Some flattery and criticism for Brian Coyne’s comments on +Anthony Fisher OP’s installation homily

Well, probably more of the latter, actually. But I will say this, in his commentary on the sermon, Brian has been big-hearted enough to acknowledge that it was indeed “inspiring and thought-provoking homily”. He has also found out the link to the full video of the Installation Mass.

Brian is quite correct to see the homily as a statement of the pastoral mission of the Church today – at least in Australia (it might be hyperbole to suggest, as does, that it “has much broader application to the universal Church” – does to make the error that his experience of the Church is paradigmatic of the experience of Catholics everywhere).
He correctly and graciously acknowledges +Anthony’s virtues: he is “intellectually astute and, from all reports, well-read in the latest thinking in theology as well as in current affairs and contemporary culture”. The latter is, I believe, very important. Our bishops need to know something of the musical, “literary”, online and (I add because I think this is very important) cinematic influences on contemporary culture, and too often cut themselves off from these important sources of understanding (I saw Avatar last night, and believe that it is too easy to dismiss the mythology behind it as “anti-Christian” – more about that in a separate post).
He is also a “a youngish bishop” even though “he’s even a good fifteen years older than the median population age for his diocese”. You really can’t expect much more, Brian. As he said to the Aboriginal elders when they welcomed him, he too is “an elder”, an “elder of the Catholic Church” no less. Once “presbyter” meant the same thing, and perhaps today, in our glorification of youth, we forget that age was once seen as a notion correlated to the notion of wisdom.
But of course, he must remind us that the new bishop carries “some ‘baggage’”. Actually, he doesn’t really. Not to speak of. But Brian has to find some. So trust him to pick up the one time his judgement may have lapsed under pressure (even then, his comments in this circumstance were directed at the media itself). As for his other “baggage”, the worst that Brian can think of is that

“Young Anthony also comes with a legacy of being a John Paul II bishop. He’s been overly identified with the agendas of JPII, his successor Benedict, and their self-appointed mouthpiece in Australia, the Cardinal Archbishop of Sydney, George Pell.

These are only negatives because Brian sees them as negatives. Others, including your correspondent, would see this as a veritable strength.
The bulk of the rest of the article is directed at Pope Benedict’s championing of the faith of those whom he “has labelled the “simple people” and the “little people””. Be it understood, that Brian takes this to mean the Pope and his minions wish to confirm “the “little people” [in] their superstitions and magic beliefs about Jesus—the Saviour”, and that Brian is not such a “little” or “simple” person. He is, rather, one of the

vast masses in the Western world do not need to be “protected from the intellectuals” (to again borrow Benedict’s words). They are well educated themselves and they need to be reasoned with in intelligent, adult ways.

He then goes on dismiss in his usual colourful language the following anti-intellectual notions:

It is simply bullshit to believe that by reaching out to what Benedict has labelled the “simple people” and the “little people” that the re-evangelisation of Catholicism is going to be brought about. It is simply bullshit to suggest that the vast majority of people who have left have left because they have been sucked out of the Church by secularism, consumerism and the allures of affluence. Benedict’s “little people” are not the same “little people” Jesus Christ speaks about.

Who are they, then, we wonder? Not Brian, apparently. Brian dismisses not only the diagnosis of the physician, but the “program” by which the physician intends to restore the health of the patient.
I fully agree with Brian that

Being Catholic, or Christian, is a deadly serious adult game of learning how to make intelligent moral decisions when the parameters of life are often a long way from black or white. It’s about demonstrating our loyalty to our Loving Creator — “the will of our Father in heaven” as Jesus himself labels it

but he believes that what we – and, by implication, +Anthony and the bishops – are involved are

immature kindergarten games we play in this realm of existence trying to prove what ‘good little girls and boys’ we are for some kindergarten Ma’am of our imagination — or the Holy Father.

Well, the “kindergarten Ma’am” is our Holy Mother, the Church, and the Holy Father is the Vicar of Christ, so some of us judge that being “good little girls and boys” for them isn’t quite as “immature” as Brian would have us believe.
There is, if I may say so, something almost “gnostic” about Brian’s division of the Church into the “enlightened” and the “simple”. He has knowledge, we don’t. He has surpassed our “kindergarten” “superstitions and magic beliefs about Jesus—the Saviour”. He is the adult, and we are the children. He has “the light of the new knowledge our Loving Creator is constantly raining down on human civilisation through new insights obtained through the sciences and other disciplines of human enquiry, including Biblical scholarship and theology itself” – and we don’t.
Sorry, Brian, blame it on my protestant Sunday School training, but I will stick with “the old, old story” and continue to tell it to all – children and adults alike – who (before God) are always “the little ones” for whom Christ died.

Advertisements

69 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

69 responses to “Some flattery and criticism for Brian Coyne’s comments on +Anthony Fisher OP’s installation homily

  1. Terry Maher (Past Elder)

    Well great vested Judas, it’s the old obedience litmus test of more Catholic than thou. We just had a clown on this blog claiming to think with the church who said you don’t at all, have not grasped how Romanitas works at all. Then we have you linking to Brian, who claims to be thinking with the church against those who try to put the new wine of Vatican II back into the old Trent skins. Then we have you and your Catholic Church, quoting -Anthony saying its just The Catholic Church. Which “true” church? Doesn’t matter: all three are fundamentally foreign to what an entity called the Catholic Church taught me. So screw all four of them, and any others talking about The Catholic Church, The Catholic Church, The Catholic Church. You should listen to that Sunday School training, then you’d knock it off yourself and once again stick to the old, old story for real instead of one of the many versions of the old, old lie

    • matthias

      Hey PE -stopped at your blog site but could not find an email address,so i will just have to ask my dang fool question here. I take it that you left the RCC,theRCC,the RCC , because of your basic disagreement with Vatican II and that the WELS /lcms is where the Catholic church use to be? I am not being flippant just honest as I want to know where you are coming from. By the way does the LCMS hold the Pope to be the AntiChrist as I have seen in the WELS doctrinal statements of about 10 years ago?

      • Terry Maher (Past Elder)

        Thank you for your visit, matthias. The blog’s email address is found on the Facebook badge on the siderbar, but this is actually better, and I find nothing dang foolish or flippant about your question at all. I understand it may be confusing, since I argue here for things I no longer believe.

        I did not leave because I disagreed with Vatican II. I left because what I was taught by the RCC disagrees with Vatican II, and Vatican II embodies things the RCC warned me against as dangerous to the Catholic faith.

        At the time, I had no thought whatever of becoming a Lutheran or anything else. I left on entirely Catholic grounds, and since I believed that faith to be the true faith, saw no point in looking into any other version of Christianity, because, since it wasn’t Catholic, it could not possibly be true any more than the new religion of Vatican II. So I renounced Christianity in any form, and, thinking if the NT turns out to be false, that does not mean the OT is, so I was a Gentile believer in Judaism, which is to say, Orthodox Judaism. It was only because I had married an LCMS woman and we were about to have kids, that I was willing to look into Lutheranism.

        No, neither WELS not LCMS is where the Catholic Church used to be and I should hope to God never is. It was on reading the Book of Concord and the three treatises from 1520 of Luther that I was what I formerly believed was wrong too and thus finally understood why it could have fallen as it did.

