San Antonio Express News columnist, O. Ricardo Pimentel, published an article in March drawing attention to recent polls and surveys in the U.S. which indicate more Catholics are rejecting the Church’s teachings on abortion and carnal relations between members of the same sex. Mr. Pimentel often hurls barbs at the Church. We are dismayed that the Express News does not often print our rebuttals.
Repetitive and monotonous when he writes on the subject of religion, Mr. Pimentel appears to support these secular trends questioning whether “an institution (the Roman Catholic Church) that is not deemed relevant on key doctrinal issues even by its adherents…. can persevere.”
He must not know Church history, especially the terrible time during the Arian heresy in the 4th century when 80% of the Catholic faithful (clergy and lay) fell from grace, denying the divinity of Christ. These modern day heresies which attack the absolute doctrines of the Church on sexual ethics, especially regarding the intrinsic evil of abortion and homosexual relations, are as troubling and as serious as the ancient heresies, but we know for sure as believers that the gates of hell will never prevail against the Church as promised by our Holy Redeemer (Mt. 16:18), in spite of Mr. Pimentel’s preference.
Pimentel cherry picks statistics from the studies he gleefully quotes regarding the numbers of Catholics who are rejecting church teachings on sexual ethics.Those survey respondents who identify themselves as Catholics but do not practice and hold to the teachings of the Church are not faithful members. Many are obstinately reveling in their error or ignorance and are prodigal sons and daughters. We hope they all come back into the fold, including Mr. Pimentel.
A national polling organization, the Pew Research Center, reported last year when Pope Francis was elected to succeed St. Peter, that nearly two-thirds (63%) of the Catholics surveyed wanted “the next pope to maintain the church’s traditional positions”. A Marist College Survey last year commissioned by the Knights of Columbus found that most Americans (83%) believe abortion should be significantly restricted.
Unfortunately American Catholics are divided along demographic lines (age, race, sex, education) in their opinions about the morality of abortion and homosexual relations, but, what should be considered is whether these self-identified Catholic respondents are really practicing their faith or are merely uncatechized “cultural” Catholics.
The teaching authority (magisterium) of the Church rests with our Holy Father, the Vicar of Christ, who exercises this authority with the bishops united with him, not with individual Catholics who pick and choose what doctrines to follow or discard. This is what Pope Francis said to a gathering of gynecologists last September:
“Every unborn child, though unjustly condemned to be aborted, has the face of the Lord, who even before his birth, and then as soon as he was born, experienced the rejection of the world,” he said. “And every old person, even if infirm and at the end of his days, carries with him the face of Christ. They must not be thrown away!”
This past April in Rome, Pope Francis spoke to 45,000 pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square and had this to say about the sacrament of Holy Matrimony: ““When a man and a woman celebrate the sacrament of marriage, God is reflected in them. As ‘one flesh’, they become living icons of God’s love in our world, building up the Church in unity and fidelity.”
Mr. Frank Farias, a former Grand Knight and long time member of a local Knights of Columbus council responded to Mr. Pimentel directly. It should interest you. His commentary is printed in its entirety below.
Dear Mr. Pimentel,
I am replying to your article on Sunday, March 9,2014, entitled, “Survey confirms schism in dogma and belief.” You are writing in reference to what some Catholics want from the Catholic Church. Basically, that the Church become more relevant in social justice and to embrace fairness and equity. Fairness and equity for what? Sin? Is that what you are implying in your article? That will never happen because that would go one hundred percent against the teachings of Jesus Christ. Not to mention, natural law where it applies.
Pope Francis is emphasizing more of the Good News to be taught as it is found in the Gospels. He even advocates a smaller, purer Church. However, I am not writing you to quote Pope Francis, even though he is very much orthodox when it comes to Church teaching. I am writing about what you call a schism.
One must not interpret the will of the majority, or minority in this case, as the Will of God. This misinterpretation is what Catholics are doing when they want “gay” marriage, female priests, and the acceptance of contraception and abortion by the Catholic Church. What these Catholics are hoping for comes under the term of moral relativism, not nullification. Yes, it is relativism. When people say, ” That’s what you believe, but not me,” it is relativism. Pope Benedict, when he was Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, stated, “We are moving toward a dictatorship of relativism which does not recognize anything as for certain and which has as its highest goal one’s own ego and one’s own desires.” Do you see the danger in this? When one denies one’s actions as not being a sin when it is, is relativism. The same when one is against dogma and doctrine; not because the Church teaches it, but because it is a teaching of Jesus Christ who is God.
Jesus Christ explains it well in Matthew 16 when he rebuked Peter and told him, “Get behind me Satan. You are not thinking like God but as a human being.” Here lies the answer for those Catholics wandering in their own relativism. This relativism is the single biggest reason for the moral decay in America.
Here is what I have to say to all those Catholics wanting acceptance of “gay” marriage, female priests, contraception, and abortion. They can have all of these things in the American Episcopal Church, and other churches, so why don’t they go over there? Do you know why they do not leave? They do not leave because they know that the Catholic Church is right. What they want is for the Catholic Church to approve of their sin or belief, whichever applies. For the Catholic Church to accept dogma or beliefs contrary to the teachings of Jesus Christ will never happen. YES, THIS WILL NEVER HAPPEN.
So, let me say to all those Catholics condoning schism in dogma and beliefs. They need to pour themselves into the Gospels and to take on the “mind of Christ.” If they do not want to do this, then I suggest they go where they will be happier.
In closing, of course we do not condemn those persons who think like this. We love all of our Catholic brothers. To quote Jesus Christ in John 8:11, when the accusers wanted to stone the adulteress, after the accusers dispersed, Christ asked, “Who is here to condemn you?” She replied, “No one”. Jesus then replied, “Neither do I condemn you. GO AND SIN NO MORE.” This is the message for all Catholics to whom it applies.
Frank X. Farias