Rorate Caeli

Radicati EDITORIAL: An Indulgence is not a Truce

An Indulgence is not a Truce

Editorial: Radicati nella fede, January 2016
Newsletter of the Catholic community of
Vocogno, Diocese of Novara, Italy

“The post-conciliar Church? It is a Church in which life is removed considerably from the event of Calvary. A Church that diminishes its demands and doesn’t resolve problems anymore according to the will of God, but according to human possibilities. A Church which I believe has become elastic and morally relativistic. A Church in the fog and without the tables of the Law. A Church that closes its eyes to sin, that fears reproach for not being modern.” (Stefan Cardinal Wyszynski)

Why has the Church observed Holy years, why has She held Jubilees with their plenary indulgences? Basically because men must turn back to God and separate themselves from sin which brings eternal death. There is no other reason, there is absolutely no other!

We are witnessing [at present] a peculiar insistence on the mercy of God which sounds foreign, very foreign to Catholic ears. We hear talk of the Lord who is always forgiving, but this insistence is never preceded and accompanied by the memory of the gravity of sin, in [all] its deadly consequences.

It’s the same old story: Catholic truths are taken, isolated from all the rest and transformed into something else. It’s the technique for the founding of a new Church, the church of humanity which is not the Church of Christ.

In all of this there is something illogical, something not reasonable: why in the world would the Lord accept you with mercy if you didn’t need to be pulled out of sin and death?

Today it is fashionable, even in the Church, to talk about the goodness of God without referring to the seriousness of sin – every sin. In fact, those in the Church who still dare to denounce evil and its gravity, are seen as an enemy of God’s mercy, to be eliminated like a false prophet, so that the beauty of the “new church” may finally shine through.

Many moral disasters will occur this Holy Year if we don’t return to the true Mercy, the mercy of Christ, Who, in accepting you, sorrowful for your sins, forgives you and says: “from now on, sin no more.”

The mercy of God, of Christ, can never be separated from the firm condemnation of sin, every sin. Rather it is in teaching properly the gravity of sin that the Church has always opened hearts to the true mercy of God.

Blessed Cardinal Newman has striking words to say about the need for the severe condemnation of sin. Speaking of the Church’s doctrinal task, he has this to say:

“And first, the initial doctrine of the infallible teacher must be an emphatic protest against the existing state of mankind. Man had rebelled against his Maker. It was this that caused the divine interposition: and to proclaim it must be the first act of the divinely accredited messenger.” (Apologia pro vita sua, Chapter V).

There’s no way round it, the great Cardinal Newman, passed off too many times as an anticipator of conciliar confusion, is clear about this: man’s rebellion against God needs to be denounced, and this denunciation is at the heart of the Church’s words, it comes before anything else, with it, everything else begins!

But, let’s continue with Newman:

“The Church must denounce rebellion as of all possible evils the greatest. She must have no terms with it; if She would be true to Her Master, She must ban and anathematize it.” (ibid.) Quite different this from the confusion that surrounds and submerges us! Quite different this from the confusion following the Synod on the Family, which well prepared the confusion of the Jubilee!

Not denouncing sin is de facto having terms with sin; it is perceived by the majority this way . It is understood as a truce, as the Church’s renunciation of the fight against evil and the demon. It is understood as a change in morals, as a crossing-out of some commandments from the Decalogue, to make a truce with the world that has no intention of changing.

In fact, there is the risk that this Holy Year with its “broad idea” of mercy is understood as a great truce with sin. This foreshadows the birth of a new church reconciled with the modern world, that has no desire whatsoever to change: what deadly illusion!

A deadly illusion is to think that the world can be won over with forgiveness that doesn’t require sorrow for sin and a resolution not to sin anymore! A deadly illusion is to think that the churches can be filled up by not demanding anything from souls. A deadly illusion, is to think about opening the doors wide to everyone without asking anything from them: many perhaps will come in, but they will occupy a weak church, which will be transformed into their image; and after having made it similar to the confused place they came from, they will reject it for the umpteenth time as a useless church.

What’s the use of a church that blesses but has no longer any desire to convert ? What’s the use of a church that has renounced the great work of Christ - that of saving souls - by causing their true conversion and sanctifying them through Grace? What’s the use of a church which in being unfaithful to its Master, is ashamed of His holy words: “Go, your sins are forgiven, and from now on sin no more, so that nothing worse befalls you”?

But let’s take heed again to the words of the great John Henry Newman:

“The Catholic Church holds it better for the sun and moon to drop from heaven, for the earth to fail, and for all the many millions on it to die of starvation in extremest agony, as far as temporal affliction goes, than that one soul, I will not say should be lost, but should commit one venial sin, should tell one wilful untruth, or should steal one poor farthing without excuse.” (ibid).

Is our Catholic conscience still like this? Is the task of the Church still understood like this?

Beloved, the task of the Church cannot change, because Christ does not change. Let’s not trust those false teachers who exchange forgiveness and a plenary indulgence with a “truce” of a far too human savour that tastes of the diabolic.

The Church has been set as a bastion against evil, for the salvation of souls from the abyss of sin:
“It is because of the intensity of the evil which has possession of mankind, that a suitable antagonist has been provided against it; and the initial act of that divinely-commissioned power is of course to deliver Her challenge and to defy the enemy. Such a preamble then gives a meaning to Her position in the world, and an interpretation to Her whole course of teaching and action.” (ibid).

This is why a Church that understands mercy as a “truce” is pure nonsense and is the very destruction of the Church Herself. A Church so badly reduced will no longer have a position in the world…actually, it is already so.

Let’s pray to the Lord and the Virgin Mary so that they many grant us shepherds after the heart of God, who are not afraid of confronting sin and of setting themselves up as a challenge against the enemy; and that they may give all of us the intelligence to recognize such shepherds.

[Translation: Contributor Francesca Romana]