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What’s We Are Church?

46 Responses

  1. John E Cunha says:

    Thank you Mr. Michael Shackleton for this detailed explanation of what the organization stands for.

    Based on this explanation however it is clear that “We Are Church” is a dissident movement despite what they may see themselves as. Suicide bombers of the Islamic faith no doubt see themselves as heroes for Islam and God, but we know that they are anything but murderers and evil men. I understand that this analogy is very extreme and does not represent the “We Are Church” members, I do believe that they do employ respectful dialogue with the Church on their points of concern. However, in having a “mass” celebrated by woman “priests” or a mass said for the celebration and acceptance of gays and lesbians in terms of their sexual activity is anything but a respectful approach in itself.

    It is my understanding, and that of most orthodox Catholics (including clergy) that the points that “We Are Church” movement promote will in fact never be recognized by the Catholic Church (this being deduced from most sources of information from Catholic websites, laity, clergy and certain Church documents (Scripture, Tradition and Magisterium)). So in affect what is the real point of such a movement? Why do its members just not accept the final and absolute teachings of the Church on these points and move on? Instead of wasting their time and energy in this futile exercise why not devote that into truly building the Church in other far more important ways? Alternatively, if this is not possible, why not join another church? There are countless Protestant churches that do accept these errors. Why not leave and join them?

    I understand that the Church allows these organizations to exist in order to promote the idea of dialogue and to show that it is not deaf or indifferent to the concerns of the world. However, when the answer is given, and “no” being a perfectly acceptable answer may very well be given, will the movement accept and dissolve? Most probably not I suppose and the futility and wasted time and energy will just go on. What a shame…..

  2. Victor Victoria says:

    I am indulging in a little daydreaming. My mind is drifting back in time to 1866. I am imagining the thinking of an “orthodox” Portuguese Catholic and wealthy slave-trader at the time. Here is the scenario as it plays out in my mind.

    The “orthodox” fellow is penning a letter to the Editor of the local Catholic rag, named Crucis Australis in honour of Vasco da Gama’s explorations in the Southern Hemisphere.

    He writes:

    “It is my understanding, and that of most orthodox Catholics (including clergy) that the points that the Abolitionist movement promote will in fact never be recognized by the Catholic Church (this being deduced from most sources of information from Catholic encyclopaedias, laity, clergy and certain Church documents (Scripture, Tradition and Magisterium)). So in affect what is the real point of such a movement? Why do its members just not accept the final and absolute teachings of the Church on these points and move on? Instead of wasting their time and energy in this futile exercise why not devote that into truly building the Church in other far more important ways? Alternatively, if this is not possible, why not join another church? There are countless Protestant churches that do accept these errors. Why not leave and join them?”

    Here, the “orthodox” Catholic fellow would have perhaps just read the 1866 statement by Pope Pius IX that “Slavery itself, considered as such in its essential nature, is not at all contrary to the natural and divine law, and there can be several just titles of slavery and these are referred to by approved theologians and commentators of the sacred canons…. It is not contrary to the natural and divine law for a slave to be sold, bought, exchanged or given.” He would believe the Abolitionists (who, up to that moment, were mostly Protestant [Good for old Blighty, and her Quaker and Anglican People of God!]) to be anti-Catholic, anti-Establishment, anti-God, et cetera. Scripture, tradition and Catholic clergy (particularly in Portugal and Spain) were all quite clear on this point.

    Fortunately, those so-called Abolitionist “dissidents” (including the ones who sprang up in the Catholic Church) were in fact not dissidents at all; rather, with hindsight we see that they were in fact a prophetic reform movement. And eventually, thanks be to their heroic efforts, the Catholic Church underwent a significant volte-face as regards its teachings on slavery (which today is declared to be intrinsically evil and objectively disordered).

    Those who would today claim to be “orthodox” Catholics should perhaps display a little humility and introspection. They might profit from taking pause, and reflecting on the issues that they are so confident are immutably and eternally settled. They might also carefully reconsider writing polarizing rhetoric which could further inflame unnecessary dualities.

  3. John E Cunha says:

    “It is important that we recognise 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

  4. Victor Victoria says:

    I’m pretty sure that those would have been precisely the thoughts of Pope Pius IX when he signed those infamous words as regards the institution of slavery! Ironically, his words are now seen to be the true dissent from the will of the real Holy Father (you know, the One “Which Art in Heaven”).

  5. P.R.Margeot says:

    Thank you to Mr. Shackleton for the informative account of what is that movement(‘we are Church’, without “the” )

    We see clearly their programme/agenda.

    Their agenda is the destruction of the Catholic Church.

    We do not have to waste too much time on that organization, however Catholics need to be informed. That organization needs to be kept on the radar !! The Authorities will do just that.
    So, the dissidents, the revolutionaries, allied to liberals ,who if left unchecked will do their utmost to destroy the Church, will have to live with their frustration and realize that they have no chance of succeeding in their wild schemes and projects. They could find a home outside the Church , in the various denominations ,for example. They might find some relief and peace there. Their ideas are not Catholic.

