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Non impediti ratione cogitationis.
(Paul Signac. The Wrecker. Source: [ °60 ])
First, a small historical note. I wrote this article toward the end of February 2004, as a reaction against the process described in a document called "Guidance Document on the Process of the Guidance Convention for the Future of Christian Communities". The original French version is called: «Document d'orientation sur la Démarche du congrès d'orientation pour l'avenir des communautés chrétiennes», hence my acronym DODO, which will be used henceforth. The DODO was the pet project of Monsignor Maurice Couture, Bishop of the Quebec Diocese before Cardinal Marc Ouellet. This DODO had fortunately been set aside by Cardinal Ouellet. But his successor, Monsignor Gérald-Cyprien Lacroix, has publicly stated that he wanted to once again take up Monsignor Couture's project, and implement it within three years. The DODO has unfortunately once again become relevant.
The DODO had the official goal of starting a debate on the "mission of the Church of Christ in order to establish together the conditions that will let us spread the Gospel and transform societies" [DODO, p. 5].
I claim that the unofficial goal of the DODO is apparently to destroy what is left of the Catholic Church in the Quebec Diocese. If our parish church was a car driven by priests, then the DODO would recommend that we rip the steering wheel out of the hands of priests, give it to some Protestant back-seat drivers, then floor the accelerator pedal and steer all the churches into each other, smashing and destroying them until the whole Diocese was a heap of rubble.
Does the DODO really advocate a "Diocesan Demolition Derby"? To answer that question, we need to scrutinize the DODO. Since I pity the lazy readers who want to know the result right away, I've pushed back my critique of the DODO to the appendix below, and I'll start with my conclusion.
If the DODO really wants to take the steering wheel out of the hands of priests so Protestant back-seat drivers can run a Diocesan Demolition Derby, then what am I advocating? Am I saying that lay passengers should just sit tight and shut up, while dangerously old priests drive what is left of our churches not into each other, but into the ground nevertheless?
No. Basic wisdom tell us "Don't Keep Doing What Doesn't Work", and whatever we are doing now is very wrong. A Church with no vocations, no young people and no money is not a Church with a future.
If the DODO is advocating a "Bottom-Up" model of the Church, where everything starts at the local grassroots level, then am I not just advocating the opposite, a "Top-Down" model, where everything comes from the Pope, then moves on to Bishops and priests, and eventually trickles down to lay persons?
No. I am advocating neither a Top-Down nor a Bottom-Up model, but a "Eucharist-Oriented" Church, a Church refocused on Jesus-Eucharist, "source and summit of the Christian life" [Lumen Gentium, #11].
Our Christian faith is centered around Christ, True Man and True God, and his Passion, Death and Resurrection. "The Eucharist is indelibly marked by the event of the Lord's passion and death, of which it is not only a reminder but the sacramental re-presentation. It is the sacrifice of the Cross perpetuated down the ages. [...] What more could Jesus have done for us?" [Ecclesia de Eucharistia, #11].
We don't need the DODO or any other Protestant contraption. "It is not a matter of inventing a 'new program'. The program already exists: it is the plan found in the Gospel and in the living Tradition; it is the same as ever. Ultimately, it has its centre in Christ himself, who is to be known, loved and imitated, so that in him we may live the life of the Trinity, and with him transform history until its fulfilment in the heavenly Jerusalem. The implementation of this program of a renewed impetus in Christian living passes through [Jesus-Eucharist]." [Ecclesia de Eucharistia, #60].
The life and blood of the Catholic Church is Jesus-Eucharist. "The Church constantly draws her life from the redeeming sacrifice" [Ecclesia de Eucharistia, #12]. If the Catholic Church in the Quebec Diocese is dying, or at least seriously sick, the first thing that should come to our minds is: "What have we done to Jesus-Eucharist? How are we stopping Jesus from giving life to us? How are we preventing men and women of our time to access the saving grace that pours forth from the Blessed Sacrament?" In our opinion, a true "Guidance Document" for our Diocese should ask these questions and many more.
