Good news – but not good Ecumenical news…

Cathnews, in reposting Deacon Keith Fournier’s article from Catholic Online “Will Entire Episcopal Diocese Come into Full Communion with Rome?”, is a little inaccurate in optimistically re-entitling the piece “A moment in history for Anglicans and Catholics”. Deacon Keith himself gives an inaccurate impression with his opening comment:

2008 has been a year of potentially historic breakthroughs between Anglican Christians and the Chair of Peter.

There have been NO “breakthroughs” between the Anglican Communion as such and the See of Rome in 2008 – quite the opposite. What he is referring to is the increase in the number of those Christians currently in communion with the See of Canterbury who, either individually or corporately, are seeking to return to full communion with the Roman Pontiff. And that is good news indeed (as it is whenever any of our separated brethren and sistern are reunited with the One Sheepfold), but it is not necessary good Ecumenical news.

So what, I hear you ask? Ecumenism is just fiddling while Rome (metaphorically) burns, anyway, isn’t it?

Well, no, that is a bit unfair. Were the goals and aims of the Ecumenical Movement to be attained (something which, in my moments of Ecclesiastical Realpolitik, I have to admit is very unlikely to occur this side of eternity), then there would be only one Christian Church on earth.

It would be the Church which we confess in the Creed, the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, and it would have as its “primus inter pares” the Bishop of Rome, for the goal of the movement is the “full visible unity of all Christians”. Since any such unity would include that present united, universal, apostolic and quite visible Communion most of us call “The Catholic Church”, then this is just another way of saying that the goal of the ecumenical movement is that all Christians will once again be united in communion with Rome. And Constantinople, and Jerusalem, and Canterbury, and Moscow etc. etc.

I defy any reader of this blog to say that that would not be a very good thing.

So, while the news that an entire diocese, Fort Worth (Texas) formerly of the Episcopal Church, has requested admission into full communion with the Holy See is good, it doesn’t go anywhere to achieving the plenary reconciliation of Anglican Christians such with the Catholic Church.

Apart from any other difficulties (and a principal difficulty would be the question of whether Bishop Iker would continue to be the bishop of such a reunited “diocese” – especially if he married? Does anyone know?), the reality is that the Episcopal Church would simply appoint a new bishop to the diocese of Fort Worth, and the Episcopal Church would be no closer full communion with Rome than it was when it started.

In fact, it would be more clearly “separated” than it currently is, as one would assume that the resultant Episcopal diocese, drained of all its “catholic” members and clergy, would be much more of the flavour that currently pervades the American branch of Anglicanism.

In the end, as you would not be surprised to hear, I believe that reunion with Rome will continue to happen on an “ad hoc” basis – an individual or family here, a parish or diocese there – but that overall, Christian disunity will persist.

So, I am all in favour when anyone seeks communion with the Catholic Church. Just don’t think that is in anyway a “breakthrough” for unity between Catholics and Anglicans.

BTW: This is not the first time an entire diocese has sought communion with Rome. Apart from the TAC’s own approach, history is replete with examples of Eastern Churches making such decisions. The latest one that springs to mind is the case of an entire diocese of the Assyrian Church of the East in California.

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43 Comments

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43 responses to “Good news – but not good Ecumenical news…

  1. matthias

    The Russian writer Vladimir Soloviev in his book THE ANTICHRIST,places a lareg group of Christians who have been persecuted by the AntiChrist,being led in the Judean wilderness by the Pope,an Orthodox Elder and a German Lutheran pastor,away from the persecution.a church united albeit in suffering.

  2. Schütz

    The relevance being???

    I haved always thought that Soloviev was a little mad…

  3. Past Elder

    You are quite right that the ECUSA would simply appoint its own new “bishop” of Ft Worth and continue on its way, for damn sure will all the real estate.

    Why is Canterbury on the list with Rome, Constantinople, Jerusalem and Moscow, since Anglican orders are invalid, period? Has the RCC done another of its changes that aren’t really changes but the same thing only different?

    Were I still trying to maintain the illusion that post-conciliar Rome is not apostate from the Roman faith, I would say what does it matter, the entire Anglican Communion is based on invalid orders anyway, their bishops are not bishops nor their priests priests, so “re-union” is nonsense, there is no union to be re-united but simply heresy to be abjured and one’s proper place within the only union there is to be taken, one soul at a time including the layman Mr Iker.

    But that ain’t gonna happen with all that real estate and robes and money at stake, so it’s be theologised, doctrinally developed or whatever it needs to be to preserve same. Institutions are like organisms — their first and deepest instinct is self-preservation.

    As to your next sentence, and no longer trying to maintain the above mentioned illusion: I say it would not be a very good thing. I say it would be a very bad thing. I say to call unity around a pagan religious concept and structure imposed on Christ’s Church Chriatian Unity is absurd, and such a development belongs not to Christ’s Church but the Whore of Babylon, the various separated brothelial unions (like that one?) uniting with mother brothel and its head pimp.

  4. matthias

    That ‘s a bit strong PE re the pimp etc.
    Canterbury is on the list because it has been a site of Christian pilgrimmage since Christianity went to England in 597 with St Augustine .
    I would not accept the Bishop of Rome as “”primus inter pares”rather a General Church Council,as occurred in the Early Church,however it will not occur this side of Eternity. The unscriptural doctrines of Papal infallibility and plenary indulgences would need to be addressed.
    Re Soloviev ,the point being that perhaps there will be Christan unity in persecution.Having had friends come from behind the then Iron Curtain,I know that they have worshipped in the gulag with catholics,mennonites,orthodox and baptist without rancour

  5. Past Elder

    I took the list not as one of ancient Christian pilgrimages, but long established episcopal sees, to which Canterbury would have a claim were it not for the “Church of England”.