    The Church has stemmed the Revolution, sanity is returning, the tradtional mass is slowly returning(for those who long for it, who live for that mass which the Pope has allowed and which was never officially discarded).

    On the 18th November , the eyes of the world will be on Paris when a massive demonstration will take place against the gay-marriage and gay-adoption and FOR the true F A M I L Y , the Catholic family, the cell of society since ….
    France, the eldest daughter of the Church, will one day be freed from the secular/modernist poison/tyranny which has strangled her since 1789 (nothwithstanding what Cardinal Suenens said….). Exciting times are coming, are here already. Thank you to the Pope what all that he has done for the unity of Catholics.

    We should also pray that the New Zealand Parliament does not pass a law favouring the marriage of gays. That would be a serious set-back for that country, which is largely pagan by the way.

    Our Lady of fatima, pray for us. May the Pope do the consecration of Russia with all the willing Bishops.

  6. Derrick Kourie says:

    @ John:

    Please reconsider the list of objectives as given in the article. They are:

    1. “to involve all the baptised in the decision-making processes in the Church, including the appointment of bishops”. This is not a dissident position. The baptised are already involved in decision-making processes. There are strong historical precedents for greater lay involvement in the appointment of bishops. The request is to deepen what is already happening.

    2. “to attain full participation of women at all levels, including priesthood”. Again, women already participate at many levels. For example, Sr. Mary Lou Wirtz recently gave important input to the synod of bishops (http://ncronline.org/blogs/ncr-today/us-sister-synod-bishops-catholics-society-are-hurting). The request is to extend that. I admit that extending that to priesthood has been ruled out. The movement is indeed dissident on this point, but only to the extent that it wishes to talk meaningfully about the matter. As far as I know, the movement (this definitely holds for the SA part of it) does not promote a breakaway from the Church, attendance of Masses celebrated by ordained women priests, it does not encourage women to have themselves ordained, or any of that kind of dissidence.

    3. “to remove clerical celibacy”. Again, hardly a radical request. Already widely practiced, and historically grounded.

    4. “to welcome divorced and remarried Catholics to the sacraments”. Note that this is different from recognising the legitimacy of divorce. It is a request to recognise the humanity of people, and to forgive in the way we expect Jesus does.

    5. “to welcome gays and lesbians”. Again, as a matter of Christian charity, we ought to welcome gays and lesbians. Like Jesus, we ought to welcome all who are marginalised and persecuted by society. We ought to welcome them with genuine love and affection, as our brothers and sisters in Jesus, not with mere verbal ascent and a patronising pat on the head. Many good priests have specific outreach to gays and lesbians, and they do this with the approval of their bishops. In fact, recently a bishop in Austria (as far as I recall) reinstated a gay person to a parish council after he had been removed.

    6. “to recognise the primacy of an informed conscience” The pope himself teaches this very strongly. It is a central tenet of Catholic teaching.

    Of the six points mentioned, therefore, only the question of women priests (a sub-point of point 2) has a dissident character, and a rather mild one at that. I therefore do not think you can reasonably infer //from the article// that “We Are Church” is a dissident movement. Any comparison to Jihadist suicide bombers is totally far-fetched. Perhaps you believe that the article is inaccurate, and/or perhaps you have more detailed information about the matter. Perhaps, like so many others, you are just fearful that the Church will be harmed if it changed or adapted a little. I think it is being harmed because it does not adapt sufficiently. In this regard I am, of course, at the other end of the spectrum to the dear but illiberal PRM.

  7. Victor Victoria says:

    I am still trying to wrap my head around Mr Cunha’s attempt to draw an analogy between We Are Church and suicide bombers of the Islamic faith.

    I was always under the (perhaps mistaken?) impression that suicide bombers are religious fundamentalists, people who are convinced that they are playing the role of guardians by preserving the purity of their one true faith, a faith filled with immutable Truth.

    I think that it would be the Islamic equivalents of “We Are Church” who would be trying to fulfil the role of being a prophetic reform movement in Islam. Trying to flesh out a more subtle, less fundamentalist interpretation of their Holy Writings and Holy Tradition. Trying to be more inclusive and less confrontational. Trying to enter into dialogue with other faiths, other cultures, with modernism itself (whatever that actually is).

    Am I missing something blindingly obvious?

  8. John E Cunha says:

    Allow me reiterate what I have been saying over the years on the Southern Cross website with regards to those with homosexual inclinations. Yes they are certainly to be welcomed and ministered to by the Catholic Church, which is the reason for the Courage Apostolate. However, under no circumstances should same sex relationships of a sexual nature or same sex marriages be approved. That is without a doubt dissident behavior if approved.

    Like a good friend of mine has told me: “I do not pay attention to these groups (referring to We Are Church), they miss the point completely of the Catholic Church.… They desire conflict and engagement as a way to promote their agenda.”

    This friend being a Roman Catholic priest.

    As to Mr. Victoria’s comments I am ignoring them completely. You have mocked our Pope good sir/madam and you don’t deserve any recognition.

