Already we see its beginnings in bakers being fined and sued out of business, government administrators ordering Christians to “cease and desist” from promoting their discriminatory religious views, and calls for county clerks and judges to be fired, jailed, and impeached for refusing to participate in gay weddings. This is all just in the last two weeks. We understand that it will get worse from here.
Religious institutions that teach the truth about marriage will find their tax exemptions under attack and revoked. Catholic colleges will find grants unavailable. Catholic students will find themselves unable to secure federally-back student loans to attend faithful Catholic colleges. So many of these institutions are so dependent upon federal money, having long ago chosen mammon over God, they will gladly capitulate to their new masters. Churches may find construction permitting in certain cities difficult or impossible.
The list goes on and on. In any way that the mob or government can harass or destroy those brave Christians who refuse to bend, they will. I fully expect that in the next years Christians will go to jail for nothing more than their beliefs lived in a public way. This is coming. This has been the real goal all along, not marriage equality for the less than 1% of the population.
In some ways, we expect this type of persecution when we choose to follow Christ and take up our crosses. What some faithful Catholics may not expect is the possible coming persecution of faithful Catholics at the hands of their own Church, simply for believing and acting as all genuine Christians must believe and act.
It is impossible to know for sure what will come of this October’s closing of the Synod on the Family. What is possible to know is what many of the leaders and promoters of this synod desire to happen and are dedicated to see that it does.
I want you to remember that we hardly ever hear of the divorced and remarried being denied communion. So like gay marriage, the ultimate goal is not the sacrilege itself, but something else. What that will look like is anybody’s guess, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised at the following scenario or others similar to it.
The synod documents might make a basic statement about the indissolubility of marriage with no specific mention of the divorced and remarried receiving communion, knowing that anything other than this is impossible now. But the documents might also contain the now boilerplate calls for pastoral consideration. In conclusion, either the synod itself or perhaps the Pope himself in a following document may make a request for local Bishops’ conferences to explore ways for the divorced and remarried to be better integrated into parish life.
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With those vague statements giving plausible deniability to the hierarchy, several Bishops’ conferences starting with Germany will issue norms allowing the divorced and remarried to receive communion after confession or some such other nonsense, which they are already likely allowing.
And the Church will do nothing. And then the practice will spread like wildfire. Think Communion in the hand. With the barn door left open, the horses are gone.
After the practice has spread globally, the Vatican will issue some weak statements about avoiding potential abuses, but essentially allowing the practice. That is when the real misery begins.
After the majority of Episcopal Conferences adopt the practice, we will begin to see persecution of those few bishops and priests that refuse to go along; which, in fact, was always the goal.
A bishop, who refuses to accept the unacceptable in a country where the practice is adopted, will find himself ostracized. Perhaps he will be the subject of complaints from fellow bishops or letter campaigns from some minority of his own priests complaining about his excessive rigidity and general lack of pastoral sensibilities. Perhaps then he will be the subject of an Apostolic Visitation to investigate these serious allegations. Then six months later, he is gone and without a word about Communion for the divorced and remarried ever being mentioned.
Faithful priests in unfaithful dioceses will not even have the courtesy of that dog and pony show. They’ll be placed on the eternal sabbatical for the crime of “unpastoralness.” Their pleas for help and justice will fall on deaf ears.
Faithful Catholics will have nowhere to turn. Persecuted by society, government, and even their own Church for simply refusing to accept what cannot be accepted.
So what then? How should faithful Catholics respond? Should we be rebels or martyrs?
Rebels or martyrs? That is the question. For my part, I think the answer depends on the persecutor.
When it comes to societal and governmental persecution, we need to be rebellious. We need to push back in every way possible. We need to march and protest. We need to refuse accommodation to the zeitgeist. We need to pick fights over these matters whenever and wherever we can. When the government and its officials abuse their limited authority, we need to swarm on them like bees, putting the fear of a God they ignore into their petty little hearts. We must use civil disobedience aggressively as appropriate.
With the Church, I think a different approach is required. I believe we need martyrs. Priests and Bishops must refuse to go along with these nefarious changes. But they should not just run off and join sympathetic groups that will uphold the faith in its entirety. The history of the SSPX has shown us that such groups can be easily ostracized, demonized, and ignored by the hierarchy and faithful Catholics. Faithful Bishops and priests must stay where they are and accept their unjust punishments as martyrs. Don’t give them the easy out. Make them lie about you, unjustly criticize you, denigrate you, and remove you in total obedience. Make them do it so many times, with the laity reporting and commenting on every instance, that many will begin to see them as the un-Christian apostates that they are. We need to publicly organize, pray, and fast for the Church. This will not last and when the Church is restored, so then will society and its governments be restored.
Without doubt, we are for now at the mercy of anti-Christian forces, both outside and inside the Church. Some aspects of this persecution will undoubtedly be difficult to take. But this is what we signed up for when we picked up the cross of our salvation. ■