Daily Archives: October 11, 2007

Chico the Cat

I want a copy of this book. When is the English coming out?


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What do Rosebank, Johannesburg, and Australia got in common? Read on…

When I saw on Cathnews a link to a document from the Rosebank Parish in Johannesberg, I thought “That’s a bit far afield, isn’t it?”. Then I saw that the link was to a paper reproduced in Catholica Australia, entitled: The Crisis in Ministry, and all the pieces began to fit together.

Same old same old, of course. Quick fix solutions that seem great over a glass of chardonnay on a sunny afternoon, but might not seem so great at 3am in the morning having to make an emergency call to anoint a dying person at the local hospital.

Expect no extensive commentary from me, except for a few observations.

The first is that the entire section of their second proposal “Optional Celibacy” is taken from the National Council of Priests in Australia 2004 document “Reflections on the Lineamenta”. Nice to know that we are a world leader in this area…

Secondly, their third proposal “Ordained Community Leaders”, citing St Paul’s letter to Titus, fails to recognise that this very passage is the basis for what they have called (in section one) Proposal 1 – Traditional Vocations. What do the authors think that priests are, if not “ordained community leaders”? Remember too, that St Paul was hardly in the position to set up seminaries for young men with vocations to the priesthood. If he were, I am sure he would have jumped at the chance. But this was the first generation of Christians, and the “ordained community leaders” he is talking about were the first bishops and priests of the Christian Church.

Third, note that there is no proposal about ordaining women or even asking the Church to resume discussion about it (although a footnote shows that it did come up in one of their meetings and 80% were in favour). If only the Australian petitioners could have been so wise.

Fourth, among the websites linked are: http://www.futurechurch.org and http://www.marriedpriests.org . Great company.


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What’s up between the Estonian and Russian Orthodox?

It is never a good start to a dialogue meeting when one of the parties walks out. Even worse when the walk out is because of a disagreement between participants on the same side of the table.

Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev–yes, our own friend from just a fortnight ago–has withdrawn his Russian delegation from the resumed Catholic-Orthodox dialogue because (get this) the Estonian Orthodox were invited to the party too.

There wasn’t much the Vatican delegation could do. The Catholic News Service says a Catholic participant told them that “the Catholic position was that it was an internal Orthodox matter”.

Pope Benedict has made it clear what outcome he desires any way:

I ask you to join me in praying that this important meeting will help the journey toward full communion between Catholics and Orthodox and that we could soon share the same chalice of the Lord.

Perhaps we ought to extend our prayers for full communion between the Orthodox and the Orthodox. [Yes, I just know that some of you are going to jump up and say that all the Orthodox ARE in full communion with all the other Orthodox, but, really, are these the sort of shinanigans you would expect from those who are in full communion with each other? It is more what one would expect at a Lambeth Conference…]

I am reminded of a comment Bishop Hilarion (pictured with a nice hat) made while he was here in Australia. He was asked why there has not been a Pan-Orthodox meeting/synod/council. His answer was that there were two reasons: first, the lack of anyone in a position of authority to call such a council, and secondly, the debate that would ensue about the ordering of seating for the various patriarchs according to hierarchy of honour.

Didn’t Jesus have some advice on that?


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What happened to Bishops under "Pope Luther"–Proof of the Discontinuity

Regular readers will know that one of the three reasons I came to accept the Catholic faith was “Continuity” (the other two were “authenticity” and “authority”–you can see the relation). Of all the “discontinuities” in Lutheranism, the most obvious was the discontinuity in Episcopal Succession, resulting (for German Lutheranism at least, and probably also for Scandinavian Lutheranism–no official judgement has ever been passed on the latter as far as I know, although the negative is assumed) in a loss of apostolic succession.

Of course, as a Confessional Lutheran, I was aware that the Augsburg Confession supported the “right of bishops”. I was told by my seminary professors that the only reason Lutherans ended up not having bishops in Germany was because none of the Catholic Bishops in office at the time joined the new “Evangelical” movement.

A recent comment by Dr Tighe in response to my comment that Luther himself often acted as a defacto bishop (nay, pope even!) elicited this bit of history from the good professor:

On the two occasions when a semi-serious effort was made to get an “Evangelical Bishop” in Germany (i.e., not to have a neighbouring Lutheran ruler elected “Administrator” of an ecclesiastical territory ruled by a bishop after the bishop’s death, and then have him appoint a General Superintendent to lutheranize the clergy and supervise the new territorial church), in Naumburg in 1543 and Merseberg in 1545 — cases in which the Elector of Saxony (whose lands surrounded these small ecclesiastical territories) forced the cathedral chapter to elect a Lutheran as bishop (in the case of Naumburg forcing them to revoke their previpus election of the Catholic Johannes Pflug) — Luther in 1543 brushed aside suggestions that the Catholic-turned-Lutheran Bishop of Brandenburg, Matthias von Jagow (Bishop 1526-1544; he became Lutheran in 1539) be asked to perform the consecration of the Lutheran electus (Nicholas von Amsdorf), and instead acted as consecrator himself, later justfying his action in his tract “On the Installation or Consecration of a True Christian Bishop.” By 1545 von Jagow had died (but the two Lutheran bishops in East Prussia, one of them a Catholic bishop who had turned Lutheran in 1525, and the other a colleague whom the former had consecrated in 1528, were still alive and still in office), and so Luther again acted as consecrator of Georg von Anhalt as Bishop of Merseberg.

Come Muhlberg in 1547, the two Lutheran “bishops” were ejected from their sees, and Pflug installed in Naumburg and the 1545 Catholic candidate in Merseberg as well. When these two died in the 1560s, the cathedral chapters of these respective dioceses were forced to elect the Saxon Elector as Administrator, and he incorporated these terrotories into his duchy, and apponted a General Superintendent to lutheranize and superivise them. similar things happened in the 1560s as the last few Catholic bishops (or, rather, bishops-elect, since none of them had bothered to get themselves consecrated) in northern Germany died, and neighboring Lutheran princes took over their territories.

Isn’t that astounding? Even faced with the option of having a real bishop–albeit one of “Evangelical” persuasion–available to perform ordinations and consecrations, and regardless of what had been stated in the Augsburg Confession, nevertheless, Pope Martin directed the “Evangelicals” to dispense with such stuff. It makes doing a “Tract 90” on the Augsburg Confession–or holding the “Evangelical Catholic” view of Lutheranism–very difficult to sustain historically. Given this context, to interpret the Lutheran Confessions with anything other than an “Hermeneutic of Rupture” would be downright historically dishonest.

(A little known portrait of Luther by Lucus Cranach the Younger, found hidden away in his attic)


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