[Improving Christ’s Church]
Next to the peerless Tom Wolfe, perhaps the most brilliantly gifted
living American writer is Garry Wills. Immensely learned and versatile,
Wills has written award-winning books on many subjects, from Macbeth to the Gettysburg Address. Some of these suffer from a bit of illogic,
though they are largely redeemed by his stylish and scholarly prose.
In recent years, he has written several best-selling books on religion,
perfecting the liberal Catholic technique of calling himself a Catholic
while he attacks the Catholic Church. Why I Am
a Catholic might better
have been titled Why I Am Not Really a Catholic.
Critics — liberal ones, anyhow — have hailed Wills’ work
in such terms as “provocative,” “stimulating,” “startling,” “iconoclastic,” and “heterodox,” all
of which he well deserves, though we may note the absence of one possibly
crucial word: “true.” His success shows that a Catholic
author can now achieve great fame and fortune in this country, as long
as his books are sufficiently anti-Catholic.
Wills has continued his assault on the Church in his volumes Papal
Sin, What Jesus Meant, and What Paul Meant, in which he denies that
Jesus founded the Catholic Church (or any church at all); accuses the
Church of (inter alia) fraud and anti-Semitism; rejects such doctrines
as natural law, transubstantiation, papal infallibility, apostolic
succession, the Immaculate Conception, and the perpetual virginity
of Mary; and adopts such causes as contraception and abortion, never
mentioning that the latter is condemned in one of the oldest summaries
of Christian moral teaching, the Didache. In his other writings, he
has moreover been favorable to “gays” (never mind what
Moses and St. Paul said) and hostile to reports of Marian apparitions,
from Guadalupe to Lourdes to Fatima.
In short, it appears that the risen Jesus, after promising to be
with his followers to the end of the world, allowed them to be gravely
misled for 2,000 years; since then, what Wills terms “modern
scholarship” has at long last been able to set things straight.
It would seem, then, that Jesus, like Mozart, left this world too young,
before he could realize his full potential. The Sermon on the Mount
was a promising start for this precocious young man; but, alas, his
career was nipped in the bud before he could vent his startlingly progressive,
even heterodox, ideas on such issues as gay rights, anticipating those
of moderns like Hugh Hefner.
Query: If a man looks at another man with lust, has he already committed
sodomy in his heart? And if so, is there anything wrong with that?
It is one thing to say Jesus was a man of his own time (though his
own time, as G.K. Chesterton noted, nailed him to a cross); but it
is far less plausible to suggest that he was a man of our time, and
a trendy liberal one to boot. We might do better to begin by observing
that Pontius Pilate was a man of his time, and a very well-adjusted
one. None of Pilate’s many detractors, as far as I know, has
ever charged him with homophobia.
But here perhaps I am digressing. The gospel of John (14:12) reports
Jesus as saying that his followers would do even greater miracles than
he did. This prediction has been fulfilled in the lives of many Catholic
saints, such as Padre Pio (now St. Pio of Pietrelcina), St. Jean Vianney
(the Cure of Ars), and other such wonder-workers, none of whom Wills
acknowledges, though they have been orthodox and submissive children
of the “institutional church” he rejects. Why should we
accept his faith — or, as liberal usage now says, “religious
preference” — rather than theirs?
Wills’ eccentric brand of Catholicism has no authority, not
even the heaven-binding authority Jesus left to the Twelve, and it
disparages his mother, denying her the exalted place the Catholic Church
has always accorded her.
The key to Catholicism is the Eucharist, the Body of Christ, which
requires the priesthood, the hierarchy, the Magisterium, apostolic
succession, and all the rest. Eliminate the Eucharist, and every form
of heresy and license follows naturally; this is the history of Protestantism
in a nutshell. “Reforming” Christ’s Church nearly
always turns out to mean relaxing her morals.
Countless people have become believing Catholics because of Padre
Pio; I know of none who have become believers through the influence
of liberal Catholics like Wills. How can you have the Catholic faith
without the Blessed Virgin Mary?
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