  9. Derrick Kourie says:

    So, John, you are indeed reading into Michael Shackelton’s article information which is not there. I saw nothing there about same sex relationships of a sexual nature being approved. And I saw nothing there about desiring conflict. Of course, they desire engagement. But is there anything wrong with that? Surely they should be praised for that, not condemned. Instead of turning their back on the Church as have millions of others, people want to engage with and talk to the hierarchy. Indeed, I believe that is happening in many places right now. Engagement with those who feel uncomfortable with recent developments in the Church is even a theme at the current synod of bishops.

  10. Bryony Klugman says:

    If declining numbers are a matter of concern, it should be noted that the Anglican Communion in the developed world has adopted virtually the whole of the agenda of We are [no definite article] Church, with the result that its churches are emptying at a far faster rate than the Catholic Church, and these are in virtual schism with Anglican churches of the developing world. No surprises there. The analogy of turkeys’ caution before voting for Christmas comes to mind.

  11. Mark Nel says:

    When I read on the internet of leaders / organisers of the We Are All Church South Africa, as well as the international movement to which they are affiliated, participating in simulated Catholic Masses in which women also simulate priests, then I have no reason to consider their intentions to be mildly dissident, as it has been described above.

    This behaviour is not indicative of people wishing to engage in sincere and meaningful dialogue. Instead this is an organisation more closely aligned to a trade union and making demands on Holy Mother Church.

  12. Victor Victoria says:

    Holy Father God, we worship you and you alone.

    Matthew 23 tells us that Jesus said …

    “But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have only one Master and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. Nor are you to be called ‘teacher,’ for you have one Teacher, the Christ. The greatest among you will be your servant. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”

    I wonder how a Biblical literalist would interpret that passage from the Holy Scripture?

  13. Victor Victoria says:

    Now, Mr Cunha, do you see why I refer to our Holy Father God as the real Holy Father?

    He doesn’t make grievous errors of the kind made by Pope Pius IX (see above vis-a-vis slavery).

  14. Victor Victoria says:

    PS Incidentally, lest some weird arguments and attempts at “Penny Catechism” catechesis unfold, let me say quite unequivocally, I have absolutely no problem with referring to the Pope as Holy Father. But when I do it, it has quite a different meaning to when I refer to Yahweh as Holy Father.

    If anyone has misconstrued me as mocking the Pope, let me be quick to emphasize that that is a misinterpretation of my intent.

  15. Rosemary Gravenor says:

    Thank you Michael Shackleton for a very fair commentary on We are Church and particularly on the South African chapter in answer to the reader’s question.

    I am not the spokesperson for We-are-all-Church in SA but I must say that in meeting with the SACBC’s Theological Commission, our national co-ordinator, Brian Robertson, was not treated as if he were a suicide bomber or anything like it.

    The Editorial Board of the Southern Cross is probably aware that several public lectures have taken place in both Gauteng and the Cape. We now will include our [WAACSA] involvement in future lectures in the advertising. Indeed the next advertisement placed in the Southern Cross will bear our ‘stamp’.

    It is so sad that today we are being forced to choose between Popes. This shows clearly with Popes John XXIII and Benedict XVI, the one who wanted a modernising movement of throwing windows open and the other one who wants them shuttered more tightly. Which one is right, as they cannot both be right. If we choose then the other Pope must be wrong – and what does that say for infallibility as well as about the teaching authority of the Magisterium?

    To my mind, one of them must be mistaken, fallible even. I was taught that the doctrine of infallibility depended upon the Pope speaking with the support of the bishops. Vatican II proved that John XXIII was doing just that, whereas Benedict XVI seems to be silencing any bishop who disagrees.

    For an even greater indication of the widespread movement have a look at our blog: http://www.wearechurchsa.blogspot.com where you will find recent reports from many of the countries.

  16. Rosemary Gravenor says:

    Dear Editorial board
    The Southern Cross

    I have just received a message from Elfriede Harth, one of the founders of the original movement which became the International Movement We are Church in Europe. She finds that it // is remarkable that a “mainstream Catholic periodical” writes such a positive piece//. Elfriede is a Columbian based in Paris.

  17. Mark Nel says:

    Rosemary states that she understands that the Pope only speaks infallibly when he speaks with support of the bishops. This is why these groups are so dangerous. Below is an extract from Lumen Gentium #22 which highlights the error of Rosemary Gravenor’s statement. This is what the Council Fathers said. The same council that these dissidents erroneously claim supports their cause!

    “But the college or body of bishops has no authority unless it is understood together with the Roman Pontiff, the successor of Peter as its head. The pope’s power of primacy over all, both pastors and faithful, remains whole and intact. In virtue of his office, that is as Vicar of Christ and pastor of the whole Church, the Roman Pontiff has full, supreme and universal power over the Church. And he is always free to exercise this power. The order of bishops, which succeeds to the college of apostles and gives this apostolic body continued existence, is also the subject of supreme and full power over the universal Church, provided we understand this body together with its head the Roman Pontiff and never without this head. This power can be exercised only with the consent of the Roman Pontiff. For our Lord placed Simon alone as the rock and the bearer of the keys of the Church,(156) and made him shepherd of the whole flock; it is evident, however, that the power of binding and loosing, which was given to Peter, was granted also to the college of apostles, joined with their head.”

