I remember, as a child, believing with all my heart and mind (...which were young and unformed...) that Roman Catholicism was the One Way to Heaven. All those Protestants, Hindus, Communists ... I felt sorry for them; they were doomed.
It followed from this belief that whatever the priest or the Pope said was true. Therefore I needed to believe it, because if I did not believe it, I too was doomed.
I can still call that feeling back: the fear that I am doomed if I don't not merely OBEY but BELIEVE is dug in deep. I ignore it nearly all of the time cuz I've grown up, but I can well imagine that some never have. Certainly some of my former seminarians don't seem to have, and for them I must feel pity.
Doesn't it seem, some days, that the Church Hierarchy is trying to see how strange it can get just as a test of faith? Apparently the General Assembly of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops is about to issue an official message ("pastoral letter") denouncing sex within marriage for purposes other than making babies as "dehumanized" and "demeaning".
"Dehumanized" and "Demeaning"?
Lordy, am I reading Mad Magazine? It's almost as if the hierarchy is deliberately putting out nonsense to weed out those who have more faith in their loving spouse than in the Vatican. Rather than lead an inclusive Church, they wish to lord over a small band pressed into True Believing, as Asphalt says, tommyrot.
I can't imagine a Good God heading such an organization. Making one choose between Wife and Pope would be dreadful. In fact, using the fear of Hell to compel one to Obey nonsense reminds me of Simony. That's the sin of selling your special access to God's power; in the Acts of the Apostles it refers to a literal attempt by Simon Magus to buy an Apostle's power of working miracles. In 2009, it is (I propose) the use of the Church's purported special access to Divine Power to keep church membership up.
This sort of thing led to the Reformation. But in 2009, it may simply lead to an Abandonment.
(And thanks for being alerted to this by my bloggy buddy at Wholly Hodgepodge)