Friday, August 1, 2008

A Time For Choice: Who To Follow?

Cardinal Walter Kasper in happier times. I wonder what he really thinks about all this.

The Roman Catholic Church has finally ended all hope that Anglican priestly orders will ever be recognised as valid.

In an address to the Lambeth Conference of 670 Anglican bishops from around the world, the cardinal who heads the Council for Christian Unity said the dialogue between Anglicans and Catholics would be irrevocably "changed" as a result of the ordination of women and the recent vote to go ahead with consecrating women bishops.

Cardinal Walter Kasper also reiterated the Vatican's stance that homosexuality is a "disordered" condition.

In a well-attended closed session at the conference at the University of Kent University, Canterbury, Cardinal Kasper said relations between the two churches are now deeply compromised. He urged bishops to consider their shared inheritance, which he said was "worthy of being consulted and protected."

In 1896 Pope Leo XI issued a Bull, Apostolicae Curae, in which he condemned all Anglican orders as "absolutely null and utterly void". {So, the eternal indelible mark on the soul of the ordinand which marks him as a priest for eternity can actually be erased. I guess that means ordination is an impermanent termporary phenomenon. Who'd a thunk.}

Soon after that bishops from both churches began talks in an attempt to achieve reconciliation between the two churches, separated since the Reformation in the 16th century.
When Archbishop Michael Ramsey visited Pope Paul VI in 1966, hopes were unprecedentedly high that some means could be found of achieving full,visible unity.

Even today, the churches work closely together at the grass roots. Rome is understood to be looking at way of receiving as a collective body the Anglo-Catholics in England who might want to leave the Church as a result of women bishops. {That's a strange definition of working closely together.}

A similar formula is being sought for traditional Anglicans in the United States who have already left the Episcopal Church.

Cardinal Kasper spoke yesterday afternoon in English but conference organisers and the Vatican refused to release the text to the media, who were barred from attending the event.
His speech was subsequently posted by L'Osservatore Romano in Rome in Italian. The Times has arranged its own translation back into English. {I'm surprised it wasn't issued in Latin, and then translated into Italian, and then back into English. Would have given a whole lot more wiggle room, as in 'You mistranslated what I was really saying.'}

According to this translation, the Cardinal said: "Although our dialogue has led to a significant agreement on the idea of priesthood, the ordination of women to the episcopate blocks substantially and finally a possible recognition of Anglican orders by the Catholic Church."
He continued: "We hope for the continuation of a theological dialogue between the Anglican Communion and the Catholic Church, but the latter development directly undermines our goal and alters the level of what we pursue in dialogue."

The Cardinal told bishops: "I know many of you are worried, some also deeply, about the threat of fragmentation within the Anglican Communion. We are deeply sympathetic with you because we are also worried and saddened when we ask ourselves, ‘In this scenario, which form will the Anglican Communion take tomorrow tomorrow, and who will be our interlocutor?'” {I guess when you truly believe that you represent the only true voice of Jesus on earth, you can come from a perspective which says it's really all about your agenda.}

He said the Catholic position on women priests and homosexuality was well-known but he wanted to offer further reflections in the light of the dialogue between the two churches, done under the umbrella for many years of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission, or Arcic.

He said: "I want to briefly draw your attention to the statement of Arcic, Life in Christ, which notes that Anglicans could agree with Catholics on the fact that homosexual activity is disorderly, but we could defer relatively to the moral and pastoral care that should be offered."

He said the Vatican appreciated the resolution of the last Lambeth Conference that took a strictly Biblical line on the issue, ruling out the acceptance by Anglicans of active homosexual relationships.

“In light of the tensions of recent years in this regard, a clear statement by the Anglican Communion would offer us more opportunities to offer a common witness of human sexuality and marriage, a witness sorely needed in today's world.”

When the Cardinal addressed the Church of England's House of Bishops in 2006, he said the decision to ordain women represents a departure from the common position of all the Churches of the first millennium, not only of the Catholic Church but also of the Eastern Churches and Orthodox.

The Cardinal told Lambeth: "It seems to us that the Anglican Communion is very close to the Protestant Churches of the sixteenth century and is taking a position that those Churches took until the second half of the twentieth century." {I'm not sure what Cardinal Kasper means by this. What positions have mainstream protestant denominations changed in the last 60 years?}


I found this article fascinating, although hardly ground breaking. For the last couple of years the Vatican has been embarked on a gay pogrom' desperate to shore up the all celibate male clerical system. If the Vatican is insisting on keeping the celibate male clerical system it has to have a scapegoat for the flaws that surfaced in the system with the ongoing abuse scandal. "It was all the fault of those gay priests and we won't be having anymore of those, and we won't because all gays are intrinsically disordered. The Pope says so. Just look at the trouble they've caused us. Stick to the literal interpretation of the scriptures and you won't have to deal with proportionalism or gays.

Then there is the problem of those pesky women. Cardinal Kasper comes right out and says we will never recognize your priestly orders as long as you include women. You Anglicans really blew it with this one.

However to take such a stand, as Pope Leo XI did in 1896, really does call into question some of the justification for the 'sacred and eternal' status of the ordained priesthood. I guess one man can wave his magic sceptre and all the magic is gone. So much for all that hullabaloo about the 'laying on of hands in the Apostolic succession'. Anglican orders came from the same apostolic tradition that Cardinal Kasper's did. I guess one can throw around the terms, null and void, and invalid all they want, but the fact is that Leo XI drastically changed the rules in the middle of the game.
That being said, why does it matter if the Anglicans want to confer priestly ordination on women? They're null and void anyway. Anglicans are all just pretending to have a valid Mass and sacraments. So says the Pope. I guess this just proves that validation in the line of Apostolic succession is all in the eyes of the beholder. Mostly the beholder who happens to sit in the chair of Peter.

