The Problem with "Submit, and Resist Only Sin"
There is a thought-provoking post at St. Louis Catholic. Perhaps it is inevitable that two lawyers should disagree. (The Bear and his own second chair seldom agreed.) As the Bear understands the argument, it is submit to the Pope, and resist only actual sin. Now, this is probably a sound principle for good Catholics in normal times. But Bears don't do submission very well. In that respect, they without doubt make bad Catholics.
In fact, stop reading now, unless you want a very bad Catholic's point of view.
That's better. Now the Bear for once can say what he really thinks without being overheard.
You can destroy the institutional Catholic Church without committing even one, tiny, sin. At least not one involving provable formal heresy.
You can always maintain plausible deniability. Operate by a wink and a nod. Catholics who are coiled tightly, ready to spring at the first real, provable sin, will grow old and die before getting their big chance. They will grit their teeth and support every new initiative, every change in beliefs, because they would never quite have evidence the Pope was sacrificing babies to Satan in the catacombs, or whatever.
|New Symbol for the Green Catholic Church|
If the Bear were Satan, and wanted to destroy the Church, he would not topple St. Peters with an earthquake. He would not cause a new round of homosexual abuse of adolescent boys. (That served its purpose: get the Church focused on PR.) He would not cause a doctrinal rift and a new schism. He would not have a Turkish fleet sail for Rome. (So 16th century.)
He would simply repurpose it from a supernatural institution to a worldly one. Indeed, Satan did not need the Bear's advice for this. He's already nearly done with the job. It is not really that hard to change the institutional mission of any organization. Get some small men in big committees; a photo-op here, a hint there, and before you know it, some Catholic university is offering a Queer Studies degree. (See O'Sullivan's Law: "All organizations that are not actually right-wing will over time become left-wing.")
How to Destroy the Church in Two Simple Steps
Phase One: He would strip the Church of its supernatural character. Liturgy would have to be flipped from vertical to horizontal. (That was easy enough.) He would make the Church non-essential by getting rid of Hell, and by emphasizing the truth to be found in every belief system. The Bear - if he were Satan - would be careful what he actually said; but, as we say in Hell, a picture is worth a thousand words, and a video is worth a million.
In short, he would make the Church irrelevant to the question of salvation. Indeed, "salvation" itself would no longer even be part of the Church's vocabulary. Everybody worships the same God. Everybody goes to Heaven. And this sort of egalitarian vapor would be inhaled by a West that is already drunk on the very same fumes.
Of course, he would make sure there were plenty of mentions of "Jesus" and "the Devil" and the like to gull the masses. Bear chuckles evilly. This is so easy. (Whoa, what just happened? Was that creepy?)
Phase Two: He would repurpose the Church. After all, the Church has to have some reason to exist right? The leaders must have some prestige, correct? It's not as if you can just hang up a big "Out of Business" sign on St. Peters.
Once it was stripped of its supernatural mission, the Bear (if he were Satan) would lay out a rich buffet of worldly issues. It doesn't really matter what, as long as they resonate with the right crowd (meaning the left crowd), and have absolutely nothing to do with salvation. The Bear would keep everyone's eyes on the world, and laugh when they thought a Big Important Issue in a lightning flash universe (i.e. Global Warming) was the real story.
Seriously? Last the Bear heard a human soul was immortal, and dear old Mother Earth was due for a serious remodeling one day. So, why do we waste time blathering about some dubious "global warming" instead of salvation? Pope Francis knows that Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew has remained relevant, even surrounded by Turks, by preaching the Green Gospel. Green ticks all the right PR boxes today. Last Things? Nobody cares. It just blows your credibility to talk about such things. Keep it current. Keep it secular. Sing only hymns found in The Little Red Songbook.
Tell Me Lies, Tell Me Sweet Little Lies
Make it all about the PR. This is important. Fortunately, humans like to be seen as important and compassionate about all the right issues - especially the humble ones. Make it all about the informal presser; the photo-op; the 50th Anniversary of Whatever news release.
Repurposing the Church from a supernatural institution to a worldly one is essential. The world is hostile to Christianity. The leaders don't believe in the supernatural anymore, not really, at least as far as the Bear can tell. In order to remain relevant, the Church cannot preach pie in the sky when you die, It must preach Global Warming. Eliminating Private Ownership of Firearms. Eliminating Capital Punishment. Immigration. Etc., etc., etc.
And he would accomplish all of this without one, single, solitary sin or heresy that was certainly identifiable. It is all about what you talk about and what you don't.
And that is why the Bear does not limit himself to Amorous Laetitiae and communion. Oh, no. The Bear sees exactly what Satan is doing. AL might as well be a feint. Get everybody worrying about some long, unreadable text full of ambiguities, and they don't notice that the dome suddenly seems to be missing from St. Peters.
Like all the best plans it is simple. And it plays on the best qualities of humans: following the rules, loyalty and such. So, that single, solitary roar of defiance in the distance is the Bear. The Bear complains about everything, because it is all completing the puzzle of a repurposed Church.
He sometimes wonders if humans are blind, because the puzzle is 80% complete and they still can't tell what it's suppose to be. Which is:
The Church of the Prince of the World. You can't say your old pal the Bear didn't warn you.
An old analogy the Bear sometimes used in opening argument (yes, the Bear's openings were always arguments because he knew the Four Magic Words) is the Lid of the Puzzle Box Analogy. He would compare his optimistic recitation of the facts (he was on the defense, remember) to "the picture on the box of a jigsaw puzzle." The Bear would show the jurors the picture of what the evidence would have revealed by the end of the trial. (Assuming the Bear could eat a few pieces along the way without getting caught.)
Look. Can you really not see it? What has to happen before you do?