Blog Template Theology of the Body: May 2008

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Need some office supplies?

Lasermonks! There's a nice article in USA Today about how these Cistercians are using their office supplies business to fund their ministry. So if your printer is running out of ink, now you know who to call -- plus they'll pray for you!

Friday, May 30, 2008

The Obama Priest Hullabaloo

Statement of Cardinal Francis George concerning remarks of Fr. Michael Pfleger about Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton during an address at Trinity United Church of Christ on Sunday May 25, 2008

The Catholic Church does not endorse political candidates. Consequently, while a priest must speak to political issues that are also moral, he may not endorse candidates nor engage in partisan campaigning.

Racial issues are both political and moral and are also highly charged. Words can be differently interpreted, but Fr. Pfleger’s remarks about Senator Clinton are both partisan and amount to a personal attack. I regret that deeply.

To avoid months of turmoil in the church, Fr. Pfleger has promised me that he will not enter into campaigning, will not publicly mention any candidate by name and will abide by the discipline common to all Catholic priests.

- this poor priest obviously got carried away with the traditional art of the African American pulpit, and he should do penance for abusing it.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Priestess Strikes Again

"... I heard that the Church of England was being advised to declare women capable of Priest's Orders... (though) I am indeed informed that such a proposal is very unlikely to be seriously considered by the authorities. To take such a revolutionary step at the present moment, to cut ourselves off from the Christian past and to widen the divisions between ourselves and other churches by establishing an order of priestesses in our midst, would be an almost wanton degree of imprudence. And the Church of England will be torn to shreds in the operation.

My concern with the proposal is of a more theoretical kind. The question involves something even deeper than a revolution in order...I have every respect for women who wish to be priestesses... indeed in a way they are too sensible. I am tempted to say that the proposed arrangement would make us much more rational, but not near so much like a Church. ... it is surely the case that is all these supposals were ever carried into effect we should be embarked on a different religion...many religions have had priestesses. But they are religions quite different in character from Christianity.

The factory and the political party are artificial creations. In them we are not dealing with human beings in their concrete entirety, but only with hands or voters. ... because they are our artifices we are free to shuffle, scrap and experiment as we please. We cannot suffle or tamper so much. With the Church, we are farther in; for we are dealing with male and female not merely as facts of nature but as the live and awful shadows of realities utterly beyond our control and largely beyond our direct knowledge. Or rather, we are not dealing with them but (as we shall soon learn if we meddle) they are dealing with us."

- From C. S. Lewis, Undeceptions, 1948.

What Anglicanism and its Episcopalians are facing on point: here and here.

What the Church has said, here:

Only a baptized man validly receives sacred ordination. The Lord Jesus chose men to form the college of the twelve apostles, and the apostles did the same when they chose collaborators to succeed them in their ministry. The college of bishops, with whom the priests are united in the priesthood, makes the college of the twelve an ever-present and ever-active reality until Christ's return. The Church recognizes herself to be bound by this choice made by the Lord himself. For this reason the ordination of women is not possible.

No one has a right to receive the sacrament of Holy Orders. Indeed no one claims this office for himself; he is called to it by God. Anyone who thinks he recognizes the signs of God's call to the ordained ministry must humbly submit his desire to the authority of the Church, who has the responsibility and right to call someone to receive orders. Like every grace this sacrament can be received only as an unmerited gift.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Saint Bonaventure on Justification (1221-1274)

"Our reparation is not done entirely according to the power of the agent, but according to the congruency of the recipient, because there is mercy and truth; for that reason not only ought justification to be through the information, which is through the virtues, but also through the preparation, which is through the Sacraments. — as Hugo of St. Victor says: 'The virtues are the edged-weapons for attacking, the Sacraments for defending.' Whence the Sacraments help grace, and for that reason they are not superfluous; which is clear, because grace deletes fault, but it does not absolve from punishment."

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Warning: Latin Novus Ordo

All those who find themselves in Washington D.C. and are passing near DuPont Circle on Sunday mornings may be subjected to the sounds of Latin emanating from the altar and the choir. Those caught unaware may encounter hymns with organ accompaniment in the high choral style. Let all reading this be warned that those passing near St. Matthew's Cathedral are subject to fall under the influence of all occurring therein.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Summering: A Novel Meme

This time next week, my spring term will finally be over, and I plan to follow my advisor's endorsement of taking one summer month to do nothing but read novels. Cannot wait. The problem is, I have not actually read a novel in a very, very long time. I need some good suggestions for summer reading! I'm going to borrow from Ben Myer's old book meme to help me tap our readers' brains for suggestions.

One novel that changed your life:

One novel that you’ve read more than once:

One novel you’d want on a desert island:

One novel that made you laugh:

One novel that made you cry:

One novel that you wish had been written:

One novel that you wish had never been written:

One novel you’re currently reading:

One novel you’ve been meaning to read:

...I particularly tag Amy Welborn, J-Tron, Mrs. J., Taylor, and any of the Hawkins'.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Ecumenical Acumen: Pope Pius XII on Irenicism

"A danger is perceived which is all the more serious because it is more concealed beneath the mask of virtue. There are many who, deploring disagreement among men and intellectual confusion, through an imprudent zeal for souls, are urged by a great and ardent desire to do away with the barrier that divides good and honest men; these advocate an "eirenism" according to which, by setting aside the questions which divide men, they aim not only at joining forces to repel the attacks of atheism, but also at reconciling things opposed to one another in the field of dogma.

...Now if these only aimed at adapting ecclesiastical teaching and methods to modern conditions and requirements, through the introduction of some new explanations, there would be scarcely any reason for alarm. But some through enthusiasm for an imprudent "eirenism" seem to consider as an obstacle to the restoration of fraternal union, things founded on the laws and principles given by Christ and likewise on institutions founded by Him, or which are the defense and support of the integrity of the faith, and the removal of which would bring about not the union of all, but only to their destruction.

...In theology some want to reduce to a minimum the meaning of dogmas; and to free dogma itself from terminology long established in the Church and from philosophical concepts held by Catholic teachers, to bring about a return in the explanation of Catholic doctrine to the way of speaking used in Holy Scripture and by the Fathers of the Church. They cherish the hope that when dogma is stripped of the elements which they hold to be extrinsic to divine revelation, it will compare advantageously with the dogmatic opinions of those who are separated from the unity of the Church and that in this way they will gradually arrive at a mutual assimilation of Catholic dogma with the tenets of the dissidents.

...It is evident from what we have already said, that such tentatives not only lead to what they call dogmatic relativism, but that they actually contain it."

- Humani Generis 11, 12, 14, 16.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Augustine's Problem with Total Depravity

The first element of John Calvin's classic TULIP summary is the idea of total depravity. The proposal includes the following; human rebellion against God is total, and apart from the grace of God there is no delight in the holiness of God, and there is no glad submission to the sovereign authority of God; in this total rebellion everything humanity does is sin; furthermore, man's inability to desist from this rebellion, to submit to God and do good is total; and this rebellion is totally deserving of eternal punishment.

Although Calvin's innovation allegedly derives from the Augustinian doctrine of original sin, Calvin's conclusions do not reflect real allegiance to some of Augustine's most basic affirmations of the doctrines of creation and grace. Over and over again, Augustine insists that- as the Church has always believed- if we were as 'totally' depraved as Calvin alleged, then we would cease to exist altogether; this is because our very being is enjoyment of God's great goodness.

"And it was made clear to me that all things are good even if they are corrupted...all that is corrupted is thereby deprived of good. But if they are deprived of all good, they will cease to be.... if they are deprived of all good, they will cease to exist. So long as they are, therefore, they are good. Therefore, whatsoever is, is good. For good to be diminished is evil; still, however much it is diminished, something must remain of its original nature as long as it exists at all.. For no matter what kind or however insignificant a thing may be, the good which is its nature cannot be destroyed without the thing itself being destroyed. And even if the corruption is not arrested, it still does not cease having some good of which it cannot be further deprived. And if the corruption comes to be total and entire, there is no good left because it is no longer an entity at all. Wherefore corruption cannot consume the good without also consuming the thing itself.

Every actual being is therefore good... (and) only the foolish and unknowing can deny that it is still good even when corrupted. For whenever a thing is consumed by corruption, not even the corruption remains for it is nothing in itself, having no subsistent being in which to exist. From this it follows that there is nothing to be called evil if there is nothing good...every being, in so far as it has a being, is good.

...We find that the bad man is not bad because he is a man; rather, he is a good entity in so far as he is a man, evil (only) in so far as he is wicked. Therefore, if anyone says that simply to be a man is evil... he rightly falls under the prophetic judgment: woe to him who calls evil good and good evil. For this amounts to finding fault with God's work, because man is an entity of God's creation."

Augustine, Confessions and Enchiridion

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

All Things Lewis

Lewis wrote this:

From all my lame defeats and oh! much more
From all the victories that I seemed to score;
From cleverness shot forth on Thy behalf
At which, while angels weep, the audience laugh;
From all my proofs of Thy divinity,
Thou, who wouldst give no sign, deliver me.

Thoughts are but coins. Let me not trust instead
Of Thee, their thin-worn image of Thy head.
From all my thoughts, even from my thoughts of Thee,
O thou fair Silence, fall, and set me free.
Lord of the narrow gate and the needle's eye,
Take from me all my trumpery lest I die.

