It’s unfortunate that a Catholic bishop, enunciating policy that reflects centuries-old and current Catholic doctrine, would meet with such criticism from his fellow Catholics, and even from Catholic priests. Unfortunate, but not surprising or even unusual. Such has been the case throughout the history of the Church. There have always been those in the Church, including bishops and priests, more interested in accommodating the popular culture than in transforming it according to the gospel. At one point in the distant past, nearly a third of the bishops in the West were Arians, a heresy that denied the divinity of Christ.
Today’s accommodators are not so much interested in changing matters of faith as in deconstructing the Church’s moral teachings. So, we have those who justify the use of contraception, celebrate homosexual unions, and even demand the right of abortion. Arguments over the divinity of Christ aren’t much in vogue today, even if many don’t give much thought to what it means and how it impacts the Catholic worldview and the dignity of the human person. Jesus was a nice guy who taught us to love one another and told us we could basically do whatever we wanted and God was required to love us and bless our deeds. All you need is love, dude.
The idea that our Christian journey is one of conforming our will to the will of God is so “Old Church.” Today, we do as we please, expecting that God will conform His will to ours because, you know, He loves us, right? When someone loves you, that means he or she never judges your actions as right or wrong, moral or immoral. They support you, whatever, because that’s what love does. Right? I’m sure that’s somewhere in the Bible.
“I urge you, therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship. Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect” (Romans 12:1-2).
Now, that’s in the Bible. In St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans, to be exact.
Critics of Bishop Paprocki, like Sean Michael Winters and Fr. James Martin, would have us conform our will to the will of the age and not give much concern to the will of God, to what is good and pleasing and perfect. They would have us settle for the okay and the pleasurable and the try as hard as you can, but don’t worry about it. Or, even worse, for the will of the age that leads to perdition. “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.” Omigosh! Who said such a fierce, unmerciful, unloving, and judgmental thing?
Oh, yeah. Jesus.
Thank you, Bishop Paprocki, for your clear teaching and your clear defense of the Church’s moral tradition. May you live a hundred years, and may your brother bishops be inspired by your courage and fortitude to imitate them.
Be Christ for all. Bring Christ to all. See Christ in all.