The Maltese Church once defied secularisation. Now its bishops have surrendered
The crisis in the Church has drawn William Oddie out of retirement. He has written an excellent appraisal of the crisis in the Church presided over by Pope Francis and makes this very pertinent observation among many:
"The issue was secularisation. The Maltese Church was tooth and nail opposed to it. Now, its two bishops have not only surrendered to it, but have declared themselves its willing collaborators. Divorced-and-remarried Catholics who are living as if they were married – who in other words are engaging in what the Catechism of the Catholic Church calls “public and permanent adultery” (CCC 2384) – “cannot”, the Maltese bishops declare, “be precluded from participating in … the Eucharist”. This simply contradicts the unbroken and unanimous teaching barring such Catholics from reception of Holy Communion. The bishops have in effect declared that the Church has all along been wrong and the secular culture right."Read the whole thing here.
One of the most obvious results of this Pontificate I experience is the way that it has pitched Catholic friends against each other. Those who once agreed and shared their faith now are at odds, arguing about whether the Pope is pushing the Church into crisis, or whether he is a great leader (to be honest, not too many are saying the latter as far as I can make out).
This division at the most microcosmic level of the Church is a sure sign of the division and confusion sowed by the Pontificate.
Some are prepared to compromise almost everything about the faith in order to follow the Pope's direction: to accommodate those who adhere more to the secular narrative than to the transforming power of Christ. They assume that a more welcoming, open Church will attract more people perhaps? Those who feel excluded by 'hard teachings' will come flooding back?
The trouble is that this has never worked ever in the history of anything for anything. People will simply say that the Church is less relevant and has less authority on moral issues because it says that moral issues don't matter really. All this talk of careful discernment is nonsense in reality, because all that will happen is people will "carefully discern" that God's will for them is to do just what they want to do!
And that is what makes me so sad. What Pope Francis is really doing here is eroding the authority of the Church to speak on moral issues and placing the power in individual conscience. It is secularisation and relativism and not what Christ called us to do.