This (cheap and facile) meme everyone thinks is so clever is starting to seriously annoy me. We're the sheep. We're the people to be led. If we're so corrupt we deserve to be chastised, it's BECAUSE we've had corrupt hireling shepherds. Can we please stop blaming the victims?— Hilary White (@hilarityjane) September 23, 2019
They must willingly listen to the laity, consider their wants in a fraternal spirit, recognize their experience and competence in the different areas of human activity, so that together with them they will be able to recognize the signs of the times.
PRESBYTERORUM ORDINIS, December 7, 1965
The tweet I quote above is…emblematic of irresponsible thinking.
If only the Church had a devout, honest, faithful pope. If only the Church had courageous, clean Bishops. If only the local parish priests were diligent and prayerful. The Church would be in great shape. Pews would be full. The laity would be earnest in their love of God.
This thinking would have you believe that faithful clergy make faithful laity. For that to be true the Church should have flourished from 1878 to 1959. Pope Leo XIII, Pius X, Benedict XV, Pius XI and Pius XII were five of the holiest and most intelligent popes that the Church ever had. All five of these men were the definition of integrity and clean living. They wrote brilliant encyclicals, engaged with the world, modernized what needed modernizing while holding onto tradition and they always conducted themselves well.
These papacies coincided with the lives of incredible saints such as John Bosco, John Henry Newman, Padre Pio and others. While there was a school of modernist theologians with disciples in the priesthood, the numbers were small. The Church was overwhelmingly led by faithful, devout men.
So if you accept the premise in the above tweet, and the school of thought that it springs from, the laity should have been devout. The Church should have been thriving. So let’s check in with the laity.
|World War 1 - Catholics Killing Catholics|
|World War 1 - Catholics Killing Catholics|
|The Roaring 20's|
|Adolf Hitler (Catholic) and his Nazis - 40% of Whom Baptized Catholic|
|Communist Part of UK Rally - Many baptized Catholics supported atheistic Communist parties|
|SS Concentration Camp Guards - Many of Whom Were Catholic|
|SS Mobile Executioner - Many of Whom Were Catholic|
|Firebombing of Dresden - Wholesale slaughter of civilians by Christian pilots from the Allies|
|1940's Era Birth Control Poster|
I believe I have made my point.
If you were God looking at all of this, would you be thinking "If only I had sent better clergy to my people, these horrible events would have been avoided?"
No. The Vicars of Christ and their Bishops were not the problem here. They had performed admirably in their roles. It was the laity who had apostatized.
While there certainly was, as Taylor Marshall's book Infiltration explains, a coordinated effort to change the Church by a few dedicated ideological theologians and priests who were working for nefarious goals, and while we must always remember that Satan was behind all of this, these efforts would never have been any fruit with Catholic laity if they had not been murdering each other en masse, embracing modernism, killing their offspring and rejecting the teachings of the Church.
Take the fabled change to religious liberty at the Second Vatican Council. Most Catholics were fiercely for separation of Church and State by 1959. They did not want the Church to enforce its traditional teaching on the subject.
As the quote from PRESBYTERORUM ORDINIS demonstrates the Bishops at the Second Vatican Council (WHO FOR THE MOST PART were not fierce ideologues but conservative people uninterested in revolution) were desperately trying to re-connect themselves to a laity that had already left them. The 30 or 40 modernist theologians and the 50 Bishops that supported their agenda would never have had the numbers to install their revolution if it wasn't for the whiff of panic over sheep that had long since stopped following their shepherds.
God had every right to chastise the laity of the Church with horrible leadership after the atrocities and sacrilegious actions that the laity had committed. The laity had abandoned their baptismal vows.
The only way back is for a prayerful laity to do penance for our sins and to raise devout young men and women who will go on to become devout priests and women religious. This reclamation project will have to be a bottom-up affair and it will have to take time.
No white knight pope is going to rescue the Church. No white knight generation of priests are going to rekindle the faith in the hearts of the people. These things happen after the laity has recommitted themselves to God.
The sub-current to the original tweet is an anger at God for allowing things to be this way. I might respectfully suggest to anyone who thinks this way to think about how angry God was when Catholics were dropping Zyklon B tablets into the gas canisters at Auschwitz. When Catholics rip apart their babies from the womb in the most despicable way.
God has every right to chastise us. Complaining woe-is-us is absurd.