Monthly Archives: August 2008

A new entry (finally!) on my Year of Grace retro-conversion blog

Yes, dear, patient reader: I have finally gotten around to continuing the ongoing saga of my conversion to the Catholic Church with this blog at Year of Grace: There’s some really serious stuff there, well worth reading, if I may say so, including this statement:

My only hope is to fully submit myself to Christ’s Lordship and authority on the matter, and to do this, I must seek out those who exercise this authority. If they judge me to be free to remarry, I will accept their judgement. If they judge me not to have been free to enter into a new marriage relationship, I will accept their judgement on this too. I will never sever my marriage with Cathy–what? shall we sin all the more that grace may abound even more?–but I will live to the full the covenant of marriage with her that I should have lived with my first wife, and I will live a life of prayer and faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. And I will go to every mass knowing that in this mass the body and blood of Christ is indeed being offered for my sin whether I commune or not.

There is probably so much here that you would say is not “rightly dividing law and gospel”. But things are not always as black and white as “law” and “gospel”. I am a broken, sinful human being, who never the less is justified through faith in Christ in baptism, and I live by the mercy of God. I do not demand that he change his law for me. It is enough to know that Christ has died for me, and that I will sit at God’s table in eternity when I will be free from all brokenness, and all the grey stains of sin.

If you have never read my Year of Grace blog, check it all out here.


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The battle is on in St Mary’s South Brisbane?

Take a look.


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A final comment: The Difference between Schütz (David) and Schütz (Roger)

Reflecting on the two previous posts, I want to add a final statement that most clearly clears up the confusion I was feeling in regard to Cardinal Kasper’s comments about Brother Roger.

The difference between Roger Schütz and David Schütz with regard to communion with the Catholic Church (I am limiting myself here – the most obvious difference between Br Roger and myself is that he was a saint, and I am a long way from achieving that goal) is that he did not believe that he was called to enter into full formal communion with the Bishop of Rome. The main reason for this appears to have been that he believed formal unity with Rome would have worked against his personal vocation to promote Christian unity.

I, on the other hand, did feel that God was calling me to enter formal communion with the Catholic Church. My own committment to ecumenism was (and is) no less than Brother Roger’s. In my own conscience, formal communion with the See of Peter is the only way in which I believe I can be true to that my vocation to promote Christian unity.

Unfortunately, that means that at the same time I have had to embrace the pain of ruptured communion with the “the faith of my origins” – pain that goes to the very heart of my personal life with family and friends. It is my profound prayer and hope that within “the mystery of the Catholic faith” this communion will one day be fully restored.


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Some resolution on the Brother Roger question?

In the dicussion about Brother Roger’s ecclesial status in the post below, Dr Mike Liccione pointed to a comment by one of his commentators on his blog. For the record, Mike, I think your commentator has it exactly right.

Question: Was Brother Roger in full Eucharistic Communion with the Catholic Church or not?
Answer: He was not.
Question: Was Brother Roger given Eucharistic Communion in the Catholic Church or not?
Answer: He was.

Although it sounds contradictory, this is fully in keeping with the practice of the Church. Baptised Christians who have not been received into full Eucharistic Communion with the Catholic Church may be given communion under certain circumstances.

The canon law that applies is as follows:

CIC 844 p. 3: “Catholic ministers may licitly administer the sacraments of penance, Eucharist and anointing of the sick to members of the oriental churches which do not have full Communion with the Catholic Church, if they ask on their own for the sacraments and are properly disposed. This holds also for members of other churches, which in the judgment of the Apostolic See are in the same condition as the oriental churches as far as these sacraments are concerned”

CIC 844 p. 4: “If the danger of death is present or other grave necessity, in the judgment of the diocesan bishop or the conference of bishops, Catholic ministers may licitly administer these sacraments to other Christians who do not have full Communion with the Catholic Church, who cannot approach a minister of their own community and on their own ask for it, provided they manifest Catholic faith in these sacraments and are properly disposed”

While on the surface, paragraph 4 appears fairly restrictive, it has in fact been exercised pastorally with some latitude.

