A RESPONSE TO THE VOTF AGENDA……..
by Henry A. Miranda, Jr. (6 June/02)
As a lifelong practicing Catholic approaching eight decades of longevity on Planet Earth, my concern about the recent revelations of priestly sexual abuse and the alleged malfeasance of Cardinal Law and several of his fellow bishops prompted me to attend a meeting of the VOTF chapter held at Our Lady Help of Christians in Concord on May 29. I share the general sense of frustration engendered by these developments as reported in the media. However it seemed that the tenor of certain remarks by a number of attendees, (which was reinforced by the set of viewgraphs presented that evening), went beyond the limits of prudence that anyone familiar with the doctrines of the Church would expect to encounter.
A subsequent visit to the VOTF website reinforced my growing suspicion that its leadership is using our anger to launch a polemic against the very heart and soul of our beloved Church. The following remarks may be helpful to those members of VOTF who feel somewhat uncomfortable with the agenda set forth in the viewgraphs.
We begin by recalling that the Church has weathered many a crisis of equal or greater magnitude than the present one. The promise of Christ Himself that “…the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it…” clearly implied that serious attacks of one kind or another were to be expected. Should we not, therefore, ask the Holy Spirit to guide us through this present one? Will He not transform our anger and direct our energies into effective actions in answer to our prayers?
The VOTF leadership appears to have put the cart before the horse in this instance: Proposing to transform the structure of the Church along democratic lines at the outset is, in effect, telling the Holy Spirit that we know what’s best, and that engaging in an extended period of prayer and meditation before considering concrete actions of any kind would be a waste of time.
Think about it: Did the guarantee of Our Lord imply that His corrective action would be achieved without strife, agony, and turmoil? Not at all! The last great attack sustained by His Church, (however well-deserved it may have been), was accompanied by a host of bitter, (and lasting), ramifications. Indeed, the effects remain with us to this day: a divided Christendom splintered into hundreds of denominations, each proclaiming its own set of doctrines. So, if we begin with a program of prayer, and let Him do what needs to be done, we can be assured of the grace to understand the laity’s role, if such is indicated as part of the needed corrective action, in due time. We must at all costs avoid the temptation to take matters into our own hands.
We next point out certain glaringly erroneous assertions in the viewgraphs, (from which it will be evident that the VOTF agenda cannot achieve its intended purpose). Finally, a brief explanation is given as to what, in my view, are the true underlying causes of the sad situation that has been thrust upon us. These reflections point to an approach that is preferable to the one that is presently on the table
The first viewgraph entitled, “Analysis of Causation” asserts that the ‘visible problem’ is Pedophilic Priests. In the vast majority of cases that have been widely reported, however, priestly abuse was visited on boys who had passed through puberty. From these facts there is no escaping the conclusion that the overwhelming ‘visible problem’ is not acts of pedophilic priests at all, but rather those of homosexual priests. [Whether it is true that the rehabilitation of pedophiles is reported to be negligible, while the success rate with homosexual priests has been encouraging, (with some reports quoting a rate as high as 98%.), remains to be seen.]
The next four viewgraphs assert that we, the People, need a revised constitution to wield constructive power in various activities of the church hierarchy. A comparison with secular governance, (i.e., executive, legislative, and judicial), much as in a representative democracy, is even included! This advances the ludicrous notion that the Church power structure should follow the secular model, (this latter being touted as pristine).
It is obvious to anyone who has actually read the eloquent documents of Vatican II, (as well as many of the subsequent papal encyclicals), that the insinuations embodied in these viewgraphs are not in conformity with the Magisterial teachings of the Church. An example of such an insinuation is the block in one of the viewgraphs labeled, “understanding sexuality”. This implies that the Church has failed to provide us with certain seemingly important elements of human sexuality. It is presumed that when these elements are supposedly understood properly, they would alter our views on the teachings of the church in this regard. This presumption is in stark contrast to the clear, concise, and consistent teaching of the Church. A prime example in this regard is the truly remarkable treatise on Marriage and the Family found in one of the documents of Vatican II, (“The Church in the Modern World”, Sections 47-52).
The last viewgraph is particularly revealing, in that it presents a (schematic) graphical distribution of catholic individuals, with “Protestant Church” (*) on the left extreme, and “Papal Authority Only” on the right extreme. This is grossly objectionable, because it presumes that virtually the entire population of the Faithful is in dissent from the teachings of the Church and the Pope. Since these same Faithful believe that all such teachings are infallible, the graph represents a contradiction in terms. [The argument goes as follows: All who dissent from these teachings have by definition removed themselves from the Body of the Faithful, (i.e., they have committed an act of heresy) and thus cannot be included in the population!] In addition, this viewgraph purports to suggest that virtually no-one gives his interior assent to the teachings of the Pope. This is a direct insult to the intelligence, (and the faith), of countless millions of Catholics who support not only the teachings of the Pope but also all the teachings of the Church, (one very famous person numbered among these being Mother Theresa)!