    Just to emphasise again, the pope does not require the bishops to exercise his authority: “…the Roman Pontiff has full, supreme and universal power over the Church. And he is always free to exercise this power.” He is ALWAYS FREE to exercise this power

    Compare that to the bishops: “This power can be exercised only with the consent of the Roman Pontiff.” ONLY WITH CONSENT OF THE POPE!

  18. Bryony Klugman says:

    This is why it so important to refer to the documents of Vatican II rather than the “spirit-spin” that is so often put on V2. The judgement regarding V2 of many members of the We are [no definite article] Church seems to be clouded by their own preoccupations and difficulties. Many are well intentioned, but when they say that the churches are emptying due to church teaching, they mean that they have difficulties with church teaching. When they say that drops in attendance would be stemmed by changes in doctrine, they mean that they have difficulties with certain doctrine, and ignore the fact that those churches which have adopted their programme in full continue to decline in attendance at a far higher rate than that experienced by the Catholic Church. When recoveries of practice are highlighted in the first world, they lament that this is due to a baneful traditionalism that is growing among the youth. When the Holy See point out that there are some teachings that are beyond the Church’s or any pope’s authority to change, they refer as a precedent to such red herrings as the Church’s attitude to slavery, claiming that the male character of the priesthood is simply another example of the Church having been unduly influenced by contemporary cultural norms and roles and that teaching regarding the priesthood therefore there is plenty of scope for “change”. In the hope of accelerating some sort of “Roman Spring”, they claim to call for dialogue, by which they so often mean a process of wearing down and browbeating those who adhere to Church teaching, not out of – as they would like to believe – some sort of fear of change or ignorance, but because their consciences have been informed and they are persuaded by the teaching of the Church over many centuries.

    This movement also tends to lump together quite different issues which only have in common the fact that they challenge existing Church teaching. There is a huge difference between salient doctrines of the Church and such issues as clerical celibacy, which has been the norm in the West but not in the East, where there are married parish clergy in some oriental rites, or the woefully inconsistent application of annulment procedures across the world, leading to the scandal of some marriages being annulled for the flimsiest of reasons and other marriages being upheld where evidence of a defect is compelling. Unfortunately, as a result, the sort of opposition this movement represents hinders discussion of genuine issues which in no way challenge Church teaching and confuses these with teachings the Church by her essential nature and historic mission is unable to change.

  19. Derrick Kourie says:

    Here is some more Vatican II “spirit-spin”. It is an extract from a recent talk given by Robert Blair Kaiser, entitled “Don’t let anyone tell you the Council didn’t change much”. Kaiser was Time Magazine’s reporter at Vatican II.

    The Pope [John XXIII] grabbed my elbow and said he had some things he wanted to tell me. He was at last ready to tell the world (and he chose to do it through Time magazine) that he did not intend his Council to be a strictly churchy event, but a worldly event designed to bring people together, people of all faiths, even the so-called godless Communists.
    ….
    We make a mistake if we comb through the sixteen documents of Vatican II and hope to find explicit warrants for the Church we want to see take shape in the future. We can only capture the real, revolutionary meaning of the Council by looking at the new kind of language that permeated all those documents. It was not the kind of legalistic language Cardinal Ottaviani loved. The American Jesuit John W. O’Malley, author of the most authoritative work on the Council, “What Happened at Vatican II”, says the Council’s message was hidden in plain sight. Fr O’Malley describes it by contrasting the old language with the new:
    …at stake were almost two different visions of Catholicism: from commands to invitations, from laws to ideals, from definition to mystery, from threats to persuasion, from coercion to conscience, from monologue to dialogue, from ruling to service, from withdrawn to integrated, from vertical to horizontal, from exclusion to inclusion, from hostility to friendship, from rivalry to partnership, from suspicion to trust, from static to ongoing, from passive acceptance to active engagement, from fault finding to appreciation, from prescriptive to principled, from behaviour modification to inner appropriation

    I think it would be sad and retrograde if this spirit of Vatican II, nebulous as some might find it, were to rejected as irrelevant. In my opinion, it is an ideal towards which all can aspire.

  20. Bryony Klugman says:

    “We make a mistake if we comb through the sixteen documents of Vatican II and hope to find explicit warrants for the Church we want to see take shape in the future.” So Vatican II statements are supposedly really only a guidline, no – not even that – a starting gun for endless “revolutionary change”. Instead of the values of the Church permeating the world, as V2 anticipated, the values of the world would permeate the Church, and we can see the result of this approach in the rapid decline and fragmentation of the Anglican Communion. Instead of understanding the world with the guidance of the Church, we would understand the Church with the guidance of the world. We would take on the values of the world rather than those of the Kingdom of God.

    This is the real problem – a never-ending agenda about which manifestly there can be no “dialogue” .The Church can be thankful indeed that – unlike a mere earthly institution dependent solely on the efforts of human beings, she is safeguarded by the Holy Spirit, as she has been in times even more perilous than these.

