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Archive for the ‘Ecclesiology’ Category

I was reading an article in the NY times about the

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Photo by Damon Winter/The New York Times


Church of the Transfiguration in Chinatown

which has changed hands as it were from Irish to Italians and now Chinese. After the immigrant assimilates into the secular culture, they seem to fail to pass on their faith or at least the way they express their faith to the next generation. It becomes more of a trip down memory lane, something their parents or grandparents did, but is no longer desirable or needed.

For the midnight Mass, Father Lin recruited two extra priests to hear the confessions of long lines of Fujianese Catholics, whose worship includes making the sacrament regularly.

“Now we like to teach them not to do it so often, because it is a burden for us,” Father Lin said.

I found that quote from the article striking. Chinese immigrants had a strong desire to make regular confessions, likely because they can finally do so without going to prison and second because they recognize that it was their faith that sustained them through those times. You can’t teach that you have to live it. As the church struggles to get Catholic to make confession more frequent it’s the immigrants that point the way.

Back to the assimilation question, as our society continues to crumble and/or spend away it’s moral fiber will assimilation decrease or will the contrast between what the world is offering be great enough that the younger generation will be drawn into the faith because of it’s counter culture stand? I have no doubt that the more the church makes a contrast between itself and the society at large the stronger and more adherents it will have, just as those churches which attempt to attract more followers attempt to adapt itself to secular trends or make itself more “relevant” it will continue to lose more.

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a-return-of-tradition.jpgPerhaps all those interfaith prayer groups are starting to have an effect. WHen U.S. News & World Report picks up on a religious trend you know its been ongoing for a while.

Soon, St. Mary may be less well known for that distinctive liturgical offering than for the number of big-name government and media types that occupy its pews. Now that Pope Benedict XVI has loosened the restrictions on churches that want to observe the pre-Vatican II rite, more parishes are availing themselves of the option. Call it part of a larger conservative shift within the church—one that includes a renewed emphasis on such practices as personal confession and reciting the rosary as well as a resurgent interest in traditional monastic and religious orders.

But this shift extends beyond the Roman Catholic Church. In Richardson, Texas, the congregation of Trinity Fellowship Church participates in something that would have been considered almost heretical in most evangelical Protestant churches five or 10 years ago: a weekly Communion service. An independent, nondenominational church of some 600 members, Trinity Fellowship is not the only evangelical congregation that is offering a weekly Eucharist, saying the Nicene or Apostles’ creeds, reading the early Church Fathers, or doing other things that seem downright Roman Catholic or at least high Episcopalian. Daniel Wallace, a professor of New Testament studies at Dallas Theological Seminary, which trains pastors for interdenominational or nondenominational churches, says there is a growing appetite for something more than “worship that is a glorified Bible class in some ways.”

A new interest in old ways takes root in Catholicism and many other faiths

Perhaps it will only take us 500 years to heal the reformation. The one strength of the Novus Ordo mass is the amount of scripture readings which far exceeds not just the traditional Latin mass, but every other Protestant service I’ve ever attended as well. If nothing else I’m always more hopeful this time of year.

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This is outrageous, but not for what the title says.

Last month I posted about a Woman’s Priestess ceremony at a local St. Louis Jewish center who’s Rabbi, Susan Talve of the Central Reform Congregation gave permission for the “Roman Catholic”(not associated with the Catholic church) Woman Priests movement to be ordained.

Get Religion has a post today about an Advent vigil service where the crowd held their service outside the parish church with Talve rather then inside without her. The archbishop denied permission for her to attend the service, because of her actions with the Woman’s Priestess group.

For several years this rabbi was invited by the community of the local Catholic parish as part of an interfaith ecumenical service. That’s not an issue in fact it’s a positive action. However, when the rabbi chose to support a different organization who purpose is to overturn explicit Catholic dogma, she crossed the line.

This isn’t a matter of Ecumenical bonds seeking common ground. This isn’t even a schismatic group seeking recognition. This is explicit a heretical group, who is IMO attempting to overthrow the leadership of the local bishop, because the Catholic church does not recognize Woman’s Ordination.

I’m proud that Archbishop has taken this stand. Leaders of different faith communities can’t support groups attempting to undermine another faith community leadership. Whether the rabbi was able to connect those dots is moot. These type’s of actions is what start religious strife.

The Archbishop will have to address the issue with his parish, but again that’s his business not a Jewish Rabbi’s.

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I’m at the point in my life were I’d like to say that I’m like a fine bottle of wine which only improves with age. However, it’s more likely that I’m a late 50’s Chevy, which only appreciates in value because my peers are slowly dying off and there’s not many of us left.

If you go to just about any Catholic Church web site, you’ll see great pictures of stain glass windows (if their old enough) or the architectural design (again before 1970 [who looks at at any church designed after 1970 anyway]), their new resource center,etc., but it’s the rare site that has a picture of the confessional.

As a Cradle Catholic [TM pending;.)] I recall about 40% of my parish going to confession on any given Saturday. We had 4 priests hearing confessions and there were 2 lines on either side at each confessional. An additional 15 to 20 folks in the pews, half saying their penance and the other half reflecting on what they needed to confess. A sense of sin loomed large back then.

Hollywood still has the image of the “traditional confessional”old-style-confessional.jpg

Now that’s what I’m talking about – old school (although I like the darker stained wood for more somber effect)! In the grand old days of pre-Vatican II- it’s dark, confined, quite enough to hear yourself and the priest exhale. The role of the one confessing is like having to wait to get a root canal. Your tooth is killing you, but you don’t want to admit there’s a problem. Confession lets face it- is dirty business. We are all saved by the BLOOD of Christ and it’s His blood we spilled when we sin.

