Monthly Archives: May 2006

Remember: Despair is a deadly sin!

I had the surprising joy today of receiving a visit from one of the readers of “Sentire Cum Ecclesia”. Really, the idea that I might actually have any fans out there in blog-world had never occurred to me!

My visitor admitted to having some doubts about the current state of the Church, especially in her local experience. Well, that’s not surprising. The important thing is not to despair or lose hope for the future (despair is a mortal sin, by the way, and hope is one of the three theological virtues!). Remember what Christ said about the gates of hell not prevailing over the Church.

We are all aware of the difficulties in which the Church currently finds herself throughout the world. But she has always suffered from such difficulties—both within and without. We should not fall into the trap of thinking “I’m the only one left”.

I reminded my visitor of the story of Elijah in 1 Kings 19, how he told God he wanted to die because everyone had gone over to the new fashionable god, Baal. In reply, God took Elijah back to the bit of Rock on which it all began for the Israelites: Mt Horeb (Sinai). There he spoke to Elijah in a “still small voice” and assured him that he was not “the last one left”—in fact, there were 7000 in Israel who had not “bowed the knee” to Baal. Then God sent Elijah back to get on with the job, anointing a successor to the King of Israel and anointing a successor for Elijah himself.

You see, God had plans for the future. He still does. A new generation is on its way, when all this current silliness will be put to bed. Not without a fair bit of angst, and probably not without the Church returning to something of a “mustard seed” in size (I seem to remember Papa Benny saying something like that once). For an indication of where things are going, and for a bit of encouragement, you might like to check out this story about the new bishop in Kansas City.

And in the mean time, here’s a joke.

[Reader: I thought you promised you wouldn’t tell any more jokes after that last one about the Pope’s ears.
Schütz: I lied.]

I saw a card in St Peter’s Bookroom today. It had two dogs on the front. One was saying to the other:

“I used to have a blog site, but I’ve given it up. I’ve decided to go back to meaningless and incessant barking.”

Mmm.

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New entry in "Year of Grace"

New entry on my retro-blog conversion journey journal thing at www.yearofgrace.blogspot.com . Check it out if you haven’t been there before. This entry introduces a new character into the story, Peter Holmes. If you don’t know Peter, you can read about him here, or experience him for yourself by enrolling in one of the many great courses he runs with with Fr John Flader in Sydney at the Catholic Adult Education Centre.

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Cardinal Arinze heads Bishop Trautman & co. off at the pass

Cardinal Arinze’s onto Bishop Donald Trautman, it would seem, and the rest of the English speaking Catholic Church can rest easy. He’s not going to let the US Bishop’s derail the project for a universally accepted and improved translation of the English liturgy.

You can read the text of his 2 May 2006 letter to Bishop William Skylstad, the President of the US Bishops Conference here, but in the mean time, here are the headlines:

  • Both the CDW and the Bishops’ Conferences are bound to follow the directives in Liturgiam authenticam.
  • The CDW is not competent to grant the recognitio for translations that do not conform to these directives
  • Since Liturgiam authenticam was issues precisely to guide the revision of all translations done in the last forty years, the argument that people have become accustomed to a certain translation for the past thirty or forty years and therefore that it is pastorally advisable to make no changes, is not acceptable.
  • Since the CDW has determined that there are good and strong reasons for a change in regard to the entire translation of the Missale Romanum, then the revised text should make the needed changes.
  • The attitudes of Bishops and Priests will certainly influence the acceptance of the texts by the lay faithful as well.

The last point is with the implication that if the new translations fail, we know who to blame. Of course, if they do fail (God save us from such evil!), there will always be those who will place the fault on the translation itself rather than the half-hearted support of those priests and bishops who opposed it.

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"Chernobyl in the Vatican"?

A few blogs ago, I quoted Joseph Ratzinger from his 1968 classic “Introduction to Christianity”, saying:

“The sharpest critics of the Church in our time secretly live on this dream [ie. that the members of the Church are holy, sinless men]… and, when they find it disappointed, bang the door of the house shut again and denounce it as deceit.”

