Church Militant: Forward March!

Jay Boyd - Church Militant


“The Church must be militant in order to thrive and flourish.”

So said Rod Pead (editor of Christian Order magazine) in a speech he gave thirteen years ago, but which could have been given yesterday. His words ring loud and true. The time has obviously come when Catholics need to be true Catholics. Persecution is practically upon us, and we need to fight for our faith as we have never fought before.

Of course, one reason for our current situation is that the Church hasn’t been militant for decades now. The Church has become sick as we have grown cold and lax in our duty to learn and teach the faith. As Rod Pead said in his 13-year-old speech, we’ve been under the “liberal illusion that we can defend Christ and Catholic truth without conflict and the unpleasantness of raised voices and pointed fingers”.

Sadly, it is in the ranks of our bishops that we see much of this desire to defend the truth without conflict. That attitude filters down to priests, and then down to the laity. And so, we must correct what is wrong in the Church by starting with the bishops.

Does that mean “bishop-bashing”? No; certainly we must show respect for the episcopal office. I’m talking about insisting that our bishops speak the truth boldly and forcefully, without concern for political correctness and “offending” someone. For too many years, we’ve seen bishops teaching wrongly, or failing to stand up for the truth, or simply being “wishy-washy” on Church doctrine when confronted with media pressure.

The Church does, after all, make demands of a bishop – standards that are not easy to achieve, but are still required. For instance, Canon Law describes the bishop’s duty to:

…teach and illustrate to the faithful the truths of faith which are to be believed and applied to morals…so that the whole of Christian teaching is transmitted to all. (Canon 386 ß1)

defend the integrity and unity of the faith to be believed. However, he is to acknowledge a just freedom in the further investigation of truths. (Canon 386 ß2)

…give an example of holiness, charity, humility and simplicity of life…to seek in every way to promote the holiness of Christ\’s faithful…to strive constantly that Christ\’s faithful entrusted to his care may grow in grace through the celebration of the sacraments… Can. 387

Of course, bishops don’t always do these things perfectly: they are human, after all! Still, there are some bishops who are not even coming close to the standards, and by commission or omission, they are misleading the people. They are causing scandal by allowing people to think, for instance, that it must be okay for Catholics to disagree with the Church on abortion, contraception, and homosexual marriage because Catholic politicians do so and go uncorrected.

When a bishop does speak the truth boldly, it makes news. Pead notes:

A prelate stands up to condemn sodomy or abortion – the minimum one might expect of a Catholic bishop – and we go weak at the knees and lose all sense of proportion in our rush to congratulate him.

Indeed! I’ve been told many times that I should focus on the good things some bishops are doing, rather than the goof-ups and missteps. And I’ve tried to give credit where credit is due. But Pead makes a good point: our standards for our bishops have sunk so low that we think it a wonder when one of them has the courage to preach the Gospel.

That doesn’t really help our bishops, either, no matter how charitable it might seem. The real act of charity might lie in challenging a bishop on his wrong teaching. Pead again (my emphases):

Episcopal salvation is, to say the very least, problematic. \”Many priests are lost and few bishops are saved,\” said St. John Chrysostom, himself a bishop… So we have to stop pandering to duplicitous Shepherds and start fearing – for them, since they appear to have lost all fear of God themselves, and fearing for our complicity in their negligence.

If a bishop does not preach the truth (and live it and talk it and publicize it in the mainstream media), but instead subverts Church teaching and directly violates Canon Law, then he leads his flock astray. Period.

And if he leads his flock astray, what is to become of him? Scripture has a straightforward answer:

[Jesus] said to his disciples, “Things that cause sin will inevitably occur, but woe to the person through whom they occur. It would be better for him if a millstone were put around his neck and he be thrown into the sea than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin. (Luke 17:1-2; see also Matthew 18:6)

If I were a bishop, I’d be trembling in fear at those words.

