About a week ago I got an Email from an eager and sincere young man who was writing me about his enthusiasm for our current president and how he was going to do everything in his power to make sure that he is reelected. I wrote back with some concerns that I had about the current administration’s policies.
In a counter Email he asked what I thought about Fr. Helmut and he was supposing that we were on opposite sides. Admitting that I did not know the priest he sent me a link at which I could get up to speed.
For those of you who do not know Fr. Helmut is head of an Austrian organization of priests named, “Call to Disobedience.” Among other things they demand that the Church change (else they fear that the 300 priests who signed a petition plus others might have no choice but to break away from the Church) was the call to a married priesthood, a female priesthood, communion for those even non-Catholic persons who are divorced and remarried to a Catholic without a declaration for nullity, rejecting the notion that a priest should be the one to preach at Mass, and a host of other topics along the same lines. In other words, the Catholic Church should do what just about every other Christian Church has already done. We see how well that has worked out.
You can read more about this movement here and here.
The gentleman that sent me the article was correct, we probably are not on the same page concerning these issues. The Church has spoken definitively on these issues and quite frankly I am Okay with them. Even the title, “Call to Disobedience” causes me to step back and pause. Direct disobedience has never been a recipe for sainthood. One might find someone standing up to something unjust, but not against a teaching of the Church. (It gets a little confusing since some of these practices are theological in nature and some are disciplinary.) After all, how did Jesus win for us our salvation? By being perfectly obedient – something we were incapable of doing. If we want to follow in His footsteps how do we do it? In some areas there may be very legitimate causes for change but do you incite a call for disobedience? How can the Church reconcile to that? “A house divided against itself . . .” It is a call not only to disobedience but to disunity a kin to the Protestant Reform which continues to be a scandal in to the Christian Church that Jesus calls “to be one.”
Is it true however that if we did these things that the Austrian priests called us to, would things be better? There was an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal recently which you can find here that talked about this entitled, “Traditional Catholicism Is Winning.” Not that this is a game or that someone wins at another’s expense. But it does tell about some interesting trends concerning the Church in the United States. Consider these:
As mainline Protestantism is in decline the Catholic Church has grown from 55million in 1980 to 77.7 million.
There are 5,000 more priests in the world today than there were in 1999.
There were 467 ordinations in the U. S. last year, up from 442 two decades ago.
Where is the Church growing? In dioceses with a strong and orthodox bishop who is not shy about being Catholic and who invites others to live as authentically.
If I may quote the article:
“This aging generation of progressives continues to lobby church leaders to change Catholic teachings on reproductive rights, same-sex marriages and women’s ordination. But it is being replaced by younger men and women who are attracted to the church because of its teachings.
“They are attracted to the philosophy, the art, the literature and the theology that make Catholicism countercultural. They are drawn to the beauty of the liturgy and the church’s commitment to the dignity of the individual. They want to be contributors to that commitment – alongside faithful and courageous bishops who ask them to make sacrifices. It is time for Catholics to celebrate their arrival.”
After sending me the link to the article about the priest of Call to Disobedience, he asked me to pray for him “if I am able.”
Of course I am.
And pray for me too.