        It is not accurate to say the Pope is the AntiChrist. Joseph Ratzinger, whose stage name is Benedict XVI, is not the AntiChrist, not at all. But, he occupies an office that bears the marks of AntiChrist. Other offices or institutions or people may also bear the marks of AntiChrist, so it is not accurate to say the Papacy is the AntiChrist, period. But the Papacy, not necessarily the occupant personally and not necessarily the office exclusively, does bear the marks of AntiChrist.

        • matthias

          Thank you PE for that explanation and I should have realised that it was the “the Papacy”..not the occupant that is seen by many in the Reformed camp to be the bearer of the marks of AntiChrist.

  2. David,

    Hopefully the coverage we’ve been giving to this homily — which I genuinely do believe to be an important one and with application far outside the diocese of Parramatta — is leading to it being studied far more than it might have been without this publicity. I also suspect if I had written some syrupy, ‘look how wonderful this young bishop is’ piece it would have quickly sunk like a stone.

    The ‘bottom line’ I’d point out to you though is that in this country around 86% of the baptised have walked out the door and no longer practice. That figure is around the median for the rate of exit away from sacramental practice across the Western world. The stampede out the door is all the greater from the more elite schools and amongst the young. That’s the challenge Anthony Fisher has to face, Benedict has to face, George Pell has to face and each of us have to face — perhaps more so if we have brought up children through to adulthood.

    You have personally come wandering into this Church fairly recently because certain things attract you. Self evidently they no longer attract a lot of the people who have been here for a long time. We are questioning those things — and increasingly strongly these days. You are also comfortably employed within the institution. I was for a considerable period but then I was ‘shown the door’ and left to survive on the crumbs that fell from the master’s table. It tends to give one a different perspective I can tell you. I wasn’t even asking questions a tenth as provocative as the ones I ask these days.

    The terms “simple people”, “little people” and “being protected from intellectuals” are Benedict’s words, not mine. I argued in my editorial that:

    “While the institution and its leaders do have pastoral responsibilities to the insecure and Benedict’s “simple people” — and so do all the rest of us. That responsibility must not be exercised at the expense of the vast majority of the baptised in the Body of Christ!

    That would seem to be at least part of what is happening today. We don’t “get to heaven” by sychophantic behaviour towards God — nor to bishops or even popes. We “get to heaven” by a demonstrated ability to think and act in the manner of Jesus Christ. And Jesus was an adult — not some ‘little kid’ running around trying to demonstrate to his mother, nor some bishop, what a ‘nice boy’ he turned out to be. He modelled for us how to take the difficult choices when the moral choices available to us were not simple — or black and white.

    • PM

      Actually we don’t ‘“get to heaven” by a demonstrated ability* to think and act in the manner of Jesus Christ,’ any more than trying to demonstrate what a ‘nice boy’ we have turned out to be. We are justified by the grace of Christ which we receive as an unmerited gift – that is the core of New Testament theology which Catholics share with Protestants.** Reducing the Gospel to moralism (either ‘conservative’ or fashionably left) gets us nowhere.

      *(Do you make it sound like part of a set of bureaucratic selection criteria?)

      ** See e.g. the decrees of the Council of Orange and of Trent itelf. (Oddly enough, you may be in the grip here of a distorted post-Reformation hyper-Catholicism that tries to be as un-Protestant as possible. I suspect the pelagianising tendencies of the ICEL liturgy come from the same source.)

    • matthias

      your comments Brian “We “get to heaven” by a demonstrated ability to think and act in the manner of Jesus Christ.’ WRONG . We get to heaven by repenting of our sins, accepting that Christ died for us ,we seek His forgiveness and trust in HIM ,and the Holy Spirit indwells us so that we take on the mind of Christ.
      Remember that hymn by Bianco da Siena of the 15th Century

      “Come down O Love Divine
      Fill Thou this soul of mine
      And visit it with thine own ardour glowing
      O Comforter draw near,
      within in me now appear
      And round me ’bout thy Presence ever flowing”

    • Clara

      There is no one reason for the 86% lapsing from catholic practice – and I think ‘lapsed’ is the correct term because most never made a conscious decision to leave – they just drifted away. Sometimes I think they drift away because they are never encouraged to grapple with the challenges of faith or that the faith they are presented faith is watered down and lacks depth and tradition. I do not think that is inconsistent with the faithful being ‘simple’. Let me explain.

      I was at +Anthony’s installation with my family. My children often complain that parish Mass is ‘boring’ and ‘why do we need to come’. I got none of those complaints during the 2 hour long ceremony. I observed my 14yo son following the program meticulously from start to finish. I overheard my 18yo telling a friend that the music was really interesting, especially the Mozart Gloria ‘It was not like a boring parish Mass.’ I think my ‘little ones’ are ‘simple’ in that they instinctively recognised the truth and beauty of Mozart, and indeed the entire liturgy without the need to intellectualise it.

      Incidentally, +Anthony’s homily on Sunday provided food for discussion for my 12 and 14 year old sons on the trip home from the airport.

      • You point to lack of catechisation as one reason for the drift. Another of the reasons is that these baptised (and often confirmed) Catholics were never truly “evangelised” – or what protestants call “churched” (as in “un-churched”). The “program”, as I see it, is to ensure that all whom we baptise and confirm are in fact fully initiated into the faith of the Church not only ritually but also personally in a way that they are able to truly own the faith.

  3. An Liaig

    Hmmm…I think we need to be clear in using language about moral decisions. The difficult moral decisions we are faced with today are not difficult because they are not “black and white” but because they require faith and courage. Things that truely fall into the “grey” are not difficult but confusing – there is a difference. My experience, as someone who has never worked for the institution (something David knows very well!) of inactive Catholics is that they do not really have any great beef with the Church. They just don’t see going to mass as important and the tennis club plays on Sunday morning (or soccor, or cricket or…). They also do not like being told, even by implication, that they are sinners. There’s not much the Church can do about this. It has to tell the truth and the truth is that they are – along with the rest of the human race. As someone who could claim to be an intellectual (with a bit of paper to prove it – several actually), I’d much rather be one of the little children than an “adult”. That way I might just have a chance at the Kingdom.

    • Ah, An Liaig, how comforting it is to know that you have all the answers — and the certificates to prove it. I’m sure Benny has many certificates a well. Do I trust him, and those certificates, to show me the pathway to paradise? That’s the question we each have to ask ourselves.

      • Waverley

        I would hope, Mr Coyne, that you would trust the Catholic faith to show you the “pathway to paradise” (if, by this, you mean a part in the eternal salvation offered by Christ). Or is that merely the thinking of one of the poor “simple people”?

        If “86% of the baptised have walked out the door and no longer practice” let me assure you that it is due in no minor degree to the confusion sown by those of your ilk over the past 50 years.

        The faith is eternal and it is there for all. If you feel like “harnessing” some of that “spiritual energy” how about picking up your catechism, getting out there and spreading it – rather than continuing the attempt to remake it in your own confused image.

        • Yes, we know that Waverley having had it rammed down our necks for about three decades now. We are waiting for the “revolution” when the 5% of geeky yoof bring back the 95% in their ranks. We also hear the opinions of our children and many young people who have “interesting opinions” of those like yourself who seem so attracted to the forms of pre-Vatican II theology and spiritual practice so beloved of some of the present ecclesial leadership who also seem of the belief that the religious geeks will “bring back” the vast masses. My suggestion is that you “get out a bit more” and mix with the vast masses of young people.

