Let’s be honest, there are many ways in which we could view the Catholic Church as being under attack by Satan and evil; from large numbers of Catholics leaving the faith to the sex scandal in the Church. Even the Easter bombings in Sri Lanka and Palm Sunday attacks in Egypt show a great hatred for our faith and the salvific work of Christ. But I don’t want to discus these more obvious attacks on our faith and the Catholic Church, but rather I wish to discuss a more subtle attack which threatens to undermine the Church’s capacity to be a lantern of God’s goodness throughout the world. Through deception and trickery by Satan, many are being fooled into believing the Church as being the source of evil, to which we must defend ourselves through political powers.
This attack against the Church has been going on for so long that there is no possible way to cover all of its many sides in this article, but I will cover what I see as being the most critical steps Satan has taken to undermine the Church’s righteous image. The most obvious attack against her holy image is through the abuse scandal, but this attack has two sides: undermine the view that she is a source of charity and good works in the world, then instill the conception that she does the opposite through the abuse of God’s little ones.
If the Catholic Church were strongly viewed by outsiders as being a source of charity in the world, it would easily overcome the shame of the abuse scandal by showing in a clear and apparent way that those priests and religious acted completely separate from the good will of the Church. But the less the Church is viewed as a strong source of charity in the world, the less apparent this distinction can be made. So, what do I mean when I say the Church is no longer viewed as being a strong source of charity in the world? Simple, look at what works the Church did 100 years ago versus what she is known for today.
In the last century, close to 500 hospitals were founded by religious sisters in the U.S. These hospitals were run by sisters who took a vow of poverty, caring for the sick out of love for God and neighbor. They were not focused on profits like the hospitals of today, but rather wished to take care of the needy in order to show the healing work of God. But in the modern era, with a drastic reduction of religious vocations, many of these hospitals have been increasingly run by secular individuals working for a wage. Furthermore, the role of taking care of the sick has increasingly been seen as a role of the government, not religion, and as a matter of politics and not faith. This is one area in which the charitable image of the Church has been diminished, but unfortunately there are many more.
Think about the historical role of the Church as taking care of orphans. Historically, it was through running orphanages in the U.S., but in modern times the Catholic Church has sought to help through Catholic foster homes. But even this image of the Catholic Church as being charitable is under attack. Think, for example, of the case of the Catholic Charities of Buffalo and their foster care program. Due to the regulations of the state of New York requiring them to license same-sex couples, Catholic Charities of Buffalo has been forced to stop providing foster homes in order to not run contrary to Catholic teaching. It is not only in Buffalo where this has occurred, but in Philadelphia also. Each time a Catholic agency is prevented from serving children and the neediest in this way, it further undermines the charitable image of the Catholic Church and allows the filthy image of abuse to remain.
Beyond these examples, there are many other ways the Church’s charitable image has been compromised and Satan has worked to instill an image of sin and abuse instead. But beyond just the effects this attack has on the faith of Catholics, it has many real repercussions in the world which invites direct threats to the Catholic faith itself.
Before explaining this threat, it is important to understand that in order to take away the Church’s image of charity, Satan needed it to be placed in another entity: government. As long as our government is seen as being the source of charity in the world, the false idea that government must keep the Church in check against immorality can be promoted. In other words, governments are beginning to see themselves as morally obligated to control our faith.
Unfortunately, there are already many examples of this beginning to happen in our modern society. In England, the government will soon be obligating all schools—including religious ones—to teach sex education classes starting at age 12 which include curriculum concerning LGBT issues. In the U.S., California has proposed a new law that if passed would require priests to reveal the content of confessions if it pertained to child abuse. And before this, there was also an attempt in California to require all clinics to provide information on the low cost of abortion in the state, a requirement which has fortunately been blocked by the supreme court. There have been many other legislative attempts to undermine the moral teaching of the Church—many of which have failed—but regardless, the constant threat of further legislation against the Catholic Church and her teachings is always present. This destructive movement is energized through the deceptive idea that evil enters the world through the Church rather than the reality of evil having snuck into the Church in order to deceive many.
Fortunately, as with any evil strategy, there are weak points to which we can fight back. The most powerful means we have to restore the image of the Church is not through words and apologies, but through actions and charitable works. As St. Paul writes, faith without works is dead, and thus this is the only true means by which to show our true faith to the world. We as laypeople should not expect the work of charity to be done solely by the religious and priests, instead we need to understand that each one of us has an obligation to God and to the Church to restore the image of our Catholic faith by our charitable works everywhere we go. In the modern world, Satan is making it increasingly hard for religious institutions to do good work in the world. Through reduced vocations, legislation against Catholic teachings as in the case of Catholic Charities’ work in foster care and increased legal costs for battling sex abuse allegations and paying millions in compensation, the religious of the Church are facing increased difficulty in promoting the charitable face of the Church. But the laity far outnumber the religious, and the impact we can have for the Church is far greater, if only we would act rather than assume that the Church’s problems don’t affect us.
Catholic charities may not be able to provide foster homes in many cities due to legislation, but it doesn’t mean Catholic laity can’t become foster parents. Legal cost and fines associated with accusations may create fear for religious organizations to work with children in some instances, but it doesn’t prevent the laity from being able to fill that role. Lack of vocations may make it hard for religious orders to reach out to all members of society in a loving, caring way, but it doesn’t mean the laity can’t fulfill this role. The Church’s image might be tattered in todays society, but it can be repaired—if only we laity fulfilled our obligation as Catholics to do good in the world. The goodness of our faith is always conveyed through our actions, so act!