I was struck by the boldness of the proceedings in Rome. Here was a church, I saw, that felt itself to be intimately connected with the Upper Room where the first Christians received their calling, as if by an umbilical cord. It was as though it owned the tradition and safeguarded it, as well as being subject to it. So it felt able to develop that tradition and correct past interpretations of it and deductions from it, with a freedom that I found astonishing. It looked to me like a Reformation, Roman style. “It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us,” was the apostles’ formula at the first council in the church’s history, held in Jerusalem about AD 49, according to the biblical account in Acts 15:28. The Catholic Church could still say that two thousand years later. It did, and change snowballed. (In other words tradition itself empowered the bishops to expand on it. It did not reduce them to defending it.)
Of course the church did not become something different. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism. But the river flowing from the source in the Upper Room toward the sea of the Omega Point took a series of turns. Some of them were U-turns.
This church now announced that it understood itself to be traveling with all men and women of goodwill. It was reaching out to people like me. It no longer defined itself as a lighted castle on a hill, set above the murky flux of history, from which Christian knights would sally out to save whomever they could from secular evils and errors. It was a pilgrim with us on the road, ready to learn as well as teach. It had turned its back, said Pope John in his opening speech, on “those prophets of doom, who are always forecasting disaster, as though the end of the world were at hand.” After a period when it had seemed afraid of the modern world, it had regained its confidence, secure in the faith, as Pope John put it, that “Christ is ever resplendent as the center of history and of life.” (This last sentence is what saddens me the most. The Church seems to have been reformed back into an institution afraid of the modern world, no longer believing that "Christ is ever resplendent as the center of history and of life", and dire predictions about the end of the world are back with us.)
The impetus for John Wilkin's reflection was Benedict's pastoral gesture to SSPX. At the end of his reflection, John asks some very pertinent questions:
The pope has asserted that the Lefebvrist bishops, who remain suspended from celebrating the sacraments licitly, must now show true acceptance of Vatican II. But how could they ever do that? The only practical possibility would be an ambiguous formula that would allow them to sign while continuing in the same belief and practice as before. It would not matter so much if this brought these bishops back within the embrace of the church universal. It would matter a great deal if it brought the church universal closer to them.
Were those like me deceived when we saw a vision of what the church truly was at Vatican II and followed it? Was the council a flash in the pan, a hiccup in the church’s life, as it were, before the Catholic organism, challenged, closed back in on itself? I could never believe that. The currents of renewal have affected the river of Catholic belief too deeply and strongly to be denied. But what has happened to the wholehearted affirmation of the council that Joseph Ratzinger memorably expressed in his brilliant little book Theological Highlights of Vatican II, published in 1966 just after the bishops had finished their work?
Benedict's brilliant little book was a positive analysis of Vatican II, especially it's notions of ecumenism and the nature of the Church. It was not well received by traditionalists, especially Marcel Lefebvre's group. Their contention was that the Church's entire tradition had always stated their was no salvation outside of Catholicism. There were no legitimate ecclesial churches outside of Catholicism, and Catholicism held the total truth about Jesus Christ and his intentions for mankind. This link will take you to an analysis of Benedict's book from the SSPX perspective. The basic thrust of the analysis is that Vatican II was not an extension of traditional thinking on the true nature of the church, but was in direct opposition to tradition, making it a form of heresy.
Like John Wilkins, I see no way for the SSPX to affirm the teachings of Vatican II. Their opposition is the reason for their existence. Vatican II documents do leave open plenty of room for salvation outside of the Church. For Traditionalists there is no such thing as ecumenism, there is only conversion. There is no such thing as Truth outside of the Church, there is only heresy. These are not positions from which one dialogues, they are positions from which one bullies. This is why I think Wilkin's second option is far more likely, that Benedict's open hand signals a shift towards the thinking of SSPX and away from Vatican II.
If this turns out to be true, then Benedict has done exactly the same thing as Archbishop Chaput, gone from a humanist progressive to an authoritarian traditional conservative, and not just liturgically but in his conception of what the Church actually is.
