In order to survive: turn back to Christ
There is a very good piece in The Catholic Thing today by Fr. Timothy V. Vaverek. It is prompted by the ongoing discussions regarding eucharistic coherence. Despite the fact this topic is what continues motivates these discussions I cannot help but feel that they have much wider import and relevance not just for the Church in the USA but for the universal Church. It has brought up many issues and revealed a great many problems which I think are clearly the key issues we face. We see these issues identified again and again and again and they are very simple to identify.
The tension occurs between those who have shrugged off the prevailing covering of social Catholicism and actually found out what the Catholic faith has always taught, and those who —often for valid reasons, constantly seek to dissent from the Apostolic faith. This may be because they harbour doubts about particular elements of Church teaching, it might be that they are deeply embedded in a cycle of personal sin which they cannot reconcile. It might simply be ignorance.
Fr. Vaverek puts it like this:
...the faithful have for more than fifty years received openly contradictory presentations of “the teachings of the apostles” without pastoral correction from the bishops. This is true of preaching, spiritual guidance, catechesis, Catholic education, marital preparation, and seminary formation.This is now the norm. Catholics who believe what the Church still teaches are hugely in the minority. And we can easily understand why, as Fr. Vaverek continues: "the seminarians trained by dissident theologians beginning in the 1960s are now bishops and senior priests. During the intervening decades, they and their progeny often ran the seminaries, staffed diocesan pastoral centers, and held tenured positions at Catholic universities. Under their “guidance,” we are now into the third or fourth generation of Catholics who have little awareness of authentic Christian faith and morals.
Seminarians and priests opposed to the dissent learned early on to accommodate themselves to the situation and to avoid “rocking the boat.” During the years of John Paul II and Benedict XVI, there was a “Cold War” or “Frozen Conflict” in which contradictory versions of the Gospel existed side-by-side within the Church."
I think it is still considered that the ability to manage this dichotomy (i.e., “to keep the peace”) is considered crucial in candidates for senior leadership in the Church. It comes from the fact that present leaders are malformed and those genuinely called with a true vocation learned to keep quiet or get kicked out. Those who want to advance laud the status quo and misrepresent it as success, even as they plan for decline. Any perfunctory survey of our own Cardinal Vincent Nichols formation and background demonstrates the stark truth of this reality.
Pastoral Incoherence is an existential threat, not to the Catholic Church, which will survive somehow and somewhere until Jesus returns, but to every particular Catholic, parish, and diocese in the world. As we have repeatedly seen, it won’t spare even the hallowed halls of the Vatican (although the Successors of Peter, worthy and unworthy, continue).
If the Church...is to enjoy Eucharistic Coherence and to flourish, we must return, under the authentic guidance of the bishops, to “the teachings of the Apostles and the common life.” The reason is simple: without the Apostolic Gospel, we have no communion in the life of Christ and his Church."