As I was reading over the conditions of Bishop Robert Finn’s probation, I was wondering what would happen if the Church handled divorced and remarried Catholics in a similar way. Two years of good behavior, then a return to the sacramental life of the Church. I hear and read a lot from the Catholic Right making distinctions between justice and mercy. Bishop Finn experienced mercy. Maybe that’s an experience worth sharing.
Saturday, September 8th, 2012
8 September 2012
8 September 2012
How would you readers tackle this statement from Pope Paul VI?
16. There is thus a profound link between Christ, the Church and evangelization. During the period of the Church that we are living in, it is she who has the task of evangelizing. This mandate is not accomplished without her, and still less against her.
It is certainly fitting to recall this fact at a moment like the present one when it happens that not without sorrow we can hear people – whom we wish to believe are well-intentioned but who are certainly misguided in their attitude – continually claiming to love Christ but without the Church, to listen to Christ but not the Church, to belong to Christ but outside the Church. The absurdity of this dichotomy is clearly evident in this phrase of the Gospel: “Anyone who rejects you rejects me.”[Lk 10:16; cf. Saint Cyprian, De Unitate Ecclesiae, 14: PL 4, 527; Saint Augustine, Enarrat. 88, Sermo, 2, 14: PL 37, 1140; Saint John Chrysostom, Hom. de capto Eutropio, 6: PG 52, 462] And how can one wish to love Christ without loving the Church, if the finest witness to Christ is that of St. Paul: “Christ loved the Church and sacrificed himself for her”?[Eph 5:25]
I think a bit of clarity is needed from someone who more frequently encounters the so-called dichotomy than perhaps a pope does.
Many Catholics and non-believers identify “the Church” with the hierarchy. Though some of us might sometimes wonder if the hierarchy are with us or against us. But the truth is that the bishops are indeed part of the Church. But just part. The entire Church includes hundreds of millions of believers who each have their part to play in the Body.
That said, some people, through their personal experiences, find institutional Catholicism an obstacle. Since WWII, the West hasn’t quite shaken a broad distrust of authority. Even conservatives distrust government these days. And most liberals distrust even more people in authority. Leaders might like to think we’ve gotten over the sixties, but we really haven’t. Factor in political movements abroad from the Berlin Wall to present-day Syria, and just about every year, a few different sets of citizens are grumbling enough to make the ground shake. And for the Church, figure in the catastrophic handling of sex predators. And who wouldn’t look at bishops and conclude they might not be in the Church, as Pope Paul expresses it.
The local community and every Christian marriage is a manifestation of the Church. I think we need to emphasize that. And some of our bishops, and Rome–in their stumbles and sins–maybe less so. Or recognize them in a most charitable way without making excuses for them. How to do all that? Darned if I know.
How would any of you handle evangelization in an era of skepticism?
8 September 2012
With a broad range of internet sources, I find the spectrum of Catholic responses on various issues to be … interesting, to say the least. I’d like to tease out a few recent news bits and offer up an unhelpful comparison. Why unhelpful? Mainly to underline the occasional lack of logic among some believers who are otherwise trying their best to align themselves with the Truth, as they understand it. I will note that some recent events, like the conviction of Bishop Robert Finn, tends to open up divides in what often seems to be a Catholic conservative internet monolith. It’s not the only case. And it won’t be the last. The internet gives hundreds of millions of people the opportunity to make a judgment on an issue before some Celebrity issues a decree on it.
One of the students I know follows lifesitenews, and in my Facebook feed I found this brief opinion piece a few days ago. It’s the one I blogged about on Tuesday.
(T)hose Catholics who cannot bring themselves to believe the formal teachings of the Church on life and family matters it would be more honest to leave the Church rather than betraying Her.
For (at least) two generations now, there has been a wide range of Catholic opinion and political acitivity on abortion, which is what this stance from HLI is all about. One can oppose abortion in all circumstances, something like the absolute pacifist approach to war. Killing is always, always, wrong. And a Christian just shouldn’t kill under any circumstances. Or there would be the individual personally opposed–which is likely most Catholics. But some Catholics would see the criminalization of abortion as an ineffective or impractical or unpopular solution, and therefore an optional stance for a believer.
