Tablet Forum article - to Anglicans - don't come in! (Main Forum)
[Unfortunately not freely available.]
Anglicans, please don't join our troubled Church
An open letter to Anglicans
Deeply regrettable things are taking place in the Anglican community that also affect the Catholic Church. Pope Benedict XVI is offering Anglican “dissidents” who do not agree with the decision of your Church to ordain women as bishops to convert to the Catholic faith while granting them some liturgical Anglican practices and other privileges.
The writer then describes for Anglicans the solemn embargo on discussion about the ordination of women as priests
But discussion continues. It is clear that the matter is not really closed and that the people of God are not convinced of the truth of the late pope’s declaration.
Pope John Paul II and the then-Cardinal Ratzinger created with this ruling a new atmosphere within the Catholic Church of anti-modernism, where thought and freedom of speech are suppressed, and with it, the freedom to investigate – which for theologians was particularly difficult to accept.
They also created a kind of schism between hierarchy and the faithful that has deepened day after day through the nomination of bishops who would adhere to this kind of Catholicism. The deeply anti-modernist thinking (and pessimism towards modern culture) which has obsessed Pope Benedict XVI can be read in nearly every speech he gives and, for example, in his decision to end the schism between the Lefebvrists and the Catholic Church. He and the Curia did not even demand that this fundamentalist group accept the teaching of the Second Vatican Council.
This is the present face of Catholicism and its hierarchy: not only do we face a crisis over bishops’ handling of priests accused of abusing children; in addition there is a dogmatic crisis and schism in the Catholic Church which was created by the hierarchy and is not the will of the people.
It is impossible to spell out enough how much is at stake in the fight for woman’s ordination. What lies behind the issue is a deeply rooted traditionalism and a failed, dogmatically unsustainable understanding of God and his will. In making women’s ordination into a dogma, one is theologically putting sexism inside God himself – making God a sexist being. But God is not racist, ideologist, fundamentalist or sexist. He is the mystery we try to explain, the horizon of our thinking.
It is the role of Protestant and Anglican bishops and theologians to withstand the sexist, wrong decisions Catholic bishops and some Orthodox patriarchs are taking. I put my trust in you as my sisters and brothers and especially you, Dr Rowan Williams, as the Archbishop of Canterbury. You have been elected in this crucial issue to lead Christianity into a future where sexism no longer prevails and where Churches open themselves to the “today of God” and his silent call.
Stefan Herbst is a lay Catholic theologian based in Budapest.
The TABLET not usually so open, but this is only on-line
Tablet Forum article - to Anglicans - don't come in!
In making women’s ordination into a dogma, one is theologically putting sexism inside God himself – making God a sexist being. But God is not racist, ideologist, fundamentalist or sexist. He is the mystery we try to explain, the horizon of our thinking.
Although God is not male of course - I do know what the writer is referring too - and of course he is right!!!
I have just attended a fanatastic Retreat Day given by a lay woman extremely well versed in history and theology. The subject was 'Prophets For Today' and of course this idea of God being a male puppet master who rules with an iron rod , favors males above females was knocked on the head big time. God uses all sorts of 'odd people' as prophets whether male or female- both speak to make one sit up and take notice.
So this article just adds the icing to the cake for me.
Let us light a candle and say to the dark, we beg to differ
Tablet Forum article - to Anglicans - don't come in!
I hadn't noticed this new section on the Tablet site before -seems limited to contributions of 200-250 words
Tablet Forum article - Catholic Church needs a new Martin Luther
Another recent contribution
"Catholic Church needs a new Martin Luther
The Archbishop of Canterbury need not have apologised when he said in April that the Catholic Church – or at any rate its leadership – had lost its credibility. He was speaking the truth. But it was not only diplomatic courtesy that made him regret his words. You do not expose the nakedness of someone you love, and certainly not when your own apparel is almost as threadbare.
The Catholic Church’s institutional defects are blatant, but like Dr Williams I stand in awe of the immense spiritual and cultural riches of Catholic Christendom. I look with gratitude and admiration to Catholic Christians, past and present, some my personal friends, who tread in the footsteps of Jesus. These have lost none of their credibility but, as at the time of the Reformation, the power structures of what has become a spiritually corrupted bureaucracy cry out to be cleansed.
The rehabilitation of the largest part of the Christian family matters desperately to its faithful members and to many outside its high walls who treasure all that, at its best, Catholicism stands for.
Without the acceptance of responsibility at the top – in Christian-speak, visible repentance – rehabilitation is impossible. If that is true in politics and in business, however rare, it is truer still in the realm of religion, which is meaningless without ethical integrity. That is doubly true in an institution that is strictly hierarchical. In a word: it can only begin with Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation. That simple, radical step would be liberating and could initiate a profound process of renewal. It would restore to Joseph Ratzinger a credibility that no tears, no words of regret could ever do.
Might a German Lutheran Bishop, and a woman at that, be an example to a Roman pontiff? Bishop Margot Kässmann, chairwoman of the German Protestant Council, immediately resigned all her offices after one alcohol-related driving offence. It brought her huge respect. The institutional tolerance of paedophilia is a far graver matter.