          As I’ve argued for a long time: this particular way of dealing with insecurity (through authority figures, rules and rubric) does not discriminate on age grounds. You’ll find the 5% of a remnant tendency in Gen Y just as strongly as you’ll find them in the Baby Boomer generations. You delude only yourselves if you believe this 5% is somehow going to be “the leaven” in getting society into heaven!

          • Waverley

            You know, my money’s on that 5%.

            After all, how many apostles did it take to establish Christ’s Church in the four corners of the world? How many preserved the Faith in the catacombs? How great was the handful who held out against the Arians? Or the few that hung at Tyburn?

            I’ll back the “geeky yoof”. They have on their side the faith (the Catholic faith that is, not its modernist pretender), just as had the saints and martyrs. And increasingly (Deo gratias) they have the Mass.

            So while I despair of that aging band of confused who have led us down this sad path – and who, despite Mr Coyne’s assertions, still hold most of the reins – I have all hope in the future, while acknowledging that I may not see the fullness of restoration in my lifetime. There is no insecurity there, the faith will always prevail. My concern is how many are harmed before we get there.

            As regards the question of what will bring back the “vast masses” – that is, let me make this clear, those masses of baptised driven away by the VII revolution – I think we have clearly demonstrated since 1963 that clap-happy community celebrations, “faith journeys”, limp-wristed modernist theology and attrocious catechetics have done nothing to help.

            The churches were full in the ’50s. Those churches offering the Traditional Latin Mass (and all that which goes along with it, being the full majesty of the Catholic faith) are full in 2010.

            Most should be able to apply some logic to such observations – there’s a message in there somewhere.

      • An Liaig

        Brian,

        My reference to my degrees was a disparaging one. I don’t consider them important. Nor do I consider adademic learning as particularly useful in gaining wisdon – let alone salvation. I’ve known too many professors for that! I don’t have all the answers but I do know where not to look for them. My point is that human wisdon is useless in gaining salvation. It is far better to sit as a little child and listen to the master and wait expectantly for his gift. That might just work. The most important theology Aquinas ever taught was the way he lived the last years of his life.

        • [An’s comment]“My point is that human wisdom is useless in gaining salvation. It is far better to sit as a little child and listen to the master and wait expectantly for his gift. That might just work. The most important theology Aquinas ever taught was the way he lived the last years of his life.”

          Yes, that is the propaganda — the party line. I’ve heard it ad nauseum for the past 60+ years of my life. But IS IT THE TRUTH? That’s the critical question. Have some people, deliberately or otherwise, misinterpreted what Jesus — and all those other ‘greats’ from Louis Pasteur upwards — was really on about in his advice regarding having a ‘simple’ or child-like faith. You may be convinced. I am no longer convinced. There is a difference between ‘simple’ and ‘simplistic’, between having the innocence of a ‘child’/being child-like, and being childish or attempting to be almost deliberately immature.

          An: seriously, what do you honestly believe “salvation” is? Is it some reward for ‘being good’, some reward for ‘being obedient’ to a whole heap of what are essential human-made rules and social rules trying to interpret the Divine mind? Or is it an endeavour of ourselves endeavouring to become holy — not in the sense of childish piety — but in the sense of endeavouring to think and act like Jesus or God might act if they were sitting in our shoes mulling the challenges and choices we have to make? I’m serious: I would genuinely love to know what you believe “salvation” is essentially about. The same applies to any others in this place who disagree with the positions I put forward. Convince me that the understandings of ‘salvation’ that I was brought up on, and believed for so long, are in fact “truth”.

          • Kyle

            Now, Brian you are nastily misinterpreting An. As it seems to me, all An says is that we should be humble, acknowledge the limitations of human wisdom and instead sit and wait on Jesus Christ. That all sounds thoroughly Gospel-like.

          • Taking the word “saved” in its greek form would also mean not only “rescue” but above all “healing”, or “being made whole”. I believe that I will be “saved” when I am fully recreated to be what I was first created to be, without any of the effects of sin which marr the image of God in me, or keep me separate from communion with God and with all creation human and otherwise, when that “restlessness” which Augustine spoke of is stilled because we find our rest in Him.

          • An Liaig

            My understanding of salvation does not involve obeying a set of rules and being a “good boy”. If it did I would be damned. It also does not involve human wisdom and endeavour. I have seen too many who struggel in this way onlt to end up offering themselves their own salvation in self worship. This is the error commonly called Pelagian. My understanding of salvation is to accept the loving gift of God’s love and through this to be enabeled to love in return. It is very simple and it may be that the simple understand this better than the wise. To paraphrase “The Cloud of Unknowing” – God can never be understood by the mind but only loved by the heart.

    • Louise

      re: black and white.

      I have a good laugh every time one of these old codgers (Baby Boomers) yammers on about things not being “black and white.”

      Just keep kidding yourselves…

  4. Terry Maher (Past Elder)

    It’s interesting, Brian, that though if I were still Catholic we would be on opposite sides of the fence, that of all the “Catholic Churches” I mentioned above jockeying for the title, yours has the most Catholic ring to it.

    I think you hit exactly on why. The things that attract converts into the Catholic Church these days are things that for them answer Protestant difficulties they find irresolvable in Protestantism but for Catholics who have been there for a while are the difficulties themselves, regardless of the different analyses the latter may hold.

    That is why they remain spectacularly blind about the stampede out the door; it is anything but self-evident to them, and invariably they point to how well this or that is doing here or there. But it’s there. And for however differently one may analyse what it is and why it’s there, as I’m sure you and I would, it is madness not to conclude “We messed up big time”.

    • Terry,

      Thanks. I have lost hope in Catholicism being ‘reformed’ or again embracing the vision discerned by the majority of the bishops who came together at the Second Vatican Council. The element in the Curia that opposed them have effectively won — ably assisted by a tiny minority in the pews.

      I haven’t lost hope in Christ, or society at large having a ‘spiritual sense’. The zillion dollar question today, it seems to me, is what is going to emerge once the reactionary element within Catholicism have successfully created their remnant and museum? There is enormous “spiritual energy” in wider society at the moment but it is presently largely “unharnessed” and looking for a home — and leadership.

      You’d need to be a prophet in the true sense of that word to predict what might emerge in another 50 or 100 years time and I am certainly no prophet. I am basically a ‘searcher’ like everyone else trying to make real sense of this set of beliefs that was endowed to me by my parents and a very traditional wider Irish-Australian Catholic family.

      • Tom

        Brian,

        What is it, precisely, that you want?

        When you want the ‘vision of Vatican II’ to be realised, and leadership applied to a ‘spiritual energy,’ what exactly do you mean? What is it that you want, from the Church, from society, from people? Liberation from ‘the rules?’ (if so, what rules, why those rules, and what does this liberation mean?)

        In short: with some depth and precision, what is your vision of the Church? What is your vision of the Gospel that she should announce? And does it have any bearing on the death of Christ to redeem us from our sins?

        • Tom,

          Throughout Catholica you will find answers to those questions. I repeat them often. Even in the editorial that triggered this string I attempted to answer those questions in the bold sections of the final two paragraphs I have extracted from the editorial below. (Of course, I do appreciate that even when I do attempt to express something clearly, those who disagree with my position, will attempt to say that I have not been clear. I have little control over that.)

