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Note: On this web site, I use the expression "Protestant" without any negative connotation, simply as a synonym for "Non-Catholic Christian Denomination". See also Legal Consideration #23.
In my opinion, the majority of Quebecers are actually Protestants. Despite this, the Protestant church next door is almost empty, and according to polls most Quebecers still identify themselves as Catholics. Are we a bit racist, because historically, some bad members of the clergy preached hatred toward Protestants? Or are we simply a bit ignorant and lazy?
There are hundreds of Non-Catholic Christian Denominations, and they have a wide variety of beliefs and teachings. But let's just take one example, that of the United Church of Canada. There seems to be a perfect meshing between the teachings of that liberal Protestant Church and the beliefs of many Quebecers, and just the opposite for the teachings of the Catholic Church. That liberal Protestant Church has everything that many Quebecers love in the Catholic Church (Jesus, the Bible, neighbourly love, Midnight Mass, marriages in churches, Baptism, etc.), and nothing that they despise (Confession, Papal infallibility, the interdiction of the pill, of divorce, of women's ordination, of homosexual couples, etc.).
What is even more strange is that many self-proclaimed "Catholics" actively fight against the official teachings of the Catholic Church. When you analyze their demands, it is very difficult to understand in what way they differ from the teachings of some liberal Protestant Churches. And if you are unfortunate enough to point that out to them, they verbally attack you!
Among other things, they'll say:
"I have the right to be in the Church of my choice!"
And if you answer: "Of course, but what are you going to do with those who firmly believe everything that the Holy Catholic Church believes and teaches? In what Church will these people go?", you will either get a frustrated silence, or that person will leave, or say something that can be summed up as meaning: "Bah, these people are all going to Hell anyway, so why bother?"
But we should never infringe on somebody else's religious freedom (as long as the Common Good is preserved, of course). Let's take a silly but correct example. Suppose in our society there are people who adore the Holy Banana, in a church shaped like a banana. On the other side of the street, the worshippers of the Holy Pumpkin adore the Holy Pumpkin in a pumpkin-shaped church. Social peace requires that the worshippers of the Holy Pumpkin avoid harassing people in the banana-shaped church, and vice-versa.
If a Holy Pumpkin worshipper came and imposed himself in the banana-shaped church, and started to scream hysterically: "I have the right to religious freedom! I have the right to worship the Holy Pumpkin!", this person should be gently expelled, because of the laws of our free and democratic country! Indeed, the Holy Banana worshippers, in their banana-shaped church paid with their own money, have a right to worship their divinity as they see fit, without being bothered. It's quite true that anybody, at any time, can decide to become a Holy Pumpkin worshipper, but this must be done in a way which respects the rights of the people who want to continue to worship the Holy Banana (or the Holy Green Pepper, or the Holy Carrot, etc.).
In my opinion, this metaphor explains rather well what is happening in the Province of Quebec as we speak. A few Holy Pumpkin worshippers try to ridicule, silence or expel the Holy Banana worshippers, who are in a banana-shaped church! This is negative and against our laws! People who want to be faithful to the Pope, i.e. by definition Catholics, are subject to disdain, harassment and attacks on the part of some non-Catholics who self-proclaim themselves to be "Catholics". These non-Catholics shrewdly act in the name of religious freedom, even though they are the ones infringing on other people's religious freedom! These non-Catholics already have their liberal Protestant churches (shaped like pumpkins, green peppers, or others), where the teachings correspond exactly to what they want to believe!
Have I made a mistake in my logic? Does the Catholic Church really have teachings that are incompatible with the beliefs of many Quebecers? It seems impossible for me to fully answer this question here, since I would need all of the Lost Sermons. Actually, one of the goals of these sermons is to list clearly, with many quotes from official documents, the teachings of the Catholic Church that Quebecers ignore or reject the most these days.
Let's take a single example: this idea that one can "pick and choose" from the teachings of the Catholic Church, take what we like and dump what we don't. This attitude is essential for a Protestant, but forbidden to Catholics. As soon as a person ceases to believe everything the Catholic Church teaches, that person ceases to be a Catholic (see among others "Excommunication, that gesture of love!").
Does this seem harsh, even evil?
Don't worry, we're getting to the warm and fuzzy part of the sermon: the "Pope's Challenge"!
Let's think it through. Either God exists, or not. If God exists, either He has founded a Church, or not. If He has founded a Church, its is either the Catholic Church, or not.
Let's take for granted that God exists and that He has founded a Church. God certainly doesn't want us to be in the wrong Church! We must therefore seek out His real Church. If this Church happened to be one of the Protestant Churches, we would have to stop pretending to be Catholics and become full members of this Protestant Church. Conversely, if God really founded the Catholic Church, then this Church is not trying to feed us "garbage-teachings", but the very words of Jesus Christ, our Saviour.
OK, so we know we don't have a right to "sit on the fence", and that we have to decide in which Church we must go. But how must we decide? Our conscience clearly dictates to us that the following methods are unacceptable:
- Throwing some dice.
- Forget about this whole issue, and just concentrate on the latest junk we want to buy at the Shopping Mall.
- Avoid serious books, or questions asked to competent people, but just trust our prejudices.
- Listen to the drivel of the Media, etc.
We are therefore left with the option of making a reasonable effort to obtain good information, in order to make a good choice.
That's a fun challenge! Why? Let's examine some reasons:
- We have nothing to fear! God isn't an idiot, and God wouldn't found a Church to give it bad teachings that would make us unhappy.
- If we were to find out that the true Church of God actually had moral requirements that were stricter than the ones we currently live by, that wouldn't be a problem! Remember, this is Christianity, with Jesus the Good Shepherd who seeks out the lost sheep. Christianity is the religion with a God who is meek of heart, who is rich in mercy, and who invites all those carrying a heavy burden to come to Him, so they may be relieved.
- Whatever the result, we'll get to know our religion better.
- We can be at peace with our conscience, after having made a reasonable effort to educate it.
The Pope's challenge is finding out which Church is the real one founded by God thanks to a thorough study of all reliable sources of information.
So, Catholic or Protestant?
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