The cardinal hits the matter squarely on the head. Any other response by the Church would forfeit its credibility both as the abiding vehicle of Christ's love and as a community in pursuit of the truths of Christ. A parent who allows his children to do whatever they want, without ever raising a criticism or setting limits, would rightly be considered a poor parent. Out of love, the parent expects a certain level of performance and of obedience, to safeguard the child and to aid him in growing into an adult. Parents follow their convictions because they believe themselves to be right and desire their children to follow suit. The Church really believes in the Gospel, in both the doctrines of faith and in those of moral action. To suggest anything else would be to preach a counterfeit gospel. It would be a message from covenience and a route of less resistance; however, when has it ever been totally convenient to be a Christian? When has the road which follows Christ up to Calvary been made routine?
How many of those who disagree with the Church today on matters of teaching, usually ones regarding the relationship between the sexes, have actually attempted to understand the Catholic position? Have they studied the Scriptural testimony? Have they explored the wealth of our history and tradition? Have they read and studied the documents promulgated by the teachers of our Church who are especially gifted by the Holy Spirit to proclaim the unadulterated truth? More so than not, I am afraid the answer is meager and negative. In addition, to understand the Church at all requires at least the preliminary steps of faith. If people do not worship God at the Mass every week as a community; if they do not spend some time each day at prayer; if the Scriptures are not familiar to them; if they do not nurture this faith among each other and the young; if their lives are not filled with charity; how can they hope to even begin to have the inner disposition to understand the other issues revolving around Christian discipleship? The answer is simple. They cannot. They can only witness to the new and empty secular humanism which despite the long history of man's injustice to man, would now herald the Westernized human being as their god and false idol. Under the guise of a science which displaces objective norms or ethics for fleeting human whims, they would seek to remodel society into a so-called freer and ultimately a more hedonistic environment. As far as authority and obedience in regards to the Church, these are themes which they want to see relegated to the past; however, in regards to the new secularism, dissent from religious quarters is to be mocked and stamped out with all available tools. If the Church would at least allow others the freedom to follow their conscience, even if in error, the new secularism will not. It is simply another kind of slavery disguised as freedom. It is the old rebellion in the garden taking on a new setting. "You will be as gods!"
Have we not been down this road before? Must we travel it again? The solution is old and yet ever new, "Repent and believe!"
Revised on May 1, 1998.