Tuesday, 10 July 2007

The final quote in the trilogy...

I really did think it was going to be a duology; I promise it won't turn into Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time...

...and again, from the Catholic Corner:

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - The Vatican said on Tuesday Christian denominations outside Roman Catholicism were not full churches of Jesus Christ.

Protestant leaders said this was offensive and would hurt inter-denominational dialogue. [Ya think??]


A 16-page document by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which Pope Benedict once headed, described Christian Orthodox churches as true churches, but suffering from a "wound" since they do not recognise the primacy of Pope.

But the document said the "wound is still more profound" in Protestant denominations.
"Despite the fact that this teaching has created no little distress ... it is nevertheless difficult to see how the title of 'Church' could possibly be attributed to them," it said.


*A moment of stunned silence followed by hyena-like, hysterical laughter*

I'm sorry, CDF, but are you trying to be hurtful and offensive, or has the Vatican finally crossed the line between narcissism and sociopathy?

If I didn't know any better, I'd think that you are deliberately scattering Christ's flock to weaken it.

Then again, maybe I don't.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

I love being Jewish.

:-)

Ari.xx

Lawrence OP said...

The Rev. Sara MacVane of the Anglican Centre in Rome, said there was nothing new in the document.

"I don't know what motivated it at this time," she said. "But it's important always to point out that there's the official position and there's the huge amount of friendship and fellowship and worshipping together that goes on at all levels, certainly between Anglican and Catholics and all the other groups and Catholics."

Irim said...

There being 'nothing new' in the document and whether or not it's true are two completely different issues.

Leaving that aside for the moment, the rudeness with which it is stated, the claim that the Orthodox have a 'wound' because they don't follow YOUR leader are not marks of true leadership in Christ; they are the marks of an insecure institution. THIS, for example:

"Despite the fact that this teaching has created no little distress ... it is nevertheless difficult to see how the title of 'Church' could possibly be attributed to them,"

Would you SAY to someone, "Despite the fact it causes you no little distress, you're a failure and a waste of space."?

Of course not. And if you do, you are denigrating their humanity simply because they don't meet YOUR standards of 'success' - and it's *not the truth*, even if you've said 'nothing new'. And frankly, it says far more about YOUR sense of failure than anyone else's.

Same for the Catholic Church. They have created a social consensus to define their 'truth' - the theologians that won were the ones who had the power going in their favour at the time - and if people don't hold to it, they act like a child, throw a tantrum, call people names, and divide rather than find common ground.

I'm just going to leave them screaming in the candy aisle and carry on shopping.

Ixx

Lawrence OP said...

My point is reminding us that there is nothing new in this CDF statement, is important because there should be no cause for comment on a long-held doctrinal issue.

If you dispute an article of Catholic faith, that's regrettable. I certainly hold and profess this to be true, otherwise I wouldn't have converted and remained a Protestant.

If you object to the rudeness or tone of the CDF document, at least read the thing first rather than some Reuters hack job. Because it's wrong. Nowhere in the actual document does the CDF say what it's purported to have said quite so crudely.

I just don't get why "the Catholic Church" is being reduced to some institution in which insecure male leaders are scrambling for power etc. I just don't read it like that at all.

A likening of the theological issues of ecclesiology to success vs failure etc is honestly baffling. The Pope is vital to a concrete unity of the Church on earth. His role, given by Christ, is to be a guarantee of communion, unity and fidelity to the faith of the apostles.

Orthodox churches are autocephalous and lack this kind of communion and unity. As such, they suffer from a wound, because their communion is less than perfect. In an analogous way, one's body is wounded when it is not in perfect working order. It needs healing. So too, the Body of the Church is wounded by disunity and this needs healing. We all know and acknowledge this - otherwise ecumenism is not necessary. There has to be some real and visible unity that we're aiming for, right? This healing comes about - in part - by union with the person whose job is to be unifier: the Pope.

This does not mean the Orthodox Churches are a "failure" or "waste of space" at all! Where on earth does this rash conjecture come from?

As for the 2nd point, Protestant churches cannot be called Churches because they lack the Eucharist and the Sacraments. It's not about power, it's about the Sacrament of Unity: the Eucharist. Again, this is a lack that needs to be healed.

Yes, some hierarchical re-statements are painful and hard to abide. Many are difficult to understand. But at the same time, I believe deeply that Christ is the Head of the Church Catholic, and He continues to act through His Body, the Church and its leaders.

I am not sure how you can speak of the Catholic Church are "They". As far as I am concerned, this is the faith of the Church, and I - as a member of this Body - am proud to profess it as my belief, in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Irim said...

