Friday, October 23, 2009

Connecting Some Vatican Dots Draws An Interesting Picture

I strongly suspect that the recent overture to disgruntled Anglicans is not just about providing a welcome mat to some Anglicans, but is in effect setting the parameters and precedent for reunification with the Russian Orthodox Church--amongst other culturally conservative Christian churches. It also is another step in what I see as the real agenda of Benedict's papacy.

First, the issue of Papal primacy has taken a back burner in this Anglican invitation in favor of the doctrinal and cultural issues of gays and women clergy. In giving socially conservative Anglicans their own rite, with little said so far about the extent of Vatican influence in their internal affairs, the Vatican is sending a message. It's a message which should play very well in Russian Orthodox circles where there is the same concern about the decay of Western morality and church discipline, but also serious questions about the extent and nature of papal primacy. There is no longer much concern about liturgical issues, since Benedict issued his Motu Proprio--an act which has the additional potential of paving the way for dividing Roman Catholicism along liturgical lines.
It's beginning to look to me as if Benedict has always had a long term strategy for his Papacy, and it's not one he has been transparent about. His goal seems to be the unification of certain socially conservative segments of Christianity even if it means a less autocratic centralized papacy.

In Roman Catholicism itself, he is doing exactly the opposite. He is underscoring papal authority in order to foster division between traditionalists and Vatican II progressives and between the West and the South. He is doing as much as he can to isolate Western progressives and it's purposeful. It looks to me that Western progressives are the price he is willing to pay for his idea of socially regressive ecumenism.

None of these Vatican moves have had anything to do with real ecumenism. They are all reactionary moves that work against forward cultural evolution. They have everything to do with fostering a unification amongst socially conservative Christian groups in order to provide a united front against post modernism and secular notions of human rights and equality. It's about keeping the old guard, the old culture, and the old ways in charge.

Should the talks with SSPX follow along the lines I think they will, accommodation will be made for SSPX to give lip service to Vatican II as a pastoral council that did not make any radical breaks with Vatican I or Trent. The contested devils came in how the details were implemented and it was grossly misinterpreted in the subsequent years. JPII and now Benedict have been doing their best to reform the reform, but it takes time. SSPX will give them time.

This will be another favorable message to the Orthodox, and undoubtedly will be as well received as Bendict's Motu Proprio. SSPX will be welcomed back with even wider arms. The Orthodox will be smiling on the Vatican even more favorably. In time these overtures will be extended to socially conservative Christians of other persuasions. I wouldn't be surprised if there aren't secret talks taking place amongst the Vatican and disgruntled Lutherans even as I write.

However, the biggest reason I think this is the true agenda is because all of these overtures have been taken in secrecy without any consultation with the wider church--even within the Vatican itself. The Times of London has written that not one single English Catholic bishop participated in the discussions that led to this latest overture by Benedict. They were sandbagged. Virtually the entire Church was sandbagged by the lifting of the SSPX excommunication. Very few people were consulted before the issuing of Benedict's Motu Proprio and many of those who were, objected to it. ICEL was dumped wholesale in favor of non English speaking traditionalists. Benedict has stocked the Vatican dicasteries with the conservative yes men, some of them the worst reactionaries in American Catholicism, and lest I forget, there are the dual LCWR investigations which in reality are aimed as much at American progressives as they are the LCWR.

I don't see this latest offer from the Vatican as a product of some sort of enlightened ecumenism. It's another secretive purposeful salvo designed to split Christianity along cultural rather than theological lines and it's aimed as much at Roman Catholicism itself as other Christian denominations. The schism is coming in Catholicism because Benedict and his backers want it and are actively pushing for it.

Are you listening Rowan Williams? The only difference between what's happened in Anglicanism and what's happening in Catholicism is Benedict is on the side of all the secret reactionary money and you aren't. If Benedict continues on this path he will provide you with plenty of company and best of all you can finally act with full integrity, a concept he doesn't seem to understand.