I will give an example. My Lutheran wife and oldest daughter do not (as a rule) receive communion when the come with me to mass (my second daughter is doing her first communion at her Lutheran parish in a few weeks time). They respect me and my beliefs and they respect the Church’s beliefs. However, they do have a genuinely Catholic belief in the sacrament, and are very well disposed toward the Catholic Church. But at World Youth Day, after a week of immersion in the whole Catholic thing, and then to be at the Eucharist with the Holy Father while at the same time having no access that day to a Lutheran eucharist, they asked me if it would be permissable to receive communion. I pointed out the Church’s teaching on the matter, and then said that they should judge for themselves. They both communed.

This was, however, a highly exceptional circumstance, and they have not used this one reception of communion as an excuse to begin receiving communion at other times when they come to mass with me. I imagine, however, that if I were to die tomorrow, they would all receive communion at my funeral mass. And this too would be according to the Church’s practice, which makes allowance for such pastoral situations.

So it would be wrong, I think, to view the (admittedly repeated) instances in which Br Roger received communion in the Catholic Church as a statement that he was in full communion with the Catholic Church. The Ecumenical Directory of 1993 (p. 101) states clearly that

“In the present state of our relations with the ecclesial Communities of the Reformation of the 16th century, we have not yet reached agreement about the significance or sacramental nature or even of the administration of the sacrament of Confirmation. Therefore, under present circumstances, persons entering into full communion with the Catholic Church from one of these Communities are to receive the sacrament of Confirmation according to the doctrine and rite of the Catholic Church before being admitted to Eucharistic communion.”

Roger had not received Catholic confirmation, so he cannot have been said to have been “admitted to” Eucharistic communion.

However he was GIVEN Eucharistic communion. This must be taken as recognition that (as the canons say) he “manifested Catholic faith in these sacraments and was properly disposed”. And that is about the sum of what Cardinal Kasper says in his interview. Nothing more and nothing less. It was the repeated instances in which Br Roger was given communion which led to the impression that he had been “admitted to” full Eucharistic communion.

I might end by quoting a little of the Ecumenical Directory (1993), p.129ff:

129. A sacrament is an act of Christ and of the Church through the Spirit. Its celebration in a concrete community is the sign of the reality of its unity in faith, worship and community life. As well as being signs, sacraments—most specially the Eucharist—are sources of the unity of the Christian community and of spiritual life, and are means for building them up. Thus Eucharistic communion is inseparably linked to full ecclesial communion and its visible expression.

At the same time, the Catholic Church teaches that by baptism members of other Churches and ecclesial Communities are brought into a real, even if imperfect communion, with the Catholic Church and that “baptism, which constitutes the sacramental bond of unity existing among all who through it are reborn… is wholly directed toward the acquiring of fullness of life in Christ”. The Eucharist is, for the baptised, a spiritual food which enables them to overcome sin and to live the very life of Christ, to be incorporated more profoundly in Him and share more intensely in the whole economy of the Mystery of Christ.

It is in the light of these two basic principles, which must always be taken into account together, that in general the Catholic Church permits access to its Eucharistic communion and to the sacraments of penance and anointing of the sick, only to those who share its oneness in faith, worship and ecclesial life. For the same reasons, it also recognises that in certain circumstances, by way of exception, and under certain conditions, access to these sacraments may be permitted, or even commended, for Christians of other Churches and ecclesial Communities.

…Catholic ministers will judge individual cases and administer these sacraments only in accord with these established norms, where they exist. Otherwise they will judge according to the norms of this Directory.


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Schütz (David) still confused on Schütz (Roger)

Sandro Magister is very helpful in giving us the complete interview with Cardinal Walter Kasper on the “Riddle of Brother Roger”. Does Magister have his tongue firmly planted in his cheek when he says that through this interview Cardinal Kasper “solved” the riddle of Brother Roger’s confessional belonging? For me, it raises so many questions. Such as “If Brother Roger could be Catholic without breaking communion with his protestant roots, why did I have to?” or “Does such an ecumencal solution only apply to people who have access to a personal friendship with the pope?” or “Can we expect a cause for Brother Roger’s sainthood to be opened in two years time (ie. five years after his death)?”

