A crisis of doctrine, such as the one through which the Catholic Church is now passing, has several sad effects. Most obviously, the truth is obscured, with unthinkable consequences for the salvation of souls. Heretical movements often unleash immoderate rage against orthodox believers (look at the ongoing clampdown on theological debate, and the well-grounded fears of the clergy). But the most obvious result is the very evident grief among faithful Catholics. I keep hearing or reading things like, “It’s so tempting to just give up,” or “I don’t know how to explain this to my kids.” It may be only a small minority who are aware of the crisis, so far, but that minority is growing. The other day I bumped into an acquaintance who I can’t remember previously saying a thing about Vatican politics. Almost the first words out of his mouth were: “It’s terrible, isn’t it?”
St. Vincent of Lerins referred to this as a “great trial” for Catholics: to keep one’s faith when it is coming under attack—hardest of all, when it is being attacked by distinguished teachers.
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