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Purification, Or Strangulation?

Titian. St. John the Baptist.
"Unlike some Quebec Priests and Bishops, I don't strangle my lambs..."
(Titian. St. John the Baptist. Source)

Note: For the other side of the argument, see among others the correspondance with:

Ms. Hélène "Avatar" (French only)
Mr. Georges Allaire (French only)

1) Introduction

As you know, I try to imitate a little bit the famous Scottish explorer, Doctor David Livingstone. Except I'm not searching for the sources of the River Nile, but for the causes of the decadence of Catholicism in the Province of Quebec.

According to my research, one of these causes is what some psychologists call "rationalization", i.e. "the construction of a logical justification for a decision, even if this decision was taken because of another mental process" [Wikipedia]. (I would have defined it as "putting the lipstick of reason on the pig of a stupid decision!") In other words, many Catholics manage to convince themselves that the current sad situation is in fact positive, since they don't want to attract attention to their capitulation. They therefore claim that the Church is being "purified".

2) What would a real purification look like?

Most people would agree that "purification" means "taking the bad stuff out". For example, if you purify water, that means you remove viruses, bacteria and toxic chemicals. What is left behind is good, healthy and pure water.

Some people claim this is what is happening to the Catholic Church in Quebec, and therefore that we shouldn't worry about the current situation. Does this opinion have any connection with reality? Let's look at what would happen if a real purification were ongoing:

- Heretics who teach at the Faculty of Theology and in the Seminaries would be kicked out, and replaced with real Catholic teachers;

- Candidates to the Priesthood who rejected the official teachings of the Catholic Church (including those on homosexual attractions) would be kicked out of the Seminaries, and replaced with good young hemen;

- Priests who publicly dissented from the Church would be disciplined;

- The most unpopular teachings of the Church (concerning abortion, the pill, women's ordination, Papal Infallibility, etc.) would be clearly heard from all pulpits, despite the contradictions of "the spirit of the world";

- Books, pamphlets, movies, songs, etc., that claimed to be Catholic, while at the same time encouraging anti-Catholic opinions, would be condemned;

- Protestants who hate the Catechism of the Catholic Church would be converted to Catholicism, or else ordered to shut up when they participate in Catholic Parish meetings or Catechesis courses;

- Etc., etc. (See among others #4 of Homosexuality, or Heterostupidity?)

Is the Church being "purified" here in Quebec? Of course not. In fact, the exact opposite is happening. The Catholic Church is being strangled to death by the wolves in the sheepfold. It's the lamb and the sheep that are being eliminated, not the wolves.

3) How can strangulation be seen as a "purification"?

If you think Olympic figure skaters are amazingly flexible and surprisingly skillful, wait until you hear a "purification advocate" explain why the destruction of the Catholic Church is actually "good" for the Church! If you ever come across one, you too will feel like giving a standing ovation and throwing roses and medals!

3.1) Bronze medal: "God is letting the Church apparently die here in Quebec, but that is only so the Holy Spirit can raise Her back up again". I just hope the day this "purification advocate" lies sick in a hospital bed with pneumonia, the physician won't say: "Hum, I could give him some antibiotics, but I'll wait until he dies first, that way curing him will be so much easier!" Moreover, God Himself never said: "Simon, I say to you, thou are Rock, and on this Rock I will build my Church, and the gates of Hell will someday prevail against Her, for a while, but then She'll be back." [Mt 16:18]

3.2) Silver medal: "Harsh punishments, violent repressions and misguided condemnations would only make things worse. Therefore, let's just do nothing." Fortunately, we don't treat "purification advocates" according to their own theory, but rather according to the wise old proverb "Abusus Non Tollit Usum" (i.e. it's not because something can be abused, that we should never use it). Otherwise, we'd take away their cars (cars can be driven while drunk!), their kitchen knives (some criminals have been known to use such weapons!), and we'd even cut off their hands and gouge out their eyes, since they could be misused! All this is even more hilarious when you consider that perhaps never in the history of the Catholic Church have Popes and Bishops been so allergic to condemnations and punishments. Never have so few excommunications been levelled at so many heretics. Never have Catholic prelates been so eager to kiss Korans, hug Protestants and dance with the Animists!

3.3) Gold medal: "When Jesus was captured by armed thugs during his Passion, Saint Peter drew his sword and tried to defend Him. But Jesus told Peter not to fight. Therefore we must not try to stop the wolves who are killing the lambs in the sheepfold." Boy, I'd love to see the face of that "purification advocate" if a policeman told him: "Sorry sir, we can't arrest that criminal who is raping your wife and killing your children, since Jesus told Peter to put down his sword!" Seriously, interpreting the Bible is not easy, and that task belongs to the Magisterium, not me. But I'm always worried by contorted Biblical arguments that end with: "... and therefore, let's not fight against evil, since God could stop it, but He doesn't!" Especially since in many other places in the Bible we see God actively preventing men from killing Jesus (See [Mt 2:13] and [Lc 4:30], etc.