While this long-standing world-wide cover-up of priestly paedophilia has triggered the tsunami enveloping the Roman Church, the Church’s moral collapse extends far beyond the realm of criminality. The Church’s wider problem lies with the enforced celibacy that many priests singularly fail to observe. It may be that only a very small proportion are paedophiles, but a high proportion feel forced to live double lives. They have – and are known by many of the faithful to have – sexual partners, female or male. The institution throws a huge blanket over this, forcing the priests concerned and their more or less secret partners to live lives of deception. In consequence the Church’s credibility in the realm of personal and sexual relationships in particular, and moral leadership more generally, lies in tatters.
A good many of the Church’s best priests are not willing to connive at such double standards. They have left their ministry (though not their priesthood) and live deprived of their vocation but with integrity. The spiritual and practical loss to the Church is immense. These priests are victims of an indefensible discipline, for there is no principle in Catholic teaching that demands priestly celibacy. The Eastern Rite of the same Church has never known it. There are already other exceptions. All it takes is a leadership with the courage to do the obvious. To concede equal rights to women would, of course, take more courage still, but why not another Martin Luther? Maybe it takes a crisis on this scale to herald a new Reformation. "
Dr Paul Oestreicher is a political scientist, an honorary Quaker chaplain at the University of Sussex and a Canon Emeritus of Coventry Cathedral.
Not a Tablet Forum article
This is one I offered them in August I think on one of my "It puzzles me" hobbyhorses, but THE TABLET chose not to post it.
It's scarcely Catholic, but the same is true of me! Anyway I struggled very hard and trimmed it to 500 words only. I wish I'd left it at the original length of c600 and then the Moderator at least would have read it!
Anyway - Mary's sound-off"
Any Future for Bishops?
A Bishop, presumably, is a priest with special responsibilities of oversight, as the etymology of the word suggests. His prime task must be in the sphere of upholding and teaching the faith. Yet how much impact does the Bishop’s teaching make upon the average parish? In what does it consist?
The Advent and Lenten pastorals are hardly awaited with baited breath; sometimes regional Bishops gather together to confer, and occasionally issue a joint teaching document on some topic. This is normally written by a “reliable” theologian, not by any of the Bishops. And it is safe to say that pastorals, individual or joint, are always carefully checked with official up-to-date Vatican teaching. Furthermore individual Bishops may participate in, by right, an Ecumenical Council of the Church. The last one (VaticanII) finished in the mid-Sixties, and the next has not yet been announced. Is it even envisaged? And since the recent appointed bishops have been strictly scrutinised for orthodoxy and not rocking the barque of Peter, what now would be the advantage of a Council?
Of course, in the days before world telegraph, the local Bishop’s writ ran large. Documentation from Rome was slow in travelling, and his word was authoritative. Modern communications, all but instant, have changed the status of a Bishop’s theologising and practice.
Bishops have high profile liturgical duties. Probably the most ‘elevated’ of these is the consecration of further Bishops! Of course bishops are needed to ordain men as priests and deacons, but in the present dearth of vocations this is a fairly rare treat. They still conduct some Confirmations, but since parish priests may now officiate at this sacrament, a bishop’s presence cannot be considered necessary. Meanwhile, their pastoral decision about an appropriate form of liturgy may be undermined by a Vatican ruling that a particular form of celebration should be widely permitted e.g. the 1962 rite of Mass, (the Extra-ordinary Form).
Otherwise, what does their present situation amount to? Look at your Bishop’s engagements and consider his professional commitments. He has a great many meetings of an administrative nature and he is required to be a kindly authoritative presence at the opening and blessing of new buildings; maybe he will lead a pilgrimage to a traditional site. Is that what a Bishop is for?
His administrative-cum-pastoral duties are often very heavy, and will be shared with other priests in the diocese and lay professionals. Administrative ability is not one of the gifts of Episcopal consecration and such matters might be handled much better by someone else, either clerical or lay. Vast areas of responsibility (e.g. unity, education, marriage matters, finance, safeguarding, welfare and regulation of clergy and some nuns) are entrusted to commissions or individuals. Forward planning and closure of parishes are inevitably decided in conjunction with local clergy.
Three Bishops would be ample for England and Wales, one to ordain, one on holiday and one spare. The others could resume life as honest-to-God priests.
And Newman was not a Bishop!
I forgot to mention clergy funerals - OK
SECONDING MARY'S THOUGHTS
You have put the case in a nutshell -- what are the main funcions of a Bishop in the modern Church??
As several have noted, the Curial and Hierarchal administrations are becoming top-heavy with "yes men", not with people of any notable pastoral experience or reputation...
With all the parish closings in Europe, North America, Oceania, etc, then WHY HAVEN'T THERE BEEN SIMILAR DIOCESAN MERGERS/CLOSINGS???
Answer -- too many EGOS... and the monarchial court would look bare if not for the decorative courtiers, who do little, if any, real effective spiritual work!!