Matt C. Abbott
'I was asked how I could still be Catholic...'
By Matt C. Abbott
August 5, 2013

A good friend of mine, Susan E. Gorski, recently sent out the following reflection to those on her email list:
    I was asked how I could still be Catholic with all the scandals going on and all the people who have abandoned the faith and say they are Catholic but they don't practice.

    My Catholic faith does not rest on any solitary person or group save for One: Christ Jesus. A bad priest, a bad example, a scandal or a series of scandals, will not cause me to abandon my faith.

    People do things they should not, but Jesus does not, and the more I study Catholicism, the more clearly I am able to focus on Christ Jesus, my God, my King and my Savior.

    I always tell people who have ceased to practice that practice makes perfect, and if they aren't getting anything out of going to Mass, they aren't bringing anything to it.

    No matter how I have been treated by individuals or groups within the Catholic Church, I always remember, like me, they must answer to Jesus for who they are and what they do.

    I find that those who treat me badly never give a thought to what Jesus sees them doing, or how they are also doing it to Him.

    In Scripture, it is written that whatsoever we do to the least of His brethren, we do unto Him. I cannot repay malice with malice.

    Simply put, everything that happens betwixt myself and any others also happens in the presence of God and in the person of God.

    Therefore, if I return malice for malice, I have likewise inflicted malice upon person of God as well as the person I was treating in kind.

    Faith requires study, and the study must be lifelong. It requires love, and inspires the soul toward God.

    Everyone has a creed that they live by; sadly, it isn't always a religious creed.

    Faith requires action. The actions of our lives tell a story to others; it will sometimes be the only Bible some people will ever read.

The following is a July 29 blog entry by Father Angelo Mary Geiger (whom I've quoted previously in my column):
    It was reported in the Catholic online press today that our religious community, the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate, has been assigned an Apostolic Commissioner by the Sacred Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated life. Pope Francis has ordered the decree which goes into effect on August 12.

    Pope Francis has also severely restricted our use of the extraordinary form of the Mass, and this has been reported by a major Italian journalist as a 'contradiction' of Pope Benedict's permission granted in the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum. This is an unfortunate instance of an overeager journalist sensationalizing something he can only speculate about.

    The restrictions on our community are specific to us and have been put in place for reasons specific to us. Pope Francis has not contradicted Pope Benedict. The visitation of our community began under Pope Benedict and the Commission was recommended by Cardinal João Braz de Aviz who was appointed to the Congregation by Pope Benedict.

    What is being reported in the press and what has actually transpired within our community over the course of a number of years are two different things.

    Many of us – I would hope most of us – Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate, welcome the Holy Father's intervention into our life and trust fully that Holy Mother Church knows exactly what she is doing, even when the journalists do not. We entrust ourselves to her care, just as we do to the Immaculate.

    Please pray for our Institute.

    Many of the comments in the blogosphere about Pope Francis concerning his decision in regard to our Institute are simply disgraceful, and 'justified' by the most tenuous rationalizations. He is the Vicar of Christ. It is less than twenty-four hours since this hit the Internet and so many think they have got it all figured out. I have also seen sheer fabrications about the situation in our Institute within some of these comments. May God have mercy on us. Thank God for all the holy popes we have had for the past fifty years, who all have had much to suffer.

    I am closing down the comments now on these posts concerning the situation in the Institute. I left comments open to make a point, which the some of the commenters have made for me. Either you get the point or you don't. There is no point in trying to explain it.

    The contempt, disrespect and spirit of disobedience shown toward the Vicar of Christ, I repudiate. May God have mercy on us.

Patrick Baird, who attended the University of Notre Dame, wrote (slightly edited):
    The first day of class in the autumn of 1978, our professor, the philosophy department head, walked in and posed a question to the class: 'Is it ethical to continue to occupy a position of leadership, enjoying the trappings of power and trust incumbent with that position, when the person no longer holds true the tenets of the faith his position requires him to believe and, in fact, promote?'