    As far back as I can remember, which extends to a time when “ecumenical” meant world-wide, all councils being ecumenical, we (RCs) were taught that the Great Schism was just that, a schism within the Church, despite which the Orthodox ARE Church no less than we, with valid sacraments, whereas the Protestant Reformation is a revolt from the Church, within which nonetheless a person may be saved not by anything of it but because of those elements of the Catholic Church which can exist outside its formal boundaries, such as Baptism and the reading of Scripture, which form an imperfect and invisible union with the Catholic Church rendering them not extra ecclesia but saved by those elements of its faith which they do not deny amid those that they do.

    Reunion then would be appropriate only to the Orthodox, since it is a rift within the Church. There is no reunion with Protestant churches as churches since they exist as churches by revolt from and denial of the union which is the Church.

  6. Schütz

    RE Soloviev, Matthias, I get it now.

    And RE “pimping”, PE, I think Matthias was right. Watch yourself.

    And re full visible union being “a very bad thing”, PE, why would it be “a very bad thing” for all Christians to be able to kneel together at the same altar and share the same body of Christ and drink from the same chalice of his blood? Full visible unity is not about structures (pagan or otherwise), but precisely about the fellowship that enables such joint participation. It is what you Lutherans call “altar and pulpit fellowship”. When done in truth, and without compromise of the truth, it is never “a bad thing”, let alone “a very bad things”.

    RE the Orthodox, some basic work in ecclesiology might be in order, though I don’t really have time for that tonight.

    First, it is rather difficult to state exactly the situation of the Orthodox in relation to the Catholic Church. No “model” really works to describe what is a real situation.

    All the Churches of the East are clearly valid local churches as they have retained valid episcopacy and eucharist. All Orthodox Churches are therefore “sister churches” to the Churches of Rome and Melbourne, and soon will be, hopefully, to the Church of Fort Wayne.

    Unfortunately, at the moment, some of these “true local churches” of the East are in schism from the Catholic Church.

    But there is no such thing as “THE Orthodox Church” which is in schism from or divided from the Catholic Church, or which exists as a “sister church” alongside “THE Catholic Church”.

    The One Universal Church cannot have a “sister”, nor can she be divided. I think even the Orthodox would agree on this ecclesiology, though obviously not upon the identification of the “One Universal Church” with the Churches in communion with the See of Rome.

    RE Canterbury, I would suspect that in a future (purely suppositional) Church in which the “Church of England” has been completely reconciled to Rome (and all her invalid orders validated in the manner deemed canonically and justifiably appropriate), the Archdiocese of Westminster (and all other newly invented English sees) would cease to exist and the historical See of Canterbury (and all other historical sees) would be reinstated. It is, of course, purely hypothetical to speak in such a fashion.

    RE why we bother seeking reunion with “churches” that are not “authentic” local Churches, that should be obvious. We do not limit ourselves in ecumenical dialogue to talking only with those with whom we agree. That would not only be pointless, but also very boring.

    Instead, our disparate and disagreeing communities dialogue so that they can once again be united in the One Faith, and thus in the One Church just as we are already united in the One Baptism and One Lord.

    Why do we deal with these dissenting communities as “churches” when we do not recognise them as “Churches”? Partly because it was as “churches” that they broke away from communion with Rome.

    Even more because while not fully Churches “in the true sense”, their ecclesial characteristic as “communions” is “not nothing.”

    And because, as the example of Fort Wayne shows, dealing with individuals or groups of individuals in a piece-meal fashion brings us no closer to the goal of full unity of all brothers and sisters in Christ.

  7. Christine

    that perhaps there will be Christan unity in persecution. Having had friends come from behind the then Iron Curtain,I know that they have worshipped in the gulag with catholics,mennonites,orthodox and baptist without rancour

    Good observation, Matthias. Pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer held services for all Christians in prison, Catholic, Lutheran or otherwise.

    Only the Lord knows if there will every be bodily reunion of all Christians in this life. But we dare not stop trying to answer Christ’s call that they “may all be one.”

  8. Past Elder

    Altar and pulpit fellowship, as certainly you know, is based on a mutual recognition that what is taught in the pulpit and believed to be happening at the altar is the same thing.

    Great Zeus Cloudgatherer, this can’t even be done among all groups appropriating the word Lutheran in their names, most famously the E?CA, and the entire Lutheran World Federation, which, re the proper adjective in its name, is a joke.

    The hell there’s no “model” to describe the situation re the Orthodox churches and the Catholic Church from the Catholic point of view. There was until the Catholic point of view was dropped by the “Catholic Church” for what you now call Catholicism.

    Nobody ever said there’s THE Orthodox Church and THE Roman Church as sister churches. It’s one bleeding church, with a terrible schism in it, but it remains one church. Visible unity among these valid local churches is therefore an entirelt different thing than visible unity with Protestant churches which, though they yet contain enough of the Catholic Church for salvation, as churches originate and exist outside the Church. Therefore it is nonsense to speak of REunion when no union ever existed.

    As to “ecumenical” “dialogue” with these valid local churches being talking to those with whom you agree, that would be a Western view of the East entirely uncognisant of the East’s view of itself.

    Yes, re Canterbury, under the suppositional circumstances you lay out, that is precisely what would happen, the see of Caterbury once again having valid occupants.

    Finally, no, it would not be “a very bad thing” for all Christians to be able to kneel together at the same altar and share the same body of Christ and drink from the same chalice of his blood. That would be the desire of Our Lord himself. Speaking of whom, to equate that with communion under an office bearing the marks of Antichrist is absurd beyond description and completely to be rejected. “Pimp” hardly begins to encompass it.

    You continue to understand church in the world’s terms, here seeing unity as some sort of ecclesiastical version of a matter for corporate Mergers and Acquisitions departments.

