‘Let Your Yes Mean No and Your No Mean Yes’

Didn’t Jesus teach us not to speak with equivocation or ambiguity?

“Let your ‘Yes’ mean ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No’ mean ‘No.’ Anything more is from the evil one” (Matthew 5:33-37).

Does this not also apply to Church authorities? Every day they send mixed signals on matters of faith and morals that had been historically established as revealed tradition and steadfastly upheld for millennia.

In some dioceses priests are expected to accept to Holy Communion remarried couples whose marriages were never declared null based on an understanding of a brief footnote in Pope Francis’ encyclical Amoris Laetitia (e.g., San Diego).  Others bishops see it differently and have forbidden their priests to give communion to those whom Jesus regarded as adulterers (e.g., Philadelphia). And Rome is fine with this?

Moreover, the Pope won’t answer questions. Does he believe in hell? Is there salvation outside the Church? Is homosexuality a sin? Did he know McCarrick was a pervert when he put him in his inner circle? Should Catholic pols that support abortion be denied communion? He refuses to clarify his position on these and other serious matters.

No wonder church attendance keeps dropping. The data supporting the sad statistic that for every one person in the U.S. that enters the Catholic Church six leave was confirmed by Pew Research:

Overall, 13% of all U.S. adults are former Catholics – people who say they were raised in the faith, but now identify as religious “nones,” as Protestants, or with another religion. By contrast, 2% of U.S. adults are converts to Catholicism – people who now identify as Catholic after having been raised in another religion (or no religion). This means that there are 6.5 former Catholics in the U.S. for every convert to the faith.

Those wonderful, rich, very well fed German bishops blame it on the failure of the Church to adapt to modern society, especially in terms of sexual morality and gender equality. But Protestant churches who have tried this only accelerated their decline in membership (since its embrace of homosexual bishops, the United Methodist Church in the U.S. has been losing members at a rate of 1,000/week).

Protestant denominations are generally open to change based on a reinterpretation of scripture in light of modern science. But at this point for the Catholic Church change or no change represents a ‘catch-22’ (damned if you do, damned if you don’t). To establish as Church teaching something that contradicts tradition destroys the Church’s credibility. On the other hand, to steadfastly uphold Catholic tradition without equivocation will put the Church in the crosshairs of an increasingly hostile modern world.

The 6.5 that leave the Church for every one received will probably continue for a while, whoever is pope, but at least it’s not ten to one as in the U.K.

…rjt

An Ancient Law Written on the Heart

When I studied Akkadian, the language of Mesopotamia, we would occasionally spend class time reading ancient legal texts. It often provoked discussion because laws reveal much about a society’s concerns. While laws regarding homosexuality in the Near Eastern codes are relatively rare, Tablet A, 19-20 of the Middle Assyrian Law Code (ca. 1400 BC) describes the punishment for falsely accusing someone of engaging in a homosexual act as well as the penalty for the act itself:

“If a man has secretly started a rumor about his neighbor saying, ‘He has allowed men to have sex with him,’ or in a quarrel has told him in the presence of others, ‘Men have sex with you,’ and then, ‘I will bring charges against you myself,’ but is then unable to substantiate the charge, and cannot prove it, that man is to be caned (fifty blows), be sentenced to a month’s hard labor for the king, be cut off [hair], and pay one talent of lead.”

The very next law establishes the penalty if the accusation is proven in court:

“If a man lay with his neighbor, when they have prosecuted him [and] convicted him, they shall lie with him [and] turn him into a eunuch.”

Continue reading “An Ancient Law Written on the Heart”

Today’s Version of the Cathar Heresy

The Chateau de Montsegur, a Cathar stronghold
The Chateau de Montsegur, a Cathar stronghold

Catharism was a dualist heresy that swept through Latin Christendom during the High Middle Ages; its growing popularity alarmed Church authorities. It was called by many names (the Catholic Encyclopedia lists twenty-two) but historians prefer to refer to them collectively as Cathars (“pure ones”, or “puritans”). They believed the physical world was the creation of the evil God of the Old Testament and the spiritual world was formed by the God of the New Testament. It was just the latest version of the recurrent dualist heresies like Gnosticism and Manichaeism, but also resembles elements in contemporary secular society in disturbing ways.

This heresy’s primary requirement was the repudiation of marriage and family. Since the evil physical body was only meant to entrap spirits, marriage and procreation were forbidden. Their spirit-liberating ritual known as consolamentum, similar to the Catholic Last Rites, would be denied to children and pregnant women. Their distain for the human body was so extreme that Cathars celebrated suicide with a ritual of its own known as endura, a form of assisted suicide. Their goal was the destruction of the human race thus enabling the liberation of the spiritual world. Continue reading “Today’s Version of the Cathar Heresy”