by Richard Bennett
While the USA is entangled in Catholic sex abuse scandals, similar events have despoiled families in other nations.
Many Catholics are quite irate concerning child abuse by their priests and call for the removal of corrupt bishops, reform, redress and compensation. Of the groups that are forming4, one of these demands that “corrupt Bishops must go!”5 While Catholics call for the exposure of the facts, the Vatican has for many years ordered strictest secrecy in child abuse cover-up cases.
While the grave concerns of ordinary Catholics are quite commendable, they are still only humanistic responses to depraved behavior.
The Hand of God in Providence
It is necessary to see the whole crisis in the light of the sovereignty of God and to discern the root cause of what has become a persistent, agonizing, and revealing wound. The doctrine of God’s sovereignty in the Scriptures gives a true view of His purposes. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the Holy is understanding.”7 God is the Father and fountain of all good. He is not and cannot be, the author or advocate of anything that is evil. He is acknowledged as the cause and spring of every thing that is good, “Every good and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights.” (James 1:17)
However, since God controls all things, this means that evil is also under the control of God, He has, in His good judgment, decreed that the evil of Apostasy would have full dominion throughout history for His own purposes and to His glory! Apostasy and its evil fruits are included among God’s eternal decrees, made known to us in His Word of truth, the Scriptures.8
The Roman Catholic Church formally went apostate in 1547 at the Council of Trent when she declared, “If anyone shall say that justifying faith is nothing else than confidence in the divine mercy which remits sins for Christ’s sake, or that it is this confidence alone by which we are justified: let him be anathema.”9 Now it appears that Christ Jesus is moving in judgment against the apostate Vatican Church. The sentence to the virgin daughter of Babylon reverberates, “For thou has trusted in thy wickedness: thou hast said, none seeth me. Thy wisdom and thy knowledge, it hath perverted thee; and thou hast said in thine heart, I am, and none else beside me. Therefore shall evil come upon thee; thou shalt not know from whence it ariseth: and mischief shall fall upon thee; thou shalt not be able to expiate: and desolation shall come upon thee suddenly, which thou shalt not know.”10 A wound has come upon the Church of Rome that she may not have the strength to overcome. The Lord God rules the world by His providence, governs true believers by His grace, and administers and judges apostate systems in His righteousness, even unto repentance. We are not only to believe that the Lord lives, but also that the Lord reigns even through the Catholic scandals and their origins!
Root of the crisis
The true nature of the crisis in the Catholic Church is not pedophilia, but rather homosexuality. The root cause of the predicament is, however, much deeper. Having thrown aside the Gospel, the root cause is found in its replacement, manifested in the traditional doctrine of the Catholic Church regarding overcoming evil. To deal with sin, the Church of Rome proposes that her priests and her people look within to find their destiny. Thus she states,
Such thinking is one of the basic concepts of pagan religions, which hold that there is a spark of the divine within each human being. For example, in Hinduism it is held, “By understanding your true Self, by coming to know one’s own undying soul, one then arrives at the knowledge of Brahman itself . . .”12 Rome persists in maintaining this pagan teaching of “an element of the divine” within man, and brings such a concept to its logical conclusion in attempting to deal with sin and evil inclinations.
For a sinner to attempt to be right with God by deciding “his own destiny in the sight of God” is to degrade God and His written Word. The Scripture makes known God’s character. The means of salvation is proclaimed as, “not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.”14 Such a glorious portrayal of the nature of God may drive sinners to despair of self. This is exactly how it should be. It is not until the sinner loses hope of any help from within himself that he will depend solely on God’s mercy and grace. Once the Holy Spirit convicts that person that there is no help from within, he will recognize that he is lost and cry out, “God be merciful to me a sinner.”15 The God of infinite mercy will be merciful to such a one.16 The sinner, however, who “decides his own destiny in the sight of God”, will be ever undone, forever lost, for there is no “element of the divine” in him.17
Self-salvation leaves the priest hopeless
What Catholic priests have learned, and the doctrine to which they look for help with moral problems, is such as the following official teaching,
To those who believe Rome’s teaching regarding man’s dignity and his ability to choose God, the Lord’s question applies, “how can ye believe, which receive honor one of another?”19 A sinner cannot act contrary to his corrupt nature. What then can one do? One must first acknowledge that he is spiritually dead, and cry out for help. And it is the Holy Spirit that has awakened this sense of need. We hear and learn from the Father by the Holy Spirit through His written Word. God’s Word shows forth the mind of God “who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will.”20 The truth is exactly opposite to Rome’s proclamation that man, “left in the hand of his own counsel” will “of his own accord seek his creator” for Romans 3:10-11 states, “There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.”