    Readers may be interested to read the reflections of the Holy Father on these issues, having been present himself at the Council proceedings: Pope: ‘The Council Fathers neither could nor wished to create a new Church: http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/news/2012/10/11/pope-the-council-fathers-neither-could-nor-wished-to-create-a-new-church/

    And as Lumen Gentium puts it:

    “…In His gracious goodness, God has seen to it that what He had revealed for the salvation of all nations would abide perpetually in its full integrity and be handed on to all generations. Therefore Christ the Lord in whom the full revelation of the supreme God is brought to completion (see Cor. 1:20; 3:13; 4:6), commissioned the Apostles to preach to all men that Gospel which is the source of all saving truth and moral teaching, and to impart to them heavenly gifts. This Gospel had been promised in former times through the prophets, and Christ Himself had fulfilled it and promulgated it with His lips…

    And so the apostolic preaching, which is expressed in a special way in the inspired books, was to be preserved by an unending succession of preachers until the end of time. Therefore the Apostles, handing on what they themselves had received, warn the faithful to hold fast to the traditions which they have learned either by word of mouth or by letter (see 2 Thess. 2:15), and to fight in defense of the faith handed on once and for all (see Jude 1:3)…”

  21. Bryony Klugman says:

    *That should have been Dei Verbum, not Lumen Gentium.

  22. Mark Nel says:

    “Kaiser was Time Magazine’s reporter at Vatican II.”

    Unlike the Council documents that were authorized by all the Council Fathers and are a genuine reflection of what the Council Fathers officially wanted to be communicated to the Church, Kaiser can offer only his word for what he alleges Pope John XXIII wanted to communicate.

    I doubt Pope John XXIII would have used a Time Magazine reporter to communicate with his flock and I therefore place no credibility on any such report, especially if it in anyway contradicts what the Pope is officially recorded by the Church as saying before, during and after the Council.

    You know what they say about reporters… anything for a story.

  23. Mark Nel says:

    Oh and the problem with the ‘spirit spin’ of Vatican II is this. How do we decide ultimately who is right when we rely on the spirit, not the actual documents? We could end up with various groups, all claiming to follow the spirit of Vatican II and all with different views. Who do we believe? No, sorry, this is simply not a credible position and is in fact an entirely unreasonable and unacceptable position. The liberals know this deep inside, hence the clamouring for a Vatican III in the hope that they can get another shot at trying to subvert Church teaching.

  24. Derrick Kourie says:

    What a rich collection of strawmen “about which manifestly there can be no ‘dialogue’ “: revolutionary change, values of the world permeating the church, fragmentation of the Anglican church (that old chestnut again), understand the Church with the guidance of the world, a never-ending agenda, council fathers wishing to create a new Church, etc etc.

    Thanks for the quote from Dei Verbum which deals with the Church vis-a-vis sacred scripture and tradition (reputedly quite strongly influenced by the peritus, Ratzinger). Even here, for those who have ears to hear, the document’s language and style conform to John O’Malley’s characterisation of VII writings. Here are but two of many extracts that could be given.

    8. … For as the centuries succeed one another, the Church constantly moves forward toward the fullness of divine truth until the words of God reach their complete fulfillment in her. [ from static to ongoing, from passive acceptance to active engagement]

    22. … But since the word of God should be accessible at all times, the Church by her authority and with maternal concern sees to it that suitable and correct translations [literal or dynamic equivalence, I wonder?] are made into different languages, especially from the original texts of the sacred books. And should the opportunity arise and the Church authorities approve, if these translations are produced in cooperation with the separated brethren as well, all Christians will be able to use them. [from exclusion to inclusion, from hostility to friendship, from rivalry to partnership, from suspicion to trust]

    I hope that the shape and growth of the future Church will continue in the path of Vatican II’s spirit “from commands to invitations, from laws to ideals, from definition to mystery, from threats to persuasion, from coercion to conscience, from monologue to dialogue, etc….” I hope that it does not undergo an Anglican fragmentation because of this, or because it neglects to do this.

  25. Bryony Klugman says:

    The “spirit of Vatican II” can provide licence for almost anything, which appears to be the objective of advocates of “Vatican III”. What they don’t realise is that even in the unlikely event that their “lost hero”, the late Cardinal Martini, had been elected Pope, he would have been constrained, indeed defined, by the office, not the other way around. As it happens, Pope Benedict was the choice of the College of Cardinals and was the overwhelming choice of those from the developing world.

    The old chestnut of the Anglican Communion’s fate is perennial because, as well as a warning, it provides ample refutation of the argument that the liberal agenda advocated by We Are [no in/definite article] Church will stem the decline in church attendance. The decline of Anglicanism in such parts of the word where these policies have been adopted is striking.

    Fortunately, unlike the Anglican Church, the Catholic Church has a guarantee of immortality. A great deal of damage can be done to her by dissidents who are internal, rather than, as in the sixteenth century, external, but she will survive, as she always has.

