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A lover of the liberal arts, especially antiquity in its diverse forms, I am nonetheless wholly devoted to, utterly transformed by divine revelation. I seek to know the thought of the past, articulate my deepest longings aroused by the wise, and understand the uneasy relationship between reason and revelation; all for the sake of proper action and contemplation, both now and in the future.


On the Cardinal Complaints and Possible Schism

The Church has always existed in tension with the city. From the beginning She has always been different from the surrounding milieu in which She finds Herself. This reliance and handing down of the traditions She has received from the Fathers - orthodoxy - has always had its detractors, but rarely so loud, angry, and hysteric as in this current era. The Church is bigoted, hateful, intolerant, and other, less pleasant epithets, to read the relevant popular literature. Her morality is patriarchal, antiquated, and anachronistic; the product of sexist, classist, and homophobic old men. For She refuses to ordain women and proscribes abortion, fornication, contraception, masturbation, pornography, divorce, homosexual acts, and even (with few exceptions) married clergy. These proscriptions trouble even otherwise faithful Catholics, who have trouble reconciling the pure love they see in the Gospels with condemnations of homosexual union or contraception (the proscription fornication is usually ignored). Indeed, if recent surveys are to be believed, the majority of Catholic women practice artificial contraception. The popular attitude is that the Catholic laity have 'voted with their feet' and choose to follow a gentler, more relevant morality; the morality promulgated by the current era. So deep-seated is this trend that some think (hope or fear, depending on the thinker) that there will shortly be a major schism within the Catholic Church regarding these moral contraverses; that there will arise a new, competing Church which endorses all these issues which the Catholic Church condemns; which Church, it is claimed, shall mirror Christ better than Rome.

The moral disputes arise from a difference of first principles. The Church's principles are twofold, promulgated by Our Lord: Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, soul, and might; and Love thy neighbor as thyself. Modernity's Commandments are also twofold, but of rather different character: "Act consensually," and "Live as you please." Herein lies the problem; for all Her disputed teachings concern sexuality, the most (at least it ought to be) private and sacred aspect of human life. Since sexual acts are (to use the language of the Church) intended to be acts of love, or are intended (to use the language of modernity) to be consensual, how could these acts harm, if they are knowingly and prudently chosen? Surely they are not really a big deal, and thus it is absolutely wrong to proscribe something which seems harmless. Masturbation? It's fun, easy, and no one gets hurt. Casual, uninhibited sexuality? The same. And so on. As college students recently put it, "It's no big deal". And this is the root cause of the dispute: the modern age holds that the above acts are of insufficient important to warrant proscription, and the Church holds precisely the opposite view. But this view betrays, on occasion, the quieter, underlying belief that there is nothing good simply. Ask a reasonably intelligent, educated modern man, "what is the good life?" and it is likely the answer will have something, if not everything, to do with whatever pleases you and makes you happy. Anything more specific might devalue someone's perfectly viable alternative lifestyle. And if there is no good life simply, but we say rather one must live as one pleases, the conclusion of nihilism (i.e. belief in nothing), seems irresistible. We are unwitting nihilists; albeit soft, gentle nihilists. This spirit 'animates' the modern dispute with the Church, and even Her own children have fallen greatly under its influence.

Insufficient space prevents (for the moment) the development of true understanding regarding the Church's moral teachings. For the present, let us consider what might happen if a schism actually resulted. It seems that the prevalent, negating spirit would cause the schism, but would it halt there? Almost certainly not, for the Church's intolerance is not limited to sexuality; rather, Her intolerance is rooted in the essence of what She is. For She proclaims that through Christ alone may men find redemption and the path to God; all other manmade attempts will end in failure; all rebellious attempts will end in damnation, being abandoned by God to one's own devices. This spirit of exclusivity is the source of Her forbidding all which modernity would like Her to endorse, and this spirit comes from submission to Her Bridegroom in all things. If then a schism, apparently on the grounds of sexual morals, were to arise, very soon the intolerant doctrine that God may be reached only through Christ must be addressed. It takes little imagination to discern the probability of the answer in the negative, and such answer, to modernity's eyes, would be a great gain, for if 'God' may be reached through multiple means, than no one mean is better than another, and thus religious wars and violence (the greatest plague ever to beset mankind) would cease altogether. It is only those who are convinced their way is the True Way who kill others in the name of God. So say the moderns.

Very well then. We have a gentler, apparently purer church, who welcomes all men of all creeds, of all conditions, experiences, and walks of life - asking all of these without exception to try and show the love of God to everyone - in sum, to be kind to others, and not judge or condemn the actions of anyone. Surely it mirrors the pure love of Jesus better than Rome. How could it not?

To be sure, these sentiments - welcoming all men, exhorting them to the love of God and neighbor, etc.-  are admirable. Further, in their proper place they reflect the orthodox teaching of the Fathers. But if the above is all the Church may do; if there is nothing beyond this, than the Christian faith has been nullified, and the Bride has betrayed her Bridegroom. Taken to the extreme, these sentiments are the lies of the Devil. For we know through divine revelation and ordinary experience that man's condition is sin, and to reach the enlightenment of salvation he must needs have recourse to God; and God has sent His Son - Our Lord - to redeem men from their own wicked folly, and to set them on the path towards true righteousness. If this submission to divine revelation, which animates the Church in Her restrictions regarding human sexuality, be denied, than all that is left of Her teaching is: be nice to people. And what need is there of a church who preaches merely and only that? It does not require divine revelation to realize one ought not to do evil, for every great thinker, even most remotely thoughtful people have arrived at this conclusion without needing it revealed. Even our modern era recognizes it, in the midst of its hostile reaction to the Church. Rather, such a church is superfluous in the eyes of reason and may easily be discarded after short reflection.

Thus, a moral schism, though stemming from apparently noble sources, has its roots in a spirit absolutely contradicting the central claims of the faith. Given free rein, I have little doubt that it would shortly abandon those central teachings, for its embracing of modernity is a quiet, subtle rejection of an all-important teaching: the teaching that the Church, with respect to some of men's affairs, has revealed the truth of things to men. Whether the issue be sexual controverses or the Resurrection, this issue of revelation is the heart of the disputes, and nothing less than the possibility of divine revelation is at stake whenever such disputes are raised.