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When we hear from the pulpit distorted versions of the Faith, when a member of the Clergy explains away the supernatural and casts doubt on such events as the Transfiguration of Christ, or His bodily Resurrection and Ascension, or His Mother Mary's Assumption into Heaven, we must nevertheless hold fast to the faith we know to be true.
Christ asks His priests to avoid modernist influences. A member of the Clergy who offers a distorted version of the Faith in his preaching or his writings, or who explains away the supernatural, or who contradicts the Church's moral teachings, causes confusion to the Faithful. He harms them as much as a parent harms his children if he feeds them contaminated bread.
In Being ordained to the Diaconate, a man leaps across the fence into a 'sacred space' which represents the life of the ordained celibate. When one day he speaks, as a priest, to the people, he will resemble Jesus on the Mount of Beatitudes; therefore he should resolve that he will never speak, act or think in ways which Jesus Christ his Master, the Son of God, would not have done.
The Lord wants us to remember that our Catholic churches have been built for the glory of God and not the glorification or parishioners or Clergy. That is why it is not appropriate to have self-assertive, frivolous or irreverent behaviour taking place within.
Christ invites every woman who has had an abortion to turn to Him, and not to lose hope. He loves her. She need only say to Him: "I did wrong, and I am sorry!" to show her regret and repentance. Christ wants the Clergy to speak more about the Sacrament of Penance, and about how the sin of abortion can be forgiven.
It is only too easy for the Clergy to use the excuse of 'pastoral sensibility' to avoid speaking about moral issues that can bring death-of-soul to some parishioners, such as abortion, and to speak out only against issues that will not cause controversy or local antagonism: for example, nuclear war, the arms race, and pollution.
It saddens Christ when Catholics pour scorn on Traditional prayers and devotions, or on those traditional clothes worn by the Clergy in honour of the Sacred vocation they have as Ministers of the altar and members of the Hierarchy.
Some people accuse the Church of speaking far too often and too forcefully about sexual immorality. Yet Christ wants everyone to know what is sinful, and to abandon sinful behaviour. Christ is pleased with Clergy and parents who speak truthfully about morals.
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.
Members of the Clergy who cause confusion amongst Catholics are like leaders who take a crowd of walkers across boggy ground. The walkers sink into the marsh, and are horrified, not made joyful. Preachers fail the flock when they declare: 'We should share our doubts' or - about the Faith - 'There are no clear answers'.
When members of the Clergy, or theologians, or other people in the Church urge people to believe that behaviour once everywhere known as sinful is nowadays to be seen as reasonable or even good - such as contraceptive use, or sexual activity outside marriage - they endanger souls. To encourage people to sin is to help them on the way to Hell. The demons lie in wait for careless souls just as wild animals lie in wait for safari tourists who are foolish enough to leave the safety of the path.
We must avoid the 'broad road'. Those members of the Clergy, and other Catholics, who advise people that what the Church says is gravely sinful behaviour is not in fact sinful, or simply not worth making sacrifices to avoid, are encouraging people to walk along the broad road that leads to Hell. They risk sharing the fate of the people they have helped to commit mortal sin and who, if unrepentant at death, reach Hell.
A member of the Clergy - or anyone else - who shares his doubts about articles of faith, or invites others to disregard the Church's moral teachings, is like a man who invites someone to bathe in a shark-infested sea. To lead someone into sin is like delivering a person to the demons.
When someone speaks about the entrance into full communion with the Church of Cardinal Newman, he should not describe this merely as a stage in his spiritual journey but as Newman's doing the Will of God, Who invites everyone to enter the Catholic Church. Catholic Clergy must not be held back, by ecumenical friendships, from rejoicing in the Truth.
Just as no driver is allowed to risk lives on the road, without having been prepared and instructed, so, no-one making vows in the Church, for marriage or Religious Life, which can affect other lives for a life-time and even for Eternity, should do so without first receiving preparation and instruction by the clergy or by loyal, practicing Catholics, authorised by the clergy.
Those members of the Clergy or Religious Life who mislead the faithful by direct dissent from Church teaching or by subtle suggestions that she is wrong on matters of faith or morals, are offending God, endangering souls, and indeed propelling themselves towards Hell by their behaviour. Unlike some heretics who have the virtue of honesty, even if mistaken, these dissenters corrupt the Church from within, whilst claiming to be orthodox.
Many people have a poor understanding of the purpose of the Priesthood. It's as if they peer at these men through a great cloud of incomprehension, and yet expect Baptism, marriage services and burial. If more of the Clergy did what the Lord has called them to do - asking sinners to repent and to avoid Hell, and to accept the grace that leads to Heaven, people would understand them more clearly, and some would respect them for their courage.
The Catholic Church is a visible body on earth, that cannot be mistaken for any other. It is not possible for her to water down her teachings in order to placate Christians in other bodies; yet her Bishops and other clergy can speak, side by side with other Christians, about matters in secular society on which all Christians agree.
It is unwise for Catholic Clergy to suggest 'pulpit exchanges' with other Christian leaders. When Catholic lay-persons, quite rightly, are not allowed to preach during the Sacred Liturgy, it is hardly fitting for a Protestant to do so, who is not in full Communion with the Church and does not share all of her teachings - nor does he have valid orders.
If women do not cover their hair in church, they should at least control it. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass should be respected as a sacred rite, carefully choreographed, with reverent and beautifully-vested Clergy. If women are sometimes allowed in the sanctuary, they ought not to be given privileges proper to the clergy; and they should be invited to attend to their hair and clothing, in honour of almighty God.
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