Sunday, 9 March 2014

The Church of the Future — one vision

As you would expect, The Tablet has been hardly able to contain itself since the election of Pope Francis. Paeans of praise arise from their pages every week for this Joannes XXIII redivivus. There is a feeling of 'we thought it was all over for us, and now, from out of the blue, here come the cavalry!' Robert Mickens is particularly enthusiastic, and rarely does a week go by without him getting in at least one dig at the Pope Emeritus, usually by unfavourable comparison with the present Holy Father. Comparisons are odious, it is said, and his are particularly odious.

When writing directly about the Holy Father, The Tablet says little about his more conservative utterances—as you would expect. There seems to be a sense that the Holy Father has to say these things because of the conservative people his two predecessors filled the Vatican with: he can't move too quickly. But we all know what he thinks really—he thinks like us! All we have to do is bide our time.

So, The Tablet is quickly forming a consensus in its leaders and in its correspondence pages and in most of its articles (I make the noble exception of Christopher Howse whose articles are as excellent as ever). No doubt its purpose is to help the Holy Father form a picture of how the Church should look when he has done the thorough reform which he has embarked upon.

The Tablet's Church of the future will look like this:

• There will be appropriate respect for the person and office of the Holy Father. However local churches will make all serious decisions for themselves.
• In this, there will be real participation by the laity who will have a say in every issue that concerns them. They will participate in the governance of the Church.
• Worship will be liturgical and meaningful, and people-centred. Rites will be respected, but not regarded as shibboleths.
• All seven sacraments will be administered to all who wish to receive them.
• There will be no distinction between men and women, gay or straight, when it comes to deciding who may receive Holy Orders.
• Clergy will be able freely to marry.
• Remarriage in church after divorce will be available to all.
• The Church will firmly stay out of the bedroom.
• The use of artificial contraception will be judged to be both wholesome and responsible.
• Homosexual unions will be respected and welcomed in a loving community as will all LGBT people and relationships.
• While not supporting the practice, the Church will respect and lovingly support those who feel they have no option other than to have recourse to abortion or euthanasia.

It seems to me that The Tablet may be trying to reinvent the wheel. This has all been already done, and if this form of Church appeals to them or anyone else, they might care to have a look at this movement, which will give them everything their hearts desire. [Link] You might even call it an Ordinariate in reverse.

Clergy might like to click here.


Anonymous said...

Very astutely summarised. Sadly there is a disease in the catholic church ( disease being a polite word for something beginning with d)
I refer you the now startlingly prophetic words of Emeritus Benedict
"The church will become small and will have to start afresh more or less from the beginning.

She will no longer be able to inhabit many of the edifices she built in prosperity. As the number of her adherents diminishes . . . she will lose many of her social privileges. . . As a small society, [the Church] will make much bigger demands on the initiative of her individual members….

It will be hard-going for the Church, for the process of crystallization and clarification will cost her much valuable energy. It will make her poor and cause her to become the Church of the meek . . . The process will be long and wearisome as was the road from the false progressivism on the eve of the French Revolution — when a bishop might be thought smart if he made fun of dogmas and even insinuated that the existence of God was by no means certain . . . But when the trial of this sifting is past, a great power will flow from a more spiritualized and simplified Church. Men in a totally planned world will find themselves unspeakably lonely. If they have completely lost sight of God, they will feel the whole horror of their poverty. Then they will discover the little flock of believers as something wholly new. They will discover it as a hope that is meant for them, an answer for which they have always been searching in secret.

And so it seems certain to me that the Church is facing very hard times. The real crisis has scarcely begun. We will have to count on terrific upheavals. But I am equally certain about what will remain at the end: not the Church of the political cult, which is dead already, but the Church of faith. She may well no longer be the dominant social power to the extent that she was until recently; but she will enjoy a fresh blossoming and be seen as man’s home, where he will find life and hope beyond death."

Mike said...

"At this conference Father Kenneth Leech spoke on Priesthood and Sexuality, and this topic has been a recurring area of discussion in subsequent years."

"Affirming Catholicism has a broad membership, both lay and ordained, and sometimes engages in campaigning upon issues which are at the heart of Anglican controversy, for example the consecration of women and questions of human sexuality."

Just what is it that is "Catholic" about these people? And why is it that these people are obsessed by sex? Are they nothing more than a Fifth Column for Stonewall & Co?

Damask Rose said...

"Just what is it that is "Catholic" about these people?"

I agree with you Mike.

"And why is it that these people are obsessed by sex?"

They want to do the sexual sinning. All of them. Priest, nun, laity.

Anonymous said...

Now Father, with all due respect, you're comparing apples with oranges.

SCP and Affirming Catholicism are Anglican organizations dedicated to Anglican issues. I fail to see how these are the end of the road on the issues you outline in your (Roman) Catholic context.

Don't forget that the Ordinariate has collected up the very people who made organizations such as the SSC unviable for Anglican clergy who -- and you have to trust that they reached this conclusion in good faith as Anglicans, not crypto-Papalists -- agreed with the theological and ecclesiological reasoning behind admitting women to the priesthood of the Church of England.

The whole issue is redundant for you, of course, thanks to Leo XIII.

All the same, you should fight (Roman) Catholic issues on (Roman) Catholic ground, and leave the Anglicans to sort out their own house, the validity of which you undoubtedly don't recognize.

Anonymous said...

"Just what is it that is 'Catholic' about these people?"

Probably partly a superficial aestheticism.

But also a claim to the 'brand', which, far from being peculiarly "Anglican", is mirrored on the opposite bank of the Tiber, where one finds, not the reinvention of the wheel, but the same insistence that all cast themselves before the same Juggernaut.

Anonymus Alter