Daily Archives: October 3, 2008

Two articles worth reading

I could say a lot more about both these articles than I am going to, simply because it is getting late and I have written a lot more about other things tonight.

But you might be interested to follow up one or the other:

Article One: Bishop Soto speaks in support of Marriage and “Proposition 8”

This one is a real suprise. In the US there is a thing called the “National Association of Diocesan Gay and Lesbian Ministries”. This is a kosher group (so to speak) working within the Church’s structures and for the good purpose of assuring Gay and Lesbian Catholics that they are welcome in the Catholic Church and loved by God just like any other repentant sinner. But of course it is always difficult when working “at the coal face” in an area such as this to avoid being influenced by the prevailing ideologies. Any way, they invited Coadjutor Bishop Jaime Soto of the Diocese of Sacramento to give the keynote address and some got a little more than they were expecting. Here’s a snippet or two:

When we meditate on the person of Jesus, we often call to mind the many ways that Jesus cared for people. In all the many instances in the gospel when people come to the Lord Jesus with their needs, he fed them, he healed them, he forgave them, and he saved them. This can oftentimes lead us to the conclusion that Jesus always said “yes.” He always gave people what they wanted. He was an agreeable person.

That is not always the case in the gospel…

…Desire tempered and tested by “renunciation, purification, and healing” can lead us to God’s design. This is true for all of us. It is also true for men and women who are homosexual. We are called to live and love in a manner that brings us into respectful, chaste relationships with one another and an intimate relationship with God. We should be an instrument of God’s love for one another.

Let me be clear here. Sexual intercourse, outside of the marriage covenant between a man and a woman, can be alluring and intoxicating but it will not lead to that liberating journey of true self-discovery and an authentic discovery of God. For that reason, it is sinful. Sexual relations between people of the same sex can be alluring for homosexuals but it deviates from the true meaning of the act and distracts them from the true nature of love to which God has called us all. For this reason, it is sinful.

Married love is a beautiful, heroic expression of faithful, life-giving, life-creating love. It should not be accommodated and manipulated for those who would believe that they can and have a right to mimic its unique expression.

…This is a hard message today. It is the still the right message.


Article Two: Rediscovering Traditionalism

This was originally published at Opendemocracy.net, but do yourself a favour and read it with Fr Z’s commentary here.

This is a great article to read if you want to understand where Past Elder and his ilk are coming from. Consider this paragraph:

The ultras have a point. A pious Catholic who had fallen asleep in 1960 and woken up forty years later would be puzzled indeed at a modern mass (unless he had been allowed to slumber all those years in Brompton Oratory or a few other traditionalist redoubts.) He would find the modern Church culturally and psychologically so altered that he might be tempted to see it as a new religion masquerading under the old name. He might, like my Polish acquaintance, decide not to bother any more.

For my own part, I must confess that, while having much sympathy with the traditionalist point of view, I repeatly fail to see the sharp “rupture” between the older form of mass and the novus ordo.

To be sure, there is indeed a “rupture” in the way it is interpreted and performed by many (the vast majority), and there are numerous minor points where the revisions most certainly OVER revised. One has to grant Fr Z’s point that “In the book that came out under Archbp. Piero Marini’s name, the writer states that the changes in the liturgy were about changing doctrine.”

However, I don’t think they succeeded. Yes, they succeeded in moving the altars. Yes, they succeeded in a complete reinterpreting the sacrifice of the mass as a community meal of participation. Yes, they succeeded in the virtual abolition of latin in favour of the vernacular, etc. etc. But they did not succeed in abolishing the mass. Despite all the hatchet work, the Holy Spirit preserved the liturgy of the Mass for this and future generations. The old ways of celebrating mass can and are being restored, along with a reaffirmation of the traditional doctrines, and this is can and is being done within the novus ordo rite.

My joy in the motu proprio is precisely that it will accelerate this recovery. I don’t attend the Extraordinary Rite – I have only ever done so once, years before becoming a Catholic. But I have attended many novus ordo masses, in English and Latin, done with a sublime reverence – some fully in the manner of the older form of mass (Latin, kneeling for communion, priest facing east etc.).