  1. You've got this overview right Colleen. What Benedict is doing is purposeful and it is about old energy and keeping it alive.

    Here is some old energy that needs to stay alive instead. I started reading a new chapter in a book I have had for a while, but have had too little time to pay attention to it until now. It's Thomas Merton's book Mystics and Zen Masters, a chapter on English Mystics.

    Very briefly, he outlines how they were essentially almost all forgotten after the Reformation, but in the 1960s were lifted from the pages of history again.

    Merton highlights the following Mystics, the four great mystics of the fourteenth century: Richard Rolle, Walter Hilton, Julian (Juliana) of Norwich, and the author of Cloud of Unknowing, whom no one has ever been able to identify. Sometimes the sixteenth century Benedictine Dom Augustine Baker is added to this group, as well Merton includes the "great medieval mystics, who, though they wrote in Latin, were distinctly English in their character: St. Ailred of Rievaulx, Adam the Carthusian of Whitham, or the anonymous Monk Solitary of Farne. Four great mystics of the fourteenth century school : Margery Kempe, St. Ailred of Reivaulx, St Edmund Rich, Archbishop of Canterbury.

    A great chapter I have found.

    Merton points out several traits to these mystics. "All these traits are found in the English mystics, whose humility is witty, whose ardor is simple and direct, and whose love for God is the whole offering of their complete self, not divided and destroyed but unified and transfigured in "self-naughting" and abandonment to His infinite mercy.

  2. Brilliant, Colleen. Deeply insightful, with a breadth of vision I haven't seen in any news analysis of Benedict's papacy. Keep helping us to see what's going on here, please.

  3. A fascinating and thought -provoking interpretation, Colleen. One sign that other conservative groupings may be in the sights is the enthusiastic response from some other mainline and evangelical commentators. The comments thread at Internet Monk became a lengthy (and often heated) exchange on the similarities and major distinctions between Lutheran and Catholic theology.

    The critical question is, how successful can he be at loosening papal supremacy for some groups while tightening it for others? As the strategy becomes clearer for all to see, will he continue to get away with it, or will he meet increasing resistance from his own bishops, who became more outspoken after the SPXII adventure earlier this year?

  4. I'm glad to have found "like folk"! I feel like the pope is trying to push liberals (pro Vatican II Catholics) to abandon the church - or somehow imagines controlling us. (Which... given that the conservatives have shot themselves in the foot royally due to ruling out married priests or women priest - thus reducing the overall number of priests... is a near impossibility! They're too short-handed to conduct an effective Inquisition!) And I feel it is very important to hang in here and witness to the view of the church (as loving and inclusive and freeing) rather than march off in disgust. So it's a relief to have found this blog!

  5. Colleen, I have been recommended to read your recent post on Pope Benedict's recent initiatives. To me, it seems that you are being paranoid and looking at the question from within the weakening limits of an American, early post-Vatican II 'liberal-progressive' perspective. This has now become a crumbling, white-haired outlook and will not be the cause of division so much as fragmentation created by the death of its disappointed supporters, including you, Colleen.

    I know nothing about you, Colleen, beyond your description of yourself as a mystic. But forgive me if I say that since discovering that Adrienne von Speyer, the muse of Hans Urs von Balthazar, was not only twice divorced, but the first thing her third husband did after she died waa to order von B out of the house forthwith, I have become deeply suspicious of self-proclaimed mystics. Give me the anonymous medieval ones any day, Colleen.

    I suggest that you gaze once more into your crystal ball and try to find something other than your own distorted reflection before accusing the Pope of division on a pragmatic conservative basis. There is no certainty that any of his recent initiatives will succeed because they involve very small groups whose existence will make little difference to the Church at large. He is simply trying to make all welcome in the Body of Christ. So, Colleen, return to the seventh heaven and fret not. Have you encountered Adrienne up there?

  6. "This has now become a crumbling, white-haired outlook and will not be the cause of division so much as fragmentation created by the death of its disappointed supporters, including you, Colleen."