Notwithstanding this technical distinction, the graphical distribution represents a sad reality in today’s Western culture, namely: the large number of people who think of themselves as being Catholics while hewing to a constant posture of dissent. That there are in fact so many individuals who have placed themselves in this category, is readily admitted. However, as will be seen in the last section herein, this constitutes the exquisitely precise nexus from which may emerge an acceptable alternative to the present VOTF agenda.
Taken as a whole, these viewgraphs display a deep-seated antipathy to: 1) the teaching Magisterium, 2) the infallible authority of the Pope when pronouncing on matters of faith and morals, 3) the Authority of Church Tradition, and 4) the structure of the Church Hierarchy as admirably delineated in Vatican II. The question naturally arises: “How does this antipathy differ from that of Protestants”?
There seems to be no escaping the inherent contradiction between two opposing elements of the VOTF thrust: On the one hand it claims that its members are part of the Church, (whereby spiritual power flows from God through His Vicar on Earth, thence through the local Bishop to the laity), while on the other hand it claims that this hierarchical structure needs to be modified significantly in all its workings. While such a model is conceivable, it hardly represents the Church set up by Christ, its founder and sustaining force. Every priest, while using his sacerdotal powers, acts in the persona of Christ Himself. So does every bishop. Inserting laymen into this chain of spiritual power would destroy the nature of this organically united Mystical Body.
The Real Problem
When Pope Paul VI, (on having discovered that his infallible intentions regarding Papal infallibility during the deliberations of Vatican II had been surreptitiously altered by a high-
*The term ‘Church’ applied to our protestant brethren is a misnomer, since there are countless denominations affirming a widely disparate set of creedal assertions, none of which contain the complete set taught consistently and unerringly by the One, True Church from Day One. [Other denominations are covenantal, (such as the Congregationalists), and thus manage to avoid all problems arising from creedal differences.]
ranking prelate in the Vatican), observed, with tears in his eyes, that “…the smoke of Satan had entered the Vatican…”, he had made a truly prophetic pronouncement. Shortly thereafter, his
encyclical, “Humanae Vitae”, (which taught for the umpteenth time the utter sinfulness of contraception), was met with great derision by a gaggle of so-called theologians of prominent
stature, and subsequently with ridicule by too many priests. There ensued a relentless campaign to denigrate the teaching authority of the Church, and to consolidate, (aided by the advent of the “Pill”), the so-called sexual revolution in the U.S. and throughout the World.
This marked the beginning of widespread divorce, worldly sexual education in our schools, teen pregnancy, abortion, and a general breakdown of morals, (loose discipline in language and dress, diminished respect for authority in society, etc.), and an explosion in pornography and drug use. As an adjunct, we also began to hear rumors of homosexuality in our seminaries, while the majority of Nuns left their congregations for secular pursuits. Suddenly, homilies began to alternate between: 1- denigration of many traditional pious practices, and 2- inordinate focus on the Love of God for us, to the exclusion of any suggestions regarding the reality of Satan in the World, and of Sin in our lives. [To this very day, the concept of Purgatory has been virtually expunged from the lexicon of homiletic speech.] Meanwhile, catechetical activity disintegrated to the point that youngsters in CCD found their religious studies utterly boring.
Throughout all this, (despite the brilliant, lucid, and immensely pertinent encyclicals flowing from the pen of Pope John Paul II), too many of our bishops seemed to be oblivious to the impending disaster, focusing their attention instead on broader societal issues of greater interest to the secular media. Those of us working in the Vineyard of the Lord as lay CCD instructors, in choirs, in discussions and study groups, etc., have long been aware of this vexing situation; but our attempts to alert the hierarchy at all levels went largely unheeded. For the sake of brevity, only three examples are cited here, among a welter of others:
1) One of the better-kept secrets of Vatican II has been its Universal Call to Holiness. This
central theme of the Council is enunciated quite clearly in the documents, (especially Lumen Gentium, (whose official title is “The Sacred Constitution of the Church”) It takes its cue directly from the command in Holy Scripture for us “…to be perfect, as The Lord is perfect…” (Mt5: 48). But how can anyone be expected to follow this call if virtually nothing is known about Sin, the very antithesis of Holiness? We are now into the second generation of Catholics who, (with little knowledge about God other than that He loves us), avoid the Sacrament of Reconciliation like the plague. Is it not reasonable to conclude from this that many, (if not most), who habitually receive the Eucharist on Sundays week after week are virtually oblivious to the reality of Sin and its horrible consequences? Could this result from the fact that the term “Sin”, as well as the works of Satan, have rarely, if ever, even been mentioned from the Pulpit since Vatican II?
2) In the early 60’s the U.S. Bishops announced that the Friday abstinence from meat had
been lifted. Solid reasons were given, with little reason to raise objections. However, an
adjunct statement was included in the pronouncement, namely, that the reason for this abstinence, remained in force: One could either continue to follow the abstinence, or opt
to substitute some other form of mortification. The pronouncement made front-page headline news; and it was sensible. The problem is, however, that seldom, (if ever again, to my knowledge), did either our bishops or our priests mention the need for us to perform individual acts of mortification! [So much for the Universal Call to Holiness!]