I must say too that I do not share the author’s feelings about the liturgy of the Word. In fact in two areas I think the Novus Ordo wins over the older form: One is that Scripture is given greater prominence. That might just be the protestant in me, but I think if we are going to evangelise the world, we have to start with evangelising ourselves. That doesn’t mean to say I don’t have criticisms of the current lectionary, but it is an improvement over the older lectionary (which in fact I grew up with in the Lutheran Church). The other area of improvement is in the restoration of the prayers of the Faitfhful. My one comment on this is that we could have a single or several standard prayers so that we were sure to prayer for universal and not just personal and local concerns.

Any way, I commend both these articles to your for your enjoyment and edification.


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What Kasper said about Luther…

The original interview cited by this ENI article (Catholics can learn from Luther too, says Cardinal Kasper) was published in the 16 Sept 08 daily edition of Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung under the title “Die Zukunft der Ökumene“. Unfortunately, you have to pay for articles from their archive, and I wasn’t that keen. I have decided to trust ENI’s report (although you can find secondary reports in German here and here and here).

According to ENI, Kasper:

…encouraged Catholics to read Luther’s commentaries on the Bible, and his “hymns full of spiritual power”…

“One will then discover a Luther who is full of the power of faith, whom one cannot simply make Catholic, whom we find provoking and even alien in many respects, but from whom even Catholics can learn.”

…Cardinal Kasper said he hoped Catholics would “get to know Luther better and not just interpret him from his polemical writings, still less from a few sentences taken out of context”. The cardinal said he also hoped Protestantism would return to the faith of Martin Luther, “who would have been deeply averse to all of today’s liberal tendencies”.

I really can’t fault these sentiments, and must say “here, here” to them. For that matter, I think Papa Benny would agree whole-heartedly.

This source also quotes Kasper as saying:

Es wäre dagegen schlimm, wenn daraus am Ende ein neuer Konfessionalismus würde», warnte Kasper.

Which I think means to say that while he would like to see modern Lutheranism return to the comparitive “catholic” orthodoxy of its founder, he would see it as a bad thing if the only result of the Luther Decade just begun was a new “Confessionalism” which emphasised the divisive points between Lutherans and Catholics. That interpretation is born out by this report which quotes Kasper as saying:

Vor einer Verschärfung der Gegensätze zwischen Katholiken und Protestanten im Zuge der 500-Jahrfeiern der Reformation hat Kurienkardinal Walter Kasper gewarnt.

ie. He warned against using the 500th anniversary of the Reformation as a “tightening of the contrasts” between Catholicism and Protestantism. It seems that one of the false contrasts that he warns against is the contrast some wish to set up between a “church of freedom” (ie. Protestant) over against a “church of authority” (ie. Catholic). One of the distinctions he highlights is the unfortunate growth in difference of opinion on ethical issues between the Catholic and Protestant churches such as “on issues such as contraception, abortion, homosexuality and embryo research”. On these issues he wonders after all just how seriously scripture is regarded by these protestant churches.

At the very last Lutheran Church of Australia general pastor’s confernce that I attended in the year 2000, I raised the question of the imminent 500th anniversary of Luther’s posting of the 95 theses and asked if this event (then still 17 years in the future) ought not be seen as a point towards which we could work for a significant advance in visible unity with the Catholic Church. At that time, such a notion was dismissed as somewhat hasty. I expect that if such a motion were to be raised on the floor of any Lutheran synod today, it would in fact be laughed out of court.

God grant, however, that 31 October 2017 might at least be a positive date in Catholic-Lutheran relations, rather than a negative one. This seems to be the gist of Kasper’s comments. And he seems to be suggesting that Catholics at least have as much work to do here as Lutherans.

There is precedance here. In the decade of the 500th anniversary of Luther’s birth (1983), many excellent studies were published of Luther’s life and works – including many by Catholic historians and theologians (eg. Peter Manns).

I hope that we take up Kasper’s challenge. Catholics should not want to “Catholicize” Luther – his distinctiveness remains – but all is not “alien” in his theology. The simple fact that Benedict XVI emphasises the themes of “the Word of God” and “the Theology of Cross” (while his treatment of these themes differs in many ways from Luther’s) shows there are connections – bridges, if you like – to be explored between Lutheran and Catholic theologies.


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Fr Peter Kennedy of St Mary’s South Brisbane defends his use of invalid baptismal formulae

It is interesting to try to imagine what must be going on inside the head of Fr Peter Kennedy, the priest of St Mary’s South Brisbane who performed that invalid baptism in the video posted on YouTube.

