From much of what appears in the secular newspapers and in much of the Catholic press, we can come to think that the Catholic Church is at least reasonably healthy and the priests, by and large, on the right track. The reason is that the press chooses to pay attention only to some of the external symptoms, and does not look to the raging disease within. They see the great religious problems of our day as abortion, contraception, sodomy, women priests and poverty. These they talk about to the exclusion of almost everything else.
But if these points are the great problems, then, at least within the Church, at present, there is no massive problem, for the majority of priests side with the Magisterium in opposing them. Only a minority would take an opposing view on any of these. This minority is vocal, yes, and heard out of all proportion to its numbers. And it is a threat. But it is not the basic problem. If these were the only serious deviations from Catholic teaching, most priests could rightly say to themselves, "I am in the mainstream of Catholicism. I am in the middle of the road. And that road is the correct road."
There is another kind of heresy that is largely untalked about but is far more pervasive in its effects on priests, affecting in one way or another probably ninety-five percent or more of the priests in this country: the idea that virtually all men must be saved.
The priests affected by this, and they are legion, are affected in either of two ways. First, there is a large group of outright heretics, modernists, who believe that no one can possible be damned, that somehow sin does not ever lead to Hell. This is a direct contradiction of dozens of passages in the New Testament. Second, however, there is another large group who are not directly modernistic, who do not really believe that everyone is necessarily saved, but who are severly tainted by modernism. This second group still retains an idea of sin but is afraid to teach it as it was taught by Christ. They believe that their congregations would reject it, but that is very mistaken. Even now, people in church recognize and accept Christian truth when they hear it. In fact, the whole subject, carefully treated, is very interesting to them and a refreshing change from their regular diet, the saltless food of modernism's "positive" approach.
And here is the great pity, the great unseen heart of the disease. Between the effects of those priests severly tainted by modernism and those who are directly modernistic, great numbers in church seldom hear Christ's teaching, His own most frequent teaching, on a strict and coming judgment. The modernistic priests and those severly tainted by modernism are all ashamed....of a central teaching of Christ! Because of their failure to teach it, because of their shame at teaching it, they shall not only have to answer to Christ on Judgment Day, but to all the lost souls they failed to warn in this world.
And what happens with the rest of their preaching, even in this world? Saltless, it is both tedious and ineffectual. They actually speak out against sodomy, abortion, and other crimes against God's law, but, by ignoring altogether any mention of future penalty, they unwittingly make themselves sound as dull and tiresome as an ancient pagan philosopher. And they are equally ineffectual.
"I charge thee, in the sight of God and Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead by His coming and by His Kingdom, preach the word, be urgent in season, out of season; reprove, entreat, rebuke with all patience and teaching. For there will come a time when they will not endure the sound doctrine." 2 Timothy 4:1-3 (letter of St.Paul)