    Full unity will come when you can publicly profess the same faith I did on becoming a member of what is less than fortunately called the “evangelical Lutheran church” therein.

  9. Christine

    Altar and pulpit fellowship, as certainly you know, is based on a mutual recognition that what is taught in the pulpit and believed to be happening at the altar is the same thing.

    And let’s be forthright that it hasn’t worked uniformly in the LCMS of late. Lutherans of all stripes are communing at LCMS altars and LCMS Lutherans are even communing at E?CA (love that nomenclature!) altars. Lutherans that have family members of both stripes are making the decision for themselves.

  10. Christine

    And some good news over the wires:

    Hundreds of Kosovar Albanians gather on Sundays to attend religious services in a still unfinished red-brick church in the Kosovo town of Klina.

    Turning away from the majority Muslim faith imposed by the Ottoman Turks centuries ago, these worshippers are part of a revival of Catholicism in the newly independent Balkan state.

    Deo gratias for Christans of all traditions that have had the right to worship restored to them.

  11. Joshua

    I think it rude of PE (as usual) to presume to lecture David, who after all has quite some theological learning and background in authentic ecumenism as the Catholic Church defines it.

    Just because one man has a bee in his bonnet that the Church is not the Church, flew off and denied Christ with the Jews (literally) and then became a born-again Lutheran, doesn’t mean he’s right and the rest of us are wrong. Indeed, the strangeness of his path rather persuades us that the contrary is the case.

    Do stop the ranting and raving: whatever happened to polite discourse?

  12. matthias

    Joshua exactly my point. I have seen ardent protestant dispensationalists come to blows over interpretations of the second Coming of Christ,and I think the devil makes merry when we do anything else but polite discourse.
    Christine good news re Albania. I know of someone who was a protestant missionary there and who was quite distressed about the lack of moral or spiritual vitality there. I wonder if the Catholic Revival has not also been helped by the West’s support of Kosovar Albanians against Serbia?

  13. eulogos

    Sadly, it was only a few priests in Ft.Worth who met with the RC bishop….the whole diocese is certainly not going to go to Rome.
    Like the other departing dioceses it will go temporarily under the Southern Cone and then join the new North American province which is being put together. It is true that the tenor of this diocese is quite evangelical/low church, but
    they say they want to accomodate Anglo Catholics, and there is a long long way from being high church to being really Catholic.
    A much longer way than it would seem to those who look at their worship. Some will say, I accept everything except papal infallibility and the immaculate conception …but what they mean is that they do not believe either that there is A Church or that the one in communion with the Bishop of Rome is it. You would think that they would then become Orthodox, and some do, but that also requires believing in A church and accepting authority, one less all encompassing in theory perhaps but every bit as immediate in practice.

  14. Louise

    then became a born-again Lutheran

    I thought he is a born-again “Not Lutheran.”

    Are you, PE?

  15. Schütz

    Altar and pulpit fellowship, as certainly you know, is based on a mutual recognition that what is taught in the pulpit and believed to be happening at the altar is the same thing.

    And, truly, my dear PE, that is what full communion means for Catholics too. Only, in practice, it works with us about as well as it works with the Lutherans!

    Nobody ever said there’s THE Orthodox Church and THE Roman Church as sister churches.

    You would be surprised how common this misunderstanding is, PE. You might not have said it, but plenty have.

    Therefore it is nonsense to speak of REunion when no union ever existed.

    We can certainly speak of the reunion of Christian communities, PE, to mean the return to full communion with one another, even if when speaking of reunion with the Protestant communities, we are talking about the reunion of “communities of Christians” rather than “Churches”. And at one stage, full communion did exist between my ancestors and the Catholic Church. They broke that communion, and their descendants have largely perpetuated that state of broken communion. I would like to see a “reunion”.

    You continue to understand church in the world’s terms, here seeing unity as some sort of ecclesiastical version of a matter for corporate Mergers and Acquisitions departments.

    Wrong. You read this into my statements. I understand unity in the terms that the scriptures understand unity, being of one faith, one baptism, one Lord; participating in the one loaf and the one cup; recognising the same apostolic ministry and oversight; not quarrelling or breaking into parties and factions etc.

    But such unity has no real meaning unless it is VISIBLE unity. I can’t say I love my brother or sister and then ignore their existence. If Christians are united, they will worship together, sharing in the ministry of the Word and the Altar together.

    Full unity will come when you can publicly profess the same faith I did on becoming a member of what is less than fortunately called the “evangelical Lutheran church” therein.

    With all due respect, PE, I have a feeling that that those Churches which have maintained continuity with the Church of the Apostles and the Fathers have a somewhat better claim to be the guardians of the true faith than any body which goes under the name (fortunately or otherwise) of “evangelical Lutheran church”. As someone once said to me, Missouri seems as strange a seat for the true faith as Salt Lake City.

    All that being said, I agree that full unity will come when you, PE, can publicly profess the same faith I did, when I was received into communion with the Church of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul.

  16. Past Elder

    I am sorry if you find Catholic teaching inconvenient to what has been sold to you as "Catholicism".

    Generally, the perpetrators of this charade will have you do some or all of the following to avoid any examination that might lead to the realisation that your positions beg the question, assuming first what they would later prove: address the objections in psychological terms and find the person hateful, resentful, having only a personal agenda, ill mannered, stuck in one point of the church's history and trying to turn back the clock, or my favourite, operating out of personal opinion, nevermind that that "opinion" is what the Catholic Church taught him.

    Oh gee, I see you've done all those. Once again Catholicism is handed back on those grounds in favour of the 1960s charade "Catholicism". Happens all the time; the lie depends upon it, so I am little surprised.

    Want a little polite discourse? Try Galatians 1:6-9.

