Whatever Happens, We Will Stay In The Church Christ Founded
A deeply troubling questions, and some deeply troubling answers, transpire from a blog post written by Father Blake.
Father Blake quotes the message of an anonymous priest who is on record with the following statement. Emphasis in the original text.
One of my priest friends asked me during a conversation what I would do if the Church does formally approve what it previously formally condemned. I had to confess in all honesty that I’d probably have to leave priestly ministry. He admitted that he’d probably have no choice but to do the same.
I am deeply, deeply troubled by such statements.
Firstly, they sound to me as smart as to say that one would throw away his passport if his country were to engage in a war he does not approve. “I don’t like this, so I am out”. Erm, no. It is your Country, so you stay in. You have Holy Orders, so you stay in, too.
Secondly, it can only show a lack of faith in the Church that Christ found on Peter. To say “I will leave my priestly ministry if this or that happens” is tantamount as to say “if this and that happens the Church is, and always has been, a fraud; and I refuse to be one of the professional fraudsters”.
Now, the Church is One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic or it isn’t. We know it is, because it is dogma. Therefore, we can never ever act as if the Church were an organisation like any other. Not can we consider the Sacraments as if they were in any way, shape or form disposable.
Heretical Popes have been inflicted on us already, but I have never heard that St Athanasius left the priesthood when the Pope forbade the recitation of the Creed at Mass. I am absolutely sure the thought never entered his mind. The Church is the Church, a Catholic can’t get out of it more than he could jump away from his own shadow. A priest is a priest, a Catholic can’t “de-priest” himself because he doesn’t like the work of the Pope. Is the Pope heretic? Say so, then!
Athanasius did not leave the priesthood. He fought against the enemies of the Church, but remained in it at all times. He disobeyed to the Pope to the point of appointing his own bishops, but this he did because the Pope was not to be obeyed, and that was that. He did not make of himself an alternative Pope, or found an alternative Church, or said he wasn’t a bishop, or was a different type of bishop.
The Church is the Church. We stay in the Temple. If the Pope is the enemy, so be it. If the Bishops and Cardinals are the enemies, so be it. There will be plenty of Athanasiuses, and plenty of priests and faithful proudly demanding that the merchants be chased away from the Temple, rather than leaving the Temple because there are merchants in it.
But it would be very grave, extremely grave if a priest were to declare the Church a fraud; because in doing so, he would declare Christ a fraud; and may God save his soul afterwards, but I honestly do not think He will.
The Church is the Church is the Church. A priest is a priest is a priest. Whatever dirt the Lord allows to accumulate inside the Church, as lay faithful and priests we stay in and fight to our last breath to clean it up, but we do not even think of leaving the Church; because if we leave the Church, or as priests leave the priesthood, we declare Christ Himself a fraud.
Pigs have entered the temple, and are routing around at ease. The Temple is on its way to looking like a regular pigstall. Our duty is to fight for the Temple and to get it to be clean again, not to leave it to the pigs. If we leave it to the pigs we are saying that it was never a temple. If it is the Temple we will forever fight to have it clean, and free from pigs.
Concretely: if the Church issue a wannabe formal statement in which what was formally condemned is now formally approved, this statement is heretical and is to be rejected by every Catholic, and that’s that. But how do we know, then, which one is the right statement? The right statement is the one that is in line with the Depositum Fidei. The wrong statement is the one that isn’t. It’s not complicated.
There is no need to leave the priesthood for that. It is, in fact, merely a case of “the pigs are routing in the Temple. Let’s get them out”.
Let me tell you once again: it is a dogmatic statement that the Church is One, Holy, Catholic or Apostolic. No priest, no theologian (there is a troubling statement of Ronald Knox in the comments, hopefully taken out of context and making clear it is not possible to leave the Church, but still flirting with such an absurd idea) is ever authorised to leave it, not in hypothesis and not in practice, not as a joke and not as a fact. In fact, to me the very mention of “leaving” indicates the residues of a Protestant mind form.
I was born a Catholic in a (then) deeply Catholic country. To those Catholics, “leaving the Church” because this Church is not… the Church anymore sounded as absurd as “selling one’s own skin on ebay”, “getting a third arm” or “becoming a citizen of Mars”.
Never, not for one second, do we doubt the Church as Institution. Whatever the amount of dirt, we love the Church more than our life, and fight to our last breath to have it cleaned up. Not for one moment we think of ever disassociating ourselves from Her in any way, shape or form. Take a deep breath and shout it with me out loud:
Credo la Chiesa una, santa, cattolica e apostolica.
There you have it. Dutifully shouted. Straight from the Creed, a dogmatic statement. Straight as an arrow. In beautifully sounding Italian. What do you want more…? Now, can anyone explain to me how a priest could ever say “I believe in the Church, but I just did not think that I could continue my priestly ministry in it”?
You never ever doubt a dogmatic statement. To do so is grave matter, and to deliberately do so knowing that this is a dogmatic statement is to commit a mortal sin.
The anonymous priest quoted in Father Blake’s blog post may have good intentions, but I smell the devil in his words. It can only be diabolical deception that persuades a priest to state that he would be contemplating leaving his ministry, ipso facto indicting the Church. If the likes of Athanasius had thought in this way, we would be sacrificing goats to the Green Elephant In The Sky by now.
Do not be deceived. Pigs rout and shit around for a while. At some point they die. The Temple stays.
Whatever happens, we will stay in the church Christ founded. Stench and all.
We were never promised a pig-free Temple.