Why, I wonder? Does all of this actually reflect an enormous lack of trust in the People of God, in the power of the Holy Spirit, in the ability of Jesus to work His love within the greater world? I think it does, because one of the hallmarks of a lack of trust is the need to assert authority to maintain a semblance of control. In other words, it isn't about faith in Jesus, it's about a lack of faith in the living Jesus, in the Resurrected Jesus. It forces the Church to operate from a position of existential powerlessness which is then manifested by having to force itself on the flock and the culture in which it is situated. Can anyone say 'Martino'.
The good news is in the end Jesus reserved our final judgement to His hands. Thank God.
I happened to see John Wilkins article as well and thought it was absolutely wonderful! But heartrenching at the same time...so much of what he says is unfortunately true. Ironically, (because recently I've been trying to get into touch with the history of progressive thinking within the Church and Blessed John XXIII is heralded as the hero of forward thinking as a result of his convoking of Vatican II, I decided to rent the movie "John XXIII" from Netflix and its beautiful and has convinced me even more firmly that Blessed John XXIII's true vision for the Church has been greatly distorted...) I just finished watching a movie about Blessed John XXIII, a beautiful portrayal of his life that's convinced me that the Church is headed in the wrong direction and more and more away from his vision for a Church that would be more open and attuned to ALL of the world. But yes, I related to and agreed with almost everything John Wilkinson said in his astute and head on article.ReplyDelete
I do hope that Pope Benedict's efforts to reconcile with the SSPX don't mean that eventually this will ultimately be the intentional direction that the Church will take. If that is Pope Benedict's idea I don't think that it would be possible for all of the Cardinals, Bishops, let alone us as the lay faithful to go along with that. But it does symbolize and show Joseph Ratzinger's sympathies for the old preconciliar traditions. And, fundamentally, I don't think there's anything wrong with that. In my opinion, some of his reforms and critiques of the current celebration of the Novus Ordo I think have been much needed. So much excitement and hope occured surrounding and following the aftermath of the Second Vatican Council that some people did take things way too far, and I think this is what worried and frightened Cardinal Ratzinger so much. The fact that the Council seemed to signal a distinct and definitive RUPTURE instead of a gradual deviation of thought and consensus I think is what changed Joseph Ratzinger from a liberal into a conservative.
I dont't think Blessed John XXIII intended for a complete break with tradition or to create a new type of Church, but I do think he was fully supportive of a new way and a new approach to thinking, living, and practicing as Catholics. John XXIII emphasized how a the Second Vatican Council he wanted our Faith to be celebrated and transmitted through dialogue and inclusion, not by fear, punishments, and prohibitions...So, I think with this rather rigid approch that Pope Benedict seems to deal with things, the Church will indeed have serious problems if things continue to go on as they have for the past 30 years and opinions or ways or thinking that might not necessarily be in agreement with those espoused in Rome are not taken into consideration...
I think what happened was that the Second Vatican Council occured and some people, carried way by the frenzy of change (not so much unlike we are in our own country now with President Obama at the helm) went bollistic and took lots of things way out of hand. Joseph Ratzinger and many others became frightened that the Church would complete turn its back on what it had been and lose the wisdom and traditions compounded over the centuries. This of course is a valid concern. But on the other hand, I don't think you should confront the problem with fear and repression (as we saw with President Bush, this didn't work...). Dialogue should always ensue when apprehension arises. Hopefully, the Church, even within itself, can learn to do this in the future...
Definitely worth a read. It illustrates the growing dichotomy we are witnessing very clearlyReplyDelete
John Wilkins brings out the fact of the Christians walk as a pilgrim on a journey in faith to Christ. From his faith given to him by his mother from the Anglican Church he found through the Holy Spirit of Vatican II the hole which he describes as the something that was missing in him.ReplyDelete
Vatican II represents an acknowledgment of what Catholic and universal truth means in the walk of faith. It is political as much as it is religious. VII is an embrace of humanism which comes from the soil of Christianity itself. Not embracing this growth or acknowledging or seeing anything Christian from VII, to me is sheer madness which is based in fear and not reason tied to faith or love of one's neighbor.
If we are to embrace any tradition, we need to embrace not the lace or trains or glitter or pomp and circumstance of ritual or tradition in that sense, but of the tradition as is the story of Christ that walks within our heart and pulls on our heartstrings to bring us closer to Him and in relationship with Him personally. Jesus is not impersonal at all. The spirt of Christ, the Holy Spirit, leads us to the straight and narrow path of love of one's neighbor.
