In a Church filled with sin: to speak up or to be prayerfully silent?


Ok - so the Church is full of intentional sinners: homosexual agendas, contraception, divorce, sexual abuse, taking the Lord’s Name in Vain, breaking the Lord’s Day, heresy, taking communion in grave sin and the list goes on and on.

In response to that - some Catholics have taken up a valiant call to make a ministry of “awareness” to help Catholics “wake up”. For example, they are quick to point out heresies that Bishops are promoting. They strongly encourage Catholics to speak out against the many evils - specially those within the Church - to create, if you will, a grass roots movement. This seems to be very heroic and apostolic.

Others think that Our Lady is teaching us to be prayerful and silent: to stay focused primarily on our own spiritual development (and the development of our families). Speaking up is not encouraged in these circles with the only action being “Pray for Priests.” This seems to be very similar to the way the Holy Family conducted themselves - in silence - leaving the societal corrections to Jesus only once He assumed His Mission as Prophet (but silent while He was in the role as simply a citizen of Nazareth).

So what is the best answer for the layity? Speak up against the deluge of sin? Or remain prayerfully silent?


We should do both. We need to pray for the Church, but we also should speak up when it is appropriate since we can’t let the evils be perpetuated.


We are many parts, we are all one body.

We are all given different spiritual gifts for the benefit of the body.

So, it’s not either/or. It’s both/and. It depends upon your particular charisms and calling as to what you do to build up the body.


Most definitely this.


My response would be prayer combined with probably trying to be a good example. I’ve never been good at speaking up because I do such a bad job at it. It’s imperative when calling people out on sin - at least in my opinion - to be charitable and honestly I stink at sounding charitable when I speak. I just sound judgmental and that usually just results in hurt feelings and people digging in their heels.


Same here. When I put myself out there, I’m like someone who has his shoe in his mouth. So I was kindof hoping to find some folks that think Prayerful Silence is good. Of course when directly confronted with a sin/no-sin situation - then speaking up is necessary: say as a parent this would be common. However, at Church, I like to hide in one of the pews and sing silently (usually humming). :slight_smile:


Before you even get to asking “What to do?”, you first need to properly informed on what you are doing something about.

The sort of claims here are ones I’ve seen from various confrontational Catholics, and they invariably exaggerate the problems to give the impression they have a cause to rally support for.

So, first, be skeptical about such claims and look behind for the facts, and then ask “Is this my business?”.

For example:

Homosexual agenda?

I’ve seen many claims of this - and little substance. It possibly has existed, and still exists, in some places, but what is the current impact on the Church?

Heresies that Bishops are promoting?

Again, which Bishops? Which “heresies”? Are they promoting heresy, or exercising legitimate diversity, in obedience to Rome? Is it really your concern if one or two bishops in another country have gone too far? What about the hundreds of bishops who haven’t?

Who are “they”?

In the Catholic church, we follow first our bishops and priests. Sometimes, very occasionally, dissent is necessary - but obedience and respect are the rule. They are the shepherds responsible for our souls.

I don’t know which particular activists you are following, but there are some out there, usually laity, with their own agenda, of discrediting the church with exaggerations and unproven allegations, and who take it on themselves to do the bishops’ job. If you are following such people, then my first advice would be to “unfollow” them, and then see what the Church looks like without their poisonous influence.


Our best duty to the church is to follow our pastors, before speaking against them, or even praying for them. Listen to your priest’s homilies and think about them. Read your bishop’s pastoral letters. Be informed what’s happening in your diocese. Read the Pope’s encyclicals. Read the Bible. Say the Rosary. Participate in your parish’s Lenten discussion group, etc. If you’ve got time left after all that, then maybe think about fixing the Church’s problems.

Be wary of calls to “Pray for priests” or “Wake people up” which are just diversions, or outright dissent, from our primary duty of respect and obedience.

If I were a priest or bishop, I’d much rather have my parishioners respecting me, assisting me, listening to and responding to my requests, while keeping quiet about my failures, than just praying for me while doing none of these first things, and spending their time researching the problems in the Church.


I want to offer a solution and a suggestion with respect to the homily. A priest gave me this advice and I thought it was simply brilliant. He suggested that I read the scripture passages from the mass in advance. Then research the meaning of the passages with Bible commentary, dictionary, footnotes, concordance, etc. After I have done the research, he suggested I write my own homily. In other words, if I were the priest or the deacon, what would I say to the congregation – what would be my explanation? After the actual homily given by the priest (or deacon), I could then compare: for example, “I didn’t see it that way.” “This explanation has deepened my understanding.” “That is another way to look at it.” And so forth. This approach absolutely guarantees that if the priest or deacon is having a bad day and doesn’t give his “best” homily, I will still have what I need from the word of God.


Speaking out is not easy - especially by taking on Bishops and Priests. It is another reason why I would shy away from such activities. You’ve got to have your facts straight - and maybe should be a Catholic with a Canon Law Degree to be fully armed before speaking up.

At the same time, it is hard to say that nothing is going on when we see Priests with lovers in the Vatican itself. Likewise surveys say that most Catholics don’t view Contraception as a mortal sin and are going to Communion compiling mortal sins. And of course we have had uncountable numbers of priestly abuse scandals - most of which were homosexual cases with boys. That is an unthinkable atrocity. When we look at the details of even one of those vetted cases, we ask “Why didn’t anyone speak up?” In many cases, people who noticed subtle evidence hid it because they were unsure and wanted to avoid a scandal especially with a Priest.

