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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

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Joe Doe

Vatican II's Constitution on the Church says this in chapter three:
"Although the individual bishops do not enjoy the prerogative of infallibility, they nevertheless proclaim Christ's doctrine infallibly whenever, even though dispersed through the world, but still maintaining the bond of communion among themselves and with the successor of Peter, and authentically teaching matters of faith and morals, they are in agreement on one position as definitively to be held. This is even more clearly verified when, gathered together in an ecumenical council, they are teachers and judges of faith and morals for the universal Church, whose definitions must be adhered to with the submission of faith."
(http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_const_19641121_lumen-gentium_en.html)

The 20 ecumenical councils before it are still infallible, like the ecumenical council of Trent that declared that Catholics with faith can lose salvation from unrepented mortal (grave) sin. And that baptism or the implicit desire of baptism is necessary for salvation.

LJ

I recently had a conversation with my son with respect to religious liberty viz. Islam and the Muslims living in the west. This is a conundrum in some sense because we know that the dominant strain (perhaps not numerically but certainly in terms of power) of Islam does not and will not accept this very idea of freedom of religion as a human right, much less a political right.

When the Christian or post-Christian society finds itself at the numerical tipping point with Islam as some of Europe's nations are approaching, the question is not just academic anymore. The transition may well be peaceful overall, but when it occurs the great but sad irony will be that the very freedom of conscience and tolerance that the western nations practiced, which permitted all of the great movements of immorality and corruption, whose leaders for the most part suffer from severe historical myopia, will be lost to the intolerant fist of Islam just as we see it practiced before our eyes everyday in nations we have sought to "democratize" into enlightenment.

Any intolerance of moral depravity in the Christian past of those nations will be then viewed wistfully as a great golden age, the current vicious and snarling denunciations of Christians long forgotten, when the true definition of "within limits" is obvious, when freedom of conscience is utterly removed.

It seems that those who spend their time and their freedom of conscience on tilting at the Church are truly incapable of exercising that freedom in honesty. They squander that freedom, twisting and turning, concocting philosophies and movements; or they bury themselves in a narcissistic stupor (comfortably numb as the song goes), or they crusade with hatred in their hearts; and it is all to avoid, like the child twisting and turning in the throes of a tantrum, the one thing that the freedom of conscience was given to ensure, the uniquely human prerogative to stand before God Almighty and say "yes" or "no" to him, to say "I love you" or "I hate you."

In some way and to some extent we have all done this, so we recognize it right away. We seek to avoid condemnation yet we squirm to relinquish our little (or big) corruptions, so many have tried to deflect the decision, hoping to have it both ways. But not to decide is to decide.

Many in our society have so numbed that conscience as to pile evil upon evil in order to defend selfishness and willfulness, concocting even "religious" arguments to defend the indefensible.

This is at the core of why there can never, in the practical and political sphere be any such thing as neutral. It is either/or with God. Certainly, he has given us the space of our lifetimes to decide, and the time of indecision is his gift to us, the gift that separates us from the angels, but we see that a society moves in one direction or another, and the time of neutrality is fleeting, actually only a moment. The west has progressed along the way of corruption and will fall under its own weight, unless there is a near total reversal of direction. That can only happen in human hearts, and can only happen with the direct action of the Holy Spirit who converts hearts. On a large enough scale it can change the direction of a nation or society.

So let us pray without ceasing for the conversion of hearts, among the baptized first and then beyond. As Jesus ordered it, "to the Jew first, and then the Gentile."

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