I know that’s confessionally incorrect (pun intended) as oppose to politically incorrect to mention going to confession these days. Won’t want to upset folks in the pews to much. But that’s the bottom line. Why even Britney Spears in her new condemned music video knows what a confessional should look like (but not dress like). I’d post a link, but it would be an occasion for sin for me. And don’t look it up either, because then I’m leading you into an occasion to sin. Just be thankful your not an Irish-guilt ridden genetically trained Cradle Catholic like me. Another trademark pending. Although knowing my family surely one of them or half of Boston, Chicago, NYC or New Jersey Irish, must have coined that as well or at least thought it.

Humanity and in particularly myself don’t like to have to place a spotlight on our sinfulness. We don’t need to be reminded that we’re sinners, unless of course we actually desire to correct those evil habits we have ignored or rationalized into acceptable behaviour based on the prevailing secular value. Co-habitation must head the list these days with 60% of society finding it “better”to live together then marry; must be a lot of Christians and I’m sure Catholics have a good share in that 60% Christian co-habitation deal, but that’s a topic for another day.

Confession is always good around Advent and Lenten seasons. I like a campaign Wuerl ran this past Lenten season–dubbed “The Light Is On for You”. It kind of grows on me.

You don’t hear the Latin Mass traditionalist & the SSPX complaining about confessionals like this one confession-modern.jpg in the modern confessional. Heck I couldn’t even find the face to face set-up with a priest as is the norm in many post Vat. II designed churches.

I admit I need that screen. I’m confessing to a priest, but he’s just a representative of Christ. For me it’s like he isn’t even there, until I’m finishing saying what I need to say to repent of. When I confess I’m speaking to the Creator of the universe. The one who gives me life, sustains me, gives me everything I have, everyone I’ve ever loved, everyone I will ever love or care about in this life. He’s the one I’ve offended, but the priest is the witness, the representative not just of Christ, but of the church community, he stands in for the individual I cut off on the highway, whom I can’t ask for forgiveness, he stands in for the co-worker who drives me nuts and can’t seem to forgive or ask forgiveness. To the hundreds or perhaps thousands whom I may have sinned against but in my youth didn’t care, couldn’t care or was to young or to stupid to know I offended.

And when you walk out of the dark enclosed place a warmth of heat and light comes over you. Intellectually I know I can “simply” ask God to forgive me and I know He will. But hearing the word of the priest validates what I know in my mind and God graces makes it so in the heart.

Perhaps confession will make a comeback as Time magazine indicates. Then again we may just view it like Confessionals Cartoons.

I’ll pray for the former and hope the church continues to “Keep the light on – On any given Saturday”.

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cathedral-of-trento.jpgThe anniversary of this major council holds implications for everyone even today. From Luther’s appeal to hold a council in 1518, it took both protestant and Catholics alone with the political issues until 1545 to get it off the ground and the protestant camp didn’t participate. The sixth session on justification likely holds the most spilled ink or electrons depending on which you think is mightier the stylus or the keyboard in this Internet age.

The Latin Rite mass which bears it’s name didn’t occur during this council; that was taken up by Pope Pius V in 1570. I’ve wondered if the aversion of the vernacular usage came about because of all the new novel ideas/heresy occurred were the vernacular mass was permitted.

In any case this is the date that launched the counter-reformation. Charles the V desired simply a reform of the church to show his rebel Protestants princes and barons that action was being taken and the breach could be healed. Francis I allied himself with Protestant factions against Charles for political gain. Francis wanted doctrinal issues at the front especially conciliarism topics, but that is what the papacy desired to avoid.

Pope Paul III wanted both doctrinal, disciplinary and reforms made. The breath of topic’s the council dealt with is IMO unmatched by any council before or after. What is truly amazing is that given the level of corruption within the church which Luther decried was able to grasp the issues and clarify what was needed to move the church forward.

Trent understood faith alone as strickly/exclusively that- only faith – not hope, not love. The addition of the term alone to Romans 3:28 “a man is justified by faith apart from works of law; was the basis of this understanding.

Trent was unable to reconcile that with Galatians 5:4-6 man is “justified by….faith working through love & 1 Corinthians 13:2 that faith without love “is nothing.

The Joint Declaration states that today’s Lutherans understand “faith” the same way that the Catholic Church understands it as “faith, hope and love”. If that’s true then the canon of Trent do not apply to Lutherans. If they hold alone as Trent understood it, then the canon stands.

Hard to believe after 4 1/2 centuries that it appears we’re still at square one. But at least we’re not going to war and killing each other over it.

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A great article by American Papist’s father back in 1995 on the Bishop Crunch.

While the article is dated the material is still valid for today. Traditionally meaning before the Second Vatican Council a coadjutor was appointed only when a bishop or archbishop was ailing because, before Vatican II, bishops never retired, they died in office. Canon law requires a bishop of tender his resignation at age 75 or Can. 401 §2. A diocesan bishop who has become less able to fulfill his office because of ill health or some other grave cause is earnestly requested to present his resignation from office.

It was viewed that the coadjutor would disappear, but it’s increased not decreased. And bishops have begun to see a coadjutor appointment as an opportunity to have a larger voice in picking their successors. IMO however this law has been used to selectively accept bishops the Vatican desired to retire and keep those she felt were more in line with what the Vatican was trying to accomplish doctrinally.

Dr. Peter’s first suggestion is a good one. But only for a short(10 year) period or less.

there really are too many episcopal openings for too few qualified candidates, then reduce the number of openings. Just as parishes have a life span, so do dioceses. Surely there are some contiguous dioceses which, on their own, are barely surviving but which, if merged with each other, would be on much more stable footing. Each time that is done, the need to find two good bishops is reduced to the need to find just one.

The reason for short term solution is because the study by Inside Catholic(which I wrote about here).

there is a clear inverse linear relationship between the size of the diocese and the health of the diocese: as size increases, vitality decreases.

If anything we need to increase the number of diocese long term to increase the bishops ability to care for his flock. In ancient times North Africa had 3,200 bishops alone.

