Inventing a new church

By: Modesto P. Sa-onoy

THESE are difficult times in the history of the Universal Church with many critical issues flying from one end of the globe to another. The Church in the Western World and parts of Asia is undergoing a lot of suffering as the fundamental doctrines of the Church are being manipulated from within.

Recent reports say that the infiltration of the Church had been going on for decades and had changed many ancient traditions that included revisions in the liturgy, poor training of priests, misleading views on marriage and sexual relationships, adoption of subjects and missions that are proper to the secular world, etc. I have written some of these “modernizations” that have scandalized many Catholics and had led to erosions of faith.

Indeed there are priests who want to modernize and even divert our focus towards purely mundane concerns. While we cannot escape from taking part in the affairs of the world, these concerns and activities should not take the attention and energy of our clergy from their primary responsibility to save souls.

Sadly some are devoted to earthly matters to the detriment of the fundamentals as catechesis and taking on ecumenism and openness that lead to the sin of indifferentism. This is a sin that teaches that all religions are the same and that regardless of their beliefs people go to heaven just the same if they lived good lives. In such a case, how many churches did Christ establish? Surely not all are the same.

Let’s take a brief catechesis on this heresy. This is the belief held by people that no one religion or philosophy is superior to another. The Catholic Church ascribes indifferentism to many atheistic, materialistic, pantheistic, and agnostic philosophies. Simply speaking, indifferentism means all religious beliefs are the same and thus the believer rejects the Catholic doctrine that she is the only church founded by Christ.

Archbishop Georg Ganswein, former secretary of Pope Benedict XVI and Prefect of the Papal Household, ordained last April four new priests at the Stift Heiligenkreuz monastery in Austria. He spoke of the duty of the priest to remain loyal to the “truth of the Gospels” and rebuked those within the Church who wish to “invent a new Church.”

He added that those who wish “to invent a new Church and who want to tinker with the so-called DNA (of the Church), is on the wrong track and abuses their spiritual authority. The ‘holy task’ is not to draw attention to oneself, not to invent anything new in order to save the Church, but to rely on Jesus Christ Himself, something which calls for humility, but not less courage.”

While most clergymen do not show an obvious “wish to invent a new Church” there are others who fall in step with the teachings of indifferentism and “tinkering with the DNA of the Church” to suit the convenience of personal, social and political agenda.

“The priests”, the archbishop Gänswein told the candidates, “should have an awareness that they ‘are being sent,’ and here they may speak much bolder than when they speak in their own name. They did not invent the Gospels and at the same time – while remaining in humility – the priests should also be aware that “you have a dignity which distinguishes you from all those who are not priests. But you did not acquire that dignity by yourselves.”  It is important, he added, to have courage and humility and “only to do that which is to be done and said in the name of Jesus Christ.”

Archbishop Gänswein reminded the congregation that a priest is not an “office holder,” who fulfills certain “functions in society” rather he “does something that no man can do – give absolution for our sins in the name of Jesus Christ and speaks over the gifts of bread and wine the words of trans-substantiation”.

These are doctrinal truths the priest cannot reinvent. While a priest is basically a liturgist, there are rules that govern the liturgy. The fundamentals of faith cannot be reinvented without becoming a heretic.

Thus the priest who dabbles in the “new” styles to gain attention at the expense of the doctrines of the faith is drawing the innocent faithful away from the Church, neglecting his apostleship. Protestant and schismatic churches are so-called because they were established by those who invented their own faith.