The constant theme that I hear from conservatives from my family to those who are in the here and now is that they somehow feel betrayed by the changes of VII. They have gone on to schism, to start their own right wing version of the Church as so many others in disagreement with the hierarchy in the past whom we call Protestants have who are deemed the liberal wing. Their hatred for VII is a form of narcissism which I have touched upon in a previous blog in here from a book entitled The Heart of Man by Erich Fromm.
As I grew up in the 1950s and was still a child at the time of VII, by the time I was in my late teens in 1970 it really was never conveyed to me by my family or the Church or Catholic school that I attended what VII was really all about. My parents were very upset by VII and we moved a hundred miles away from behind the Catholic Church where I grew up and they asked me if I wanted to go to a Catholic school or a public school. The Catholic in me chose ironically the public school because I knew it would be cheaper for my parents and they would save money if I went to public school. I also thought that the experience would do me good. I was 16 when I made that decision and often regretted I didn't go to Catholic school in my last two years of high school. VII was not communicated to us children and so it was not something I could embrace, accept or understand or reject. There was no way for me or my fellow Catholic classmates to understand what it was really all about. What I did hear was the voice of the Lefebvrist bishops from my mother and father who were extremely conservative and traditional and politically in the right wing, who had condemned the Civil Rights movement in the US as being "communistic" and hailed the Vietnam War as fighting communism and in agreement with the war hawks of the time. Anyone with a political view other than their own was deemed a communist or a liberal, who to them was the devil himself. It is interesting to note here that I did not argue with my parents about their views, except for one which was the death penalty. All of the Catholic teaching I received as a child said the Commandment was "thou shall not kill." I'll never forget the look on my father's face when I said that. It seemed to bring him to think about that and there really was no further discussion of it between us.
I learned from my parents that you could not argue or win an argument with them. So I simply did not engage in discussion with them about politics or religion anymore. This is when I truly believe we just loved each other.
I remember distinctly while in grade school my father fearing for his family's life and imagining that the blacks from the neighboring city were going to march down our street and set our houses on fire. He had his rifle prepared and ready to aim at such marchers had they dared to march down our little suburban street. In his mind he was protecting his family from what he truly had conjured up in fear from his own mind and the fears of those he identified with in the extreme right wing who superimposed those fearful images upon his mind as well.
My parents were totally caught up in the fears of the time. It left me stifled in a very true sense. It took me years to get out of fear based thinking of just about everything. I had many questions but no answers for many years. I simply tuned it all out for many years, and in a sense the tuning it out was from the basis of fear which I inherited from my parents. Their fears became my very fear of God to such an extent that my path in life had no compass that would lead me to God or to the Church or to Christ.
My parents reacted to VII like so many of the conservatives did throughout the world. They truly felt that the Church was being dismantled by the devil aka liberals or humanist. As they did not comprehend the Civil Rights movement or Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, nor history, nor what being Christian truly meant, leaving the hard spiritual task to priests or nuns to figure out and convey to them by doctrine or dogma, it is no wonder they reacted the way they did.
It has been a long spiritual and political road for me to try and understand what my parents beliefs were and to try and discern the beliefs of others and from them to derive truth and/or understanding from it all. I have had to be open about the beliefs of others in order to grasp their reality, their perceptions, their beliefs. In a journey of faith I have had to find my true Father, which means not condemning my parents and the father of my flesh, but in honoring them as persons but not their beliefs, but by placing God first as my true Father and the Father of my parents. My parents have become my sister and brother in Christ, but their political and religious views are placed in the background of those things earthly and not taking precedence of what is truth from God which is spiritual and that He is a God of love.
I do not consider VII as a rupture in the Church. It is seen as a rupture through the eyes of those who continue to demonize humanism as the enemy of Christ. As Christ teaches in the gospels "heaven is within you", but the political reactionary who still lives in fear of that which is within and still only sees God as outside of themselves cannot grasp this concept for their own healing.