  26. Derrick Kourie says:

    And yet more fantasies: licence for almost anything, lost hero Martini, Anglican’s perennial fate, etc. For the most part, mere speculations, generalisations, and bald assertions, backed by debatable correlations.

    In what sense, one wonders, is the decline in Irish Catholicism (from 90% Mass attendance in the 70’s down to 3% in parts of Dublin, and 25% countrywide) due to the overly liberal nature of Irish Catholicism? And if other factors are at play in Ireland, might there not be many more factors at play in Anglicanism’s problems in the UK?

    To attain immortality (I’m not sure what that might mean in a finite universe), Vatican II’s injunctions in both letter and spirit will have to be followed by constantly moving forward “toward the fullness of divine truth until the words of God reach their complete fulfillment in her.” (Dei Verbum, already cited above.) One does not move forward by standing still, and one does not attain fullness of divine truth by behaving as if you already have it.

  27. Bryony Klugman says:

    Yet more fantasies – certainly: “It’s Church, Jim: But not as we know it.”

  28. Bryony Klugman says:

    “Thanks for the quote from Dei Verbum which deals with the Church vis-a-vis sacred scripture and tradition (reputedly quite strongly influenced by the peritus, Ratzinger).” “Reputedly”?, According to whom? Source? Father Kung?

    If true, Pope Benedict was already a conservative at the Council, and not – as we were led to believe in a previous thread – the handsomest of the radical angels with so much promise, who since fell from the Conciliar heavens, leading to profound disappointment.

    That reference should surely read “Father Ratzinger”, for the Holy Father surely deserves his priestly title from that time.

  29. Bryony Klugman says:

    The Catholic Church is immortal by her essential historical nature. Fortunately, her continued existence depends on the unique guarantee of her Founder, not on any single council, Vatican II included. She would not otherwise have survived external as well as internal threats over her long history.

  30. Mark Nel says:

    In this weeks editorial the editor writes about the Church needing to do more about helping those who suffer mental anguish. Maybe the Church could begin with a support group for those of us who read some of the comments in threads like these and suffer tremendous despair as a consequence. I certainly have more than once despaired.

    Most recently this was because of the comments from Rosemary Gravenor about the support that this newspaper is allegedly giving to the dissident movement We Are All Church South Africa, including the future posting of their advertisements. Considering that, for example, I believe Archbishop Brislin has banned this movement from using Church premises in his diocese for their meetings, why would this newspaper then allow them to advertise in this newspaper, let alone write this rather favourable review on them? Not to mention the fact that some of the members of this dissident movement have even attended simulated Catholic Masses, which everyone is conveniently over looking in these comments, including Ms. Gravenor.

  31. Derrick Kourie says:

    Sources pointing to Ratzinger’s influence on Dei Verbum:
    http://www.academia.edu/470398/_I_did_not_change_they_did_Joseph_Ratzinger_Karl_Rahner_and_the_Second_Vatican_Council

    [Here is an extract, referring to a talk given to German bishops by peritus Ratzinger on De Fontibus Revelationes, the base curial text for Dei Verbum, prepared under the chairmanship of Cardinal Ottivani …]
    “Overall the reaction was positive, and Ratzinger must have made already then a deep impression on the fathers, in particular Montini, who later as Paul VI would make Ratzinger the archbishop of Munich and eventually raise him to the status of cardinal. Meanwhile, Ratzinger was no less interested in pastoral questions than Rahner. He was genuinely concerned for the people, but his main interest was not how to bring the Church closer to the world, but rather how to get the world involved with the Christian message. It therefore does not surprise that of all documents of Vatican II, Dei verbum was the one most directly influenced by Ratzinger.”

    Also see “Six texts by Prof Joseph Ratzinger as peritus before and during Vatican Council II”, downloadable as a pdf from http://www.scotthahn.com/download/attachment/3459. Text IV is the talk referred to above.

    I too have faith and hope that Jesus will be with the church till the end of time as she constantly moves forward “toward the fullness of divine truth until the words of God reach their complete fulfillment in her.” I believe and hope for this, despite voices resisting the Vatican II spirit of moving “from commands to invitations, from laws to ideals, from definition to mystery, from threats to persuasion, from coercion to conscience, from monologue to dialogue, from ruling to service, from withdrawn to integrated, from vertical to horizontal, from exclusion to inclusion, from hostility to friendship, from rivalry to partnership, from suspicion to trust, from static to ongoing, from passive acceptance to active engagement, from fault finding to appreciation, from prescriptive to principled, from behaviour modification to inner appropriation.” (Apologies for repeating the quote. I really like the way it so completely encapsulates the nebulous spirit of Vatican II.)

    Although it would be fun to continue shadow boxing at strawmen (Goodness me! Quite a rhetorical flourish: “the handsomest of the radical angels”, indeed!), unfortunately other less pleasant duties drag me elsewhere.

