Unity inside the Church

121 Responses

  1. John says:

    There is a hazard in marginalising Catholics on the progressive end of the spectrum by neglecting to hear their concerns.

    I must ask, but what is the proper definition of a progressive end Catholic? The word progress would suggest perhaps improvement, in moving forward? What exactly are the issues that progressive Catholics wish to bring to the bishops and the Churchs attentions? Why would these issues cause such Catholics to feel marginalized? Would the neglect of these issues bring about the end of progress within the Church?

    It is my understanding that progressive Catholics are people who wish to debate and promote issues such a the ordination of woman and the recognition of same sex civil unions within the Catholic Church. This brings to mind the following quote from Pope Benedict XVI:

    “It is important that we recognize dissent for what it really is, and not to mistake it for a mature contribution to a balanced and wide ranging debate.” (Pope Benedict XVI)

    What I find to be more of a hazard is if the progressive Catholics refuse to acknowledge and accept whatever decision the bishops and the Church as a whole make on any issues raised. Would the debates really address issues and create further unity, or would they just create dissent and discord? My feel is more on the latter rather than the former.

  2. Mark Nel says:

    I read this editorial with great interest.

    I would at the outset like to correct the statement, by the editor, where he states that the international movement, We Are Church, has acquired a reputation, “rightly or wrongly, of fostering dissent and division in the Church”. The correct word is very definitely “RIGHTLY”! Of this there can be no doubt.

    As I read the editorial, I remembered that when I first came across the We Are All Church South Africa (WAACSA) website, it contained a page in which it specifically emphasised its commonality and affiliation with the international movement “We Are Church”.

    On reading this editorial I immediately returned to the WAACSA website and sadly found nothing has changed. There is nothing on its website to make me believe this organisation has made any changes. Even the alleged new mission statement does not inspire me to believe that anything about this movement has changed.

    As an example, the piece below was taken directly from the website, as I was writing this comment:

    “WAACSA is an affiliate of the International Movement We Are Church (IMWAC), a network of independent groups representing different cultures where Catholic Christians are endeavouring to live out the message of Jesus Christ.” [WAACSA Website]

    It is however very interesting that the South African movement has apparently felt the need “to set it apart from the international We Are Church movement”. Is their conscience speaking to them and warning them that they are about business that is not in the best interest of the Church and that it should be stopped. Are they condemning the actions of the international movement We Are Church. We don’t know, we have only what is contained in this editorial to work with. Their own website sheds no light on this.

    If anything, there is enough content, on the WAACSA website, as I write this comment, to support my statement that WAACSA continues to promote and/or condone dissent. I fear that the truth is that they are simply squirming for a better disguise with which to relaunch their attack on the Church. This editorial appears to be part of the strategy, behind this deceptive maneuver, because what is contained in this editorial conflicts with the contents of the WAACSA website.

    In any case, WAACSA is barking up the wrong tree if it thinks it simply needs to pacify those in the Church who oppose it. WAACSA must realise that this is not politics in which they are engaged. The Church cannot alter the Truth just because a movement, like We Are Church and it’s affiliates, is able to muster numbers to support its cause. The Truth will always remain the Truth, no matter how much we may dislike it.

    I must say that I am not sure why there is any mention made in the editorial of the SACBC’s apparent indication of openness to dialogue. We have been blessed with wonderful bishops in South Africa and I have no doubt that they are always open to dialogue. One would expect no less from our Shepherds. I suspect however this point was specifically added to the editorial as a disingenuous attempt to imply that the movement has acquired some credibility now.

    I would be curious to know. Is the editor a member of this South African movement of We Are Church or is he not? I think we have a right to know since he is the editor of our only Catholic national newspaper here in South Africa!

  3. John says:

    Excellent comment Mark and thank you. I too searched for more information on the WAACSA and could find nothing except their status of being affiliated to We Are Church. Hence the reason I asked for further information in my previous comment as to what exactly they stand for and what are the issues they wish have a dialogue on.

    Just to add to my previous comment, in the event that progressive Catholics dont get what they want and are unable to accept a decision contrary to what they want, should they perhaps then not follow the advice of Diarmuid Martin, the Archbishop of Dublin? Archbishop Urges Non-Believing Catholics To Leave Church. The full story can be found on the following link: http://marknelza.blogspot.com/2011/12/archbishop-urges-non-believing.html

    Just a thought.

  4. Donal says:

    I agree that `progressive’ is a very loaded term, suggesting that the opposite are somehow `reactionary’, terms which belong to the political rather than ecclesiastical arena. Those who are obedient to the teaching of the Church regard such obedience as truly progressive, not mindless, and those who would reject this as reactionary and mindless, in that they wish to return to the failed principles of private judgement embodied in the Reformation and do not choose, or are intellectually unable, or through lifestyle or other choices negatively predisposed, to inform themselves sufficiently about the justification for Church doctrine. The adoption of much of this agenda in the Reformation communities and the Anglican communion in particular have resulted not in diversity, as some here would have it, but fragmentation and oblivion, the emptying of churches at a far greater rate than anything experienced by the Catholic Church. There is nothing new about the ideas of the disaffected at all. They are as old as the Fall. Few will be fooled by this re-branding, as the subversive views of this particular organisation are well known. As has already been stated on here many times, the issue is not about whether the Church can change key issues she has defined since time immemorial. She cannot, no Pope can, change salient doctrines already defined by the Church. The Church already has unparalleled diversity; between national traditions and festivals; between the western Latin rite and her Eastern rites, between rites of the various religious orders now thankfully restored; some of which ordain married men, between monastic and mendicant and secular clergy and orders of many types and traditions; between married people and single people, between young and old and adults. We couldn’t have a more diverse Church. But even if the impossible were possible, why would we for a moment wish to adopt the recipe which is leading the Anglican communion to implosion? As for `good Catholics’ of rebellious outlook being essential to parishes, doubtless there are good but misguided people who are very helpful. There are also people who elbow their way into parish affairs and can all too easily become regarded by parishioners as busybodies, which encourages many potentially helpful people to take a back seat. As regards Lumen Gentium, cited recently elsewhere as a licence for `diversity’, only the most creative/erroneous interpretation could suggest that the second Vatican council was thereby approving of the fragmentation of the Church. What it stated was that insofar as the reformed communities preserved and shared the truth which subsists in the Catholic Church, these are to be valued. The opposite is also the case: insofar as they do not share these things, these are not to be valued. Dialogue is not some sort of arena in which those who reject the Church’s teaching can wear down those who uphold it. It is an opportunity rather for those who are thus disaffected to have the historic doctrines of the Church explained to them more effectively, in the hope that, what a pope called `invincible ignorance’ might be overcome. Neither is sincerity a sufficient justification for attempting to white-ant the Church in this way. Modern history is littered with `sincere’ people, from Robespierre to Goebbels. The We are [no definite article]Church may be much less extreme, but it doesn’t make them right either. Quite the contrary.

  5. Donal says:

    PS The Eastern rites, some of which ordain married men (not the religious orders!.

  6. Donal says:

    PPS I should add that I write from Vienna, where the Cardinal Archbishop certainly does not regard dialogue as some sort of vehicle for diluting essential doctrines which he would readily admit that he or no pope or council has authority to rescind.Moreover, the so-called rebellion by the lay and clerical disaffected `We are [no definite article] Church’ movement is far less prevalent than many would like to believe. A surprisingly large number of Austrian Catholics go about their spiritual business quietly in obedience to Church teaching, as they always have. The church came through far worse in the Reformation and under the Emperor Joseph II, not to mention much more recent history of 70 years ago about which we need hardly be reminded.

  7. Mr Nel asked: “I would be curious to know. Is the editor a member of this South African movement of We Are Church or is he not? I think we have a right to know since he is the editor of our only Catholic national newspaper here in South Africa!”

    The editor can assure Mr Nel that he is not a member of We Are Church or any similar movement. The editor is also not a supporter of the Society of St Pius X, dialogue with which the editor has repeatedly and consistenly commended.

  8. Donal says:

    There is a qualitative difference in the implications for the unity of the Church of the We are Church group and the SSPX. SSPX may be described as placing an excessive emphasis on tradition, as it was interpreted prior to the 1960s, but it challenges no salient doctrine of the Church regarding the male priesthood, the eucharist, the model of marriages and the family. The same cannot be said of the We Are Church group, which rejects traditional teaching in all of these areas and calls for, among other things, lay celebration of the eucharist. Therefore these two groups do not equally undermine Church teaching and do not stand in equally distance from the Church. Were our ancestors to return from past centuries or decades they would recognise the SSPX as familiar, but they would find the WACs bizarre, horrifying and scandalous.
    There also remains the question of describing WAC on here as `progressive’ without the use of quotation marks. You may not wish to convey this impression, but it implies that you share the view that they are indeed `progressive’. They may describe themselves as such, but many Catholics would regard them as regressive. As already mentioned, the meltdown within Anglicanism, which has adopted so much of the WAC platform, provides a salutary warning. Not that our Church can ever die or pass into heresy, but chunks can break away, as in the sixteenth and subsequent centuries – we have the Old Catholics and the Polish National Church etc which demonstrates that there is nothing new in this. WAC will not succeed in undermining these doctrines because of the historic nature of authority in the Church, which limits the power of popes no less than that of the rest of us, but damage can be done in the process of attempting to undermine. I fear that the effect of the dialogue of the kind advocated (essentially the wearing down those who uphold constant Church teaching) will be divided parishes and ultimately grave disappointment, when WAC advocates finally realise tht the Church is not just unwilling but unable to deliver the `progress’ they so stridently advocate. It is not a question of waiting for a more liberal pope to come along, or for another council to carry on an unending revolution based on that nebulous `spirit of Vatican II’, or changing the name of WAC to a more regionally based one in the hope that local bishops can be `turned’ and recruited to the cause. It simply won’t work, but neither do WAC’s efforts go unnoticed.

  9. You are taking a benign view of the SSPX, Dinal. The SSPX rejects the authority and certain key teachings of Vatican II, and acted in direct disobedience to the Holy Father before their leadership was excommunicated.

    No We Are Church member has been excommunicated, nor has the group’s favourite theologian, Father Hans Kng. Unlike the SSPX, the We Are Church people are asking that disciplines and teachings be reviewed, not that they be ignored or violated (though a case can be made that they do so in regard to Humanae vitae).

