Thursday, February 23, 2006

Bishop Robert F. Vasa - Diocese of Baker, OR

Christ is reassuring and humble, as well as powerful, mighty The Catholic Sentinel Feb. 17, 2006:
We live in an age which places a very strong emphasis on tolerance, mutuality, and acceptance. I have heard repeatedly over the years that “Jesus never judged, condemned or excluded anyone.” I wonder if Peter would agree as the words of Jesus, “Get behind me you Satan,” rang in his ears. I wonder if the Scribes and the Pharisees would agree as they rankled at being called whitened sepulchers or broods of vipers. I wonder if those who heard Jesus say, “Whoever leads one of these little ones astray, it would be better if he had a millstone tied around his neck and be cast into the sea,” nodded approval and said, “He is so tolerant and accepting.” . . .

In our “compromising age” we are loath to name something too strongly. If we do, we are accused of harshness, judgmentalism, perhaps arrogance, certainly intolerance and possibly pharisaism. While it is always necessary to speak the truth with love, the Church also believes and teaches that it is also necessary to speak the truth with strength. It is necessary to defend truth and not be too quick to rationalize, justify or excuse misleading teachings or teachers. There is a point at which passive “tolerance” allows misleading teachings to be spread and propagated, thus confusing or even misleading the faithful about the truths of the Church. There is a very strong word, which still exists in our Church, which most of us are too “gentle” to use. The word is “heresy.” We perhaps think that heresy is a thing of the past. We think perhaps of the Arian heresy or the Pelagian heresy or the Manichaen heresy. We might even maintain that there are no longer any heretics because that conjures up images of inquisitions and burnings at the stake. I do not, in any way, seek to validate or justify any kind of “vigilante” theology, but we do need strong words to combat erroneous and fallacious teaching. . . .

There is some question, for instance, about whether those who openly profess to be “pro-choice” are, in fact, holding to a heretical position. The teaching of the Church in the area of life is clear and unequivocal. Human life must be respected and protected from conception to natural death. Those who maintain that any and all decisions about the disposition of pre-born human beings are exclusively the right of the mother or the parents, at least implicitly, reject the clear and consistent teaching of the Church.