Catholic laypersons are called by Christ and His Church, in the apostolate of the laity, to evangelize the world, to bring Christ and His teaching to those who do not know the Truth. But we are hobbled in our efforts to bring the teaching of Christ to the world because, we Catholics cannot agree on what that truth is. How can we say to sinful secular society, ‘Repent from your sins, for the kingdom of heaven is near’, when we cannot agree among ourselves on what is and is not sinful?
Today, there is no teaching of the Church on morality, other than ideas already accepted by secular society, that has not been transformed into a different teaching by various Catholics. The magisterial condemnation on abortion has been re-imagined by some priests, theologians, and commentators so that various direct abortions are now called indirect and moral. The teaching of the Magisterium that contraception is intrinsically evil and always gravely immoral has be revised by various commentators, so that contraception is only immoral within marriage, or only immoral in marriage if you have a contraceptive intention. Every condemnation of intrinsically evil acts by the Magisterium is being revised by absurd interpretation and commentary, so as to justify that type of act, usually by claiming that a particular intention or a particular circumstance has transformed the act into a different type of act, one that is no longer intrinsically evil and no longer immoral at all.
Another approach used by these commentators is to claim that the Magisterium has no teaching at all on various questions of morality, as if the basic principles on ethics clearly and definitively taught by the Magisterium can only be applied by the Magisterium. They speak as if we must wait for an explicit statement on each and every point, and otherwise we would have no way of determining what is moral. If any truth is implied but not stated by a magisterial document, they consider that truth to be absent from the document.
The overall problem is particularly severe on the internet. Popular bloggers as well as prolific posters in Catholic discussion groups are making great progress in teaching grave doctrinal errors on morality and on salvation. They are using the internet, sometimes under cover of anonymity, to teach, as if it were the teaching of the Church, what is in fact grave doctrinal error. And they are succeeding in convincing their fellow Catholics that the heretical errors they promote are actually the teaching of the Church.
But it gets worse. Sometimes such persons, these false teachers or their students, reach out to non-Catholics and evangelize them with these same heresies. New members, being brought into the Church, are taught grave doctrinal errors as if these were required beliefs taught authoritatively by the Magisterium. Instead of evangelizing the world with the truths of Christ, many Catholics are evangelizing both the world and the members of the Church with grave heresies contrary to the truths of Christ.
And that is why much of my writing in theology is directed at correcting these grave errors on matters of faith and morals being taught by false teachers. Instead of writing apologetics, defending the teaching of the Church against the errors of Protestants, other religions, and secular society, I must write intramural apologetics correcting the errors of false teachers within the Church who use the internet to teach their heretical errors worldwide.
What is next? What will happen if these false teachers within the Church succeed in winning many new converts to their perverse version of Catholicism? I shudder to think.
May God have mercy on the true teachings of His Church.
by Ronald L. Conte Jr.
Roman Catholic theologian and Bible translator