    In any event, the editorial’s point stands: “…the movement will have to persuade the Church authorities and fellow Catholics that their brand of critique is not intended to sow doctrinal discord and dissent. Its arguments, therefore, need to be stated within the possibilities provided by the framework of the Churchs doctrines and canon law, their demands must be reasonable, and their rhetoric must not be inflammatory.”

    Without meeting these expectations, We Are Church will not be regarded as a Catholic organisation in good standing.

    Anyhow, these putative time-travelling ancestors would not recognise the Church of Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI either. And if they come from the early Church, they’d be very bemused at how much the Church has developed and evolved even in disciplines such as mandatory and prescribed celibacy. And that is how we know the Catholic Church is still alive: by the way it continues to evolve.

  10. @ Editorial

    One role model of holy disobedience was St. Joan of Arc. When Joan was asked whether she was subject to church authorities, she replied yes, but our Lord must be served first. There is reason for hope that more contemporary church officials will follow the teaching of Cardinal Walter Kasper, who said, Some situations oblige one to obey God and ones own conscience, rather than the leaders of the church. Indeed, one may even be obliged to accept excommunication, rather than act against ones conscience. (CORPUS REPORTS November/December 2005)

    Joan of Arc, and other courageous people endured condemnation and excommunication in serving God first and obeying her conscience.

  11. Donal says:

    I think you misunderstand, Gunther. Vatican II was a pastoral, not a dogmatic, council, and one of many, not the defining, councils in the history of the Church, as the Holy See and this pope has pointed out and Benedict XVI’s teaching on the Hermenneutic of Continuity rather than Rupture refers. Doubtless there are problems with the SSPX, but you cannot fetishise a verbal loyalty to a nebulous Spirit of Vatican II, or suggest that the ordination of women, homosexual marriage and lay celebration of the eucharist amount to a “review of disciplines and teachings”, unless we have totally different understandings of Catholic teaching. That WAC and Hans Kung has not been excommunicated, is indeed remarkable, but I am surprised that you rely on such an “authoritarian” measurement to make your point about the SSPX. Regarding the priesthood (I didn’t mention celibacy – I am not that stupid), marriage, the family, homosexual marriage, the creeds, the eucharist, the sacraments, I stand by my historical point completely.

    The teaching on priestly celibacy is a wholly different matter from the ordination of women, as I have highlighted more than in relation to the practice of several of the Eastern Rites of the Catholic Church, so please don’t assume ignorance on my part in this regard..

  12. Donal says:

    One “n” in hermeneutic, of course!

  13. Donal says:

    PS I take it that the Eastern Orthodox churches are not alive but “dead”?

  14. Mark Nel says:


    It seems that those who advocate the ordination of women priests all love to quote those words of Cardinal Kasper. Just type the words into Google and one is returned hundreds of posts of people advocating the ordination of women.

    What is of utmost importance is to know that one should only ever follow a well informed conscience. Here is a good post on making decisions based on ones conscience: http://www.ascensioncatholic.net/TOPICS/morality/ConscienceAndMoralDecisions.html

  15. @ Mark

    How are you so sure that I advocate [strong word] women’s ordination?

    We need to be careful not only about our individual conscience and its ongoing formation but we also need to be careful that we are simply fully informed before making statements like the one above.

  16. Vincent Couling says:

    A very important editorial, in my opinion.

    The Editor states that Bishops are rightly anxious when groups in their dioceses challenge Church doctrines and disciplines, especially those that have become virtual litmus test issues: Humanae vitae, the admission of women to holy orders, and clerical celibacy.

    Of course, there is the flip side to this coin: the vast majority of the People of God i.e. those who do not enjoy the ontological change induced by the sacrament of holy orders – are rightly anxious when they have little-to-no say in the choice of their bishops (something that would surely bemuse any Early-Church Christians should they be time-warped into the current ecclesiastical milieu). It is surely undeniable that there has been a systematic policy since the pontificate of Karol Wojtyla to appoint bishops who conform to the contentious aspect of Humanae Vitae (i.e. the ban against using artificial contraception as a means to responsible family planning), and who conform to the view that women cannot be ordained (another highly-contentious and unresolved issue), and that gays must remain celibate and even then cannot be ordained to the priesthood. Gone are the days of Pope John XXIII and Paul VI, when moderate-to-progressive bishops were also ordained. (And, yes, I am painfully aware that such labels as moderate-to-progressive are hopelessly inadequate Im thinking here of the sort of visionary intellectuals like Denis Hurley and Leo Suenens.)

    It is no secret that in Western societies (societies which, to put it quite bluntly, have been inextricably shaped by Western Christianity) an overwhelming majority of practising Catholics disagree with the magisterial teaching about artificial contraception. It is also no secret that at the time of the publication of Humanae Vitae, there were bishops conferences that had strong reservations about this teaching, which probably should have been shaped by the Council Fathers of Vatican II, rather than taken out of the council and decided by one bishop alone.

    So my counter to the Editors above statement would be something like Catholic laypersons are rightly anxious when the magisterium establishes doctrines and disciplines (especially concerning the most intimate aspects of the lived lives of the People of God) without broad consultation, and when bishops are appointed without broad prior consultation with the people they are to shepherd.

  17. Vincent Couling says:

    As for those who try to diminish a progressive interpretation of the Second Vatican Council by harping endlessly about the so-called nebulous spirit of Vatican II let me try to concretize what might be meant by this spirit a spirit of dialogue and collaboration with the modern world, with the various intellectual traditions (philosophical, psychological, sociological, historical, scientific, etc.), with broader society, with other denominations and other faiths, even with atheists of good intention, secular humanists a spirit of collegiality in decision-making, especially on such issues as artificial contraception, womens ordination, gay love-relationships, clerical celibacy, etc.

    And as for the opinion about the hermeneutic of continuity versus the hermeneutic of rupture vis--vis Vatican II, perhaps there is a dialectical both/and rather than a dualistic either/or required. I notice with great delight the words of Cardinal Suenens in his introduction (entitled Co-responsibility: dominating idea of the Council and its pastoral consequences) to the text Theology of Renewal:

    The Second Vatican Council marked the end of an epoch, or even of several epochs, depending on ones historical perspective. It brought to a close the Constantinian era, the era of Christendom in the mediaeval sense, the era of the Counter-Reformation and the era of Vatican I. In reference to /that/ past, it marks a turning point in the history of the Church.

    In reference, however, to a more immediate past namely, the first half of this century we see it not as a term but as a culimination, as the heir and beneficiary of those great currents of renewal which were and are at the very heart of the contemporary Church: scriptural, liturgical, patristic, theological, and pastoral renewal. The Council caught and channelled the waters of these streams, which had grown stronger and stronger under the influence of the Holy Spirit, and it resolutely directed them towards the open sea which was their goal.

    Some view Modernism in its entirety as a great evil, others as a flourishing inspired by the Holy Spirit, as we evolve in consciousness, collaborating with the Divine Spark in this great project of fine art, the evolution of the cosmos itself.

  18. Vincent Couling says:

    Now to my pet peeve the issue of gay unions, which has been alluded to in a couple of places above. What a convoluted business! To try and tease out some coherence from the mess that is unfolding, it is necessary to decouple civil unions and civil marriage from sacramental marriage. Many fail to make this distinction (whether deliberately [and hence mischievously] or accidentally Im never sure).

    Civil marriage is clearly separate from sacramental marriage yes, one can have ones sacramental marriage recognized by civil authorities but a sacramental marriage is surely considered valid irrespective of whether or not it is recognized by civil authorities. If I am not mistaken, if a Catholic couple are to get an annulment (i.e. a formal recognition that the sacramental marriage never existed in the first place), they /must/ first seek and obtain a civil divorce! And yet, we know the Churchs teaching as regards divorce (some even allude to the words of Christ as regards divorce there are, of course, no words of Christ in the Holy Writ as regards gay unions). I think the reasoning goes something like pish posh, its only a civil marriage, which, as we all know, is not a real marriage its the sacramental marriage that counts in the eyes of God!

    So now we enter a very murky, very stinky bog of potential hypocrisy and mendacity! Civil marriage doesnt really count! After all, people can get civil divorces and can then marry again under civil law several times over, which doesnt square with a literal reading of Jesus words on divorce, does it! So where is the magisterial outrage over divorce and remarriage in the realm of civil law? To match the outrage over gay civil marriage as well as gay civil unions; an outrage which is unfolding pretty much the Western world over?! The foetid stench of double standards hangs thick in the air.

    The recent strides made in civil law in some countries (including our own) as concerns queer people seems to have irked many hierarchs in the Catholic Church. The Southern Cross reported our very own Wilfrid Fox Cardinal Napier as having his say:

    It was in the Southern Cross of 6 October 2010, in an article on page 2, entitled Cardinal highlights courageous conversations, wherein Cardinal Napier is reported to have said that much work needs to be done in terms of moral and ethical peacemaking in South Africa, placing emphasis on the ways politicians conduct their business through to emerging trends which he feels are immoral, including claims for the rights of homosexuals: This is a sensitive subject, but ten years ago it was a perversion, then it becomes a human right and now it is an identity.

    Frankly, I was quite wounded by what I saw as a possible expression of wistful regret on the part of His Eminence that homosexuality is still not regarded as a perversion! I wonder if one can surmise that His Eminence might like to see gay love-relationships re-criminalized in South African law?
    Perhaps we could have for ourselves the delightful debate that recently took place in Uganda: whether or not to instate the death penalty for those who engage in gay love-relationships!

    Fortunately, there are glimmers of hope, which contrast quite starkly with some of the near-homophobic attitudes of some spiritual and temporal leaders. Archbishop Vincent Nichols, president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales, is reported by the Tablet as recently having said (w)e would want to emphasize that civil partnerships actually provide a structure in which people of the same sex who want a lifelong relationship (and) a lifelong partnership can find their place and protection and legal provision.

