Defending the faith

is the subject of my Trade Tripper column in this Friday-Saturday issue of BusinessWorld:

Last October 11 marked the beginning of the Catholic Church’s Year of the Faith, which will run up to November 2013. Pope Benedict XVI (in his Apostolic Letter, “Porta Fidei”) explained his desire to put this emphasis on faith: “Ever since the start of my ministry as Successor of Peter, I have spoken of the need to rediscover the journey of faith so as to shed ever clearer light on the joy and renewed enthusiasm of the encounter with Christ.” Significantly, this Year of Faith coincides with major political developments for our country, particularly the May 2013 national elections.

This is a crucial opportunity for Catholics to exercise their duty in ensuring that their values are translated into meaningful policies in the public square. This was a call made by Jesus Christ himself (Mk 16:15). We should take this time to end the ridiculous notion that religious freedom merely allows a person to pray in private. True religious freedom (along with that other equally misunderstood concept of church and State separation) includes the right of believers to proselytize and to push for their beliefs even in political discussions. For Catholics, this is best described by St. Josemaria Escriva: “Have you ever bothered to think how absurd it is to leave one’s Catholicism aside on entering a university, or a professional association, or a scholarly meeting, or Congress, as if you were checking your hat at the door?”

The social issue currently needing Catholics’ correct advocacy is on the matter of contraception. On this, Catholic position is clear: it is an infallible teaching of the Church that contraception is immoral. Thus, any legislation, including an amended RH Bill, should be opposed completely. In this regard, GK Chesterton’s comments are apt: “I do not feel any contempt for an atheist... I do not feel any contempt for a Bolshevist... But there is one type of person for whom I feel what I can only call contempt. And that is the popular propagandist of what he or she absurdly describes as Birth-Control. I despise birth control first because it is a weak and wobbly and cowardly word. It is also an entirely meaningless word. The proceeding these quack doctors recommend does not control any birth. It only makes sure that there shall never be any birth to control.” Chesterton was right: “birth control” is a misleading term, it is actually “birth prevention.” And if the RH Bill proponents are to have any sincerity, they should use that term instead and then let the people decide if they will support such a chilling measure.

But if Catholics are to fight for their faith, they should ensure that they correctly know their faith as well. This includes the duty to study Church doctrines (a good starting point of which is to read the Catechism of the Catholic Church, easily available at National Bookstore and Fully Booked) and continuous reading -- with priestly mentoring -- of the Bible.

However, this also means that we be vigilant in how the faith is expressed by others and how the sacraments are respected. We should encourage everybody to teach correct doctrine. This has nothing to do with academic freedom but everything to do with honesty.

If there are any priests or teachers out there who question the teaching of the Bishops on contraception, for example, let them know about Canon Law (1983) 750-754, which provides for a good Catholic response to the teachings of the Church. Thus, even for Church teachings that are supposedly not of the level of infallibility, Catholics must respond with “religious submission of the mind” and avoid anything not in accord with such teaching.

The integrity of the celebration of the Mass itself must be protected: host crumbs (or wine drops) allowed to fall after transubstantiation, priests who ridiculously insist in gender neutral readings of Scripture (including those who refuse to call God as “Father”), those who insist on preaching the discredited “liberation theology,” those who make improper innovations during Mass (such as making the congregation recite the words “through Him, with Him, and in Him...”; only the priest is supposed to say that), those who include pagan or indigenous people’s rituals into the liturgy (this is not allowed even by Vatican II; see Sacrosanctum Concilium) must all be corrected.

Catholic lay believers have that right and duty. It is recommended that if such erroneous practices are being done, then they should talk directly (and very respectfully, charitably) to the priests making the error. However, if the errors continue, then note that under Canon Law 221 (and 229), Catholics have the right to demand that they receive correct teaching and liturgy, even to the point of taking such demand before a “competent ecclesiastical forum.”

If anybody needs assistance on these matters, including Canon Law, do feel free to contact me. Let’s all help each other in defending the Catholic faith from within and without.