    He then went on to tell us that, during the preceding summer, he sat down with the theology department head to develop some 'philosophical approaches' to discuss the doctrinal precepts of the Holy Trinity, the Resurrection, etc. With a saddened, grim look on his face, he shared with the class the theology department head's response to his query of 'How do we approach the concept of...?' with this: 'What? You don't still believe in those fairy tales, do you?' And this from a priest and theology department head!

    You can imagine, Matt, that given enough of these 'theologians,' well placed in both Catholic universities and seminaries, and highly educated 'Catholic' public leaders such as Nancy Pelosi, can claim to be devout Catholics and yet be, in practice, quite far from the true teaching of the Catholic Church's magisterium. Such individuals in places of great influence, like the theology department at Notre Dame, effected a change in how priests were, and perhaps still are, trained, how they preached to the faithful, and even how they conducted their private lives.

    Only by returning to a posture of what I call 'dynamic evangelization' – i.e. stating proudly what it means to be truly Catholic, even at the expense of being labeled elitist – and insisting that those in the church with real power (bishops and cardinals) label so-called Catholics for what they are: imposters, public figures who have already excommunicated themselves from the Catholic Faith by their public pronouncements that are diametrically opposed to Catholic doctrine.

    Just like the head of Priests for Life, Father Frank Pavone, who recently denounced Nancy Pelosi, top Catholic leaders should publicly denounce these people who, by their public support for abortion and gay marriage, scandalize us 'pedestrian' Catholics who yearn for a John the Baptist (or two) who will stand up and get in their faces – as they get in ours – and tell them to leave the Faith and to stop receiving Holy Communion; that is, they should stop pretending to be Catholic when they, de facto, no longer are!

    We are asked, weekly, from the pulpit about what we're doing to evangelize, to bring people into the Catholic Faith, and yet no one is asking our top Catholic leaders what they are doing to stop the erosion of faith among the faithful – erosion caused by our leadership's milquetoast reaction to statements made by blatantly anti-Catholic public leaders, who claim to be Catholic.

    His Holiness, Pope Francis, has said we need a poorer Church, and he and the Church's current leadership could easily achieve it: They would simply have to start insisting – from the pulpit and any other form of media available – that to be Catholic means to follow the teachings of the Church, period! If one cannot do it, then one should not claim to be Catholic, period!

    If people leave the Church in droves, it will be nothing more than a reenactment of what happened to Jesus, when, seeing that the majority of his disciples were leaving Him (after His statement about eating His Body and drinking His Blood), He asked: 'And you, will you also leave me?' I contend that the remaining faithful will respond like Peter: 'Lord, to whom should we go? You have the words of eternal life.' The Church will be smaller and poorer, when that happens, but it will be holier...and isn't that the point of being 'Church?'
© Matt C. Abbott


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Matt C. Abbott

Matt C. Abbott is a Catholic commentator with a Bachelor of Arts degree in communication, media and theatre from Northeastern Illinois University. He also has an Associate in Applied Science degree in business management from Triton College. Abbott has been interviewed on MSNBC, Bill Martinez Live, WOSU Radio in Ohio, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's 'Unsolved' podcast, WLS-TV (ABC) in Chicago, WMTV (NBC) and WISC-TV (CBS) in Madison, Wis., and has been quoted in The New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, and other media outlets. In 2005 and 2006, he was among the first writers to expose former cardinal Theodore McCarrick's abuse of power with and sexual harassment of seminarians. He can be reached at

(Note: I welcome thoughtful feedback and story ideas. If you want our correspondence to remain confidential, please specify as such in your initial email to me. However, I reserve the right to forward and/or publish emails that are accusatory, insulting or threatening in nature, even if they're marked confidential. Also, if you give me permission to publish a quote of yours, please do not contact me at a later time to request that I delete your name. Only in limited circumstances will I quote anonymous sources. Thank you and God bless!)


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