    Now Im under no illusion as to what is probably happening here. The political landscape has shifted so very dramatically that we have a British Prime Minister from the Conservative Party ;-) claiming that supporting gay civil marriage is the conservative thing to do!
    I think it quite appropriate to quote from PinkNews (Europes largest gay news service) to make my pink point:

    The prime minister, who backed commitment between same-sex couples in his 2005 speech, told supporters today: I stood before a Conservative conference once and I said it shouldnt matter whether commitment was between a man and a woman, a man and another man or a woman and a woman. You applauded me for that. Five years on, were consulting on legalising gay marriage. And to anyone who has reservations, I say this: Yes, its about equality, but its also about something else: commitment. Conservatives believe in the ties that bind us; that society is stronger when we make vows to each other and support each other. So I dont support gay marriage in spite of being a Conservative. I support gay marriage because I am a Conservative. The camera then cut to Samantha Cameron applauding her husbands remarks as members cheered and clapped.
    And David Cameron makes quite an interesting point, methinks. Surely the Church must distinguish between promiscuous gay sex and gay couples who are in committed, covenantal love relationships? Surely it is far more beneficial for broader society to foster stable gay relationships than the furtive, unstable one-night-stand-carried-out-in-the-dark-with-a-good-chance-of-contracting-HIV kind?
    Now that Archbishop Nichols knows the game is probably up, even the Conservative Party having partook of the seismic shift in consciousness, suddenly hed rather there be civil unions, and not civil marriage (using the principle of the lesser of two evils?). Well, that might have worked a decade or two back, but unfortunately the Holy Father has called civil unions “pseudo-matrimonies that stem from “expressions of an anarchic freedom.” And such has been the magnitude of this seismic event in human consciousness that today the majority of people in the Western world will see civil unions for gays as a kind of double standard, a sort of matrimonial apartheid and so civil marriage its inevitably going to be full equality before the law. No number of sandbags are going to hold back this tide that is sweeping across human consciousness, especially amongst the youngsters, who see their gay friends as an integral part of society, and as perfectly normal people (which they are!).
    I also see that the United States and Great Britain are contemplating weighing up how countries treat their gay and lesbian citizens when disbursing foreign aid. Social justice in action! ;-)

    As for sacramental same-sex unions that will have to be thrashed out by the theologians, bishops and laity, with a consensus required by all the People of God. My crystal ball tells me that the advance forecast is quite optimistic .

  19. Donal says:

    Dream on.

  20. Vincent Couling says:

    Recent surveys in the US clearly show that US Catholics are more supportive of gay rights than the general US population (by some 5 percentage points, apparently!) … something like 71% of US Catholics support same-sex civil unions (and when broken down into age categories, it’s clear that as the years pass, this majority will swiftly increase).

    So it’s hardly a dream … it’s a shift that is unfolding before our very eyes! Gays and lesbians will no doubt be welcomed with open arms by Holy Mother … it seems quite inevitable to me. The theological niceties will have to be resolved, especially as regards their covenantal unions … but that is why we have been given the parameter of time … .

  21. @ Gnther

    “No We Are Church member has been excommunicated…,”
    I am not 100% sure of the actual history but if the ordained women were members of a W.O. movement – no matter the country – they would have been affiliated within their group with the international body WOW which in turn is affiliated to IMWAC. And even our S.African Trish Fresen received formal notification of excommunication but technically could one say that she was a member of WOSA. She was – or her convent – was on the WOSA newsletter readership but does that constitute being a member of WO.

    WOSA was a member of IMWAC council although it is no longer active in SA.

  22. John says:

    I knew it was only going to be a matter of time before the “liberals” stepped into this argument. Another reason why I tend to ignore the Scross completely.

    Thank God however that He has decided that which must be followed by the Church already in matters already discussed in this editorial (as well as same sex unions). No matter what peoples opinions are it just cant change the facts, it just cant change the Truth. (This point will most certainly to be argued, Ill completely ignore those arguments though.)

    Dream on indeed.

  23. P.R.Margeot says:

    I would also day : Dream on. What a waste of time. The Holy Church is heading towards her Tradition, the Tradition, and the mass of all time which has showered the world with graces and blessings from time immemorial. We have a good Pope and we also say that the Revolution is nearly over(remember Cardinal Suenens who said that the Council was “1789” in the Holy Church : he was right of course. But now the revolutionaries will have to make some room for ordinary catholics, in any case they are being overwhelmed , overtaken by events. Exciting times are coming. There will be no room in the Catholic Church for what the progressives are demanding, or rather keep asking. They are convinced that they will have results. The progressives and the liberals have had their day and now should accept with humility that the carnival is over, as the Seekers would sing…The Bishops should now embrace the Motu Proprio “Summorum Pontificum” and obey the Pope. The Tridentine mass is the mass which will save the Holy Church. Salus animarum suprema lex.

  24. P.R.Margeot says:

    Sorry : first line : I would also say

  25. John says:

    I can’t help but share your optimistic view P.R. I also can’t wait for the day that Holy Mass in the Extraordinary Form becomes the rule rather than the exception. I’m only 25 years old & in what I have read about the Tridentine Mass I am filled with hope & wonder. I can only hope more young Catholics can embrace it as well.

    You’ll be pleased to know that Holy Mass in the Extraordinary Form is in fact celebrated at our Cathedral in Johannesburg on more than once a week. I am truly looking forward to celebrating that Mass.

    Thank you P.R. for your comments in previous editorials\discussions. They have truly been an inspiration to me. God bless you.

  26. @ PRM & John

    The only thing that worries me about YOUR dream is all the people Christ needs hands and hearts to heal, care for, and bring into the ‘fold’ that you pass by on your way to celebrate this Mass in the Extraordinary Form. Is it some kind of magical miracle that fills the mandate of Christ i.e.Luke 4:18

    PRM recognises that ‘the Holy Church’ needs saving which means in terms of Catholic doctrine as Christ the Bridegroom and the church as Bride – the bride needs saving. I ask: from whom, from what?

    Is the Holy Spirit redundant in this dream?

  27. John says:

    I don’t understand your point Rosemary. I feel that the Holy Mass, whether it be in the Extraordinary Form or in the Novus Ordo is for all of God’s children. I wouldn’t dream of denying people to the Lord’s supper. May I suggest you follow your own advice about making comments/statements about other people that are not substantiated?

    The Holy Spirit is & never will be redundant. Never have I made such a claim nor hinted at it.

    As to the Extraordinary Form of the Holy Mass I am of the view that we can only benefit from it. Seeing that most of the saints to date would have celebrated that Form (clear proof that the Holy Spirit did & does play a critical role in the Extraordinary Form) I can see no wrong in having it as an integral part of our Spiritual Journey today. Added to this there are countless other benefits to the Extraordinary Form, I could provide supporting links but I’m unable to do so from my cell phone from which I’m writing now. When I’m back on my laptop though, if still in doubt, I can provide the links from priests who are in favour of it and enforce the reasons as to why I’m so in favour of it.

  28. Mark Nel says:

    Donal your response to Vincent is spot on. Dream on!

  29. @ John
    I admire your humility John: saying you dont understand. To take your advice and substantiate my interpreting YOUR dream:

    1. I also cant wait for the day Is that not effectively dreaming?
    2. PRM: The Holy Church is heading towards her Tradition considering 2000 years is Tradition, the [t]radition referred to goes back only several hundred years. Also his use of the term mass of all time is factually incorrect. A Dream!

    If you search from the homepage for Shackleton you will find a question and answer on the subject of Tridentine Mass. This is essentially what I know as the facts of the whole matter… from the top down.

    My remark about the Holy Spirit was not meant for you personally but in all these dreams, the Holy Spirit is doing her work and what will be will be. She will do any saving of the Mystical Body of Christ that may or may not be needed.

  30. Mark Nel says:


    “How are you so sure that I advocate [strong word] womens ordination?”

    Why do you not correct my alleged incorrect perception here and now. State publicly that, though you are a member of WAACSA, you disagree with and will oppose one of the objectives of WAACSA – the ordination of women as Catholic priests?

  31. John says:


    It’s not a dream Rosemary, it’s more of a hope. In any event the Extraordinary Forn of the Holy Mass is being celebrated in the Catholic Church today nonetheless. I suppose one could call it a “reality” then.

    The Holy Spirit will do “her” work?!? As far as I am aware, the Holy Spirit is neither a “He” or a “She”. Why the sexist approach now?

  32. Mark Nel says:

    @Vincent, you make various comments above when you begin to address your “pet peeve the issue of gay unions…”

    – “To try and tease out some coherence from the mess that is unfolding…”

    – “So now we enter a very murky, very stinky bog…”

    Look, I think the issue of homosexuality is quite clearly addressed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. It provides an extremely coherent teaching on the subject of homosexuality, marriage and homosexual sexual relationships. There is nothing murky or stinky about the teaching of the Church. There may be about peoples failure to accept and live by the teaching, but not about the teaching itself.

    Here are some extracts from the Catechism of the Catholic Church on the subject which provide absolute clarity:

    2357 Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.” They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.

    2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.

    2359 Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.

    The Church teaching on marriage is equally clear and can also be found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

    The “mess that is unfolding” and the “murky, very stinky bog” is all a direct consequence of an adamant refusal, by homosexuals, to accept the Church’s teaching on these subjects. What homosexuals are asking for is something that simply does not exist and therefore they cannot have. Gay marriage is simply a figment of the imagination. There is no such thing! The term “gay marriage” is a manipulation of language to suit the homosexuals needs/wants.

    Marriage is a union between a man and a women. That’s it! To say “gay marriage” is like saying a “cold hot bath”, or a “black white man”, or a “puppy kitten”. Its just murdering language to suit personal objectives. (This also applies to the use of the term “Catholic Women Priests”. There simply is no such thing! It does not exist.)

    Using a term like “gay marriage” is like deciding to add a new element, which does not exist at all, to the periodic table. What is the point of putting it there if it does not exist. Just to feel good?

  33. John says:

    Oh dear Mark now you’ve gone and done it. Get ready for one huge argument backed up with essays of information (useless mostly) to counter your points. Just so that you know I fully agree with what you have stated on the issue of homosexuality, having homosexual inclinations myself.

    This is where I will have to step away from adding any further to this discussion I’m afraid if there is a counter argument. I once tried to debate this topic on the Scross and paid for it. So as to avoid any negative influences I will not add anything further on the issue of homosexuality here.

    Good luck nonetheless.

  34. Mark Nel says:

    @John, luckily a reaction would mean challenging the teaching of the Church as contained in the Catechism. It will not be challenging me, I had nothing to do with writing the Catechism, just learned from it.