You won’t find a better example of this assertion than over on the Stephen Crittenden Show (The Religion Report) where they get Jason Berry and Paul Collins in to discuss the “retirement” (for want of a better word) of Fr Marciel Maciel, the founder of the Legionaries of Christ.

As an example of contemporary religious journalism, this really represents something of a low point.

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Schütz speaking on the Da Vinci Code next Tuesday night

Without forfeiting my right to belong to the Amateur Catholic Blog squad, I have accepted the invitation of St Paul’s Lutheran Church, Box Hill next Tuesday night (May 30) at 7:30pm on That Bloody Book (aka The Da Vinci Code). The address is 711 Station Street, Box Hill (just a little north up Station Street from Whitehorse Road).

My presentation will be on “Themes and Schemes in the Da Vinci Code”.

I’m not really going to go much into “That Bloody Film”, which I haven’t seen yet, and am not keen to after reading the reviews. If it isn’t even a very good film, what’s the point? As Bishop Anthony Fisher once said to me “What’s the point of sinning if it isn’t even any fun?”

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Not even the Pope has "the recipe" to "transform Christianity"

In his Wednesday Audience catechesis on 17th May, the Holy Father finished by saying this:

“Peter tells us: You think you have the recipe and that you have to transform Christianity, but the Lord is the one who knows the way. It is the Lord who says to me, who says to you, “Follow me!” And we must have the courage and humility to follow Jesus, as he is the way, the truth and the life.”

Did you note that? It is quite amazing, no? Am I right in hearing Papa Benny say (inter alia) that even he may occasionally fall into the temptation of saying to himself: “I have the recipe and I am going to transform Christianity”? And that whenever he might do so, he has to listen to the first Bishop of Rome who tells him: “It is the Lord who knows the way: follow him”?

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"Muslims, Hindus and so forth" not "fine as they are": Papa Benny

Just today, I got around to reading the Holy Father’s homily for the ordination of 15 new priests in the diocese of Rome on May 22nd. It contains the following interesting comment:

“Jesus’ mission concerns all humanity. Therefore, the Church is given responsibility for all humanity, so that it may recognize God, the God who for all of us was made man in Jesus Christ, suffered, died and was raised.

“The Church must never be satisfied with the ranks of those whom she has reached at a certain point or say that others are fine as they are: Muslims, Hindus and so forth. The Church can never retreat comfortably to within the limits of her own environment. She is charged with universal solicitude; she must be concerned with and for one and all.”

Interesting, eh?

I should draw your attention to the outcome of a five day joint WCC/Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue sponsored interfaith coversation on the topic of ““Conversion – assessing the reality”” which includes the following affirmation: (:

“Freedom of religion is a fundamental, inviolable and non-negotiable right of every human being in every country in the world. Freedom of religion connotes the freedom, without any obstruction, to practice one’s own faith, freedom to propagate the teachings of one’s faith to people of one’s own and other faiths, and also the freedom to embrace another faith out of one’s own free choice.

I am working on a review at the moment of Martin E. Marty’s new book “When Faiths Collide”. Of course he deals with the (by now) rather tired paradigm that in facing the variety of religions we have to chose between “Exclusivism”, “Inclusivism” or “Pluralism”.

My thoughts have gone in this direction:

One need not seek refuge in a philosophy of pluralism to find a way for religions with a claim to “absolute truth” of peacefully and fruitfully co-existing–even if one of these religions is somehow the “official” or “public” religion of a given place. What is necessary is that among the absolute truth claims of such religions is the agreed doctrine of the absolute and inviolable dignity of every human being, and, following from this, the defence of freedom of conscience and religion.

This indeed is what the Catholic Church did at Vatican II. It did not abandon its claim to absolute truth, but embraced the doctrines of the dignity of each human being and the freedom of religion as a part of that absolute truth.

This in turn leads to respect for the other who holds conflicting ideas, even if those ideas are not shared, or even rejected.

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