Abortion, Baptism, Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, Confession, Contraception, Fasting, Galileo, Geocentrism, Heliocentrism, Homosexuality, Indulgences, Infallibility of the Pope, Limbo, Mother Church, Original Sin, Purgatory, Real Presence in the Eucharist, Remarriage after Divorce, Same-sex marriage, Stem-cell Research, Wikipedia
There are already, to date, 470 posts on this Blog, with 16,245 views and 5,499 visitors. I may take the foot off the accelerator for a while, until I get over the gout that makes even driving a challenge. Doesn’t stop me thinking, though, so I let my fingers do the talking. But I’ve probably given you enough to mull over for the nonce. So, today, dear Brethren, the subject is Changes in the Church. It could have been Much Binding in the Marsh, but you’re all too young to remember that BBC radio classic.
The Church has changed more than most realize. We tend to forget the readiness to question traditional thinking and practice expressed in Vatican 2, but more significantly in the sea-change that was the admission that Galileo was right, that geocentrism was contradicted by the scientific evidence of heliocentrism, thereby denying a belief the Church had imposed for 1600 years. It took the Church half a millennium to admit that it was wrong. A pity about all those people it had burned at the stake for daring to say the same thing, that the Earth rotates around the Sun and not vice-versa.
The Church has changed other beliefs, rules and rituals, most of them, like geocentrism, very recently. This Blog has no pretension of competing with Wikipedia, so I will content myself with just a few examples. Protestants have always admitted the existence of Heaven and Hell. Catholics had added Purgatory and, in a burst of gruesome godology and lunatic logic, Limbo. Such a “place” HAD to exist. Babies who die without Baptism, which would have cleansed them of “Original Sin”, could not, of course, be admitted into Heaven; nor, totally innocent, did they deserve either Hell or Purgatory. Q.E.D. No one believes in Limbo now.
Among the rules and rituals recently abandoned or modified, we have the laws of fasting, both in Lent and before Holy Communion, and the practice of Confession and the rite of Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament (where have all the monstrances gone ?). Such modifications hardly merit mentioning, but changes in belief concerning abortion (none, as yet), contraception (unofficially at least, condoned), homosexuality, remarriage after divorce, same-sex marriage and stem-cell research – to mention the most controversial – would be far more significant. But at present it is unthinkable that Rome would decree that Protestants were right about Indulgences, the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist or the Infallibility of the Pope. These would not be sea-changes but tsunamis.
My question goes beyond all this. Atheists would like non-atheists to abandon ALL their beliefs, superstitions and illusions. But if the Church were to accept all the even mild modifications to doctrine that “liberal” Catholics have been advocating for decades – without, of course, questioning essential doctrines like the Eucharist and the existence of God (!) – traditional Catholics would be appalled and tempted to create a schism, while the Liberals would have made the Church more attractive to BOTBs. I, for one, would not welcome such a reform in Catholic doctrine. Cosmetic changes in dogma could never satisfy me. The whole ball of wax is nonsense. No point in giving Mother Church a face-life when she deserves matricide.