Historically (and by that I mean ancient as in 344 A.D.) the council Sardica in it’s very first canon stated

A prevalent evil and mischievous corruption must be done away with from its foundation. Let no bishop be allowed to remove from his own city to another. For the reason of such attempts is manifest, since in this matter no bishop has been found who would remove from a larger city to a smaller one. It is therefore evident that these men are inflamed with excess of covetousness, and are serving ambition and aiming at the possession of power. If it be the pleasure of all, let so great an evil be punished right harshly and sternly, so that he who is such shall not even be admitted to lay communion. All with one accord answered: Such is our pleasure.

Career advancement is just as much a temptation in church affairs as it is in the secular world. With the exception of Cardinals and Pope, perhaps it’s time to place a bishop in one diocese and keep him there. Rather then grooming the individual as an coadjutor only to move him yet again to another short handed diocese. Bishops have to have the time to establish relationships with their flock. Appointing someone that’s age 69 to a post and retires at age 75 doesn’t allow the local parish to make any kind of spiritual connections.

Perhaps the wisdom of the early church fathers should be applied to the translation(moving on) bishops.

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Rule of Benedict XVI

I just finished up an excellent book on The Rule of Benedict: Pope Benedict XVI and His Battle with the Modern World (Hardcover)

The author David Gibson draws some of his material from The Ratzinger Report
An Exclusive Interview on the State of the Church
and from Cardinal Ratzinger: The Vatican’s Enforcer of the Faith but if you haven’t read either one of those books it’s well worth your time & money.

For a layman trying to wrap ones hands around what exactly happened at Vatican II, the forces behind it and what (in good faith) were they trying to accomplish is an impossible task without a program of who’s who’s at the council. Even then it depends on who’s glasses your viewing that list.

There are generally two camps acknowledged following ressourcement and aggiornamento. The former grasping at the past to deal with the future and the latter looking at the present to get to the future.

The difference as Gibson says on pg.164 was “a spilt between Augustinian and Thomists, Platonists and Aristotelians.” The former group was Henri De Lubac and Jean Danielou and the latter was Rahner, Kung and Schillebeeckx. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know who won out in that group for the next 30 years after the council.

My favorite paragraph in the book is here

“In the first session, Ratzinger was enthusiastic about reforming the liturgy, especially de-emphasizing latin, which he described as an “archaeological” relic, “a picture so encrusted that the original image could hardly be seen” as Nichols puts it. pg164-65

…But as the council progressed, the aggiornamento camp gained the initiative to the extent that Ratzinger felt the church was clearly moving into the future by jettisoning the past. “pg165

It was the reforming of the liturgy that branded Ratzinger as a liberal with the traditional SSPX and others of that stripe and as a hard line conservative to the aggiornamento camp in the coming years. I think the confusion on him exists to this day. Growing drums from traditionalists recognize in Ratzinger move towards the liberalization of the latin mass as one who is regaining his senses. And the growing moans of the liberals as a suppression of the spirit of Vatican II.

I strongly suspect (simply my gut) that there is a middle ground from the Vat. II ressourcement camp of which Ratzinger was a leading propoent that is still unfolding. How the opposing camps of trads on the one-hand or the spirit of Vatican II groups on the other will reject or accept it is anyone guess. Vat. II as intended by the council fathers has IMO yet to be implemented. The silent praying middle (of which I claim to be) who have endured the liturgical abuses with the church these past 40 years will have the final say guided by the Holy Spirit.

For those Anglican readers I would suggest this may help in understanding what the difference is between say a Cardinal Kasper on the one hand,whom I view as being in the aggiornamento camp and Pope Benedict XVI in the ressourcement camp.

Other reviews Whispers in the Loggia and an interview of the author David Gibson by Busted Halo.

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For those that didn’t notice it, I was trying to get a close up of what Pope Benedict XVI had cope bearers.

Nicola De Grandi has posted a good article on The penitential Papal Formale (it’s back. Here I thought I’d be breaking new ground and it’s already been on the net today. A good book on vestments and protocal is The Church Visible for those with an interest. Shouts In The Piazza also has a few excellent comments as well.

As a cradle Catholic and old fart, it may be informative to say that the cope while appearing to the world as simply more pomp, the theological underpinnings as I understood them is that the bishop does not act on his own during the liturgy, he is dependent on someone else even the wearing of ones cloths. It’s an act of humility or at least thats the intent.

Other touches made by Fr Guido Marini (new Vatican director of Liturgy) are the Pope’s mitre belonged to Pope Pius IX, and the gilded throne was used by Leo XIII.

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Pope signs Spe SalviReuters
Well it’s only 28 pages. Comments down the road.My first comment is I like to research why a given date for the encyclical was chosen. I think this is overlooked many times.

“Given in Rome, at Saint Peter’s, on 30 November, the Feast of Saint Andrew the Apostle,

in the year 2007, the third of my Pontificate”Andrew and Peter called by Jesus

Artwork: Duccio di Buoninsegna, The Calling of the Apostles Peter and Andrew, 1308-11, Tempera on wood panel, National Gallery of Art, Washington.

On the Catholic calender Nov.30th is the Feast of St. Andrew the Apostle, so I think there is some underlining overture of hope towards Orhtodox in this date. Ofcourse most of Orthodoxy uses the old calander and Feast of St. Gregory the Wonderworker of Neo-Caesaria (Nov.17th) today. The issue isn’t if Nov. 30th is the feast of St. Andrew, it’s yesterday was Nov.30th or Nov.17th ;>)

But I think the former is what the Pope is appealing to especially when one considers the Papal Message to Bartholomew I on Feast of St. Andrew “Fervent Hope for an Even Deeper Communion” two years ago to the day. Perhaps Pope Benedict has requested St. Andrew to petition our Lord to heal the schism for those who have hope in Christ.

Here’s the topic from Zenit 2 years ago.

VATICAN CITY, NOV. 30, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Here is the message Benedict XVI sent to Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople on the feast of St. Andrew, patron of that patriarchate.

