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There are many types of sin, including the sin of many priests who lead people away by their own mistaken interpretation of the teachings of the Church, or the watering-down of sound doctrine. They will see this after death in shame and remorse, and will be purified in Purgatory.
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.
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.
A Bishop is ordained to the fullness of the Priesthood so that he can teach the truths of the Faith with a sincere heart. When a Bishop ceases to believe in the moral teachings of the Church, or her articles of faith, and also criticizes the discipline of the Church which he should uphold, his best course is to resign. Teaching the Faith should be central to his life, not a half-hearted, occasional, sad duty.
Each Catholic priest should be aware of what is necessary for renewal in the vocation which he freely accepted. His feet should be those of a person who brings Good News: of God's love, and forgiveness brought through Christ. His heart should be full of compassion for sinners. His mind should be fixed on Christ, and Heavenly things. His hands should be clean - as when they were anointed, for the offering of the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
Christ asks us to avoid all pride and vainglory. He wants everyone to know how much He loves each one of us; but He does not want priests or teachers to encourage children to start the day by saying: "I am great, I am wonderful, I am proud of being me!" He asks us to aim for humility, rather than concentrating on self-esteem.
What we believe affects how we behave, in life; so it is tragic that there is a current mind-set within certain groups of priests, Bishops and Catechists, which makes a thoroughly orthodox Catholic priest into an object of dislike and suspicion. It's as if a person who believes all that the Church teaches, and encourages others to teach it and practice it must necessarily be 'rigid, lacking in compassion', whereas those who criticise him usually offer a distorted, truncated, or watered down version of the Faith.
We should all be aware that actions have consequences. Everyone deserves to be reminded of these truths: Life ends. There is either Heaven or Hell, in the end, for each of us. That is what every priest and Bishop should say, when he is asked to speak about salvation - even to children. Like adults, children who have reached the age of reason should be encouraged to recognise right and wrong actions, and to form their consciences in accordance with the teaching of the Church.
Christ wants everyone to know the truth about Hell as well as Heaven. He spoke a lot about Hell, in the Gospel stories, but this is rarely mentioned today. He wants us to realise that someone who deliberately commits grave sin, despite Christ's warnings, is foolish as well as disobedient. That person is freely choosing to walk into those flames, unless he repents in time.
God looks down from Heaven, ready to distribute lavish gifts upon us, yet sees many dispirited priests who are too afraid to teach the Faith in its fullness; thus they are unwilling to imitate their Saviour and risk criticism from those they teach; and so they omit to mention the wrongness of adultery, contraceptive use, desertion of spouses, and neglect of children by mothers, and much more. In failing to rescue people from sin they fail in their duty, as if hiding away in a pit, hoping to be unnoticed.
Many of the Clergy preach a truncated Faith. There is little preaching today on important issues of sexual morality: sins which are common-place, such as adultery, pre-marital sex, contraceptive use and much more. In Christ's sight, a Bishop who does not teach the Faith in its fullness and lead people away from sin and hopelessness is still a beloved 'child', but is as useless as a shopkeeper who refuses to sell things.
It is not the Will of Christ that priests keep their thoughts almost exclusively upon earthly matters, even though they work amongst people in the world who are beset by dreadful trisls. The ultimate aim of priests should be to give glory to God, and to bring themselves and other people towards holiness and Heaven, doing so by the priest's union with and imitation of Christ.
In God's sight, it is a cause for sadness that some of the Clergy, who have been ordained to preach the truths handed down in the Church, now teach a religion which they have tailored to suit their own ideas and desires. Most of these do not realise that they are being used by the evil one to lead people astray. Priests endanger their own souls, too, when they are proud and disobedient.
Children deserve to be helped to reflect on their behaviour. When Bishops and others hand on the Faith to children, they should ask: Are you worthy to enter Heaven's glory, when your life ends? Are you ready to be carried by the Holy Spirit, across the Abyss, into the purity of the Godhead? Are you willing to prepare for that time?
This is what happens when the Faith is not preached in its fullness. A Bishop who has not preached about sin and repentance, Heaven and Hell, but more about self-esteem and trivial matters, will find himself in a Church which appears to be in decline, with fewer priests, fewer devotions, a faithless laity, few signs of hope, and bored school-children. The great drama of salvation, and the Real Presence of Jesus, should be preached with fervour.
Some of the Clergy have become dispirited by the state of the Catholic Church, which is damaged by dissent, rebellion, disobedient laity, and some Bishops too timid to teach the Faith in its fullness. The great temptation is to walk away, to enjoy the world's pleasures. But Christ asks them to turn to Him, for the power to bring about renewal.
A priest who is dispirited about the state of the Church should resist temptations to leave and to enjoy earthly pleasures. By the altar, he can receive power from God, to help him to renew the Church, and to encourage people towards obedience to God, sound Catechesis, profound reverence in prayer, and respect for the Pope, as well as love for the needy.
Christ asked us to reflect upon which of several priests is the one most like Him. It is the one who teaches the truth about God and man, sin and salvation, Heaven and Hell, though also teaching about love for God and neighbour. A kind attitude in a priest is not enough. Boy Scouts can be kind. A priest must hand on the Truth as Christ did, to make Him known.
Christ is God-made-visible. He spoke the truth. His Church speaks the truth today. A priest is asked to hand on the truth as well as to show charity. The truth is plain for all who want to know it; and priests are wrong who distort or contradict truth for what they call 'pastoral' reasons.
Christ died and rose again, to save sinners. He has called men, through the ages, to serve as priests in His Church, to save sinners. If, in their preaching, their celebration of the Sacraments, and their pastoral work, they are not saving sinners from the consequences of their sins, they are failing in their duty. It is not enough to be kind, yet to be off-hand about doctrine, feeble in efforts to draw people from sin to holiness.
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