I claim that there are wolves in the sheepfold of the Quebec Diocese, i.e. that some religious leaders (Deacons, Priests and Bishops) are actually heretics, and that these wolves are doing their best to destroy the Catholic Church from the inside. The wolves know that Jesus-Eucharist is their mortal enemy, so they systematically attack it, in as many ways as they can:
- Create a shortage of priests to celebrate Jesus in the Eucharist.
- Teach young people to reject Jesus-Eucharist.
- Turn the faithful away from communion with Jesus-Eucharist.
In other words, wolves attack Priesthood, Catechesis and the Mass.
3.1.1) Force old but healthy priests to retire. I can give you several examples of priests who were willing and able to continue to work, but who were forced to retire by wolves, so Parishes could be merged and Masses eliminated.
3.1.2) Prevent new religious movements from supplying good priests. As we speak, many new religious movements could supply good young priests to the Quebec Diocese, except the door is being slammed in their faces by the wolves.
3.1.3) Secretly reject good candidates to the priesthood. Many of us can testify that we were barred from the Seminary, most often in secret, without consultation with the Seminary's Director or the local Bishop.
3.1.4) Openly accept bad candidates to the priesthood. By accepting heretics or sexually unfit candidates, wolves give good candidates yet another reason to stay away from the priesthood.
3.1.5) Let the Faculty of Theology at Laval University teach as many heresies as possible. Many of us have studied at Laval, and we can testify that as Dante would have put it: "All ye who enter the Laval Theology Faculty, abandon all hope." Not only is the Theology Faculty at Laval unfaithful to the Magisterium, but all Seminarians must study there, and they are now forced to get not only a B.A. but also an M.A. at Laval, to give the wolves more time to eliminate the sheep from the system.
3.1.6) Artificially introduce as many hurdles as possible for seminarians . If the Vatican requires four years in a Seminary, impose seven or eight, even for adult vocations.
3.1.7) Constantly repeat that there is a shortage of priests, and that this shortage is totally independent of our will. Wolves never say anything like: "Well, God is perfect, so He certainly can't have forgotten to send us vocations, so we must be doing something wrong at our end".
3.1.8) Don't put Jesus-Eucharist at the centre of the call for vocations. Wolves don't like to hear things like: "The centrality of the Eucharist in the life and ministry of priests is the basis of its centrality in the pastoral promotion of priestly vocations. It is in the Eucharist that prayer for vocations is most closely united to the prayer of Christ the Eternal High Priest. At the same time the diligence of priests in carrying out their Eucharistic ministry, together with the conscious, active and fruitful participation of the faithful in the Eucharist, provides young men with a powerful example and incentive for responding generously to God's call." [Ecclesia de Eucharistia, #31].
3.1.9) Spread the myth that a priestless church would be OK. The whole DODO is one long argument in favor of a priestless church. Wolves don't like people to be reminded that: "The ministry of priests who have received the sacrament of Holy Orders, in the economy of salvation chosen by Christ, makes clear that the Eucharist which they celebrate is a gift which radically transcends the power of the assembly and is in any event essential for validly linking the Eucharistic consecration to the sacrifice of the Cross and to the Last Supper. The assembly gathered together for the celebration of the Eucharist, if it is to be a truly Eucharistic assembly, absolutely requires the presence of an ordained priest as its president. On the other hand, the community is by itself incapable of providing an ordained minister. This minister is a gift which the assembly receives through Episcopal succession going back to the Apostles." [Ecclesia de Eucharistia, #29].
3.2.1) Avoid at all costs giving young people a good Catechism. If wolves can prevent the essential "Catechism of the Catholic Church" by John-Paul II, from falling into the hands of young people, half of their battle is won!
3.2.2) Never publicly defend the official teachings of the Church. It is amazing that in the Diocese of Quebec, whenever the Church is viciously attacked in the media, the hierarchy rarely speaks out to defend the Church. The wolves can then whisper to the young people: "How could a Church that is not even worth defending, be the true Church of God?"
3.2.3) Don't send your best priests on a tour of high schools. A few years ago, the Quebec Government paid lots of money to the Museum of Civilization for a travelling exhibit on Drugs, which toured every single high school in the Province. This tour downplayed the dangers and immorality of drug use. If the wolves can perform such stunts, why can't we? Why can't we come up with a travelling exhibit on the beauty of the Catholic religion, which would visit every single high school? It could show young people how silly atheism is, how vacuous are the attacks on the official teachings of the Catholic Church, how beautiful chastity really is, and so on.
