church" is 100% Reformer doctrine designed to distinguish and justify the "invisible Church of real believers in their various sects" from the "corrupt Church of Rome." The Church of Doctrine, the Church of Liturgy, and the Church of the Hierarchy are all the one, selfsame Church that Christ founded on the first Pope and has the big fancy building in Rome.
Think about the Reformers. They, too, thought they were doing a good thing by extracting True Christianity from the clutches of the corrupt and error-riddled Church of Rome. They, too left the Church, while all the time saying they never left the Church -- as they defined it.
And let's not pretend that "Vatican II" will cover all sins if you're mistaken. In fact, the only group Lumen Gentium apparently reserves for hellfire are apostate Catholics. "Whosoever, therefore, knowing that the Catholic Church was made necessary by Christ, would refuse to enter or to remain in it, could not be saved." Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium, 14.
If you don't like Vatican II, there is the dogma of extra ecclesiam nulla salus that the Bear has frequently talked about. Is there any doubt that the men who drafted those formulations knew exactly what the Church was? Do you think they meant, "the Church Only So Long as We Agree With Her," or "the Invisible Church of Pure Doctrine and Sublime Liturgy as Separate From a Corrupt and Erroneous Hierarchy?" Or, "The Church Until the Synod on the Family in the Year of Our Lord 2015, Which Is Its Expiration Date?" Or, "The Church Until a Bad Pope Named Francis Takes the Throne of Peter?"
We all know exactly what the Church is now, and always has been, although you can pretend otherwise all you wish. And the Bear is here to announce -- even growl -- it's not some outfit out of Oyster Bay Cove, New York. (Really, is that where God would put His Church?) And if you want to know what the Church says about SSPV or any group, it's no secret. Hey, no problem: that's what She's there for. (Besides, no matter how traditional you are, some more rigorous group is going to think you're a gaggle of Modernist cream puffs.)
We are Catholics. That means something! We belong to a Church, in good times and bad. Please don't start listing all the problems. We all know them. They are not the issue. It is not a simple: "Church has x problems, therefore I leave." That's the Protestant solution. And the Bear is sure you don't treat your spouse like that. The real equation is "Church has x problems, therefore I must nail my foot to the floor in front of my favorite pew."
Here's the Bear's secret. You can recognize that prelates are idiots, and that they are idiots in the One True Church, You can be confused, and be confused in the One True Church. You can even be scandalized and heartbroken, and be scandalized and heartbroken in the One True Church. The one thing you can't be is be Catholic, and be Catholic outside of the One True Church.
Where is the One True Church? Where it's always been. In Rome. With the big fancy buildings full of untrustworthy schemers.
We got this.