Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Krazies Take Arms: Lanterns in The Steeple.

Monsignor Urrutigoity Celebrating

Holy Thursday Mass in the Old 

They say that just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean that people aren’t out to get you and, in the same vein, just because they’re krazy doesn’t mean that the katholic krazies aren’t right to think that the tide is going against them in the Church where Francis is Pope.  Several of the krazy blogs that I read to get my blood pressure out of the basement have been wailing and whining about Pope Francis this past week removing Paraguayan Bishop Rogelio Livieres Plano from his Diocese of Ciudad del Este after an apostolic visitation led by Spanish Cardinal Abril y Castello.  Bishop Livieres was the darling of the krazies on the extreme right.  He was an ardent supporter of the pre-conciliar rites—some sources say that almost every parish in his diocese had a “Traditional Latin Mass.”  His seminary was full—200 seminarians, the majority of whom had been dismissed from other dioceses for various reasons.  He is a member of Opus Dei and has accused the other bishops of Paraguay of being locked into the “Liberation Theology.”  In fact, he went on television to accuse his Metropolitan Archbishop, Eustaquio Cuquejo Verga, CSSR, of being gay.  What most of the krazy blogs didn’t tell you—and I will give Rorate Caeli credit for being honest where others failed—was that Bishop Livieres not only sheltered but made his Vicar General, one Monsignor Carlos Urrutigoity.  Urrutigoity began his career in the Society of Saint Pius X, the breakaway “Traditionalist” group founded by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre in reaction against the Second Vatican Council.  Urrutigoity studied and then served at the Traditionalist seminary at La Reja in Argentina where he was first accused of inappropriate sexual behavior.  Sent to the Society’s seminary at Winona Minnesota, Urrutigoity was next accused of molesting several Winona seminarians under his care.  When Urrutigoity next surfaced in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Scranton Pennsylvania, Bishop Bernard Fellay, the Superior of the Lefebvrist group wrote Bishop William Timlin, then the Bishop of Scranton, a letter of warning alleging “Our conclusion is that there is a dangerous pattern in Fr. Urrutigoity and we feel obliged to reveal this to you. This was very generous of Bishop Fellay when one considers the ideological tension between the Society of Pius X and the mainline Catholic Church which has accepted the Second Vatican Council.
In Scranton, Urrutigoity and another priest gathered a group of young men together as the Society of Saint John—a neo-traditionalist group that turned out to be the proverbial barrel where they could shoot the proverbial fish, taking advantage of the trust of several of the younger men to entice them to sexual relations. When this came to the attention of the Diocese, Urrutigoity was sent away for evaluation and the Diocese tried to have him dismissed from the clergy, the Diocesan Review board declaring:
In view of the credible allegation from the seminarian, his admitted practice of sleeping with boys and young men, and the troubling evaluation by the Southdown Institute, Father Carlos Urrutigoity should be removed from active ministry; his faculties should be revoked; he should be asked to live privately.”  He was suspended from priestly ministry but before the steps for dismissal were undertaken, disappeared only to show up in Ciudad del Este where he was promoted to Vicar General of the Diocese—the number 2 position in the diocese.  Local activists there protested the appointment to Bishop Livieres only to be told that the accusations against Urrutigoity—the whole series of accusations from Argentina, from Minnesota, from Scranton—had all been “false.”   Moreover, according to sources in Ciudad del Este, Urrutigoity was not the only priest refugee from accusations that Livieres had been sheltering.
