Monthly Archives: October 2009

Not much to smile about with Sister Smile…


Interesting review of an interesting movie here (Sister Smile/Soeur Sourie)
on the Catholic Bishop’s website. Not sure what to think, other than to feel very sad for the woman whom the story is about, Jeannine Deckers/Sister Luc Gabriel. I certainly remember that Dominique song from my early childhood.

Well. All Souls Day and all the attached indulgences is coming up. Perhaps we could put the smile back on Soeur Sourie’s face and make a point of seeking an indulgence for her. Sounds like she could do with a bit of beatific vision in her life.

Here are the details:

On All Souls’ Day (2 November) a plenary indulgence, applicable only to the Poor Souls, is granted to those who visit any parish church or public oratory and there recite one Our Father and the Creed.

On all the days from 1 November to 8 November inclusive, a plenary indulgence, applicable only to the Poor Souls, is granted to those who visit a cemetery and pray even if only mentally for the departed.

Conditions for both indulgences are:

1. Only one plenary indulgence can be granted per day.
2. It is necessary to be in the state of grace, at least by completion of the work.
3. Freedom from attachment to sin, even venial sin, is necessary; otherwise the indulgence is only partial. (By this is meant attachment to a particular sin, not sin in general.)
4. Holy Communion must be received each time the indulgence is sought.
5. Prayers must he recited for the intentions of the Holy Father on each day the indulgence is sought. (No particular prayers are prescribed.) One Our Father and one Hail Mary suffice, or other suitable prayers.
6. A sacramental confession must be made within a week of completion of the prescribed work. (One confession made during the week, made with the intention of gaining all the indulgences, suffices.)


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Lutherans to whom the Apostolic Constitution could apply

Yes, I know that the upcoming Apostolic Constitution is about Anglicans and not Lutherans, but it is a persistent question we get here at SCE from our Lutheran brothers and sisters (and one that, frankly, holds a strange fascination for me), ie. “What does this mean for us?”.

Well, today a member of the commentry team, from Argentina no less, asked this question:

I’ve read somewhere that there is a group of anglo-lutheran-catholics (or something lie that) that have already sent a letter to the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity. The letter -so it is said- was letter forwarded to the CDF. Even if this is not the case, do you think that something similar to what may be happening with anglo-catholics could happen with groups of Lutherans? I think that Lutherans in Sweden even have benedictine monasteries… (something I never thought).
Thanks in advance.

The close similarities between Anglicans and Swedish Lutherans is well known. The two churches are, after all, in full communion with each other. Both claim to have preserved the historic episcopate. Both have a liturgical tradition and distinct culture that goes back to before the Reformation. Both are State Churches which embrace a majority of their citizens (and dwarf any Catholic presence). Unfortunately, both also have gone down the road of women’s ordination and the ordination of active homosexual clergy. In fact, if you can believe this is possible, the Swedish Church is more liberal by half than the US Episcopalians.

But Sweden does have a proud “catholic” heritage. Lutheran Confessionalism does exist there, but so, I understand, does a small but strong “catholic” stream not unlike the Oxford Movement (only nowhere near as influential). These two are natural allies to some extent. In addition, there are evangelicals (like Anglican evangelicals) and pietists (the pietist revival ran strong from generations in Scandinavia). Although there have been women priests in Sweden for about 50 years, and bishops too more recently, there have always, in the past, been one or two bishops hanging onto “the old ways” which have provided safe harbour for “orthodox” minded priests.

Over the last decade or so this has ceased to be the case, with the result that those objecting to the new mores went ahead and formed something called the Missionsprovinsen in the Church of Sweden. This group embraces (from what I can gather) a disparate band of “catholics”, evangelicals, pietists and confessional Lutherans.

Dr Tighe will be able to enlighten us more about any “letter” that this group might have sent to Rome, but I think you will see that there are indeed parallels to the continuing Anglicans – one of which being that it is not at all a “given” that this group wishes to enter (as a whole) into communion with the Catholic Church. There are other options. For eg. A Norwegian break-away Lutheran group calls itself the “Nordic Catholic Church” has aligned itself with the Polish National Catholic Church.

But having said that, I have been listening to the Forward in Faith podcasts and was suprised to hear that there was a pastor there from the Mission Province of Sweden who addressed the assembly. And his question was exactly this: “What does the Anglican Apostolic Constitution mean for us?” He certainly seemed to be saying that the Mission Province crowd might be interested in such a proposal for themselves.

