Sunday, 30 January 2011

Mgr Charles Pope on the Fifth and Sixth marks of the Church

Writing on the Archdiocese of Washington site, Mgr Pope makes some very interesting comments on what he perceives as being the 'new' marks of the Church, on top of the one, holy, Catholic and apostolic marks.

The Monsignor's two extra marks I find particularly poignant and a sad indictment of the times we live in today.
Many people will state that evil and persecution have been with us throughout the centuries and I would not dispute that. But I would state that we are witnessing today what Our Lord called "a recrudescence of evil", that is, evil on a scale and intensity not experienced before. Now I am not talking about the end of the world per se, the phrase "recrudescence of evil" does refer to the end of time. However, my belief is that, whilst we may be in the last of days, the world still has got a long way to go (but don't blame me if I'm wrong).
Mgr Pope's new marks are 'Hated' and 'Perduring' meaning to endure permanently and here is his rationale:-

The 5th Mark of the Church: Hated. Jesus consistently taught us to expect the hatred of the world if we were true disciples.
If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. (John 15:18-20).
Or Again: All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. A student is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for the student to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If the head of the house has been called Beelzebub,how much more the members of his household! (Matt 10:22-24)
Or yet again, Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for that is how their fathers treated the false prophets. (Luke 6:26)
One of the more painful aspects of Church life, yet also one of the aspects of which I am most “proud” is that we are hated especially by the world. It is true that some of the Evangelicals are ridiculed but few can deny that a very special and intense hatred for the Catholic Church and is widely on display. It’s never OK in our society (nor should it be) to scorn Jews or Muslims and to mock or attack their faith traditions. Most of the other Christian denominations (except the Evangelicals) also escape much hatred. But the Catholic Church, ah the Catholic Church, now it seems open season on her. We are scorned, badly portrayed in movies, our history is misrepresented, our sins (and we do have them) are exaggerated, our teachings called bigoted, backward, unrealistic, and out of date. And no matter how ugly, bigoted and inaccurate the world’s hatred is, very few if any express any outrage at how were are treated and misrepresented. Try any of this on the Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, et al. and the outrage and claims of bigotry are echoed by the media (and well they should be). Meanwhile Dan Brownet al. get to go on and on about “evil” priests and bishops, a crucifix can be submerged in urine or the Blessed Mother smeared with dung and this is praised as “art” and funded by government grants.
I am not complaining (though these things are wrong). I am actually quite hopeful that this means we are doing something right. We are a sign of contradiction to the world and we are hated for it. We speak the truth to a world gone mad and we hold on to that “old time religion.” That we are hated puts us in good company with Jesus and the prophets and martyrs who stood with him. If we are really doing what we should be doing, the Church ought to experience significant hatred from the world. So hatred by the world is an essential mark of the Church if you ask me. We do not look to be hated. Neither do we look for conflict. But in preaching Christ crucified, in preaching the whole counsel of God and not some watered down version of it we surely do find hatred and conflict comes to us. Some people and denominations try to fit in with the world. They accept its ways and comprise the clear teaching of Christ. But the True Church speaks the whole truth of God in love and does not cave to the world’s demands. The true Church, by Christ’s promise, is hated by the world and those allied and wedded to it. But no need to fear…the sixth “mark” is here!
The Sixth Mark of the Church – Perduring – To perdure means to permanently endure. Here too Christ firmly established this principle and promise to the true Church:
And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of Hell will not prevail against it(Matt 16:18).
There are no governments or nations that have lasted 2000 years. Very little else in this world can claim such antiquity and even if it does can it claim to have remained essentially unchanged in its dogma or teaching? The Catholic Church is one, even after 2000 years. An unbroken line of Popes back to Peter and an unbroken line of succession for all the Bishops back to the Apostles through the laying on of hands. Not bad. Now consider that this is a miracle! If the Church were depending on human beings to exist and stay unified how long do think she would have lasted? Probably about twenty minutes, max. Our history is not without some pretty questionable moments, in terms of the human elements of the Church. That the gates of hell would never prevail against the Church certainly suggests they would try again and again. But here we are, a miracle. Still standing after all these years. Christ is true to his promise to remain with us all days unto the consummation of the world. We, the human elements of the Church may not live teachings of Christ perfectly, but the Church has never failed to teach what Christ taught even (as now) when the world hated us for it. At times we are tepid and struggle to find our voice, but Christ still speaks and ministers even in our weakness. Yes the Catholic Church is a miracle, the Work of Jesus Christ. And thus the sixth Mark of the Church is that she perdures. By God’s grace we exhibit this sixth mark. Nations have come and gone, empires risen and fallen, eras opened and closed, but through it all we perdure.
So there it is, I believe in one, holy, catholic, apostolic, (and if you don’t mind me saying), hated and perduring Church.

Look around the world at the countries where Christians are suffering (perduring) and being hated to the point of being martyred; Iraq, Nigeria, Sudan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, India and so on. Or, look more closely at home and listen to some of Peter Tatchell's speeches, or Richard Dawkins scribblings and many others besides.
Observe the decadence of Italian governance and you must believe that Signor B must also hate the Holy Father and all that he stands for.
We are surrounded by hate and must count ourselves blessed to live in these times when, in the words of Archbishop Fulton Sheen, "It really means something to stand up and say that you are a Catholic".


  1. I'm afraid "hated" is becoming more and more apparent; we were lulled for some time and Satan moved quickly. Lord, make Purduring a reality for we, your children. Hold fast.

  2. Sorry for going off on a slight tangent, but there is an online petition running for the repeal/amendment of the Sexual Orientation Regulations following the judgement against the Christian b&b couple who would not allow a gay couple to share a double bed.
    Mr. and Mrs. Bull have, since the judgement was handed down, been subject to hate telephone calls even to the hospital where Mr. Bull is being treated for heart problems.