3) Early during the tenure of Cardinal Law, a TV news reporter asked him the question as to
why many Catholics were in favor of abortion. He answered that the bishops had up to that point not done a very good job of instructing the Faithful. My heart jumped for joy at his answer! It has not done so too often since then: We find ourselves more than 15 years later with the situation hardly changed at all! The U.S. Bishops ¾and our own Cardinal as well¾ have continued their tepid response to this secular onslaught. [In fact, when Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz, the Ordinary of Lincoln, Nebrasksa, several years ago publicly pronounced to his flock that Catholics in public office who voted for abortion had excommunicated themselves, he was given virtually no support by his fellow bishops, (and was even mildly reprimanded by Cardinal Law at the time)!
The foregoing few examples reveal that a persistent paralysis has long existed, (for over a third of a century) on the part of our church hierarchy in a number of important areas all of which tend to weaken Faith. As a result, the gates opened wide, and the hordes of Mammon were let into our minds and hearts. Truth gave way to moral relativism; and spiritual discernment surrendered to political correctness.
One result relevant to the present crisis is that the earlier social stigma concerning the disorder of homosexuality was replaced by a pervasive reluctance to identify homosexual practices as being sinful. Little wonder, then, that the entire panorama of laxness alluded to above should have led to the acceptance of these practices inside our seminaries. Things progressed to the point where many holy but ‘straight’ candidates were ostracized by aggressive homosexual fellow students, and simply left the seminary. This situation, though fairly well known, (to the extent of written articles on the subject appearing in sacerdotal journals such as the Homiletic Review), and whispered in many places, was nonetheless kept largely under wraps by our spiritual leaders, due to their concern about scandal. [This latter reason is understandable, but lack of stern vigilance in monitoring consequences that any reasonable person might expect, is not!]
During this entire period we, the Faithful, have witnessed a noticeable diminution of spiritual vitality among our brethren. This is evidenced by the fact that they are not well informed about many important items of Church doctrine. For example, too many are 1- utterly unaware of the eschatological role of Mary as Mother of the Church, and her role as mediatrix of all Graces, (among a host of other benefits to us), 2- living under the false notion that the papal office is effete, (i.e., it is considered no longer to be a relevant force in the order of Truth), 3- uncertain about the special powers received by the Priest at the Laying on of Hands during Ordination, 4- confused about the value of Absolutes, (i.e., objective reality), as opposed to subjective feelings, in energizing our thought processes, etc., etc., etc. Such grave deficiencies have resulted in a form of spiritual apathy among this dwindling remnant Faithful, so that their effectiveness in reminding their priests and bishops of the duties of their respective offices has been impaired.
Under these circumstances, it is not difficult to understand how ripe was our Church for the very sort of abuses that have transpired. It is also clear from the litany of deficiencies alluded to above, that we are in desperate need to turn our hearts, minds, and souls toward acts of supplication, both individually and collectively. We also need to develop a hearty sense of trust in the Lord. If we truly believe that He will guide us along a path that is in conformity with the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, His Bride on Earth and in Heaven, then the folly of our strident search for any solution that relies primarily on our own lights, (while relegating prayer to an adjunct activity), will become apparent to us. Then shall we learn the correct path to complete healing of the scars in our beloved Church.
Respectfully submitted for consideration by the membership of VOTF by
Henry A. Miranda, Jr. 6 June, 2002
· Actions: 1) Prayer, 2) Prayer, 3) Prayer, ………
(i.e., lots of time before the Blessed Sacrament, as a formal, structured activity).
From the mail
Date: Sat Oct 26 12:23:53 2002
Subject: Henry Miranda excellent, comprehensive, logical,
Henry Miranda has written an excellent, comprehensive, logical,
well-documented history of the way that the devious, denigrating, destructive powers of darkness have infiltrated into our archdiocese and are intent now to infiltrate each and every parish disguised as reform authorities who are so much better equipped to address the abuse of children problem than any "ordinary" parishioners, including those who were duly elected to their parish councils, who do not belong to Voice of the Faithful.
Miranda's response to the VOTF agenda is an excellent paper that could be the subject of discussion for each and every pastoral council meeting. Once these duly elected parish council members become aware that their right to represent parishioners is being usurped by VOTF I expect that they will tell VOTF that they don't want their destructive powers in their parish. Hopefully no pastor will silence this information.
If the Miranda paper is banned by any pastor, is there any right to due process to right that wrong?
It was tragic to read about the way Dennis Kozak was silenced by his pastor. Does Dennis Kozak have a right to due process?
I wonder whether Fr. Walter Cuenin and Fr. Robert Bullock would allow the Miranda paper to be discussed by their duly elected parish councils?