And so, sometimes, the laity must speak up, even according to Canon Law (my emphases):

Canon 212  §3 According to the knowledge, competence, and prestige which they possess, [the faithful] have the right and even at times the duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church and to make their opinion known to the rest of the Christian faithful

Of course, praying for our prelates is imperative. Rod Pead challenges us to consider whether we have really done that. He notes that we often wring our hands and say “there is only so much we can do”, but he adds:

But have we done even that much? Have we prayed and fasted and done penance and really begged God on our knees to convert the hearts and minds of the bishops? Have we consistently pleaded with Him to take the hirelings who will not respond to His grace to their early reward, and send us real Catholic Shepherds in their stead?

We, the lay infantry of the Church Militant, must do our part as well.  We fight against the forces of darkness through our prayer and fasting and penance. We must use those weapons and apply the merits to our shepherds, because we can’t make it without them…and they can’t make it without us.

And the world can’t make it without the Church.

So the Church Militant has its marching orders: we must heal our own wounds first before we can heal the world. Rod Pead sums it up nicely:

[The Catholic mind sees] that everything, every debate on whatever issue returns to Catholic moral and doctrinal realities and, therefore, that a healthy, unified Catholic Church precedes and gives rise to a healthy, unified and coherent State. And he sees all about him the catastrophic consequences for society of the Modernist heresy destroying the Western Church. Thus, he doesn\’t put the cart before the horse; he doesn\’t fool himself into accepting that a sick Church can heal a sick world; he knows that we have to heal the Church and unite ourselves – Catholics of the Latin Rite – before trying to heal the world and unite divided Christianity.

[Listen to Rod Pead’s speech here and here, or read the manuscript here. I recommend listening, but either way, you will find this speech to be The Vortex on steroids.]


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14 thoughts on “Church Militant: Forward March!”

  1. Johnny, what is your basis for saying that? Have you read any ethnographies, studied anthropology, reviewed the data in the Cross Culture Survey (HARF)? Or is it just something you don’t think could/should be true?

  2. Praying for Pope Francis, the USCCB and my diocesan priests is part of my daily prayer yet, I quite often find myself at odds with the political pronouncements of the USCCB. At odds with the American Bishops support for amnesty?
    Here’s why:

    Who is Cynthia Smith, Esq., Immigration Policy Advisor to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops?

    What groups does she claim affiliation with on her Linked in page:

    Society for International Development (SID) Group

    Created in 1957, the Society for International Development (SID) is a unique global network of individuals and institutions concerned with development which is participative, pluralistic and sustainable.

    In its pursuit for social justice and institutional change, SID plays an important mediating and facilitating role among progressive civil society groups, connecting activists, intellectuals, academics and policy-makers working at community, national and international level. All of SID’s activities, which provide opportunities for the exchange of knowledge and information, are informed by the belief that such changes can only be achieved through dialogue and constructive engagement

    Progressive keywords: sustainable | social justice | progressive | connecting activists

    Let’s not forget the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD).
    Just cruise over to their web-site and take a look at their 2013 grantee list or, for that matter, the director of the CCHD – a pro-choice, far left Democrat. The CCHD regularly funds abortion friendly, Community Organizing Farm Teams for the Democrat party; the party that denied God 3 times at their nat’l convention and the party of death. If anything, boycott the CCHD collection if your Bishop still allows funds to go their way. It’s usually the Sunday before Thanksgiving when the CCHD slithers up the aisle for cash.

  3. It seems to me that we do not ask as we should if the explanation of the PAULINE PRIVILEDGE – (I contributed to the “Wikipedia”) – is clear and if the interpretation of the PAULINE PRIVILEDGE could have changed since 1955 (since 1955 the Republic of Austria is called independent, on the screen of my computer it shows “10.04.2013 22:08”, “Sommerzeit”). I think that we cannot talk about what the CHURCH teaches without talking about the PAULINE PRIVILEDGE.

