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The heart of the matter - Fr David Muscat

In his article ‘No peace for the good’ (August 12) Fr Joe Borg suggested that the Vatican’s official 2005 position during Ratzinger’s pontificate, urging seminary rectors not to admit homosexuals, is malicious just because its architect was allegedly a closeted gay priest. Consequently, this prohibition is hypocritical and false.

From the manner in which Pope Francis strongly reaffirmed this 2005 policy when speaking last May to the Italian bishops, according to Fr Borg would Bergoglio not also be a bigoted queer? 

Forget Fr Borg’s wacky logic. What’s more problematical is his poor theology, for nobody is in a better position than a converted sinner, like King David, to smell out the devil’s snares and proclaim God’s ways of salvation. (see Psalm 51, 13). This is what frivolous Francis of Assisi did, debauched Augustine of Hippo preached, gambler Camillus of Lellis accomplished, and bellicose Ignatius of Loyola achieved. All these saints battled against the spine in their flesh up to the very end of their mortal life.

One needs to avoid falling into chiliasm by hoping that it would be enough if Pope Francis grabbed the Kennedy moment to do a radical purge. (In 1961, Kennedy was advised to break up the military-industrial complex as a do-or-die option). This would mean transforming Pope Francis into the ecclesiastical version of Donald Trump and Archbishop Scicluna into Captain America to make the Church great again.

But to what kind of greatness can Francis restore the Church of Christ? Sacred scripture scholars pinpoint, in the letters of Saint Paul and in the Acts of the Apostles, all kinds of scandal, from sex abuse to corruption, power struggles and divisions among the early Christians, when this was supposed to be the golden age.

Liberal priests love to portray the early Christians as innocent hugging brothers and sisters singing in Koine Greek a pre-reincarnated version of The Beatles’ All You Need Is Love and Scott McKenzie’s “put some flowers in your hair’’, this time if you are going to Corinth.

In reality, the martyred early Church leaders like Peter, Linus, Cletus, Clement, Sixtus and Cornelius, mentioned in the Roman Canon, were no better in discipline than Archbishops Michael Gonzi, Joseph Mercieca and Paul Cremona. The latter were martyred in a subtler way.

It is by following the clear teachings as laid down in this magisterium that the problem of sex abuse can be tackled at source

Pastors will always be frail, for Jesus promised that he’d put himself in jars of clay (2 Corinthians 4, 7-9) so that only his crucified glory is manifest and not any earthly power. It is from the cross that salvation ensues, and bishops officiate the sacraments from the open wounds of Jesus nailed to the cross.

I can bear witness to Christ’s crucified salvific grace from my own life experience and how this saved me from perdition. When I was a confused and scared kid growing up within the messed-up post-Conciliar Church of the 1970s I was terrified and needed help. The Jesus Christ offered to me was a mere historical figure – a nice guy like the Dukes of Hazzard, who meant well but was pure fiction.

Later on, when I became a young adult, many liberal priests – the generation of 1968 – presented me with a hippie-Christ from Godspell with a Superman shirt. We were taught that Simon and Garfunkel’s The Sound of Silence qualified as the peak of liturgical music. We were instructed after being pulled from the pews by a grinning priest and forced to lock hands with him and other bewildered teenagers that an excellent way to praise God was by swaying around the altar during the Sanctus, and the proper position after receiving Holy Communion was sitting on cushions singing Kumbaya My Lord.

Not to mention the Festa Żgħażagħ and the Eżerċizzi b’Differenza for youths done by good-meaning priests fostering pandemic relativism. These priests were all so nice but they forced their own phoney version of post-Conciliar Catholicism on all of us.  We soon ended up in the sad condition of a Christian community with utterly porous moral boundaries just like liberal Protestants mushrooming into myriad factions. 

This wonky theology of the 1960s’ free-thinkers has come crashing down like the Morandi bridge barely 50 years after completion. The Church for us was transformed into a heap of rubble, for it fell and “great was the fall of it” (Matthew 7, 28).

With the help of saintly old priests like Dun Salv Magro I rebelled just in time against such foolishness even though some scars were left in my body and soul. Some of my friends were not so lucky, for they swerved into debauchery and godlessness. Others skidded into homosexuality, especially a significant number of internal Maltese festa aficionados leading a double life. 

But Christ does not abandon his flock. He sent us a true son of Vatican Council II in Saint John Paul II. Immersed in true tradition like the Roman bridges lasting millennia, Karol Wojtyla contributed to the ‘Theology of the Body’ that has provided the Catholic Church with an efficient tool for avoiding the misery caused by the precedent liberal muddle. Finally, Pope Paul VI’s Humanae Vitae was vindicated.

It is by following the clear teachings as laid down in this magisterium that the problem of sex abuse can be tackled at source. This is what the great reformers like Pius V and Gregory VII did. Discipline was accompanied by sane teaching.

Therefore, I appeal to Archbishop Scicluna so that, before advancing his Vatican ecclesiastical career scavenging bishops’ weaknesses, he goes to the heart of matter. He should please apologise for bad catechesis, bad pastoral programmes, for the prolonged toleration of modernist heretics who by their unwillingness to grasp the intrinsic desperation of the gay mindset have brought so many souls to oblivion.

As for the long dead who perished, far too young, because no one ever bothered to tell them the Truth – no amount of apolo­gising will ever bring them back.

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