This year we commemorate the Fortieth Anniversary of 7 December 1965, that day on which Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras, dissatisfied with what had occurred in 1054, decided together at Rome and Constantinople “to cancel from the Church’s memory the sentence of ex-communication which had been pronounced.” …I assure Your Holiness and the Holy Synod, and through you all the Orthodox Churches, that the Catholic Church remains irrevocably committed to promoting all suitable and helpful initiatives to strengthen charity, solidarity and theological dialogue between us….In the joy of the Feast of Saint Andrew, Holy Guardian of the Church of Constantinople, I renew to Your Holiness my fraternal love and send you my warm greetings in the embrace of peace.

From the Vatican, 26 November 2005

BENEDICTUS PP. XVI

The Pope the very next year gave a speech in the Patriarchal Cathedral of St George Istanbul, on the feast of St Andrew on naturally
Nov. 30th, 2006

The Patriarch of Constantinople and the Pope celebrated the rite of Saint John Chrysostom who is another Saint that the current Pope draws on for guidance in healing the schism. St Andrew is also the great Saint of Scotland although I haven’t seen a connection with Anglicanism in these communications. Oneof the things that struck me in this encyclical was quotes from Far eastern Catholics Vietnamese martyr Paul Le-Bao-Tinh(para.37) & Cardinal Nguyen Van Thuan(para.32), I’ve never hear of a papal document ever cite anyone from that part of the world. It refreashing. It is a letter on the last things, the most important things, yet the ones we would rather avoid or ignore, until we no longer can.

Last Judgement

On to the Encyclical-

7)…To Luther, who was not particularly fond of the Letter to the Hebrews, the concept of “substance”, in the context of his view of faith, meant nothing. For this reason he understood the term hypostasis/substance not in the objective sense (of a reality present within us), but in the subjective sense, as an expression of an interior attitude, and so, naturally, he also had to understand the term argumentum as a disposition of the subject….This in itself is not incorrect, but it is not the meaning of the text, because the Greek term used (elenchos) does not have the subjective sense of “conviction” but the objective sense of “proof”. Rightly, therefore, recent Protestant exegesis has arrived at a different interpretation: “Yet there can be no question but that this classical Protestant understanding is untenable.”5 Faith is not merely a personal reaching out towards things to come that are still totally absent: it gives us something. It gives us even now something of the reality we are waiting for, and this present reality constitutes for us a “proof” of the things that are still unseen. Faith draws the future into the present, so that it is no longer simply a “not yet”. The fact that this future exists changes the present; the present is touched by the future reality, and thus the things of the future spill over into those of the present and those of the present into those of the future.

I wonder if this will have any impact on the JDDJ with Lutherians and the canons on Faith in Trent?

Eternal life – what is it?

10. First of all the priest asked what name the parents had chosen for the child, and then he continued with the question: “What do you ask of the Church?” Answer: “Faith”. “And what does faith give you?” “Eternal life”.The parents expect more for the one to be baptized: they expect that faith, which includes the corporeal nature of the Church and her sacraments, will give life to their child—eternal life. Faith is the substance of hope. But then the question arises: do we really want this—to live eternally? Perhaps many people reject the faith today simply because they do not find the prospect of eternal life attractive. What they desire is not eternal life at all, but this present life, for which faith in eternal life seems something of an impediment…. To continue living for ever —endlessly—appears more like a curse than a gift. Death, admittedly, one would wish to postpone for as long as possible. But to live always, without end—this, all things considered, can only be monotonous and ultimately unbearable.

I never ever thought of this one. I think it very insightful. The secular society is always using technology to make things easier, faster, more pleasurable for mankind. It strives to make this life heaven without embracing the cross.
Quoting St. Ambrose

10…“Death was not part of nature; it became part of nature. God did not decree death from the beginning; he prescribed it as a remedy. Human life, because of sin … began to experience the burden of wretchedness in unremitting labour and unbearable sorrow. There had to be a limit to its evils; death had to restore what life had forfeited. Without the assistance of grace, immortality is more of a burden than a blessing.”

You can’t get anymore counter culture then that.

11…On the one hand, we do not want to die; above all, those who love us do not want us to die. Yet on the other hand, neither do we want to continue living indefinitely, nor was the earth created with that in view. So what do we really want? Our paradoxical attitude gives rise to a deeper question: what in fact is “life”? And what does “eternity” really mean?

12…The term “eternal life” is intended to give a name to this known “unknown”. Inevitably it is an inadequate term that creates confusion. “Eternal”, in fact, suggests to us the idea of something interminable, and this frightens us; “life” makes us think of the life that we know and love and do not want to lose, even though very often it brings more toil than satisfaction, so that while on the one hand we desire it, on the other hand we do not want it. To imagine ourselves outside the temporality that imprisons us and in some way to sense that eternity is not an unending succession of days in the calendar, but something more like the supreme moment of satisfaction, in which totality embraces us and we embrace totality—this we can only attempt…This is how Jesus expresses it in Saint John’s Gospel: “I will see you again and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you” (16:22). We must think along these lines if we want to understand the object of Christian hope, to understand what it is that our faith, our being with Christ, leads us to expect. [Emphasis mine]

What I really love about this is it’s framed so conversational, it’s almost as if the Pope is sitting next to you discussing it over a cup of coffee. I can’t say how many times I’ve though about these very same issue, but i can’t quite think I’ve ever been able to focus that well on it.

17. Anyone who reads and reflects on these statements attentively will recognize that a disturbing step has been taken: up to that time, the recovery of what man had lost through the expulsion from Paradise was expected from faith in Jesus Christ: herein lay “redemption”. Now, this “redemption”, the restoration of the lost “Paradise” is no longer expected from faith, but from the newly discovered link between science and praxis. It is not that faith is simply denied; rather it is displaced onto another level—that of purely private and other-worldly affairs—and at the same time it becomes somehow irrelevant for the worldAs the ideology of progress developed further, joy at visible advances in human potential remained a continuing confirmation of faith in progress as such.