  4. Jay B –
    Treated with “charity” – yes – but for how long? It is not that the bishops have not been given warnings previously about so many Catholics seemingly disregarding their Statements, as well as what they profess to believe and pray for, when they make their decisions on who to vote for. There is a paper entitled “Why Clinton Got the Catholic Vote” by J.C. Willke, MD, Life Issues Connector January 1997; also, “Catholics and the 1996 Election” by Bishop James T. McHugh in First Things, February 1997; and “Interim Reflections Task Force on Catholic Bishops and the Catholic Politicians,” Cardinal McCarrick, Bishops’ Spring Meeting Denver, 6-15-04.

    Bishop McHugh ended his article saying: “For too long the Catholic bishops have been passive, withdrawn, or indirect in trying to give leadership. The 1996 elections should serve as a wake-up call for review and appraisal and a warning that the proclamation will not effectively be translated into witness and leadership unless our message is clear, morally compelling and unyielding.” Apparently, something is still missing.

    Dr. Willke’s article concluded this about the Catholic vote, as well as how it compared to the evangelicals’: “The reason why evangelicals vote according to their beliefs is not because of their ‘top leadership of the churches – they and Catholics are the same, but how those positions are preached to the faithful is another story. Broadly speaking, Evangelical pastors commonly preach forcefully about abortion, but Catholic pastors seldom do.’ Dr. Willke goes further and points out the power of what he calls the ‘middle management of the Church, i.e., the Chancery offices of the Bishops, and the ‘profound impact’ of the ‘seamless garment.’”(my emphasis) The last two sentences in his statement nailed it; those are the biggest influences in the Democrat Catholic vote; contrary to the bishops’ stated teaching that the right to life is the paramount right that should be influencing their vote. Pope John Paul II emphasized it more forcefully when he said “Above all, the common outcry, which is justly made on behalf of human rights – for example, the right to health, to home, to work, to family, to culture – is false and illusory if the right to life, the most basic and fundamental right and condition of all other personal rights, is not defended with maximum determination….”(my emphasis) Are the bishops and clergy defending the right to life “with maximum determination” by still giving their names and votes to the pro-abortion party? (IL Leader reported for election years “’96, ’98, 2000, and ’02, Priest in Chicagoland voted for the Dems 75.5% to 83.5% of the time.) (Evangelicals voted against the Dems 70% & 76% respectively in ’08, ’12.)

    Cardinal McCarrick’s Interim Reflections Task Force states under the paragraph heading, “Bishops as Teachers,” the following conclusion: “We believe every human person has a fundamental right to life. All issues are clearly not of equal moral worth – life comes first. But as the Doctrinal Note makes clear, those things which make life truly human – faith and family, education and work, housing and health care – demand our attention and action as well. Our conference has courageously and consistently taught and worked to protect human life and dignity. No one in America should doubt where we stand.” To me, your Task Force statement is not too unlike a politicians saying, “I’m personally opposed to abortion, BUT….” Adding the wording, “But as the Doctrinal Note makes clear, those things which make life TRULY human,” (my emphasis) is powerful enough to make “just being born” – incidental, giving Democrat Catholics the feeling of moral superiority, enabling them to think and say, “Their ‘pro-life’ doesn’t end at birth.” That is why the Catholic vote for the pro-abortion party has not diminished.

    Surveys of Chicago priest registered to vote show 75.5% to 83.5% vote Democrat. Furthermore, in the biography, written by a long time friend of Cardinal Bernardin (the father of the “Seamless Garment”) called “Cardinal Bernardin – Easing conflict – and battling for the soul of American Catholicism,” (published 1989; the subtitle, itself, is revealing), the motivation for expanding the definition of “pro-life” had another purpose to it. It was stated on pages 243, 244, where it said, “Not only would this move gain greater support from Catholics and others but it would keep the pro-life movement from falling completely under the control of the right wing conservatives who were becoming its dominant sponsors.” (Do you think God really cared if the “right- wing conservatives” were to take “total control” of the pro-life movement? Charity to those who make innocent mistakes, yes; to those who contrive and deceive, I don’t think so.

