In many ways, the turmoil currently engulfing the Catholic Church is a mirror for the cultural war occurring in the United States. In both scenarios, liberals and conservatives are fighting tooth and nail for the future of their institutions. When it comes to the U.S., this has become a fight between Christians and the LGBT movement, Republicans and Democrats, patriots and the president. When it comes to the Catholic Church, it stands as conservative members of the hierarchy against a pope with very liberal ideas about the direction of the church.
According to a new article in the Washington Post, this division may be coming to a head very soon. The Post quotes Cardinal Raymond Burke, who believes that Pope Francis is dangerously close to exceeding his papal authority. “One must be very attentive regarding the power of the pope,” he told a French news crew earlier this year. “The pope does not have the power to change teaching or doctrine.”
Francis has yet to propose major changes to that doctrine, but his speeches have been dripping with some of the most liberal viewpoints ever seen from the Vatican. He has advocated for climate change policy, he has encouraged forgiveness for abortion, and he has called on every Catholic parish in Europe to take in at least one Syrian refugee family.
“We have a serious issue right now, a very alarming situation where Catholic priests and bishops are saying and doing things that are against what the church teaches, talking about same-sex unions, about Communion for those who are living in adultery,” an anonymous church official told the paper. “And yet the pope does nothing to silence them. So the inference is that this is what the pope wants.”
Francis has reignited excitement among Catholic youth, but conservatives wonder at the price the church is paying for this newfound popularity. Does it matter if church attendance is up if the church no longer stands for a set of inflexible principles?
The American Parallel
In the United States, the same war is dividing Americans. And as we head into the 2016 presidential election, it is incumbent on all of us to ask those central questions. What do we stand for as a country? What are our principles? What are our beliefs?
Without these rock-solid stances of ideology, we cannot move forward. We are subject to whatever the whims are of the time. And as we’ve seen over the past year, those whims are indeed bizarre. Without a central set of beliefs, we pursue any path that comes along. Oh, look, this path leads to a transgender revolution! Oh, hey, down this path is a crusade against the Confederate flag! And look, just up ahead…socialized medicine! How wonderful.
We are adrift, blowing wherever the winds of liberalism take us. Until we anchor ourselves to something stronger than ourselves, we will inevitably find ourselves blown to kingdom come.