Indefectibility, Fear, Orthodoxy, & the Synod on the Family

Indefectibility, Fear, Orthodoxy, & the Synod on the Family September 30, 2015


Fear not! Gird up your loins! The Church has survived many onslaughts. It will not be any different now. [public domain / Pixabay]

Catholics who are excessively worried about the family synod coming up (there are many of them): thinking that it very well might change the morals of the Church that have been passed-down from the apostles, must not believe in the indefectibility of the Church (which is one of the dogmas of the Catholic faith). In effect, they deny that the Holy Spirit guides the Catholic Church. It’s tough to have faith at all, with all that baggage. In fact, Fr. John A. Hardon (my mentor) used to say that if someone denied any of the dogmas of the Catholic faith, he lost the supernatural virtue of faith.

Apparently, these good folks will have to see that the synod will not change anything in Catholic teaching that has always been there. Once that happens, perhaps their faith can be strengthened and they can overcome their doubts about the ongoing indefectibility of the Church (and also her infallibility).

Remember, “everyone” was “sure” the Church was gonna relax the prohibition of contraception in 1968, too. What actually happened? We all know . . .

Synods in and of themselves, are not infallible in the first place. They can rise to the level of ordinary magisterial teaching, but only in conjunction with the pope; with his express sanction. Even the ordinary magisterium only applies to teachings that are reaffirmed: that are very well-entrenched in tradition.

I would contend that the teachings on marriage and divorce could not possibly change, even according to how Catholic ecclesiology and authority work, before we ever get to considerations of indefectibility and the supernatural protection of the Holy Spirit. It would be similar to, for example, the Congress changing some part of the US Constitution at the drop of a hat. They simply can’t do that. There is nothing to worry about here!

The synod does not consist solely of German and Dutch dissidents (and all the other usual suspects: invariably from Western Europe and  North America: where all this sort of nonsense usually originates). The Church is a lot bigger than that.

Most sectors of the Church are not existentially burdened with the things that liberals and modernists concern themselves with (how to change the Church into their own image). They don’t get it. But they’re not the whole Church. Folks need to stop thinking that they are, just because they make a lot of noise.

The dissident so-called “progressives” tried to hijack Vatican II and foist upon millions of Catholics the notion that the Catholic Church had magically transformed itself into the internal and perpetual chaos that is Anglicanism. Consequently, millions lost faith or became compromised in serious ways. But the Catholic faith had not fundamentally changed at all.

The dissenters couldn’t even pretend that Humanae Vitae in 1968 and the affirmation of the age-old prohibition of contraception was a “victory”, and so consequently they almost split off. The possibility of wholesale schism of millions was very real in those days. “Progressives” do not take losses lightly. They do “sour grapes” to the nth degree: make it almost an art form!

Our faith and trust is in God, not in some fancy that Catholics will all be perfect saints at all times.

There have always been sinners and corruption in the Church, yet true doctrine has (quite remarkably) been passed-down all these years.

No one need take my word alone for that. Just read 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, and Jesus’ warnings to the seven churches of Revelation.

Even the writers of the New Testament were great sinners. Paul murdered Christians, Peter denied Christ three times and was a hypocrite to such an extent that Paul rebuked him (an incident itself captured in Scripture). All the disciples save one fled from Jesus when He was tried and crucified.

Doubting Thomas continued to doubt, despite all the miracles he had seen Jesus perform. Finally he threw in the towel and ceased his ludicrous doubting (at least temporarily), when Jesus appeared after His resurrection,  just for him, and told him to touch the wound in His side.

But I highly suspect that he continued to doubt other things after that. Some folks are — by constitution or temperament —  worriers; anxious types, and will keep worrying no matter what. But they don’t have to spread their worries and fears and anxieties to everyone else. They can at least keep these things to themselves.

There is nothing new under the sun, as Ecclesiastes 1:9 teaches. Those who think things are uniquely bad now,  must not have read much Church history.

G. K. Chesterton said that the faith has gone to the dogs five times, and in every case the dogs died.

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