I think he’s correct this has been the trend for the past 500 years, but I think a growing minority is starting to recognize that “progress” is coming with a higher and higher cost. And that we will not solve all our problems with science.

22…First we must ask ourselves: what does “progress” really mean; what does it promise and what does it not promise?In the twentieth century, Theodor W. Adorno formulated the problem of faith in progress quite drastically: he said that progress, seen accurately, is progress from the sling to the atom bomb. Now this is certainly an aspect of progress that must not be concealed. To put it another way: the ambiguity of progress becomes evident. Without doubt, it offers new possibilities for good, but it also opens up appalling possibilities for evil—possibilities that formerly did not exist. We have all witnessed the way in which progress, in the wrong hands, can become and has indeed become a terrifying progress in evil. If technical progress is not matched by corresponding progress in man’s ethical formation, in man’s inner growth (cf. Eph 3:16; 2 Cor 4:16), then it is not progress at all, but a threat for man and for the world.

All I can say is Amen.

24. Let us ask once again: what may we hope? And what may we not hope? First of all, we must acknowledge that incremental progress is possible only in the material sphere. Here, amid our growing knowledge of the structure of matter and in the light of ever more advanced inventions, we clearly see continuous progress towards an ever greater mastery of nature. Yet in the field of ethical awareness and moral decision-making, there is no similar possibility of accumulation for the simple reason that man’s freedom is always new and he must always make his decisions anew. These decisions can never simply be made for us in advance by others—if that were the case, we would no longer be free. Freedom presupposes that in fundamental decisions, every person and every generation is a new beginning. Naturally, new generations can build on the knowledge and experience of those who went before, and they can draw upon the moral treasury of the whole of humanity. But they can also reject it, because it can never be self-evident in the same way as material inventions.

b) Since man always remains free and since his freedom is always fragile, the kingdom of good will never be definitively established in this world. Anyone who promises the better world that is guaranteed to last for ever is making a false promise; he is overlooking human freedom. Freedom must constantly be won over for the cause of good. Free assent to the good never exists simply by itself. If there were structures which could irrevocably guarantee a determined—good—state of the world, man’s freedom would be denied, and hence they would not be good structures at all.

I rather like that. The greatest generation (my parents) was that, but my generation (the baby boomers) and my children (gen X or Y) all have to make that same stand, it’s only in what structures of evil we have to say no too. My mission quote from Tolkien on the side bar address this as well.

25…Francis Bacon and those who followed in the intellectual current of modernity that he inspired were wrong to believe that man would be redeemed through science. Such an expectation asks too much of science; this kind of hope is deceptive. Science can contribute greatly to making the world and mankind more human. Yet it can also destroy mankind and the world unless it is steered by forces that lie outside it. On the other hand, we must also acknowledge that modern Christianity, faced with the successes of science in progressively structuring the world, has to a large extent restricted its attention to the individual and his salvation. In so doing it has limited the horizon of its hope and has failed to recognize sufficiently the greatness of its task—even if it has continued to achieve great things in the formation of man and in care for the weak and the suffering.

33. Saint Augustine, in a homily on the First Letter of John, describes very beautifully the intimate relationship between prayer and hope. He defines prayer as an exercise of desire. Man was created for greatness—for God himself; he was created to be filled by God. But his heart is too small for the greatness to which it is destined. It must be stretched. “By delaying [his gift], God strengthens our desire; through desire he enlarges our soul and by expanding it he increases its capacity [for receiving him]”.

40. I would like to add here another brief comment with some relevance for everyday living. There used to be a form of devotion—perhaps less practised today but quite widespread not long ago—that included the idea of “offering up” the minor daily hardships that continually strike at us like irritating “jabs”, thereby giving them a meaning. Of course, there were some exaggerations and perhaps unhealthy applications of this devotion, but we need to ask ourselves whether there may not after all have been something essential and helpful contained within it. What does it mean to offer something up? Those who did so were convinced that they could insert these little annoyances into Christ’s great “com-passion” so that they somehow became part of the treasury of compassion so greatly needed by the human race. In this way, even the small inconveniences of daily life could acquire meaning and contribute to the economy of good and of human love. Maybe we should consider whether it might be judicious to revive this practice ourselves.

My mother has always done this so I can attest to this tradition, it certainly has gone by the waist side.

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I found this article on several blogs and having searched the internet, I haven’t found much in the way of a Catholic response to what I feel is a well thought out approach to the issue of ecumenicism. I think the topic fits better with RCC and Orthodoxy then Anglicanism. Be that as it may, all of Fr. Kirbys efforts deserve a measured response, even if it’s a disjoined one by me. I didn’t feel I had a strong enough handle to address his part III section on validity of orders, perhaps some else will do so. My remarks are in red, his in black(emphasis & underlines are mine), primary resources in blue and secondary in purple. Link to his full article here.

His Premise:
But many would say that the most fundamental principle that each Church holds is that it and it alone is the One True Church and that those bodies outside its present communion are thus not so. Why? Because their confidence about their beliefs is founded on a confidence about who they are. And since both sides believe in the Unity and Unicity of the Church, it seems that this in combination with their self-identification as that Church leads logically to a perfectly symmetrical yet utterly irreconcilable understanding of the Church and the goal of ecumenism.

If this is true, it means that, whatever theological and doctrinal barriers are broken, the greatest hurdle that will have to be faced is answering the question “Who is coming back to whom?”In other words, who, if any body, will admit they were wrong about their basic identity and accept that for centuries they have been outside the Una Sancta, the Catholic Church? Catholic ecumenism is a question then, not just of how to forge a common future, but how to interpret a divided past.

Anglican Catholics have been somewhat distinctive in that their self-understanding has asserted their Catholicity but in a non-exclusive manner. That is, they have seen present divisions as being within the Catholic Church, such that they along with the Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Old Catholic, and perhaps even Oriental Churches are in fact all in the One Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

I don’t know if he is supporting the Branch theory (an EOC take) or not.