I see Benedict's lifting of the excommunications of the four SSPX bishops as embracing them with a kindness, but at the same time he is excommunicating the Catholic liberals and alienating the humanist in their midst. This to me is not right relationship with Christ's passion and love for all of his children. Also, as he has embraced the Papacy, he has embraced a false identity of the Papacy as tradition in itself and in being as supreme as Christ. This is a narcissistic path that does not lead souls to Christ, but instead embraces the worldly things of fear that are not from Christ.
Butterfly, when you wrote:ReplyDelete
"This is a narcissistic path that does not lead souls to ChristThis is a narcissistic path that does not lead souls to Christ"
... it started wheels turning. I I see the world from a different perspective than most people, in this case, I see Benedicts actions in effect leading a lot of souls directly to a deeper understanding of Christ.
Regretably, in our current consciousness, we need vivid examples of what doesnt work. Benedict is doing a very powerful job of presenting just that. In effect, Benedict is drawing those who are truly rejecting Christ into a very tightly knotted group whose actions are a powerful example of what God is NOT and what Christ is NOT. Concentrating them all into one place, where their hate and bitterness will coalesce into a really massive implosion.
All of those who are being "driven away" are in actually the true faithful who are being redirected into a deeper communion with Christ. Where we will end up is anyones guess at this point. A new congregation is forming, a true Church of God, a true Church of Christ, a true "One True Church". What it will look like is yet to be seen. We see glimpses of it now in Unity, Science of Mind, Buddhism and in the sweeping changes that are occuring in the Anglican church in the US. Compassion and love will be the guiding lights in this/these congregations as they grow and mature.
If you havent read the link that I posted earlier today, please take the time to read it through. There is a lot of prophetic information in that article that is relevant to what you wrote.
All of those who are being "driven away" are in actually the true faithful who are being redirected into a deeper communion with Christ. Where we will end up is anyones guess at this point. A new congregation is forming, a true Church of God, a true Church of Christ, a true "One True Church".ReplyDelete
Whoa - I never thought I'd live to see the day. FINALLY, the real church will emerge. Blah.....
In reading the link to the SSPX view of VII the explanations they come up with for their view is so blatantly narcissistic. I quote it here and my comments are in bold:ReplyDelete
"Elaborating upon this teaching of Trent, Saint Robert Bellarmine, Doctor of the Church, has given the finest definition of what constitutes the nature, membership and unity of Christ’s Church. Bellarmine’s formula is recognized as the most precise scholastic definition of the Church to this day. (3) Saint Robert explained that Christ’s one true Church is the Catholic Church, and this Church is a Perfect Society: The Catholic Church is so blatantly not perfect. To say it is perfect is to say that you are blind to its imperfections that infest it with doom and gloom and pedophiles, women haters, homophobes and elitist. If I told you I was perfect you would tell me I was not perfect. You tell me you are perfect and I will tell you that only God is perfect.
"The Church is one, not twofold, and this one true [Catholic] Church is the assembly of men united in the profession of the same Christian faith and in the communion of the same sacraments, under the rule of legitimate pastors, and in particular, that of the one Vicar of Christ on earth, the Roman Pontiff." (4) Obviously, the SSPX is in denial of their own schism and leaving the Catholic Church and then denying they have left it. Everyone is wrong but them. Narcissism is at full throttle here and the Magisterium have rocketed their view of themselves into an overblown self-evaluation that takes them to superior levels past the stratosphere and into outer-space. There's no room here for anyone with true humility or integrity. They are above all, or so they suppose. They now imagine that they are god and so they believe their opinions are perfect.
"Bellarmine makes it clear that union of belief is necessary for the true Church; that it is impossible to have a conception of "church" in which some members accept defined doctrines (such as Papal Primacy or Transubstantiation) and others do not. Bellarmine’s definition further demonstrates that the Catholic Church is a visible, hierarchical society that does not need to go outside of itself for anything. It is a perfect society within itself, and outside of this Catholic Church there is no salvation. Wow, that is some narcissism!
The Catholic Church has consistently taught this doctrine as part of its ordinary and extraordinary Magisterium for 2,000 years, right into modern times. Is this true? There is nothing to back this claim that this is what is to be taught as doctrine or that one should have to believe it in order to be a true Catholic."
