Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Should Catholics leave the Church when the going gets rough?

My friend Rod Dreher at the American Conservative has a post today which discusses the San Jose, California diocese’s new "traveling LGBT Mass". The exact nature of it is not fully described, but there is enough to tell that it is probably another work of those who see there mission as the world's missionaries to the Church rather than the Church's missionaries to the world.

Rod asks this question for his readers: 
I would like to ask the orthodox Catholics (not liberal Catholics, not Catholic dissenters, not ex-Catholics) in the room what you would do if you lived in that diocese. What advice would you give that reader on how to hold on now that she has been disillusioned? If you were to evangelize non-Catholics in that diocese, how would you go about it?
Here was my answer to at least the first question:

Why would I renounce my Church for its shortcomings any more than I would renounce my country for its shortcomings–or my family for its sins?

The Church is one of those things that Chesterton called “primary loyalties,” which include our civil community and our family. They are things we not only should defend, but have no choice but to defend–even, and perhaps especially, from their internal enemies.

Yes, the Church is in trouble. It is always in trouble. But that doesn’t mean it needs us less, but that it needs us more. Our country is in trouble. So do we pack up and leave it for a less troubled country? Do we renounce our family because its imperfections and join another, less imperfect one?

Why would we do anything else with the Church?

Would it be easier to go to some other church where you don’t have to fight for what’s right? Sure it would. But that’s the thing about standing up for what’s right: It’s hard. It takes effort. It takes time. It is not pleasurable.

I marvel at the shallowness of commitment among modern people. As soon as the going gets rough, instead of staying and fighting, we start looking for a means of escape. Because, after all, it’s all about me and my needs, isn’t it?

If we believe the Catholic Church is THE Church, then there is no option but to stay and try to reform it. There is simply other place to go. And if we don’t believe that the Catholic Church is THE Church, then we’re part of the very problem in the Church that you bemoan, since the Catholic position is that it is the one, true Church.

If the Church can’t count on those of us who continue to hold to its teachings and tradition, then who can it count on? If the Gates of Hell ever were to prevail against it, those of us who left her in her time of need would need to ask ourselves who was to blame–and it wouldn’t be those who are corrupting it, but those who chose an easier course than to fight the corruption.

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