3.2.4) Never publicly mention where young people could go to actually find out what the Church teaches. Many of us have never hear a priest mention the existence of the "Catechism of the Catholic Church" from the pulpit! When the Pope publishes an Encyclical or an Apostolic Letter, the faithful are rarely told about it during Sunday Mass.
3.2.5) Have a Diocesan web site that doesn't provide dogma and morals. You would think that the official web site for the Quebec Diocese would have a section for "Young people who are on a spiritual quest", a section where their questions would be answered, where they could be guided into the full light Jesus-Eucharist. No way! Wolves wouldn't like that! And you can also forget about a handy list of available Masses.
3.2.6) Don't make a public inquiry on the state of catechesis in the diocese. If you pay good money to get your car fixed, and it still doesn't work, you won't just leave the garage without saying a word! You'll ask for a refund, or a real repair! But how come so many young people get a supposedly Catholic training, and yet so few young people end up being Catholics? Wolves would like us to just pay up, shut up, and leave the garage! But we should at least ask for a public inquiry on the general state of catechesis in the Diocese. Somebody in the diocesan "garage" isn't doing their job properly.
3.2.7) Encourage "purely decorative" godparents. If something is important, you try to have more than one. Thus airplanes have oxygen masks, in case of loss of pressurization. In the same way, boats have life rafts and flotation vests. But the religion education of a baptized child is very important, so if the parents die, or abandon the Catholic faith, the godparents must come to the rescue of the child. They have serious responsibilities, and must be carefully selected. [Code of Canon Law, #872-874]. Without good godparents, children risk dying spiritually, which pleases the wolves!
3.2.8) Eliminate young people at the source. Using abortion, the pill and divorces, wolves have managed to eliminate many young people who might eventually have become Catholics.
3.3.1) Never makes sermons about How and Why we should go to Confession. If we receive Jesus-Eucharist in a state of mortal sin, not only do we miss out on the grace that flows from this Blessed Sacrament, but we also commit another mortal sin! "I too raise my voice, I beseech, beg and implore that no one draw near to this sacred table with a sullied and corrupt conscience. Such an act, in fact, can never be called 'communion', not even were we to touch the Lord's body a thousand times over, but 'condemnation', 'torment' and 'increase of punishment'" [St. John Chrysostom, quoted in [Ecclesia de Eucharistia, #36]. As you can see, wolves will do anything they can to prevent people to go to Confession.
3.3.2) Make it a pain to get a Confession. For those who have managed to get a Christian education despite the best efforts of the wolves, communing with Jesus-Eucharist in a state of mortal sin is out of the question. But by ripping out confessionals, or making them inaccessible to handicapped persons, or making them sound-porous to eliminate privacy, or by keeping them dark and unwelcoming, or simply by never putting a priest in them to hear confessions, wolves can prevent many people from drinking from the Fountain of Life.
3.3.3) Encourage collective absolution. Wolves really love this! If you don't have to actually admit your sins publicly (remember the priest represents the whole Christian community in the Sacrament of Confession) and specifically (remember the penitent has to say all his mortal sins, their number and species), it's as if sin didn't really exist!
3.3.4) Never makes sermons about the True and Substantial presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. Why bother going to Mass if it is just some sort of "symbolic meal"? Why not just stay home and have a real tasty meal instead? Wolves don't like to mention the Catholic doctrine on transubstantiation, because the faithful might want to go to Mass as often as they can, knowing that "He who eats [Jesus-Eucharist] with faith, eats Fire and Spirit... Take and eat this, all of you, and eat with it the Holy Spirit. For it is truly my body and whoever eats it will have eternal life" [Ecclesia de Eucharistia, #17].
3.3.5) Encourage communion with Protestants. Under ecumenical pretenses, wolves teach that it is OK to go to communion in non-Catholic Churches. But "the Catholic faithful, therefore, while respecting the religious convictions of these separated brethren, must refrain from receiving the communion distributed in their celebrations, so as not to condone an ambiguity about the nature of the Eucharist and, consequently, to fail in their duty to bear clear witness to the truth. This would result in slowing the progress being made towards full visible unity." [Ecclesia de Eucharistia, #30].