Don’t get me wrong. I truly believe Br Roger was a saint, and I also believe that he was, to all extents and purposes, a Catholic, even if not “formally” so. But no matter how sincere he was in his attachment to the Catholic faith, how come the canons did not apply to him, but apply to the rest of us?

And a couple more questions: If Br Roger daily received communion at the Catholic liturgy in Taize, did he still receive communion from Protestant altars? (although, I understand that protestant eucharists are not celebrated at Taize). And did he continue, as an ordained Reformed minister, to celebrate the Eucharist himself?

I only ask.


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A real storm brewing over Pro-Abortion "Catholic" Politicians in the US

In case you have been living under a rock, in the last 48 hours a “perfect storm” has begun to brew in the United States over pro-abortion politicians who are publicly known to be practicing (if not actually “faithful”) Catholics. And, as with our “test case” here in Oz, the bishops are the ones caught in the centre (since responsibility for the administration of the eucharist in their dioceses ultimately falls upon them).

Here are the links. Read them for yourself.

whispersintheloggia “Hail Columbia… Hello controversy
John Allen: “With Biden Pick, America’s Bishops face a familiar headache
Perlosi interview transcript from “Meet the Press” (go down the page or search for “abortion” and you will find the relevant section)
whispersintheloggia “Egan: Pelosi positions utterly incredible”
USCCB statement
Sandrao Magister at chiesa.come ” Obama’s pick for Vice President is Catholic. But the Bishops Deny him Communion (well, some anyway – Magister includes the interview with Raymond Burke, now Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura)


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More good news from Melbourne – Thanksgiving Program Increases!

The latest newsletter from Catholic Fundraising in Melbourne has good news: giving in the Archdiocese is up, it has been rising for the last six years, and there is room for more growth! All this is despite the falling massing attendances:

Thanksgiving income in the Archdiocese of Melbourne continues to rise, despite dwindling Mass attendances.The latest figures suggest that many Catholics are very happy to support their parish financially, even if they do not attend Mass every Sunday. Credit card and direct debit giving continues to grow with one Melbourne parish now receiving 53% of its Thanksgiving income from these sources. Highlights from the past six years (2001-2006) included:

· 126 Melbourne parishes used the services of Catholic Fundraising
· Their Thanksgiving income increased by 36%
· The remaining parishes’ income increased by 6%, during the same period
· The socio-economics of client and non-client parishes are identical
· Client parishes experienced a drop in Mass attendance of 9%
· Non-client parishes lost 14% of their congregation
· The average household giving in client parishes was 20% higher than in non-client parishes
o The participation rate among Mass-goers in client parishes was 57%, in non-client parishes it was 52%
· Client parish average annual income was $ 149,639
· Non-client parish average annual income was $81,180
· Client parishes, therefore, were $68,459 a year better off—or $1,317 a week

All of this information is based on actual receipts, as submitted by parishes in their Annual Returns to the Diocese from 2001-2006.

I take all my hats off (and I own quite a few) to the team at Catholic Fundraising. They are doing a great job. And keeping me, at least, in full time employment (or, more to the point, with a full time salary).

And here are some real life reports:

East Keilor
St Peter the Apostle Parish had not used the services of Catholic Fundraising since I 99 I. Fr Anthony Doran and the Parish Finance Commiftee decided it was time to do so again, It paid off! Income increased from $2,263 a week to $4,404 weekly with 47 new givers. Fr Doran summed it up “Overall, the feedback has been very positive from the parish and the results exceeded our expectations”.

Fr Owen Doyle parish prest of St Marys Rushworth took on a professional renewal of the parish Thanksgiving Programme at a time when others of his age have long since retired. This youthful octogenarian has always done things differently — like becoming a late vocation to the priesthood when his wife and mother to his nine children died.Today Fr Doyle still celebrates four weekend Masses at Rushworth, Stanhope, Cornella and Murchison — a round trip of 120 kilometres. The result of the programme reflected the high esteem in which Fr Doyle is held by parishioners. Income increased from $339 weekly to $1,134 weekly, with 43 new contributors joining the programme.

