Monday, February 23, 2009

What is going on?


Recently a misunderstanding caused me to re-examine what was the purpose of this blog. Simply, it is my attempt to understand and follow the "Benedictine project" and to the best of my ability interpret it, primarily for my parishioners but also for anyone else who wants log in.

I must admit I am a little confused at the moment, things seem to moving so fast in the Church, there is a great deal of friction and a great deal of heat. In the urge to draw in and reconcile "Tradition" in the form of the dissident SSPX, it appears some episcopal conferences are distancing themselves from the Holy See.

In Australia the Kennedy affair seems to illustrate that there are some dioceses that have tolerated, for years, interpretations of Christianity that have more to do with the New Age Movement than the Councils of the Church. St Mary's under Kennedy has welcomed the poor and the marginalised but it has denied the divinity of Christ! The often deliberate ignoring of the Benedictine liturgical reforms. Even the spat at Blackfen, overblown in a most unethical way by the Tablet, the Bitter Pill, and even more fascinatingly the reaction of the blogosphere to Ms Curti's article, illustrates this friction. I think this is what underlies the hopes for the appointment of the new Archbishop of Westminster, those who comment most coherently on such a thing are asking for someone in the image of the Pope.

Newman thought the definition of Papal Infallibility was "inopportune"; the two Marian definitions which are regarded as Infallible declarations by the Pope, in fact were Infallible Declarations by the whole episcopate in union with the Pope, not quite fulfilling exactly Pater Aeternus' understanding - not like Peter saying on behalf of the Apostles "You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God". Vatican I providentially defined as focus of unity of the Church, not Council's, or Spirits of Councils or local Churches or the Curia but the person of the Pope.

What is going on, I think, is a radical rethinking of what Christianity actually is. The "soft" notionalist Christianity of the post V2 period is really dissolving into the "niceness" of contemporary secularism. This is all too obvious in Anglicanism, for example, which to an outsider, and many insiders, seems to have lost not only its moral compass, but more importantly its theological compass.

The only reasonable way forward is for a clear definition of what Christianity is. This is what is happening. The successor of Peter, alone, in a world where there appear to be so many "truths" so many "moral possibilities", gives us this.

Austria/Germany I suspect is going to experience this change in the most painful way, as is becoming visible, partly because membership of the Church is determined not by faith, or even the reception of sacraments or attendance but by paying or not paying Church Tax, hence in Austria/Germany has seen the rise of "We are the Church", often nominal Catholics, who because they pay, want a say in the Church.

12 comments:

Fr. Gary V. said...

Fr. Blake,
The present confusion in the universal church is the work of the devil. He wants to divide and destroy the Church, that's why we have to be informed, vigilant and prayerful so that the spreading of errors will stop. Your blog is a great service to the faithful and the Church. Pray for the intercession of Blessed Virgin Mary too.

x said...

Father, I remember making this point many years ago at the school where I taught. The head's project seemed to be for the children to be 'nice' - by which she meant fitting in with her own values of a middle class, courteous, moderate and thoughtful person. This did not fit in at all with some of the many children we had from different backgrounds, whose behaviour was not recognisably similar, but whose piety and faith was undeniable. I absolutely agree with what you say about a clearer redefinition of what Christianity is for out times. Yes, let's be 'nice' - but not if it means we have to deny the truth of Christianity - either in our words or our deeds.

SPQR said...

Once again, a very thought provoking post - thank you Father!
Just one point - the German-speaking movement is We Are Church (without a definite article). This is the latest fad among ageing 'Spirit of V.II' types, and I have learned from experience to mistrust anything I read that omits the article before the word 'Church'.

Ma Tucker said...

Very good summary Father. I hope the waverers will come on board. Either way we've lingered long enough in these waters.

JARay said...

The affair in St. Mary's, South Brisbane has been going on for more than a couple of years. It is a very long way away from where I live. You would be nearer Moscow than I am to South Brisbane. I have been aware of this carrying on there only through a monthly magazine which I support, called AD 2000. It is a solidly faithful Catholic magazine and there have been letters for months, years (!) in the magazine about the shenanigans there.
I know of no comparable parish in the Perth Archdiocese and I feel sure that our Archbishop would have taken action against any such parish, long, long ago. What Archbishop Bathesby has been doing to let things get so out of hand there, is beyond me. I know that when Cardinal Pell went to Sydney he trod on quite a few toes there without any compunction. I believe that he was delighted when his Seminary Profs. offered their resignations in protest when he arrived. I read that he thanked them and said that their resignations had saved him the job of sacking them all.
Not everyone loves Cardinal Pell but he makes it quite clear that he is in charge.

JARay

georgem said...

