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ROME (ChurchMilitant.com) - Cardinal Raymond Burke is confirming that the Church is in Her greatest crisis ever, and martyrdom of the laity is now necessary. Last week in the Eternal City, the chaplain to the Knights of Malta and former prefect of the Apostolic Signatura made these remarks during a talk titled "Martyrdom for the Faith in Our Times."
Quoting Servant of God Father John Hardon, S.J., the cardinal said,
Catholicism is in the throes of the worst crisis in its entire history. Unless true and loyal Catholics have the zeal and the spirit of the early Christians, unless they are willing to do what they did and to pay the price that they paid, the days of America are numbered.
He added that this applies to all nations today because of the "secularization which has also entered into the Church."
The talk was sponsored by Voice of the Family, a group of devoted Catholics who foster pro-family morals. Cardinal Burke acknowledged the fierce battle over family today involves Catholics "who live their faith with complete integrity, also in the face of loneliness, ridicule, persecution and even death."
Of particular concern to the cardinal was the erroneous "mundane" view of marriage that "professes faith in the indissolubility of marriage" but at the same time "admits to the sacraments those who publicly live in violation of the indissolubility of marriage."
Burke affirmed that if "a person who is living publicly in violation of his or her marriage bond" is admitted to Holy Communion, "then either marriage is not indissoluble or the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist is not the Body of Christ, and the encounter with Christ in the Sacrament of Penance does not require the firm purpose of amendment of our lives."
His Eminence affirmed that the marriage is not simply an ideal to which we merely conform. He also remarked that there is no real opposition between "reason and faith," "doctrine and pastoral practice," "law and love," or "justice and mercy."
Calling out those in the Church who misrepresent Her teachings, Cdl Burke related, "Fundamental to understanding the radical secularization of our culture is to understand also how much this secularization has entered into the life of the Church Herself."
The cardinal also sees the need for Catholics to learn and know the Faith.
Father Hardon knew that the necessary strong Catholic witness depends essentially upon the right understanding of the Faith and its demands provided by sound catechesis. He saw how decades of a thin and even false catechesis had created a situation in which many Catholics ... were left in confusion and error regarding the most fundamental tenets of the Catholic faith and of the moral law.
Cardinal Burke went on to say this lack of catechesis caused a loss of faith in the Real Presence, which has resulted in a severe drop in Sunday Mass attendance. It also shows itself in many Catholics being confused about the moral law, which further results in the virtual abandonment of the sacrament of penance.
Besides learning their faith, the cardinal sees the second response of the laity as witnessing to their faith by the way they live their lives. The "preeminent form" of martyrdom as per Fr. Hardon, Cdl. Burke reiterated, is the "witness of catechesis in the home, while travelling, at work, doing business, exercising a profession, in whatever arena of human endeavor a Catholic is involved."
Speaking to those concerned about present confusion in the Church, Cdl. Burke proclaimed,
I urge them to deepen their understanding of the constant teaching and discipline of the Church and to make their voices heard, so that the shepherds of the flock may understand the urgent need to announce again with clarity and courage the truths of the Faith and to apply again with charity and firmness the discipline needed to safeguard the same truths.
Burke identified the fact that the suffering of the faithful "is greatly increased by the betrayal of the truth by those who claim to follow Christ and to be members of His Church, even bishops, priests and consecrated religious."
He also identified three forms of martyrdom — namely the martyrdom of blood, of persecution and of witness. The martyrdom of witness being the most common, Burke noted that it was found in those who were firm believers "in the Church's teaching authority: the devoted servant of the papacy; the convinced pastor who insists on sound doctrine to his flock; the dedicated religious who want to remain faithful to their vows."
As for the martyrdom of persecution, he commented,
A totally secularized government makes legal and even promotes the most grievous violations of the moral law, for example, procured abortion, euthanasia, so-called "same-sex marriage," human cloning and the wholesale destruction of human embryos for the sake of research, and now is trying to force Catholics and other persons of good will to cooperate formally in evil acts to the total violation of their conscience.
Cardinal Burke commented that this type of martyrdom may require from us government harassment, imprisonment, a loss of goods, and even a "loss of tax exemption, with its disastrous effects on many apostolates of the Church, which may be the necessary result of holding true to our faith and the moral law."
His Eminence closed his talk expressing his "deep appreciation for the martyrdom which so many of you embrace" for the sake of the family. "We embrace indifference, ridicule, rejection, and other forms of persecution," he affirmed, "because we love Our Lord and all our brothers and sisters in Him, in His holy Church."