3.3.6) Encourage priests to make up the Liturgy as they go along. If you are in a Court of Law, and the court clerk makes you take the oath, she doesn't make it up as she goes along. She carefully reads from the official document, because the oath doesn't belong to this clerk, or anybody else in the courtroom. It belongs to the Judicial System. Same thing with the Catholic Liturgy: it belongs to Jesus-Eucharist, not to some clerk. That is why wolves just love to change the Liturgy based on their whims and fancies. "Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi": if wolves can screw up the Liturgy, they can screw up Faith in Jesus-Eucharist. But the Church teaches otherwise: "I consider it my duty, therefore to appeal urgently that the liturgical norms for the celebration of the Eucharist be observed with great fidelity. These norms are a concrete expression of the authentically ecclesial nature of the Eucharist; this is their deepest meaning. Liturgy is never anyone's private property, be it of the celebrant or of the community in which the mysteries are celebrated." [Ecclesia de Eucharistia, #52].
3.3.7) Make sure priests destroy the most important moment in the Mass. Just after communion is when we are with Jesus-Eucharist. "The Eucharist is truly a glimpse of heaven appearing on earth. It is a glorious ray of the heavenly Jerusalem which pierces the clouds of our history and lights up our journey." [Ecclesia de Eucharistia, #19]. That is why wolves insist on shattering the sacred silence right after communion, to fill it with the most silly blabber (reading the Parish Newsletter). Imagine if during the Coronation Mass, just as the crown was going to be placed on the head of the new King of the United Kingdom, the archbishop of Canterbury suddenly stopped the ceremony to read the classified ads in the local newspaper! What the wolves do in Quebec is even worse than that!
3.3.8) Get rid of Gregorian Chant. "Ah! the wolves say, That kind of music has been known to convert people to the Catholic faith! Quick! Destroy it!"
3.3.9) Constantly preach about Unity and Solidarity in a non-Catholic way. Everybody knows its good to be united, to have solidarity, to be a community. So wolves often preach about those things (for example, the DODO constantly talks about "local communities" and unity), but they carefully rip the very Heart of Communion and Unity out of their speeches: "The seeds of disunity, which daily experience shows to be so deeply rooted in humanity as a result of sin, are countered by the unifying power of the body of Christ. The Eucharist, precisely by building up the Church, creates human community." [Ecclesia de Eucharistia, #24].
3.3.10) Eliminate Holy Hour and Processions of the Blessed Sacrament. Wolves like to give a hard time to anybody who wants to adore Jesus-Eucharist outside of Mass. "The Eucharist is a priceless treasure: by not only celebrating it but also by praying before it outside of Mass we are enabled to make contact with the very wellspring of grace." [Ecclesia de Eucharistia, #25].
3.3.11) Transform Mass into some kind of meal with our buddies. Wolves like it when we treat Jesus-Eucharist as just another drinking buddy, and temples as sugar shacks. But the Church teaches otherwise. "Though the idea of a "banquet" naturally suggests familiarity, the Church has never yielded to the temptation to trivialize this "intimacy" with her Spouse by forgetting that he is also her Lord and that the "banquet" always remains a sacrificial banquet marked by the blood shed on Golgotha. The Eucharistic Banquet is truly a "sacred" banquet, in which the simplicity of the signs conceals the unfathomable holiness of God" [Ecclesia de Eucharistia, #48].
3.3.12) Make church buildings ugly, and church art uglier. Why would wolves spend time and money finding beautiful art to honor Jesus-Eucharist? Whereas "Like the woman who anointed Jesus in Bethany, the Church has feared no "extravagance", devoting the best of her resources to expressing her wonder and adoration before the unsurpassable gift of the Eucharist." [Ecclesia de Eucharistia, #48].
