The original statement can be found at http://futurechurch.org. However, we thought we’d help out by adding bracketed text to clarify what is really meant:
"FutureChurch is a national coalition of parish-based Catholics who seek the full participation of all baptized Catholics in the life of the Church [by being more fiercely clericalized than ever. Forget the entire world outside the sanctuary. The only thing that really matters is seizing power for ourselves!]. Inspired by [but not obedient to] Vatican II [and totally obedient to Vatican III, the Council of Our Imagination], FutureChurch recognizes that Eucharistic Celebration [the Mass] is the core of Roman Catholic worship and sacramental life [and therefore the objective to be captured and made our own in the worship of power and the celebration of ourselves]. FutureChurch advocates that this celebration be available universally and at least weekly to all baptized Catholics [and that the Eucharist and other sacraments be indiscriminately administered whether recipients are in mortal sin or not].
"To achieve these goals, FutureChurch advocates discussion of the ordination of all baptized persons who are called to priestly ministry by God and the people of God [because we don’t believe the magisterial office was instituted by Christ or has any right to bind the conscience of the faithful in matters of faith and morals]. FutureChurch works with an attitude of respect for the tradition of the Roman Catholic Church [except when it gets in the way of our postmodern dialectic, which decrees that everything is about power] and its current position on ordination [until we can destroy that position]. Through open [to leftists], prayerful, and enlightened [leftist] discussion and through dialogue with other Catholics [who agree with us] locally and globally, we seek to participate in formulating and expressing the Sensus Fidelium (the Spirit-inspired beliefs of the faithful) [as long as that includes voices only from about the last twenty years, in upper-middle-class North America and Europe] with respect to the Eucharist and ordained ministry.
"We want to hear from you [if you aren’t the Pope or any other educated Catholic before the late twentieth century]!"
"The Gospel of Jesus Christ is Simple but the Church made it so Complicated!"
It’s a common complaint among lazy laity. And it would make sense except for one little fact: Life is complicated. Take, for instance, this little headline from the Yahoo news web site: "Womb Transplants Possible in Three Years—Scientists."
Now, it would be swell if there was some verse of Scripture that explained the moral distinction between, say, a liver transplant and a womb transplant. But there’s not. How many Christians (including lay Catholics), so eager to insist that "Christianity is simple" will be willing to do the hard intellectual work necessary to have an intelligent response to the colossal challenges that are rushing at us from a biotechnological realm that is increasingly untethered from both natural law and supernatural revelation, even as it embraces more and more of the power to design what "human" will henceforth mean?
This, once again, is a sphere that—though it will certainly have to be faced by the Church’s shepherds—is still overwhelmingly lay. It is lay people who will ultimately be making the hands-on decisions that will invite the judgment or the blessing of God.
We Americans talk a good game about being a free people. However, the danger of democracy is that it ultimately depends on people like us. We want to take credit for all that’s good about our country (which is frequently a gift from our grandparents) yet pretend we are helpless to do anything about what’s bad about it. When the big issues have to be discussed, all of a sudden we’re victims, innocent bystanders, powerless. Sooner or later, our grandchildren—in whatever genetically modified semi-human forms they might take, will look at us and say, "Why didn’t you do anything? Why did you stand around moaning about how complicated it all is?"
Or they will praise us as we praise the WWII generation for acting to stop a great danger from destroying our humanity. But that choice is up to us, the lay people.
From Our Old Joke Department
Q: Do you believe in organized religion?
A: No. I’m a Catholic.
Catholic News Service carried a piece on June 27 called "Vatican visionaries: Holy See’s Web site overcomes humble beginnings" (www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/20030627.htm). Lovers of the Catholic Church will enjoy the following exchange:
"‘Are we already on the Internet?’ the pope asked, according to [papal spokesman Joaquin] Navarro-Valls in a late-June interview with Catholic News Service.
"‘No, we’re not. Not yet,’ the spokesman said he replied.
"‘Well, who has to give the go-ahead?’
"‘Holy Father, you’ve got to give it,’ Navarro-Valls said he replied with a laugh.
"‘Then do it immediately,’ the pope said."
If Rome has this much trouble figuring out how to build a web site (heck! I was able to build mine after one phone conversation with a friend!), then it’s (literally) a miracle that the old girl is able to administer the Church at all!
People really need to get past the idea that Rome is some all-tentacled administrative omniscience. It’s a remarkably small, remarkably capable, and remarkably slow bureaucracy that works wonders with its astoundingly limited resources but is still held together by spit, chicken wire, and the grace of God. The whole thing would collapse in a fortnight, as Hilaire Belloc observed, if God were not keeping it going. Treasures in jars of clay indeed.
Latest Winner of the Sir Richard Rich Award
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch did a profile this fall on Dick Gephardt, another formerly pro-life Democrat who performed a conscience-ectomy on himself in order to bow before the altar of power:
"Gephardt entered Congress as a passionate opponent of abortion, taking to the House floor shortly after moving into his office in 1977 to declare support for a Right to Life amendment to the Constitution. ‘Life is the division of human cells, a process that begins at conception,’ he asserted. By that spring, he had become a sponsor of legislation to ban spending federal funds on most abortions.
