Cardinal Lamberto: Look at this stone, it has been lying in the water for a very long time, but the water has not penetrated it. [Breaks it open] Look, perfectly dry. The same thing has happened to men in Europe. For centuries they have been surrounded by Christianity, but Christ has not penetrated. Christ doesn’t live within them.
The Godfather Part 3 1990
In a few years the anniversary of the Protestant Reformation is coming up, while thousands of Protestant denominations will doubtless celebrate this event and I can’t help but suspect that if Martin Luther knew the result of his break with Rome he would have never done it.
Nary a month seems to pass when passes when we hear of one protestant congregation voting to redefine sin or change doctrine for the sake of getting people back in the pews or getting in touch with the times or whatever such excuse we hear causing schism within schism (it is no coincidence that many people seeing these changes have found their way back to Rome).
While doctrinally the Catholic Church has not gone that way there are plenty in it who would like to see that route taken, particularly in academia and media. This has been the cause of a lot of trouble in the church over the past 50 years. But more importantly than trouble for the church has been what is the risk it has meant for the faithful.
A great example is the doctrine of Hell.
However many priests tend to dodge the subject, the media downplays or mocks it plenty of priests tend to duck an issue that generates snickers from our secular world. To this I give a quote from Fr. Marcel Nault who died in 1997 a priest who constantly preached on Hell:
One cannot specialize and preach everything, but the Lord Jesus invited me to preach on Hell. A monsignor said to me, “Marcel, don’t preach on Hell. People don’t like that, you scare them.” And in a very friendly way that Monsignor said to me, “Marcel, I have never preached on Hell and look at the position I have. I will never preach on Hell.”
After a long silence, I looked him in the eye and said, “Monsignor, you are on the road to Hell for all eternity. You preach, Monsignor, to please the crowd, instead of preaching to please Christ.”
Let me remind all that the primary purpose of any priest pastor or minister of any type is to keep people from damnation. That’s the goal and the bottom line and you don’t achieve this avoiding painful truths.
Let me put it another way, yesterday I went for a Colonoscopy, it is a very effective way to check for early signs of Colorectal cancer. Any polyp found and removed is screened for cancer. My radio co-host had cancer discovered in one such screening because it was caught early he was able to receive treatment and has been cancer free for years since.
This is my second such exam and let me tell you the prep work is VERY unpleasant, worse that the exam itself but it can save your life
Now imagine if I decided that because the exam prep was unpleasant I decided not to do it. Or picture if the doctor after finding a polyp decided not to test it or if he found cancer decided not to tell me about it because it would scare me?
The former would be an act of stupidity on my part or an act of malpractice on his.
Whenever a Christian pastor of any denomination entrusted with a flock decides that he is going to preach the popular rather than the truth, who decides that doctrine doesn’t mean a thing, who sacrifices the sacraments and the truth for the sake of popular opinion they are committing malpractice only the price of the settlement is a lot higher than any premium an insurance company will charge.
And in the end that has been the fruit of the Reformation. Little by little it walked away or abandoned unpleasant or unpopular truths and since any person could reinterpret scripture or a congregation could decide what was true by a vote it slowly wore faith away.
When it came into being Christianity was the religion of Europe and thanks to the efforts of the Catholic Church it was ready to spread into the new world. It has taken Christianity 1500 years to reach that point.
It only took the reformation 500 years turn Europe into a place where Christianity is so diluted and divided that within a generation or two Islam will take from indifference what it could not take by the sword.
What a shame.