The difficulty in educating and mobilising parishioners was compounded by that ever-present achilles-heel of Australian Catholicism: false-charity. The counter-revolutionaries were easily dismissed by the Team and its supporters as “narrow”, “intolerant” and “fearful of change” and generally charged with being “uncharitable” by all and sundry.
As Father Felix Sarda expounded in his classic treatise What is Liberalism, this is a standard ploy by ‘progressive’ priests and their lay supporters who realise that they simply have no solid arguments with which to debate orthodox Catholics. When their heterodoxy is openly challenged, they cry poor and the epithets flow thick and fast. The charge is usually framed in a statement like this: “Surely your harsh and uncharitable denunciations contradict the teachings of Christianity, which is essentially a religion of love?”
It is amazing how often such trite accusations of intolerance have succeeded in disconcerting even the staunchest Catholics, lulling them into acceptance of a false-charity and giving ecclesiastical revolutionaries a walk-up start in parishes across the country. Given the huge number of parishioners who opposed the Team but chose to remain silent and avoid a public skirmish, there is every reason to believe that this achilles-heel was again a hindrance to Catholic counter-revolution. It is therefore crucial to consider the value of these familiar accusations in light of the true meaning of charity.
Leading the charge, of course, was the Bishop himself. In characterizing trenchant criticisms of the Team as ‘hateful’ and `malicious’ he totally misconstrued the intent of the critics who, unlike the Bishop, were exercising true Catholic charity. Father Tierney’s Catholic Family Catechism provides a complete and succinct definition of charity:
“Charity is the power to love God above all else for his own sake, and our neighbor as ourselves for love of God.”
To be truly charitable to our neighbor, therefore, we must not love him in just any way, but for love of God and in obedience to His law. It thus follows that we can love our neighbor while displeasing him, opposing and even humiliating him, if it is:
- FOR HIS OWN GOOD — correcting the wicked by restraining or punishing them is perfect charity.
- FOR THE GOOD OF SOMEONE WHOSE RIGHTS ARE SUPERIOR TO HIS — defending a third-party from the contagion of newchurch error by unmasking its authors and abettors and holding them up to the contempt and execration of the Catholic populace is an act of true charity.
- FOR THE GREATER SERVICE OF GOD –_______ God is the neighbor of all neighbors and the degree of our offense towards men can only be measured by the degree of our obligation to Him. It may entail sacrificing human considerations, respect and interests and even life itself.
Charity is, therefore, primarily the love of God, secondarily the love of our neighbor for God’s sake. To sacrifice the former is to abandon the latter. Therefore, to offend our neighbor for the love of God is a true act of charity.