  32. Try this as a remedy for despair (and any negative feelings for that matter):
    http://video.ted.com/talk/podcast/AWS2012/None/NTT.mp4

  33. Bryony Klugman says:

    Very cleverly done and Bach is always a winner. My offering for stress relief would be a shy but well-known admirer of Bach: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DwIsyhCdJgg&feature=g-vrec

  34. Günther Simmermacher says:

    Mr Nel, at present the SACBC is in talks with WAACSA to resolve how the organisation can function within the Church, and presumably to establish whether they are in fact placed outside the Church. I would not wish to pre-empt the conclusion of that dialogue.

    Personally, I agree that Archbishop Brislin has little choice but to make Church property unavailable to meetings of WAACSA, and I have said so to the archbishop as well as to members of WAACSA. But this does not mean that WAACSA cannot advertise in The Southern Cross. We have accepted (and rejected) advertising also from the SSPX, depending on content. If WAACSA were to submit an advert that promotes a meeting on, say, Vatican II, we cannot reject it, simply because I might disagree with certain points of the group’s manifesto. However, if the ad was placed to advertise an activity that is contrary to the teachings of the Church, we’d obviously decline its placement.

    Such a decision would not be influenced by the private actions of one of its members. It would be preposterous to do so.

    I’m quite certain that anybody who knows Michael Shackleton would be quite amused at your statement that he has written a “rather favourable review” of WAACSA.

  35. Mark Nel says:

    Mr Simmermacher, with regards your response above.

    Firstly, I do not know Michael Shackleton and so I can only judge what he writes by what he writes. I remain of the opinion that this piece was written with an obvious favourable tone.

    Secondly, I believe your statement that you will accept adverts from this movement providing it does not provide promote that which is contrary to Church teaching, is a cop out. There is no doubt that any meetings by this movement, no matter what the proposed topic, will be slanted towards their particular agenda and the achievement of their objectives. This is natural. Why else would this movement engage in these meetings but to convince others to their way of thinking.

    Your newspaper, to put it mildly, will be doing Catholics a disservice by advertising these meetings before the SACBC has made an official decision about the movement. Until the SACBC makes an official decision about this movement and while they are banned from holding meetings on certain Church premises, we must surely take the cautious approach. We must not risk the souls of the faithful by allowing this movement access to Catholics through a Catholic newspaper.

    You say above that “would not wish to pre-empt the conclusion of that dialogue” with the bishops but, by permitting them to advertise, you are preempting the dialogue. You should be guided by the bishops decision to ban them from Church premises, which is surely to prevent Catholics being confused into thinking the movement has the approval of the Church. Equally you must therefore not allow advertising in a Catholic newspaper as they may lead to a false belief by some that the movement carries the approval of the Church because the advert is in a Catholic newspaper.

  36. Victor Victoria says:

    I am again amused that “carries the approval of the Church” seems to imply, for Mr Nel, approval by the Bishops, and the Bishops alone! The Bishops are not the Church. The Church is not the Bishops. They definitely are part of the Church, but it is simply incorrect to suggest that /they are the Church./

    This seems to be the spirit behind the name “We Are Church,” or the local variation “We Are All Church,” i.e. a recognition that the Church, the Mystical Body of Christ, is comprised of all the baptized. This WAACSA movement appears to be pretty Catholic in its ethos, its defining characteristic appearing to be an embracing of the Spirit of Vatican II.

    To those who are concerned as to what the Spirit of Vatican II is, Derrick has done a majestic job above, providing a quote from a peritus of the Council which does much to encapsulate the defining characterisitcs of this Spirit …

    “I too [Professor Fr Joseph Ratzinger] have faith and hope that Jesus will be with the church till the end of time as she constantly moves forward “toward the fullness of divine truth until the words of God reach their complete fulfillment in her.” I believe and hope for this, despite voices resisting the Vatican II spirit of moving “from commands to invitations, from laws to ideals, from definition to mystery, from threats to persuasion, from coercion to conscience, from monologue to dialogue, from ruling to service, from withdrawn to integrated, from vertical to horizontal, from exclusion to inclusion, from hostility to friendship, from rivalry to partnership, from suspicion to trust, from static to ongoing, from passive acceptance to active engagement, from fault finding to appreciation, from prescriptive to principled, from behaviour modification to inner appropriation.” “

  37. Bryony Klugman says:

    The letter and spirit of Vatican II:

    `… In His gracious goodness, God has seen to it that what He had revealed for the salvation of all nations would abide perpetually in its full integrity and be handed on to all generations. Therefore Christ the Lord in whom the full revelation of the supreme God is brought to completion (see Cor. 1:20; 3:13; 4:6), commissioned the Apostles to preach to all men that Gospel which is the source of all saving truth and moral teaching, and to impart to them heavenly gifts. .. The commission was fulfilled, too, by those Apostles and apostolic men who under the inspiration of the same Holy Spirit committed the message of salvation to writing.

    But in order to keep the Gospel forever whole and alive within the Church, the Apostles left bishops as their successors, “handing over” to them “the authority to teach in their own place.”