This Anglican non-exclusivity has then been used against us. Our appeal to Catholic consent, it is claimed, means that we cannot differ from the exclusivist ecclesiologies common to Rome and the East without trampling the Vincentian Canon and proving our Protestantism.

I have to historically agree with him on this point soome with good intent others not.

Al Kimel, in his Pontificator’s Fourth Law states that “A church that does not understand itself as the Church, outside of which there is no salvation, is not the Church but a denomination or sect.” My past response to this on his blog, with minor modifications, follows:

This is not so much an axiomatic law as a derived one. I submit that it is based on the following argument (or something like it):

1. Any truly Catholic ecclesiology must not only teach that the church is visible and one, but that it is visibly one.

2. A Church holding a Catholic ecclesiology will obviously believe that it is Catholic.

3. Therefore, such a Church must also hold that any body outside its visible unity, that is, not part of its internal communio in sacris, is outside the unity of the Catholic Church. [1 + 2]

4. Any truly Catholic ecclesiology must also teach that outside the Church there is no salvation.

5. Any body claiming to be a church which does not hold a truly Catholic ecclesiology is a denomination or sect.

6. Therefore, a church that does not understand itself as the Church, outside of which there is no salvation, is not the Church but a denomination or sect [3 + 4 +5
The first premise identified above as underlying this Law has the following corollary for historical interpretation: Any break in communion that discontinues the visibility of unity between one Christian body and another, if the two groups were previously united within the Catholic Church, must leave one group outside the Catholic Church until that breach is visibly healed. Call this proposition 1*.
Thus, if any historical circumstances exist that have very commonly been interpreted by theologians with undisputedly Catholic ecclesiologies in ways that conflict with this corollary, then it must be accepted either that the corollary is oversimplified and requires denial or modification or it must at least be admitted that its denial does not prove a theologian is an ecclesiological heretic! Therefore, given the existence of such interpretations of Church history by substantial numbers of Catholic and Orthodox theologians in good standing, proposition 1 of 6 and the derived Fourth Law would no longer obtain in their present form. Call the existence of such interpretations contra-1*, or C-1*. Now for the evidence.

I would say that they are oversimplified. There are IMO two aspects of the papacy that theologians have just scratched the surface. The Marian and the servant of the servants of God aspect.

1) Marian – Cardinal Marc Ouellet-Mary’s role is deeper than that of Peter

…All the Church must therefore be willing to make an exchange of gifts that goes beyond finding political, let’s say, formulas. That is why in my thinking on the ecumenic movement I tried to develop the Marian principle.

In what sense?
OUELLET: The ecumenic orientation is too centered on the episcopacy, on relations between collegiality and papacy and not enough on the bases of the faith and hence on the role of Mary, that – and in this the Orthodox are very close to us – is deeper than the role of Peter or of the bishops. Thinking is needed on the Marian principle as the basis of the unity of the Church. This fact, according to me, has not been still sufficiently gone into in ecumenic dialogue

I agree with the Cardinal on this point.

A great link citing many references to primary sources on Mary and the Church: Figure and Model

Catechism of the Catholic Church 773. In the Church this communion of men with God, in the “love [that] never ends,” is the purpose which governs everything in her that is a sacramental means, tied to this passing world.192 “[The Church’s] structure is totally ordered to the holiness of Christ’s members. And holiness is measured according to the ‘great mystery’ in which the Bride responds with the gift of love to the gift of the Bridegroom.”193 Mary goes before us all in the holiness that is the Church’s mystery as “the bride without spot or wrinkle.”194 This is why the “Marian” dimension of the Church precedes the “Petrine.”195[ emphasis mine ]

The citation (195) refers back to PJPII MULIERIS DIGNITATEM #27

This is of fundamental importance for understanding the Church in her own essence, so as to avoid applying to the Church–even in her dimension as an “institution” made up of human beings and forming part of history–criteria of understanding and judgment which do not pertain to her nature. Although the Church possesses a “hierarchical” structure,[53] nevertheless this structure is totally ordered to the holiness of Christ’s members. And holiness is measured according to the “great mystery” in which the Bride responds with the gift of love to the gift of the Bridegroom. She does this “in the Holy Spirit,” since “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Rom 5:5). The Second Vatican Council, confirming the teaching of the whole of tradition, recalled that in the hierarchy of holiness it is precisely the “woman,” Mary of Nazareth, who is the “figure” of the Church. She “precedes” everyone on the path to holiness; in her person “the Church has already reached that perfection whereby she exists without spot or wrinkle (cf. Eph 5:27).”[54] In this sense, one can say that the Church is both “Marian” and “Apostolic-Petrine.”[55]

Crisis Magazine-By David L. Schindler mentions

Recuperating a rightful understanding of Mary within the reality of the Church was crucial for John Paul II’s sense of how a one-sided notion of the Church, as a hierarchical and clerical institution (Vatican I), was to be integrated into a notion of the Church as communio, a communion of persons (Vatican II), in a way that neither weakened the importance of the Petrine institution nor reduced the “People of God” to a democratic congregation.

This perhaps may be an opening which has yet to be tapped. While there are likely obstacles as well with this route simply because of the subject of Mary as church (especially with those of the Baptist communions) but could bear fruit I think with Anglicans and especially with Orthodoxy. If we reflect on Rm 5:5 emphasis of working through the Holy Spirit; this is certainly an avenue which has been acknowledged by the Catholic church as normative in many communities. SO perhaps in this sense there is no break in communion.

2) Servant of the servants of God

In this area I think the effort will be primarily on the papacy’s effort to place emphasis on service to the people of God. One area I think would be a great project would to review historical actions taken by the papacy to see if the action is one based on Papal primacy or one of his other titles (Partiarch of the West, Primate of Italy, Archbishop/Metropolitian of Roman province, Sovereign of Vatican city state (Political). Everyone perceives the papacy simply as the role of Vat. I, but for example Pope Benedict XVI’s trip to the USA will involve different aspects/titles. If everyone were able to more clearly see how the pope’s actions relate to which title, then perhaps it would bring more clarity as to how,when and where he exercises authority.

