The Bear is aware that this is a sensitive subject and people feel strongly, so he apologizes in advance if he offends anyone. This isn't aimed at anyone in particular, but is the result of a culmination of statements the Bear has read from a number of sources. Almost a worrisome, trending consensus among traditionalists as the Synod draws near, although the Bear hopes he is wrong.
Not Just the Facts, Ma'am
To save frustration, please bear with the, er, Bear, as he takes a trip down familiar territory.
The Bear is aware of the problems with the Church, from before Pope St. John XXIII's diplomatic days, before there was white smoke, but no pope at the 1958 conclave. He knows about KGB infiltration into the clergy, and Freemason and Protestant involvement with the new liturgy, and all the issues with it. He has read the more important documents of Vatican II, the Ottaviani intervention, and The Rhine Flows Into the Tiber. He knows about Assisi, and Pope St. John Paul II kissing the Quran. He knows all about ecumenism and inter-faith, the "Three Great Abrahamic Religions" and the loss of our mission to the Jews.
He knows about Fatima, and Akita, and a dozen or two other, lesser known visions that predict disaster. He knows about St. Athanasius, too (but unless he voluntarily left the Church, isn't quite sure of his relevance).
He knows more than most about homosexual priests molesting pubescent boys and the coverup of their crimes by other Catholic clergy.
The Bear has assisted at 1962 Latin liturgies (and even has his own missal). He has also assisted at the newer liturgy of the Church with bongos and a floating Fabio androgynous resurrectifix. He's been to an Opus Dei evening of recollection and a Catholic charismatic prayer meeting. As regular readers know, he left the Church outright for Orthodoxy, and he had many very good reasons. And he came back for one feeble reason: to be with Peter in the one and only true Church.
The Bear has witnessed the autodemolition of the Church, and half his cubs have left the it.
He remembers when Pope Francis wandered out onto the balcony and waved, "hi there, I'm the new Bishop of Rome." He remembers "Who am I to judge?" and "a little bread and wine do no harm." He remembers the Synod on the Family.
The Bear is up-to-date on the machination of the Germans bishops, and the deficiencies of the American bishops. The Bear is on top of Pope Francis (don't get your hopes up -- figuratively).
282,492 page views during that time. Nearly all of them deal with the problems cited above and much, much more. He has even written about the psychological implications of the current state of the Church. His motto is the rather grim, "Nail your foot to the floor in front of your favorite pew and die there." That's a hint that not all is well.
The Bear is hardly a cub in the woods. None of this is to boast, but to prove that saying "but Pope Francis might do this, or Vatican II did that!" is not a logical response to this plea. We all agree on the facts. The question is: what actions do we take on the basis of those facts? To put the question in the simplest way is to ask, "So, in or out?"
So if you're thinking, if only the Bear knew this, or understood that, the Bear uses his softest growl to respectfully tell you, thank you, but that's not it. Recite your parade of horribles -- actual and imagined -- and the Bear remains unmoved, and not just because his foot is nailed to the floor in front of his favorite pew, and he hopes to die there.
The Church is Indefectible
We never get to decide, "yea, today is the day the cup of iniquity of the Church of Rome riseth to the very lip, indeed runneth over the sides, and the Whore of Babylon hath fallen." We never get to uphold Our Lord's pronouncement on divorce on the one hand, while saying His promise that the gates of Hell shall not prevail against His Church just didn't pan out. We never get to say, "indeed, in our span of years upon earth, the fate of a 2000 year-old institution shall be decided, and moreover decided by us."
While the Bear toyed with his audience by saying in a previous article indefectibility was "bunk," in order to make a point, that's not the truth. The Church is indefectible. Here's what the Catholic Encyclopedia of 1917 says about indefectibility.
"By this term is signified, not merely that the Church will persist to the end of time, but further, that it will be preserved unimpaired in its essential characteristics. The Church can never undergo any constitutional change, which will make it, as a social organism, something different from what it was originally. It can never become corrupt in faith or in morals; nor can it ever lose the Apostolic hierarchy, or the Sacraments through which Christ communicates grace to men."Vatican One said the Church is "built on a rock, and will continue to stand until the end of time." Pope Leo XIII said in his 1896 encyclical Satis Cognitum, "The Church of Christ is one and everlasting" ("unica et perpetua"). If you're interested, this belief is, technically, sententia certa. (Ludwig Ott, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma).
Denzinger, Sources of Catholic Doctrine, has this to say (at 1955) about the one Church.