    And so the apostolic preaching, which is expressed in a special way in the inspired books, was to be preserved by an unending succession of preachers until the end of time. Therefore the Apostles, handing on what they themselves had received, warn the faithful to hold fast to the traditions which they have learned either by word of mouth or by letter (see 2 Thess. 2:15), and to fight in defense of the faith handed on once and for all (see Jude 1:3) Now what was handed on by the Apostles includes everything which contributes toward the holiness of life and increase in faith of the peoples of God; and so the Church, in her teaching, life and worship, perpetuates and hands on to all generations all that she herself is, all that she believes.

    …here exists a close connection and communication between sacred tradition and Sacred Scripture. For both of them, flowing from the same divine wellspring, in a certain way merge into a unity and tend toward the same end. For Sacred Scripture is the word of God inasmuch as it is consigned to writing under the inspiration of the divine Spirit, while sacred tradition takes the word of God entrusted by Christ the Lord and the Holy Spirit to the Apostles, and hands it on to their successors in its full purity, so that led by the light of the Spirit of truth, they may in proclaiming it preserve this word of God faithfully, explain it, and make it more widely known. Consequently it is not from Sacred Scripture alone that the Church draws her certainty about everything which has been revealed. Therefore both sacred tradition and Sacred Scripture are to be accepted and venerated with the same sense of loyalty and reverence…

  38. Victor Victoria says:

    Might I augment that quotation from Dei Verbum with a couple from Lumen Gentium?

    “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.” Clearly, a lack of //universal agreement// over a doctrine indicates non-reception of that doctrine. This does not necessarily mean that the doctrine is erroneous (although it might be … as was the case with the 1866 doctrine as regards slavery, for example) … it might simply mean that the doctrine needs to be expressed more clearly or convincingly.

    “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.” There are clearly proscribed limits as to what can be infallibly defined.

    It is quite demonstrably evident that “the Church” can err in its teaching. The 1866 teaching of Pope Pius IX is a case in point: “Slavery itself, considered as such in its essential nature, is not at all contrary to the natural and divine law, and there can be several just titles of slavery and these are referred to by approved theologians and commentators of the sacred canons … it is not contrary to the natural and divine law for a slave to be sold, bought, exchanged or given.”

    Gaudium et Spes also gives some insight into the acceptability of development of any doctrine which does not explicitly belong to the deposit of the faith: “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.”

    This point is driven home in the Decree on Ecumenism: “Christ summons the Church, as she goes her pilgrim way, to that continual reformation of which she always has need, insofar as she is an institution of men here on earth. 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.”

    Here, an Ecumenical Council has formally conceded the possibility of deficiency in previous doctrinal formulations. The above quotation from Dei Verbum //does not// negate this insight.

  39. Bryony Klugman says:

    So Fr Ratzinger must have written/have been responsible for all the “bad bits”, but all the “good bits” should have a Fr Kung interpretation…

  40. Bryony Klugman says:

    The Holy See’s attitude to slavery has been far more complex than that, as any reader can inform themselves via the internet.

    In any case, popes have issued statement on all kinds of secular matters, from polyphony to fortifications in the papal states to women singing in Church. To argue that these challenge the operation of papal infallibility and authority in limited and specific circumstances is simply absurd.

  41. Victor Victoria says:

    The previous contributor appears not to have read my points with sufficient care, or is deliberately misinterpreting what I have said.

    I am more than happy to let other readers draw their own conclusions.

  42. Derrick Kourie says:

    Oops—just for the record, I should point out that in some of my quotes above, technology caused a little glitch. Because I did not want quotation marks within quotation marks, I started quotes with the words “start of quote” in angle brackets. It seems that the website’s system swallowed those start and end of quote indicators, with the result that in some cases, my own words are not clearly differentiated from the quoted text. I apologise for that. If necessary, I can more clearly indicate where these glitches have occurred.

  43. Derrick Kourie says:

    I am therefore guilty of possibly misleading VV and others about who said what in the following:

    “I too [Derrick] have faith and hope that Jesus will be with the church till the end of time as she constantly moves forward “toward the fullness of divine truth until the words of God reach their complete fulfillment in her.” [Dei Verbum] I [Derrick] believe and hope for this, despite voices resisting the Vatican II spirit of moving “from commands to invitations, from laws to ideals, from definition to mystery, from threats to persuasion, from coercion to conscience, from monologue to dialogue, from ruling to service, from withdrawn to integrated, from vertical to horizontal, from exclusion to inclusion, from hostility to friendship, from rivalry to partnership, from suspicion to trust, from static to ongoing, from passive acceptance to active engagement, from fault finding to appreciation, from prescriptive to principled, from behaviour modification to inner appropriation.” [A quote from the American Jesuit John W. O’Malley.]

    Mea culpa…

  44. Victor Victoria says:

    Hi Derrick,

    Excellent sentiments, and they couldn’t come from a finer man!

  45. Bryony Klugman says:

    For those interested in distinguishing between erroneous and authentic interpretations of the Second Vatican Council, Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman offers great wisdom. Readers may enjoy the thoughts of the world’s preeminent Newman biographer and scholar, Dr Ian Ker, who gave a lecture on Cardinal Newman and the Hermeneutic of Continuity at Oxford University last April. This can be accessed at: http://vimeo.com/41242037

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