    The other problem for the unborn was the bishops OKing “collegiality” as being better than every bishop speaking their own mind. This silenced some bishops who would have called attention to the “Seamless Garment” favoring the pro-abortion party over the unborn babies.

  5. Dr. Siegfried Paul Posch

    I was sent information on POLYCARP (POLÝKARPOS) and it was copied and discussed shortly here in Austria. The discussion would seem to make necessary a decision on the “APOSTOLIC SUCCESSION” – s. this article of the “Wikipedia”, in which I read the note “last modified on 22 March 2013 at 05:45” less than one hour ago, I contributed to “Wikipedia”. Could you give me a list of persons that claim to be bishops in the States of the USA and in political units of the USA that are independent of the States and tell me how to contact them: of those bishops of the USA who are legitimized, in your opinion, by an “APOSTOLIC SUCCESSION”? That should be an easy task. You could first put three names of your list on “GÄSTEBUCH MARKTGEMEINDE PÖLLAU” (“GOOGLE.AT”), that seemed to be possible, still, less than one hour ago. – I was not able to put these lines on .

  6. I have been a cradle Catholic my whole life, but, since Vatican 11 and the multiple changes in the church not so happy. When they remodeled most of our churches and took the tabernacle off the main altar and put it in a special room, the holiness is so much less. We use to genuflect before kneeling in our pew. Not one priest or Bishop gives me a straight answer on this.

    Now with all that is going on in the Vatican and the abuse there I am not so happy to be a Catholic.

    1. Sharon, try finding a Catholic church with Norbertin priest, they are very traditional and well taught. I’ve enjoyed going to church there. I go to St. John the Baptist in Costa Mesa CA, about 5 miles from where we live.

  7. Jim O: I guess I didn’t mean that bishops should be “excused” when they make errors of judgment, and I didn’t mean that some of those errors don’t have far-reaching consequences. I do mean that there has likely never been a bishop who made no errors whatsoever in his shepherding of the flock. I want to be treated with charity by others and with mercy by God, and I suspect most other people – including bishops – do, too. Charity as I have said, can involve correction. Holding bishops accountable is part of that.

    Melinda (and others who want them) – Here are the corrected links for the talk:

  8. Pingback: FRIDAY MORNING EDITION | Big Pulpit

  9. “Of course, bishops don’t always do these things perfectly: they are human, after all!”

    I’m sorry, I don’t buy that. I can’t ignore that 55,000,000 American babies have been murdered because the “bishops…are human.” They answered a call but when time came for them to stand up, they caved! They were more interested in saving the Democrat Party than the unborn. The facts prove that to be true. And Cardinal Bernardin, the head of the Church in Chicago, and the Chairman of the Bishops’ Committee of Pro-Life Activities,the person President Obama says he “continues to be profoundly influenced by,” took the lead position to save the party over the lives Catholics profess to believe are created by God. Obama took Bernardin’s social justice issues and ran with it. Catholics remain the single, largest supporter of the pro-abortion, pro-homosexual marriage Democrat Party, even after the Party is attacking them.

    All Catholic Democrats need to do to end abortion on demand remaining the law of the land is simply remove their names from the Democrat registration rolls and stop voting for them until they support a RTL Amendment to the Constitution. Why should Catholics do that? Because they profess to believe God is the giver of life and pray for God’s will to be done on earth. Catholics better act on what they profess to believe and pray for or they are not going to be very happy when they hear what God has to say when they die. And it will be partially the bishops fault.

    1. There are actually two Catholic Churches in one or another way to put it is you can be Catholic and not adhere to all the teachings. You can pick and choose what suits you. The Church is actively promoting this hypocrisy because they believe it’s the only way to survive. What happened to faith or being lead by the Holy Spirit? If you oppose or speak out against it, you’re being judgemental.

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