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Friday, November 19, 2010



One part of the article you didn't quote, Carl, I think is worth a mention.

In a recent interview with the Associated Press, St. Paul-Minneapolis Archbishop John Nienstedt said, "a shrinking Roman Catholic Church is no reason to consider a more liberal stance."

Right on the mark, in my opinion. I suppose we could ask Erbe about the Vatican response to the closing of Churches in (what are now) Iran, Iraq, Syria, etc by the Muslims in 8th century and onward. I suspect she might consider the Crusades a little too medieval.

The history of the Catholic Church began with a handful of persecuted apostles and is what it is today, some 2000 years later. A study of the opposition to the Church throughout that time from within and without would be very instructive for Erbe, I think, to gain some perspective on Church doctrine and discipline.

But to place the emphasis on numbers betrays a massive lack of understanding of what the Church is. Erbe's thinking is sadly not uncommon even in the hierarchy of the Church in America and is based on (Protestant Mega Church style) marketing principles and a franchise mentality at best, and a hard-core doctrinal dissent at worst. The idea we've heard expressed elsewhere is a fear that young people will "find their spirituality elsewhere." Just like they will find their entertainment on another channel or their cellular air-time with another carrier. Let's change our Church programming to attract new parishioners.

It has been awhile but I can faintly recall my youth. It was a different time, no doubt, but there is one constant with young people, particularly in their teenage years. Just as I could, they can smell hypocrisy and pandering from miles away. Truth with conviction they will always give a hearing, whether they believe or not, but we must never underestimate the ability of young people to be inspired by a high ideal or standard, and their energy to strive for it. The World Youth Day events of the past decades should have taught us that much, if we have forgotten our own youth.

That is why the facts contradict Erbe, as you have pointed out Carl. And her estimate of Pope Benedict betrays a real ignorance (willful?) of his message.

What matters most is that you develop your personal relationship with God.
-Pope Benedict XVI, from his address at St. Joseph Seminary, Yonkers 2008 Papal visit to America. for the entire text which was one of his greatest addresses to young people, in my opinion.

The real irony is that while we are still seeing the aftershocks and fall-out from many decades of thinking like that of Erbe, the Church has already passed such people by. What they see as a reach to the past is in reality the already emerging future.

Todd Newbold

Great article Carl! I am going to have to re-read this one more then a few times. I could write for hours on this but WHERE IS THE PIETY IN SOME NON-CATHOLIC PEOPLE (like the article talks about). Just because they can memorize 10,000 verses and think they have a (I will say it) personal relationship, what makes them think they are MORE smart, wise, holy, charitable, humane, generous, loving, intelligent, prophetic, eloquent, humble, saintly, and for the icing on the cake happier then ALL past or living CATHOLICS. I believe the term "personal relationship" is sophomoric conservative/reformation politics and rhetoric.


I believe the term "personal relationship" is sophomoric conservative/reformation politics and rhetoric. - Todd Newbold

What matters most is that you develop your personal relationship with God. - Pope Benedict XVI


Todd Newbold

LJ -
Your right, I was out of line. If I may, I will take the bait, here are some examples - personal, personal relationship, private, private matter, private property, personal issue, private amongst my family, respect our privacy, i want my privacy, personally, personal decision, private talks, private guidance, more more more..........

I think the Catholic Church is the most open Church in regards to teachings about ethics, morals, theology, philosophy, liturgy, and what the articles theme is about DOGMA.

These other churches hide all their beliefs probably because its a personal issue :)

Todd Newbold

LJ -
I just read the Erbe article. She seems like a great accountant. I believe relative secularism is creating an America of almost 400 million prophets, theologians, philosophers, ministers, and seers. Everybody has to sell something I guess.

Mary T

I hope you send this to Erbe.




I thought perhaps you had been slightly exuberant and perhaps a little hasty, and in fact I know what it is that you are referring to with respect to the "personal relationship" expression and how it tends to symbolize in the Protestant world a radical individualism, private religion and private interpretation of Scripture.

But that is why I included the Holy Father's quote. Immediately after that statement in the address I cited he goes on to explain just what that means. It is also interesting in light of the recent condom controversy because it reminds us once more of the subtlety of mind and depth of understanding of our Pope.

Having said that, I think there is something deadly serious in the discussion that is sometimes overlooked in the heat of the battle with individualistic Protestant theology. I think Pope Benedict gets it and it goes to the entire salvation/justification controversy.

Like Frances Beckwith, who disturbed some people with his statement, I tend to regard my own position as that of an evangelical Catholic. That is to say, within the context of the dogma and practice of the Catholic faith, the appropriation of salvation is always ultimately up to the individual.

I thought about this in mass this morning as there was a baptism in the mass. A beautiful and always moving sacrament. But as I heard the words addressed to the parents and god-parents I thought about that young girl in 15-18 years, and the world that she will be living in. Will she be able to resist the culture? Will her parents be able to instill moral and spiritual values in her to be able to withstand the onslaught of every moral degradation that will come her way? Will she be confirmed? And if she is will she ever darken the doors of the Church again?

I have no reason to believe that her parents and god-parents will not do their utmost to raise her in the faith, and I pray for them. But in the end, whether that little girl goes to heaven or hell will depend on whether, along the way by degrees or in sudden moments of conversion of heart, she appropriates Christ's work on the cross for herself, and develops a "personal relationship with God."

She has been given now every possible advantage, but our faith teaches us that as she develops to the age of reason, she retains free will. We can give her the fullness of divine revelation; we can give her a complete accounting of all that Christ has given his Church over the last 2000 years; we can teach her the dogma and the reasons for it; we can make her into a great Catholic; we can show her the love of Christ in the way that we pray for her and guide her from the heart of the Church; and all of these things we commit to as the body of Christ; but in the end, her salvation will be won or lost in her own heart.

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