88. Among all the Churches and Ecclesial Communities, the Catholic Church is conscious that she has preserved the ministry of the Successor of the Apostle Peter, the Bishop of Rome, whom God established as her “perpetual and visible principle and foundation of unity” 146 and whom the Spirit sustains in order that he may enable all the others to share in this essential good. In the beautiful expression of Pope Saint Gregory the Great, my ministry is that of servus servorum Dei. This designation is the best possible safeguard against the risk of separating power (and in particular the primacy) from ministry. Such a separation would contradict the very meaning of power according to the Gospel: “I am among you as one who serves” (Lk 22:27), says our Lord Jesus Christ, the Head of the Church. On the other hand, as I acknowledged on the important occasion of a visit to the World Council of Churches in Geneva on 12 June 1984, the Catholic Church’s conviction that in the ministry of the Bishop of Rome she has preserved, in fidelity to the Apostolic Tradition and the faith of the Fathers, the visible sign and guarantor of unity, constitutes a difficulty for most other Christians, whose memory is marked by certain painful recollections. To the extent that we are responsible for these, I join my Predecessor Paul VI in asking forgiveness.147 [emphasis mine]

95. All this however must always be done in communion. When the Catholic Church affirms that the office of the Bishop of Rome corresponds to the will of Christ, she does not separate this office from the mission entrusted to the whole body of Bishops, who are also “vicars and ambassadors of Christ”.153 The Bishop of Rome is a member of the “College”, and the Bishops are his brothers in the ministry. Whatever relates to the unity of all Christian communities clearly forms part of the concerns of the primacy. As Bishop of Rome I am fully aware, as I have reaffirmed in the present Encyclical Letter, that Christ ardently desires the full and visible communion of all those Communities in which, by virtue of God’s faithfulness, his Spirit dwells. I am convinced that I have a particular responsibility in this regard, above all in acknowledging the ecumenical aspirations of the majority of the Christian Communities and in heeding the request made of me to find a way of exercising the primacy which, while in no way renouncing what is essential to its mission, is nonetheless open to a new situation. For a whole millennium Christians were united in “a brotherly fraternal communion of faith and sacramental life … If disagreements in belief and discipline arose among them, the Roman See acted by common consent as moderator”.154[emphasis mine] Ut unum sint

II

C-1* EXHIBIT A. During the Meletian Schism in the ancient Church, Meletius of Antioch and his flock were not recognised by or in communion with Rome. Most of the East did recognise him and reject his rival – even to the point where he presided for a while at the sitting of an Ecumenical Council. Eventually, not only was Meletius’ claim to be the legitimate Catholic Bishop recognised universally after his death, but he was canonised and his successors (not his rival’s) were the Patriarchs of Antioch. Thus, visible unity was broken without either side being considered by anyone in hindsight as outside the Church. However, it could be argued that visible unity was merely “somewhat obscured” since Meletius was in communion with bishops who were in communion with Rome.

Well lets speak of history then. Meletius use of the term homoousios sounds very much like Sabellianizism when he supports the creed of 325 at the council of Antioch of 363 which he presided over as Socrates Scholasticus relates in book 3,25,14 of his church history. Especially since the term homoousios, which to some seems novel and inappropriate, has been judiciously explained by the fathers to denote that the Son was begotten of the Father’s substance, and that he is like the Father as to substance.

The “east” includes Alexandria and St. Athanasius, so I don’t believe that Meletius claim to being Catholic was valid. He was not accepted by either Partiarch of Alexandria or Rome. St. Pope Damasus “Tome” has an interesting canon at the synod of Rome 382 which I believes was implied to address Meletius status –

9) Those also who have moved from churches to churches, we hold as not belonging to our communion until they return to those cities in which they were first established. But if one is ordained in the place of one who is living, while another is moving, let him who has left his own city be without the dignity of the priestly office until his successor rests in the Lord.

Translation of bishops from one diocese to another was often done to gain a larger, more affulient church and influence with the Emperor. This canon was to prevent this.

I don’t believe the example obtains.

C-1* EXHIBIT B. A large number of Orthodox theologians and hierarchs contend that the difference between themselves and the Monophysites has been, for many centuries at least, based on logomachies. As a consequence they also hold that the two Churches already hold to the same Faith and possess the same Sacraments, and are thus already one in the most important sense, such that restored intercommunion is justified. These theologians appear not to contend that such a restoration would be a return of a schismatic body to the Catholic Church but that it would be the resolution of unfortunate, long-standing misunderstandings between sister Churches. Thus, it is effectively recognised that true ecclesial unity can co-exist with lack of visible unity for considerable periods.

IMO the only question is did they support/sign the Henticon?

C-1* EXHIBIT C. During the Great Western-Papal Schisms, when there were multiple claimants to the papacy, each with considerable followings at times, visible unity of the Western Church was broken. However, the RCC has canonised as Saints people on opposing sides of these schisms. Also, the fact that it was difficult to tell with certainty which was the true Pope, such that even till today no official and binding decision has been made by the Vatican as to who were the true Popes, has led to RC historians and theologians not portraying any of the various flocks as outside the true Church.

This is a period of 40 years total. I would ask what Saints didn’t accept Pope Martin after that period? The question is as far as I can tell one of obedience not of heresy. IF members of the SSPX accept Pope Benedict XVI, but had rejected Pope Paul VI and Pope John Paul II are they still outside the church?

C-1* EXHIBIT D. It is now common in ecumenical (revisionist?) history to claim that the EOC and RCC did not really completely break communion or finalise the schism till many centuries after previously posited dates. It appears to be a permissible and common opinion among orthodox RCs and the EO to say that sacramental communion was not properly or completely absent till the 18th Century. However, the very fact that the schism had been dated by most people as being from much earlier shows that whatever unity there was, was noteasily visible. And this includes to the people contemporary with the disputed period, since in Anglican-Roman debates of the 17th Century it was commonly contended by Roman interlocutors that the EOC was in schism and heresy.

