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Although some people preach different versions of the Faith, even within the Church, we can be sure that if we listen to the constant teaching of the Pope and the other Catholic Bishops we are hearing what Christ is teaching us through them - even if we are labelled 'fundamentalist' or 'over-dogmatic' by fellow-Catholics.
If someone searches the whole earth, wondering where he can find the true version of the Catholic Faith, not a distorted, diluted or truncated version, he can look at Rome. What is taught by the Pope and the other Catholic Bishops is truly the 'deposit of Faith' handed on by Christ and His Apostles.
Think about the uproar when careless school teachers allow the children to do as the please on school trips, only to find them lying dead near a river-bank. What will all of Heaven think when careless priests and Bishops, who have let people do as they please, see them falling down into the depths of Hell?
Bishops as well as lay-persons sometimes sadden Christ by their behaviour. Christ said that many Bishops are disobedient to His wishes when they ignore the Pope's instructions, or fail to hand on the Faith in its fullness - and then make excuses for themselves.
A disobedient man will one day learn the truth. Thousands of souls who persist in mortal sin fall into Hell, at death; yet even people guilty of lesser sins must suffer after death, if they are not fully purified and ready for Heaven. For example: Bishops, priests and theologians who have failed to teach the Faith in its fullness or who have led others astray by their support of heretical ideas.
Some clergymen try to forget that Christ said many 'hard sayings' about sin, Hell, judgement, and faithfulness to the Church; these are things often ignored or contradicted today, by those Catholic Bishops who are more keen to please their colleagues or their flocks than their Saviour.
Bishops and priests who fail to teach the Faith in its fullness, rarely or never speaking against contraception or abortion, send a wrong message not just to Catholics but also to other Christians who notice what they say, and conclude that these are matters of little importance. Such things, objectively, (such as contraception, abortion, so-called 're-marriage' and other practices) are serious sins.
All who are sent as missionaries, to share the Faith with other people, should listen to the Church, that is, to the Holy Father and the other Bishops who hand on the truth - that Christ is the only Saviour, and that Baptism is the gateway to Divine Life. No other Gospel should be preached.
Whether he is speaking to fellow-Catholics, or with atheistic government men, a Bishop is meant to speak as a mouthpiece for the Will of God. He should know God's will for human beings, and not be afraid to speak frankly about it, and to be fearless when challenged.
Christ asked His followers to follow the teachings given by religious leaders but not to do as they did. The same is necessary today. We should follow the authentic teachings offered by faithful Bishops, but should never do what some Bishops do, which is to water down the Faith to make it acceptable to non-believers, and to avoid being seen as 'rigid' at ecumenical gatherings.
When St. Augustine came to England in 597 AD, he came because he had been sent by the Pope. No Christian, in any era, acts wisely, if he ignores the Pope, and the constant teaching of the Pope and the other Catholic Bishops on matters of faith and morals, or ignores their guidance about discipline, the liturgy, and other matters.
Not speaking, here, of invincible ignorance, the Lord asks: of what value is the praise of a person who declares, "O God, I praise and adore You, but I refuse to enter the Catholic Church, founded by your Son, and refuse to accept the teachings of the Pope and the other Catholic Bishops, who, with one voice, explain Your wishes for the whole world".
However many 'models' of Church are put forward today, the Church has been founded by Christ as a hierarchy. The Pope has supreme power and authority, after Christ, in the Church, and guides us with the other Catholic Bishops. They are assisted by the men they have ordained as priests, and by the Deacons in Holy Orders. Then we see the laity, living out their union with Christ in the world.
People do not please Christ by their complaints about traditional garments for the Bishops, or about beautiful furnishings which adorn many of our churches. These are for the Glory of God, the dignity of the occasion - the Sacred Liturgy - and the nobility of the Sacred Ministry, not in order to draw attention to individuals but to their sacred office.
We do not need countless new, expensive projects, to achieve renewal. All that is necessary for renewal in the Church is for the Faith handed on through the ages to be preached in its fullness by the Bishops and other Clergy, so that people repent of their sins and are reconciled in Confession and live their faith fully. Then, when people are strengthened by Mass and Communion, there will be a real renewal, and many more vocations.
Wherever Catholics live out their faith with goodness and conviction, they have an effect upon their culture, as Catholics have since the earliest times. The Bishops hand on the truth from Jesus Christ, people are forgiven and transformed, freed from superstition, men and women are equal in marriage, the sick are cherished and not rejected, prisoners receive justice, little girls are educated, children are valued, even the unborn, the arts flourish - art, architecture, music and scholarship - and the Saints set an unparalleled example of goodness, in all sorts of ways.
Christ spoke about 'a city, set on a hill' which cannot be hid. That city is the Papacy. It is the Pope who, in fulfilment of Christ's plan, guides and steers the Church, and with the other Catholic Bishops hands on the faith. If the whole world accepted the teachings offered by the Pope it would be a better place. Catholics who reject the Pope and his authoritive teachings are opposing Christ.
It is to the Pope and the other Catholic Bishops that we look for an authentic interpretation of Sacred Scripture. The Church gave us the Bible. The Church guards and opens it. There are thousands of other people who, sad to say, prefer their personal interpretations.
When a crop of wheat is ruined with mould, it cannot provide nourishment; similarly, when dissenting Catholics spread disbelief or confusion they can neither hand on an authentic Faith nor find comfort themselves in the practice of it. This is not something that can be ignored, when Bishops notice it. It requires firm action, so that a good 'crop' can be grown for the future.
Very few Catholics accept the truth: that it is Christ Who teaches us through His Church; and that she teaches the truth about faith and morals. It is with pride that many speak, when they say, in effect: "On the subject of contraception, I know better, what is right and wrong, than all these Patriarchs, Prophets, teachers, Popes, Bishops and Saints."
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