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A Church Refashioned

  • GEORGE RUTLER

Last Sunday, seven saints were canonized: two martyrs, four priests and a contemplative nun.


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leclercqSaint Salomone Leclercq
1745-1792

The martyrs were Salomone Leclercq, who was killed during the French Revolution in 1792, and José Sánchez del Río, who was only 14 when he was tortured and shot in 1928 while resisting the anti-Catholic government of Mexico.

It is embarrassing to match these figures against various people in our own country who call themselves Catholics while trying to refashion the Church to their own liking.  Recently discovered WikiLeaks documents have revealed attempts by politicians to strip the Church of her Catholic principles so that she might be a pliant agent of a secular agenda.  I have written about this recently with reference to saints who saw similar attempts in their own days.  (See "Two Newmans and Two Catholic Springs.")  One of the politicians wrote: "There needs to be a Catholic Spring in which Catholics themselves demand the end of a middle ages dictatorship and the beginning of a little democracy and respect for gender equality in the Catholic church."

This mixture of arrogance and ignorance is contradicted by the fact that dictatorships are the typical construct of governments hostile to the Faith.  The emperor Julian the Apostate set the tone in the fourth century.  Then fast forward a millennium to Henry VIII shrinking the Church in England into the Church of England, and that manipulation grew with gusto when the French revolutionaries created a Gallican Church, the Nazis set up a Reichskirche, and the Chinese Communists imposed a Patriotic Church.  The outward forms of those sects camouflaged their pliant obsequiousness to their respective tyrannies.  They were enabled by morally ambiguous politicians who professed to be "personally opposed" to sin while giving free reign to its public promotion.

A Church refashioned to indulge the suburban conceits of lukewarm Christians would not be the Church of Christ Crucified.  There were more mockers at the foot of the Cross than adorers.  Archbishop Kurtz, head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, has responded: "There have been recent reports that some may have sought to interfere in the internal life of the Church for short-term political gain.  If true, this is troubling both for the well-being of faith communities and the good of our country. . . . As Catholics, we hold onto our beliefs because they come to us from Jesus, not a consensus forged by contemporary norms. . . . We also expect public officials to respect the rights of people to live their faith without interference from the state."

In 1922, Chesterton said, "America is a nation with the soul of a church."  If compromised Catholics sell that soul in a Faustian bargain, our nation will be like a whitewashed sepulchre and will not produce willing martyrs, but will produce people who willingly martyrize the martyrs.

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Acknowledgement

Rutler5smRev. George W. Rutler. "A Church Refashioned." From the Pastor (October 23, 2016).

Reprinted with permission from Father George W. Rutler.

The Author

Rutler1rutler46smFather George W. Rutler is the pastor of St. Michael's church in New York City.  He has written many books, including: The Stories of Hymns, Hints of Heaven: The Parables of Christ and What They Mean for You, Principalities and Powers: Spiritual Combat 1942-1943, Cloud of Witnesses — Dead People I Knew When They Were Alive, Coincidentally: Unserious Reflections on Trivial Connections, A Crisis of Saints: Essays on People and Principles, Brightest and Best, Saint John Vianney: The Cure D'Ars Today, Crisis in Culture, and Adam Danced: The Cross and the Seven Deadly Sins.

Copyright © 2016 Father George W. Rutler
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