Now, I have argued elsewhere that the model proposed by Papa Benny for those Anglican churches who have requested communion with the Holy See will not work for Lutherans because
1) it involves complete acceptance of the Catholic Faith as expressed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church – and hence a rejection of a lot of things in the Lutheran Confessional tradition
2) Lutherans do not really have a distinct culture or liturgical use that could be distinctly “preserved” in a “Lutheran Ordinariate”

But the Swedes are a different matter. They are just like the Anglicans in that they do have a particular Scandinavian heritage which goes back to before the Reformation. They would be quite distinct – especially given that there are hardly any Swedish Catholics (for historical reasons mainly). If anyone has preserved anything of the ancient Catholic Church in the Swedish territories, it is these pastors and laity in the Swedish Mission Province. So, yes, something like the Anglican Solution could apply to these Lutherans.

BUT, a word of caution: we are not talking about 77 million people here, as we are with the Anglicans. The Swedish Lutheran Church is not huge, and does not have “colony” churches around the world (although many of Swedish heritage populate the local Lutheran Churches in countries such as the USA and Canada). It seems very unlikely to me that His Holiness would really issue a new Apostolic Constitution just for the Mission Province.

BUT (what does a “double but” make?), it could be conceivable that, once all the canons for the Anglican Constitution are set out, these same canons might be applied, mutatis mutandis, to Swedish Lutherans. I doubt if this would lead to Lutheran ordinariates all over the world, but two ordinariates might suffice for the whole world (eg. one in Sweden and one in the US). And if such a thing were set up for Swedish Lutherans, I rather think there would be a fair number of other non-Swedish catholic Lutherans who would want to join them. The language of the liturgy could be tricky though…

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Anima Women’s Network Fundraising Dinner (November 28)

Guest Speaker and Musical Interludes: Peter Roberts, Harpist

The approach of music in palliative medicine – thanatology offers through the musician, specialized musical skills with harp and voice and a genuine loving presence which ministers to the emotional, physical and spiritual need of dying patients.

Saturday 28th November
6.00 pm Mass at Holy Spirit Parish, cnr Wilmoth & Clarendon Sts, Thornbury
7.00 pm Dinner in Silver Room at Olympic Hotel, 31 Albert Street, Preston

Dinner includes hors d’oeuvres, main course and dessert plus tea/coffee
Drinks at bar prices * Iced water on tables * Raffle with major travel prize
Cost :$55 per head or $100 for married couples
Make up a table of 10 or we will allocate you a seat

For more information or for bookings phone Joan on 9926 5733 or
Closing date for bookings 20th November 2009

Flyer for dinner

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An Excellent Defence of Conscience

This article, Over the counter conscience vote, by Beth Doherty, is an excellent defence of the right of Catholic business owners to conduct their business according to their conscience.

The refusal of organisations such as the well-known Body Shop to stock supplies tested on animals is a widely accepted fact. People can choose to shop there or they may prefer to purchase other cosmetic brands. Some consumers refuse to purchase sporting goods from companies such as Nike due to accusations of the use of sweat-shop labour. Others choose not to consume Nestle products because of previous alleged unethical practices regarding powdered milk. People vote with their feet, and act on their conscience…

The right to individual conscience seems to only be respected when the widely held view is at stake. Mr Dal Broi’s views are consistent with Catholic Church teaching and he makes no apology for that. He is serving his conscience and, as a health professional, he has as much right to live his moral beliefs in a free and democratic society as do those who choose to use contraception.

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Congratulations Paul Quist STL!

Paul and Carol in Rome (Large)

Paul and Carol Quist in Rome

Our most sincere congratulations to Paul Quist – one time ELCA pastor and graduate of the Melbourne John Paul II Institute – upon passing his STL examination in Rome. I trust Paul and his wife Carol will now be able to enjoy the delights of Rome in full!


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When is a Lutheran Bishop not a Lutheran Bishop?

When she is a “German protestant” Bishop. Yes, Lutherans in Australia and the Missouri Synod can console themselves: the EKD is not a “real” Lutheran Church, but an amalgam of “22 Lutheran, Reformed and United Churches” – just the thing my ancestors fled from 170 years ago by emigrating to Australia.

Knowing that the Evangelische Kirche is not a “real” Lutheran Church might be some consolation for Lutheran readers of this blog. Some. In any case, you have to admit, she is one hell of a lot better looking than any other Lutheran bishops I know. OR Catholic ones, for that matter.


