But it does mean that, Protestants, Hindus, Sikhs, Muslims and fur lined ocean going Seventh Day Adventists and others are on the wrong bus.
There is not a Plan B, only the Catholic Church.
I will leave on one side the concept of people of other faiths gaining an eternal reward; I am sure it does occur, through the redemptive qualities of Holy Mother Church but, if it was me, I would not leave anything to chance; I would want to be within the fold of 'the one true Church'.
In many ways, Plan A was much simpler before Vatican II (and I use the Council in this instance as a punctuation mark in the history of the Church in the twentieth century).
We were all Catholics in 1961. We all believed the same truths, it was all so very black and white. We did not say things like: "My conscience guides me not the Church" or, "I think the Pope is wrong in this instance".
|We were all Catholics then, sturdy and well rounded|
We all abstained from meat on Fridays and, in England and Wales at any rate, we were recognised as being Catholics because our stance placed us at odds with secular life. We did not join in with office gossip and blue film groups; we declined social invitations on a Sunday in order that we could attend Holy Mass, we asked for time off from work on Holy Days of Obligation and we would consult our parish priest before attending a wedding or funeral in a non Catholic church.
We were not saints; we drank too much, fought occasionally and frequently lived the high life but always within certain parameters.
But....we all had the imprint of Catholicism writ large on our foreheads.
Of course, this is an idealistic picture. It cannot surely all have been like this? But, that is what I remember, I am sure that there are holes to be picked in my recollections but, by and large, I am not very far from the truth.
What has changed? What has altered the thought processes of so many good people? Why have so many gone in search of a non existent Plan B?
There are many answers and many reasons for the change but the overriding one has to be a disregard for authority.
Discipline has become a dirty word - but that is what we had pre Vatican II.
Of course, opponents of traditional Catholicism will call it oppression and blind obedience but it was not. We had our route map and, by and large we stuck with it.
Admittedly, there was the syndrome of young people who fell away from the faith at the age of 18 or 20 but part of the pattern was that they returned stronger and more self assured within a very few years.
What I am really saying, in a roundabout sort of way, is that a collective spirit was good then but does not exist now.
We have fragmented and the major element has departed far from the truths, far from what the Holy Father wishes.
It is vital that a knowledge of Catholic life before the 1960s is maintained. That spirit that we had then was far from perfect but it was much, much better than the one we have today.
Those left wing liberal and modernist Catholics who continue to disregard the example and guidance of the Holy Father are just as bad as those few within the SSPX who veer too far to the nutty right.
The reform of the reform is under way albeit slowly but it will be truly be a great day when we can all say once more: "I am a Catholic" without any prefixes whatsoever.