    Yours is a perverted and ignorant, as well as very rude view. You have a lot of nerve to even comment since you do not even know Colleen one bit.

    The white haired, by the way, is from Benedict, the white haired Pope and the Church is crumbling from within. If you care about the Church, then take the time to get your head in gear towards Jesus Christ and His teachings and get your head out of the gutter of dogma and bs from the hierarchy full of white haired men that love to parade around looking like a bunch of sissies.

  7. "He is simply trying to make all welcome in the Body of Christ."

    And this is a load of bull shit from Lorna!

    Is he welcoming divorced and remarried? Is he welcoming gays? Is he welcoming Hans Kung? Is he welcoming liberals or progressives?

    No, but he's welcoming Jew haters, women-haters, right wing fascist. Open your peepers O'Boyle!

  8. Colleen, dear, I think you should give the Butterfly some spiritual direction or else suggest that he/she (I suspect she) lies down. Women of her age frequently experience difficult moments that need rest while going through a bitter stage. The fragility of her rainbow wings seems to have been bruised by the breeze of commonsense. How I wish I had used some insect repellent. Off you fly, my pretty one, and perch on Colleen's outstretched hand. But be careful she does not pull off your antenae.

    I thought that sissies were Colleen's speciality!

  9. What would you possibly know about me Ms. O'Boyle?

    It does not seem that you know very much at all, and especially how not to act like a witch.

  10. Butterfly

    What do I know about you? Well, to begin with there is the description of yourself on your blog profile, and jejune it is. But from your comments in Colleen's box, you emerge as vacuous as the Cloud of Unknowing, as coarse-grained as Margery Kempe, and you share with Thomas Merton the need to shut your Trap (as people once joked of his early books). You may, for all I know, be gay, divorced and re-married. But, above all, you are a woman of deeply conventional views that fails to go beyond the security of a complacent liberal consensus informed by the stale and shallow thought of Hans Kung, a professional theologian who has not had a thought since 1968. You appear to be a period piece and a butterfly who behaves like a wasp.

  11. You are very presumptuous and you think you know it all. Good for you Ms full of pride.

  12. Well, Butterfuly, aka Fran O'Connor Schultz of New Jersey, synthetizer of repetitive electronic music of extreme banality, the sender of Peace and Love, admirer of dull representational landscapes, and friend of Colleen.

    Your sub-Cocteauesque portrait shows that you are, indeed, an old woman and relic of the soixant-huitard. Inside you may feel like the Lady of Shallot and imagine you are floating on a Bavarian lake surrounding one of mad King Ludwig's castles, but you simply confirm my original suspicion that you are part of an aging American constituency of disaffected Catholics who want to make the Church in your own image.

    I suspect that you will now regret your outburst in response to my comment because it has enabled me to investigate who you really are, Butterfly, and what you represent: the past.

    When I next need some sleep I shall put on one of your synthetized tracks. Dream on, my dear, as you approach the velvet dark.

  13. Yes, Lorna, I will continue to dream of a better world with peace and harmony thriving and with people who share that same view. Jesus teaches us to love one another. Your intentions for coming to this blog were not intended to love anyone, but to spread your hatefulness and your own bitterness.

    I feel sorry for you, Lorna O'Boyle, that your interpretations of art, music, people in general is fused with contempt for people that you truly do not know with any sense of depth or perspective or care to know or treat with any shred of common decency towards others.

    That you have such a contemptuousness for people in general confirms my initial suspicions of your character and lack of humility and lack of grace.

    I would love to hear you compose a piece of music someday. I would love to see you paint a painting some day. I would love to see you write something that was not filled with hatred toward your neighbor.

  14. Wow, I missed out on all this fun.

    I actually don't have much grey hair. I think Benedict and his Vatican supporters are a little closer to meeting their Maker, than I am.

    I'm not a real big fan of Von Balthasar and so have very little interest in Adrienne Von Speyer. Sorry.