Fortunately, we don’t have to imagine, because we have his own words from an article published in the (now defunct) “Online Catholic” e-journal back in “Issue 36, 26 January 2005” titled: ““The Brisbane Baptism Bunfight”. In what follows, my own comments appear as [bold italics]:

Is a baptism invalid if the words are changed? No, say the priests at St Mary’s, South Brisbane. And the Pope agrees! [is that so? Which pope? And would he really have agreed with Fr Kennedy’s practice?]

In the pontificate of Pope Zachary (741-752)[Ah. So already it becomes clear that we are not talking about “THE” Pope, then, but “a” pope. Now to see if what he said agrees with Fr Kennedy’s practice], an Archbishop by the name of Boniface wrote to the Pope about a problem that two of his brother bishops had raised with him. It concerned the liturgical practice of a priest who, having a limited knowledge of Latin, had unwittingly [note this: “limited knowledge” and “unwittingly”]breached the accepted scriptural formula for baptism ie “Ego te baptizo in nomine patris et filii et spiritus sancti,” translated into English as: “I baptise you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

Unfortunately the priest used the words “Ego te baptizo in nomine patria, et filia, et spiritus sancti.” In other words “I baptise you in the name of the Fatherland, and in the name of the Daughter and of the Holy Spirit.” The Bishop wanted a ruling from the Pope as to whether the Priest needed to re-baptise. The Pope’s response was “I direct that there should be no re-baptism unless you are certain that he advanced some error leading to heresy. Ignorance of the Latin language does not invalidate his ministry of baptism.” [Precisely. The poor priest would have been mortified if he had known his error. The issue here is not a mechanical notion of the formula as a set of magical words, but compliance with the teaching, practice and intention of the Church to follow the institution of Christ himself.]

In other words, as Dr Paul Collins said in The Courier Mail on 4th December 2004 and I quote, “The sacrament of baptism goes on the intention which is as important, if not more important, than the use of the traditional formula.” [The intention is important – but not MORE important than the formula. How can one have the “intention” of doing what the Church does when one intentionally uses a form contrary to the Church’s practice? The way Kennedy chooses to apply Collins statement one would conclude that ANY formula could be used (“In the Name of the Cat, the Dog and the Guinea Pig”?) as long as the “intention” was there.]

As I understand it, the official Church position is that the scriptural formulation of Father, Son and Spirit, in its relational language, is simply too universal across the entire christian spectrum [“too universal” for what?] – an argued [does he mean “agreed”?]formula that is uncompromisingly Trinitarian. I note however that Hans Kung (P58 of the Catholic Church) [what authority does this opinion have in the Church? Zilch.] makes the comment that both Catholic and Protestant theologians of the west “hardly seem to be aware that they are interpreting the relationship between Father, Son and Spirit not so much in the light of the New Testament, as in the light of Augustine.” [I would strongly challenge both Fr Kennedy and Fr Kung to do some proper study on the Trinitarian formulae used in the New Testament. In any case, the later theology of Trinity is neither here nor there, but the fact that this is according to the institution of Christ himself in Matthew’s Gospel.]

For centuries all those who made rulings on the Trinitarian formula, Father, Son and Holy Sprit, for the universal church were men [here we go]. Although women outnumber men in the church, it is they who have to bear with this exclusive formula at the heart of all liturgies, and who are prevented officially from exploring alternative formula such as “Creator, Redeemer (Liberator) and Sustainer of Life.” This is an injustice [Deary me]. And this injustice is set aside in favour of doctrinal purity. [Deary deary me.]

It is in Matthew’s gospel where we find the baptismal formula “Make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father, Son and of the Holy Spirit.” [Ah – he’s read it then.] It is a statement given to [“by”?] the RISEN Jesus- the closing paragraph of Matthew’s gospel. Hence, it probably is referring to one of the emerging liturgical practices in the Matthean church [and not to Jesus’ own institution? Undoubtedly the formulae reflects the practice of the apostolic Church, but that is because the Apostles did what Jesus commanded them to do “baptising them in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit”.]. Given the tensions in the Matthean community around a number of issues, there may have been [!!!] tension around this formula as a new and emerging one in the community; to put it on the lips of the departing risen Jesus would have been to give it an authority in what may have been competing baptismal formula (baptising for the forgiveness of sins for example). [You see how this is done?]

