Over the years, John has frequently written about “sham unity“, where people in the Church, particularly clergy, feel the need to “gloss over” major dissentions or scandals among some of the brethren in order to avoid breaking the image of “unity”. As John has rightly pointed out, this is just a facade, a hypocrisy. The divisions are real, but many in the clergy refuse to address them. As any alcoholic or drug addict will tell you, the first and essential step towards a solution requires that you admit there’s a problem. Too many clergymen refuse to do so.
Breaking this false unity is an essential step. But don’t take my word for it. Listen to what St. Paul told the Corinthians in his First Letter.
The Corinthians were a problematic community for St. Paul. You’ll often find him criticizing them in the two epistles he wrote. In 1 Corinthians 11, St. Paul is reproaching the people about how they conduct their Eucharistic gatherings. Hmmm… That sounds familiar. How many times has this blog raised legitimate concerns about serious abuses at Mass? The Ted Kennedy funeral was just one example.
Let’s see how St. Paul handles the situation in Corinth:
But in the following instructions I do not commend you, because when you come together it is not for the better but for the worse. For, in the first place, when you assemble as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you; and I partly believe it, for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized. When you meet together, it is not the Lord’s supper that you eat. For in eating, each one goes ahead with his own meal, and one is hungry and another is drunk. What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I commend you in this? No, I will not. (1 Cor 11:17-22, RSV)
Wow! There must be factions among you. Why? Because they serve a purpose: “in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized.”
The New Jerusalem Bible, a different translation, gives an even stronger rendition of verse 18:
It is no bad thing, either, that there should be differing groups among you so that those who are to be trusted among you can be clearly recognised. (Source)
“It is no bad thing”. Au contraire. The divisions allows us to separate the faithful Catholics from the dissenters.
Folks, John isn’t making this stuff up. Problems in the Church have been going on for 2,000 years, but this generation has chosen not to deal with them, hence the runaway apostasy and dissent that is tearing the Church apart. Unity has become the new form of idolatry in the Catholic Church, something to be preserved at all costs, even the loss of souls.
We need the faithful clergy in this country to stand up and be counted, to speak up on key matters of Church teaching. They can start by cleaning up their own backyard at Development and Peace.
In the meantime, dear friends, don’t lose heart. Keep praying and working for the improvement of our Church.
For the LORD will not forsake his people;
he will not abandon his heritage;
for justice will return to the righteous,
and all the upright in heart will follow it. (Psalm 94:14-15)