3.3.13) Avoid the Virgin Mary. Wolves know that if they can get rid of the Virgin Mary, they will by the same token get rid of Jesus-Eucharist. "If the Eucharist is a mystery of faith which so greatly transcends our understanding as to call for sheer abandonment to the word of God, then there can be no one like Mary to act as our support and guide in acquiring this disposition." [Ecclesia de Eucharistia, #54]. And also "If the Church and the Eucharist are inseparably united, the same ought to be said of Mary and the Eucharist." [Ecclesia de Eucharistia, #57].
3.3.14) Attack the Rock on which Jesus-Eucharist founded His Church. All of the aforementioned tactics whereby wolves attack Jesus-Eucharist can be summed up in a single one: cut yourself off from Rome. This is the most effective way to get rid of Jesus-Eucharist. "Likewise, since 'the Roman Pontiff, as the successor of Peter, is the perpetual and visible source and foundation of the unity of the Bishops and of the multitude of the faithful', communion with him is intrinsically required for the celebration of the Eucharistic Sacrifice." [Ecclesia de Eucharistia, #39].
"By giving the Eucharist the prominence it deserves, and by being careful not to diminish any of its dimensions or demands, we show that we are truly conscious of the greatness of this gift. [...] There can be no danger of excess in our care for this mystery, for in this sacrament is recapitulated the whole mystery of our salvation." [Ecclesia de Eucharistia, #61].
Jesus Christ loves us, and wants to open a "heavenly door" and come into our lives to save us. As long as we let wolves block that door, there will be no hope for the Quebec Diocese. It is our duty to act, since we have been baptized. As John-Paul II could have said:
Do not be afraid!
Do not be afraid to kick the wolves out of the sheepfold,
And to open wide the door to Jesus-Eucharist!
The original French version of the DODO («Document d'orientation sur la Démarche du congrès d'orientation pour l'avenir des communautés chrétiennes») used to be available on the diocesan website. As of 2012-May-19, I can't find it anymore. I did find that day a more recent document, dated 2011-Sept-08 and called Guidelines for the pastoral refits in the Quebec Diocese [ °61 ], which states: "The process of discernement that was lived in 2004 during the Congrès d'orientation pour l'avenir des communautés chrétiennes remains a sure reference" [p. 9].
(See also the e-mail exchange with Mrs. Marie Chrétien, Diocesan Lead for the Guidance Convention for the Future of Christian Communities.)
A.1.1) The official intention is good. Making a collective effort "to hear what the Holy Spirit is saying to our Church today [... in order to] take appropriate decisions to renew the evangelization of men and women of our diocese". [DODO, p. 3]
A.1.2) The three official objectives are fuzzy, but not bad. This is our interpretation of them: (i) to find a mission statement we all agree on, and use that mission statement to figure out what to do; (ii) to find new ways to spread the Gospel, and to do so while engaging all Christians; (iii) to develop a new "holistic" mentality in the parochial, regional and diocesan organization. [DODO, p. 5].
A.1.3) Our problems require an open and frank discussion. Instead of burying our heads in the sand, the document clearly says we have serious problems. "Our pastoral practices and the organisation of our Christian communities are more and more confronted with difficulties, which could, sooner or later, lead us into a dead-end." [DODO, p. 3] "Is there a future for our Christian communities? How are we going to effectively spread the Gospel? Will we have enough people and money to continue our mission?" [DODO, p. 4].
A.1.4) The main "Tool" is discernment. The basis of this whole process is "the passionate quest for the Will of God in all things". [DODO, p. 6].
A.1.5) Lay persons are considered important in the Church. "Every baptized person is invited to answer God's love and to accept the mission that He personally gives to each disciple" [DODO, p. 6]. Also "All members of the Body of Christ which compose the Church are responsible for the mission. Their participation requires much more than a simple presence in meetings and financial support of the parish corporation (i.e. 'Fabrique' in French)." [DODO, p. 12].
A.1.6) Volunteers are tired, money is running out, priest are old. The number of active church volunteers is going down, they are getting older, and some are quitting out of frustration [DODO, p. 17]. Parish corporations are not currently in financial trouble, but forecasts indicate this should happen within a few years. [DODO, p. 18] Most priests are over sixty, and there is only a trickle of new young ones. [DODO, p. 19].
A.1.7) Returning to the "Good Old Days" is impossible. "Christian communities will not be able to plan for the future by using the vision they can still see in the rear-view mirror of the Past." [DODO, p. 20].
