Candy Coated Catholicism

Did you know that when Jesus’ condemned divorce (Mark 10:2-12), that He wasn’t really talking about divorce? He was talking about gender equality!

Did you know that when Jesus’ condemned divorce (Mark 10:2-12), that He wasn’t really talking about divorce? He was talking about gender equality! Did you know that, while there might be a place called “hell,” it is empty? Did you know that those who die as unrepentant sinners are not damned?

All three of these “pearls of wisdom” were proclaimed by Catholic priests in my presence. This kind of teaching, which I collectively refer to as “candy coated Catholicism,” has sadly become all too common in the Vatican II Church. And, just like real candy, this “kinder and gentler” form of Catholicism might taste sweet to the masses but it isn’t good for them!

I’ll never forget the discussion I had with a group of Catholics at a religious media convention. I said that the primary purpose of the Church is to save sinners from hell. One of them looked at me and laughed! If the Church’s mission isn’t to save sinners from hell, what purpose does it have? For me, the primary purpose of the Church is made clear by everything that Jesus did and taught and by 2,000 years of Church history. The Church’s primary mission has only become less clear since Vatican II.

I’ve never quite figured out what “liberal Catholics” believe. It’s clear to me what they oppose (they oppose orthodox Catholicism) but I’m not sure exactly what they favour. They seem to believe that the Church’s mission is simply to cooperate with others of good will, regardless of their religious beliefs, in order to build a better world. To some extent, I’d go along with them on this. However, when “social justice” becomes the Church’s raison d’etre, and salvation is taken for granted, the Church ceases to function the way God intended.

Thank God, the Vatican II Church still, more or less, upholds the fundamental, traditional beliefs of the Faith in its formal documents and official pronouncements. However, at the “pastoral level,” it, more often than not, teaches a watered-down, sugar-coated version of the Faith which down plays the critical need for individual repentance. It also completely ignores the traditional belief that outside of the Church there is no salvation.

One of the most amazing things about many liberal Catholics is that when confronted with the fruits of widespread liberalism in the Church – declining Mass attendance, fewer vocations, the secularization of Western culture – they call for more liberalism! The fact that some mainline Protestant congregations, which have completely embraced liberalism, are dying does not seem to faze them. It makes one wonder what their real purpose is.

Now, I know I’m painting with a very broad brush. I know that one man’s “liberal” is another man’s “conservative” – that these terms are quite relative. I’m not condemning “liberals.” What I’m condemning is the basic premise of liberal Catholicism: that each Catholic, guided only by his or her own reason, understanding and conscious, has the right to accept or deny any aspect of the Faith and still remain a “good Catholic.” This has also been called “cafeteria Catholicism.”

For me, the Catholic faith, as revealed by our Lord, taught by the apostles and defined by the dogmatic councils (the “deposit of faith”), must be believed and taught in its entirety by the whole Church. May this be so.

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