19 May 2018


I have deleted a submitted comment in which the writer assured me that, if X were to happen, "That is the day I walk out of the Church never to return".

I had better be frank about this.

Such a contingent threat of Apostasy, if seriously meant, suggests to me that the writer is in a most dangerous spiritual state.

It is true that PF treats the Church Militant (happily, there is no way he can get his hands on the Church Expectant and it is not within his mercifully limited power to "make a mess" in the Church Triumphant) as if it were some sort of private playground in which he can get up to whatever games he finds personally satisfying and heap up any number of his boasted "messes". But the Church is the Body of Christ. Not PF's playground; not mine; not yours.

There have been appallingly bad popes in the past and, depending on how long it is until the Eschaton, there very probably will be more of them in the future. None of that makes a nanogram of difference to the fact that the Catholic Church is the Ark of Salvation; the only and the essential Ark of Salvation.

And it is not a human and worldly 'membership organisation' which one can walk out of in a huff. You and I were incorporated into it by our Baptism. It is rooted in eternity; splendid as an army with banners; a terror to the fallen spirits; a wonder to the Angels.

If anything I have ever written has, however unintentionally, given any encouragement to the sort of unCatholic attitude which horrified me in that comment as I sat down to deal with it this morning, then, here and now, I repent of it.

If PF, or I, by our misconduct, drive one soul to "walk out of the Church", then he (or I) will have to answer for that in the day of Judgement. But the person who has "walked out never to return" will have the gravest charge of all to answer.



GOR said...

Something that Pope Francis apparently fails to see is that creating confusion and raising unnecessary questions about matters of Faith are not conducive to a strengthening of the people’s faith and conviction.

That this may lead to a weakening of, or - God forbid - a loss of Faith, is a real danger and an unfortunate outcome. Catholics should know that by Baptism they have been incorporated into the Mystical Body of Christ and that cannot change.

Those who bring about this doubt and confusion have more to answer for than the individuals who find their Faith weakened. We should remember that the martyrs of the past had much more to suffer than most of us today and yet were “true to thee till death.”

Mick Jagger Gathers No Mosque said...

Some of the Progressive Praxis (Liberal) of Our Pope and Our Cross was anticipated by James Burnham in , "Suicide of the West,"

Liberalism has always stressed change, reform, the break with encrusted habit whether in the form of old ideas, old customs or old institutions. Thus liberalism has been and continues to be primarily negative in its impact on society: and in point of fact it is through its negative and destructive achievements that liberalism makes its best claim to historical justification.

The One True Holy Roman Catholic and Apostolic Church is a perfect society and a man in his right mind would no more leave it than a breast-feeding baby would try and flee its Mother.

There are many blogs/sites propagandising in favor of Sedevacantism and they have been, sadly, successful owing to the low information nominal Catholic who was never learnt that as an adult he has the duty to learn as much as possible about HIs Lord, Creator, Redeemer, and Saviour and His Church.

If a man leaves the Church, the words of Saint John apply to him:

2 John 9: Whosoever recedeth and continueth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God: he that continueth in the doctrine, he hath both the Father and the Son

Mark said...

I heartily agree, Father, with one qualification.

If a particular jurisdiction of the church goes apostate, then it is probably time to leave that particular jurisdiction and join another.

Feed Room Five said...

It is interesting that both the folks who say that they will leave the Church and those who think they can change the Church any way they happen to like agree on so much. Both maintain that it does not matter whether you are a Catholic or not. As Fr Hunwicke points out both parties tend to reduce the Church to the Church Militant. Both sides ignore the history of the Church. Both sides believe that the highest good is that their own viewpoint should triumph.

Woody said...

Beloved Father, please forgive my quibbling with your choice of the word to describe your interlocutor’s threatened exit from the Church. I would simply note that the CCC makes a distinction between apostasy, which there is described as denial of the Christian faith, and Schism, which is described as refusal to be in communion with pope or those in communion with him.

Jonathan Cariveau said...

This is pedantic, but — I’ve always understood apostasy to be rejection of Christ after the sacraments of initiation, as per Hebrews 6. Someone who leaves the Church is a schismatic but not necessarily an apostate. We’re the thousands of believers who followed Alexis Toth out of the archdiocese of St. Paul and into the Orthodox communion apostates?

Kathleen1031 said...

