Saturday 8 November 2014

Cardinal Kasper: What it's all about

Yesterday a priest friend drew my attention to an interview given by Cardinal Kasper, and printed in the July/August 2014 edition of the periodical Doctrine and Life. In this article Kasper elaborates at length on his favourite subject of mercy. It includes this passage, concerning those living in irregular unions:

To live together as brother and sister? Of course I have high respect for those who are doing this. But it's a heroic act, and heroism is not for the average Christian.

Well, there we have it. Heroism is not for the average Christian. Here we have the explanation of the emptying churches in Germany and in the West generally.

Had this been the attitude of the early Christian Church, one wonders what would ever have happened.

Friday 7 November 2014

Galatians 2:11

So why did I go quiet, then?

Well, simply because I found myself in disagreement with some of the prudential judgments of the Holy Father. When I started this blog, I was deeply excited by Pope Benedict and his project of reform and renewal: I had wanted to add my weight to that. Those were wonderful, heady days.

Pope Francis, on the other hand, has made me deeply uneasy. The man is of course a Catholic ('Is the Pope a Catholic?'), but he seems to have, in a frighteningly magnified way, the same instinct that John Paul II had, that, as Pope – however much he may dress it up as being, humbly and simply, the Bishop of Rome – the Church is his to govern as he sees fit. It is a kind of charismatic leadership; 'I know where I'm going; follow me, chaps!' This is a frightening overconfidence that now seems to have implications for doctrinal orthodoxy. And leading so far into uncharted waters smacks to me of a belief in a personal infallibility (rather than a strictly circumscribed infallibility of office) that would have made Pope Pius IX blush.

There is no way that I wanted to be seen to be out of communion of mind and heart with the Holy Father, our very touchstone of communion. So, on the old principle that if you can't say anything nice, say nothing at all, I decided to say nothing at all.

It was a recent article by the very interesting Ross Douthat that made me think again. If Peter's job is to strengthen the brethren, then perhaps we, as a Church, have the duty to strengthen Peter when his arms grow tired on the ship's tiller.

When interest groups try to force the Church onto another course, do not we who are loyal have a duty to state clearly and unambiguously what we understand the Church's teaching to be, that the Holy Father may truly have a sense of the sensus fidelium, and not merely of the zeitgeist?

Let us remember the words of St Paul: 'But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he was wrong'. (Galatians 2:11) Perhaps there are times, even while reverencing the Petrine office, we need to strengthen his arms. History provides us with many examples; Pope Liberius and Pope John XXII, to name but two, who needed to be encouraged to stand firm in the faith.

People have talked of the threat of schism recently: mostly journalistic hyperbole, of course. But is the Pope, or Cardinal Kaspar really willing to force this serious division of opinion to the point where it might become a schism? Because schisms do precisely come when there are serious threats to doctrinal orthodoxy.

You need only read history.

Sunday 2 November 2014

I'm back!

The Pastor in Valle has been into his tomb, found it not entirely to his liking, tried poking his nose out as Pastor in Valle Emeritus (it's all the rage, this emeritus thing), and now will stalk the world as Pastor in Monte, though he doesn't know how much posting he will do.

Now we are Aspicientes in Jesum, because that seems appropriate. I hope you agree. The events of the last few months have focussed us all on the essentials, and I can't think of anything more essential that this.

I've changed my name to Pastor in Monte since that seems a good alternative, as I am now living on a (rather steep) hill.

  High on a hill lived a lonely Pastor… Yodel o lo layee…… &c