          The quoted part from the editorial:

          The program already exists —
          but people are very confused about what it is these days…

          In his homily, Bishop Fisher, argues:

          “‘We shall not be saved by a formula but by a person,’ [John Paul II] observed. It is not a matter of inventing a new program. The program already exists. It is the plan found in the Gospel and the living tradition, centred on Christ himself who is to be known, loved and imitated so that in him we may live the life opportunity and, with him, transform history.”

          The reality, Your Lordship, is self-evidently the institution is increasingly failing to convince the vast masses in Western society of that proposition. We here at Catholica humbly suggest to you that the ‘program’ as you call it has become very confusing for the world at large. This is an issue we are constantly discussing on Catholica. What is “the program”? Is it this game of not upsetting the “little people” and their superstitions and magic beliefs about Jesus—the Saviour? Or is it a program seeking to reach out to the increasingly educated in the Western world and speaking to them about moral and life values in the sophisticated and nuanced language they use to communicate about everything else in their lives? Is it some program trying to con society at large that the institution and its priesthood is incapable of errors and mistakes, that they like Jesus himself are beyond sin? Or is it a program of endeavouring to educate people, and particularly the young, about how Jesus Christ offers us life, peace, and happiness not through the promise of reward through miracles if we go to Mass and say our Rosaries often enough but because we have each learned to think, reason and act our way through life in the manner of Jesus Christ?

          The measure of our success as Catholics is not how “different” or “square” we can make ourselves look to everyone else in society. It is how effective our moral responses and arguments are perceived to be by the vast masses in society — how much we are respected and listened to because our arguments make moral sense. There seems this fear in this remnant sector driving the Catholic agenda today that the alternative to their agenda requires less discipline, less personal obedience and is some recipe for moral nihilism in society. That is a fallacy. Teaching people to think for themselves and make intelligent moral judgments entails a heck of a lot more personal discipline and obedience to the voice of God in their lives than the insecure sectors of the institution have to offer with their simplistic formulae.

          • Tom

            Brian,

            I appreciate the promptness, and the succinctness of your reply.

            What you have argued there, is, prima facie, fair enough. Everything seems to come to one point – you seek authenticity. On that point, I, and I imagine others here would applaud you.

            Further, you have an implicit criticism of the natural religiosity that surrounds the Catholic Church, which is also a valid criticism.

            Now at this point I beg a second question: Let us examine in some greater detail the question of anthropology.

            What I am curious to hear about, are those people who you think are authentically formed as Christian adults, who find themselves able to make intelligent moral judgments, but do so entirely within the context given to us by special revelation and the Magisterium.

            Or – and this is probably vital to establish right away: do you think that such people exist in the Church? Do you think it is possible to be both orthodox in ones attitudes to the Church and obedience, as well as being a fully formed, functioning and intelligent moral adult?

            This point probably needs to be settled before we can proceed in any meaningful way, without devolving into rhetoric.

            • Tom,

              I’m not sure how to respond to this mainly because I see the (sociological) landscape as complex. Since about the time of the French Revolution society tends to “see” all of life through a “political lens”. We analyse things —everything — through the lens of whether something is socially reactionary-conservative or liberal-socially progressive. Did humanity tend to analyse all of life in the modern thinking framework we use today prior to the Enlightenment? I suspect not. I suspect the over-arching mindframe in earlier epochs might have been spiritually-based — people (in general, the poor as well as the rich, the educated as well as the uneducated) lived more in a sense of being dependent on Divine providence than our own political, organisational, technological and scientific cleverness.

              What I’ve written above is not to be taken as an argument for wanting to go back to some pre-Enlightenment thinking paradigm. I’m principally endeavouring to demonstrate how our (collective) thinking today is so comprehensively formed by “political” shortcuts. In the end though spirituality (and theology, Christology and religion is general) is above, or beyond, politics. We have “to work it out” in a different realm of thinking to the one we use to assess things politically. According to JPII’s biographer, the very conservative thinker, George Weigel, he suggested that JPII argued that we need to move religion and spirituality out of the political realm and I tend to agree with both of them on this.

              My own innate personal political disposition remains fundamentally conservative (or what we in Australia label more correctly as Liberal-Conservative in the sense that Menzies defined the term). I am not one for “tearing down structures” just because I, or society, has become bored with them, or because I, or society, feel we need some entertainment or a new distraction. Your question then Do you think it is possible to be both orthodox in ones attitudes to the Church and obedience, as well as being a fully formed, functioning and intelligent moral adult? I would tend to answer in the affirmative. Yes, I do think it is possible. Whether than answers the question of what’s going on in society, or the Church, at the moment is a different question.

              Let me try and explain: I don’t think the major problem the institution is facing at the moment is a “political” problem — i.e. some division between so-called liberals and so-called conservatives. That tends to be how the so-called conservatives view it. The principal division at present is more psychological rather than political. It’s the different ways in which different sectors in society respond to the human phenomenon of insecurity. “Insecurity” per se is NOT the problem. We ALL suffer from insecurity. It’s part of the human condition (and, elsewhere, I argue Christ is essentially the Divine response to human insecurity). The division is along the lines how different demographic groups in society respond to insecurity. Where do we go looking for the answers that will allay our insecurities?

              To put it over-simplistically for the purposes of delineating the division clearly, some (I think they are a small minority) need, indeed crave, authority figures or an authority figure, who will tell them “which way is up”. The majority — mainly due to the pervasiveness of higher forms of education in the last 200 years — and, more particularly, the capacity for abstact thinking — have moved past that. Yes, they (we all) need ‘authority figures’. Whether it be in theology, science, history, medicine, economics, or any other discipline we are all are dependent on ‘authority figures’. There simply are not enough seconds in each person’s lifetime for each individual to be an “expert” about everything. In all disciplines of life we all have to take a lot of what we know “on faith” — in other words, on the ‘authority’ of someone whom we trust is more expert than ourselves.

              I would argue though a division has opened up between what goes on in the Church, and what goes on in wider society, about how we (society in general) endorse our authority figures. In the secular world leaders increasingly have to earn their authority through the wisdom of their leadership and advice. We no longer treat politicians, royalty, academics, doctors, and business leaders with the “open-jawed awe” in which they were viewed by the hoy-polloi in the past. Any person who is recognised as “an authority” these days tends to have to earn their status as “an authority” on the established quality of the advice, and leadership, they provide to whomever their clientele happens to be. The institutional Church has not moved in the same direction. For some (again I suggest it is a small minority) the institutional Church leaders are “to be obeyed and respected” not on the basis of the quality of the advice and leadership they provide but by dint of their ordination — and a sense of “authority” that is perceived to be imposed on them, and on society, by none other than Almighty God himself. In the other disciplines of life almost all of our education systems around the world today tend to encourage people to question — and constantly question. We accept “authority” only in so far as we are able to question what they are being “authoritative” about — we don’t just accept them because some university, or king or queen or political leader, has given them a fancy certificate or a fancy hat. Again the Church has not moved on. As you would appreciate there are a whole raft of issues on which no questioning whatsoever is allowed. It’s as though “God has spoken”. I think the vast majority in society have “moved on” and they simply no longer operate out of that thinking paradigm — which is the one many of us older Catholics were brought up in. At the deepest of levels (i.e. not surface disagreements such as disagreements over particular policy positions like contraception, ordination of women, the position of women, etc) I think it is this difference in approach re the question of “authority” and how we respect it, that explains why so many in the Western world have basically given up listening to what the Church has to say anymore, or practising.