Hello Fr. Hunwicke, may I just speak to your post for a moment.
I can only speak for myself. I'm a traditionalist Catholic who has had enough. It's been a long period of decline, and here we are at this incredible point. Evil men are elevated and protected, good men are demoted and banished. The teachings we were given, the rock on which we stood, has turned to shifting sand. The secular, worldly culture is now polled, to see what they think of the timeless teaching of Christ. Homosexuality, Islam, these are now considered good or at least inevitable, welcomed in, neither the Gospel, nor history lessons, nor public safety, nor wisdom, are taken into consideration, or mentioned.
I have followed this all very closely since 2013. Every day I spend time on the computer, hoping someone who is on the inside will hold that press conference, perhaps even an allied group of bishops or Cardinals, will say, this man Bergolio speaks heresy, indeed, apostasy, and Catholics are to consider him anathema. This, is what has been waited for. It would change everything, because it would mean the church still knows who she is, and Truth will have been defended. The sand would turn to rock, once again.
And now we know. Despite it being promised, it will never come.
And every week, it gets worse than the week before. Now our Vatican treasures are paraded up and down the Met runway by pagans, and the icons of our beloved faith, blessed items created for sacred purposes, are worn by prostitutes and cabana boys. And even a Prince of the Church is in attendance, and our sacred treasures are decorations for a day's entertainment, and isn't it amusing.
We're tired, Fr. Hunwicke. Men like you are a balm, a calming presence, a reassurance of what is right and good, a security, God bless you for it, but we are coming to real terms with the real reality.
We must never leave the church. But the reality is the church has indeed left us. The church today is not the church we entered, not the church of the last two millennia.
I don't have an answer, but leaving is not an answer, you are right in that of course.
If I can only attend a Holy Mass in the Extraordinary Form, the Latin Rite, once a month due to distance, so be it. I will increase my knowledge of the faith, read the Gospel more, pray more, not less. What you were hearing is just too close to despair, something I can relate to now, but something can be done about it.
Rely on Christ more, rely on man, far less. We have lost total confidence in Rome.
There are men responsible for this state of affairs, Fr. Hunwicke, but it is most certainly not you, not other gentlemen who blog, certainly not. The men responsible for this state of affairs, the spiritual exhaustion of the people, reside primarily in Rome. This is all on them, in entirety.
What we need is for good men to identify the errors and pointedly warn the people against following them and their progenitors, to defend Truth once again. We're waiting, but in our human condition, it is growing harder to wait with a hopeful heart, our spirit flags. May God help us.

Anita Moore said...

How I hate that phrase: Hagan lio! This is the clarion call of shepherds who are bored with the still waters beside which they are to lead their flocks. It is one thing to shake the sheep out of their sinful ways, but quite another to shake the sheep up just to shake them up. We are quite shaken up enough by the world in our secular state of life: that is the reason for the still waters. Our hierarchy has built itself an ivory tower that allows it to forget this, and to forget that their loyalties are not supposed to be with the world. Of course, the laity, from whom the hierarchy draws its ranks, have also forgotten where our loyalties are supposed to lie. Our punishment is the agony of having to live in a world substantially of our own making.

It’s easy to get so caught up in the human mess that we forget the decisive factor in the life and history of the Church: the Holy Spirit. Even PF shows the Holy Spirit at work, in the restraints He places on him. I don’t for a minute believe PF has gone nearly as far as he would like to in completing the decades-long attempt to transform the Church into something unrecognizable from what she previously was: the fact is, he can’t do it. The Holy Spirit will not permit it. He will permit much, for our chastisement, but He will not permit the destruction of the Church. PF is finding out first-hand, God help him, that the Church is not just another NGO. The Church has the Holy Spirit for her soul, and no other institution on earth can claim as much. There is really nowhere else for us to go, no matter how messy it gets.

Aqua said...

Well said.

I stand with the long, grand, Holy line of saints who came before and will come after and whom we will share the glory of God with one day. I am not connected to the current day and set of problems and malfunctioning personalities so much as I am to the long straight line of Sacred a Tradition, leading to Christ.

I will not be turned by any living man. I remain in the line. Eyes on Christ, with His Blessed Mother.

ArthurH said...

Thank you for that, Father. Could not agree more.

As one who 50 years ago walked out of the Church over priests "winking" at the use of the pill, employing all manner of Jesuit-Pharisaic casuistry to justify that error. I was way wrong to leave over that, though I was already on my way out anyway having drunk the Kool-Aid of the 60's zeitgeist. 30 years later I returned.

I was right to reject the priests' actions, wrong to leave, and that would not/will not happen again over the current "mess" in Catholicism that is worsening, even without Pope Francis's help. Should he disappear tomorrow,, we might get a little relief, but still be in big trouble for many decades, assuming we do not suffer a formal schism to acknowledge the informal one that already exists. If we do split.... we shall have the smaller, purer Church BXVI predicted in about 1969.

Luther was right in many of his criticisms of the Church; he was wrong to leave it instead of staying to fight to make it whole again. That's what I see as the responsibility of all who see PF as, if not an anti-Christ, at least not pro the One, Christ, the Church teaches is its Spouse.

If I were the last one left, no matter what happened, I could not leave it. You did well to delete one who suggests that is a way to deal with this crisis.

Unknown said...

I fear that the Holy Father understands this all too well and actually regards it as progress when people lose their faith in stuffy old doctrine in favour of a refreshing zeal for the ecology.

Karl J said...