Bishop Margot Käßmann (Photo: Reuters)

Anyhow, let’s see how she scores according to this Reuters report:

German Protestants pick woman to head church
Wed Oct 28, 2009 1:07pm EDT
By Madeline Chambers

BERLIN (Reuters) – German Protestants on Wednesday elected Margot Kaessmann, a divorcee [one point off] and the Lutheran bishop of Hanover, to lead them, the first woman to take the post and only the third woman to head a major Christian church.

Kaessmann, 51, a regular on television talk shows and known in the media as the “pop bishop” [three points – any leader of a Christian Church today with a “pop” following has to have something going for them] was considered something of a controversial candidate to lead Germany’s roughly 25 million Protestants because she is divorced. [On further consideration, another point off ]

But she still won 132 of a possible 142 votes [add another point] at a synod of the EKD, an umbrella group for 22 Lutheran, Reformed and United Churches, to replace the retiring Berlin Bishop Wolfgang Huber, 67, as EKD chairman.

“It is a sign that we are saying: for biblical and theological reasons, it is possible for women as well as men to assume any office in the Protestant Church,” she said after the vote. [minus another point]

The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) welcomed the choice. “The election sends a signal to the Church worldwide that God calls us to leadership without consideration of gender, color or descent,” Rev. Ishmael Noko, LWF general-secretary told the Ecumenical News International news agency at the synod in Ulm.

The mother of four will be charged with reviving the appeal of the Church, which has been losing members in recent years. [Mother of four?! That’s quite something for a career woman in Europe, isn’t it? Very appealing. Add three points.]

She has a reputation as a modernizer [lose two points] and supporter of closer dialogue between Catholics and Protestants [add three points]. “We Are Church,” a reform group of Catholic lay people, said the election sent a signal of hope for Catholics who support women clergy. [Subtract four points – any one who “We Are Church” endorses has to be a bit of a worry…]

“I very much want to strengthen ecumenicism in our country,” she was quoted by German media as saying. [Okay – we’ll take that on face value, though I don’t really know what she means other than increase friendliness between the EKD and the Catholic Church. The EKD has less chance of restoring full communion with the Catholic Church than the Anglican Communion. Add two points]

German-born Pope Benedict is firmly against any change in the celibate male clergy in Catholicism, the world’s largest Church, and offered last week to take in conservative Anglicans opposed to female priests and gay bishops in their churches. [Um. Tell us something we don’t know. But I guess this is the journalist’s way of saying: “Fat Chance” to future Catholic/Protestant unity in Germany.]

The only other female heads of large churches are Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori of the Episcopal Church in the United States and National Bishop Susan Johnson of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada. Queen Elizabeth is the Supreme Governor of the Church of England but Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams is its head. [hmm. We won’t quibble] The Church of England has women clergy and a recent decision to allow women bishops could open its top post to women, but conservatives are trying to limit their powers.

(Reporting by Madeline Chambers in Berlin and Tom Heneghan in Paris; editing by Noah Barkin)

So, Bishop Käßmann scores three points from me. What does that mean? I don’t know…


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Papa Benny on the Interpretation of Scripture

Pope Benedict addressing the Pontifical Biblical Institute:

In this regard, the already mentioned dogmatic constitution “Dei Verbum” has stressed the legitimacy and necessity of the historical-critical method, reducing it to three essential elements: attention to literary genres; study of the historical context; examination of what is usually called Sitz im Leben. The conciliar document maintains firm at the same time the theological character of exegesis, indicating the strong points of the theological method in the interpretation of the text. This is so because the foundation on which theological understanding of the Bible rests is the unity of Scripture, and this assumption corresponds, as methodological way, to the analogy of the faith, that is, to the understanding of the individual texts from the whole.

The conciliar text adds a further methodological indication. Scripture being only one thing starting from the one People of God, which has been its bearer throughout history, consequently to read Scripture as a unit means to read it from the Church as from its vital place, and to regard the faith of the Church as the real key to interpretation. If exegesis also wishes to be theology, it must acknowledge that the faith of the Church is that form of “sim-patia” without which the Bible remains as a sealed book: Tradition does not close access to Scripture, but rather opens it; on the other hand, the decisive word in the interpretation of Scripture corresponds to the Church, in her institutional organizations. It is the Church, in fact, which has been entrusted with the task of interpreting authentically the Word of God written and transmitted, exercising her authority in the name of Jesus Christ (cfr “Dei Verbum,” 10).

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