"If you dispute an article of Catholic faith, that's regrettable."

Why? I don't think so. Faith is meant to be thought about and stretched so that it can grow. God gave me a mind, after all. So I dispute an article of Church doctrine - that's not earth-shaking, it isn't going to destroy my faith. At least it shows that I'm engaging with it.
And disagreeing with an institutional pronouncement certainly isn't going to affect my relationship with God, which is what's important here.

In my experience, the first people out the door when the going gets tough are the Stepford Catholics - "The Church is soooo perfect" Catholics.

"I certainly hold and profess this to be true, otherwise I wouldn't have converted and remained a Protestant."

If you believe in Jesus Christ as Lord, in transubstantiation and the sacraments, you'd probably convert, even if you had doubts about papal infallibility and the very human institution.

God made an incredibly beautiful, complex, diverse world. There as many paths to God as there are people - and I don't really think it matters how you get there, as long as you get there. I think we're the ones that care and need to insist on being right. I don't think God does.

"A likening of the theological issues of ecclesiology to success vs failure etc is honestly baffling...This does not mean the Orthodox Churches are a "failure" or "waste of space" at all! Where on earth does this rash conjecture come from?"

Actually, it was an analogy to demonstrate what the other churches are probably *hearing* - "it is nevertheless difficult to see how the title 'Church' could be attributed to them" actually attacks the core of their identity, and it does *sound* like "You're a failure", non? As a fellow NF, I'm sure you can see that.

As for the second part of that, very telling that you qualify that with "Orthodox".

And I'm finding sanctimonious Catholic contempt (I'm speaking generally; that's not directed at you) for other Christian churches incredibly tiresome.

That's the mark of insecurity.


"The Pope is vital to a concrete unity of the Church on earth."

No, he isn't. Our unity will come through individual responsibility and a critical mass of realisation that as long as another human being is hungry, abused, oppressed, then none of us are free. It has nothing to do with a lone figure in a pallium. It has to do with *us* becoming who God meant us to be. Whether we get there from agnosticism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Christianity - it. doesn't. matter. God is big enough to hold it all.

"I just don't get why "the Catholic Church" is being reduced to some institution in which insecure male leaders are scrambling for power etc. I just don't read it like that at all."

I know you don't. But that doesn't make me wrong. And there are plenty of your brethren and colleagues who have spent *a lot of time* around members of the hierarchy who would agree with me. Honestly, all you have to do is really look - that insecurity is all around you, even amongst those not in the hierarchy.

"But at the same time, I believe deeply that Christ is the Head of the Church Catholic, and He continues to act through His Body, the Church and its leaders."

This is going to be a low blow, but I think it's warranted - and that includes the paedophiles and those who protected them?

I know you believe that, and I respect it, even though I disagree.

"I am not sure how you can speak of the Catholic Church are "They"."

All too easily, I'm afraid - and since I'm a member of the laity, and let's be completely honest - a woman, at that - that's how they see me.

"As far as I am concerned, this is the faith of the Church, and I - as a member of this Body - am proud to profess it as my belief, in Christ Jesus our Lord."

I respect that.

Now, please respect my right to disagree.

Ixx

Anonymous said...

I had always understood that Dominicans were one of the religious orders in the church who were there to dispute or disagree - not out of a sense of being awkward, but more to clarify and straighten things out so that whatever was pronounced would be done clearly, unambiguously and unoffensively. Therefore what Irim is doing seems to be very Dominican. I wonder if her correspondent, Mr L. Op realises this? Or do I not understand what Dominicans are about?

LL said...

Anonymous: Let the Dominicans among us - unless you're one - decide what is the Dominican way, please.

Moreover, the characterisation of the Dominican way as "there to dispute or disagree" is not entirely accurate. Pope Honorius III called us to be "champions of the Faith and true lights of the world". This means that we defend the received truth of the Church's constant belief and shed new light, where possible - through prayer and study - on Christ's teachings.

My engagement with Irim, in any case, is surely part of a disputation, precisely to get a clearer view of what Irim means. Is there anything 'un-Dominican' about this?

Irim: If I did not respect you, and your thoughts, I wouldn't bother to read this, nor try to grapple with what you have to say. I wish to understand where you're coming from, which is why I state where I am coming from. That, I believe, is the basis of dialogue. Some of my brethren, as you might already know, won't even bother with reading any of this.

Insecurity is all around indeed. In me, in you, in the hierarchy, in all us wounded human beings... Nothing new in that realization. That's why we all need Christ. What's your point?