In the Acts of the Apostles- we are now talking about the Lucan communities – St Luke being the author of Acts of the Apostles – the imagery associated with baptism is similar, but the formula seems to be different. “Repent and be baptised every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2/38.) [this is often cited against the requirement of the traditional Trinitarian formula. In fact, many pentecostal churches do baptise with this formula (as they base their practice on the Book of Acts). However, we have no evidence that “I baptise you in the name of Jesus” was ever used in the liturgies of the apostolic or early church or ever since up until our own day in the aforementioned sectarian groups. That one is “baptised in the name of Jesus” is a theological statement – all of us who have been baptised “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” have been “baptised in the name of Jesus”.]

(Acts 8/14-16) “When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them and they went down there and prayed for the Samaritans to receive the Holy Spirit, for as yet he had not yet come down on any of them; they had only been baptised in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.”

(Acts 10/48) “While Peter was still speaking the Holy Sprit came down on all the listeners. Jewish believers who had accompanied Peter were all astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit should be poured out on the pagans too, since they could hear them speaking strange languages and proclaiming the greatness of God. Peter himself then said, “Could anyone refuse the water of baptism to those people, now they have received the Holy Spirit just as much as we have?”
He then gave orders for them to be baptised in the name of Jesus Christ.

This Lucan formula is most likely to have been an earlier one than the Matthean Formula [as I have pointed out, there never was a “Lucan formula” which was used in the liturgy of the Church as an alternative to the “Matthean formula”; rather it is a theological statement about the nature of Christian baptism]. The question is why choose one over the other now and say that only one can be used. [the reason is because the Church does not employ the same skepticism with regard to the historical veracity of the Gospels as does Fr Kennedy – Christ himself commanded us to baptise “in the name of the Father and of the Son and the Holy Spirit”. Fr Kennedy needs to study the theological importance of the DOMINICAL INSTITUTION of the sacraments.]

Is the Matthean formula more effective? More holy? More? [Not more anything. Just what Jesus commanded us to do. We are not authorised to make it up as we go along.]

What we see here is the dynamic of developing theology and practice. Jesus never links baptism with one set unchangeable formula [???Que??? didn’t he do that in Matthew 28? Oh, but that is the “emerging Matthean Community” isn’t it, not Jesus. So what evidence will Fr Kennedy accept as to what Jesus did or didn’t do?], which is important in the current debate. A church which wants to mould itself so rigidly rather than make creative responses to new and engaging issues and circumstances seems to be a church that is acting quite contrary at least to the spirit and actions of the churches of the gospel. [Since the Church springs from and is sustained by the sacraments, she has for 2000 years preserved these rites in the purity of the Christ’s original institution. This is her sacred duty. Not “creativity” and “engaging issues”.] Only well into the second century does the tradition of the right creed and right code and right cult begin to develop in the churches of the pastoral letters and they are not core or dominant in the New Testament. [O dear. The Jesus Seminar people would welcome Fr Kennedy with open arms. Perhaps he should go and talk to Francis McNab… Such skepticism about the canonical authority of the whole New Testament, when just a few paragraphs earlier he was citing Hans Kung’s preference for the NT over Augustine… For the record, this 2nd Century concern over “the right creed and right code and right cult” arose in the face of the challenge of the Gnostic heresies – among whom it appears Fr Kennedy might have felt right at home.]

Another piece of history prior to the Reformation in England and long after it, as attested by the Douay Ritual of 1610, the formula used was, “I christen thee (Tom) in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.” The Douay Ritual was intended for Seminary Priests going to England, at great peril to themselves, to keep the Catholic faith alive in Protestant England.

Note the words “I christen thee” rather than “I baptise thee”. Not the words of washing but of christening ie incorporating them with Christ. And they are certainly not the words that Jesus used. [Lord help us. At this point, Fr Kennedy shows up his liturgical ignorance. The words “I baptise/christen thee” are not essential to the rite. In fact, the Orthodox Church uses the following formula: “You are Baptised; you are illuminated; you are anointed with the Holy Myrrh; you are hallowed; you are washed clean, in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen”. The crucial thing is that washing is done (“Baptising them…”) with the Trinitarian formula (“…in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit”).]

