Thursday, 20 June 2013
So perhaps there is a certain justice in the fact that I have now had to become irritated over a former parishioner of mine from way back when who has left the Catholic Church to become a Russian Orthodox.
I feel more aggrieved because she has been required to repudiate her baptism publicly and has been enrolled as a catechumen. It irritates me that she continues to call me 'Father' because, presumably, since I am not even validly baptized in her co-religionists' eyes, I cannot be a priest, either. This baptism is not of a conditional kind, but will be administered absolutely, though in our eyes there was no reason to doubt that her Catholic baptism, administered in Spain, was in any way dubious.
I know already that some Anglican friends of mine reading this will be smiling wryly and saying something about sauce for the goose.
I also know that the practice of this Orthodox group is not universally observed; I have read of priests converting to Russian Orthodoxy simply being processed in some way without any questioning of the validity of their orders; their baptism was, of course, accepted without any question also.
I would be interested in any light readers may be able to throw on this divergence of practice. It seems to me to be an interesting survival of Donatism; that heretics (as these Orthodox consider us) cannot validly administer even baptism.
The convert was motivated to this seismic change mostly out of despair at the persistent liberalism in the Catholic Church of this country.
Whereas on the other hand I have seen several people leave my own congregation over the last few months precisely because we aren't liberal enough—in particular with regard to same-sex marriage. I think that there is a general malaise right now, a feeling that we have been compromised in our authority by the sex-abuse thing and by our refusal to move with the times; Stonewall and similar groups hold the moral high ground, and what I have to say is simply my antediluvian opinion. I preached on confession on Sunday (the Gospel suggesting the subject most eloquently), and I think that I might has well have saved my breath; one regular Mass-goer (and a nice chap) said afterwards that whereas he used to be regular in the box, he wasn't going to go any more, because it did no good. Others just will come to Mass when they feel like it.
The problem to my mind is really about interior conversion—it has never taken place for many people who have attended Mass simply out of habit until they ran out of steam.
Heigh ho. I'll just have to pray instead.
But I do think that Pope Francis is just what we need right now. Perhaps he might get through to some where I continue to fail.
Posted by Pastor in Valle Emeritus at 17:46