Wayward Clerics and the Catholic Laity — Unequally Yoked?

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by Dr. Alan Keyes  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  October 11, 2018   

Laity must stand apart from faithless priests

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Dr. Alan Keyes

Now we know the law is good, if anyone uses it lawfully, understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, immoral persons, sodomites, kidnappers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, in accordance with the glorious gospel of the blessed God. (1 Timothy 1:8–11)

As Catholics, we are supposed to believe that the inspired work of the first Apostles — after that day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit filled them — represents the Word of God in Christ. How, then, can it make sense to think that those acting against the law are followers of Christ? In the statement to Timothy quoted above, St. Paul clearly says otherwise. Lest anyone in our day misunderstand the importance of his words for us, we should especially take note of the fact that fornicators and practicing homosexuals are among the sinners he singles out as people whom the law exists to constrain.

A growing heap of evidence goes to prove that cardinals, archbishops and bishops — quite probably including the one who is now the bishop of Rome in St. Peter's stead — were and continue to be complicit in the cancer of sexual misconduct and abuse that has — apparently for decades — been metastasizing throughout the Church.  

All high clerics avow their calling to extend Christ's apostolate into new generations of dedicated religious preachers, teachers and living martyrs to Christ's gospel of salvation. This work especially involves members of Christ's body whose youthful faith — abiding in hope — impels them to attend seminaries where, being implanted in the light of Christ, they may grow, nourished in all things by His Holy Spirit. 


But in our time, much evidence suggests that too many of these still maturing disciples have instead been seduced into sinful, sacrilegious corruption. The false clerics who perpetrated or abetted this corruption are now pressing to discard the teachings whose ministry they betrayed. Yet if, as we profess to believe, St. Paul's writings accurately represent the mind of Christ, these false clerics have departed from right conduct (righteousness) according to God's rule. They no longer walk in the liberty wherewith Christ frees all who purpose to make God's will their will, disdaining other inclinations they still mistake to be their own. 

Wholly surrendered to Christ, clerics living out their vows cherish no identity above their identity in Christ. In Him, all else than God never was nor will be found alive. Those one in spirit with Christ are, like Christ, wholly subject to God, the being itself of righteousness and law. But those who withdraw themselves from that spiritual union, willingly proclaiming themselves to be subjects of sin, and reveling in that proclamation, are no longer subject to God in Christ, who is the way of truth and life. They are, rather, subject to sin, which, being the way of the unrighteous, leads to the utter extinction of their existence. Thus ends the first Psalm: "For God knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the unrighteous shall perish."

This has consequences for the Church. Saint Paul challenges us to guard against them with the famous imperative:

Do not become unequally yoked to those without faith. For what does justice share with lawlessness; what communion has light with darkness; or Christ-bearers with Belial, or the portion of faith with that of faithlessness?       

Pope Francis and other suspect clerics have falsely portrayed the Church's present travail as the consequence of clerical cliquishness. But if, as we are supposed to believe, St. Paul teaches Christ's truth, then those who strive to walk in the light of Christ, are called by their faith to eschew being bound to those who depart from it. 

Pope Francis and other suspect clerics have falsely portrayed the Church's present travail as the consequence of clerical cliquishness.

By our upbringing in respect of the Church's Magisterium, Catholics are also liable to respect cardinals, archbishops, bishops, priests and others avowed to live according to their identity with Christ Jesus. We are encouraged to consider them as our examples of faith. Their wholesome lives ought persistently to remind us of our communion with Christ. Are they not living enactments of the sacraments they administer, the signposts instituted by God to mark and enlighten the truthful way of life in Christ, nourished and sustained by His Holy Spirit?

But when they abandon their avowed vocation to enact or become complicit in, sin and unrighteousness, are we obliged to stand yoked their faithlessness and corruption? Or are we obliged, by faith and Christ's example, to stand apart from it, even if that means being raised to the standard of God in Christ crucified, on Calvary?

Dr. Alan Keyes served as Assistant Secretary of State for International Organizations under President Ronald Reagan, and ran for president in 1996, 2000 and 2008. He holds a Ph.D. in government from Harvard, and writes at his website Loyal to Liberty.

 

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