In a recent interview on the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN) Cardinal George of Chicago stated; "The conference [of bishops] isn't suppose to engage the politics of a country directly. It's suppose to give rules so that the lay people can engage their president, their congressman, their mayor. The bishops don't elect people...They are elected by lay people and if the world is a mess it's the lay people's fault because it's their business to rule the world. It's our business to govern the church. Their business is to rule the world. It's very easy for Catholics to write to their bishops and say 'Why don't you do this?' and I write back all the time and say 'Why don't you do it?' because after all it's you job and it's not my job." The Cardinal's statement indicates the reason why the church is presently paralysed to effect moral change in society.
To a certain extent the Cardinal is right. The laity are called to live a life of holiness while working within the world to transform it. So in a certain sense one can say it is the laity's responsibility to ensure the world does not become corrupt. However, the Cardinal fails to mention that, since Vatican II, the bishops have not governed the church as they should have due to their own house being divided. This division within the ranks of the Episcopate has lead to a division within the ranks of the laity. Roughly only half of all Catholics today stand behind the Pope and the orthodox teachings of the Church's Magisterium. This is why the laity have only minimally been able to influence society. So the underlying fault for the way in which we find the world today lies with our bishops. Of course the bishops will never admit that they are divided or that they are in any way to blame for the world's situation and this in turn makes it doubly difficult for the laity to effectively wage a positive war against modernity. As long as the bishops keep up their facade they will not be able to govern the church and the world will continue its descent into spiritual darkness.
Sadly, after Vatican II, numerous bishops quietly recruited modernist theologians in an attempt to adapt church teachings to modern times. Thanks to a series of strong Popes, however, they have failed miserably. Nonetheless, they have succeeded in sowing mass confusion in regards to the ever changing New Mass – the summit towards which the Church's action tends and at the same time the source from which comes all her strength – and have allowed dissenting teachers and theologians to control and ultimately to compromise the Catholic identity of our Catholic schools and seminaries.
As a result many of the laity and most of our catholic politicians today publically oppose church teaching on almost all the major moral issues including abortion, contraception, homosexuality, and embryonic stem cell research. And if they took a lie detector test they would no doubt pass it if they answered "yes" to the question "Are you a devout Catholic?" Do Our bishops govern these wayward Catholics the way they should by, for example, withholding from them Holy Communion? No! On the contrary they are given places of high honour at funerals and even at papal Masses.
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI tried to rectify this by investigating our Catholic seminaries and religious orders and by bringing back into prominence the more reverent and more sacred Latin Mass. He has also demanded that all his Novus Ordo communicant more piously receive Holy Communion kneeling and on the tongue according to official Church norms.
But do any of our bishops dare to follow his lead? Few, if any. Almost all our Catholic bishops have adamantly refused this latter papal gesture. Not only will they not encourage any of their priests to learn the Latin Mass but they even go to great lengths to quell it. Many of our bishops, priest and religious have also been highly critical of the Vatican's recent internal investigations of U.S. nuns as if they were part of an inquisition ordered by an archaic and meddlesome pope.
Just as the secular world has consciously cut off its own historical and religious roots leaving itself without orientation, so the Catholic Church finds itself, in the throes of modernism, in a similar situation. There needs to be an energetic counter-cultural movement on the part of all priests and bishops acting in unison with the new successor to Peter if both Church and Society are to survive the negative influences of secularism, technology, science and materialism in the Third Millennium.
Happily, there are signs in our younger priests that an energetic counter-cultural movement is already taking place. The horizon looks bright. These new priests, inspired with holiness and glowing with a more profound sense of the sacred will, in unison with the Successor of Peter, help to usher in a new springtime for the church. When they do the laity will be unfettered in their sacred mission to spread the gospel message to all corners of the world.
Mr. Paul Kokoski holds a BA in philosophy from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. His articles have been published in several newspapers and journals including, Homiletic and Pastoral Review, New Oxford Review, and The Toronto Star.