    Enjoy the rest of your weekend. Please send me your email address to mark.nel@mweb.co.za. I would like to send you an invite to a “Recollection of Men” which happens once a month. I assume you are based in Jhb area. Normally on a Tuesday evening 18h00 to 20h00 and includes a meditation, a talk, time for confession and Eucharistic Adoration. in addition the group goes away for a preached retreat regularly during the year. I think you would enjoy it and benefit from it.

  35. John says:

    Thanks very muck Mark & thank you very much fore the invitation. I am honoured & would very much like to be a part of it. I’ve sent you an e-mail already asking you on advice on the SSPX & the Tridentine Mass. You posted it on your blog if you will recall. Thanks for the feedback on that once again.

    In any event my e-mail address is john.ecunha@standardbank.co.za.

    Have a good weekend. :-)

  36. @ Mark
    advocate = person who supports and/or speaks in favour.
    dialogue = conversation/discussion (which is why WAACSA says it seeks meaningful dialogue).

    I publicly advocate WAACSA Mission Statement which clearly states in regard to such issues as womens ministry that it strives for a Church that:

    Openly addresses contemporary concerns such as priestly celibacy and women in ministry.

    In case you miss it, the openly addresses means dialogue with all concerned. We/I are not advocating anything of the kind you suggest(sic)!

    You perhaps need to look to conserving your energy and give up on believing you read other peoples hearts!

  37. @John
    You really need to read the Michael Shackleton article on Tridentine Mass to see that our conversation is going nowhere. I think it was in April last year.

  38. Mark Nel says:

    @Rosemary, your reply is deceptive and sounds like that of a politician. You are simply playing with words.

    On the WAACSA website there is a post, from the launch of the movement, on 27 November 2011. In this post it specifically states that one of the goals of your movement is the “admission of women to all church ministries.” A goal is something that one actively wants to achieve, not discuss. In fact the post says the movement wants to “realise” these goals.

    I will therefore stand by my earlier point that you do advocate the ordination of women as priests. As for your advice about conserving my energy and not trying to read people’s hearts.

    I am not reading people’s hearts. I am just reading the written statements of the WAACSA movement to which you belong and whose mission, and goals, you, by your own admission, advocate, even though you appear a little reluctant to say so boldly.

    I would suggest that you and WAACSA conserve your energy by simply obeying the teaching of the Church. All that nonsense about the “spirit of Vatican II” is simply code for, we actually know that Vatican II did not say what we say it said, but we believe we know best what Vatican II actually intended to say, even though it didn’t, and so we are going with that erroneous belief, instead of sticking with what the Vatican II documents actually do say.

    I also reiterate my earlier statement to the editor of this paper that this editorial is completely inaccurate and actually misleading and deceptive. The goals of WAACSA, from its launch on 27 November 2011, specifically includes a closing statement which reads: “In pursuing these goals, we align ourselves with thousands of fellow Catholics around the world who are part of the International Movement We Are Church.”

    Maybe next weeks editorial should contain a correction.

  39. The editorial referred to what is reported in the newspaper. Should it be that WAACSA is acting in bad faith, or is contravening doctrine, then that would self-evidently impact on the group’s desire to be regarded as a Catholic organisation in good standing.

    But that is in itself covered in the editorial, third-last paragraph, which you might want to re-read.

  40. @ Mark

    [snip] All that nonsense about the spirit of Vatican II is simply code for, we actually know that Vatican II did not say what we say it said, but we believe we know best what Vatican II actually intended to say, even though it didnt, and so we are going with that erroneous belief, instead of sticking with what the Vatican II documents actually do say.

    Would you be so kind as to rephrase this very convoluted sentence so that we can glean a salient point.

  41. Hallelujah – checkmate

  42. Vincent Couling says:

    “All that nonsense about the spirit of Vatican II is simply code for, we actually know that Vatican II did not say what we say it said, but we believe we know best what Vatican II actually intended to say, even though it didnt, and so we are going with that erroneous belief, instead of sticking with what the Vatican II documents actually do say.”

    Well, what do the documents of Vatican II say? A huge question, I must say! But here are a few snippets to get us started …

    In tackling contemporary issues, Vatican II cautioned of the need to be aware of the changeable circumstances which the subject matter, by its very nature, involves, and that it happens rather frequently, and legitimately so, that with equal sincerity some of the faithful will disagree with others on a given matter (Gaudium et Spes #43). #33 asks us to sometimes hold the tension of an unresolved issue, rather than arrive at a premature conclusion: The Church, as guardian of the deposit of Gods word, draws religious and moral principles from it, but it does not always have ready answers to particular questions.

    Now, what are some current contemporary questions? I can think of a few off the top of my head: the role of women in society and in the church, the place of gays and lesbians in society and in the church, methods of responsible family planning in society and in the church, and the appropriateness of retention of the discipline of a mandatory monastic celibacy for all priests, including secular (a discipline which was not in force for the first millennium of Catholic life, or so I am told … so much for being true to Tradition!).

    Some more wisdom from the Council Fathers (Gaudium et Spes #62):

    The recent studies and findings of science, history and philosophy raise new questions which effect life and which demand new theological investigations. In pastoral care, sufficient use must be made not only of theological principles, but also of the findings of the secular sciences, especially of psychology and sociology, so that the faithful may be brought to a more adequate and mature life of faith. May the faithful blend new sciences and theories and the understanding of the most recent discoveries with Christian morality and the teaching of Christian doctrine, so that their religious culture and morality may keep pace with scientific knowledge and with the constantly progressing technology. Thus they will be able to interpret and evaluate all things in a truly Christian spirit.

    So it seems that the mission statement of WAACSA has enormous fidelity to the “spirit” of the Second Vatican Council! A spirit of dialogue, of fresh theological investigations, especially in areas where modern scientific investigation has unearthed new insights, awkward new questions!

    If Rosemary is indeed correct, and if the WAACSA mission statement declares that WAACSA “strives for a Church that openly addresses contemporary concerns such as priestly celibacy and women in ministry,” then this seems to me to be entirely consonant “with what the Vatican II documents actually do say”!

    And to quibble about a post (from a single individual?) before people were invited to early discussions in the formation of WAACSA … before a mission statement had even been thrashed out, before a local vison had been decided, before the extent of local alignment to the international IMWAC had even been discussed by founding members in the various provinces … well, that’s to be somewhat mendacious in intention – not a very charitable, or Christlike, approach! More like driving a somewhat tawdry little agenda.

  43. Vincent Couling says:

    And is any of this true to Tradition? An important question, for some followers of the late and excommunicated Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre would apparently argue that the Second Vatican Council broke with Tradition, is erroneous, and needs to be corrected!

    To begin to answer this question, let us look at the words of St Augustine of Hippo (354 – 430 AD) … The writings of bishops may be refuted both by the perhaps wiser words of anyone more experienced in the matter and by the weightier authority and more scholarly prudence of other bishops, and also by councils, if something in them perhaps has deviated from the truth; even councils held in particular regions or provinces must without quibbling give way to the authority of plenary councils of the whole Christian world; and even the earlier plenary councils are often corrected by later ones, if as a result of practical experience something that was closed is opened, something that was hidden becomes known.

    Now it seems that Gaudium et Spes is true to this early vision … we are a Church of both faith and reason … we are to use the findings of the modern sciences, of modern historical investigations (using historical-critical methods, for example), and of philosophy to open fresh theological investigations, to enter into renewed dialogue, to synthesize and to integrate and to evolve and to deepen insight!

    Wherever questions that were deemed closed are re-opened by contemporary findings and insights, we are to enter into new studies, new dialogues and debates, in an attempt to find better (i.e. more refined)answers. This task clearly will never be accomplished … excellent news for the academic enterprise as found in universities (both Catholic and secular) and elsewhere.

    As John T. Noonan (the renowned Catholic ethicist, historian and circuit-court judge) has argued in his scrupulously-researched book, A Church That Can and Cannot Change: change is not a thing to be ashamed of, to be whispered about, to be disguised or held from the light of day, as grave guardians sometimes think it is a way of teaching celebrated in the Gospel itself (Mt 13:52).

  44. Vincent Couling says:

    A little web search reveals the following … the WAACSA mission statement … I have done a cut and paste job below, since it is directly pertinent to what is unfolding on this discussion thread. Copied from the link http://www.wearechurchsa.blogspot.com/search/label/MISSION%20STATEMENT%20of%20WAACSA

    “Thursday, December 15, 2011


    This was finalised about a month ago and we apologise for not having uploaded previously.

    Where the Spirit is, there is freedom (2Cor 3:17)

    WE ARE ALL CHURCH is a movement of Catholics in Southern Africa who are committed to the renewal of our Church envisaged by the Second Vatican Council.

    We recognise that renewal starts from our own journey in living out our faith.

    We believe that renewal requires freedom for responsible inquiry and debate about matters of faith and morals, and the structures and practices of our Church.

    Our vision is of a Church of love and justice in which the voices of all its members are heard and valued, and which is fully engaged with a changing world.

    OUR MISSION is to strive for a Church that

    Upholds primacy of conscience, and the need for questioning and dialogue
    Openly addresses contemporary concerns such as priestly celibacy and women in ministry
    Engages all members in its deliberations
    Embraces all of its members without judging or excluding

    WAAC SA is an autonomous movement, established in South Africa in November 2010. Our name reflects the inclusiveness of the Vatican II concept of the People of God. We have adopted as our motto Archbishop Denis Hurleys motto: Ubi spiritus, ibi libertas (2 Cor 3:17).

    National Coordinators: Brian Robertson (brian.r@mweb.co.za) and Francoise Robertson (fran.r@mweb.co.za)
    Gauteng Coordinators: Douglas Irvine (dmirvine@mweb.co.za) and Peter Sadie (peter@imsimbi.co.za)
    Kwazula-Natal Coordinator: Rosemary Gravenor (rosemarymcs@iburst.co.za)
    Western Cape Coordinators: Janet Perrott (mijan@telkomsa.net) and Miranda Forshaw (forshaw@bre.co.za)

    Blogspot: http://www.wearechurchsa.blogspot.com


    WAACSA is an affiliate of the International Movement We Are Church (IMWAC), a network of independent groups representing different cultures where Catholic Christians are endeavouring to live out the message of Jesus Christ.”

  45. Vincent Couling says:

    Sounds like the sort of movement I could join, while remaining in fidelity to the Second Vatican Council (both in spirit and in letter).

