"It is...Our will that Catholics should abstain from certain appellations which have recently been brought into use to distinguish one group of Catholics from another. They are to be avoided not only as 'profane novelties of words,' out of harmony with both truth and justice, but also because they give rise to great trouble and confusion among Catholics. Such is the nature of Catholicism that it does not admit of more or less, but must be held as a whole or as a whole rejected: 'This is the Catholic faith, which unless a man believe faithfully and firmly; he cannot be saved' (Athanasian Creed). There is no need of adding any qualifying terms to the profession of Catholicism: it is quite enough for each one to proclaim 'Christian is my name and Catholic my surname,' only let him endeavour to be in reality what he calls himself." -- Pope Benedict XV, Ad Beatissimi Apostolorum 24 (1914)

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Hypocrites and Heretics

February 17, 2013 By Fr. Dwight Longenecker

I’d rather be a hypocrite than a heretic. A hypocrite is a person who knows the truth and believes the truth, but doesn’t live by it. People and complained about bad popes, and some of them were real stinkers, but they were hypocrites not heretics.

A hypocrite knows the truth but fails to live by it. A heretic changes the truth according to how he lives. Bad popes were hypocrites not heretics because the may have fornicated and murdered and stolen, but they never taught that fornication, murder and theft were good. That’s what a heretic would do.

A hypocrite may sleep with another man’s wife, but he knows it is wrong. A heretic sleeps with another man’s wife and says, “It is necessary for the church to be welcoming to those who have experienced difficulties and pain in keeping their marriage bond.” A hypocrite may experience same sex attraction and have sexual relations with another man, but he then goes to confession and realizes that what he is done is wrong. A heretic says, “The church needs to be more up to date in her understanding of human sexuality.” A hypocrite never gives money to the poor, hoards all his wealth, and plots to get as rich as he can, but when he looks in the mirror and in the bank account he has a twinge of guilt and knows he is a greedy man and a hypocrite. The heretic says, “God has blessed me! I must be wonderful.”

The hypocrite has a chance of repentance for he still knows that what he has done is wrong. The heretic condones his sin, calls evil good and good evil and prides himself on his brave and daring decision. The heretic challenges the church’s teaching. The hypocrite is challenged by the church’s teachings. The hypocrite follows the pope’s teachings even when he fails to follow the pope’s teachings whereas the heretic never follows the pope’s teaching while pretending that he does follow the pope’s teachings.

A politician who says he is a devout Catholic but is in favor of same sex marriage is a heretic, not a hypocrite. As such he is far more beyond reconciliation and redemption than the devout Catholic who upholds church teachings, but gets caught with his pants down. The hypocrite is some h0w more lovable than the heretic because, if he has any self awareness at all, he knows he is a hypocrite and has failed to observe the teachings in which he believes. The heretic is an odious, rebellious and proud character–full of his own ideas and ready to re-write the faith of our Fathers for his own benefit.

May I conclude this rant by saying I prefer the hypocrites to the heretics because I am one myself. I hold completely and fully to the teachings of Holy Mother Church. I have no other truth to teach but the truth of the Catholic Faith. I have no opinions. I have only the teaching of the Church. However, I fail to live up to those teachings so I am a hypocrite.

However, I am not a heretic, and on this humble claim I hope for some simple service to my Lord and his church and I hope, by the faith of the church which I will never renounce, that I may by God’s grace and the blood of the Savior to one day know my soul’s salvation.

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