Friday, 16 April 2010

On Orthodoxy and Heresy

In these days of unbelief, it is almost fashionable to dissent from the Church's teaching. Certain articles, particularly those pertaining to the ethical, have been abandoned in favour of appearing relevant.
The world has a mechanistic conception of nature and human society. If something is deemed to be inappropriate, it can be removed and the rest of the system can be tweaked in order to compromise.
On the other hand, the Catholic Faith as revealed by God to us sinners forms a coherent whole. It is not admissible to simply 'remove' one teaching, which causes offense to our 'enlightened' culture, as this will do irreparable damage to 'deposit of faith' which has been handed onto the saints once for all. For instance, those who support the perversion of nature that is homosexuality believe that a straight-forward removal of the Church’s opposition to this will allow a more compassionate approach and will endear us to the secularists How can one be compassionate by allowing your brother to walk confidently into hell?
If only things were as simple as this. But surely, homosexuality is not a central teaching of the Catholic Faith, is it? Christ nowhere condemned it, is that not so? He hardly endorsed it either. Yet, the changing of the Church’s teaching in this area seriously undermines the Church’s claim to be the Church founded by Christ. The gates of Hell surely will have prevailed over her, since either she was wrong in the past to forbid this practice or she would be in error to allow it in future. The indefectibility of the Church would be called into question, the relevance and authority of the Scriptures, set aside, the Ecumenical Councils, ignored, the pronouncements of the Roman Pontiffs, scorned and the Church Fathers, discarded. If these sources of authority could not be trusted on one matter, the whole unity of doctrine crumbles.
Heresy is a poison which undermines the totality of the Faith which mirrors the unity of the Church. A poison that is deadly, and ensnares even those who appear to be of good will and faith. Like all diseases, if left unattended or overlooked, it will spread and lead souls to destruction. There is ‘one Faith, one Lord, one baptism’, and if one considers oneself Catholic, one must with divine faith assert to the truth revealed by God to His Church. The Faith is finely woven in an integrated whole and cannot be torn asunder. The exchange of the Faith for that of the world has occurred far too often by those claiming to be ‘Catholic’, and since the Second Vatican Council, has gone regularly unpunished. The negligence of our bishops is reprehensible, and they will have to answer for the souls entrusted to them by God, as they have sidestepped their most sacred duty of guarding and protecting the flock.
Saint Jerome states, ‘Cut off the decayed flesh, expel the mangy sheep from the fold, lest the whole house, the whole paste, the whole body, the whole flock, burn, perish, rot, die.’ Such an attitude does not stifle ‘creativity’, but allows us to remain faithful to Christ. Each man has the duty to search for the truth and cling to it, so when it is revealed, it is a grave sin to obstinately refuse submission.
His Holiness in the Ad Limina address to the bishops of England and Wales said, ‘In a social milieu that encourages the expression of a variety of opinions on every question that arises, it is important to recognize dissent for what it is, and not to mistake it for a mature contribution to a balanced and wide-ranging debate. It is the truth revealed through Scripture and Tradition and articulated by the Church’s
Magisterium that sets us free’. Debate and contributions from all corners of society may enable the enriching of a question under discussion, yet it is not progress to latch onto falsehood and claim that it is the right of a person to hold such a belief. Saint Thomas wrote ‘A heretic is one who devises or follows false or new opinions. Therefore heresy is opposed to the truth, on which faith is founded; and consequently it is a species of unbelief.’ (ST. II-II. Q11. A1). He writes ‘devises’, that is invents. That is turning away from the Faith communicated by God to men, to mere novelties, to whatever takes sinful man’s fancy.

May the good Lord bring back to the fold, those who have abandoned the Body of Christ for innovations, as the Spirit does not follow an amputated member.

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