  46. Vincent Couling says:

    And while remaining in fidelity to the early Tradition of none less than St Augustine of Hippo!

  47. Vincent Couling says:

    As well as to the somewhat later view of Pope Pelagius II [Pope from 579 – 590 AD] (words drafted by the man who was to become Pope Gregory the Great):

    Dear brethren, do you think that when Peter was reversing his position, one should have replied: We refuse to hear what you are saying since you previously taught the opposite? In the matter [at hand] one position was held while the truth was being sought, and a different position was adopted after truth had been found. Why should a change of position be thought a crime ? For what is reprehensible is not changing ones mind, but being fickle in ones views. If the mind remains unwavering in seeking to know what is right, why should you object when it abandons its ignorance and reformulates its views?

  48. Vincent Couling says:

    PS my previous three posts might seem a little strange … until you realise that directly above them is posted the WAACSA mission statement, which is currently awaiting moderation (presumably because there are two internet links embedded in the post) …

  49. Mark Nel says:

    “…it desires now to unfold more fully to the faithful of the Church and to the whole world its own inner nature and universal mission. THIS IT INTENDS TO DO FOLLOWING FAITHFULLY THE TEACHING OF PREVIOUS COUNCILS.”

    (Lumen Gentium, #1)

  50. Vincent Couling says:

    Now if we are to take a fundamentalist reading of the above statement, we immediately run into a little bit of trouble, don’t we!

    Let’s see what would be involved in following every jot and tittle of previous councils … in one very tiny spere, that of relations with the Chosen People of Israel …

    The Third Lateran Council of 1179 (presided over by Pope Alexander III, and with 302 bishops in attendance), in its Canon no 26, declared those Christians who presume to live with Jews excommunicated.

    Canon 26: Jews and Saracens are not to be allowed to have christian servants in their houses, either under pretence of nourishing their children or for service or any other reason. Let those be excommunicated who presume to live with them. We declare that the evidence of Christians is to be accepted against Jews in every case, since Jews employ their own witnesses against Christians, and that those who prefer Jews to Christians in this matter are to lie under anathema, since Jews ought to be subject to Christians and to be supported by them on grounds of humanity alone. If any by the inspiration of God are converted to the christian faith, they are in no way to be excluded from their possessions, since the condition of converts ought to be better than before their conversion. If this is not done, we enjoin on the princes and rulers of these places, under penalty of excommunication, the duty to restore fully to these converts the share of their inheritance and goods.

    In 1215, the Fourth Lateran Council decreed that Jews must wear distinctive clothes and the reason was based on wait for it give a little paukenwirbel sexual intercourse, of all things! Here is Canon no 68:

    In some provinces a difference in dress distinguishes the Jews or Saracens from the Christians, but in certain others such a confusion has grown up that they cannot be distinguished by any difference. Thus it happens at times that through error Christians have relations with the women of Jews or Saracens, and Jews and Saracens with Christian women. Therefore, that they may not, under pretext of error of this sort, excuse themselves in the future for the excesses of such prohibited intercourse, we decree that such Jews and Saracens of both sexes in every Christian province and at all times shall be marked off in the eyes of the public from other peoples through the character of their dress. Particularly, since it may be read in the writings of Moses [Numbers 15:37-41], that this very law has been enjoined upon them.

    Moreover, during the last three days before Easter and especially on Good Friday, they shall not go forth in public at all, for the reason that some of them on these very days, as we hear, do not blush to go forth better dressed and are not afraid to mock the Christians who maintain the memory of the most holy Passion by wearing signs of mourning.

    This, however, we forbid most severely, that any one should presume at all to break forth in insult to the Redeemer. And since we ought not to ignore any insult to Him who blotted out our disgraceful deeds, we command that such impudent fellows be checked by the secular princes by imposing them proper punishment so that they shall not at all presume to blaspheme Him who was crucified for us.

    Did Lumen Gentium really envision what I think Mark Nel might have in his mind when italicising a particular sentence above?

  51. Vincent Couling says:

    Indeed, in Nostra Aetate, the Second Vatican Council declared:

    “Furthermore, in her rejection of every persecution against any man, the Church, mindful of the patrimony she shares with the Jews and moved not by political reasons but by the Gospel’s spiritual love, decries hatred, persecutions, displays of anti-Semitism, directed against Jews at any time and by anyone.”

    A rather clear rupture with the anti-semitic statements of some earlier councils, no!

    Statements which would appear to have planted the seeds of the ghettos, with their segregation (a kind of spiritual apartheid) between Jews and Christians. Statements which were promulgated by a Pope and Council and enforced by means of a spiritual penalty, namely excommunication!

  52. Vincent Couling says:

    Statements which have clearly been reversed by the Second Vatican Council, giving the lie to a fundamentalist interpretation of “THIS IT INTENDS TO DO FOLLOWING FAITHFULLY THE TEACHING OF PREVIOUS COUNCILS.”

  53. Vincent Couling says:

    And for those who relish the triumphalism in promoting what they ever-so-erroneously call “the Mass of all time” (i.e. the Tridentine Mass) … as has been done by some in earlier posts on this very thread (even desiring to see it become once again the rule rather than the exception) … well, are you willing to concede that talk of the perfidious Jews in the liturgy around Good Friday in the Tridentine Mass is odious in the extreme? That by cleaning it up, there was a rupture with the teaching of previous councils … or would you like a faithful return to Tradition to be observed, and this statement to be brought back?

  54. Vincent Couling says:


    I /really/ have no desire to debate with you … but I have to make one minor observation:

    A little earlier on this thread you stated that you are “having homosexual inclinations [yourself].”

    And yet, elsewhere you claimed that your “natural heterosexual inclinations have been reinstated for the lack of a better word. That is the miracle that I have been blessed with by embracing the true teachings of the Church, and I praise God for it every day of my life.”

    I am more than a little perplexed … does the so-called Courage Apostolate’s reparative therapy really work, or doesn’t it? Apparently not, eh! Or does this mean that, thanks be to “Courage,” you’re now bisexual? That might increase subscriptions to “Courage” dramatically – since it might mean that one of the fruits of this type of therapy would be to double one’s pool of potential partners!

    These threads become more fascinating by the day … .

  55. Derrick Kourie says:

    2017 will be the 500th anniversary of Luther posting his 95 theses on a church door, leading to his excommunication in 1521—one of the most catastrophic moments in Christian history. It is interesting that the Lutheran and Catholic churches are now intent on jointly reviewing the history of the event, hoping to learn from past mistakes. See, for example, reports in The Tablet of 7th January.

    To quote from one report: “In the last 50 years, have we started to understand how much we have in common, and how much of the former conflict came from myths, misunderstandings and misrepresentations, which were exaggerated to suit political ends and sustained by pride and obstinacy. Many of the changes the original Reformers sought have now been conceded by the Catholic Church, and substantial theological agreement has been reached on the once contentious issue of justification.”

    I suggest that there are lessons to be learned in regard to WAACSA. My impression is that many officials are alive to the need to avoid another schism, even if there are a few enthusiastic lay people around who ready to drive a wedge as hard as possible between members of the church that see things somewhat differently to themselves

  56. Vincent Couling says:

    All is quiet on the Opus Dei front …

  57. Vincent Couling says:

    Perhaps the metal-chain cilices are being collectively tightened by a notch …

  58. Vincent Couling says:

    The proverbial calm before the storm erupts …

  59. Vincent Couling says:

    I fear that the Webmaster might be on leave, the WAACSA mission statement post still in quarantine, awaiting moderation …

  60. Vincent Couling says:

    So I will post it below (with weblinks in separate comboxes, so that it is not sent off for moderation!) …

  61. Vincent Couling says:

    I think it important to post the mission statement here to clarify any misconceptions that might have been created about WAACSA …

  62. Vincent Couling says:

    The WAACSA mission statement, copied directly from the following Web link …

  63. Vincent Couling says:

    “Thursday, December 15, 2011


    This was finalised about a month ago and we apologise for not having uploaded previously.

    Where the Spirit is, there is freedom (2Cor 3:17)

    WE ARE ALL CHURCH is a movement of Catholics in Southern Africa who are committed to the renewal of our Church envisaged by the Second Vatican Council.

    We recognise that renewal starts from our own journey in living out our faith.

    We believe that renewal requires freedom for responsible inquiry and debate about matters of faith and morals, and the structures and practices of our Church.

    Our vision is of a Church of love and justice in which the voices of all its members are heard and valued, and which is fully engaged with a changing world.

    OUR MISSION is to strive for a Church that

    Upholds primacy of conscience, and the need for questioning and dialogue
    Openly addresses contemporary concerns such as priestly celibacy and women in ministry
    Engages all members in its deliberations
    Embraces all of its members without judging or excluding

    WAAC SA is an autonomous movement, established in South Africa in November 2010. Our name reflects the inclusiveness of the Vatican II concept of the People of God. We have adopted as our motto Archbishop Denis Hurleys motto: Ubi spiritus, ibi libertas (2 Cor 3:17).

    National Coordinators: Brian Robertson (brian.r@mweb.co.za) and Francoise Robertson (fran.r@mweb.co.za)
    Gauteng Coordinators: Douglas Irvine (dmirvine@mweb.co.za) and Peter Sadie (peter@imsimbi.co.za)
    Kwazula-Natal Coordinator: Rosemary Gravenor (rosemarymcs@iburst.co.za)
    Western Cape Coordinators: Janet Perrott (mijan@telkomsa.net) and Miranda Forshaw (forshaw@bre.co.za) “

  64. Vincent Couling says:

    There is also a footnote to the mission statement, which now follows …

  65. Vincent Couling says:

    “WAACSA is an affiliate of the International Movement We Are Church (IMWAC), a network of independent groups representing different cultures where Catholic Christians are endeavouring to live out the message of Jesus Christ.

  66. Vincent Couling says:

    I note that WAACSA is an autonomous movement, affiliated to IMWAC, but nevertheless an independent group. That clarifies much in relation to earlier posts.

  67. Vincent Couling says:

    I wish WAACSA and the SACBC well with their open dialogue, their courageous conversations …

  68. Vincent Couling says:

    May Our Lady, Patroness of our beloved country, be with all of a sincere heart, that an ever-greater enlightenment might be reached through mature adult dialogue and conversation …

  69. @Vincent

    You are brilliant!