I don't understand what point the Vatican was trying to make. It's not like Cardinal Kasper said anything we don't already know. Is the Vatican actively seeking to bring both Catholic Anglicans and the GAFCON crowd into Roman Catholicism? It looks like it to me. Kasper certainly stressed each group's major issue. Why else reiterate scriptural fidelity on the gay issue. That's straight from GAFCON's official line. Why else state definitely that the ordination of women ends all hope that Anglican orders will ever be recognized as valid. That's kind of a back door method of saying that Catholic Anglicans are not in possession of any kind of sacramental authority to get one to heaven. Come to us all you who seek heaven and really believe that Jesus discriminates against gays and women.

I can't help but look at the last 40 years of Church pronouncements and come to any other conclusion except that the Vatican is off it's Christian rails. Why are genuinely good men doing their best to present a face to the world which makes the Church look homophobic, misogynistic, opportunistic (I still believe this overture to dissenting Anglicans is all about the assets) and morally bankrupt. The ban on artificial contraception, especially condoms in AIDS issues, is not prolife. It's very much a statement of hate the sin and let the sinner die. It's not compassionate. It's callous in the extreme.
Is the preservation of the current clerical system and it's authority structures all that counts? Where is Jesus in this equation?

There will always be a certain percentage of followers who don't trust themselves enough to find their own path with Jesus---their own unique relationship. I understand that. What I don't understand is what is going on that the Vatican is aligning itself strictly with this segment of the population. Is this a reflection of Benedict's and John Paul's own mindsets? Are they both men who should have stayed followers rather than become leaders? Or is it more of a reflection on the fact that this is the segment of humanity most likely to shore up their preferential system, and the segment most likely to cooperate in their own subjugation?

What is the Holy Spirit doing? Maybe she's making us make a choice. Just who is it that you claim to follow? If it's Jesus, get following. If it's the Church, get following. Both will find their definition of salvation commensurate with their beliefs, but only one will bring in the Kingdom here on Earth. Since the Kingdom described by Jesus is not about subjugation, His kingdom cant' be realized by True Believers.
As a last aside. I wonder what's happened to Cardinal Kasper. He used to be something of a maverick voice of reason. Has he gone the way of John McCain?


  1. As you say, fascinating:

    "In 1896 Pope Leo XI issued a Bull, Apostolicae Curae, in which he condemned all Anglican orders as "absolutely null and utterly void"

    "the ordination of women to the episcopate blocks substantially and finally a possible recognition of Anglican orders by the Catholic Church"

    This seems to fly in the face of papal infallibility.

    On the one hand, if there truly is papal infallibility, then all those who are working to recognize the anglican church are violating papal authority.

    On the other hand, if they are not violating papal authority, then it makes a case for the invalidity of papal authority.

    It also brings into question the issue of integrity. Isnt it dishonesty to pretend to be following a certain path, when in actuality, one is just pretending?

    Do you suppose anyone in the Vatican has noticed that they have created a conundrum?
    How can they not see the duplicity? How can they not see the inauthenticity? How can they not see the dishonesty?

  2. Did you happen to see this article yet:

    A bishop has acknowledged the pedophile priest coverup.

    There was a wonderful comment in the article we should all adopt:

    Silence is consent

    Perhaps this will be the beginning for an opening up by the US bishops as well.

  3. I did see that article Carl. It's a refreshing change.

    The reason the Vatican doesn't see the question about Anglican orders as a conflict with Papal authority is the reordain them when they convert.

    This too though, still begs the question. What difference does ordaining women make? It's not like the RC church is going to reordain them.

    I still think the vatican is pushing this issue in order to reap more assets from Northern parishes and dioceses. The RC church in the North has really downsized. That's got to be make up somewhere. Why not the Anglicans?

  4. Colleen, I, too, wonder what has happened to Kasper the theologian.

    Like Ratzinger, it seems that once he got tremendous power at the very top of the church, his theological voice became muted, and totally at the service of keeping the clerical system alive at all costs.

    One of the strangest things I have read that he told the Anglicans is that the scriptures make a strong, clear statement against homosexuality.

    As a theologian, he has to know better. Even back in the 1980s when Ratzinger published his Halloween letter that highlighted the term "intrinsic disorder," theologians almost unanimously condemned his weak, fundamentalist reading of scripture.

    I find it amazing that Rome is investing so much energy today in trying to keep the Anglicans on the "right" (read: Roman) path, when Rome has long ago condemned Anglican orders.

    Historians and future ages of believers will look back in bafflement at this period of history, and wonder why the men who occupy the center of the churches wanted to use so much time and energy in excluding a particular group of human beings from full participation in church and society.

  5. Bill, it isn't just the gay issue, it's also women sharing ecclesiastical authority, and I chose those words carefully. I don't know that the issue with women is sacramental validity per se, but the use of the priesthood to partake in the ecclesiastical authority structures. Why else tolerate women priests, but throw a major hissy fit with women bishops?
    Women were OK as long as they were second class clergy and no real threat to the authority structure.

    Good God traditional Christianity has outlawed married bishops. I guess that puts a woman too close to the authority zone.

  6. Colleen, you're absolutely right. The choice to ordain women, but to keep ordained women in a second-class position in the church authority structure, speaks volumes about the underlying intent to keep those structures "clean" of female influence, insofar as possible.