Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Why haven't Fr Greg Reynolds and 'Inclusive Catholics' been excommunicated yet?

One of the ongoing scandals in the Church is the failure to take action against serious abuses.

Liturgical abuses and blasphemy

I'm not (just) talking about sexual abuses here, but also liturgical ones.

Take the case of Fr Greg Reynolds, he of the 'dog given communion' scandal.

He was suspended by the Archdiocese of Melbourne a year back for his public support for the ordination of women and opposition to the Churches teaching on homosexual acts.

Yet he continues to act as a priest in defiance of that suspension.

Illicit but valid?

Indeed, Inclusive Catholics are adverting their next 'Mass' for this Sunday.

Now a priest suspended (or even laicized for that matter) is still a priest.  He can (in principle at least) validly, even though illicitly, confect the sacraments.

In some cases, the heretical beliefs of the priest concerned might mean that the proper intention is absent and thus the sacrament is not valid.  The case of the 'South Brisbane in Exile' community, with its invalid baptisms and more, whom Fr Reynolds apparently draws inspiration from according to his website, springs to mind in this regard.

Alarmingly though, the 'Inclusive Catholics website seems to assert that the Eucharistic celebrations are valid, even while admitting those in a state of mortal sin to its reception:

"While in no way compromising our Catholic belief in the Eucharist, including the Real Presence, we do not restrict peoples' reception of Holy Communion on the grounds of their worthiness or theology."

Now I have to question whether anyone who doesn't see the need to restrict peoples' reception of Holy Communion really understands what it is (or indeed has even read the Scriptural warnings on this subject).  All the same...

Archbishop Hart: please act!

The excellent Fr Blake has written a couple of excellent posts on these scandalous events, noting that:

Fr Greg Reynolds' bishop had indeed suspended him but yet tolerated his celebrating Mass at which he preached heresy and set up his own church, an anti-church to the Church, for dissident Catholics. I really cannot understand why this priest having celebrated the sacraments whilst suspended was not excommunicated, if he continued to celebrate Mass then those who attended should also have been excommunicated.

Harsh? That is certainly what the liberal would claim. If I were the Pope I would place the whole continent under interdict until reparation was made, I would demand every bishop wore sackcloth for a year."

Hear hear.

Communion on the tongue only

I also second Fr Blake's suggestion that the indult for communion in the hand be removed in response to this event.  This would both prevent any other such instances of blasphemy and help the faithful gain a deeper appreciation of the Real Presence.

Fr Blake goes on to make the link between poor liturgy and such dreadful abuses, in the context of his discussion of the Archbishop's taking The Age to task:

"...yet the Archbishop doesn't seem inclined to examine why the newspaper, published in his diocese, doesn't seem to have a higher understanding of a fundamental Catholic belief: could it not be that years and years of bad liturgy and poor catechesis have so degraded Catholicism that the bread of Angels has become crumbs given to housedogs? It should make him realise that far from being "awesome mysteries" most parish liturgies seem to give the impression we are distributing merely bread and wine. This just a notch down from the diocese of Linz's foccacia on stick Corpus Christi procession, and a few notches down from those people who used to ask me when I was going to let them "give out the wine again" or bishops who talk about the "Eucharist representing Christ" or priests being ordained to "build community".

Resacralization of the liturgy

As Cardinal Burke has recently pointed out, the much touted New Evangelization cannot succeed in the absence of genuine liturgical reform (thanks to Fr Z for the transcription and alert):

"Sadly, what happened after the Second Vatican Council was – an idea developed that we were forming a new Church and that everything that had gone on since the time of the first Christians was all retrograde and in some way a defection from what was supposedly this Church of freedom and truth and joy. And what happened in the process is that the tradition was lost, especially in the sacred liturgy. There were many abuses and even the reform of the rite itself was so radical that people didn’t see sometimes how there was a continuity between what’s now called the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite and the Extraordinary Form...The Holy Father rightly has put his focus on the sacred liturgy because this is the highest and most perfect expression of our life in Christ. And if we can reestablish in the celebration of the sacred liturgy a strong sense of the worship of God as God wants it, not my creation, but the gift of God, that sacred worship has been handed down to us in the Church through the centuries, we’ll get a lot of other things straightened out at the same time. It has to start with the sacred liturgy."

Based on the endless pictures of guitar strumming groups and more over at the ACBC blog, doesn't look like recovering the liturgy was much of a 'Proclaim 2012' conference!

We need gung-ho bishops!

Over in the US recently, there have been some excellent appointments of activist bishops willing to fight the good fight no matter the cost.

In Australia, we have the sad spectacle of continuing inaction in Melbourne and elsewhere on any number of fronts, and even Cardinal Pell hosting an Iftar dinner!

But there is perhaps still time for sanity to prevail...


A Canberra Observer said...

With the episcopate here you/we will be waiting a loooong time.

Terry said...

I'm generally in agreement with your assessment of the Australian episcopacy; but I am wondering whether you place Bishop Michael Kennedy in the same category as his brother bishops. My personal view is that his two recent pastoral letters and his handling of the child abuse scandal, place him in a totally superior category to his brother bishops.

Kate Edwards said...

I agree with you on Bishop Kennedy - so far at least he look like a breathe of fresh air and we should keep him firmly in our prayers.

We need many more appointments of this kind!

A Canberra Observer said...

Noted - maybe he can be fast tracked to Canberra !!

Joshua said...

I see that Mr Greg Reynolds has at last been defrocked and excommunicated, by decree dated 31 May 2013 but only now received. Good riddance.

(Of course, one hopes he will be brought to his senses and repent... but given his antics and latest statements, that seems unlikely in the short term.)