Dear Father,
It’s steady hand on the tiller time, which is why I believe the Holy Spirit inspired the cardinals of the world to vote in Joseph Ratzinger. They, perhaps, could see in advance what problems were to arise and how best to address them. The tensions are not only in the Catholic Church.
We are living through a huge global sea-change (I hate that phrase!), so much so you can almost feel the tectonic plates shifting and grating. Maybe it’s a millennium thing, and for some it will be wildly exciting; for others it’s a time to reach for the comfort blanket of the familiar.
We have seen one edifice built on sand come crashing down, ie the modern banking system.
Within the Catholic Church there are edifices built on sand and these will also fall, leaving many feeling disenfranchised and excperiencing the dark night of the soul. It is at the local level, the one we know, that it will be most keenly felt and where confusion may morph into rivalries and personal criticism. Internecine strife is the most painful.
Pope Benedict has talked about a smaller, more orthodox Church. My understanding is that in the short term the Church may contract but its Christian foundations are strong and on those the Church - and we - will build again (but not before I have gone to whichever reward awaits me).
The Church has experienced these maelstroms before and we can but have faith in the Holy Spirit that it will never be extinguished. He has never let us down. Think of it. Two thousand years.
If anyone can think of anything more uplifting, demanding - and infuriating - than the Catholic faith, I'd like to know what it is. But it's still here and so are we.
History repeats itself, but not in the same way, and Christ said: “I will be with you all days, even to the consummation of the world.”
Credo.

Elizabeth said...

We are so blessed to have our Pope and Magesterium. There are no grey areas in the Catholic Church's Doctrine only black and white.
I remember reading somewhere, years ago that when we die and meet up with St Peter at the Gates of Heaven, professing that we have followed the teachings of Our Mother the Church as shown to us by the Pope, rather than - I think my views on Catholic teaching are far more superior than that of the Popes, but I followed my uniformed conscience, that should be enough to get me in. We are unfortunately being deprived of the beauty of our faith by so many around us who should know better.
I'm not sure i'm making my point clear, but you know what I mean Father.
Thank you for a brilliant blog, there is so much to learn. The Devil is very busy so we need to increase our prayers but especially the family Rosary.

pontesisto said...

A superb post, Father.

Pope Benedict predicted that the Church might lose members as it sought to regain the purity of its orthodox faith. I think the next few years, even decades, will see the Church tested to its limits. Those within it will share the pain in a way that western Christians have not had to for at least a century.

Maybe this is a form of Tribulation?

GOR said...

Here in the US we are frequently tempted to think in superlatives. After a particularly intense football match, we hear that it was “the best ever” (this happens about once a year with the SuperBowl...!). The same may be said about sundry basketball or baseball games or even Tiger Woods winning yet another Masters…

But the superlatives are not confined to sports or ‘positive’ things. Natural or not-so-natural events are given the same superlative treatment and become “the worst ever” – 9/11, Katrina, the Tsunami or the Chicago Cubs once again failing to win baseball’s ‘World’ Series (which has a lot less claim to global participation than say, the World Cup, which actually is global…)

While this tendency is very American, it is not confined to the former colonies. People everywhere tend to ’live in the moment’, with little sense of history – which may be attributable to the lack of adequate attention given to history in our educational establishments today.

When asked in 1996 whether current conditions in the Church presented the “greatest challenge since the beginning”, then-Cardinal Ratzinger named Gnosticism, Arianism and the Reformation as prior events that were also “major challenges”. He went on to say:

“What we are living through today, looked at from this perspective, is perhaps not the greatest challenge since the beginning of Christianity, but it is one that goes to the roots.” (Salt of the Earth)

From this I think we can glean where the Holy Father is coming from and where he is seeking to lead us – getting back to the roots of our Faith, the Truth and the Creed. While the Church has been buffeted throughout Her history, She remains solidly rooted in the Truth which has not, and will not, change.

Individuals may stray, theologians may err, bishops may wander – but the Rock remains firm because it is rooted in Our Lord’s Word which “will never pass away”.

As your blog motto states so appropriately Father: “Ubi Petrus, ibi Ecclesia…”

Joe of St. Thérèse said...

I'm so glad the efforts are being taken by the Pope, yourself, and many of my priest friends, and many I don't know to restore Tradition and build the Church for the upcoming times.

Red Maria said...

Oh yes, We are Church (WAC) or Wir Sind Kirche, is a thoroughly malicious group. From what I have read, I don't think it can even be called Christian in any meaningful sense of the word.
In the UK, it's absolutely irrelevant, counting its membership, in ooh probably less than double digits. It's main woman here is someone called Valerie Stroud and she is quite bats.
WAC (appropriate, isn't it?) has close links with anti-Catholic abortion front group, "Catholics (sic) for Choice".

Anthony Bidgood said...

Dear Father,

The situation in South Brisbane has been thus for several years: Fr Kennedy has received considerable support from the secular media, including a five-page report, in a colour supplement, in one of Rupert Murdoch's papers.
The Bishop of Toowoomba, in Queensland, has admitted that he is under investigation for unorthodoxy. On the other hand several bishops in Australia, including Archbishop Hart of Melbourne, are firm in their support of the Church and her teachings.
I think that Cardinal Pell, when he became the Archbishop of Melbourne, accepted the resignations of the teachers of Corpus Christi Seminary there. It is now flourishing with over thirty seminarians at present.
Finally Father many thanks for your excellent blog, long may it and you continue.

In Christo,
Anthony Bidgood