Between the two positions there are all sort of concession spots. The GOP presidential ticket absolves the situation of rape. Presumably the mother’s danger-of-death clause, too. And then one would have more extreme positions: anti-abortion folks who endorse the assassination of providers, plus people who, despite medical evidence to the contrary, have no problem with ending a life with a heartbeat, brainwaves, and all the natural infant qualities.
But let’s get back to the clause, “it would be more honest to leave rather than betray.”
Certainly Bishop Finn has given grave scandal to the people of his diocese, for a single thread of mismanagement that permitted a person with an admitted addiction to child pornography to circulate among Catholic children. A good percentage of Kansas City Catholics are outraged. Would it be more honest for Bishop Finn to leave the Roman Catholic Church? Would it be more honest for him to just leave the diocese? To be sure: I’m certainly not arguing for the man to be ejected into the Anglican Communion. But this would be an “unhelpful” comparison to the HLI spin on the Pope Benedict talk. Can one make a case for Pope Benedict suggesting Bishop Finn leave Catholicism? If one is prepared to take the point of scandal seriously and follow the HLI reasoning to a logical conclusion.
Or perhaps we’re talking about the betrayal of the political pro-life movement instead of the Church. Then, naturally, the comparison doesn’t fit and isn’t very helpful.
The deeper issue is really people we don’t like with whom we’re stuck. A lame duck bishop for sixteen years. Catholics who vote in contrary ways to us. People who don’t even argue the same positions we do on the core moral issues of the day. Lots of Catholics earnestly say that “Life” is the number one issue. But it’s really not. For Christians, faith is the core issue. Christians routinely and historically set aside their lives for the witness of the faith. And I think the matter of a Catholic chased out of the Church possesses a similar gravity to the ending of a human life. And if you don’t think that way, then compare to what Christ said in the Gospels about losing one’s life. And maybe that’s unhelpful for some readers. Just like the people who won’t leave the Church, you’re still going to have to wrestle with the reality of faith. Your own. Other people’s too.
8 September 2012
I like the term “nave,” but the heading of the these three numbered sections is, “The Congregation’s Area.”
§ 51 § The space within the church building for the faithful other than the priest celebrant and the ministers is sometimes called the nave. This space is critical in the overall plan because it accommodates a variety of ritual actions: processions during the Eucharist, the singing of the prayers, movement during baptismal rites, the sprinkling of the congregation with blessed water, the rites during the wedding and funeral liturgies, and personal devotion. This area is not comparable to the audience’s space in a theater or public arena because in the liturgical assembly, there is no audience. Rather, the entire congregation acts. The ministers of music could also be located in the body of the church since they lead the entire assembly in song as well as by the example of their reverent attention and prayer.
There are important principles in BLS 51 we shouldn’t neglect. First, the nave is the location for a number of important liturgical actions, especially and foremost, the active participation of the worshiping congregation. Note the mention of singing as well as the rejection of the notion of an “audience’s space.” Combining the two, we should be attentive to the nave as a location for musical “performance,” as foreseen in this document and repeatedly in the rites.
Music ministry “could” be located in the nave. The final judgment rests on the perceived role in the faith community, and the need for leadership by example, as BLS 51 suggests.
Two very important principles:
§ 52 § Two principles guide architectural decisions about the form and arrangement of the nave:
- (1) the community worships as a single body united in faith, not simply as individuals who happen to find themselves in one place, and the nature of the liturgy demands that the congregation as well as the priest celebrant and ministers be able to exercise their roles in a full and active way; and
- (2) the priest celebrant and ministers together with the congregation form the liturgical assembly, which is the Church gathered for worship.
Unity, again not individuals under a uniformity, is the guiding principle.
Note also how the US bishop define their terms: congregation + ministers + priest = assembly. Those squeamish on the term “assembly” might want to consider this.
§ 53 § The body of the church is not simply a series of unrelated sections. Rather, each part contributes to the unity of the space by proportion, size, and shape. While various rites are celebrated there, the sense of the nave as a unified whole should not be sacrificed to the need for flexibility.
This last point touches in the importance of unity across the various celebrations of the rites. This is where a deisgn consultant may be invaluable to the building process.
All texts from Built of Living Stones are copyright © 2000, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission.