As we anticipate a new Pope, let us do some soul-searching. Unknown to many, a modern-day Reformation, just like Martin Luther’s, has already began decades ago with the spread of non-Catholic Christian sects. The phenomenon has been so slow that it is hardly noticed, unlike Luther’s, which happened at the blink of an eye. His Reformation was monolithic, one huge Protestant splinter. Ours today is extremely granular, hundreds of small sects. But the causes are similar – clerical corruption and abuses. There must be a proper response, a new Counter-Reformation, launched from within the Church, not just by priests, bishops, and the Pope, but by all of us, the laity.
The Reformation launched by Martin Luther in 1517 led the largest schism in human history. A second crisis looms today, with the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, which is surrounded by just as many controversies as in the days of Luther.
We must study the Reformation and Counter-Reformation to understand the new looming crisis. We must expose rather than hide evils in the Church. We must criticize to achieve reform. Cover-ups are sins of omission, as in the issue of pedophilia today. No one, not even the Papacy, is exempt from criticism, which is better to come from the faithful and the clergy rather than the atheists and heretics.
Luther published his ’95 Theses’, challenging the Church to a debate. The root cause of that great splinter were clerical abuses surrounding the sale of indulgences, and of relics which purportedly saved the owner from temporal punishment. Pope Leo X was raising funds for the renovation of St. Peter’s Basilica. A Dominican priest led a campaign on the sale of indulgence in Germany. The Archbishop of Mainz agreed on the sale for a commission, to pay for his debts in bribing officials for his rank. As early as 1509, Frederick III had 5,000 relics for sale, including vials purportedly containing the milk of the Virgin Mary, and straw from the manger of Jesus. How straw was preserved for 15 centuries is doubtful. Dissatisfaction among Church members spread like wild fire, catalyzing a rapid shift to Luther’s cause in the blink of an eye.
The great splinter, which can be viewed as a form of punishment from God, or simply as karma, was caused by evils within the Church, just like what is happening today. The issue has shifted – no longer dogma or heresy, but sexual crimes and bank anomalies. The culprits are the same, the clergy.
In the Council of Trent of 1545, cardinals addressed institutional reforms on issues raised by Luther, triggering the birth of the Counter-Reformation which would last a century. Many religious orders emerged, especially the Jesuits, who led a new intellectual renaissance to refute Protestant precepts. Seminaries were established to train priests in theology and dogma. There was spiritual renewal, a return of devotion to Jesus.
There was also the negative side – the Inquisition, where Church tribunals led by cardinals tried and punished people for ‘heresy’. In Italy alone, 1,250 were put to death out of 50,000 to 75,000 trials. The books of Copernicus in 1616, and of Galileo in 1633, on the theory that the earth revolved the sun, were ridiculously banned as heresies, an over-step of religion into science.
The Church survived the first great crisis through sweeping reforms. Jesus said His Church would prevail through time. The practice of political appointments for Bishops was stopped. More Popes veered away from monarchies, drawing clearer lines separating Church and State. There was a cleansing from within.
The issues of today are many – corruption in the Vatican Bank, accusations of ties with the CIA, etc. The most prominent of is the spread of pedophilia in the clergy. The Church made a mistake of putting primacy in protecting its image rather than punishing the guilty. The cover-up ironically eventually worsened that image. Priests caught in the act where transferred to places where they continued their crimes. The Church was ironically fuelling pedophilia.
We are in an era where a new Counter-Reformation is needed, a return to spiritual basics, which will be the greatest task of the new Pope, who, before he even ascends the throne, is already beset by speculations that ‘the new Pope is the last Pope’, and the beginnings of tribulations predicted by Nostradamus, and the book of Revelation. The move towards new radical reforms must be coupled by a deepening of faith, a return to prayer, and a focus on the internal.
The greatest trial to the Catholic faithful today is to keep faith strong and steadfast in spite of increasing anti-Pope sentiments, and clerical scandals similar to the days of the Reformation. Evils within the Church, which have existed since the Middle Ages, must not weaken faith. We must understand that the Church is as much human as it is divine. There must be a resolve to emulate the Counter-Reformation, to achieve radical reforms.
If we discover our parish priest is a pedophile, we must not lose faith, or abandon the Church. Rather, we must seek ways to correct the situation – bring them to the courts, revive ex-communication if needed, to pre-empt future offenders. Although these reforms, as in the Counter-Reformation, must come more from the clergy than the laity, the laity has now a greater role, being active participants in clerical matters. We must know the causes of the spread of hundreds of sects, why many are moving away, to make proper reforms. We end with a prayer – Lord, please give us a new Pope who will strengthen and cleanse Your Church in this age of strife and confusion clarify our perspectives keep us united in faith in You help us launch a new Counter-Reformation to stem this new crisis in Your Church. amen By Bernie Lopez firstname.lastname@example.org
***************************** From the healing ministry archives
To those with terminal diseases, say a healing prayer with Father Fernando Suarez https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8UP3LHBgtIc with Sister Raquel Reodica, RVM https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wAZcwNimBSg the Lord heals in cyberspace.
RERUN The Mystery of the Healing Oil during the Ondoy Typhoon Part 1 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dlREzytKuSg Part 2 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=owykGkNCpIg
************************** woe to you who are complacent you lie on beds inlaid with ivory
and lounge on your couches
you dine on choice lambs
and fattened calves your feasting and lounging will end the songs in the temple will turn to wailing I will make the sun go down at noon
and darken the earth in broad daylight when I will send a famine through the land not a famine of food or a thirst for water,
but a famine of hearing the words of the Lord men will stagger from sea to sea
searching for the word of the Lord
but will not find it
Amos 6 to 9, excerpts
The Lord reigns in cyberspace amdg