    Not only do you persist in wordly understandings of spiritual things — ecumenism as M&A with mitres and crosiers — you indeed assume what you would then prove therefrom. Not a word of your response, Herr Schuetz, stands unless one has already assumed that the RCC is the true church and everyone else will come to assume that too. At least the Borg were straight up about it: Resistance is futile, you will be assimilated. But there is nothing straight up or honest coming from the liars in Rome. Assimilation will include not only the Eastern Church and Protestants, but starts with Catholicism itself! Which is why no Catholic can have anything to do with it, and those who have to do with it are not Catholic.

    So the failure of that on Catholic grounds alone. As to the Lutheran side, I have no idea what is meant by or what you think you refer to born-again Lutheran or born-again not-Lutheran. And I am becoming less and less adept at deciphering Roman hallucination the further I get from it.

    As to the Lutheran side of it, your ancestors broke fellowship with the Catholic Church because the Catholic Church broke fellowship with the catholic church. Which, though in characteristic Roman fashion you steadfastly refuse to see it, is the position of the Eastern churches too, though on different grounds. If there is to be a "reunion", the movement will be Roman.

    Guess what? You're quite right, Missouri (St Louis, to be exact and to make this all city to city) is indeed as strange a place for the seat of the true faith as Salt Lake City. Here again, you have assumed a model from Rome, devised out of thin, or rather pagan, air to serve itself, and then "prove" the invalidity of all other claims because it is not Rome! Which is not only false, but entirely in the realm of hallucination, since there is no other claim.

    St Louis is not the seat of the true faith, it is not Lutheran Rome. It is the location of the headquarters of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. In fact on any given day it does not do a particularly good job of being that! And LCMS is not the "true" church or even the catholic church. It's in fact the worst synod in the world, except for all the others.

    None of which is a problem re the matters here at hand unless one has first assumed that some city and corporate institution must be what Rome claims to be and since none is but Rome, Rome wins.

    IOW it does not fail because it fails to be what it does not claim to be. The failure is in the claim. We do not make the claim.

    So the post-conciliar RCC fails twice over, once by the lights of the RCC itself, which I saw when those were my lights too, and once by the light of the Gospel, which I did not see back then but do now.

  17. Christine

    I wonder if the Catholic Revival has not also been helped by the West’s support of Kosovar Albanians against Serbia?

    Possibly. It seems that many Catholic families have kept the faith over the generations under Ottoman suppression and now that they have the freedom to openly proclaim their Christianity again they are resuming their public life as Catholics/Christians.

    The legacy of Mother Teresa, herself Albanian is another factor.

  18. Christine

    ecumenism as M&A with mitres and crosiers –

    Oh well you’ll have to take that up with the Lutheran Church of Sweden too.

    Oh, I forgot — that’s not a “proper” Lutheran church, along with the E?CA, the WELS and who knows how many other Lutheran bodies.

    And the LCMS is not the catholic church but you joined the LCMS because it is the catholic church which broke fellowship with the Catholic Church because it was no longer the catholic church of which the LCMS is part but not the whole.

    Did I get that right ?? 🙂

  19. Past Elder

    And the native Illyrian religion gave way unrelated to becoming part of the Roman Empire, with its state religion guess who?

    And on the other end of history, Ottoman control ended in 1912. It’s 2008. Alliance with the Chicoms and 40 years of Hoxha had nothing to do with this?

    One might also seek an answer to why are there Albanians in Kosovo, the heart of Serbia, instead of it being full of Serbs.

    Of course, since such information does not serve Roman (Church not classic) mythology, it’s probably “rude” to mention it.

  20. Christine

    Yes, Rome did conquer the area. As she did my native Bavaria way back when. So what. I’m glad she did, leaving her legacy of a rich Catholic Bavarian culture.

    Here’s a little more from the article I referenced:

    The fact that there were “Catholics in hiding” was known during the Ottoman Empire: Albanians even had a word for them, “laraman,” meaning piebald, or two-colored. Some crypto-Catholic families began to re-emerge in public in the mid- to late 19th century when Ottoman power was waning.

    Many mosques in Kosovo were destroyed during the 1998-99 war between Serb forces and the Kosovo Liberation Army. Since 1999, when the UN took control of Serbia’s breakaway province, ethnic Albanian mobs destroyed many Serb Orthodox churches.

    Roman Catholic churches were not destroyed, however, and most of Kosovo’s towns have a square named after Nobel Peace Prize winner Mother Theresa, an ethnic Albanian nun born in the neighboring Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM). She spent her life helping the poor in the Indian city of Calcutta and died in 1997.

    “We don’t make appeals to anyone to convert. People call us,” said Don Shan Zefi, chancellor of the Catholic Church’s Kosovo diocese. Zefi said the process started decades ago, but added that today there are thousands of people who “want to become Roman Catholic again.”

    The Islamic community disapproves of such converts. The head of the Kosovo Islamic community, Mufti Naim Ternava, has opposed building a cathedral in the heart of Pristina and scoffs at new churches built across Kosovo.

    “No human brain can understand how a church should be built in the middle of 13 Muslim villages,” he said.

    Inhabitants of Kravoserija in the south of the country have had their own church since 2005, with the help of the Kosovo Catholic Church. Beke Bytyci is one of five villagers who has the keys to it, since chancellor Zefi only comes to celebrate mass every few weeks.

    Opening the wooden door, he crossed himself: “I will be baptized next week,” he said.

    More than half the 120 village families attend the ceremonies, and the small church is always full.

    “My dad made a mistake in not raising me as a Christian,” said Ferat Bytyci, a 35-year-old merchant in the village and a relative of Beke. “Now things have changed and I won’t make the same mistake.”

    Those of us who have never faced religious persecution really don’t have any idea. When the area was still part of Yugoslavia and ruled by Tito there was an enforced “peace” among Catholic Croats, Serbian Orthodox and Albanian Muslims/Catholics/Orthodox.