    I also don't center my experiences completely in the context of traditional Catholic mysticism. I have spent a great deal of time working with Indigenous elders, who also don't necessarily center the totality of their experiences in context of their own spiritual systems.

    The common language is quantum physics, human consciousness, and inner dimensional realities. No spiritual system adequately describes any of our experiences which is why we don't push our various spiritualities on each other. Indigenous folks are way ahead of the west when it comes to the application of human consciousness. I use the term mystic because it's the only Western term which conveys anything about this ability of human consciousness.

    Hate to disappoint you, but I don't use a crystal ball. Not my particular thing. I have seen Navajo use crystals, and that was impressive. It's like watching television without sound, but like all 'mystical' experiences, interpretation or discernment is an issue.

  15. Have you forgotten, Fran (Butterfly) O'Connor Schultz that you began by describing me as perverted, ignorant and rude. You said I had nerve to comment on a public blog. You also said I must get my head out of the gutter of dogma and 'bs' (whatever that is; do you mean 'bull shit', I wonder?) of the hierarchy. You accused them of being sissies. You then returned and accused me of disseminating bullshit and finally you invite me to open my 'peepers' to repellent accusations against the Holy Father. Re-read your comments, Papillon.

    You then go on to accuse me of contempt for other people and lack of love. Surely, my dear, you write as the biter bit? I see nothing but contempt and hate in your original reactions but, coming to discover a little about you, I charitably assume that you had had a bad day with the synthetizer and something had fused.

    On the strength of your own words, I am not impressed by you, Butterfly,and I have come to the conclusion that you are even more hypocritical than those you accuse. I should advise you not to try it again, dearest, or you will receive like for like. And don't blame me for your original comments rebounding to your disadvantage. If you had not written them we would not be enjoying this delightful correspondence.

  16. I did not "begin" anything. You came in here to this blog looking for a fight, calling Colleen "paranoid" and making fun of her, even though you admitted you did not know her.

    Your stupid comments about white hair - oh, grow up! I've heard this crap before and I am sick of it.

    BTW, my hair is not white either and I am not on my death bed. And if I lie down as you say I should, it will be with my husband to make wild passionate love with!

    Read the Gospels. Pray. Play some music.

  17. Good, Butterfly, at last we have reached a point of truth. But, judging from you portrait, you look grey to me, but perhaps you have had it blued? No matter. But it would not be a bad idea if you listened rather than merely heard points with which you disagree. Inch by inch the self-indulgence and inconsistency of Colleen's position has emerged in recent days. She is merely a New Age poetaster claiming to speak for the Church and describing herself as a 'mystic/psychic' to add allure to her self-image. Good, she has her constituency but, judging by the predictable comments of her readership, it amounts to nothing of significance.

  18. It is not a portrait of me Lorna. I don't have any pictures of me. It's a cartoon I found on the internet entitled "Brainstorm." haha Where is your sense of humor? You seem to take everything so literally. The Lady of Shalott is not about me either. The Castle in myspace page is not to be taken literally either. Think about that one, as supposedly you are a Catholic.

    Take some time before you judge others. It's called having the virtue of patience. Better still, don't judge anyone. You will feel a lot better and the world will be a lighter place.

    Read the Gospels. Pray. Play some music. Paint a painting. Dream. Get out of your wars against people and quit analyzing before you have a true picture and just start living as a Christian and as if you love God more than anything else.

    I am sorry to hear you hate my music and think it is repetitive. I have listened to a lot of music and I do not think that it is too repetitive. If I could afford an orchestra I would not have to use the synthesizer. The synth is very handy and it can actually print out the musical score. I feel very blessed that God has provided the means for me to record my compositions.

    I have put music on the back burner for many years and I am delighted that a gift that was given to me by God is not being ignored or wasted and that now I have the time to develop as a composer.

    I realize that not everyone will like my music. No one is forcing you to listen to it. So please stop with your insults at me and my music, and insults really to God, because He provided me with the gift of music.