Nevertheless, I see the promise of Resurrection and the Spirit working in and through sinful and petty people - from myself (I hope) to the bishops. For better or worse, the hierarchy is given to us. I am no Stepford Catholic - the Church is not perfect, and we know it all too well. Hey, I live in a religious community!

But please don't think that one who tries to assent with faith to Church teaching is someone who does not engage with the Faith. That's very unfair and could be hurtful. As you say, it attacks one's core identity, in this case, someone who tries hard to understand, grapple with, and grow/change oneself with the teaching of the Church.

Now, more specifically:

"God made an incredibly beautiful, complex, diverse world. There as many paths to God as there are people - and I don't really think it matters how you get there, as long as you get there. I think we're the ones that care and need to insist on being right. I don't think God does."

How does this square with "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me" and other similar 'exclusivist' statements from Christ/the Gospels?

"If you believe in Jesus Christ as Lord, in transubstantiation and the sacraments, you'd probably convert, even if you had doubts about papal infallibility and the very human institution."

Tell that to a good many Anglo-Catholics and Anglicans...

"since I'm a member of the laity, and let's be completely honest - a woman, at that - that's how they see me."

Is this what psychologists call martyr-complex? Or is it victimization?

"As for the second part of that, very telling that you qualify that with "Orthodox"."

Very telling? How? This is is response to your own statement: "the claim that the Orthodox have a 'wound' because they don't follow YOUR leader..." The qualifier is your own, and it is to that group that I am hence referring. Thus, I begin by referring to Orthodox churches as 'autocephalous' etc.

At the end of the day, we pray and hope for Christian unity. This document, in my reading, acknowledges the gap that lies between us because some Christian communities don't have the Eucharist. Coming from a Protestant background with an entirely Protestant family still, I know just how non-Eucharistic/sacramental these are. And I assure you, the pain of separation is deep. So I am not glib when I say this, but I acknowledge that separation and pain in truth and I pray and hope for the day when my family realise their lack of the Eucharist and come seeking after it, as I did.

There is no contempt or sanctimony in this. How can there be? It is only by the grace of God that we have the Sacraments and His Church. However, there is great sadness at our dis-unity, and great pain. Our separation is a wound that needs healing and reconciliation, and that is only achieved in Truth.

* * *

Irim, as you know, my preference is to carry out such disagreements by email, which is why I sent you a few emails in the hope that you'd reciprocate.

Initially, I'd not even written anything personal on this blog - just quoted an Anglican vicar's reaction.

I respect your right to disagree. Of course I do. If I ever conveyed the slightest hint of the opposite, I am sorry. However, you need to know too that what you say here (and on Facebook) touches all of us, your friends, very deeply and sometimes quite hurtfully too.

It is with this in mind, and out of a desire to understand your thoughts, that I have continued writing on here.

Irim said...

Dear Lawrence,

Didn't get the email(s), sorry - but I think this open debate is a good thing, so people can see the friends CAN debate healthily, if not comfortably!

["since I'm a member of the laity, and let's be completely honest - a woman, at that - that's how they see me."

Is this what psychologists call martyr-complex? Or is it victimization?]

*rolls eyes affectionately* Lawrence! You know me well enough to know that I don't play the victim. And you know that I'm close to enough clerics not to just parrot that.

It is *true*, though I may generalise a bit - even priests admit to it in private, and some, even in public. As for the women thing, let me tell you, hon, when you're told, "If you want a man, you need to be a different kind of woman, more like X" or you get called an "angry feminist" every time you question something, trust me, around the 10th-20th time, you twig - even if you don't have a membership in Mensa - that you're pretty low on the totem pole and that you're one of 'them', not 'us'. And yes, those comments come from men with Roman collars.

You deal, but you always know where you stand. One day, imagine the situation with women where the men are today, or read the Bible passages in your head using "She" for God, rather than "He", and you'll get an inkling of what I mean.

"However, you need to know too that what you say here (and on Facebook) touches all of us, your friends, very deeply and sometimes quite hurtfully too."

Hmmm. If it touches people and makes them think, that's not a bad thing. If it *hurts* people, that's another matter entirely, and I'm sorry if that's the case. You see, I've never identified myself with an institution or a club: I may be Pakistani, but I'll go after Pervez Musharraf if I think he's wrong; I may be American and you all know what I have to say about America's policies; and as a Catholic, when I feel the Church is being unjust, I'm not going to keep silent just b/c it IS the Church.