Now if only we can initiate a Catholic Mass Attendance program along the same lines as the Thanksgiving program, which (like the Thanksgiving program) includes an every member visitation, but focused on getting non-active members to sign up to attend mass each Sunday, then the Archdiocese will be booming! I guess we only have to invent a way for them to attend mass “electronically” on Sunday so that they don’t have to get out of bed…

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The Fifth Mark of the Church

I would suggest this as an addition to the Creed, but it would probably endanger the Orthodox/Catholic relationship more than the filioque. Thanks to the Ironic Catholic who linked it from Orthometer.

Don Vincente: Erik, always remember the fifth mark of the Church.

Me: Fifth mark?? (Thinking that father had gone off into lala-land.)

Don Vincente: The Church is One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic and funny.

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A new meaning of the word "Reformed" that I was not previously aware of…

Cardinal Pole (still blogging after almost 500 years) asks the question “Where do they find these people?” We at SCM wonder too. The article in question is from the Sydney Morning Herald “A heart divided finds a new path to peace”.

Well, “Sister Meg” has certain found a “new” path, but where it leads is anyone’s guess. All I can say about this so-called “Reformed Catholic Church” is that it seems to use the adjective “reformed” in the sense of “revolutionary”. (cf. Chesterton’s quote at the top of this page).


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The kindest cut…

In our discussion below about St Mary’s, Perigrinus said:

You can’t force people to be in communion with you. You can certainly force them out of communion with you, though, or accelerate that rupture, but that is pretty much the last thing any bishop ought to do, ever, to anyone. Hence, if he is to err, a bishop ought to err on the side of maintaining connections, building bridges and seeking to repair relationships, not terminate them.

Sure, he could reassign the administrator, appoint a new administrator or paster and thereby reassert control over the church building. But the church building is just bricks and mortar, and is of no real consequence. If the price of doing that is irrevocably driving the community out, then that action does not build up the church; it breaks it down.

There are obviously difficult decisions facing the archbishop here, and no choice open to him is free of downside, or will insulate him from criticism. But I think his instinct here is sound; he wants this community in the church, not out of it, and he’s inviting – or perhaps challenging – them to want the same thing, and to act like they want it.

And Joshua made the comment:

As David would no doubt say, the real issue here is that the people of St Mary’s have not only been cut off from true catechesis, they have been subject to false catechesis for decades – this is spiritual abuse of the faithful, surely a terrible crime.

Before I comment further, I want to make it clear that I am not criticising or trying to advise Dr Bathersby on what he should have done or should do, I am simply wanting to discuss this as a “test case” situation, in the abstract, as it were.

I regard to Perry’s and Josh’s comments, I must say I am with Joshua on this one. Sometimes acting “compassionately” can be an excuse for inaction or indecision, and the lack of action and decision can end up causing more hurt in the end. Classic sayings come to mind (which can be added to the one I originally cited of “a stitch in time saves nine”) such as “you’ve got to be cruel to be kind” or “spare the rod and spoil the child”. Of course, declaring an entire parish to be out of communion with the Catholic Church (= excommunicated) is a drastic action (and hopefully will not be required). And the removal of a much loved pastor and the insertion of a new pastor can be vehemently resented. However, if the over all health of the parish and its members is what is in view, sometimes these things need to be done.

As Joshua says, it is truly a form of abuse to turn a blind eye when a man who is supposed to be a spiritual father leads the children of the Church astray. The Church (and its bishops in particular) are currently copping a lot of (genuinely deserved) flack for turning a blind eye toward priests who were sexually abusing those in their charge. Although the world will not see it as the same thing, turning a blind eye toward the activities of heterodox pastors in our Catholic parishes is just as culpable.

It is not an act of compassion when the surgeon hesitates to amputate while gangrene spreads in a limb for fear of the pain that would be caused by such an operation. For the sake of the children of the Church, the kindest cut is the quickest and most decisive one.


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