    I am more than a little amused that the Muslims are unhappy with Albanian reversion to Catholicism. It worked just fine for them as long as it was Muslims imposing Islam on Christians.

    Thanks be to God! As far as the reasons for the Albanian presence in Kosovo it is a historically lengthy one which can be accessed easily by anyone. Conquest and reconquest, the same old story.

  21. Past Elder

    You should have no problem then with someone saying Yes, the Ottomans did conquer the area. So what. I’m glad they did, leaving a legacy of a rich Islamic Albanian culture.

  22. Christine

    You should have no problem then with someone saying Yes, the Ottomans did conquer the area. So what. I’m glad they did, leaving a legacy of a rich Islamic Albanian culture.

    Oh no you don’t. When Rome conquered Bavaria she wasn’t Christian yet. Christianty ultimately triumphed over paganism and I’m grateful for the witness of the great Boniface.

    When the Ottomans imposed themselves upon the native Slavic populations they imposed a heretical view of Christ on what was an existing Trinitarian Christian population. When all is said and done Islam is an Arian heresy.

  23. Past Elder

    Chopped down any Islamic trees there lately Christine?

    God bless me, another Benedictine. And an Englishman to boot. Given a mandate to convert a people from their own religion by a Roman Emperor, oh make that Pope, oh what the hell they’re both Pontifex Maximus.

    Dioceses hammered into existence by Pippin’s bastard Charles Martel. Yeah, that’s apostolic as it gets. Right.

    So, the analogous population to Roman Christians emerging in Albania would be some hearty souls finding something grown from a sprig of Thor’s Tree and starting over. Hell it’s Thor’s Day (Thursday) right now, let’s go!

    Conquest and reconquest, quite so.

  24. Past Elder

    Note to Aussie readers: this cage match of the WWE (World Wrestling Ecclesiology) is coming to you from the US, where it’s late Thursday morning as you sleep, unless you work the “graveyard” shift, in the early hours of Friday.

  25. Christine

    God bless me, another Benedictine. And an Englishman to boot. Given a mandate to convert a people from their own religion by a Roman Emperor, oh make that Pope, oh what the hell they’re both Pontifex Maximus.

    Oh puhleeeeze!! And if Boniface (or Winfried for youse anglophiles) hadn’t evangalized the tree-hugging, oak-worshipping Germans where do you think Martin Luther might have popped up on the historical scene?

    I also recall the Bon Dieu ordering the Israelites to do the very same thing with the pagan Caananites.

    But then I don’t consider the animism of the pagan world to be on a par with the Lord Jesus Christ.

    Hey, if we’re having verbal wrestling matches here where’s the freaking popcorn and other refreshments? What are we, barbarians ??

  26. Christine

    And here’s a wonderful quote from Pope Benedict to correct the notion that the Church is mere “institution”:

    There are many who speak of God; some even preach hatred and perpetuate violence in God’s name. So it is important to discover the true face of God. The Magi from the East found it, when they knelt down before the child of Bethlehem. “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father,” said Jesus to Philip (John 14:9). In Jesus Christ, who allowed his heart to be pierced for us, the true face of God is seen. We will follow him together with the great multitude of those who went before us. Then we will be traveling along the right path.

    This means that we are not constructing a private God, a private Jesus but that we believe and worship the Jesus who is manifested to us by the sacred Scriptures and who reveals himself to be alive in the great procession of the faithful called the Church, always alongside us and always before us.

    From “Pope Benedict XVI, In My Own Words” published by Liguori Press, Missouri.

    Thank you Holy Father!

  27. Past Elder

    Well Judas H at the novitiate, I wouldn’t take exception to anything in the quote from Dr Ratzinger — only to identifying “the great procession of the faithful called the Church” or that in which it fully subsists as the Roman Catholic Church.

    Guess what? God indeed ordered the Canaanite thing and recorded it in his revealed Scripture. Not so an Italian potentate giving and English missionary the green light to root out and destroy another people’s religion and culture.

    Unless of course one does the classic Roman thing of taking something from Scripture and making both what it is and an analogical principle for something not in Scripture.

    Imposition of a religion by state force and military muscle is no different anywhere, even when used in the past by the religion one believes. IOW it becomes OK only when you agree with what is imposed. And, the longer ago the better, history being written by the winners for the most part.

    Other refreshments? I’d pass on the popcorn for a little eye candy!

  28. Christine

    Guess what? God indeed ordered the Canaanite thing and recorded it in his revealed Scripture. Not so an Italian potentate giving and English missionary the green light to root out and destroy another people’s religion and culture.

    Oh right. And when Luther turned on the peasants and the Jews who wouldn’t believe his version of Christianity he was also being a very naughty fellow.

    Horsefeathers. If the Gospel is the Gospel it’s meant for all people. You’re starting to sound like the apologists who consider every animist religion to be good, pure and noble and Christianity to be the ogre.

    As you well know, it was Boniface who paid with his life for his missionary work, not the Germans. The blood of the martyrs, etc.

  29. Christine

    And yet another quote from Papa Benedict, same source:

    The unity we seek is neither absorption or fusion but respect for the multiform fullness of the Church which, conformed to the will of her founder, Jesus Christ, must always be one, holy, catholic and apostolic.

    Dont see much about the Borg here.

  30. Past Elder

    The Gospel is the Gospel and is meant for all people. Don’t think he said a thing about doing that with the point of a gun, sword, or edict saying whose the rule his the religion.

    Forcing a religion on someone is not made right because the religion is right. Luther will answer for his actions, and certainly not to me. Nor did I profess any belief in Luther, who, as he said himself, died for no-one nor is anyone saved in his name.

