It has occasionally been commented that I am cynical about the current condition of the Church and about its Shepherds.
I have to admit, I am guilty as charged. But I should clarify that I am NOT cynical about the Church itself. I truly believe that in spite of the current rudderless leadership in the Church, the Church will survive just as it has through various trials such as the Arians and Avignon Papacy.
Why am I cynical? Well, there are many reasons but here are a few major ones:
- The sex abuse scandal. Need I say more?
- After spending years stonewalling against any kind of oversight of the Catholic universities in America that would, believe it or not, require a minimal attempt at Catholicism, the bishops issued a toothless document and for the most part the universities have carried on as before with the bishops actually refusing to let people know if the schools are in compliance.
- In spite of years of "Catholic" politicians voting in favor of abortion and opposing any measures that would curtail abortion, only one bishop in the entire country has excommunicated such people.
- It is harder to find a Novus Ordo Mass celebrated in accord with the principles of Vatican II and the current GIRM in America than it is to find a Tridentine Mass.
- The French bishops have devoted large amounts of energy opposing an expansion of the Tridentine indult while at the same time the Catholic population of France has become a minority.
- Call to Action has only been declared an anti-Catholic organization in one diocese in the United States.
- A pro-abortion, pro-gay-marriage priest in Canada ran for office and won last year and his bishop didn't stop him.
- In my entire life I have only heard one homily at Mass about contraceptives and the priest only said that there was a problem with "abortifacient contraceptives".
- In my entire life I have never heard a homily about the immorality of in-vitro fertilization and various other fertility treatments.
- Father Andrew Greeley, Dick (don't call me Father) Vosko and Charles Curran are all still priests and, apart from Charles Curran not being allowed to teach at Catholic universities, are still free to spread their lies and destroy churches.
- Rubber stamp annulments in the United States.
- The National Catholic Reporter is allowed to call itself Catholic.
- Cardinal McCarrick "misinformed" the US Bishops' Conference about the contents of Cardinal Ratzinger's letter concerning Catholic politicians and abortion and was allowed to keep his see.
Now, I don't see everything as bad. In fact, I see signs that in a generation or two the Church will either have a resurgence or be in a life and death struggle with Islam and what remains of anti-religious governments. Both situations are far preferable to the lukewarm, mealy-mouth teaching that we get today. Revivals and adversity tend to brighten the lines between right and wrong.
Some things that I see as positive signs:
- The seminarian population is growing and it's growing with young and older men who are faithful to the Church. Our diocese is up from two seminarians four years ago to thirteen now.
- Heretical religious orders are dying while orthodox ones are growing.
- There appears to be a thawing of relations between parts of the Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church.
- Some dioceses (including our own) are starting to take marriage preparation seriously and actually requiring some kind of standards in what is taught.
- The Theology of the Body is gaining traction both within the Catholic Church and in other circles.
- There has been an attempt made to actually require a semblance of orthodoxy from religious education material providers. It isn't anywhere close to adequate but it is a start.
- Rumors abound about a possible spread of the Tridentine Indult. This can only have a positive effect on the state of the typical Mass.
- The Church continues to grow quickly in Africa.
- For some more good news, read the great new book The Tide is Turning Towards Catholicism.