4) But why consider strangulation as a "purification"?

I think it's because of a small theological mistake about the relation between Trinitarian Quiddity and human volitions at the very root of the argument, which becomes bigger and badder as we move closer and closer to the concrete situations of our daily life.

If God exists, and if God is an infinitely wise lawmaker ("She reacheth therefore from end to end mightily and ordereth all things sweetley" [Wisdom 1:8]), and if God is an infinitely powerful enforcer of His law ("Whatsoever the Lord pleased He hath done in heaven, in earth, in the sea, and in the deeps" [Ps 135: 6]), then apparently there can be no strangulation! Why worry? All there can be is a purification, since strangulation cannot exist! No evil can really exist, and even if "evil" does exist, God permits it for a greater good, so it's not really evil!

Is this true? Yes and no. Remember that when we talk about God, we use many partial concepts, but in God all is One and Complete. The truths about God's omniscience and omnipotence must be completed with the truths about man's freedom. Men really can refuse God's grace [Denzinger #1554, CCC #1705, etc.]

Moral evil, that is, sin, which according to its nature is a revolt against [God's will], is willed by God neither per se nor per accidens, that is, neither as an end nor as a means to an end. The Council of Trent has condemned as heretical the contrary doctrine of Calvin, Denzinger #1556, cf. [Ps 5:5] "Thou art not a God that willest iniquity."
[Ott, Ludwig. Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, Tan Books, 1992, p. 46.]

The hard part is "keeping both things in our mind" at the same time. When a human hand cuts carrots to feed the kids, it's totally God's will, and when that same hand, holding the same knife, cuts an innocent throat, it's also in a way God's will, but in another way it isn't anymore.

How can it "not be God's will"? In the sense that whatever a human will can do, to prevent this knife from slitting this throat, must be done. The person holding the knife must convert to Christ and obey His Commandments, and hence avoid slitting this throat. Also, any bystanders in a position to stop the attack must also act to avoid that throat from being slit. Finally, any bystanders not in a position to stop the attack must nevertheless do what they can to oppose it (like condemn it explicitly, call the police, beg the attacker to stop, etc.), because God condemns it.

One summary of this important theological distinction is the old saying: "Pray as if everything depended on God; act as if everything depended on you" [CCC 2834].

5) Other considerations on the relations between God and evil

Saying that God doesn't directly will sinful acts, and that we must oppose them, doesn't mean any apparent opposition is virtuous. Our acts must oppose this evil. If our acts in fact encourage evil, then we have to act differently! Take for example the case of a little 7 year-old boy who sees some criminal about to cut his sister's throat. If this little boy says: "Stop criminal! That's contrary to Denzinger #1556! I will do my duty and oppose this evil!", chances are that the criminal will just slit two throats, not just one. Maybe this little boy should run out of the house and go call the police, and later on testify in court. His sister would still die, but this might be a more effective opposition to evil.

Another consideration is that it's not because God, in a way, "wills" evil, and in another way doesn't will it, that therefore we have to look at moral situations sometimes in one way, and sometimes in another. Imagine we had two specialized eyes: one to see objects close by, and another to see far away. We would need to look out one eye to read, and look out the other eye to drive! This is not how we must use the two truths about God and evil. It's not as if we had to "look through one eye" to see men are free to revolt against God's will, in order to oppose ourselves to evil (like trying to prevent a knife from cutting an innocent throat), and then once that evil occured despite our best efforts, look "through the other eye" and see that the death of our child was part of God's Providence, in order to avoid a nervous breakdown, etc.

Truths about God are always true, and therefore they are always applicable. So we have to "keep both our eyes open" when we look at a situation, and keep in mind God's omniscience and omnipotence, as well as human's freedom to sinfully go against God's will. For example:

5.1) Dropping either truth leads to Atheism. If God isn't all-powerful and all-knowing, then God doesn't really exist! In the same way, if God directly wills moral evil, then God sins, and therefore God isn't divine, so He doesn't really exist!

5.2) Dropping either truth destroys our motivation to make the world a better place. Obviously, if God wills evil, and we pray "Thy will be done", then why oppose ourselves to evil? But if God isn't all-powerful, then resisting evil doesn't make sense anymore. Why resist, when resistance is futile? Only faith in God's assistance can make us resist evil when all apparent hope is lost. (This explains why often it's a saint who stands up and begins to fight the evil of his time, when everybody else has given up.)

