I always sensed that non-Catholics thought the Catholic Church was big, organized and united in what it believed. After all, what was seen publicly was a huge organization, ruled with strict attention to obedience by members – and if there were any disagreements, the public didn't get to see them.
In fact, even average parish members had little if any inkling that there might be problems – so well hidden were they within the religion.
For the average Catholic, the clergy ruled with a iron hand in each parish, and it was rare that disagreements boiled out into the public eye.
When they did, for the typical parishioner, it meant that they either left that parish, left the church or just shut-up and went on.
I can recall from my own lifetime knowing people who had strong disagreements with a parish priest that could not be resolved in their favor. The result was another Catholic losing his or her faith. But life at the parish went on, and it didn't seem the church cared.
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The ramifications of such breaches in religious belief were wide and deep and often resulted in split families. It affected the elderly who were faced with the reality that the religious foundation of their lives was broken, and their anger often remained for years. For the middle-aged in families, it meant they had to deal with their own fragmented beliefs but also figure out how to console their children. And for those children, who were just learning about their faith, the fact that there could be such serious breaches in belief was often difficult, if not impossible to deal with.
But that was then and this is now, and the situation in the Catholic Church has changed dramatically. It's not just in this country, but is in fact, worldwide. On the surface, what you see – the clergy, the church and the pageantry – continues. But lift the curtain just a bit, and you see and hear the scandal, gossip, misbehavior, questionable financial dealings and blatant actions that outwardly break the rules Catholics for centuries believed held their faith together.
The result of all this is a dramatic loss of faith among thousands of Catholics who have indeed walked away from their deeply held religious beliefs.
One question is how to deal with the sex scandals involving clergy. How to deal with homosexual activities – not just in parishes, but it is, in fact, a situation that permeates the church from the Vatican on down.
The Catholic Church holds in its Catechism that homosexual inclinations are "objectively disordered," that such acts are "intrinsically disordered" and are "gravely sinful."
"Under no circumstances can they be approved."
Despite that, there are clergy who approve of homosexual activities by church members or perhaps are gay themselves, and organizations claiming to be Catholic but which are openly gay. A blatant display of such in-your-face rebellion were the "pride" blessings recently given to people in LGBTQ groups by clergy in Germany.
Lifesite News reported that many Catholic leaders decried the ceremonies as "schismatic" and blasphemous.
Abortion, which is never approved by the church, has been openly supported and promoted by President Biden, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other high-profile Catholics. This has caused much agitation and anger among believers who see it as another example of watering-down the faith to appeal to more people.
According to Fr. Francis Gloudeman of Orange County California, Joe Biden is a good example of hypocrisy because he claims to be a good Catholic yet supports things that are "… against Catholicism. That is hypocrisy on a grand scale – in front of the whole world!"
It doesn't help that Pope Francis remains silent over controversies like this and, in fact, has seemed to support whatever any of these people say or do, regardless of whether it supports church tradition or not.
The practice of the Catholic religion changed dramatically after Vatican II, in the '60s. One of the most visible changes was in the form and practice of the Mass. The traditional Latin Mass – the Tridentine Mass – was virtually ignored, and the Novus Ordo Mass, the modern, English language Mass, was adopted. For most Catholics, it was "Protestant lite." Thousands of Catholics hated it and still do.
There are some priests who still celebrate the Latin Mass, and their following is growing. But Pope Francis reportedly is opposed to it and is doing his best to get it outlawed and make it impossible for any priest anywhere to celebrate it.
I know there are many things causing problems for the Catholic Church today, but if Pope Frances succeeds in literally outlawing the Latin Mass, I think it will be the straw that breaks the camel's back. I believe it will cause a schism in the church that will be irreparable.
There is a need for tradition in our lives and in our beliefs, and it appears that the leader of the church today, Pope Francis, is in a world of his own. If he continues down this path, he may find himself leading a group of people who have no connection with the faith that started it all.
That may happen, and he may not care. But we will.
Time will tell.
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