The concept of self-salvation, however, is ingrained in Catholicism, together with its dependence on its seven physical sacraments to obtain grace.21 Man “left in the hand of his own counsel” and to his “dignity and freedom” is the red wine of deceptive pride. Such teaching is a thousand light years away from the conviction of the Holy Spirit that comes from God alone, through His written Word. This type of teaching is the basic cause of the moral crisis within the Catholic Church. For decades archbishops and bishops have kept dreadful accounts of child abuse out of the public eye through an elaborate code of secrecy, deception, and intimidation. Under her strictest penalty, that of pain of excommunication, Rome has since 1962 warned the cardinals, archbishops and bishops to keep the clergy sexual abuse secret. The press has exposed this.22
The many homosexuals within the priesthood are also a most serious cause of the crisis. Homosexuality can be ranked, after an incorrect method of dealing with sin based on a false gospel, as the second major reason behind the present calamity. (The Catholic laws on celibacy for priests, as a cause of the crisis, have been analyzed in our article “. . . better to marry than to burn”.)23
Homosexuality in Catholic Seminaries
Were it not documented in Catholic books24 one would hardly believe the utter decadence in seminaries and in colleges that train for the priesthood. The subculture of homosexuality is rampant across the U.S.A. Page after page of Goodbye, Good Men tells of the horrific influence of homosexuality that has permeated the youth in the Catholic seminaries. The ideals of the youth are replaced by unnatural lusts that have become prevalent in major seminaries and colleges training for the priesthood in the U.S.A.25 Donald Cozzens, leading Catholic priest and rector of St. Mary’s in Cleveland, Ohio (a leading U.S. seminary), states in his book on the priesthood that
Then nonchalantly he states, “At issue at the beginning of the twenty-first century is the growing perception — one seldom contested by those who know the priesthood well — that the priesthood is or is becoming a gay profession. And to the point is the question: Does it matter? Does not the question reveal still another form of homophobia?”28
Under the heading, “The Gay Crisis”, Cozzens states, “Gay seminarians are likely to feel at home and at ease in a seminary with a significant gay population. They feel they belong and their need for meaningful, deep relationships with other gay man is easily met, and because they instinctively recognize other gay seminarians, circles of support and camaraderie are quickly formed...The straight seminarian meanwhile, feels out of place and may interpret his inner destabilization as a sign that he does not have a vocation to the priesthood.”29 In the concluding sentence of the book Cozzens says, “Behind the changing face of the priesthood remains the saving face of Jesus the Christ.” What Cozzens fails to see is that his reliance on the “saving face of Jesus the Christ”30 is based not on the Gospel, which is the power of God unto salvation, but rather on the Catholic understanding of salvation through good works, a doctrine out of the pit of hell.
The Unthinkable has Happened
The doctrine of self-salvation, and the tolerance of homosexuality31 in the priesthood, is a major part of the root evil behind the present ignominy. While the “unthinkable” has happened, the Vatican unashamedly continues to declare that her teachings and tradition are not the cause. Thus she officially declares,
The “unthinkable” is now in front of men’s faces, for both tradition in doctrine and celibacy in practice have failed. First consider the traditional Catholic way of dealing with the “slavery to the passions”. To teach that God is willing to do His part if you “freely choose what is good”, is a God insulting denial of the Gospel. This is exactly what Rome teaches,
By the most plausible pretexts and the subtlest devices, these ideas denigrate God’s character and teach man to center all his hopes in himself. This tradition repudiates one of the most precious truths taught in the Bible, namely, that God is gracious to those who are incapable of helping themselves, those who have tried again and again only to fail. The cardinal truth of the Gospel is that salvation is by God’s grace alone.
The Gospel of the Sovereign Lord
If there is to be a real answer to these horrific crimes, it is necessary that Catholic priests and people be convicted that, on the authority of Scripture alone, they are made right with the all-Holy God by grace alone through faith alone, in Christ alone, and all glory and praise is to God alone. To come to Christ Jesus for life is for the sinner to recognize that he is utterly destitute of any claim upon God’s grace. It is to see that in one’s own power, he is lost and hopeless. It is to come clean with God and admit that he is deserving of nothing in himself but eternal death and punishment. To come to Christ for life is for the sinner to abandon his own imagined dignity and so-called ability to overcome passions. To know eternal life is to disown man made self-salvation and to unreservedly believe on the Lord Jesus alone as Saviour and Lord. “Wherefore as the Holy Ghost saith, today if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness.”34 Looking to personal dignity and ability, and to rid oneself of “all slavery to the passions” is worse than foolishness, it is soul damning. Catholic priests, as sinners are responsible to use the means of that the Lord God has appointed. The Sovereign Lord has shown His hand in the midst of crisis! Forgiveness of sin, including forgiveness of homosexuality, is God’s gift to the believer. It is granted to the believer based on Christ’s finished work on the cross.35 God’s action in Christ Jesus shows His graciousness to believers so that their faith is fixed on Him alone. “For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.”36
As the Sovereign Lord judges in time, we pray it will result in true repentance and true belief. Since we are dealing with Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, we boldly pray that the Lord’s own words will be fulfilled as never before! “Prophesy unto the wind, prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind, thus saith the Lord God; Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live... Neither shall they defile themselves any more with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions: but I will save them out of all their dwelling places, wherein they have sinned, and will cleanse them: so shall they be my people, and I will be their God.”37
The end design of the Sovereign Lord is the giving of saving grace, making sinners into a kind of first fruits of His creatures, so that sinners should be God’s portion and treasure. In the words of Scripture, “Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of first fruits of his creatures.”38 In history past, the Sovereign Lord has often displayed His renewing grace in the midst of great evil. That this would be so again is our heartfelt prayer. The resurrection of souls from the depravity of sin to life in Christ Jesus is the Gospel of good news that we proclaim!
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