    A good many Germans paid with their lives for Boniface. In the homeland of my adopted family’s ancestors, some observe St Patrick’s day as a day of mouring for the loss of the Irish culture and religion to a foreign one imposed by foreigners.

    Good Lord, even one of my Baltimore Catechisms said ultimately the Church is really made up entirely of converts, because family or ethnic history is not belief, and one must believe on its own basis and not as part of “history”.

  31. Christine

    The Gospel is the Gospel and is meant for all people. Don’t think he said a thing about doing that with the point of a gun, sword, or edict saying whose the rule his the religion.

    Uhuh. Well, the Good Book also says God is no respecter of persons and if human sacrifice was wrong for the Canaanites it was also wrong for the Aztecs, whose victims would not doubt have been very grateful for someone to come along and help them to keep their hearts in their chests.

    The Church has long made peace with the fact that “forced” conversion is no conversion. We can’t say the same for some other world religions.

    As for the destruction of Celtic culture in Ireland, shades of Matthew Fox whose faux-earth-nature-Celtic “religion” has superseded his trust in the person of Jesus Christ.

    Talk about cultural destruction?

    Christianity was criticized as the destroyer of cultural identity and, therefore, the educational system was reformed in order to gradually eliminate pastoral and theological learning. This oppressive structure heightened Joseph’s awareness of the importance of the Church in his community: [Bavarians] enjoyed a firm symbiosis with the faith of the Church: Birth and death, weddings and illnesses, sowing time and harvest time — everything was encompassed by faith. The Reich may have altered the people’s lifestyle, but it could not change their hearts.

    Life under the Nazi regime for the young Pope Benedict. Now, if you want to call that “ethnic” and “familial” Catholicism, fine. It certainly served him well. It’s very American to view the faith on a much more individualistic basis. Of course no one can believe for anyone else. Nor can they wing it alone.

    Yes, as Christianity has collapsed in Ireland the vacuum is being filled by all sorts of relativism, not to mention the push for universal abortion rights.

    By their fruits you will know them.

  32. Past Elder

    Well, God in the Good Book TOLD the Israelites to root out the Canaanites. He did not tell the Spaniards (hey, that’s my guys!) to root out the Aztecs right along with sending their wealth home. That’s what happens when what is in the Bible is made over by worldly philosophy into a principle by which what isn’t in the Bible is excused. Christendom was built on it and the Roman church built on that. Nothing to do with the Gospel or the church whatever.

    I am certainly in no way opposed to encompassing the entire rhythm of life by faith in community with those doing the same. The encompassing is not, however, faith itself. Being born into the encompassing is not being born into faith. Yet so often the former is taken as de facto producing the latter. The encompassing is culture, only, and thus when involuntarily imposed, either from without by the sword or from within as simply an accident of one’s birth, without faith remains culture only.

    Individuals are baptised, not cultures or peoples. The one is not a metaphor, analogy or principle for the other. Sola fide.

  33. Christine

    That’s what happens when what is in the Bible is made over by worldly philosophy into a principle by which what isn’t in the Bible is excused. Christendom was built on it and the Roman church built on that. Nothing to do with the Gospel or the church whatever.

    If one is starting from the premise of sola scriptura — or if, as some Jewish scholars say, it was a very primitive era of Israel’s history. As far as I remember the prohibition against human sacrifice applies to the Gentiles as much as the Jews.

    As for Pope Benedict, he’s probably been called many things but a “Cultural Catholic”, nyet! The idea of a “pure” church is downright sectarian. It has never existed and never will. It was precisely as part of that community that Benedict’s deep faith was formed. No, that doesn’t mean each and every individual was a stellar Catholic anymore than each and every member of the House of Israel was a stellar Israelite.

    And I repeat — the Church has long given up “forced” conversion. Try taking your Bible into Saudi Arabia and see what happens.

    As for Spain and the Conquistadores (and the friars who advocated for the Indian populations)? There’s other non-Roman Christians who wreaked their havoc. Just look at the history of the Calvinist Dutch in South Africa. They did plenty of damage to the natives under their “mandate” from God. And, as we well know, they are very much sola scriptura.

  34. Christine

    Oh, and as long as us Catholics keep getting this kind of reaction:

    Charleston, Nov 21, 2008 / 02:56 am (CNA).- A South Carolina county councilwoman has apologized for remarks she made at a land management committee discussion considering whether to allow a Catholic church to expand. She had said she would oppose the expansion because she sees “hate” in the Catholic Church, criticizing the Church’s pro-life position and its lack of female clergy, which she called “an affront to my dignity and all of womankind.”

    On Monday the Beaufort County Council heard a request from Saint Gregory the Great Church in Bluffton to rezone land for a proposed expansion.

    The website of Saint Gregory the Great Church, whose pastor is named Father Ronald Cellini, reports it is seeing “unprecedented growth of this parish family,” increasing by more than 5,000 souls since 1995.

    During a land management committee discussion, Laura Von Harten explained she would oppose the request of the parish at the full council meeting later in the week. Although Von Harten does not serve on the land committee, she took the floor to make plain her views about the Catholic Church.

    According to the Beaufort Gazette, she cited “human rights issues” as a reason for her opposition.
    “I could not have Father Cellini’s job or the Pope’s job if I wanted it and it’s an affront to my dignity as a woman and all of womankind,” said Von Harten, who is reportedly a Unitarian Universalist.

    “I don’t want to support anything that will perpetuate that kind of ideology that would prevent me from being an active leader in an organization, and I don’t like the way they want to control women’s uteruses, and I just don’t want to do anything that would perpetuate that.”

    If land must be rezoned, she said, “I want it to be to create a loving inclusive mixed-use community and that’s the only way I will give up rural land… I just have to vote in favor of love and against hate when I see hate.”

    Bill Donohue, President of the Catholic League, went so far as to call for the councilwoman’s resignation.