    But the WAACSA final Mission Statement was uploaded on 15th December last. You will now find it under Labels.

    Also, we have a Facebook page where most relevant urls and postings are highlighted. We_are_all_church will take you there.

  70. Sorry Vincent, I see you found it. I was scrolling from the top down.

  71. @ Derrick

    The few people referred to who seem bent on driving wedges are those that appear to understand unity as uniformity. This is also why their approach is to use clubs, leaving no gap for dialogue. So sad.

    @ Vincent
    You no doubt recall the words of Fr Richard Rohr that the Bible in the hands of any uninitiated male becomes a dangerous weapon.

  72. Vincent Couling says:

    Yes, indeed, Rosemary, I do!


  73. Donal says:

    @Rosemary: It is not a matter of uniformity. As highlighted above, the Catholic Church is the most diverse of churches – lay and clerical, celibate and married, every racial identity, orders with different charisms – mendicants, monks, secular, some semi-secular, Latin Rite, Eastern Rites (some with married parish clergy, but not bishops, according to ancient traditions). No, it is not a matter of uniformity but diversity. However, Catholicism does involve uniformity of belief, which is what “one” in the Creed means.

    Your sexist, patronising and silly remark about the Bible in the hands of unitiated males (i.e. those not sharing your “enlightened”, highly creative interpretation of V2) speaks for itself and doesn’t deserve further comment.

  74. Vincent Couling says:

    Actually, Donal, it was Fr Richard Rohr’s remark … Rosemary merely said to me that she thought I’d no doubt recall it … to which I replied in the affirmative, with a virtual wink.

  75. Vincent Couling says:

    As to Rosemary’s thoughts on what constitues an initiated male … well, I’ll refrain from putting words in her mouth! And I most certainly will not demand that she explain herself, Grand Inquisitor style!

    These sorts of demands have been made of some by certain males (initiated or not I’m not sure) earlier on in this very thread! Very much to my dismay.

  76. Vincent Couling says:

    If Catholicism involves uniformity of belief, in the absolute sense, then are the Jews to wear clothes that distinguish themselves from Christians? Is slavery consonant with the natural and divine law? Is usury a mortal sin? In religious liberty anathema? Is voting in a democratic election grounds for excommunication? Is mandatory priestly celibacy our tradition, or not? Is the earth to be believed to be stationary, and at the centre of the universe? Is the sperm to be believed to contain the new life force – the woman merely being a vessel for the seed to be planted in? For Catholic “beliefs” on these matters have undoubtedly and demonstrably changed during our two-millennia long journey. (Yes, I’m aware that mandatory celibacy for the ministerial priesthood is technically a discipline which could be reversed at any time, but some might seem to have turned it into a belief that is immutable, an indelible characterisic of the ordained priesthood.)

    Perhaps those who formulated the Creed have in mind a particular type of belief (in a hierarchy of beliefs)? The sort that might have something to do with the deposit of the faith? I.e. the divinity and humanity of Christ, the Incarnation, the Resurrection, etc.

    Are there perhaps some/many beliefs where uniformity is not required? As regards the authenticity of Marian apparitions, for example. (See this week’s Southern Cross article by Michael Shackleton for some thoughts and ideas.) Is believing in the Marian apparitions essential to our salvation? Should someone who doubts their authenticity be considered out of communion with the Mystical Body of Christ … on a par with somebody who denies the divinity of Jesus, or his resurrection?

    Let’s see what the Council Fathers of Vatican II thought as regards some contemporary beliefs: it happens rather frequently, and legitimately so, that with equal sincerity some of the faithful will disagree with others on a given matter (Gaudium et Spes #43). Is the church to impose a belief on all contentious issues under the sun? The Church, as guardian of the deposit of Gods word, draws religious and moral principles from it, but it does not always have ready answers to particular questions. (Gaudium et Spes #33).

    It seems, Donal, that you will have to very carefully qualify your potentially rather sweeping statement that “Catholicism does involve uniformity of belief.”

  77. Donal says:

    We have rehearsed usury, slavery etc already, as well as the fact that you see no distinction between temporal matters such as these and essential issues such as the Trinity, the divine as well as human nature of Christ, the Virgin Birth etc. There is little point in debating these further. As I have indicated already, these (fortunately) do not in the slightest depend on my assent to them. You consistently underestimate those who uphold the doctrines of the Church, thinking them at best ill-informed, unitiated, lacking in insight, which might be worn down by “dialogue”; or else frightened, insecure reactionaries, possibly even lacking in intelligence. What you don’t appear to grasp is that there are those who entirely understand “where you are coming from” and much more, but who on rational reflection entirely reject your panacaea. Quite apart from the fact (which, of course, you reject) that certain doctrines (not usury, slavery, the fortifications of the Castel San Angelo, the Papal States, the limitations of polyphony, the dress to be worn by Jews) are not open to review, they can readily observe the meltdown of the Anglican Communion, due to the adoption by parts of it of the agenda you recommend. Indeed, it is those parts which have adopted such policies that the meltdown is so dramatically apparent. As I indicated before, I have no doubt whatsoever that the campaign you represent will be seen off just like all the others in past centuries. No doubt similar ones will emerge in the centuries to com, as this battle will last as long as the world lasts. The danger is not that the Church will adopt teachings which are foreign to her – she can’t- which is why I don’t worry about the ultimate outcome it is rather that this futile and vain campaign will unnecessary dissent in parishes where this white-anting will be attempted. I know that is too much to expect you to conform to the Church’s teachings and that you will continue to expect it to conform to your “teachings” , but don’t think it is a matter of producing essay-loads of posts to get your perspectives across. These are already as apparent as your campaign is destined to fail.

  78. Vincent Couling says:

    Donal, pray tell, are same-sex civil unions, mandatory clerical celibacy, female ordination, and responsible family planning temporal matters or “essential issues,” as you call them, on a par with the doctrine of the Trinity?

    As a point of fact, you are quite wrong to state that I see no distinction between “temporal matters and essential issues” – indeed, for you to say so means that you haven’t read what I have to say very carefully at all!

  79. Vincent Couling says:

    As to my essay-loads of posts, when some repetitively try and sweep away a progressive view of the Second Vatican Council by caricaturing the so-called “nebulous” spirit of Vatican II with pithy but essentially hollow soundbites – well, then I feel compelled to actually demonstrate such statements for the nonsense that they are. This means actually quoting from conciliar documents, and from other sources. Wow … what a novel idea!

    Yes, some reformers of the reform might try and wear down by endless repetition … and when that happens, I will feel free (only in reaction, mind!) to endlessly repeat my rebuttals.

    Fair game, no!

  80. Mark Nel says:

    @Donal I commend you for having the energy to respond to Vincent when he began quoting those examples from the Lateran Council.

    I just noticed a very strange and completely irrelevant reference to Opus Dei, by you, earlier in this thread. I have great difficulty understanding why you felt the need to make mention of Opus Dei. I have re-read the editorial and also the threads that precede that comment by you and am at a complete loss.

    Your comment seems to be about as appropriate and relevant as it would have been if you had at that point said “all is quiet on the black front” or “all is quiet on the Russian front”. Whatever your reasons for making the comment, I get the sense that you are displaying a degree of bigotry, which seems to be reinforced by the equally irrelevant reference to cilices in your comments.

    As for what can only be described as an extremely venomous personal attack on John. I was horrified that you, a person who by your own admission has such issues regarding the treatment of homosexuality in the Church, chooses to make what can only be described as a homophobic attack on John.

    In light of the above, I will not engage in any further dialogue with yourself until you have apologised to John and until you have satisfactorily explained how else we should view your sudden strange and inappropriate reference to Opus Dei.

  81. Vincent Couling says:

    It was a tongue-in-cheek play on “all is quiet on the Western Front” … Opus Dei is among several controversial movements within the church (there are others … discussed in Matthew Fox’s recent book “The Pope’s War: Why Ratzinger’s Secret Crusade Has Imperiled the Church and How It Can Be Saved”) … most of them astonishingly homophobic, if Fox’s writings are accurate!

  82. Vincent Couling says:

    As for my “personal attack” on John – I simply quoted from two of his posts, posts which appear at first glance to be quite extraordinarily contradictory! And then explained why they have left me perplexed.

    John, by his own admission on these threads, is

    (a) “having homosexual inclinations,


    (b) his natural heterosexual inclinations have been reinstated for the lack of a better word. That is the miracle that I have been blessed with by embracing the true teachings of the Church, and I praise God for it every day of my life.

    Forgive my curiosity … but what really intrigues me is whether (a) and (b) are simultaneously true.

  83. John says:

    Forgive me Vincent but you did not “simply quote” anything. It was an insult plain and simple.

    Though I see no point in explaining myself I will do so nonetheless.

    (a) Yes I do and will always have same sex attractions.

    (b) I do, through much prayer and soul searching, have atteactions to the opposite sex.

    I suppose on the LGBT community that would classify me as “B”. But I do not consider myself to be bisexual, the very definition of the term makes no sense to me.

    I refer you to the following link of an example of such a person, Joe Dallas, (protestant though irrelevant in this case) who was once “gay” but is now a married man with a loving family.


  84. Vincent Couling says:

    Bisexual (from the OED): (of a person) sexually attracted to individuals of both sexes.

  85. John says:

    I like your sarcasm Vincent, I know what it means. I just don’t agree with it.

    Looking at your post above I would assume you look at “bisexuals” with some disdain.