To sum up, the first thing that characterises the New Testament in relation to baptism as with many other areas of exploration is that there is wide diversity [but we have no firm liturgical evidence of any diversion from the use of the formula “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”. The only significant diversity in regard to this which might be mentioned is the occasionally attested practice of phrasing the formula in question form (like the creedal examination) and immersing after each answer: eg. “Do you believe in God the Father?” “I do.” Immerse once etc. There was never any diversion from naming God in the act of baptism as “the Father” and “the Son” and “the Holy Spirit”.]. Because the documents were written over a period of extraordinary development in early and emerging Christianity, and because they came from different places, DIVERSITY both in practice and theology is evident. This is not only characteristic of early Christianity but throughout its history also. Baptism has changed very significantly from the early adult catechumenate over a period of three years, to infant baptism, links with confirmation and then separation from confirmation.[This is, of course, quite true. But the essential form of baptism – washing with water with the use of the Trinitarian name of “the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit” has never varied.]

Change and adaptation could be said to characterise each period of the Church’s history of baptism and the present is no exception. Communities which are seeking justice, especially in relation to exclusive and tired metaphors [You see? What is really at stake is not the question of the formula for baptism, but how God is named in the liturgy of the Church. Fr Kennedy makes the common modern mistake of confusing a “name” and a “metaphor”. Peter Kennedy is the “name” of the author of this article – it is not a “metaphor” for the priest of St Mary’s South Brisbane. The whole “Yahweh” issue hangs on this point too.] that characterise the formula for baptism, are contributing to the diversity which will ensure that the tradition is continually living.

The community of faith needs a richness of metaphors for God [to be sure – but we don’t make up “names” for God – we use only those he has revealed to us], for Trinity, in order to expand our religious imagination and enliven our faith. This is clearly a key issue in this debate. [He’s got that right.] And if we need a richness of metaphors, the way we [who? you? the liturgy belongs to the whole church, not just you] develop those is in the liturgy [Why pick on the liturgy? Develop the “metaphors” in preaching, theology, private prayer, poetry, song – but not in the liturgy, ta very much], as that is where the community will encounter them.


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The Australian picks up story on Invalid Baptism at St Mary’s South Brisbane

Well, it took a little while, but the mainstream press has finally picked up the story. No surprise that the author of the Oct 2nd article “Brisbane church defies Pope on baptism” is by George Pell’s biographer Tess Livingstone. Still The Oz seems to think the story sufficiently newsworthy. The editorial board at SCE agrees. Here is the guts of Livingstone’s article:

DESPITE four years of pressure from Brisbane Archbishop John Bathersby and a recent Vatican crackdown on invalid baptisms, the controversial St Mary’s South Brisbane has again defied church authorities.

A recent baptism, captured on video and dated September 21, has been posted on the YouTube internet site.

The clip shows resident priest Terry Fitzpatrick baptising a young child with the words, “We baptise you in the name of the creator, sustainer and liberator of life”, adding “who is also father, son and spirit”.

The priest then added: “That’s good, nice and cool” and invited “everyone to put water on him”.

The Australian put several questions to Father Fitzpatrick yesterday but he declined to comment.

…The two priests at St Mary’s, Father Fitzpatrick and Peter Kennedy, were ordered to revert to the correct form of baptism in 2004 after it emerged that hundreds of children had been baptised using the wrong formula.

In March, a statement released with approval from the Pope outlawed baptisms being conferred with the words “I baptise you in the name of the creator, and of the redeemer, and of the sanctifier” or “I baptise you in the name of the creator, and of the liberator, and of the sustainer”.

…A spokesman for the Catholic Church in Brisbane said: “Once those with liturgical expertise have had an opportunity to view the YouTube link/footage and discuss it with others, they will be able to provide some advice to the Archbishop as to the validity.”

In the combox of the blog on this topic below, Scotus Barbarus wrote:

I filmed the video, on Sept. 21, 2008. I was visiting Brisbane from the US and had my camera because I was a tourist. I had no intention of going to film a baptism.

That said, once I was there, and I realized an invalid baptism was likely to occur, I was torn as to whether or not it would be appropriate to film. My judgement was that since liturgy is fundamentally a public action and since these abuses must be brought to the attention of the bishop, filming it was a good idea.

The film looks “covert” because I set the camera on the pew.

Thursday, October 02, 2008 11:11:00 PM

He has since removed the video from YouTube following a request to do so from one of the persons appearing in the video (one assumes a member of the baptismal party). Nevertheless, given the statement of the spokesman for the Archdiocese quoted in the article above, I believe it is now essential for Scotus Barbarus to make his video available to the relevant authorities.


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