    “Without the slightest provocation, Laura Von Harten decided to bash Catholicism,” Donohue said in a Wednesday statement. “This suggests an animus so deep as to call into question her fitness for public service. She should do more than recuse herself on matters Catholic—she should resign from her post as councilwoman. There is no legitimate role for bigots in public life.”

    Following criticism of her remarks, Von Harten on Tuesday said she would abstain from any votes on St. Gregory the Great’s rezoning.

    She made what she called a formal apology for her remarks on Wednesday, saying her reference to human rights pertain to “the Catholic Church as a political entity, with a seat at the United Nations, but I acknowledge that I offended individuals in my own community.”

    The Holy See in fact has a permanent observer mission to the United Nations but no voting seat.
    Saying she intended no infringement of anyone’s religious freedom and did not intend to disparage any individual member of the Church, she added:

    “I respect the rights of all people to worship in the church of their choosing. Given the history of persecution endured by members of the Catholic Church, I regret my insensitivity on this matter.”
    Saying she was “truly sorry” for having “interjected” her concerns about the Catholic Church into a zoning discussion, she claimed she had “meant only an extension of my overall opposition to development that restricts access on the basis of factors such as race, age or gender but it was an inappropriate forum.”

    “Please be assured that I have been reminded of the importance of separation of church and state in matters of land use, and have learned a great deal from this incident,” Von Harten continued, asking for forgiveness and pledging “to approach my duties as councilwoman from a more restrained and objective viewpoint.”

    As Alvin the Chipmunk would say, we’re doing OOOOOOOOOO-TAYYYYYY!!

    Because she wants to be part of a loving, inclusive, mixed-use community, you know.

  35. Past Elder

    What utter nonsense for a self-serving Catholic cultural imperialism. In reverse order:

    The Councilwoman took position with which you disagree, on the basis of which she sought action with which you disagree. FWIW, I do not agree with her position either. Nonetheless, this is the latest tactic of the RCC, chalk everything that opposes it to hate.

    People do not first hate, then arrive at positions. Generally, they accept uncritically positions from, guess what, their culture, on the basis of which they hate.

    God bless me sideways, Bishop Sheen used to say, if I loved Christ yet were filled with misinformation about the Church, I would be her greatest enemy! Point being, one engages the misinformation, not an alleged emotion.

    Back to the matter at hand, again, and again, I am in no way arguing for a divorce of faith and culture. And in no way do I say Benedict is simply a cultural Catholic only. Nor does a recognition that nothing else but faith is faith mean thinking that everyone’s faith then is fully or even well formed in some sort of purity. Finally, the premise was sola fide, not sola scriptura.

    And that said, what the Calvinists did in South Africa does not excuse the Conquistadores in South America, nor does the beating hearts not sacrificed to their gods excuse the thousands more pierced in the imposition of the Christian god.

    If you are going to historically-critically excuse God from commanding the conquest of Canaan, why not then the rest of what God is said to do and have said in Scripture. Dresserism where it serves the RCC, stomped on where it doesn’t.

    Ironically, the prohibition of human sacrifice is one of the traditional Jewish grounds for rejecting not so much Jesus as the Christian understanding of Messiah and therefore the one whom they think was it. The Akedah then is not only not a type and figure of Christ but a clear statement that nothing like that is of God or acceptable to God.

  36. Christine

    Oh this is a hoot! I don’t see the word “hate” mentioned by any Catholic on this issue.

    Now, for the record, the Boy Scouts still reserve the right to exclude gay scout leaders. What if this doofus decided that she doesn’t want a Boy Scout chapter in her block because they “exclude” gays?

    A male clergy and pro-life position are shared by Catholics, Orthodox and the L-C-M-S. For this woman to interject her “feelings” about Catholicism on an issue related to, in her own words, a zoning discussion is not only entirely inappropriate but is very much bigoted.

    God help her if she ever refuses to allow a Mosque to be built down there!!

    And that said, what the Calvinists did in South Africa does not excuse the Conquistadores in South America, nor does the beating hearts not sacrificed to their gods excuse the thousands more pierced in the imposition of the Christian god.

    No it doesn’t but it sure shows the universality of human thinking. And get out of the time warp, will ya? The Catholic Church today is the largest charitable institution in the world bar none and serves all people in need, whatever their persuasion.

    My faith also doesn’t depend on what I think about the conquest of Canaan. It it rooted in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

    Man, has the LCMS become fundamentalist!

  37. Past Elder

    Great. She thinks your positions are based in bigotry and hate, you think her positions are based in bigotry and hate, nobody examines the positions but instead holds trials in absentia to convict of hate.

    And you wonder why so many people think religion is better left behind!

    Why is it when the Bible says God ordered the conquest of Canaan that’s something capable of various understandings not necessarily what it says and to think so is fundamentalism, but when the Bible says Jesus rose from the dead that is capable of no other understanding than just what it says and to think so means you need to leave the Cathlolic Church and become a Episcopalian or Anglican Communion counterpart thereof?

  38. Christine

    Why is it when the Bible says God ordered the conquest of Canaan that’s something capable of various understandings not necessarily what it says and to think so is fundamentalism, but when the Bible says Jesus rose from the dead that is capable of no other understanding than just what it says and to think so means you need to leave the Cathlolic Church and become a Episcopalian or Anglican Communion counterpart thereof?

    Well, in a nutshell, for Catholics in Scripture we encounter a living person, Christ, the Word Incarnate made flesh. Scripture is the inspired word, the Word of God in human words.

    The Bible, being a whole library of books is written in many different styles with many different points of view, yet still with one Author telling one story.

    Yet, long before the Gospels were written down the Good News was proclaimed orally by the early Christian community. That proclamation has been consistent in what it says from the first century down to our own. That kerygma is what gives validity to Christian belief in Jesus as the Messiah.