So it is very hard to say nothing is happening… something wicked has come this way for sure.

I would prefer the Pray for Priests approach for sure. Much safer and less dramatic.


I love this response. It is true that we all bring our unique gifts to lifting up the Body of Christ.


So if it is true that most Catholics are in a state of grave sin and heading down the wide road toward hell, why aren’t all the alarms going off at the pulpit and the good priests & bishops yelling “the barn is burning down!”? — I couldn’t answer this question.

But then someone mentioned to me that while the facts are true, the metaphor is inaccurate.

Instead, the barn is filled with people holding guns to their own heads playing Russian roulette (with really big cylinders) and most people believe the guns are plastic toys. Should the priests and bishops preach hellfire from the pulpit, the people with guns would all leave and eventually kill themselves.

The good priests and bishops are so cautious with the Truth, because they want to encourage the people to stay in the barn under their care rather than to leave it.

And by doing so, the hope is that if the people stay long enough, they will begin to believe that the guns are real and put them down of their own volition. That is, when they reach a point in their spirituality that they truly believe in grave sin and its eternal consequences.


The reason that most of the pulpits are silent about the current crisis in the Church is because many in the clergy are part of the problem. Their heresy, immoral lives, and lack of catechesis has led the Church into it’s current crisis. Many, too, deny that there even is a problem.

It is ridiculous to think that divine truths should not be preached from the pulpit so that people don’t leave. To withhold the truth from the faithful is damning them rather then saving them since they will not learn of the truth unless they are told about it. Christ knew that many of his followers would leave when taught about Holy Communion, but He taught them anyway since He came to bring the truth. The reason that people will leave if they hear about the hard truths is because they have been deprived of it for so long that they are spiritually starving. You don’t help a starving man by denying him food so that he can find it himself.


Let’s assume what you say is true. And let’s assume Pope Francis is a good Pope. If so, could there be another just reason he would downplay the grave sins that most Christians are waddling in?


If Pope Francis is truly a good Pope (as I believe he is), then I don’t think he would downplay mortal sin. I am not aware of him doing this, could you give an example?


“Pope Francis’ statements in an interview published last week that the Catholic church has been too “obsessed” with homosexuality and abortion, and should focus more on being a “home for all,” have earned high approval from both Catholics and non-Catholics, according to a new poll conducted by HuffPost/YouGov.” -


The Holy Father is not downplaying the gravity of these sins but is trying to make the Church focus on other areas and not only these two social issues. His statement, I am sure, has made people think the Church no longer considers these two sins serious, but the Holy Father is known for saying things that are easily twisted.


I think the proper term is that he is not “down-grading” the sins - for they are still grave. “Downplaying” refers more to deprioritizing emphasis - which is what he is doing in this example.

For there are many priests who are downplaying grave sin and what eternal hell looks like. Eternal hell is rarely discussed from the pulpit, for example. And what priest brings up the statistics that 80% of those in the pews are pro-Contraception?

It seems this is because they don’t want to drive the flock further away - which does not really believe that death with grave sin is the key to entry into hell. One could feel the desperation the Popes had for the salvation of souls due to the threat of hell. It was from this awareness of Satanic threats that the St. Michael prayer was penned.

I believe that is what Pope Francis is doing with his soft and easily twisted comments as well. He is promoting Mercy heavily and reducing emphasis on God’s Justice and Hell.

Wouldn’t you agree this seems to be the communication emphasis of choice for most priests, bishops and our Holy Father these days?

In contrast the writings of the Popes a century ago greatly emphasized the reality of eternal fire with a sense of desperation to save souls from such an end. The St. Michael Prayer coined by Pope Leo XIII reflects that emphasis of eternal punishment: A topic that is rarely discussed in a Sunday Mass nowadays.

The emphasis on grave sins has been de-prioritized/downplayed.


Maybe to put it very simply with big brush strokes:
In the past the Pastoral message emphasized the path to salvation something like the following. With the help of the Sacraments:
*]Resolve to obey the Law
*]Forgive others
*]Do good
*]You will be saved from Hell
*]You will be receive the everlasting reward in Heaven.

Now the Pastoral message emphasizes the path to salvation as something like this. With the help of the Sacraments:[LIST=1]
*]Love and you may receive everlasting Mercy
*]Do good deeds
*]When you are ready, we’ll talk about repentance
*]Obey the laws you are comfortable with for now
*]Obey the rest of the Law
*]Forgive others
*]You will receive the everlasting reward in Heaven
*]Let’s talk about Hell if you feel the need to.

Note, the above does not condemn one approach over another - it is more of an attempt to understand how so much sin seems to be so lightly addressed by good priests these days and why that might be. Note there are “bad” priests, but I want to leave them out of the discussion for this topic.


Overall, I agree with your depiction of how emphases in teaching have changed over a century (and more).

It is an interesting observation.

Of course, this is a very broad picture, with exceptions, and one would need to be well qualified to comment more on it.

One can actually see both directions coming from highly-credible revelations. At Fatima, in 1917, our Lady reminded us of Hell, and penance. To Sister Faustina, in the 1930s, our Lord emphasized mercy.

A good follow up on this would be to study Pope John Paul II’s encyclical: Rich in Mercy, and the significant letters and encyclicals of Pope Francis.

Please remember my suggestion to put more emphasis on assisting in one’s own parish and diocese, than worrying about what’s happening in the larger church - especially, worrying about scandals and teaching.

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