Tuesday, 10 July 2007

CHURCH - It's all about Insiders and Outsiders - Apparently!

So - The Pope in a statement released today, for some reason known only to himself sees it necessary to declare those of us "born of the Reformation" as "deprived of a constitutive element of the Church"....and "cannot according to Catholic doctrine, be called Churches in the proper sense". Nothing new in this - Dominus Iesus (2000) has already told us that we are merely "Ecclesial Communities".

Once upon a time I would have got very angry and worked up about this but not any more - I do find it both profoundly sad and pathetic. Sad because it seems to me that one of the chief works of the Church is to build one another up in Love - to recreate community and not to undermine it - to build bridges not walls - to be merciful not arrogant - to be humble not self-righteous.....I could go on - this statement is so anti-Christian it is almost surreal.

It is also pathetic and in saying this I do not want to fall into the trap of triumphalism but I cannot help but observe that in my own 'ecclesial community' (Church of Ireland) which comprises 4% of the population we have more candidates for the priesthood than the Roman Catholic Church! Why is that? Why is it that the same Roman Catholic Church in Ireland will in a generation at most have so few priests that only one in three parishes will have a priest?

But this line of argument is a dead end too - because its not about numbers, its not about who is in or who is out, its not about who is more worthy (as we are reminded in the parable of the Pharisee and the Publican) or even who can claim an unbroken Apostolic succession - No, what it is actually all about is being a follower or disciple of Jesus Christ - that is the true nature of Church and it belongs to no institution but is open to all - available to all as Jesus was. Infact perhaps true Church is most visible where Jesus spent most of his time - on the margins, with the outcasts, with the broken and those who as the Pope so charitably describes "suffer defects"!

I for one am glad to be on the outside of this pure and flawless Church. I only hope and pray that the majority of those within the Roman Catholic Church who do not think along these lines do not let this Pope further damage and pervert the witness of Christianity in our world. It's hard to reach out to broken people from a perfect Church which brings shame and rejection where what is needed is Love, affirmation and healing.


Primal Sneeze said...

Have you seen this, Stephen?


It is not really suitable for your blog, but it'll give you a (massive) giggle.

Stephen Neill said...

ROTFLOL - Superb! I especially like the "Jewel encrusted ceremonial stasis orb" :-)

Jizzy said...

The ecclesial communities that originate from the Reformation, or their subsequent heirs, do not constitute 'churches' because they are devoid of a validly ordained priesthood, and thus cannot dispense the sacraments (except baptism--which is possible for lay Christians). The Orthodox communities do enjoy the attribution of 'churches' in the CDF document, because although they are in schism, and their masses are illicit (not invalid however), their priesthood is valid and they maintain apostolic succession. This is why Orthodox priests do not have to be re-ordained if they convert to Catholicism (unlike Anglican 'priests', whose orders are considered 'null and void', see Apostolicae Curae), and vice versa, and why is possible for Catholics to have their sins absolved by Orthodox priests. It is also the reason why many Orthodox leaders have welcomed the document. Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk, the leading ecumenical official of the Moscow patriarchate said that "everything contained in the Catholic document rightfully applies to the Orthodox Church" since the Orthodox Church has preserved apostolic succession and does not recognize the validity of Anglican Holy Orders.

The authority that Christ conferred on St Peter and his apostles in the Gospel of St Matthew was bestowed to their apostles (the Church Fathers) and their subsequent bishops. Catholics and Orthodox churches trace a linage of succession back to the apostles and it is unacceptable for Catholics to rebel against the sacraments (which are needed to dispense grace---necessary for salvation) by elevating Protestant ecclesial communities to the status of churches.

Also btw, the 'Catholic Church' described in the CDF document refers to the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, which includes all the adherents of the liturgically distinct rites in communion with Rome, including the Alexandrian and Byzantine rites, not just the Roman rite (or the "Roman Catholic Church").

The Reformation is already dead! A Lutheran minister (whose name escapes me) said the same thing at his 'bishops' conference back in the forties, after his community dropped the ban on unnatural forms of contraception, which guess what...was inspired the Lambeth Conference in 1930 where, for the first time in history, a Christian denomination approved contraception (even the so-called "reformers" like Martin Luther and John Calvin condemned it). Anglican leaders are even too cowardly nowadays to critize homosexuality and abortion (...one of the reasons Lord Steele drafted his Abortion Act was because he was 'inspired' by a recommendation from the Anglican 'bishops' calling for its legalization).

I am also offended by the remarks of the Church Society on the Catholic Church's history of persecuting Protestants. That is very much a regrettable part of our history, but he does not acknowledge the persecution caused by the 'Established Anglican Church' over here in Ireland. You and your so-called church killed us (and were a major contributor to the famine genocide), confiscated our lands and churches, banned us from sitting as MPs in Parliament, and still to this day we are considered 'unfit' to sit as monarchs. Your 'church' has done far more to us than we to you.

The Holy Father's duty is to re-affirm what the Church has taught for centuries, this will undoubtedly be shocking for Anglican "clergy", and those who ignore the Church (which is the means of salvation that Christ has established) do so to their own perdition.

Bock the Robber said...

Stephen, as a collapsed Catholic, I have to agree with you, but it's hardly a surprise. What can one expect from the former head of the Inquisition?

R Binge said...

It's back to stones for bread again from Papa Ratzinger. This particular "cradle catholic" is only holding on by his fingernails because of the hurt that my elderly parents would feel about my leaving and joining the Church of Ireland, which increasingly feels like home to me spiritually.