Train Wreck

Train with church in the backgrund

A trainwreck is either a derailment caused by faulty tracks or by hitting an obstacle in the path of the train.  Neither can be stopped in short order.  The law of physics comes into play and the effects continue with equal and opposite reactions.

Here sit two equally large and powerful entities, the USA and the Catholic Church.  I am presently observing each of them in a slow-motion wreck.  The obstacles they have hit are almost identical.

Moral Turpitude

Cultural change or the lack of moral turpitude/defense.  Take your pick, it is the same thing.  Wikipedia defines Moral turpitude as follows:

“Moral turpitude is a legal concept in the United States and prior to 1976, Canada, that refers to “an act or behavior that gravely violates the sentiment or accepted standard of the community”.  This term appears in U.S. immigration law beginning in the 19th century.  “

Moral turpitude is contingent on Moral law.  But the crack in the wall (definition) is “accepted standard of the community,“ which crumbles with the decaying, ever shifting, standard of moral relativism.

Societies’ vergence to the left in our culture in the US has made it difficult to steer clear of this impending wreckage known as moral relativism.  From Gay marriage to Transgenderism, these are just some of the obstacles that keep wandering on to the track of personal freedom in our country and the Church.

Moral Relativism

Moral relativism is in constant flux.  Businesses try to follow their own principles versus a customer’s.   The Supreme Court recently ruled that a website designer did not have to design a wedding website for a gay couple, siting free speech.  According to a CBS’s report- “She brought what’s known as a “pre-enforcement challenge” to the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act, or CADA, a state law prohibiting businesses open to the public from refusing service on the basis of sexual orientation, claiming it would violate her rights to free speech by forcing her to express a message that conflicts with her religious beliefs.”  In 2018, Colorado baker Jack Phillips won a partial supreme court victory, siting his religious beliefs for not baking a wedding cake for a gay couple.  Both religious freedom and free speech were upheld by the interpretation of the Constitution by the Supreme Court.

Jesus Christ is truth itself.  Afterall, He is the Word, and the Word became flesh.  You cannot change His Absolute Truths.  But many are bending and distorting it to fit their agenda.  Why are there so many Christian denominations debating same sex unions when homosexuality is clearly forbidden?  Because churches are run by human beings with human intellect that gets swayed by culturally accepted practices, even when they contradict moral law.  They are causing division.  (That is the devil’s handy work.)  “Love is Love” is the biggest misnomer, or ambiguous phrase ever uttered within church walls.

A Synod on Synodality

A synod on Synodality is scheduled for this fall in Germany.  What the heck is that you may ask?  Good question since this one has many Catholic leaders perplexed.  To begin with a synod is a special meeting, typically made up of Bishops with maybe a few priests who may have special insight and background to certain topics.  It never includes laity.  But this one, it seems, has a few select Bishops, priests and lay people invited to discuss subjects that have been off the table for the entirety of the Catholic Faith.  Topics such as recognizing or “blessing” of same sex unions, and admittance to Holy Communion for divorced and remarried Catholics.  (Without the benefit of an annulment).  And the topic of women deacons will resurface, even though it has never been part of the priestly order.  How much impact will this synod have at the end of the day?  That remains to be seen.

In the case of the Catholic Church, the derailment happening is not a faulty track.  There is no fault in Christ.  The derailment is the obstacle of societies new norms, moral relativism, and the infiltration of liberal priests, who then become Bishops, and may be promoted to Cardinals.  Reporters have tactfully labeled Pope Francis as being somewhat ambiguous.  At the time of his priestly formation, Bergoglio’s studies were steeped in Liberation Theology.

Liberation Theology

Wikipedia defines and reports Latin American liberation theology as:

“a synthesis of Christian theology and Marxian social-economic analyses, that emphasizes “social concern for the poor and political liberation for oppressed people.”….liberation theology developed within the Catholic Church in Latin America in the 1960’s as a reaction to the poverty and social injustice in the region, which CEPAL deemed the most unequal in the world.  Its purported use of “Marxist concepts” led in the mid 1980’s to an admonition by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the faith.  While stating that “in itself, the expression ‘Theology of liberation’ is a thoroughly valid term, the Perfect Cardinal Ratzinger (later becoming Pope Benedict XVI) rejected certain forms of Latin American liberation theology. 

Liberation Theology arose principally as a moral reaction to the poverty and social injustice in the region.  It is natural that Christian teaching would connect to it.  The mingling with political concepts was just one of the lines crossed, causing the Catholic Church to step back.  On the other hand, we can understand the deep seeded effect Liberation Theology has had on Pope Francis and his loyalty to the poor and oppressed.  

The Pope will install twenty-one new Cardinals in September.  Will he appoint new “like minded” Bishops to the role of Cardinal where they become part of the conclave that elects the next Pope?  Heaven only knows.

No matter what happens, ultimately, God is in control.  The most reassuring words regarding this present questionable behavior coming out of Rome and Germany is found in Mathew 16:18,

“And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock, I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”

So, like the Apostles who were afraid of perishing on the seas in rough water, we need to remind ourselves that Jesus is in the boat with us.