Now, if we look at what was done, Jesus Christ did not arrange and organize such a Church as would embrace several communities similar in kind, but distinct, and not bound together by those bonds that make the Church indivisible and unique after that manner clearly in which we profess in the symbol of faith, “I believe in one Church.”For centuries, popes and councils have said there is no salvation outside of the Church. Even wishy-washy Vatican II says you will lose your salvation if you leave the Church. "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.
These are all traditional sources, except Lumen Gentium. You don't want to be more liberal than Vatican II, do you?
Breaking Up Is Hard To Do -- But Not Impossible
So if the Catholic Church really can't disappear because Reinhard Marx defiles St. Peter's with his goat's foot, are you really sure you want to leave? (And picking "x" and calling it "The Church" is psychological self-jiu-jitsu, if we're honest. As Abraham Lincoln asked, "If you call a dog's tail a leg, how many legs does a dog have?" The answer is four. Just because you call a thing something doesn't make it so.)
If Catholics can leave the Church any time they're really, really sure the Church is wrong, then you should be able to cite clear and relevant statements from numerous saints, popes and councils directly in support of that proposition.
But there is no authority for that proposition, at least none that the Bear is aware of. Why, then, friend -- and the Bear means that most sincerely -- would you take such a horrible risk against the entire weight of tradition?
On the other hand, what harm can come from exercising the virtues praised by all saints: humility and obedience? You can be a scandalized Roman Catholic, while being a humble and obedient son or daughter of the Church. Do you really think God will punish you for remaining in His visible, institutional Church that traces continuity back to Peter? (The Bear could go on in this vein, but it is Catholic Apologetics 101, and most of his readers can probably do it better than he can.)
If your answer is the SSPX, the Bear sympathizes. Of course things are a mess in our little slice of time. But more to the point, isn't there a paradox inherent in the SSPX option? Forget the fact their priests have no faculties for hearing confessions except what Francis the Merciful feels like giving them -- temporarily.
No, the real paradox is that people want to flee to the SSPX because the Church is corrupt and washed up, and the SSPX is traditional. Yet the first thing they say is that SSPX isn't in schism, and remains part of the Church in good standing! They decide to leave the Church, and at the same time insist they're inside the Church. And good for them! The Bear thinks that shows a healthy instinct, however illogical.
"Bad But Stay"
|We're finally at the important part!|
The better answer is to de-couple "bad therefore leave" altogether. Such a link is by no means logical or inevitable. We aren't programmed "bad therefore leave" with our children. We aren't programmed "bad therefore leave" with our spouses, or our countries. (Remember all the Hollywood liberals who were always threatening to move out of the country if Bush got elected? Even they didn't follow through.) Why should we have programmed our brains to "bad therefore leave" when it comes to the Church?
Please, reprogram your brain to "bad but stay." "Yes, this is bad. I recognize that, But all that means is that a bad thing is happening in the Roman Catholic Church, for reasons beyond my understanding. I am still a faithful Catholic and this is still the Church (you know, the place with the fancy buildings filled with untrustworthy schemers, but also Jesus). Therefore, of course I shall stay."
The Bear shall stay no matter what, yea, even if Francis the Merciful and Beneficent marries two Catholic priests in front of Bernini's baldachin in St. Peter's. And he will be no less scandalized than any of his readers. But Bears are stubborn that way. This too shall pass. And were the Church that God Himself built one day to fall down and crush a humble Bear, do you believe God could justly punish poor Bear for doing what He told him to do in the first place? Maybe the inscrutable sovereign being worshiped by the Mohammedans could, but not the Catholic God. (And, yes, the Bear does believe in a Catholic God.)
"Sit, Bear. Good Bear."
We can suspect Noah is a drunken reprobate and the Ark is leaking at the seams, and threaten to jump overboard. We may even rechristen a piece of driftwood floating on the horizon "The Ark." But others shall wonder, and remind us that there's only one Ark, and we're already on it. If they are our friends, they will do nearly anything to keep us in the safety of the Ark. That is the spirit this plea was written in, so please forgive an old Bear if he cares about his readers and may have hugged them too tightly, or growled a little too growly.
The Bear's visitors, friends and woodland creatures have cited homosexual marriage or divorce as a reason to leave. The Bear gets it. You're spooked by the Synod on the Family. The Bear urges calm. The forces of right are better prepared than the last time because the've seen the horns and tail. "Be not therefore solicitous for to morrow; for the morrow will be solicitous for itself. Sufficient for the day is the evil thereof." Matthew 6:34. (Jesus said that.) In any event, "bad but stay." Or just "Sit!"
And whatever storm may blow, be it as frightening as Dorothy's tornado, the windswept house is built on the Rock of Peter, and we have the Builder's guarantee that even the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it.