Bellarmine is not saying the Church is perfect in the sense that its members are perfect - its perfect in that it has all of the resources it needs to complete its task. Its a political statement, not one of ethics.ReplyDelete
"No Salvation outside of the Church" is narcissism? Let's define our terms of this often misunderstood statement - what exactly IS the Church, and how does one belong to it.
From the Catechism - (hey - check it out, the idea of Extra Eccelsia.. shows up in the Second Vatican Council's actual texts - the SV fathers must not have heard about the appropriate "spirit" of the Council. This is so medieval.
Outside the Church there is no salvation" - How are we to understand this affirmation, often repeated by the Church Fathers? Re-formulated positively, it means that all salvation comes from Christ the Head through the Church which is his Body:
"Basing itself on Scripture and Tradition, the Council teaches that the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation: the one Christ is the mediator and the way of salvation; he is present to us in his body which is the Church. He himself explicitly asserted the necessity of faith and Baptism, and thereby affirmed at the same time the necessity of the Church which men enter through Baptism as through a door. Hence they could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it or to remain in it" (Second Vatican Council, Lumen Gentium, 14).
This affirmation is not aimed at those who, through no fault of their own, do not know Christ and His Church:
"Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience — those too may achieve eternal salvation" (Second Vatican Council, Lumen Gentium, 16).
"Although in ways known to himself God can lead those who, through no fault of their own, are ignorant of the Gospel, to that faith without which it is impossible to please him (Hebrews 11:6), the Church still has the obligation and also the sacred right to evangelize all men" (Second Vatican Council, Ad Gentes, 1).
Thank you DittyDaddy for writing and you would be correct in your interpretation, however, I was speaking about how it is misinterpreted by those who deny the writings and spirit of Vatican II, such as SSPX, and they do have a narcissistic view.ReplyDelete
While your interpretation on one level is true, it is not entirely true on another level, or in the depth of understanding of the writing of Erich Fromm on the subject of narcissism.
Obviously Bellarmine wrote for a different political time and I would propose that by this time the wording would be changed, since it is not perfect, and most of all this is a politically misleading statement that is misguiding the faithful into narcissistic tendencies of which Erich Fromm speaks about and which I believe VII tried to change as well since Blessed John XXIII understood the narcissism of his time.
As well, the teaching of infallibility is narcisstic as well and is easily misinterpreted by fundamentalist and traditionalist. Christ is the head of the Church, not the Pope who is called a Vicar of Christ.
One's faith or salvation in Jesus Christ does not hinge on one's relationship with the Catholic Church. Even SSPX knows that. Even as they were excommunicated they still had a relationship with Jesus Christ. Nothing can sever that relationship. It is men and women who sever relationships with one another because of mostly narcissistic tendencies. Jesus is the one that is perfect and perfect in His passion and love for all of us. It is He who should get the glory.
Also, the other thing that is easily misinterpreted is the notion of what salvation means. Is salvation about something in the future when one dies, or is it something about how we are awake or asleep now in our faith and our pilgrim walk with Jesus Christ? The Catechism does not really venture there and the Church hierarchy needs salvation just as much as anyone else. They are not above anyone else and especially not above God. The early Church did not have a hierarchy. They served one another. The hierarchy did not come about until Constantine.
Anyone who proposes that they can rule someone's conscience or make them believe something that they cannot believe in is enforcing their conscience and will on others and that has nothing to do with faith at all, but it has to do with controlling others. Being a follower of Jesus Christ is not about enforcing anything or belonging to anything other than to God. I believe in freedom of religion. Freedom of religion is about the freedom to discover God inside and in others and in the living word of God in the scriptures. It is not a walk in lockstep together with a political dictator at the helm and calling that unity.
Jesus was not a political dictator. He was first and foremost a healer. He did not set up a Church on earth for a political dictatorship of conscience.
His law is for us to love one another, not Lord it over one another.
What a great conversation. Thanks guys.ReplyDelete
DiddyDaddy, I'm not sure I agree with this statement "its perfect in that it has all of the resources it needs to complete its task. Its a political statement, not one of ethics."
This should be a spiritual statement, not a political. Unfortunately it's too often the Church has operated as if it were a political statement.
