How Should Catholics Respond to Crises in the Church?
Ralph Martin’s new book offers realism, hope.
Ralph Martin’s latest book, A Church in Crisis: Pathways Forward, has become a No. 1 best seller on Amazon only a few weeks after its release — evidence that Catholics want both the truth and a plan. Martin reveals a continuing saga full of evidence of forces working to undermine the Body of Christ while still offering hope.
In a Dec. 15 interview with Register correspondent Patti Armstrong, Martin spoke about living as a Catholic during these times of corruption. He is the president of Renewal Ministries and director of graduate theology programs in evangelization and an associate professor of theology at Sacred Heart Seminary in the Archdiocese of Detroit. Pope Benedict XVI appointed him as a consultor to the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization, where he currently serves. He was also appointed as a theological expert for the Synod on the New Evangelization.
Martin has raised six children and is a grandfather to 19.
Why did you write this book?
We’ve got to be willing to speak the truth. The longer we delay in speaking the truth, the worse it’s going to get. People will read the book and say, “I had no idea it was this pervasive,” but it is a message of hope for 2021.
The first seven chapters look at the crises and confusion in the Church. The next seven are about going forward.
What problems do you address?
There are open conflicts and confusion in Rome. The background is the clergy sex-abuse scandal, but there are other parts causing fear and confusion. If we can be honest, there’s hope in moving forward and coming up with radical solutions.
There is a problem when bishops say everything is great, that we have a vibrant Church. In some places, we do, but in other places we don’t. Statistics show fewer and fewer Catholics believe, and they are not going to Mass. More are believers of the world and believers in the sexual revolution, willing to submerge religious values and support people who kill babies. There is a tremendous fog of universalism coming over us.
What is the danger of being overly optimistic?
For some, the presumption is that no one is going to be lost, but that is not what Scripture says. It says to repent and that only those who believe in him will have eternal life.
God gave us divine mercy, but the messages to St. Faustina also contain warnings. If we don’t respond, we will face God’s judgment. Jesus gave Sister Faustina a tour of hell and told her to write it down so that no one can say it doesn’t exist. We are called to respond to mercy by living a life of holiness.
We are not going to do the prayer and fasting we should if we are in this fog thinking that as long as you are a good person, you don’t need to worry. You can be a good person, but if you are fornicating or participating in homosexual relations, Scripture says you will not enter the Kingdom. It’s coming from God.
With so many adult children having left the Church, what would you say to parents?
I want to encourage parents to never give up loving your children and praying and fasting. We need to accept the suffering God sends our way and pray for the conversions. Mary in Fatima said to participate in the sacrifice of Jesus for the conversion of sinners. The three shepherd children were an example of a wholehearted response to the messages of heaven. Never a day went by that they were not praying and fasting.
When I started adding fasting to my prayer, I saw a lot more things happening. It intensifies your prayer, and you put some skin in the game.
What do you say about confusion and division regarding Pope Francis?
Pope Francis has both weaknesses and strengths as a man. It seems like talk about liberation theology is back again, and he is putting emphasis on improving this world, and that’s complicated. The Pope once talked about evangelizing, and now he’s warning against proselytizing. People don’t know what that means.
Pope Francis has alliances with secular foundations, and so many of the experts he asks to speak at conferences are pro-abortion. What is going on here? People are reacting to a lot of ambiguity. We see a picture of people prostrating themselves to wooden statues. It is very disturbing.
One reaction is to become an extreme conservative: “We can’t trust Vatican II, so we need to go back to before that.” We need to go forward and not isolate ourselves from the culture, but be there as witnesses. I’m concerned about the hostility against Pope Francis and nasty things being said about the Novus Ordo liturgy, which is 90% of the liturgies in the Church.
We really do have a problem, but Jesus Christ is still the King, and he has already won the victory. He is letting this unfold to judge wickedness in the world
Do you get discouraged?
Not at all. This is happening all under the watch of God. He’s permitting it. We don’t know why — maybe because people need to make a clearer choice: “Am I all-in?”
God is allowing embarrassment and confusion and bringing us to humility. We cannot go forward to a renewed Church until we repent of being friends with the culture. We need to give everything over to the Church.
At Renewal Ministries we support the radical center of loyalty and complete submission to Jesus Christ and to the Church and evangelization. One of the things that COVID did was allow us to put a lot of energy into our YouTube channel. We went from 7,000 to over 32,000 subscribers. One video we just put up last week already has 80,000 views.
What do you say to people disappointed about the election?
It’s certainly disappointing that a candidate was elected for doubling down on killing babies and submerging religious freedom and embracing the sexual revolution. At the same time, God has permitted this, so he has a plan to bring good out of this. We are primarily citizens of the kingdom of God, and that kingdom does not have a leadership problem.
This world is passing away, and what will remain is what is in the body of Jesus Christ. We need to be witnesses in our earthly nations and willing to accept the suffering that comes our way because of who is in office.
Jesus told us if they persecute him, they will persecute us. We need to grow stronger in our faith so we don’t give in to the supernatural pressures and powers and principalities.
I’m excited about what a privilege it is to fight with the Lord, to be awake and not to be asleep; to be a “woke” Catholic, alive to Christ and being led by the Holy Spirit and taking part in the battle.