Archive for February, 2019|Monthly archive page

2019 is Not 2002

In Christianity on February 28, 2019 at 9:23 pm

Between 2002 and 2019, the patterns of communication in our world changed dramatically. The Internet and social media elbowed broadcast news aside.

The old pattern or model was one way, one-to-many communication. Today multi-platform, many-to-many conversations are the rule. Facebook launched in 2004, YouTube in 2005, and Twitter in 2006. Reported news is now only one thread among many. No public figure from the President to the Pope can stonewall discussion of an important topic.

Stand Firm
Nowhere is the futility of trying to put a lid on discussion more evident than with the laity’s response to the summer of shame. An unending stream of social media posts and comments make it clear the glacial pace of the Vatican is at odds with the immense disappointment of the laity. With additional action anticipated by various states’ attorneys general, the social media stream risks becoming a torrent. We can hope that the Vatican ultimately will respond with a clarity and sense of urgency we have not yet seen.

As Catholic Christians, we must acknowledge that the situation is more complex than an allegedly isolated Pope or timid bishops.

A Resource Guide
The post, A Resource Guide, is intended to provide insight into the current crisis in the Church. The guide is not comprehensive, but perhaps it will be helpful. But how? Why?

On July 27, 2008, at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Greenville, SC, I responded “I do” to the following question:

Do you believe and profess all that the holy Catholic Church believes, teaches, and proclaims to be revealed by God.

The one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church embraced me and warmly welcomed me. I did not deserve the riches of the Church then. I don’t today. But by the grace and mercy of God I became a Catholic Christian and was received into full communion.

Do We All Believe and Profess?
The resource guide seeks to answer the question, “Do all Catholic Christians believe and profess all that the holy Catholic Church believes, teaches, and proclaims to be revealed by God?” The answer, of course, is “no.” But when one sees a Cardinal with this record admonishing the President of the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops to be patient and wait until February 2019 to take any meaningful action [move the video slider to the right to 18:20 for the beginning of Cardinal Cupich’s remarks], it makes one wonder what to do?

The answer? Read and speak up. 2019 is not 2002! Speak with respect. Be sure of your facts. Offer gentle correction and guidance to any who are wrong. But use the tools we have in 2019, with God’s help, to ensure the Church is not faced with a repeat—or worse—of 2002. What could be worse? The stage-managed February 2019 gathering in Rome produced ambiguous statements and no meaningful action yet again.

One final thought: no well-formed Catholic Christian wants laity in control of the Church. If the vehement lay response to the current crisis is interpreted by the episcopacy as the laity wanting control, that would be a grave mistake. What so many are asking for is faithful spiritual fathers—holy bishops who teach, govern, and sanctify. An emphasis on personal sanctity, sound teaching, and accountability where those attributes are not present is what’s being called for.

These resources have been helpful to me. The red subheads are clickable links.

The Bible
Sacred Scripture is essential. The link in the subhead will take you to Olive Tree Bible Software. They offer downloadable Bibles. Get the RSV, NABre, and Douay-Rheims. You may also want the ESV Strong’s. Although the ESV Strongs lacks the deuterocanonical books, it provides quick links to the original languages in which the Bible was written (Hebrew–Old Testament; Greek–New Testament).

The Catechism of the Catholic Church
Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition are summarized in the Catechism. This expresses the teaching of the magisterium of the Church. Our own views, as well those of Cardinal Cupich, must be tested against the doctrine defined by the Catechism. The Kindle version of the Catechism is wonderfully useful because it contains links for cross references, as well as easily access to footnotes.

Triumphs and Tragedies
This 23 episode series is both informative and encouraging. Fr. Longenecker puts 2,000 years of history into perspective, reminding listeners that the Church has survived scandal and bad popes before (read Eamon Duffy’s Saints and Sinners: A History of the Popes). Fr. Longenecker goes beyond Duffy, however, in putting the current crisis into the historical context. It is Christ’s Church and the forces of hell will not prevail against it (Matthew 16:18).

The subhead, above, provides a link to Philip Lawler’s 2018 assessment of our episcopacy’s response to the crisis in the Church. It is the most recent book-length account. Also very helpful, however, is Marcantonio Colonna‘s (pen name for Henry Sire) background study of Pope Francis’ papacy. Finally, for a comprehensive summary of the sex abuse crisis and legal responses as of 2014 see the scholarly work by James T. O’Reilly and Margaret S.P. Chalmers. Note that the latter book is often available far more inexpensively on

Blogs, Podcasts, and Twitter
Twitter posts generally point back to the authors’ blogs and/or podcasts.  So, here is a list several accounts worth following on Twitter. Take the next step and visit their blogs, too.

@dlongenecker1 (Fr. Dwight Longenecker)
@TaylorRMarshall (Dr. Taylor Marshall)
@NCRegister (National Catholic Register)
@EdwardPentin (Edward Pentin)
@PhilLawler (Philip Lawler)
@ccpecknold (C.C. Pecknold)
@canonlaw (Edward Peters)
@jdflynn (J.D. Flynn)
@LSNCatholic (LifeSite News)
@OnePeterFive (Journal of Catholic Theology)

Stand Firm
We are repeatedly admonished in Sacred Scripture to “stand firm.” Ephesians 6:13-14: “Therefore take up the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.”

With the latest “revelations,” and potential legal action by as many as 17 states, it would be easy to become discouraged. Don’t. If this is your Church and mine, let’s begin by purifying ourselves; by praying for and encouraging faithful shepherds; and by keeping the pressure on the episcopacy. It’s always worth being reminded of Hillaire Belloc’s observation:

“No merely human institution conducted with such knavish imbecility would have lasted a fortnight.”

The Church is Christ’s and He has promised the forces of hell will not prevail against. Hold your ground and continue to fight the good fight.