  86. Vincent Couling says:

    The following report, based on a comprehensive survey of all available scientific studies (up to 2009), makes some interesting resolutions:

    “Report of the American Psychological Association Task Force onAppropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation” (see http://www.apa.org/pi/lgbc/publications/ ):

    The interesting resolutions follow …

    “THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, That the American Psychological Association affirms that same-sex sexual and romantic attractions, feelings, and behaviors are normal and positive variations of human sexuality regardless of sexual orientation identity;

    BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That the American Psychological Association reaffirms its position that homosexuality per se is not a mental disorder and
    opposes portrayals of sexual minority youths and adults as mentally ill due to their sexual orientation;

    BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That the American Psychological Association concludes that there is insufficient evidence to support the use of psychological interventions to change sexual orientation;

    BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That the American Psychological Association encourages mental health professionals to avoid misrepresenting the efficacy of sexual orientation change efforts by promoting or promising change in sexual orientation when providing assistance to individuals distressed by their own or others sexual orientation;

    BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That the American Psychological Association concludes that the benefits reported by participants in sexual orientation change efforts can be gained through approaches that do not attempt to change sexual orientation;

    BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That the American Psychological Association advises parents, guardians, young people, and their families to avoid sexual
    orientation change efforts that portray homosexuality as a mental illness or developmental disorder and to seek psychotherapy, social support and educational services that provide accurate information on sexual
    orientation and sexuality, increase family and school support, and reduce rejection of sexual minority youth;

    BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That the American Psychological Association encourages practitioners to be aware that age, gender, gender identity, race,
    ethnicity, culture, national origin, religion, disability, language, and socioeconomic status may interact with sexual stigma, and contribute to variations in sexual orientation identity development, expression, and

    BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That the American Psychological Association opposes the distortion and selective use of scientific data about homosexuality by individuals and organizations seeking to influence
    public policy and public opinion and will take a leadership role in responding to such distortions;

    BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That the American Psychological Association supports the dissemination of accurate scientific and professional information about sexual orientation in order to counteract bias
    that is based in lack of knowledge about sexual orientation; and

    BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That the American Psychological Association encourages advocacy groups, elected officials, mental health professionals,
    policy makers, religious professionals and organizations, and other organizations to seek areas of collaboration that may promote the wellbeing of sexual minorities.”

  87. Vincent Couling says:

    John, I have absolutely no disdain for bisexuals. Whatever made you think that?

    I do, however, worry when gay men undergo “treatment” to “become straight”, and then marry girls. All the more so since the above study reports on research which indicates that perceived changes are seldom (if ever) lasting …

    I wonder what Canon Law would have to say about annulments in such cases … perhaps that the marriage never existed in the first place?

    (And yes, “I wonder” is to be taken literally, since I /really/ don’t know! I really am quite curious about many things! So very sorry if it appears as sarcasm!)

  88. Vincent Couling says:

    What don’t you agree with? That people can be sexually attracted to individuals of both sexes?

  89. Vincent Couling says:

    It seems, John, that it is you that looks at bisexuals with some disdain! (Not agreeing with, and all that … .)

  90. John says:

    Why worry about men with same sex attractions who undergo treatment? There have been countless success stories where men with same sex attractions overcame them and are now married with children in a loving relationship.

    Did you even bother to read Joe Dallas’s story?


  91. Vincent Couling says:

    (Seems, John … just “seems”! From what you wrote, and all that … .)

  92. Vincent Couling says:

    “Countless success stories”? Apparently not … Joe Dallas is but one person! He can be counted! But to claim “countless success stories” means that you didn’t even read the above stude (link provided), which – through actual empirical study – shows quite the antithesis!

  93. Vincent Couling says:

    Okay, John, I admit that I was unnecessarily nasty when I made my jibe about your contradictory posts above. I don’t feel particularly proud about it. In fact, it has been weighing on my mind since I posted it … in a negative sort of way. I hate it when I get too personal, and I freely apologise. Part of me wants to argue with you, part of me wants to ignore you, and part of me wants to just hold you in compassionate arms.

    My new year’s resolution was no more posts on the SCross comboxes, believe it or not. What a spectacular failure that resolution was, eh! But to see WAACSA take unnecessary flak got me all hot and bothered. Their vision is quite admirable, I think! So I got involved. Far too involved.

    I think that it is time for me to withdraw, go to a quiet, contemplative space, and get on with some work …

    I really do wish you well, John … you’re only 25, you have a lot of journeying still to do. Please, don’t be too hard on yourself! And look at some of my nastiness as my frustratedly trying to wake you up to tha fact that you are beautiful in God’s sight just as you are, just as he created you … a beautiful man who happens to have homosexual inclinations! What a beautiful gift … do you really need to spurn it … can’t you just embrace it? It’s your journey … I need to shed my anxiety over you and leave you to do your journeying in your own particular way!

    I look forward, ten years from now, to hearing how your story unfolded … !

  94. John says:

    Apology accepted Vincent.

    I could send you many other links (yes, I’ve done my research) but it’s not necassary.

    I hope in ten years I will be happily married with a loving wife and with children of my own. God willing.

    All of the best to you.

  95. Vincent Couling says:

    And my hope … my most fervent hope?

    That in ten years I’ll be happily married with a loving husband, the picture of domestic bliss … and still fully accepted by the Catholic Church.

    God willing!

  96. Brian Robertson says:

    I would like to clarify WAACSA’s mission in the light of queries posted on 7 and 8 January as to whether WAACSA is against the teachings of the Church or is acting in bad faith when it says it is not. WAACSA’s recent Mission Statement supercedes all previous statements of mission or principles, and we have now stated this on the blog to prevent any further misunderstanding. This means, among others, that we no longer require members to subscribe to all the principles of IMWAC (whatever their individual views may be), nor do we necessarily support the way IMWAC carries out its mission. We remain affiliated to IMWAC because we support their principal objective, which is the reform of the Church according to the vision of Vatican 2.

    So WAACSA stands for what it’s Mission Statement says it stands for, no more and no less. In drawing up our Mission Statement the members made a conscious decision not to state any aim which is against the teachings of the Church, because we do not wish to oppose the Church but rather to work from within for renewal and reform. We are for unity, not dissent. We, like most of the bishops at vatican 2, and most theologians today I think, see things that we believe should be changed, but our intention is to press for open dialogue and discussion about them, listening to all views, both pro and con. One of Vatican 2’s great reminders was that the People of God are as important in God’s eyes as the ordained ministers of the Church, and should play a more active role in all areas of the life of the Church that they are qualified for.

  97. Rosemary Gravenor says:

    @ editorial
    Thank you Gnther for the very fair exposure for WAACSA.

    Thanks also to our National Co-ordinator for clarifying all the queries and inaccurate impressions in this stream. I have to believe that we will grow from strength to strength in Christ, through Christ and with Christ.

    Those who are still concerned will be able to read the theological thinking of the theologians who are members or friends of WAACSA on our blog: wearechurcsa.blogspot.com

  98. D Williamson says:

    If WAACSA really supported the reform of the Church according to the principles of Vatican II, then it would show respect and obedience to the Holy Father. Lumen Gentium 25:

    “Bishops, teaching in communion with the Roman Pontiff, are to be respected by all as witnesses to divine and Catholic truth. In matters of faith and morals, the bishops speak in the name of Christ and the faithful are to accept their teaching and adhere to it with a religious assent. This religious submission of mind and will must be shown in a special way to the authentic magisterium of the Roman Pontiff, even when he is not speaking ex cathedra; that is, it must be shown in such a way that his supreme magisterium is acknowledged with reverence, the judgments made by him are sincerely adhered to, according to his manifest mind and will. His mind and will in the matter may be known either from the character of the documents, from his frequent repetition of the same doctrine, or from his manner of speaking”

  99. Donal says:

    Few will be fooled by this strategic rebranding by “We are [no definite article] Church”. They may hope this ruse may make infiltration easier, but this is just a case of “Wolves in wolves’ clothing”.

  100. P.R.Margeot says:


  101. Donal says:

    Cavete lupos!

  102. Donal says:

    I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock;
    and from among your own selves will arise men speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them.
    Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish every one with tears.
    And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.

    Acts 20:29-32

  103. @Donal
    Amen… I say to you I AM the gate for the sheep. All who came (before me) are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture.
    John 10:7-9


    I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and MINE know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father,and I will lay down my life for the sheep. I have OTHER sheep that do not belong to this fold. These also I must lead, and they WILL hear my voice, and there will be one flock, one shepherd.
    John 10:14-16

    Ah blessed UNITY again!!!

    For good measure:
    2 Tim. 1:7
    For God DID NOT give us a spirit of cowardice, but a spirit of power and love and of SELF-discipline.

    [Don’t, therefore, be ashamed of witnessing to [Jesus]… under the power of God, who saved us and called us with a holy calling not because of our works but because of HIS OWN purpose and grace which was given us in Christ Jesus

  104. @ D Williamson
    You are arguing FOR one of the very points WAACSA believe has been ‘overlooked’ by the Magisterium since the close of VII i.e. collegiality!!??

  105. Donal says:

    @Rosemary: How does this support the (highly creative) interpretation of V2 “collegiality” you are suggesting?:

    “This religious submission of mind and will must be shown in a special way to the authentic magisterium of the Roman Pontiff, even when he is not speaking ex cathedra; that is, it must be shown in such a way that his supreme magisterium is acknowledged with reverence, the judgments made by him are sincerely adhered to, according to his manifest mind and will. His mind and will in the matter may be known either from the character of the documents, from his frequent repetition of the same doctrine, or from his manner of speaking”

  106. D Williamson says:

    Rosemary: I think you may have a confused undersanding of the relation between collegiality and the teaching authority of the Church.

    Our Lord Jesus Christ came to open the way to salvation to all people by revealing the mystery of God’s inner trinitarian life as well as the eternal plan of His will, namely, to make each of us sharers in His own blessed life. Before his ascension into heaven Jesus entrusted this revelation to His 12 Apostles and charged them to preach what they had received from Him to all the world, endowing them with plenipotentiary powers to govern and rule the church which he established as a permanent vessel of the salvation of the whole human race. He also appointed one of them, Peter, to be their head and the guarantor of unity within the church, and promised them that he would be with them until the end of the world and that his church would remain indefectable until the end of time. And just as He promised, today the Church continues to proclaim the good news, with the difference now that with the growth of the Church the number of the bishops, the successors of the Apostles, has grown to about 4000. The principle however is still the same. When the bishops in union with the HF exercise their divene office of teaching and governing the church on matters of faith and morals they are infallibe. But if they propose something which is neither in accord with the teaching of their fellow other bishops nor with that of the HF then ispo facto they stand outside of the comminion of the church. When there is large-scale doubt on a certain issue (for example: Arianism in the 4th century or contraception in the 20th), the HF as successor of Peter and as the sign of unity has a special charim by which he indicates where the Chuch stands in regard to some matter. So if you want to know what the Church teaches, you only have to look to the Holy Father. As St Ambrose said in the 4th century: ubi Petrus, ibi Ecclesia. Where Peter is, there is the Church. I hope this helps.

  107. D Williamson says:

    For a much better explanation of all this, I strongly recommend reading Vatican II’s Dogmatic Constition on Divine Revelation “Dei Verbum” chapter 2.