"Such a contingent threat of Apostasy, if seriously meant, suggests to me that the writer is in a most dangerous spiritual state."

I agree with thisstatement you made, Father H.

But, I understand such pain, because I have lived with it for nearly 30 years and I am still being persecuted, knowingly and willfully by the Catholic Church, corporately and individually through all levels of the clergy, through the last three Pope. I could/would not hold to accountability, were God to ask me to judge such a response if it occurred as threatened. I simply, could not punish them for their pain. I do not believe that God would either. I would cry bitter tears for and with them, as I have for all these years.

God, please intervene. What is going on is beyond the pale. Have mercy on us, Lord.

A faithful abandoned husband and father

Unknown said...

I am utterly terrified Father. It seems that evil itself has entered the highest echelons of the hierarchy which - along with much of the clergy - cannot be trusted. As a father of soon to be seven I am laughed and scorned by most Catholics (nobody else has more than 3 kids around here), priests counsel sterilisation...and now there is a threat of change in doctrine. Of course they say it cannot happen but it will happen in all but on paper. Already contracepting couples march up to communion. Do they and the priestd not realise they will all go to hell unless they repent? I am sorry but I am beyond angry...I and countless others are betrayed, insulted and abandoned. Yes so was Our Lord...but now the Church is doing it. It's all well and good telling one to distinguish between the human and divine element of the church and pointing to past crises. However throughout living memory and for long before that the church has been a hierarchical, authority-driven institution and the Divinely-given teacher of truth. Now for the first time in probably centuries...and certainly in living memory...we must see the pope, most of the hierarchy and much of the clergy as the enemy. We cannot trust what comes from the Vatican or a fortiori the Bishops' Conferenced and chanceries. We used to speak of "religious submission of intellect and will" and "holy obedience" and "the living magisterium" and "he who hears you hears Me". Now that all seems so much tosh...other than in the most qualified and restricted since. Realising ones old approach is no longer valid or even safe is profoundly shaking. Any formal about face on doctrine would be the nail in the coffin. We must trust that it will not happen but it may be close...so close that the difference is in theory only. To paraphrase Evelyn Waugh...I will not, pray God, apostatise...but churchgoing is now a bitter trial. Thank God for my exceptional parish.

xsosdid said...

I think leaving the Church is giving the devil precisely what he wants. I say to HELL with that...

Ted said...

Thank you, Father. We must stay faithful to the Church. I think somehow that the deviations and apostasies of the past 50++ years are culminating under PF's reign, just as some prophetic words have suggested, that the infidelity would infect the Church right to its summit. God knows all about it. He is working His plan and will complete it, somehow, through the Virgin Mary. Stay faithful.

Thorfinn said...

Mr. Mitchell writes, "Now for the first time in probably centuries...and certainly in living memory...we must see the pope, most of the hierarchy and much of the clergy as the enemy."

While I sympathize with this emotion, I find it important, helpful, spiritually clarifying, to to distinguish between our Captain, our Enemy, and those shepherds we may consider not entirely trustworthy who may need more prayers than the average priest. Cardinal Sarah has warned about painting ourselves into a ghetto when in fact we have every right and duty to insist upon universal adherence to Scripture & Tradition (of course beginning with ourselves).

cogito said...

Thank you, Father H., for your clarity. I have been heading in the same direction as the author of your deleted comment ever since PF’s “breeding like rabbits” remark, a favorite insult from Catholic haters. Yet that was mild compared with an abundance of subsequent remarks uttered by this pope

And it gets worse every time he opens his mouth or issues an exhortation.

I will not leave the CC, thanks to your straight talk.

PaoloP said...

"But the person who has "walked out never to return" will have the gravest charge of all to answer."
I don't think so.

Woody said...

Dear Father, in line with the discussion in your original post and the comments that have followed, this article from Rod Dreher seems apposite. I note therein both the suggestion that PF is subtly laying the groundwork for a later Church conclusion that the current moral teaching is no longer binding, at least in the strict sense, and Cardinal Sarah’s implicit response in his very inspiring homily at Chartres, which seems to suggest that all of us who want to remain faithful to the faith of our fathers will have to focus on sanctity (and who would argue with that?) and maybe overlook the doctrinal problems. I hope that I may be forgiven if I confess, however, that the cynical lawyer in me asks: how is that approach different from what tradition minded Anglicans were, and are doing with respect to their doctrinal issues?

Woody said...

Link to the Dreher piece: http://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/the-popes-quiet-revolution/

pueblosw@gmail.com said...

Good write up and interesting comments. I have noted when discussing some lesser luminaries occupying the chair of St. Peter, that the worst of them seemed quite concerned with other matters and Church affairs were a minor sideline. This would appear a gift from Providence to safeguard the institution. I have noticed that many of the controversies today seem more political than religious. I suppose this is a result of the natural tendencies in the secular world bleeding over into the sacred and probably will be just as fleeting.