And I'm far *harder* on the Church b/c of what the institution *must* represent in this world. It cannot give way to greed, injustice, laziness (e.g., silence about an oppressive regime b/c it allows the Church to practise) or insularity - where there is injustice, it MUST SPEAK FOR ALL: Muslim, Hindu, Zoroastrian, Jew, Methodist, etc. It is the *catholic* Church - catholic meaning universal. And it must behave as such.

And if it doesn't, I feel it's my duty, as a Catholic, to speak. If no one listens, again. And again. And so on. Then it's time to become an iconoclast.

My iconoclasty does not mean I love any of you one jot less - you're my peops, and just ask one of my long-term friends what that means to me. It's not personal, and I'm sorry if some of you have taken it as such.

I like to think of myself in Fr David Sanders' words:

"wonderfully contrary"

;-)

But yes, I do understand that perhaps acetic acid rather than hydrochloric might get the job done just as well.

Ixx

Irim said...

A few last things, L!

Sorry, didn't realise you were responding to the 'Orthodox' comment specifically; had thought you were responding to the more general tone of the document. Mea culpa.

[How does this square with "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me" and other similar 'exclusivist' statements from Christ/the Gospels?]

Honestly? I just don't know. Maybe it doesn't. I have a far bigger problem with the concept that God would exclude from the kingdom all the wonderful people who do God's work, but aren't Christian, like my grandfather. I think I'm more of a CS Lewis Christian in that sense - remember that Aslan says:

"Therefore if any man swear by Tash and keep his oath for the oath’s sake, it is by me that he has truly sworn, though he know it not, and it is I who reward him. And if any man do a cruelty in my name, then, though he says the name Aslan, it is Tash whom he serves and by Tash his deed is accepted."

The concept of 'anonymous Christians' also touches on this.

Whether it squares with that passage or not, it's one of my unshakeable beliefs and has been since I was very young.

["If you believe in Jesus Christ as Lord, in transubstantiation and the sacraments, you'd probably convert, even if you had doubts about papal infallibility and the very human institution."

Tell that to a good many Anglo-Catholics and Anglicans...]

Fair point, though I was actually talking specifically about you. :)

[Irim, as you know, my preference is to carry out such disagreements by email, which is why I sent you a few emails in the hope that you'd reciprocate.]

Looking through our conversation, I see I must have gotten the one with the blog entry, but didn't take that as an invitation to carry on via email, and I didn't get any others. Cf. above, though, I think that this debate happening here is a good thing.

Ixx

LL said...

Thank you for your responses.

Yesterday, I spent several hours in a day therapy unit, working alongside a retired Anglican vicar. After that he had coffee with me in the priory. It was clear he wanted to talk about the pain and wound (that was the word he chose) of Christian dis-unity.

We had a good, honest discussion and saw eye to eye on many points. I mention this to stress the friendship (in a Thomistic sense) and unity that does exist between Christians. However, he knew, as I do, the pain of separation. Indeed, on one occasion when invited by a French archbishop to receive Communion, he declined knowing that it would be false irenicism.

On the issue of salvation for non-Christians he said: "We don't know how anyone is saved, except that if they are, it is through Jesus Christ."

That of course is the belief of Catholics too. It's found in the older concepts of 'baptism of desire', and this vicar gave me quite a few stories of dying people who longed for baptism. It's found in the Vatican II documents, in the Rahnerian idea of 'anonymous Christians', in the Catechism, and in more recent CDF documents.

The fact is that God can save whomever He desires and whomever seeks Him with a sincere heart. He does not need the Church to save people; the Church needs Him to be His "sacrament of salvation".

Nevertheless, some have taken a new appreciation of this theology, to mean that there is no longer a need to pray and work for the evangelization of all people. Or that Christian unity is a done deal.

The CDF documents 'Dominus Iesus' and this more recent one is a reminder (in very clear & blunt language, since people have tried to fudge the issue) that Jesus alone saves, that the primary means of His saving is by incorporation into His Body, the Church - even if 'anonymously - and that we Christians have to work for greater unity and heal that Body, and continue to witness to Christ's saving love for all.

Vera Nadine said...

Hmmm...

I am wowed by the rather distinct, somewhat limited and extremely different (to myself) view that you folks have on faith.

Faith is personal, and it is what uplifts us and makes us more aware of our wonderful place in the world.

Religion has very little to do with true personal faith.

Faith is personal truth and thus, though it can be based upon religion, it is generally stifled by organized religion, no matter what form that religion takes.

True faith is based inside of yourself.

Blessings,

Vera Nadine