"But in 1986, he met in St. Louis with Loretta Wagner and leaders of Missouri Citizens for Life to tell them he was defecting from their movement. Wagner recalls, ‘When the meeting was over, there was nothing more to talk about with him. Ever again. It was sad for him and it was sad for us, and everybody had tears in their eyes.’ . . .
"Explaining his earlier change in a speech to the National Abortion Rights Action League in January, Gephardt asserted that his ‘eyes were opened’ on the abortion issue. ‘On any issue of conscience, every American must travel their own personal journey and reach their own certainty. At the beginning of my journey in public service, I didn’t yet realize the full consequences of my beliefs,’ Gephardt told 1,500 activists gathered to celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of the Supreme Court decision affirming the establishment of abortion rights under the Constitution."
Christ and Common Sense
People sometimes get the notion that Christ’s teachings are true "spiritually" (by which they mean in some vague Pickwickian sense cut off from all real life). Actually, Christ’s teachings are simply true and reflect what life in the real world of dirty dishes and bills is actually like.
Exhibit A: Former MSNBC talk-show host Michael Savage. Savage was fired shortly after launching his TV talk show when, according to the July 9, 2003, issue of the New York Post, he "told a caller to his cable TV show that he was a ‘sodomite’ who should ‘get AIDS and die.’" The appropriately named Savage later "explained" that he did not know that he was on the air.
Wishing for someone’s death is, from a Catholic perspective, inadvisable even if you are off the air, since God’s microphone is always on. Or, as Jesus said, "I tell you, on the day of judgment men will render account for every careless word they utter; for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned" (Matt. 12:36–37).
Trying to Fill the Hole with Something Like Catholic Faith
G. K. Chesterton famously observed that when you stop believing in God, you don’t believe in nothing; you believe in anything. Similarly, in the absence of the Catholic Church, you get (before Christ) things that anticipate it or (after Christ) things that are a cheap imitation of it. For instance, Ebay is the modern world’s unwitting testament to the Catholic theology of relics. People who laugh over "primitive" medievals and their interest in the true cross will lay down big bucks to own a pair of John Lennon’s shoelaces.
Likewise, what is Oprah but a sort of video testament of the need of the human soul for a mother? What have all the tyrants of the twentieth century been but great signs pointing to the demand of the human soul for a savior? UFOs, ETs, and aliens fill the hole left by a loss of a sense of the supernatural and angels, devils, and so forth. An abhorrence of fasting is replaced by a fascination with diets. A horror of spiritual discipline and penance is succeeded by manias for rigorous and punishing exercise. Evangelicals frequently eschew infant baptism but then have "dedications." Likewise, they reject Sacred Tradition and then appeal to "historical Christianity." Prayer is childish and primitive, but "good thoughts" are enlightened and can even (allegedly) change reality. Pilgrimages to holy places are for saps and suckers but unbelievably expensive tour groups to Wall Drug, or the World’s Largest Egg, or America’s Biggest Ball of Twine are just ducky. Eternal life is for idiots, but having your corpse frozen for later revivification is "scientific." Getting drunk and/or committing fornication replace confirmation as coming-of-age rituals. "Experts" are ordained by the media to lead us in matters temporal and spiritual, instead of priests. Fat, rather than sin, is sinful. (Juliette Binoche, star of the anti-Catholic film Chocolat—which tried to portray the Church as the enemy of the pleasures of the senses—didn’t eat any chocolate on the set. Her greatest fear was of flab, not sin.)
We mention this because, even in small things, the Church keeps getting unwitting compliments from imitators who do not realize that they are engaging in the sincerest form of flattery. To wit, this piece from Reuters (www.reuters.com/newsArticle.jhtml?type=ourWorldNews&storyID=3079020):
"Godly Court Tackles Human Foibles in New York: They presented evidence against each other, then they prayed together, then the Bible-wise elders handed down judgment. The fledgling Christian Elder Dispositions Arbitrations and Reconciliation Court, known as CEDAR, in Albany is no ordinary court. It aims to help Christians resolve their problems among themselves, and in this court it’s Jesus, not the judge, who is the ultimate authority. And, once judgment is passed, everybody hugs and agrees to forgive and forget. Recently the court tackled its first case. Upstate New York contractor Richard Paulsen had battled for two years with an unhappy customer who complained about the work on his house. Back and forth they went. The homeowner wanted $10,000 for the incomplete work. The contractor demanded $3,000 because the homeowner was complaining to neighbors about what a poor job he did. Then God—or at least CEDAR—stepped in.
"‘I got tired of seeing Christians beating up themselves in regular courts,’ said founder James Bruner, who is an Albany attorney, vice chancellor for the Albany Episcopal diocese and mediator for the court in the event of a deadlock."
Who would have thought that even canon law would get a pale imitation in the absence of the real thing?