    Secondly, for Catholics the Bible is primarily encountered in the liturgy. It really is a liturgical document that was meant to be proclaimed within the worship of the Church. The texts of the Mass are utterly scriptural and have been from the beginning. Christ is present in His Word because it is He himself who speaks when Sacred Scripture is read in the Church. That does NOT mean that Catholics should not read the Bible devotionally and privately.

    What the Church has revealed dogmatically and doctrinally about Sacred Scripture is binding on all Catholics. It was the bishops, after all, who drew up the canon to protect the Scriptures from being adultered by the various and strange gnostic texts that were floating around in the early church.

    As far as Biblical literature such as the Book of Jonah or Job, both of which are used in the NT to explain the teachings of Jesus, Catholics can accept them literally or, as I do, more as Jewish midrash designed to reveal spiritual truth. No, I don’t necessarily believe that Jonah was swallowed by a whale but that has no impact on my faith in Christ as my savior. The Jews were great storytellers, as was the Lord and those stories served a purpose.

    Nor does Job need to be a historical person to teach me my limitations as a mortal human being in the sight of God’s majesty and wisdom.

    Many reliable scholars, Jewish and Christian say that Genesis was not the first book of the Bible to be put down in written form. That does not take away from its significance for us.

    So as for the whole Canaan thing –it does reveal to me the utter holiness of God, his “otherness” from sinful humanity and that there is none beside him. Suffice it to say that by the time we get to the arrest of Jesus, we hear the Lord telling Peter to put away his sword.

    PE is, of course, perfectly free to disagree with me in toto.

  39. Christine

    Now, back to the good councilwoman, again:

    Saying she was “truly sorry” for having “interjected” her concerns about the Catholic Church into a zoning discussion, she claimed she had “meant only an extension of my overall opposition to development that restricts access on the basis of factors such as race, age or gender but it was an inappropriate forum.”

    She admits herself that her personal views on Catholicism should have had no bearing on a civil zoning issue. The fact that the organization was Catholic should have been no more a consideration than if it were Jewish, Muslim, or Atheist.

    THAT’S the point of it all.

    Obviously her superiors feel the same resulting in her public retraction. I don’t expect her personal views have changed one whit, nor do I care.

  40. Past Elder

    Well, Christine, your argument is well-formed and entirely consistent, and I used to buy it myself.

    Among the many problems it has, let us consider two.

    1. Re Scripture and midrash: Scripture is not a drash; one drashes on Scripture. Never at any point before die Aufklaerung, oh oh better stay in English here, the Enlightenment and the dawn of the historical-critical age was this confused, and anyone, even if and particulary if, he goes by the title Rabbi makes that confusion his last name is Wellhausen if not Spinoza. Scripture is not a drash; one drashes on Scripture.

    2. If one ignores that and makes Scripture itself a drash, then why is one testament only a drash but not the other? If Job does not need historicity to make a point about God, and the point and the story that makes it is really what is important, then why not the same about Jesus? If Jonah need not be literally true but a drash according to the standards and practices of the time teaching a spiritual truth, then why not Jesus as “Son of God”, “born of a virgin”, “rose from the dead” etc?

    IOW, if the OT is still spiritually true even though a drash, why cannot the NT be so as well, where one affirms the spiritual truth revealed in the drash but affirms the drash as a drash? Which is precisely what Fr Dresser, previously discussed on this blog, not to mention pretty much anyone who taught me in an official capacity of the RCC from about 1966 on, said exactly.

    To rephrase in this context the example I generally use, the person who says et resurrexit tertia die as a statement of literal fact and the person who says it as a drash stating his experience of Jesus as a living reality equally confess the same faith. If the NT cannot be a storytelling drash expressing a spiritual truth, why can the OT?

    Re the councilwoman, her personal views of Catholicism had nothing to do with her view on that zoning issue. Her view on the zoning issue came from her view on restriction and discrimination against women, which in her view is woefully present in the RCC’s positions on male priesthood and elective abortion, and in your view (and mine, btw) is not. This does not make her hateful or anti-Catholic or anything of the sort. It makes her see an enemy to women where there is none, and guaranteed you will get absolutely nowhere getting her to see there is none by going on about hate and anti-Catholicism.

  41. Christine

    PE, the Bible is composed of many types of literature. If you want to read it all as historic, have at it!

    Unlike Fr. Dresser, I believe everything that the ancient Church proclaims about Jesus the God-Man in the Creed. She was proclaiming it before the full body of Scripture was ever canonized and universally accepted.

    As for that ass of a councilwoman, she has inspired me to go and picket the local mosque. The men and women worship in separate rooms there, for heaven’s sake!

    We. Simply. Can’t. Have. It!!

  42. Past Elder

    Which Creed? The one Jesus Christ wrote and included in the other books he wrote? The one that a state church convened on the authority of its emperor wrote? The one in an ur-creed kerygma invented no less than “Quelle” by the historical-critical school out of, oh no, Scripture?

    Who believes what the Church proclaims, the one who moves with the Church on its journey of understanding, or the one who enshrines one stage of that understanding for all time for the Church?

    Guess what, males and females do not worship side by side in the synagogue either. They didn’t in the church for quite a while either. That’s why your blouse buttons right over left and my shirt buttons left over right.

  43. Christine

    Guess what, males and females do not worship side by side in the synagogue either. They didn’t in the church for quite a while either. That’s why your blouse buttons right over left and my shirt buttons left over right.

    Prove me to one word of the Nicene Creed that is false. Oh, because it isn’t “in the Bible”. Hey, when your parish lights that Advent Wreath on Sunday and decorates a Christmas tree you’re flirting with paganism again!

    Um, newsflash. I am neither Jewish nor a first-century female. Are we back to Kirche, Kinder, und Kueche?