Should we be surprised by anti-Catholicism in the media?
Are we surprised when the principalities and powers of secular materialism go out of their way to highlight the human failings of Catholicism? Of all religious faiths, it is the most staunchly opposed to their secular-materialist agenda. Nothing is less secular than the dogma of papal infallibility, nothing less materialist than belief in the Holy Eucharist, nothing less liberal sexually than a Church that embraces consecrated celibacy while standing firm against contraception, abortion, same-sex marriage, and remarriage after divorce.
And what of those tempted to apostatize because of what they see in the headlines? They need to be critical and responsible readers. Perhaps they would benefit from a reminder that when they attend Mass, Christ is present under the appearance of bread and wine even if the celebrant is unworthy, and sins are forgiven in the Sacrament of Reconciliation whether the man wearing the stole is a saint or a sinner. Those inclined to jump ship when the Faith seems to have had the wind taken out of her sails would do well to remember, in addition, that whenever this has happened in the past, God had always raised up great saints to thwart the work of Satan. Christ meant what he said when he promised that the forces of evil would never prevail against his Church (Matt. 16:18).
Never was the phenomenon of divine rescue amidst scandal more apparent than during the tenth century. This was a time when ecclesiastical offices were bought and sold, when bishops took orders from noblemen, and when pontiffs were ineffective or worse. Pope John XII (955-964) was struck by paralysis while visiting his mistress. Catholicism seemed utterly doomed. Yet, notwithstanding the myriad of evils, a duke who had killed another man in a fit of passion and regretted it deeply founded a monastery that became a powerhouse of spirituality. Known for its piety and old-fashioned observance of silence, Cluny had the strictest of rules, and eventually, it spun off hundreds of new foundations, spreading Benedictine piety through Italy, Germany, England, Scotland, and Poland, as well as France. By the twelfth century, there were 1,450 Cluny-like communities with more than 10,000 consecrated religious. German emperors working for the good of the Church brought about the election of Cluny monks as popes, and these men not only lived ascetically but also set in motion a process that revitalized the entire Church.
In conclusion, we are an Easter people. We have seen rebirth and springtime in the history of the Church, and we shall see it again. Once we realize that the mainline media is driven by a hatred of religion generally (and of our own in particular), we will not be misled by journalistic distortion. Neither will we be discouraged when we find the kingpins of secular communication weighing in on the side of immorality. St. Paul knew whereof he spoke when he dubbed Satan “the prince of the power of the air” (Eph. 2:2). It goes without saying that anyone with an ounce of decency will be appalled at clerical sex abuse. At the same time, centuries of experience testify to the fact that moral shortfall on the part of religious leaders may disqualify them as teachers, but it does not negate the value of their teaching provided they remain in union with a Magisterium guided by the Holy Father, who takes his cue from the Holy Spirit. St. Francis de Sales, during the early 1600s, remarked that those who give scandal are guilty of “the spiritual equivalent of murder,” but “those who allow scandal to destroy their faith” are “guilty of spiritual suicide.” Just so.
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