Glory be to our Lord Christ!
A poll conducted by the BBC recently discovered that 49% of Catholics interviewed believed that the Holy Father should drop his (in fact, the Latin Church's) insistence on clerical celibacy in light of the sexual abuse scandals. Now, we must ask whether such a measure would be beneficial to the Church's mission, which is to perpetuate the Incarnation and bring the Redemption wrought by Christ's Precious Blood to all nations. Will a relaxing of discipline allow the Church to fully witness to the salvific work of God and make it effective in the lives of mankind? The simple answer is no.
What must be done is a return to the Church, the Mystical Body of Christ and an embrace of her teachings and her disciplines in their fullness. The Catholic Church (thankfully) is not founded as a democracy, otherwise she would have consumed and mutilated herself by impatiently attempting to conform to the prevailing trends in society. However, in a short period of time, these 'absolute values' of the world will be classed as outmoded and contrary to the judgment of right-minded and rational people. If we as a modern, technical and 'humane' society have progressed such a great deal in the past 50 or so years, could we even contemplate the marvellous nature of our country in another hundred years time? Will not our current 'truths' be decried as preposterous and Medieval? Let us not latch on to the latest novelty for the mere sake of it being 'new'. It must be noted however that not all developments must be rejected out of hand without due consideration, we must be careful not to throw out the wheat with the chaff.
Many have commented that if the Church does not alterate her doctrines and practices, there will not be a Church to worship in shortly. We are being warned that great multitudes will depart from her bosom as the Sacrament of Salvation is not fulfilling their needs. What should we do? Let them go. Our Blessed Lord said that 'No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God' (Lk 9:62) and 'anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me' (Mt 10:38). Such are hard (dare we say, harsh?) demands that require the conversion and consecration of the whole person to Christ Who descended to save all men and all of man. Let not an itch of your being remain cut off from Christ. Let your words be the words of Christ, your thoughts be of Christ, and your actions be of Christ. A recommitment to our Divine Lord especially to the Holy Sacrifice and to His Most Holy Mother Mary will allow us to be conformed to His likeness, resulting in an unconditional renunouncement of ourselves to our Lord. Do we not say at Compline, 'Into Your hands Lord, I commend my spirit'? Why do we idly recite those precious words of the Crucified and then retire to our beds without a single change of heart, of true repentence and desire for sanctity? The soul who verily acknowledges his debt to the God Who created, sustains and has redeemed him counts nothing as too much. 'Oh but it is too hard' we lament and blubber. Yes it is, for you. We must listen attentively to the words of our Lord to the Divine Apostle, Paul, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' (2 Cor 12:9) He, as the fashioner of human nature, knows exactly what we are capable and by His grace and illumination He allows man to live a divine life. A life free of disordered passions and worries of the ephemeral sort.
This will shrink the Church, they cry. Certainly. Yet, we must remember that few souls will enter and savour the Beatific Vision for all eternity anyway. Our Way is in the steps of our Master Who has went before us and He promised His chosen ones nothing less than sorrow, persecution and repudiation in return for eternal felicity. Is the servant greater than the Master? (Jn 13:16). Let us not be blinded by secular oppression and accept a Gospel other than the one 'entrusted once for all to the saints'(Ju 1:3). The Church cannot witness to the Redemption of the Incarnate Logos by attenuating her commitment to her Bridegroom and the salvation of souls. So if it has to be that men walk away sad from her like the rich man (Lk 18:23), or those gathered around our Lord as He spoke of the necessity of eating His flesh and drinking His blood who departed at this 'hard teaching' (Jn 6:60), so be it. However, I would greatly prefer that we educate our children in the Faith and hand it on to them whilst leading a holy and cheerful life, in willing obedience to Christ and His Church. By our example to our friends, family and extended society, let us become channels of grace for this darkened time and with the Apostle may we say honestly, 'I feel as if I'm going through labor pains for you again, and they will continue until Christ is fully developed in your lives.' (Gal 4:19).