It is unfortunate that the Vatican has said that his protecting an alleged priest-predator was only a secondary reason for requiring Bishop Livieres’  resignation.  While his inability to work collaboratively with the other bishops in the Paraguayan Conference is sufficient reason to remove him—a Church has to work in unity and if one member blocks that unity it is reasonable for his peers to ask for him to be replaced—surely his protecting Monsignor Urrugoity is an even more serious, and far more serious, reason for removing him.  Moreover while many of the krazies—again, Rorate Caeli (to its credit) excepted—are bemoaning this “injustice,” protesting the removal because of his harboring—and empowering—Urrugoity, only goes to show just how kraaaaazzzzzy the krazies are.  But while that is the end of the Livieres/Urrugoity saga, it is for the krazies only one lantern hung in the bell tower of  the old North Church to sound the tocsin and alert the Americans: Pope Francis is Coming! Pope Francis is Coming!
The second lantern was reported in the New York Times this morning.  The Times wrote that Pope Francis has asked the Archbishop of Ottawa, a fellow Jesuit, Terrence Prendergast, to “visitate” the Diocese of Kansas City/Saint Joseph Missouri and evaluate the fitness of Bishop Robert Finn to lead the Diocese.   Bishop Finn is one of the most neo-traditionalist bishops in the United States.  He also has links to, though is not a member of, Opus Dei.  Because of his failure to report allegations against Father Shawn Rattigan for child pornography, Bishop Finn was found guilty in September 2012 on one charge of failing to report suspected child abuse, a misdemeanor in Missouri.  Both child-protection advocates and church liberals have been demanding his resignation since his conviction.   Is Bishop Finn’s misdemeanor sufficient grounds to require his resignation?  That issue could probably be argued either way.  I guess one would next have to ask about Archbishop Cordileone’s conviction for drunk driving.  It could get ugly.  An investigation of the question do the faithful of his diocese still invest Bishop Finn with the moral credibility to effectively govern his diocese is probably appropriate, but any number of bishops could fail that test—not for a misdemeanor, or even for any fault in particular, but just for their spiritual and moral blandness.  Would Archbishop Myers make the cut with the additions to his vacation home and Jacuzzi rising in the wooded glens of Hunterdon County?   What about Bishop O’Connell of Trenton?  Slattery of Tulsa?  Morlino of Madison?  Paprocki of Springfield?   Lennon of Cleveland?  Sheridan of Colorado Springs?  Olmstead of Phoenix?  Do they have the credibility of the faithful entrusted to them?  Some of our bishops are the best argument against the Apostolic Succession.    But that is the great thing about being a historian.  This is nothing new.  In fact, as disappointing as much of our current leadership may be, the Church has seen worse—far worse.  So pray for the leadership we have and pray that Pope Francis will give us the best bishops in the future and that he will live and reign long enough to make a difference, a crucial difference, in the future of the Church.  