              I apologise in advance in that I don’t believe there is a simply answer to your question. Hence my lengthy response.

              Cheers, Brian Coyne

              • Tom

                Brian, I’m going to reply to this @ the bottom of the thread, since the way this keeps making the columns narrower and narrower gets more and more frustrating.

              • Tom

                Sorry, have training, didn’t notice the time. Will reply when I get home later tonight.

    • Louise

      Well, I don’t think there are many practicing Catholics who are not thinking we messed up big time, PE. We probably just differ in opinion as to how we messed up (strictly, how Brian’s generation and older messed up) and how to rectify things.

      I don’t think anyone here is pleased that 86% (93% here in Tasmania) of Catholics are no longer practicing the Faith.

  5. Paul

    As an outsider to this blog, I may be missing the background to all the jolly repartee here, but at first sight, I am disturbed by:

    – the sneering ad-hominem attacks by Mr Brian Coyne (“You are also comfortably employed within the institution.”, “how comforting it is to know that you have all the answers — and the certificates to prove it”)

    -the inspiration of the “unsimple” people seem to be based on majority rules (“It is how effective our moral responses and arguments are perceived to be by the vast masses in society — how much we are respected and listened to because our arguments make moral sense.”) or statistics of attendance, rather than seeking after truth.

    -silly blasphemies (“We don’t “get to heaven” by sychophantic behaviour towards God”)

    I’m afraid that these and the minor scatalogical references really seem to me to be “kindergarten games”.

    As I say, perhaps I am misreading the blogged word and this is all tongue in cheek?

    • No, you are reading it right, Paul. The only thing is that after a while, after getting to know our friends on this blog, after sitting at the same table together and sharing the port bottle, we learn to filter out some of the oft repeated idiosyncratic expressions of our querulous brethren. It’s like using a verbal sieve: you shake it until all the dust settles and only the lumpy bits are left and then you try to make some sense of that! Or like panning for gold. On a bad day down at the diggings…

  6. Peter

    @ Terry, Converts I have had the opportunity to speak to didn’t come to the Catholic Church looking for an escape from problems and questions, they came for the answers. Often the answers open larger more complex questions, but they are answers nontheless. Being a faithful Catholic means MORE thinking, not less, in order to be faithful. It requires real reason, not just clever self justification, but a real wrestle to seek to genuinely understand and live those truths clearly revealed, and the implications for life, the universe and everything.

    It seems much easier to claim the ‘intellectual’ high ground and sneer at anyone who claims surety as credulous peasants than to genuinely engage with the God who reveals himself clearly and emphatically and “think with the Church” pondering what all this could possibly mean.

  7. Exy

    Well written David

    I picked up the “gnostic-like” pseudo intellectual arrogance in Mr. Coyne’s posts some four years ago, not forgetting his infamous and inarticulate “breakin’ all the friggin’ rules” “code of morality” in finding one’s “personal truth” on life’s journey – that he still proclaims.

    Anthony Fisher is a unique man indeed. His personal character and qualities are most admirable, combined with a deep faith and enormous intellect, which he is able to express with clarity.

    He also possesses positive communication skills which are genuine, humble and compassionate.

    How fortunate the Church is to have someone like +Fisher leading the diocese of Parramatta.

  8. Terry Maher (Past Elder)

    OMG. Something is clearly revealed, but to genuinely actually understand it is a real wrestle. One seeks answers but not to resolve questions and problems, providing escape therefrom, and that brings on more questions. No wonder the endless procession of “what the church REALLY means”. It’s the Oracle of Delphi relocated and under a new name!

    The fact is, this blog, by which I mean the endeavour attempted by this blog, to think with the Catholic Church, is no different than Mr Coyne’s blog in that regard. The difference is, Mr Coyne’s has the sound and feel of something, although I disagree with that something, the Catholic Church actually sounded and felt like in the decades leading up to Vatican II unofficially, from dissenters, and sounded and felt like officially since that council. This blog does not.

    CA is quite in line with what the RCC taught me, in Catholic institutions with Catholic teachers, what the church really taught as distinct from an imaginary “what the church REALLY teaches” except it doesn’t predictably when you show up.

    This blog is quite in line with an oh-oh reaction noticeable in recent years, in which it tries to recover a type of mantle of authority from former times yet retain a new message which, among other things, rejected that type of mantle. It is no more the “old country” or on continuity therewith than those why gather at various “culture centres” in the new country, once in a while dress up in old country clothes but otherwise speak unidiomatic old country language that is obviously not their original tongue either by birth or adoption.

    • Kyle

      I am not sure how you judge CA to be really what the Catholic Church teaches. Certainly it is not what the Church has taught through her ecumenical councils and papal teachings and what has been elaborated by saints and doctors of the Church. In fact, Catholica defines itself by its hostility to all these things. How it could purport to be Catholic, and how anyone could fall for it, is beyond me.

  9. Christine

    There is, if I may say so, something almost “gnostic” about Brian’s division of the Church into the “enlightened” and the “simple”.

    I was thinking the very same thing. A wise priest I once heard said in a sermon that “Jesus didn’t come to save us from our neuroses, he didn’t come to make us rich, he came to save us from our sins.” All the miracles, all the healings were done to show that the Kingdom had broken into our weary and fallen world.

    It’s sad that the stunning good news that “Christ died for us even while we were sinners” is too much for some of the “enlightened” to hear.

    Sorry, Brian, blame it on my protestant Sunday School training, but I will stick with “the old, old story” and continue to tell it to all – children and adults alike – who (before God) are always “the little ones” for whom Christ died.

    Ditto, David.

    Christine

  10. Lance Eccles

    I look at Mr Coyne’s Catholica site from time to time, but it always puzzles me. They tend to speak in abstractions, and I can never figure out what they want for the Catholic Church.

    They obviously want some sort of changes, but what exactly? Women priests, no priests, divorce and remarriage, fornication on demand, homosexual marriage, a weeny bit of adultery, contraception, popular votes on doctrine …?

    They did, not so long ago, put up a list of demands from an elderly couple in the USA, but these all looked pretty unrealistic.

  11. Terry Maher (Past Elder)

    If there is anything Gnostic, it is the idea that the church (Catholic code word: read The Catholic Church The Catholic Church The Catholic Church) magisterium issues these infallible teachings, then explains what they REALLY mean ad nauseam because nobody seems to understand, and apart from this inner circle of initiates nobody has a clue or a contribution except to exult when one of the initiates speaks.

    As a literary device, I use “what the church really teaches” to mean just that, what one actually encounter in the real love world from pulpit and podium under the auspices of “Catholic” and “what the church REALLY teaches” to mean any of several ideas that do not square with what the church really teaches to discount it, whether from left, right, or centre.

    Mr Coyne’s blog resonates with the actual things taught in the years leading up to the Council, which we then called dissent, and after, when they became orthodoxy. I do not agree with those things, either then as a Catholic or now as a Lutheran, but that they are what they are is just beyond dispute, except to those who maintain a new sort of latter-day sort of neo-orthodoxy, which is neither the orthodoxy the RCC once stood for nor anything like the thought once called dissent that became the new orthodoxy.