A.1.8) A radical change is necessary. "Choosing evangelization as the prime objective [...] will impose on us all a real deprogramming process, so we'll see things differently." [DODO, p. 29]. I totally agree a radical change is necessary in the Quebec Diocese, but not the one proposed by the DODO!
A.2.1) No hint of subordination to the Magisterium. The authors like to quote things like: "The Holy Spirit and us have decided" [Acts, 15, 28, in DODO, p. 6. See also all of p. 7], as if all lay people in the diocese could just gather round, pray, then decide, without any reference to the hierarchy of the Catholic Church, nor any subordination to the Magisterium. This is a "sin of omission", but a very serious one.
A.2.2) The mission statement could be Protestant. The suggested mission statement for the Quebec Diocese is not acceptable to Catholics, because it completely evacuates the notion that the Church of Christ is founded upon Peter, and his successor the Pope [DODO, p. 9]. Also, when the document defines the word "Church", the definition excludes any reference to the Pope and the Magisterium. [DODO, p. 10].
A.2.3) The Protestant back-seat drivers really want that steering wheel! Proposal #2 of the DODO: "A local team of facilitators should be established in each local community. [This team of five lay volunteers] is responsible for the community, before all other authorities". [DODO, p. 23] See also [DODO, p. 17, end of second paragraph]. Proposal #24: The Parish Corporation should not provide room and board to its priests [DODO, p. 30]. The current Church is "overly hierarchical" and must be governed in a radically different way [DODO, p. 43, first sentence].
A.2.4) Parishes are attacked. "The Parochial model [...] no longer satisfies the new expectations and needs of a fragmented Church" [DODO, p. 19]. The document blames parishes for all of our problems, and the underlying reason why they are blamed is probably because parishes are headed by priests, themselves headed by Bishops, themselves headed by the Pope. The authors clearly assert that: "[...] one thing is clear and is worth repeating [...the current model of the Parish] if not destroyed, [...] will lead us to failure" [DODO, p. 19, sidebar].
A.2.5) A "New Priesthood" is advocated. Proposal #16: "New rites [...] must be developed and offered in the Parishes. The presidency of these new rites would be entrusted to lay persons." [DODO, p. 29]. Proposal #18: because the shortage of priests will make Sunday Mass difficult, we must "develop alternative ways of gathering around the Word of God", without priests. [DODO, p. 29]. The supposedly four main dimensions of evangelical activity (fraternal life, proclamation and education of the faith, prayers and celebrations, and commitment to the world's transformation), which are practiced by lay members of "Local Facilitation Teams", "should be recognized as ministries in our Diocesan Church and could be Ministries recognized by the Bishop." [DODO, p. 42].
A.2.6) The "Local Facilitation Teams" seem Protestant. Even though the whole structure of the new ecclesiastical organisation is based upon these "Local Facilitation Teams", there is nothing in them that is even remotely connected to the Apostolic See [DODO, p. 41-43]. They are below the new Parish entity, "The Pastoral Council of Unity", and more powerful than it [DODO, p. 43, bottom of left-hand column].
A.2.7) Bureaucratic Bafflegab. Often, the expressions used are so vague it is very difficult to figure out what the authors really mean. Proposals 4 to 10 [DODO, pages 26-27] are a good example. What do they mean? See also Proposal #14, which is devoid of content [DODO, p. 29]. Proposal #17 is also a gem [DODO, p. 29]. The description of the structure and operation of the "Local Facilitation Teams" is hilarious. See [DODO, p. 41-42]. If only salaries were involved, these would be the cushiest, most "senatorial" jobs in Canada! Anything you do (or fail to do) meshes perfectly with your job description! If you like drinking beer with your fishing buddies, no problem! Just become the member of the Local Facilitation Team who is "Responsible for Fraternal Life". You Job Description is: "To remain aware of the life of the people in the community. You see to it that members of the community bear the concern to emphasize the various happenings by a participation in local festive events (Hey! Beer Bash!), by a word of support (Gimme another beer!), by a gesture of solidarity (I'll help you stagger to the latrines!)" [DODO, p. 41, we add the comments in italics, of course!].
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