  108. Vincent Couling says:

    Dear D Williamson,

    I think that it might be of use to quote from the excellent viewpoint article of Robert McClory (author of Faithful Dissenters: Men and Women Who Loved and Changed the Church) which appeared in the NCR last year ( see http://ncronline.org/news/vatican/newman-sense-and-consent-faithful ), since it does much to contextualise the idea that all we have to do to know where the Church stands on a particular issue is look to the Holy Father (apologies for the length of the quote, but its coherence is otherwise possibly lost):

    There is stark irony in the words Pope Benedict XVI chose when he announced last February his plan to visit England this year and there pronounce John Henry Newman as among the blessed, just one step from canonization as a saint. He cited Newman as an example for all the world of opposition to dissent. In a social milieu that encourages the expression of a variety of opinions on every question that arises, said the pope, it is important to recognize dissent for what it is and not to mistake it for a mature contribution to a balanced and wide-ranging debate.

    If Newmans remains had not decomposed as Vatican investigators discovered when they attempted to dig up his coffin in 2008 seeking evidence of his sanctity he would have been spinning in his grave. For Newman was as singular a voice for responsible dissent and the rights of the laity as the Roman Catholic church has ever seen. He paid dearly for his convictions and was very nearly silenced or worse when he became embroiled in 1859 in a controversy over the development of doctrine.

    The idea of development was not popular at the time, especially among the hierarchy. So Newman, using history to make his point, wrote about the Arian heresy of the 4th century. Twenty-five years before, he had produced a massive, scholarly history of the Arians and how they failed, despite a 50-year, emperor-supported campaign to impose as church doctrine the belief that Christ was not divine; rather, he was a most elevated, godlike being, but creature nevertheless. Now in a lengthy, pointed article, titled On Consulting the Faithful on Matters of Doctrine, Newman argued that the Arian position, shared by the overwhelming majority of the bishops and endorsed by at least one pope, did not become Catholic doctrine because a great mass of the laity along with a handful of priests and bishops resisted. Despite beatings, seizures of property and in some cases martyrdom, they refused, they dissented. They clung to the doctrine of the Council of Nicea, which, they were assured, had been discredited. Only at the First Council of Constantinople was the Arian position repudiated.

    Belief in Christs divinity was maintained during the greater part of the 4th century, wrote Newman, not by the unswerving firmness of the Holy See, Councils or Bishops, but by the consensus fidelium [consent of the faithful]. On the one hand, I say, there was a temporary suspense of the functions of the Ecclesia docens [the teaching church]. The body of the Bishops failed in their confession of the faith. There were untrustworthy Councils, unfaithful Bishops; there was weakness, fear of consequences, misguidance, delusion, hallucination, endless, hopeless, extending itself into nearly every corner of the Catholic church.

    To explain how such a thing happened (and could happen again), Newman relied on his own, well developed ideas about the sense and the consent of the faithful. Church teaching, he argued cannot be a top-down enterprise, a one-way street. It must be the result of a conspiratio, literally a breathing together of the faithful and the bishops. It is the first responsibility of the episcopacy and papacy, he said, to listen carefully before teaching doctrine.

    And to what must they listen? Said Newman, I think I am right in saying that the tradition of the Apostles, committed to the whole Church manifests itself variously at various times: sometimes by the mouth of the episcopacy, sometimes by the doctors, sometimes by the people, sometimes by liturgies customs, disputes, movements, and all those other phenomena which are comprised under the name of history. It follows that none of these channels of tradition may be treated with disrespect. This is not to undercut the teaching authority of the bishops, insisted Newman; they must wade through all these sources. And, he added, of all the sources, I am accustomed to lay stress on the consensus fidelium.

  109. Vincent Couling says:

    D. Williamson says “When the bishops in union with the HF exercise their divene [sic] office of teaching and governing the church on matters of faith and morals they are infallibe.” Of course, this sweeping statement is most decidedly NOT in accord with the teaching of Vatican II.

    The Conciliar Documents of Vatican II are quite unambiguous in stating that And this infallibility with which the Divine Redeemer willed His Church to be endowed in defining doctrine of faith and morals, extends as far as the deposit of Revelation extends, which must be religiously guarded and faithfully expounded. (Lumen Gentium #25).

    Such clear limits must always be acknowledged … and D. Williamson fails to do so, extending infallibility to ALL matters of faith and morals. Such mendacity! Such heresy! (tongue firmly in cheek!)

    Pope Benedict XVI himself alluded to this (rather significant!) limitation when he said in 2005: The Pope is not an oracle; he is infallible in very rare situations, as we know.

    ALWAYS bear in mind Canon 749 part 3: No doctrine is understood to be infallibly defined unless it is CLEARLY established as such (emphasis mine).

  110. Vincent Couling says:

    The Councils Decree on Ecumenism (no. 6) further clarifies this distinction when it says Therefore, if the influence of events or of the times has led to deficiencies in conduct, in Church discipline, or even in the formulation of doctrine (which must be carefully distinguished from the deposit of faith itself), these should be appropriately rectified at the proper moment.

  111. Vincent Couling says:

    In fact, Lumen Gentium no.12 is worth looking at in this regard … “The holy people of God shares also in Christ’s prophetic office … The entire body of the faithful, anointed as they are by the Holy One, cannot err in matters of belief. They manifest this special property by means of the whole peoples’ supernatural discernment in matters of faith when “from the Bishops down to the last of the lay faithful” they show universal agreement in matters of faith and morals.”

    In the light of this doctrine, I would amend D. Williamson’s rather sweeping statement that “if you want to know what the Church teaches, you only have to look to the Holy Father” to: “if you want to know what the Church teaches, you only have to look at what teachings meet the condition of being in “universal agreement” within the entire Mystical Body of Christ.” These two statements are, of course, quite different!

    Incidentally, I have no problem with St Ambrose’s statement “ubi Petrus, ibi Ecclesia” – but I don’t think that I see it in quite the same (triumphalistic and neoscholastic?) way that D. Williamson does.

  112. Vincent Couling says:

    Due to my circumstances, I am going to have to attempt to recover from my fall (having broken my new year’s resolution not to post here anymore), and will endeavour with every smidgen of willpower I can muster to refrain from making any further posts … no matter how tempting or catastrophically essential it might seem to make an intervention!

    My energies must needs be focussed elsewhere.


  113. D Williamson says:

    Dear Vincent,

    Although you may have sworn off posting for now, please let me reply to your points.

    First, there is no difference between matters of faith and morals and the deposit of Divine Revelation. They are the same thing. The one phrase refers to the specific nature of the contents, the other to its origin. So your point does not stand.

    Second, the College of Bishops united to the Holy Father, having been endowed by Our Lord with the sacred office of teaching and passing on divine revelation, is always infallible when pronouncing on matters of faith and morals, whether teaching in an ordinary manner (councils, synods, preaching, etc) or in an extraordinary manner (ecumenical councils, solemn definitions ex cathedra, etc). However, the principle of unity within the College and indeed the Church is the office of the successor of Peter. For example, if 70% of the world’s bishops began preaching a doctrine contrary to that taught by the Holy Father, the remaining 30% united to him would then form the true College of Bishops.

    Third, while it is true that the entire body of Christ’s faithful when in agreement on matters of faith and morals is likewise infallible, as you point out, still this must be understood correctly. This infallibility derives from their union and assent to the teachings of the College of Bishops whose principle of unity is the office of Holy Father as successor of St Peter. And so as long as the faithful are united to their bishops as pastors in communion with the Holy Father, it can be said that they are infallible in matters of faith and morals.

  114. Rosemary Gravenor says:

    What is being said here nullifies the work of the Holy Spirit. Effectively, the Spirit blows where she will but judging by what D Williamson is saying: we have no need of Her – we need only obey the words, commands [doctrines], directives emanating from the Office of the Pope. Why are we gifted with faith, free will, conscience etc – if we have no rights and responsibilities bestowed by our Baptism? The ‘endowment’ you speak of is the endowment given to all the Baptised and Confirmed!

    The magisterium is looking at changing the teaching about infant Baptism. I am positive this will be a long slow process because in the process of renewing the doctrine of infant Baptism, they must come slap bang up against the doctrine of Original Sin.

    Now – where was the deposit of Divine Revelation in those original beliefs? Then, as has been argued before, what about the deposit of Divine Revelation in the matter of Galileo, the injustice of allowing slavery, the ursury that promoted the Reformation, the criminal behaviour – both as perpetrators and ‘cover-ups’ etc etc. [remember your stated belief is that there is no difference between matters of faith and MORALS and the deposit of Divine Revelation].

    This ideology effectively trashes the principle of Sensus Fidelium also.

    If the Office has been less than Holy in these matters and teaches such ‘undependables’ how can any person give unconditional obedience and remain sane let alone find Truth?! That sort of ideology promotes idolatry.

    There is a law above the law. Christianity is about a relationship with Christ and about correct relationship to and with others. Religion, call it Catholicism, if you will, is a finger pointing to the moon. It is not the moon! Who has the key to bind and loose the criminal acts of key religious leaders?

    We are taught that the Sacraments – so intrinsic to Catholicism – are outward signs of inward grace. Where is the grace going inward? Only into the hearts of the ‘Holy Office’ or those who have taken an oath of allegiance to such ‘Office’ [read: blind obedience]?

    Your post about confusion [22/1]:
    I have been reading the Bible for about 20 years – daily – and I know that any promise Jesus made, it was made to all disciples – right down to our day. Insofar as promising to be with ‘them’ is concerned Jesus never spoke Greek so he never used the word ‘apostle’. He taught and ‘formed’ ALL disciples the same things. His only special directive to the chosen twelve was a ‘servant leadership’. If you read all the accounts in all Gospels when Jesus makes promises, you will see that there was nothing ‘exclusive’ in them.

    In closing, I am afraid all your ‘soap-boxing’ falls on deaf ears. I follow my conscience in the light of my relationship with Christ.

  115. Donal says:

    What a piously arrogant post!

  116. @Donal
    A Delphic post!

  117. Donal says:

    This response appears to have been as long in gestation as it is characteristically too clever by half.

  118. Mpush says:

    “He that will believe only what he can fully comprehend must have a long head or a very short creed.” Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

    Read more: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/p/pierre_teilhard_de_chardi.html#ixzz1ozTNC4fX