    • I’ve been thinking about what you said on this topic earlier today – that Brian’s “Catholica” site is more truly “the Catholic Church” you knew than my own modest blog. I wonder:

      1) Whether the real question is not what the “one holy catholic and apostolic Church” of the Creed actually is (in its essence) rather than what we experience it to be
      2) If we grant that “the Catholic Church” at least sees itself (althought I grant that others do not share this view) to be in a direct relation to the “one holy catholic and apostolic Church”, how what we experience “the Catholic Church” to be can become closer to what the “one holy catholic and apostolic Church” of the Creed actually is
      3) What this means or should mean for the reformability of “the Catholic Church”

      In other words, if “the Catholic Church” (here meaning the visible society upon earth that calls itself this) wishes to be closer to what it believes “the one holy catholic and apostolic Church” is, should not semper reformanda (or at least semper purificanda) be a part of its modus operandi? And does this not mean that at times there may not need to be radical change in order to preserve its true nature, mission and identity?

      In other words again: by saying that “the Catholic Church” for which this blog stands for is “not the Catholic Church I knew when I grew up but an imposter”, are you not saying that any movement for reform or purification in “the Catholic Church” is logically impossible?

      • mdhoerr

        “Whether the real question is not what the “one holy catholic and apostolic Church” of the Creed actually is (in its essence) rather than what we experience it to be”

        No, David, the Catholic church is not what we “experience it to be”. It is a true, objective fact. No, the Church can’t change “radically”. If she did, she would cease to be the Church.

        Terry, for example, thinks it has changed radically (and I accept that he is not talking about any kind of change, per se, or simply moving away from the Mass in Latin), and he has every reason to see what has happened since Vatican II that way.

        People like Brian also agree that the Church has changed (or was changing) radically, and they are upset when they think the current Pope is trying to undo those changes.

        When I look at Gaudium et Spes, I can see how it could be interpreted (sorry Terry — more Catholic hallucinating) to be in accord with the Syllabus of Errors and how it could be interpreted to be in conflict with it. It looks like the US church, at least, has gotten quite a bit of the heretical interpretation of Gaudium et Spes. Which, because it has a lot of vague and undefined terms, is pretty easy to do.

  12. Terry Maher (Past Elder)

    We’ve been over that and over that, most recently with Perry. Really, this “in saying this you must be saying that” and then addressing “that” instead of what was said may be a hallmark of Catholic thinking, if you want to call it that, lately but it is quite annoying.

    Not to mention you have Brian valiantly fighting the same thing applied to his positions. I may, hell do, disagree with his positions but he argues them straightforwardly, not in some “since you’re saying this you’re saying that and here’s what’s wrong with that” sort of thing. You can pass the port, as it were, with a guy like that, but here one can only ask if you know the Bishop of Norwich (oh I forgot the conventions of port drinking are re-invented here too).

    So again, as you borrow the Calvinist phrase semper reformanda to justify your “Catholicism” — entirely apt, as it took the Reformation as far to one side in error as Rome had already taken it to the other — No, reform is not impossible logically or otherwise, nor is change per se the issue. It is the specific changes or reforms of the council that are in question.

    The positions here taken are as foreign to the movement that culminated in Vatican II as they are to the preconciliar church. That is why I find nothing identifiably Catholic here except the worst features of the old piety applied to the reform attempted at the council, which Brian admirably argues.

  13. Christine

    Folks, all Christian denominations are facing a meltdown. Yes, Catholics have their share of inactives.

    In the LCMS one of the pastors recently posted that of the “official” 2.5 members only about 750,000 are in church on any given Sunday. In the small congregation to which I belonged for a year the pastor was continually frustrated by the considerable number of “registered” members who never showed up for worship.

    The LCMS has its dissenters just as much as any other body, notably Daystar which is pushing for the ordination of women. The excuse that this is an “internal” problem is exactly how the Seminex crisis evolved in the LCMS and we know how that turned out.

    Did I return to the Catholic Church expecting perfection? Of course not. I am more than aware of the challenges that the RC is facing and I also acknowledge the deep Christian piety of the good people I knew at my Lutheran congregation.

    I am amused at how Mr. Coyne judges those of us who have come into the Catholic Church as converts, however, that we haven’t been liberated from the stodgy old views of yesteryear.

    I nevertheless continue to find the catholicity of the church in the Church of Rome in a way I did not as a Lutheran.

    @Lance: They obviously want some sort of changes, but what exactly? Women priests, no priests, divorce and remarriage, fornication on demand, homosexual marriage, a weeny bit of adultery, contraception, popular votes on doctrine …?

    They can take their cue from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, made up of what were once solid, orthodox Lutheran bodies who are now Lutheran in name only and have embraced all the things that Catholica seems to want, along with a shrinking membership.

    Christine

    Christine

  14. Christine

    The “program”, as I see it, is to ensure that all whom we baptise and confirm are in fact fully initiated into the faith of the Church not only ritually but also personally in a way that they are able to truly own the faith.

    True for all churches, David.

    The Book of Concord is as neglected by the majority of the LCMS laity as are the authentic Documents of Vatican II by many Catholics. The website of the LCMS congregation to which I belonged states that it is a confessional congregation but I never saw any classes or sermons involving the BOC while I was there. For those LCMS congregations that have jettisoned their confessional identity for a more evangelical one, the BOC will not be found. There’s an LCMS mission congregation down the street from me. I called once asking about the culture of the parish and was told that they engage in “modern” worship and practice. When I inquired about the “Lutheran” part I was told, “We get to the Lutheran stuff at some point in membership classes.”

    The more “liberal” Lutheran bodies claim the Augsburg Confession as their foundational document but have rejected the BOC as a whole.

    At least when I go to Mass I have no doubts about what it is I am receiving in Holy Communion.

    Christine

  15. Terry Maher (Past Elder)

    There is a great similarity in the challenges facing denoms, but it is not applicable, because of this: no other denom makes the claims about itself the RCC does, which changes completely what it means for this to be in the RCC.

    LCMS is not “the church”, not “the” church, not the Catholic Church and not the catholic church — neither is any other body, but the RCC makes different claims about itself it learned not from the Apostles but the Roman Empire as its state religion.

    When a body once taught one thing and labelled another dissent, heresy or whatever, and then later teaches that other itself, it is entirely different when that body sees itself as a humanly instituted jurisdiction as opposed to a divinely instituted institution led by direct successors to the Apostles under the guidance of the Holy Ghost.

    If LCMS to-morrow, or this Summer in Houston, be completely taken over by the lunatic heterodox already prominent within it, that would be sad, however, faithful pastors would do exactly what they did when LCMS was formed, form a synod to remain true to the faith of Jesus Christ revealed in Scripture and correctly stated in the Book of Concord.

    He said his Word would endure forever, not this or that church body. He said Peter’s confession, not Peter the man, was the Rock against which the gates of even hell itself shall not prevail. And so it shall. The case of a church body that thinks it itself speaks that Word uniquely in its fullness led by a man confused with the Rock is not at all the same.

  16. Christine

    I can appreciate what Terry is saying. Check out the websites for St. John’s Abbey and University in Collegeville. Check out the Liturgical Press. These were the hotbeds in the 70’s for the revisionism taught by Godfrey Diekmann and his ilk and they still run left of center.

