The Bishop was present in the parish over the weekend to celebrate the sacrament of confirmation, and after sharing dinner with him and the Holy Deacon I was pondering the immensity of his task. The Catholic Church is so amazingly diverse, and the bishop is the focus of unity for the diocese. How does he do it?
Considering the clergy alone he has to deal with secular clergy and religious, priests from Africa, Asia, South and Central America. Many of them have English as a second language and struggle to minister in a foreign land. Then he has to deal with aging priests, a few married convert priests and young priests still wet behind the ears. Added to this diversity are differences of opinion regarding liturgy, theology and priorities in the church.
Diversity in the church is a rich blessing, but division in the church terrible curse. There is acceptable diversity in cultural expressions of worship and different styles of worship, but there is no room for ‘diversity’ when it comes to the teaching of the Catholic Church–and this is where modernists stumble and betray the faith. They mistake proper diversity of style and culture with dissent on crucial matters of faith. So they will maintain that it is okay that they disagree with the church on artificial contraception, women’s ordination, same sex ‘marriage’ or abortion. “This is all part of the “diversity” we celebrate in the church.” they claim.
There are indeed some matters of church teaching and devotion which remain provisional or are only “pious opinion.” The Blessed Mother has not been defined as Co-Redeemer. You don’t have to wear the brown scapular if you don’t want to. Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is optional and women don’t have to wear hats to church. There are many practices and principles that are up for grabs, but the heart of church teaching is not, and when we treat as optional the truths that are defined and defended as de fide we are on the path of division and dissent–not simple diversity.
The most subtle form of this division and dissent is when a Catholic emphasizes a legitimate aspect of church life over and above the core mission of the church. Put it like this: the basic mission of the church is to be the Body of Christ on earth. She does what Christ did, and these are four things: 1. Teach the Truth 2. Heal the Sick 3. Forgive Sins 4. Take authority over evil. The basic mission of the church is therefore to bring Christ’s redemption to a needy world–in other words–to save souls.
When we put anything else before this fundamental mission division is the result. Read More