While looking for a parish to attend Mass while in another town, I came across a website which claims that the popes since Vatican II cannot truly be the popes since they are heretics because they are teaching that which is contrary to that which the Church has always taught before. Specifically, they say that the Church has always taught that there is no salvation outside the Church, but since Vatican II teaches differently, it is false teaching, heretical, and since a heretic cannot be pope, those popes since Vatican II cannot really be popes (They are not a part of the Society of Pius X. This is their web address: www.stdominicchapel.com)
I found what they said confusing. I have been taught to believe that the Catholic Church is the true Church because it contains the four pillars of the Church, one, holy, catholic and apostolic. I have also been taught that the teachings of the Church do not change–I understand the flower explanation—as time goes on, we can understand more fully a teaching, but I certainly agree that the Church cannot contradict itself which is what this website claims the Popes are now doing. I also believe Jesus said he would not abandon his Church.
Since I have no memory of the pre-Vatican II Church, it stirs something in me. Do I know what the Catholic Church is? Am I a part of the real Church? My own conversion was/is greatly influenced by the teaching of John Paul II. I am a cradle Catholic. As a young adult, I questioned my beliefs—why do I believe this, what if I had been born into, say, a Lutheran family, would that mean it was God’s will for me? However, I never left the faith. My questioning took the form of, e.g., the Church teaches birth control is wrong, I accept that it is wrong, but why? (please, don’t answer this one; I get it now). When I went to Franciscan University of Steubenville, I fell in love with the Church, Mary, and the Eucharist, and John Paul II. I came to believe the Catholic faith is the true faith. I married in the Church, my husband and I have striven to live our lives according to the Church’s precepts as we continue to learn more about them. For example, I still struggle with how to keep the Sabbath holy. We go to Mass, we try not to go to stores, but what about the schoolwork that didn’t get done or household chores? Also in the area of responsible parenthood, we have really struggle with the issues of providing our children a Catholic education. We have driven to Catholic schools, homeschooled, and driven to a charter school all in an effort to give them a good education. Is it humility or laziness to acknowledge we are not doing a very good job educating them in the Catholic faith, yet the best we can do does not seem very good? We have 5 children ranging in age from almost 16 to just turned one and my husband and I are relatively “old”, 54 and 42. My husband drives 120 miles to and from work so we can afford our home in the country (which no one would want to buy right now and for which we could not trade for anything like it for the same price even one town closer to his job) and everything else we need. Sometimes it is such a struggle to keep them all fed and clothed and keep the dishes washed and we are so tired. It would make it all worth while, if I knew we were doing God’s will. But then I see some of the stuff going on at our parish (like a talent show where girls danced in immodest clothing and a boy played “Stairway to Heaven” on the steps of the altar) and others and I see the diversity among parishes. I thought the GIRM was supposed to straighten things out but it seems it’s gotten worse. This parish doesn’t kneel but this one does, this parish holds hands at the “Our Father” but another doesn’t, this parish doesn’t allow guitar music (I confess I love guitar music) while another has speakers, drums and electric instruments, etc., etc. I had a roommate in college who belonged to the Byzantine rite and with all this confusion, there is a yearning for the kind of stability they seem to have. What kind of homework do I need to do so I will know I am part of the real Catholic Church? And please remember, it needs to be simple for this mom of five including a baby.