    But St. John’s is not the magisterium of the Catholic Church. From the day I entered the Catholic Church in 1997 I never once heard any of the nonsense that students at St. John’s were taught (and the same nonsense was being taught in non-Catholic circles as well during those times), that it was the “community” that interpreted what Jesus really said, etc. etc.

    No doubt there are still individual priests and religious that buy into this stuff but they aren’t making much headway anymore. Since the publication of the CCC and the Compendium of the CCC lay Catholics now have an authoritative resource that spells out exactly what the Catholic Church believes and teaches.

    The nature of the Trinity, of Jesus the God-Man and the divinity of the Holy Spirit and his role in the Church are what I was taught, the catholic faith as expounded in the Creeds and the nature of the Word and the Sacraments as vehicles of grace.

    The only place good Father Diekmann’s visions seem to have blossomed are in the ECLA, the ECUSA and the UCC.

    The fact that the RCC claims to have the fullness of faith in no way changes the fact that she acknowledges other baptized Christians as brothers and sisters in Christ. A welcome change from the “old days” when my Catholic grandmother badgered my Lutheran mother with visions of hell if she didn’t convert.

    Yes, he said his Word would endure forever and he also said the church is the pillar and foundation of the truth. The Bible came from and is the book of the Church.

    The LCMS underwent a split already after Seminex. If it undergoes another one, that proves only that the BOC has not been capable of keeping the Synod together.

    Christine

  17. matthias

    “You have personally come wandering into this Church fairly recently because certain things attract you” . This is the second time that Brian has made reference to Schutz’s entry into the RCC -the other was where he referred to Schutz being an aberration ,which he clarified quite succinctly.
    The impression i get from this is that Brian is either uncomfortable with a convert who is theologically ( musically) qualified or is that gifted,or is amazed that anyone should join the RCC from a Church of the Reformation,or is trying to stress that he is a cradle Catholic and not to happy with the cradle and likes rocking it!!

    • Matthias,

      The complaint from my side of the room is not that some people like classical music (my own radio is mostly tuned to ABC Classic FM), or the older liturgical rites of the Church (I do have deep respect for our traditions and do wish to see them preserved). It is when people want to impose those on everybody as though they are the only ‘authentic’ way in which to be Catholic or to be saved. Like, for instance, in wanting to draw up lists banning certain forms of music … and do I need to spell out other “for instances”?

      Most people I know actually have a love of our heritage and do want to see things like the Latin Mass continue to be celebrated in places where they can occasionally attend, or occasionally celebrated in all parishes as an alternative to the present Mass and as a reminder of where we’ve come from. There are no problems respecting people who want to worship or pray in alternative ways. The problems arise when these minority groups, with the seeming full back of the heavies in the institutional leadership, want to impose their mindset on the entire institution — and end up driving the vast majority of the baptised out the door.

  18. Terry Maher (Past Elder)

    Of course the Book of Concord cannot keep a synod or anything else to-gether. It is a book of concord; the concord is already there, and if it isn’t, it is re-esatblished where it is. Which is a whole different thing than a “magisterium”, which is an institution, changing its spots.

    Some of the people who wrote the Documents of Vatican II because they were commissioned to do so either were resident at St John’s or regular parts of its extended circle, living presences. They were quite clear about what they intended and meant in those documents, now “the church” wants to say oh no, they did not mean THAT. Rather like a literary critic telling an author that what he says he meant he did not mean but rather what they say he meant.

    Nobody but nobody involved in the creation of these documents or the novus ordo for that matter spoke in any way like the church or liturgy some try to haul out of it after the fact.

  19. Christine

    Some of the people who wrote the Documents of Vatican II because they were commissioned to do so either were resident at St John’s or regular parts of its extended circle, living presences. They were quite clear about what they intended and meant in those documents, now “the church” wants to say oh no, they did not mean THAT. Rather like a literary critic telling an author that what he says he meant he did not mean but rather what they say he meant.

    Yes, absolutely some of them were resident at St. John’s and I am aware of what their intentions were.

    Around the same time I remember Robert McAfee Brown, a prominent Presbyterian minister around confidently writing in “The Ecumenical Revolution” that it wouldn’t be long before all Christians gathered around the same Table of Communion, all denominations would be ordaining women, etc. etc.. Well, he didn’t quite get it right either.

    Nevertheless it still stands that since I became Catholic in 1997 I have never encountered a Catholic parish that taught that the community defined “what Jesus really said.”

    As for the BOC, it appears there is a great need to do a lot of “re-establishing.”

    Christine

  20. Terry Maher (Past Elder)

    Brown didn’t write the documents of Vatican II.

    The people I am talking about, commissioned to do so by the RCC, did.

  21. Christine

    Brown didn’t write the documents of Vatican II.

    The people I am talking about, commissioned to do so by the RCC, did.

    No, he didn’t. But it “was the times,” not only in the RC. The social revolution of the 60’s hit everywhere, not only in the U.S.

    I can understand how impossible it must seem to someone who grew up in the preconciliar RC that converts to the church after Vatican II find her to be acceptable. But we do.

    Christine

  22. Terry Maher (Past Elder)

    Why wouldn’t they? They know nothing else. Books and a once in a while Mass here and there just don’t cut it.

  23. Christine

    Why wouldn’t they? They know nothing else. Books and a once in a while Mass here and there just don’t cut it.

    Oh, I think you greatly underestimate the depth of those who have chosen to join the Catholic Church. I’ve had many conversations with fellow converts whose reasons for and understanding of what they were embracing were not the superficial ones you think they were. Considering that the RCIA process generally takes at least 9 months or even more, however long a particular individual needs, it’s far from just “book learning” by the time they are welcomed into the Church at the Easter Vigil.

    Christine

  24. Terry Maher (Past Elder)

    I don’t at all mean it’s superficial, just that it takes the current Protestant Catholicism to have been what was REALLY there all along, the usual Vatican II line. RCIA is a joke, last one I had anything to do with, the Protestant convert’s Methodist confirmation was held to be a valid confirmation so the person was not confirmed. Yeah, not what the church REALLY teaches, except it does.

  25. Christine

    I don’t at all mean it’s superficial, just that it takes the current Protestant Catholicism to have been what was REALLY there all along, the usual Vatican II line.

    We like the current “Protestant Catholicism.” We find it more Catholic and Biblical than the older form when you had five priests saying Mass at side altars with no congregation present. What was it Jesus said about “two or three gathered in my name . . .” I’m not sure he had clerics strictly in mind.

    RCIA is a joke, last one I had anything to do with, the Protestant convert’s Methodist confirmation was held to be a valid confirmation so the person was not confirmed. Yeah, not what the church REALLY teaches, except it does.

    I double, triple dare ya to find me the place in the Catechism of the Catholic Church where it is stated that a convert does not need to receive all the Sacraments of initiation, including confirmation (excepting baptism of course which is never repeated). Or was that oil that I was signed with when I converted put on my forehead because Father thought it was just a nifty thing to do?

    Sounds like the priest at that conversion was very confused. But I’ve met a few non-Catholic clergy of whom I could say the same thing 🙂

  26. Christine

    Here, I’ll save you the trouble:

    Catechism of the Catholic Church

    “1533 Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist are sacraments of Christian initiation. They ground the common vocation of all Christ’s disciples, a vocation to holiness and to the mission of evangelizing the world. . . .”

    And by Confirmation it is meant a Catholic, not Methodist one — in fact, I don’t believe confirmation is regarded as a Sacrament by Methodists, I’m not even sure they all practice it.