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Synod on the Family: The Battle Lines Are Forming

So we are going to change our rules on divorce and remarriage.  This seems to be the foregone conclusion of many on both the right and the left about the upcoming Special Synod of Bishops on the Family scheduled for Rome from October 5-19th and as a rising tide lifts all boats, the rumors about the synod has raised both the hopes of the left and the fears of the right.  Actually, the synod rumors are like the astonishing tides in the Bay of Fundy as the hopes and the fears of each party have rarely before been raised to this height. 
The Isaiah of the Left has been Cardinal Walter Kasper, former President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.  Kasper’s theological insights have long been admired by Jorge Bergoglio, now Pope Francis, and Francis asked the German Cardinal to give the keynote address to a meeting of the Cardinals last February.  The meeting was part of the preparation for the upcoming Synod and Kasper, never one to avoid an issue, jumped right in and proposed theological justifications for admitting those who have been divorced and remarried to receiving Holy Communion.  Present Church discipline does not permit the divorced and remarried to receive the sacraments without first obtaining an annulment from the Church of their previous marriage(s).  Kasper did not propose a carte blanche for all divorced and remarried but he did outline certain circumstances in which a pastoral decision might be made in which the Church could accept the couple back into full communion without giving its blessing to the second marriage.  Basically the Cardinal is proposing nothing different from what has long been called the “internal forum” process in which the priest confessor or advisor of a couple who have found it, for one reason or another, impossible to obtain an annulment but whose first marriage(s) were seriously flawed to the point where an annulment should have been granted, assures the couple that they can in good faith return to the sacraments.  An example would be a Catholic whose second marriage is to a Protestant who is unwilling to go through the Catholic annulment process for a previous marriage and there is nothing that the Catholic party can reasonably do to convince their Protestant spouse to regularize the marriage.  Another example might be that of a Catholic who has tried to have his or her marriage annulled but was unsuccessful because a witness, for reasons of spite, lied to the Tribunal hearing the case.  Such internal forum solutions have long been practiced though somewhat unevenly as much depends on the openness of the priest who is the confessor or spiritual advisor.  Priests are extremely reluctant to discuss particular cases—sometimes because it involves material learned in the Sacrament of Reconciliation—and the Cardinal’s proposals would not so much change the rules as bring out into the open a practice which has long lurked in the shadows of the confessional.  Nevertheless, the Cardinal’s proposals have triggered a strong reaction even among his fellow Cardinals.
Partly in reaction to Kasper’s proposals and partly to prepare for the Synod, several prelates—including six Cardinals—contributed to a book, Remaining in the Truth of Christ that argues for the indissolubility of Christian marriage.  Those who see this book—and many do—as a reaction to Kasper’s position have set up a bit of a straw man as it is highly simplistic, even disingenuous, to say that Cardinal Kasper has attacked the indissolubility of marriage.  The Cardinal has only said that we need to bring out into the open the pastoral practice that has long been practiced behind the closed and sealed door of the confessional and that furthermore, we need to follow our own theology on the healing and forgiving power of the Eucharist and give those whose lives have been broken by a failed marriage access to the graces of that healing and forgiving power. 
Well, it would appear to be one Cardinal against six but in fact it is no secret that Cardinal Kasper is only the spokesperson for Pope Francis who cannot himself declare on the subject without prejudicing the Synod.  While he has not spoken on the matter, Pope Francis has sent every signal that he not only approves of the Cardinal’s position but that he actively endorses it.  This, in turn, has triggered a reaction of panic on the part of the Katholic Krazies who see any change in Church discipline as yet a further step away from the beloved mix of myth and tradition that they consider authentic Catholicism.   The krazies have lit up the blogosphere like Bastille Night on the Champs Elysees