Butterfly's point about narcissism has much truth. Taking a perfect spiritual system and personifying it in the person of the Pope, and then by extension through out the clerical system, can definitely be seen as a form of narcissism.
In my estimation it's this potential for clerican narcissism that provided the kind of environment which would attract pedophiles, who are all too frequently diagnosed as sociopathic narcissists.
I love the definition of the Church as a pilgrim Church, a Church in communion with Christ on the path of becoming more like Christ. A mansion with many rooms is a good metaphor....Now if we coud only stop trying to insist all the rooms fit one decorative style.
Did someone hijack your yahoo email account? I received an email proporting to be from you, saying you were stranded in Lagos, Nigeria, and to please send money. It was stamped 3/02/09 at 6:32 AM (EST).
You should also assume that others on your yahoo contact list received this message. You might want to clarify the situation on your blog. (I'm posting this here because if someone has your yahoo password, your email account may be compromised).
-- John Kelley
I also received this message:ReplyDelete
Date: Mon, 2 Mar 2009 03:08:44 -0800
Subject: Hello!!Urgent Help Needed From You!!
I am sorry I didn't inform you about my traveling to Nigeria for my business and personal reson's,and i forgot my little wallet in the Taxi where my money is, passport,
documents and other valuable things were kept on my way to the Hotel.
The present condition that I found myself is very hard for me to
explain.I am really stranded in Lagos,I am facing a hard time here
because I have no funds on me.
I need you to help me with the hotel bill of $1500 Dollars and i will
also need $200 to feed and help myself back home so please kindly help
me with a sum of $2,200.I will appreciate what ever you can afford
to send me for now and I promise to pay
back your money as soon as i return home.
I am sending you this e-mail from the city called Lagos and I was
giving only 30mins to write and check your reply , I will appreciate
what ever you can afford to send me for now and I promise to pay
back your money as soon as i return home, you will send the money
via western union money transfer.
Please i want you to wire me any amount you can just for me to get home
and as soon as am back i promise to pay you back asap!
Receiver's Full-Name:Colleen Baker
Address:10Kings Hotel Building,Surulere,
Please Get back to me with this after you got it paid
Sender's Full Name:
I've just taken care of this little problem with Yahoo. Someone hacked my email account and got my contact list. I apologize for the inconvenience.ReplyDelete
When I checked my info with Yahoo I learned I was from Nigeria. I personally have gotten over a dozen of these Nigerian scam emails, but never thought they would use my own contact list.
Sorry for the inconvenience.
I also got the scam email. It's the same one posted on here by anonymous.ReplyDelete
"I love the definition of the Church as a pilgrim Church, a Church in communion with Christ on the path of becoming more like Christ. A mansion with many rooms is a good metaphor....Now if we coud only stop trying to insist all the rooms fit one decorative style."ReplyDelete
It is a good metaphor Colleen. The eclectic style room allows for the blend of many styles and it works very well too.
My son prefers a very masculine style with a modern touch and all the hi-tech gadgets he can get his hands on. I think the look is too cold and needs a feminine touch.
Others prefer an antique or traditional look and must have all the same period furniture in order to feel comfortable. I would prefer to not live in a museum. I do like to visit them though and there is much to appreciate.
just found your blog.....thank you for sharing.ReplyDelete
Butterfly, you were fortunate to escape your parents' understanding of traditionalism.
I escaped a very fear-filled relationship with the church & God via Vatican Its effects in our community.
When the institutional church left Vatican 2, I left and never the institutional church and never went back, although I would like to see the spiritual traditions of the Church continue.
DiddyDaddy, it's a shame that you feel the need to justify a theology that condemns people to everlasting torment in hell for walking away........I always wonder why you choose to believe such things.....
The hierarchal church is most concerned with revitalizing authoritarianism.
Annonymous, your observation that reviving authoritarianism is my take as well.ReplyDelete
I think humanity is moving away from the top down method of organizing society and moving towards a circular model. A model which has an ideal at it's center and everything else moves around that center. I this sense the US has it's center in Washington DC, but it's orbited by the other fifty states.
The Vatican II sense of organization was similar in it's outlook. The thing I like about this concept is that it mirrors the reality of the physical universe on both the micro and macro levels.