Friday, 20 July 2012

Getting past that narrative: on being actually Catholic!

I've been laying off Cath News recently, not least because for a short while at least it seemed to be improving.

But oh dear, there have been a couple of pieces on Cath Blog this week in particular have been something of a shocker, in particular one on 'ecumenism', and one on the latest salvos from those rad fem nuns in the US!

False ecumenism and the world

Friday's effort was a classic effort on ecumenism, and its basic message is the catholicism (with a small c because we have apparently all moved beyond divisions on doctrinal issues these days!) has got nothing to do with actually worshipping God or getting to heaven, but instead is a kind of global movement against capitalism:

"Far from reducing ecumenism to church unity as an end in itself [an interesting interpretation given that the opening sentence of the Decree on Ecumenism actually states that "The restoration of unity amongst all Christians is one of the principal concerns of the Second Vatican Council.  Christ the Lord founded one Church..."], much less a special interest for the eccentric few, the Council situated ecumenism in this much larger and more challenging context of a global, “catholic” unity, where ecumenism and catholicity meet, the church and the world embrace, “globalisation” is set free from its captivity to commercialisation, cultural superficiality and imperialism." [Let me just say that not one of those words actually appears in Unitatis Reintegratio!]

Nor does Pope John Paul II's Ut unum sint, also cited in the article, lend any support to the author's creative attempt to redefine the nature of the Church.  In fact Ut Unum Sint explicitly states that:

"In effect, this unity bestowed by the Holy Spirit does not merely consist in the gathering of people as a collection of individuals. It is a unity constituted by the bonds of the profession of faith, the sacraments and hierarchical communion."

It is true that Pope John Paul II saw ecumenism as the work of us all: but that is because he saw as all as missionaries, who should work to restore our separated brethren to that fullness of unity that they might share the truth with us.

Models of the Church?

But surely the most outrageous aspect of the article is the claim that:

"As long as our “concept of church” remains in practice defined as an institution that functions as a “multinational corporation” run by bishops who see themselves as its “branch managers” [the condemnation of this view of the Church in these very terms in fact originates with Pope Benedict XVI himself!]; as long as this institution focuses on itself and its own survival in a defensive and self-pitying posture with regard to the contemporary world [After five decades intent on secularization, with utterly disastrous results, the author thinks we haven't gone far enough!!]; it doesn’t much matter what theologically correct formulas we mouth about it being “the People of God” or “the Body of Christ” or “communio/koinonia”."

It is a worry that the author, Dr Drasko Dizdar, is apparently 'a theologian with the Tasmanian Catholic Education Office'!

Radical patriarchy?

Tuesday's Cathblog post, by Garry Everett, was an update on the stoush between the Vatican and the US peak religious women's body, the LCWR, and it is a classic of the genre.

It uses a little bit of classic marxist analysis to claim that since the Vatican are the one's in power, they must stand in the place of the Jewish establishment in Our Lord's time, and the sisters should just leave them behind:

"Using power to preserve unity did not serve the establishment well in the days of Jesus, and will not be truly effective today.

But the bishops are the successors of the apostles, not of the Jewish hierarchy.  And the Church's hierarchical authority is not equally allocated between the sisters and the Vatican as the writer tries to suggest, but is rather invested in the hierarchical structure of the Church!

The writer even has the nerve to suggest that the Vatican is like those towns and cities that refused to hear the message of the Gospel:

It must seem attractive to LCWR to “shake the dust from your sandals”, as Jesus advised when the disciples met with a lack of hospitality to their efforts."

Yes well, perhaps it would indeed be best if all those claiming to be catholic but who in fact do not recognise the historic continuity of the Church with that founded by Christ, reject its hierarchical structure as an example of Sr Joan Chittester's 'radical patriarchy' to be fought against, and reject the teaching authority of the Church and its duty to correct error did indeed just leave.  They are protestants in practice, why not be honest about it?

The reality is that the sisters status stems from the public recognition of their vows as individuals and their organisation by the Church.  If they want to keep that status, then they actually have to be part of the Church and obey its rules.  Time, perhaps for some 'radical obedience' and 'radical humility'!

Cath News must be reformed (or destroyed)!
But oh dear, why oh why does their persistence in error continue to be given airspace in a Catholic publication?

At the time of writing this (Friday afternoon), the poll over on the right of the blog page has 245 votes stating that Cath News needs to be reformed (126), or destroyed (112).  But interestingly only a third of those who have voted are willing to pray for the cause!

Even more disturbing I think is the rising number of those (currently 44) who have had comments rejected over at Cath News, particularly since around half of those think it was rejected because they stated the Church's (actual) teaching...

If you haven't voted yet, please do.

PS For a humorous take on this subject, do go and enjoy Acts of Apostasy's, take on this subject, Last Night at SCHISM Headquarters. 


Robert said...

"They are protestants in practice, why not be honest about it?" Well, yes, exactly.

Do you sometimes just want to give up on these no-hopers altogether? I mean, sheesh, it could be argued (I'm not arguing this myself, I'm simply saying the argument could be postulated) that mere painstaking fraternal correction of the idiocies from these sources is no more use than explaining quadratic equations to half-witted toddlers.

And as for the Australian episcopate, well, while I'd like to think that a few bishops are reading your website, I do wonder if in 2012 they're capable of reading anything except tabloid headlines at least eight centimetres high.

LarryD said...

Thank you for the link - much appreciated!

Kate Edwards said...

Joshua has a most amusing anecdote on the subject of our bishops education you might enjoy Robert:

Still, I do think we should perhaps be a little more respectful of them...

PM said...

Cathnews had a link the other day to a good piece by Neil Ormerod on science and religion (the Higgs bosun etc), but on the same page is a link to an absolute corker from the New York Times setting forth the moribund US Episcopalian church as a model of what the Catholic church would look like if We are the Church had their way. I bet they won't be linking to that one.