This is strickly my opinion in reading church history and I have to say that the break was gradual but from a much earlier period. Historians have traditionally pointed to 1054, but with all humility in my lack of formal training in this field over and against those who are grossly overeducated compaired to myself I have to say that the latest date of a formal visable schism was the Council in Trullo. Those canons not already approved prior to it in the west were anti-latin. The process of latin only and greek only liturgies was well on the way. The reference to the 5th ecumenical council (which you mentioned late in this piece) was rejected by much of the western church for several centuries. It’s acceptance as an ecumenical council IMO is exclusively be based on papal primacy. Otherwise those western churches who rejected this council are vaild and place this council as only a regional eastern synod non-binding on the universal church.

C-1* EXHIBIT E. It has never been contended by any canonist or theologian, as far as I know, that any excommunications, even at the Papal or Conciliar level, are infallible. Though the theological reasoning behind them can be, the necessarily accompanying examination of particular evidence regarding a person or group is corrigible. Thus it is implicitly accepted that people, including bishops, can be visibly excluded from the Church unjustly and thus not truly be outside the Church. This is yet another case when the visibility of unity is imperfect, and admission of such imperfection is permissible.

Agreed.

So, how should we explain the significance of present divisions? In what ways has unity been preserved? Can the history of the “schisms”, especially at the apparent breaking points, be understood in a way that acquits both sides in each case of formal schism or heresy? Is there a way the elephant in the room can be dealt with rather than ignored, without anyone having to repent of their self-understanding? I believe there are satisfactory answers to all these questions – yes to the last two! — that will allow Catholic ecumenism to succeed.

No I don’t think so, but that’s because I perceive your position as strickly jurisdictional, which if one only looked at Vat. I could get that impression. IF we keep the dialog only on this level I very much doubt we’ll get anywhere.

Since the schism was grown into in such a gradual, haphazard and (in the end) unreflective or non-binding manner, it seems permissible to view it as never definitive. In that case, there is no need for either side to exclude the other from its identification of the One Church. Instead, they should start from the premise that they at least might never have been truly or fully divided, and approach doctrinal dialogue from that hopeful perspective. (Let’s not forget that both East and West have basically disowned the mutual excommunications of 1054, so one must assume they accept that, whatever happened afterwards, the state of schism existing at that time did not really mean one side or the other was outside the Church.)

Well since 500 A.D. the only recognized method was via the Formula of Hormisdas. I don’t see a way around that one.

An objection to this reasoning from the RC side might consist of a simple quotation of the recent Papal Encyclical, DOMINUS IESUS:

“Therefore, there exists a single Church of Christ, which subsists in the Catholic Church, governed by the Successor of Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him. The Churches which, while not existing in perfect communion with the Catholic Church, remain united to her by means of the closest bonds, that is, by apostolic succession and a valid Eucharist, are true particular Churches. Therefore, the Church of Christ is present and operative also in these Churches, even though they lack full communion with the Catholic Church, since they do not accept the Catholic doctrine of the Primacy, which, according to the will of God, the Bishop of Rome objectively has and exercises over the entire Church.” [Emphasis added.]

But, even if this were an infallible doctrinal pronouncement, its statements of historical fact rather than principle would be corrigible (and fallible). What if the RCC and EOC can come to an agreement on Roman Primacy (which neither EO nor Anglican Catholics have ever simply denied, all believing themselves to hold to the Catholic teaching in this matter) without repudiating their respective authoritative Traditions, but instead synthesising them? Then the above statement would be seen to be based on sound theology and reasoning but a historically conditioned misapprehension of the relationship between the other particular Churches’ teaching and the dogma of the RCC. Thus the statement could be “moved beyond” with relative ease and no loss of face or authority.

If the Catholic position towards the Anglican communion with respect to apostolic succession and valid Eucharist were determined as jurisdictional rulings not theological one then I’d say yes. However, I think without further research they were theologically based. But I’m clearly out of my depth here which is why I didn’t address your part III at all.

Also, the Fathers of the 5th Ecumenical Council struck Pope Vigilius off the diptychs and refused him communion till he would do what they (and the whole Catholic Church, eventually) considered the right thing about the Three Chapters: i.e., condemn them and the doctrines contained therein. To say that an Ecumenical Council did its job successfully but, by the way, was composed pretty much entirely of formal schismatics (and heretics for denying in practice the absolute necessity of being in communion with and complete subjection to Rome?) is a bit too ridiculous for words. Therefore, broken communion with Rome, even when it is broken deliberately from the non-Roman side, is not and never has been sufficient proof of schism.

Actually if one looks at this complex council Emperor Justinian wanted Pope Vigilius excommunicated, but communion with the see of Rome to remain in tack.

Later the council states

We therefore anathematize the Three Chapters before-mentioned, that is, the impious Theodore of Mopsuestia, with his execrable writings, and those things which Theodoret impiously wrote, and the impious letter which is said to be of Ibas, and their defenders, and those who have written or do write in defence of them, or who dare to say that they are correct, and who have defended or attempt to defend their impiety with the names of the holy Fathers, or of the holy Council of Chalcedon. Session VIII

Was Pope Vigilius a defender of the Three Chapters or a defender of Chalcedon? Africa and much of Gaul and northern Italy rejected this council for hundreds of years. The question could just as easily be, what constituted an Ecumenical council?

First appeared as a three-part series at The Continuum, where Fr Matthew Kirby writes and co-hosts. Fr. Kirby is a prolific blogger, and a serious thinker and apologist for Continuing Anglicanism. He is also a priest in the Diocese of Australia in the Anglican Catholic Church. He is also a Franciscan Tertiary, as well as a physics/maths/religious studies teacher in a local Roman Catholic Senior High School, St Mary’s Campus of All Saint’s College, Maitland.

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