By Father Kevin M. Cusick
One must truly admire Kathleen Kennedy Townsend’s frequent, determined and overreaching efforts to be taken seriously. First it was a failed bid for elected Democratic office in the state of Maryland where no Democrats have lost an election as far back as Agnew until Townsend came along. Now she strides fearlessly into the world of theology as she pontificates in Newseek magazine that “Obama represents American Catholics better than the Pope does.” Yes, Kathleen, there is a Pope and he represents, not American Catholics, but rather Jesus Christ. And that is the point of the whole exercise: Catholicism is about representing Christ to the world; bringing the truth and salvation of Christ to the world. Catholicism is not a plebiscite broken into national denominations in search of elected representatives. Obama is no more qualified to represent what is Catholic than is the Dalai Lama.
Let’s take Kathleen to catechism class and review for her benefit, also for ourselves, how the Pope is our teacher with authority in what we believe and in how our Faith should be reflected in our lives. The Catechism, in paragraph 2034, tells us: “The Roman Pontiff and the bishops are ‘authentic teachers, that is, teachers endowed with the authority of Christ, who preach the faith to the people entrusted to them, the faith to be believed and put into practice.’The ordinary and universal Magisterium of the Pope and the bishops in communion with him teach the faithful the truth to believe, the charity to practice, the beatitude to hope for.” This means that if Kathleen is a Catholic, she must give assent with her intellect and will to all that the Pope teaches in matters of faith and morals just as she would to Christ Himself. It also means that if she does not do so she is not a Catholic in good standing and must repent.
Towsend represents very well the erroneous and very modern notion that truth is determined by polls or by the direction of the wind or by the media. The Church, the Body of Christ on earth, stands until the end of the world as a bulwark against Townsend and other advocates of what Pope Benedict XVI has dubbed “the tyranny of relativism”. Those who say that God should obey the latest public fads and opinions and that the Pope and the Church should fall in behind the bandwagon have the freedom to belong to any ecclesial body they choose but not sincerely so the Catholic Church. Why? The Church is founded by Christ, to which He has given the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit that leads the Church into “all the truth”. The Church is in the truth business. And God is the source of truth.
In the Catechism we read, "‘The sum of your word is truth; and every one of your righteous ordinances endures forever.’ ‘And now, O LORD God, you are God, and your words are true"; this is why God's promises always come true. God is Truth itself, whose words cannot deceive. This is why one can abandon oneself in full trust to the truth and faithfulness of his word in all things. The beginning of sin and of man's fall was due to a lie of the tempter who induced doubt of God's word, kindness and faithfulness.” (CCC 215)
Being Catholic means now, and always has, that the truths of the Faith are truth because they cannot change, and truth cannot change because it comes from God who is not subject to any creature. All truth finds its source in God who is consistent, unchanging and everlasting. Christ the Lord declared of Himself, “I Am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” This same Christ founded the Church and entrusted to Her the fullness of the source of salvation, to include the teaching of saving truth, in matters of faith and morals.
" ‘The sole Church of Christ [is that] which our Savior, after his Resurrection, entrusted to Peter's pastoral care, commissioning him and the other apostles to extend and rule it. . . . This Church, constituted and organized as a society in the present world, subsists in (subsistit in) the Catholic Church, which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the bishops in communion with him.’
The Second Vatican Council's Decree on Ecumenism explains: ‘For it is through Christ's Catholic Church alone, which is the universal help toward salvation, that the fullness of the means of salvation can be obtained. It was to the apostolic college alone, of which Peter is the head, that we believe that our Lord entrusted all the blessings of the New Covenant, in order to establish on earth the one Body of Christ into which all those should be fully incorporated who belong in any way to the People of God.’ " (CCC 816)
Yes, Kathleen, there is a Pope. And he is your teacher in matters of Catholic Christian faith and morals, the “sweet Christ on earth”. If you fail to obey the Pope you fail to obey Christ Himself.
This column was published in today's issue of The Wanderer Catholic Newspaper. For information about how to subscribe to the online "e-edition" or paper coopy visit the website for The Wanderer.
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