Is Catholicism becoming a "pick and mix" religion? And is this only to be expected?
I have lots of Catholic friends who have hugely varying commitments to the Church. They say things like:
"I'm Catholic but I don't believe in going to Mass every Sunday, we go at Christmas."
"I'm all with the Church when it comes to issues of abortion and euthanasia, but I'm on the pill and I think contraception is OK."
"I love attending Mass and I'm Catholic through and through, but I think the Church needs to update it's thinking in the area of gay marriage."
"I'm Catholic and I receive communion every week but I don't really agree with the teachings about divorce. I'm divorced and remarried and it hasn't damaged my relationship with God."
Is it OK to belong to a church but not agree with everything it teaches? Or should those people just go and find another church to belong to?
There is also growing discontent in some circles with our Holy Father and his teachings. Is that OK, or should those people also be looking for a different church? If the Pope is our head and you can't agree with what he is saying, teaching and changing, then is it time to find a church whose leader you do believe in? The catechism tells us:
882 The Pope, Bishop of Rome and Peter's successor, "is the perpetual and visible source and foundation of the unity both of the bishops and of the whole company of the faithful. For the Roman Pontiff, by reason of his office as Vicar of Christ, and as pastor of the entire Church has full, supreme, and universal power over the whole Church, a power which he can always exercise unhindered."
883 "The college or body of bishops has no authority unless united with the Roman Pontiff, Peter's successor, as its head." As such, this college has "supreme and full authority over the universal Church; but this power cannot be exercised without the agreement of the Roman Pontiff."
Our Pope, like him or not, agree with him or not, has been appointed by a group of holy men, under the watchful gaze of the Holy Spiit and by "reason of his office as Vicar of Christ… has full, supreme and universal power." He is the leader of our Church, he is our shepherd and regardless of whether he says things we agree with or not, he is in charge and we are asked, as members of the Catholic Church, to obey and respect him. If we don't, we are as guilty of making this a "pick and mix" religion as all of the people listed above.
I kind of see it a little bit like your workplace. I remember being in a job in Auckland when we got a new principal I didn't get on with. She was changing the direction of the school and I didn't agree with the changes. I was not on board with her vision. So, I found another job. If you are in profound disagreement with core beliefs or the leader's vision, then you are in disagreement with the Church itself.
And as for those priests and bishops who are constantly bagging Pope Francis, the catechism makes it clear that they have no authority, so perhaps we shouldn't even be reading or listening to the things they say. They are in direct disobediance to the Church and its teachings. That sounds dangerous to me.
I know lots of you feel that some of Pope Francis' teachings are directly against Church Tradition, and therefore equally dangerous, but as Catholics we are asked to submit to him in his "full, supeme and universal power". Peter was the rock on which Jesus founded his holy Church, our Church and Francis is his successor.
Looking forward to reading the comments!