    The fact that that priest was so woefully in error is not a reflection on the entire church, but his error alone.

    Or do you blame all LCMS parishes for being nonconformist because some are more “Ablaze” than others?

  27. Terry Maher (Past Elder)

    I could care less what it says in a book on the shelf. The disconnect with what predictably happens is the problem.

    The priest may have been in error, but he was acting in the capacity of a Catholic pastor and did what he did in that capacity and the RCC said and did nothing to correct it.

    Happens all the time, and pointing to this or that place or this or that book which says different makes no difference, it’s just another of the Protestant church-shopping behaviours now common in “Catholicism”, except the RCC is kind of like a mall where you can do it all under one roof so zu sagen.

  28. Christine

    The priest may have been in error, but he was acting in the capacity of a Catholic pastor and did what he did in that capacity and the RCC said and did nothing to correct it.

    And unless someone else in authority was present or it was reported how would they have known? Even the Pope doesn’t micromanage every parish from Rome.

    Yes, a “book on a shelf” can be just a book on the shelf (in all Christian denominations, actually, including yours), but the fact that in 1997 I received the Sacraments of Initiation properly in my diocese (and I’ve seen them carried out in other parishes as well) tells me that this problem has been addressed.

    Not in my wildest experiences have I ever heard a priest say that confirmation in a Catholic rite wasn’t necessary.

  29. Christine

    Yeah, not what the church REALLY teaches, except it does.

    Nor does the Church REALLY teach that confirmation as a Catholic is not necessary.

  30. Christine

    Saw this on another Catholic site:

    Now comes the news that the USCCB’s subcommittee on music will be coming up with the complete Propers chants in both Latin and the English. And that the U.S. amendment to the new ICEL translations (that gives the option to use “songs” instead of chant for the Propers) will produce a theologically correct “white” list of psalm-songs approved by every diocese for its own use. This means that OCP will be contained for use only in the dioceses of Oregon, where it belongs. The Responsorial Psalm, being part of the Readings, will be chanted strictly by the book (from the Lectionary.) And the people will be able to chant in Latin the parts pertaining to them.

    David, have you heard anything similar?

    • No, I haven’t heard this, but it would be really something if it were true. Do you have the link to that “Catholic Website” which was your source?

      • Christine

        David, this was a comment I saw from a post on the Inside Catholic site.

        I’m going to look it up again and see if the person who posted it can supply a specific source.

        I wonder if the Adoremus Bulletin might have some insight into this as well.

        Christine

  31. Terry Maher (Past Elder)

    I would hardly call making sure one’s priests, since they stand in his place and exercise part of the fullness of his priesthood, teach what he teaches and do what he does is micromanagement on the part of a bishop.

    But things are taught and done routinely like this. That it says different in a book doesn’t mean crap. What the hell kind of overseer doesn’t oversee?

    And by the same token, since the priest stands in this relation to his bishop, if the priest does it, the bishop does it.

    We don’t have, thank God, “bishops” in LCMS so the horsecrap we have, which in currently in oversupply no denial from me, is not comparable.

    • mdhoerr

      “I would hardly call making sure one’s priests, since they stand in his place and exercise part of the fullness of his priesthood, teach what he teaches and do what he does is micromanagement on the part of a bishop.

      “But things are taught and done routinely like this. That it says different in a book doesn’t mean crap. What the hell kind of overseer doesn’t oversee?

      “And by the same token, since the priest stands in this relation to his bishop, if the priest does it, the bishop does it.”

      Agreed. And therein lies what I see as the main problem since the 60’s — not the documents, which remain faithful, but the bishops (at least in the United States — I really can’t speak outside of that), that did not.

      I’m not even convinced that Vatican II had much to do with it. I mean, when bishops are interpreting “make sure the people understand what they’re saying in Latin” to mean “get rid of all the Latin”, and are completely ignoring Human Vitae altogether, it’s pretty clear they’re going to teach whatever they want to teach, no matter what any Church council or document says or not.

  32. Christine

    Mary, I don’t disagree with your assessment. The documents are not to blame, those who failed to implement them are.

    I was still Lutheran in the 60’s and 70’s and saw first hand how the Protestant world underwent its own implosion, the result being that many of the major denominations no longer adhere to classic Christian belief.

    Here’s an interesting quote from the Holy Father from “Benedict of Bavaria”:

    “A bishop is an overseer. He must make sure the Church is functioning as she should, and if this involves disciplining and defending, then so be it. Ratzinger did not shy away from conflict when it was necessary, and in his day there was enough of it. He had to deal with the mutually loathing groups of Catholics, one of whom claimed that the Second Vatican Council had ruined Roman Catholicism, set against those who argued that the Council was merely the beginning of a perpetually frustrated process of radical reform.

    . . .

    Most written acounts of Ratizinger’s years as archbishop dwell on the areas of difficulty while totally ignoring the positive moments and achievements. There are four events or topics that made the news but probably did not make up more than a small minority of his time.”

    Yes, bishops should be overseers. Pastors should be faithful shepherds. But sometimes, just like Peter and the other apostles, they fail.

    Christine

    • mdhoerr

      “Yes, bishops should be overseers. Pastors should be faithful shepherds. But sometimes, just like Peter and the other apostles, they fail.”

      Indeed they do. Which is why the consistency of what the RCC has passed on as the deposit of faith for over two thousand years is all the more miraculous. It almost makes you think it might have divine guidance …

  33. Terry Maher (Past Elder)

    Platonism for the masses, Nietzsche was right, except the Ideal is now the Document, which exists in all its purity off somewhere while in the world of senses and matter we stumble around attaining to the Document, er, Ideal. Toss in a little Oracle of Delphi as “magisterium” and we’re there, the RCC.

    The fact is, the documents are pure crap, a mockery of Catholicism, and that is why all sides fight over whose respective “spirit” (understanding) of Vatican II is the real one.

    • mdhoerr

      “the documents are pure crap, a mockery of Catholicism”

      I’m reading through them, and so far, I do not find them to be so. Since you do, I applaud your integrity in leaving the RCC.

      “the Ideal is now the Document, which exists in all its purity off somewhere”

      Nope, there is no “Document”. There are the documents of the Bible and the various documents which the RCC claims to be true. They are real, physical documents written in human languages which can be read and logically analyzed.

      The documents are only one of the witnesses of the RCC. But they are not dispensable. If they can be shown false then the RCC is shown to be false. Catholicism is a religion that claims to be based on verifiable eye witness accounts.

      It really is that crude. Disprove the eye witnesses and you’ve disproved Catholic Christianity.

      I’m not discounting spiritual evidence, as well. But it isn’t an either/or. The physical evidence doesn’t contradict the spiritual, and is, in fact, provided because we *are* physical *as well as* spiritual beings, and we need both types of evidence.

  34. Christine

    Indeed they do. Which is why the consistency of what the RCC has passed on as the deposit of faith for over two thousand years is all the more miraculous. It almost makes you think it might have divine guidance …

    As my very gracious, Irish and Catholic to the max co-worker Rita (may she rest in peace) used to say wryly, “The Catholic Church has got to to be the true church — no other church has made so many mistakes.”

    I actually was quite impressed when I read Sacrosanctum Concilium. I don’t think the Holy Spirit has departed quite yet.

    Christine