Among the participants in the synod are Cardinals Muller, Burke, Caffarra, and Pell—all contributors to Remaining in the Truth of Christ.  Pope Francis has appointed liberal Cardinals Kasper and Daneels to the Synod—but Cardinal Caffarra, one of the contributors to the book, is also there as a papal appointee.  Other prelates who are most likely sympathetic to the Kasper position are Cardinals Schönburn of Vienna, Dolan of New York, Marx of Munich, Nichols of Westminster, Koch of the Curia, and Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, also of the Roman Curia.  The answer to the question, however, will not lie with either the Kasper group or the Burke group but with the much larger assembly of bishops from around the world and from whom we have yet to hear.  To a certain extent, actually to a great extent, the final decision will be an affirmation of or disaffirmation of the papacy of Pope Francis as everyone is aware of where the Pope wants to go with this and how it fits into the overall theme of his papacy which stresses mercy and reconciliation of those alienated from the Church. 
Meanwhile the Krazies are beside themselves.  I noticed Lifesite News (http://www.lifesitenews.com) is appealing for its readers to send in money so that they can go to Rome and lobby the Synod against any change.  Lifesite News is the internet face of Campaign Life Coalition, sometimes just called Campaign Life, a Canadian division on the conservative side in the culture wars.  While they espouse a pro-Life agenda, a careful examination of their publicity materials shows them to be a movement somewhat of the same nature and goals as the Tea Party in the United States.  In addition to the pro-Life issues of abortion and euthanasia they have taken very active stands against Same Sex Marriage, LGBT rights, sex-education, adoption by same sex couples, gender and orientation inclusivity, ALS research, and the Gay-Straight Alliance.  In addition to being opposed to human cloning and stem-cell research, they take a particularly narrow and unnuanced approach to questions of bio-ethics and consider bullying in schools and among teens and pre-teens to be “a myth,” particularly when it is related to sexual orientation. They also insist that Climate Change is a myth—something that one would think a Canadian might be less quick to deny.  While they are a Canadian organization—and one without any official Church recognition—the Campaign Life Coalition and its website Lifesite News, have spilled across the northern border and joined the American krazies in taking on Catholic Relief Services and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops for not buying into their limited understanding of the Church and its mission.  They are currently appealing to their faithful for the funds to sponsor their junket to Rome to lobby the Synod. 
They are only one of several groups who are planning on demonstrating in Saint Peter’s Square against any relaxation of Church discipline in an effort to find pastoral solutions to the complexity of questions rising from contemporary issues of family life.  What will happen if the Synod should address and attempt to remedy the pastoral concerns faced by families today—divorce and remarriage, same-sex adoptions, bullying of children, contraception and family planning, in vitro conception, gay children, transgendered persons, or who knows what else?  And of course families are faced with a host of other issues as well that need to be addressed and which have political and cultural undertones—unemployment, immigration, abandonment, run-aways, health care and more.  There is no way that the Synod can tackle the issue of the Family and not be caught in the culture wars. 
My suspicion is that the end result of the Synod will be a somewhat ambiguous document that can be interpreted a number of ways, allowing a bit of wiggle room for confessors and spiritual directors to help people re-integrate themselves into the full life of the Church but without actually changing the official line.  In this sense it will be a disappointment to many who have what I think are unrealistic hopes for drastic public change.  If there is no change, I think business will go on as usual with progressive clergy helping people find sensitive and pastoral solutions to the dilemmas of modern life that face them and more conservative clergy wringing their hands as they explain that there is nothing they can do.  On the other hand, if there is a significant change of direction in the Church, and anything is possible when the bishops come together, I think we will see a revolving door as a significant number of Catholics who have been alienated from the Church decide that it is “safe to go in the water again,” but an equally significant number of neo-traditionalists go over to the various Latin Mass schismatic groups and the sedevacantists, claiming that Pope Francis and the Synod have abandoned the historic faith.  It is interesting to see how those who used to dine in the Magisterium’s Restaurant are now filling the cafeteria and those formerly relegated to the cafeteria are now enjoying the haute cuisne of Francis’ papacy.  As Saint Luke records the Blessed Mother saying: The mighty shall be cast down and the lowly raised up.  