5.3) Dropping either truth obscures our intellect. Like all firemen and paramedics will tell you, when something very important needs to be done quickly, you need to remain calm. Faith in God's omnipotence and omniscience helps us remain serene in the worst situations, helps us avoid hating our enemies, and helps us avoid a mental "short-circuit" when we see horrible sins. But knowing sin is opposed to God's will means we are constantly thinking about new ways to oppose ourselves to evil. All advances in Medicine, in Politics, in Law Enforcement, etc., are fundamentally caused by this intellectual effort. Sure, it's too late to bolt a wheel at the back of Jesus' cross to make it easier for Him to carry. But everyday, everywhere, there are people suffering from the consequences of sin, and we must invent new ways to reduce or eliminate their sufferings.

5.4) Dropping either truth probably destroys the very notion of salvific value of suffering. I'm not competent enough in Theology to explain it. See Salvifici Doloris.

Etc., etc...

6) What would happen if we really purified the Church?

Let your imagination run wild, and dream with me for a few moments. Let's imagine that a fire broke out in the Chancery, and that the Bishop of our Diocese had to be taken to the hospital after being intoxicated with the fumes of a burning Catechism of the Catholic Church soaked in Mass wine. After regaining consciousness, he would have lost all previous memories of himself. All he would have left are his Bishop clothes.

Since everybody would assure him he really was a Catholic Bishop, the poor chap wouldn't have much choice but to behave like a Bishop. Having forgotten his past, he'd have to read all the official teachings of the Catholic Church explaining how to be a Bishop. (In other words, he'd become Cardinal Cram Telleuo!)

After returning to work, he would soon be confronted with some Priest or layperson trying to do something un-Catholic. Not being burdened with past memories, he would simply say: "No, you can't do that, because it's specifically condemned by the teachings of the Catholic Church!" The subordinate would try to argue, whine, weaselword, and finally threaten the Bishop, who would just reply: "Look Sir, I'm a Catholic Bishop! If you want a Protestant Bishop, go across the street!" End of argument.

Soon, a mutiny would break out (it has been festering for decades anyway). The worst heretics would publicly convene the Media (always happy to attack all those faithful to the Pope) and claim the Bishop had lost all "moral authority" to govern the Diocese. "OK, if you want to play hardball, let's go for it!", would simply reply the Bishop, handing out excommunications to the mutineers.

Within a week or so, a large number of Priests and Theologians would publicly slam the door on Catholicism. Of course, they would try by all means to portray themselves as poor victims of the savage intolerance of some extremist Bishop. The Bishop would calmly respond: "Look, this is a free country. If you want to be Protestants, fine. Just go across the street to the Protestant church. You'll always be welcome if you change your mind, but in the meantime, please stop harassing us Catholics. We have the right to adore God in the way we see fit! And we claim Jesus is God Almighty, and that God told the first Pope and the first Bishops united to the Pope He who hears you, hears Me. He who rejects you, rejects me" [Lc 10:16]

Some "Catholics" would then start going to the local Protestant churches. That's not surprising, since if you questioned them now (outside of this daydream!), you would clearly see that they are not in the Catholic Church as we speak anyway. Most faithful would just continue going to the same old Catholic Church they've always been to. Very few people would actually want to follow a bunch of pro-abortion, pro-sodomy whiners who publicly cut themselves off from the Pope. Of course, the Media would do everything to make people believe that the Catholic Church was doomed, and that everybody was leaving it!

In the "Parish rowboats", since the remaining Priests would now be rowing in the same direction, improvements would be spectacular! Every Parish in the Diocese would become a Model Parish. The Liturgy, the Homilies and the Sacraments would be totally conformant to the teachings of the Catholic Church. Young people would start coming back to Mass. Old people would once again see the Church they were brought up in, and would weep with joy.

Meanwhile, in the new Protestant church created with the mutineers, arguments and conflicts would get worse and worse. The deadly spiral toward atheism would begin, starting probably with women's ordination, then promotion of abortion, then sodomy, then the elimination of Hell and sin, and eventually, God would be thrown out! ("God! He's such a rigid and absolute entity! I prefer the freedom of Atheism", might they say!)

Having purified Herself, the Church in the Province of Quebec would be able to shine with the splendor of Truth, maternally drawing to Herself many children, and leading them to eternal salvation. Talk about a nightmare for wolves!

7) Conclusion

Sometimes, when I hear supposedly good Catholics try to explain why we should let Satan strangle our Mother the Church, I feel like "purifying" them with my bare hands! Seriously, I feel like purifying their minds of the errors planted there by the Devil!

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