When man is facing a crisis, his common tendency is to seek an easy, effective and complete solution. Easy solutions often come to mind without trying to understand in depth the real characteristics of the crisis and its possible causes.
Thus, instead of solving crises, such solutions only aggravate them by adding new problems that are sometimes more difficult to solve than the previous ones.
The “Smoke of Satan”
If this is so with the political, economic and other crises that deal with merely natural events, it is all the more true when it comes to crises in Holy Mother Church, in which the supernatural—Revelation and Divine grace—adds to her purely natural and human elements. In these cases, the order of grace is clearly superior to the order of nature. Grace ultimately is the decisive element. Thus, human weakness and the action of the devil, the world and the flesh are felt more intensely when, for the punishment of sins, God withdraws His grace.
Indeed, for unfathomable reasons, and to purify our faith, (see 1 Cor. 11:19). Our Lord Jesus Christ allows Holy Church to go through crises sometimes so intense that “unless those days had been shortened, no flesh should be saved: but for the sake of the elect those days shall be shortened.” (Matt. 24:22).
Such is the moment we are living. The august face of the mystical Spouse of Christ has been obscured by the “smoke of Satan” that has penetrated the sacred temple.1
He Who Resists Will Be Crowned by God
The homosexual scandals by members of the clergy with their ominous procession of seduction and abuse is reported with relentless insistence and an exuberance of lurid details by the media. Such a picture can lead many Catholics to revolt, despair, and even lose their faith.
We must be careful that our righteous indignation with the evil perpetrated by churchmen unfaithful to their high calling does not lead us to revolt against God himself, who allows such trials.
As the Apostle Saint James says, by resisting trials such as the present ones we will receive the crown of glory: “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for, when he hath been proved, he shall receive the crown of life which God hath promised to them that love him. (James 1:12).
Avoid the Danger of Naturalism
We must avoid the serious risk of revolting and also keep another risk at bay: naturalism. A naturalist perspective would lead us to consider the current crisis in the Church with purely human eyes without taking its supernatural aspect into account. This attitude leads to propose essentially human solutions of a sociological nature to solve a crisis caused primarily by an apostasy from the Faith and the consequent abandonment of a real life of piety and virtue. This attitude can lead to a state of connaturality with sin.
Will Replacing Bishops With Laity Solve the Crisis?
One of the more commonly presented proposals both by laity and churchmen is to give the task of investigating and punishing deviant clergy to bodies made up of laity, thus bypassing bishops.
First, from a theological perspective, we should remember that it was to the Apostles and their successors that Christ entrusted the task of watching over the flock and the threefold mission to govern, teach, and sanctify the faithful.
Second, such proposals would not solve anything, even if we ignored their problematic theological aspects.
Indeed, how would the lay people be chosen to take up this overseeing function? Would they be appointed by the same bishops they do not trust? Or would they be chosen by complicated ballots similar to what happens in politics? What guarantee is there that reputable people will be elected? How to prevent lay people linked to suspect bishops and clerics or to movements with a revolutionary agenda from presenting themselves as candidates and being elected?
Avoid Proposing Flawed Solutions
Thus, many will ask, is there no practical and effective solution to this crisis?
The first measure to find the right solution is to avoid offering rashly conceived proposals. Hasty proposals in such a complex matter often contain grossly misleading simplifications. They are likely to fall—as they often do—into the trap set by those seeking to establish the Church as a democracy when She is hierarchical by divine institution.2
It will also help to find a solution to understand that homosexuality is not the primary cause of this crisis, but that it is largely a consequence of Modernism, a heresy condemned by Saint Pius X. The pontiff denounced the modernist heretical movement as a secret society acting in the bosom of Holy Church. In the Motu Proprio Sacrorum Antistum (September 1910), he wrote: “Modernists … recruit followers to the extent of forming a secret society.” They “are injecting the virus of their doctrine into the veins of Christian society.”3
In the encyclical Pascendi Dominici Gregis (1907), the saint had already emphasized: “They [the modernists] seize upon professorships in the seminaries and universities, and gradually make of them chairs of pestilence.”4
This heresy reduces faith to a mere human feeling and Divine Revelation to a collective expression of that feeling. Consequently, dogma would continuously evolve with changing times.
Although it has gone through many vicissitudes, this secret society continued its nefarious action within the Church, as the present dogmatic and moral errors attest. Today this network manifests itself more clearly through moral corruption, and particularly homosexuality.
On interpreting history, we should avoid both the simplistic error of reducing everything to mere conspiracies, but also the opposite error, just as simplistic, of denying, a priori, the possibility of conspiracies.
By his very nature, man tends to associate with those who think like him or share the same interests or goals; as the old Latin adage says, similis simili gaudet (like rejoices in like; an English equivalent idiom is “birds of a feather flock together”). This natural tendency often gives rise to groups, organizations or movements of people who gather not only to discuss their interests but to coordinate their efforts for victory.
“Without Faith, It Is Impossible to Please God”
“Without faith, it is impossible to please God,” teaches Saint Paul. Heresy corrupts the true Faith and, therefore, union with God. Thus, those who let themselves be carried away by heretical modernist theories become weak in the face of the world and its attractions, the action of the devil, and the revolt of the flesh. Hence, they can be easily lured and led away from the path of virtue.
Since Modernism in its various forms has turned countless seminaries and Catholic universities into “chairs of pestilence,” the effects in the spiritual and moral fields are there for all to see.
The way the current scandals are being reported produces the impression in people’s minds that no single priest or bishop remains faithful to his vows and adheres to sound doctrine. That is not true. Despite the extent of the crisis, it is evident that not all seminarians, priests and bishops have succumbed to the nefarious action of Modernism, be it theological or moral. On the contrary, many are faithful to their vows, sound doctrine, and the life of piety.
What to Do? Which Concrete Solution to Present?
While the only effective remedy for this crisis is a profound conversion as Our Lady asked in Fatima, there is no question that practical measures are also needed. In fact, both Canon Law and documents issued ultimately by the Holy See and by bishops’ conferences already provide means to combat homosexual scandals and abuse.
The question is to use them properly, with zeal and wisdom.
“To Thee Have I Lifted Up My Eyes, Who Dwells in Heaven” (Ps. 122:1-2)
We must also fight the atmosphere of despair fostered by the secular media and lamentably aggravated by the cynicism of many ecclesiastics. We need to avoid a feverish state in reporting or commenting upon the present crisis.
Above all, we must turn to God, imploring that through His mercy these days may be abbreviated.
As Saint Paul recommends, we must also confide. We must be those “who against hope believed in hope” (Rom. 4:18).
The Church remains just as holy and sanctifying as She was in the beginning and will forever be, because Her soul is the Holy Spirit, sanctifying grace. She alone has the truth, the way and the life, for She alone continues the work of the One Who immolated Himself for Her: “Christ also loved the Church, and delivered himself up for it: That he might sanctify it, cleansing it by the laver of water in the word of life: That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy, and without blemish” (Eph. 5:25-27).