Friday, September 26, 2014

Evangelical Catholicism and the Emerging Church

It has been awhile since I did a posting on Evangelical Catholicism.  As you may remember I had been reading George Weigel’s book by that name and was taken by his proposition  
The Catholic Church is being invited to meet the Risen Lord in the Scriptures, the Sacraments, and Prayer and to make friendship with him the center of Catholic life. Every Catholic has received this invitation in Baptism, the invitation to accept the Great Commission, to act as evangelists and to measure the truth of Catholic life by the way in which Catholics give expression to the human decency and solidarity that flows from friendship with Christ the Lord.
Unfortunately as Weigel fleshes out what this means, I think he betrays his ideal for something that is anything but evangelical, but that is somewhat beside the point I want to make today. 
I was at a wake last week and speaking with a Protestant pastor who was there when someone with little ecumenical sensitivity said to him: “you guys need to have a Vatican II.”  The minister good naturedly replied: “We did, it was Vatican II.”  His point was that the Second Vatican Council has impacted most of the Protestant Churches as much as it has Catholicism.  This is obvious enough in the mainline Churches—the Episcopal Church, the Lutheran Churches, the Methodists and Presbyterians, all of whom have revised various liturgical practices and even some church polity to harmonize better with one another and with us Catholics.  But when one gets to the so-called Evangelicals, it is not always so obvious. 
I say “so-called Evangelicals” as I think a lot of people who refer to themselves as “evangelicals” or call  their denomination “evangelical” are anything but.  Evangelical comes from the Greek word, εὐαγγέλιον, which means “good news” and specifically the news of a victory.  The Greek word for Gospel is εὐαγγέλιον because it is the Good News of God’s Victory in Christ over sin and death.  But so many people who call themselves evangelicals are about bad news of judgment, condemnation, and the defeat of Grace and in reality they are anything but bearers of Good News.  
There is a movement among some evangelicals, however, that shows a remarkable move away from the gloomy Calvinism in which many of the so-called Evangelical denominations were rooted towards a faith that is more in line with the New Testament optimism that God’s Saving Work in Jesus Christ may actually be a victory over sin.  This movement, which is not a Church or a denomination but a loose-knit connection of Churches and individuals who have realigned their theological thought in some dramatic ways, parallels much of the shift that has gone on in Catholicism over the last sixty years and has received a fresh new impetus under the direction of Pope Francis.   It is called the “Emerging Church” and it has drawn a wide range of Christians from Lutherans to Methodists to Baptists to members of the Free Churches and to Christian fellowships who decline to identify with any particular denomination.  The main characteristics of the emerging Church seem—from what I have read—to be:
1.     an emphasis on a personal spirituality that calls the individual to be conformed to Jesus Christ—to live a life in which he or she learns to model himself or herself on Jesus.
2.     A belief that God is vitally concerned about this world and has given us, both as communities and individuals, a mission in this world to infuse the world with Gospel values and thus transform it.
3.     To be an inclusive and welcoming Christian fellowship in which each is called to personal conversion but in which no one is judged.  (Sounds familiar, Pope Francis?)
4.     A model of leadership in the Church that does not involve power or control.
5.     An openness to dialogue that sees the faith of the Church as a progressive appreciation of the truth rather than inflexible and dogmatic axioms that are imposed in the name of an ahistorical and immutable “Tradition.”
6.     An openness to the contributions of the various cultures in which Christians find themselves rather than an Euro-American cultural hegemony. 
7.     An ability to live with ambiguity that helps us realize that God us ultimately a Mystery in whose life we are invited to participate and that defies our ability to define and delineate. 
This type of Christian faith requires a spiritual maturity that permits us to walk in faith through a darkness of the intellect that was described by Saint John of the Cross: to come to the knowledge you have not, you must go by a way in which you do not know.  In other words, to come to know God we must give up whatever knowledge we think we have.  When we are confident in our “knowledge” of “God,” the god we think we know is invariably a god of our own imagination.  To come to know God, we must let the slate of our knowledge be wiped clean and be willing to start over with an “unknowing,” the term that many of our Catholic mystics have used to talk about the direct encounter with God in which the human faculties, including the intellect, fall silent. 
What is particularly interesting about the Emerging Church movement is that it does not show the fear of spirituality and mystical experience that has characterized much of historical Protestantism. This is one of the tensions in Christianity—in Catholicism as well as Protestantism—the need for an orthodoxy that is rooted in doctrinal objectivity and the need for a personal encounter with God that transcends (though does not contradict) that doctrine.  Paul Tillich spoke of this tension, or at least one aspect of it, with the Protestant Principle and the Catholic Substance.  For too long perhaps we Christians, in our desire for doctrinal objectivity have substituted an embalmed deity for the Living God.  The Emerging Church movement is a call for us all to go again on the search for the Living God.  This is not a new call.  Read the Documents of the Second Vatican Council and you will hear the same summons.  Pope Francis has made this call a theme of his papacy which has rekindled the light of Vatican II among some and the anger over Vatican II among others.  

Thursday, September 25, 2014

History of the Anglican Church XCI

An Anglican Church in the
Puritan Style

One more posting on the 1552 Prayer Book and this is the story of the “Black Rubric.”  Archbishop Cranmer, as radical as were the reforms he proposed in the 1552 Book of Common Prayer, had retained kneeling as the posture for receiving Holy Communion.  Some of the more radical reformers—the precursors of the Puritans of the next generations—objected to this and wanted the English Church to follow the Calvinist practice found in the Reformed Churches of Switzerland and of Strasbourg where the communicants received sitting as a clear indication that the Sacrament was a memorial of Christ but not his physical Body and Blood.   Cranmer refused to consider this change but the Royal Council ordered an addendum to the Prayer Book explaining that kneeling for Holy Communion was not meant to signify adoration of the Sacrament but to signify “a humble and grateful acknowledging of benefits of Christ…”.  Since the Book was already at the printers and the red inking had already be done, the “rubrics”—that is those parts that contain the directives for the service and which are printed in red to distinguish them from the text of the service which is printed in black—had been completed.  Thus the Council’s addendum was added but had to be printed in black ink.  It came to be known as the “Black Rubric.”  Here is the text of Black Rubric—with spelling updated to modern standards:

 Although no order can be so perfectly devised, but it may be of some, either of their ignorance and infirmity or else of malice and obstinacy misconstrued, depraved, and interpreted in a wrong part:  And yet because of brotherly charity willeth, that so much as conveniently may be, offenses should be taken away: therefore we willing to do the same.  Whereas it is ordained in the book of common prayer, in the administration of the Lord’s Supper, that the Communicants kneeling should receive the Holy Communion.  Which thing being well meant, for a signification  of the humble and grateful acknowledging of the benefits of Christ, given unto the worthy receiver, to avoid the profanation and disorder, which about the holy Communion might else ensue, Lest yet the same kneeling might be thought or taken otherwise we do declare that it is not meant thereby that any adoration is done or ought to be done, either unto the Sacramental bread or wine there bodily received, or unto any real and essential presence there being of Christ’s natural flesh and blood.  For as concerning the Sacramental bread and wine, they remain still in their very natural substances and therefore may not be adored, for that were Idolatry to be abhorred of all faithful Christians.  And as concerning the natural body and blood of our savior Christ, they are in heaven and not here.  For it is against the truth of Christ’s true natural body to be in more places than in one at one time. 

Why did Archbishop Cranmer refuse to have the communicants sit for Holy Communion?  Cranmer himself tended to prefer a somewhat ambiguous approach to the nature of Christ’s Presence in the Sacrament.   Though originally Lutheran in theological orientation, and later Calvinist, but this point Archbishop Cramer was basically a follower of the Swiss Reformer Huldrych Zwingli who taught that the Sacrament was simply a memorial of the Death of Christ and who rejected any sense of Christ being present except spiritually present in the heart of the believer by the believer’s faith.  But Cranmer also knew that the English—even those who accepted the Protestant faith—had a wide variety of understandings of the Sacrament and he was unwilling to force a uniform doctrine on them, at least in the liturgy.  There were those who, whether of Catholic or Lutheran leanings, still held for a real and corporeal presence of Christ.  There were those who, influenced by Calvin, held that Christ was truly present but not corporeally present in the Sacrament.  And there were those who, like himself, believed that the Sacrament was no more than a memorial that triggered a personal and interior response to Christ.  The Archbishop had worked to create a liturgy in which all could see their faith reflected and find some comfort, in the hopes that over time the single liturgy would solidify a single faith.  It was a vain hope, of course, as doctrinal ambiguity is the hallmark of Anglicanism to this day. 
When Elizabeth came to the Throne she did not have the “Black Rubric” printed in the 1559 Book, which was in several ways a (small) step back from the more radical Protestantism of the 1552 Book.  It did reappear in the 1662 Prayer Book in a futile attempt to keep the nonconformist and Presbyterian elements within the Church of England. 
The Black Rubric is significant because it clearly states, despite Cranmer’s wish for a certain liturgical vagueness, that the Church of England rejects the notion that Christ is present in the Eucharist in any physical sense.  By its naïve assumption that the Resurrected Body of Christ is nothing other than a resuscitated and assumed-into-heaven corpse, it reflects a false dichotomy between the resurrected Body of Christ “in heaven” and his Sacramental Body present not only in the Eucharistic Bread and Wine, but in the Church itself.  It is another indication of how the Church of England crosses over in the 1552 Prayer Book from a “Catholic” (albeit not “Roman”) Church to a Protestant Church.
When I started this series, I was far more positive on the continuity of the Church of England that I am now—having done considerable reading and research.  Yet I do think that it is essential that we always view the Church of England—and our own Church as well—in its historical context and realize that there is a certain evolution of doctrine and even of faith.  And we need to keep in mind that the 1552 Prayer Book has not been the final word in the Anglican theological liturgy.  We will see that the Book did not sit well with many because while it reflected the theology of Archbishop Cranmer and his friends,  it did not adequately capture the faith of the Anglican faithful.   Indeed the attempts to reform and refine it will bring down both the bishops and the Crown in the 17th century—but that is a bit off in the distance yet.