(HT: KI)

... Just for fun, I've glanced around at the blogs today for thoughts on Prince Caspian, the latest in the Narnia box office series. I went to see it as soon as I could, which was Monday night, and loved it; yes, there was terrific poetic license, and it's too violent for most children, but Lewis' stories can catch that sense of longing for a distant homeland like none other, and that is always a gift. Lewis is perhaps one of the past century's most effective popular apologists, and I don't think that these movies fail him. Taylor has some thoughts on point, and Queen Susan made us proud as ever.

What interests me today is the surprising way that some of the very very camp in contemporary evangelicalism try to take a shot at every Lewis- incursion in our culture, simply because of the mythic elements that Lewis engaged; and the very very camp is not joking. There are some stern, flat objections to any reference to "pagan" myths in Christian literature: "there is nothing even remotely Christian about favorably including such (mythic figures) in a book or series of books which hopes to present an analogy for Christianity."

I have difficulty taking such objections very seriously, and they are symptomatic of much broader issues, but I'm interested to see what sorts of replies we might pull out of the hat to this sort of thing (without referring to any praises for Lewis at Touchstone; that's cheating). Any ideas? Is it right for Christian authors to refer to classical myth?

There is a relevant clip from one of Lewis' own lectures at UTube, which you can listen to here.
(HT. JH)

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Blessed Angela of Foligno, 1248-1309

"At times God comes into the soul without being called; and He instills into her fire, love and sweetness; and the soul believes this comes from God, and she delights in it. But she does not yet know or see that He Himself dwells in her; she perceives His grace, in which she delights. ... And beyond this the soul receives the gift of seeing God. God says to her, 'Behold me!' and then the soul sees Him dwelling within her; she sees Him more clearly than one man can see another.

For the eyes of the soul behold a plenitude of which I cannot speak; a plenitude which is not bodily but spiritual, of which I can say nothing. And the soul rejoices in that sight with an ineffable joy; and this is the manifest and certain sign that God indeed dwells in her."

- Bl. Angela, Third Order of St. Francis.

Blessed Angela is also known as 'the mistress of theologians.' I like that, and I like another anecdote heard from a Catholic speaker yesterday; PhD = "prophet, healer, deliverer." It's sort of nouvelle, but you know, encouraging for a rainy day.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Like Lipscomb, the post has moved on...

For those of you who were still chatting, you can find the original post "Why John Lipscomb Became a Catholic" here.


1. Planned Parenthood's Annual Income: (It's around one billion dollars- no wonder abortionists tend to drive these incredible SUVs...)

2. The Rise of the Humanzee: In an interview with The Scotsman, Dr. MacKellar, research director at the Scottish Council on Human Bioethics, says the half-man, half-chimp hybrid is just one of the many species that could soon become a reality. Mackellar warns that human sperm has been and will continue to be inseminated into animals--research that the current UK's Human Fertilization and Embryology Bill allows. The bill, which is creating uproar in the British Parliament, is schedule for debate in the House of Commons this May. There's no limit to the list of horrors that the legislation would tolerate, including animal-human hybrids, savior siblings, and artificial gametes. "There's a desperate need for organs . . . if they could create these humanzees... we could have a large provision of organs," Dr. MacKellar said. Unfortunately, the U.S. is also letting its scientists roam freely through this unethical territory. Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) hopes to change that. Last week, he introduced a companion bill to Sen. Sam Brownback's (R-Kans.) Human-Animal Hybrid Prohibition Act. Under H.R. 5910 and S. 2318, America would ban the creation of all human-animal hybrids.

3. THE NOI♀SE SUMMERSCHOOL: "the NOISE Summer School 2008 will be held at Utrecht University, The Netherlands from August 18 to 29, 2008: "In Between Understanding and Practicing Gender:" Have you always wanted to know what cutting-edge feminist thinking is about and how you yourself can learn how to practice it? Do you want to develop your ideas about transnational feminism, identities and power? Do you want to reflect upon the ways in which identities are being negotiated in different settings? Do you want to explore what interdisciplinarity is in terms of knowledge production, feminist responsibility and academic practices? “Identities” will be central to our concern. For a long time, “identity” was a concept that referred to a stable inner core of the true self, some real, authentic self, inside there, hiding inside the false selves that we present to the rest of the world. This discourse of identity, with its strong representations of inside-outside, true-false, self-other, subject-object, individual-society has, despite its lingering and persistent traces, run its course. We need new ways of thinking about identity. We will begin by looking at traditional ways of thinking and talking about identity and the ways in which feminism has helped us to go beyond such binaries as outlined above... "etc.

... Fortunately, my Church can take 'em.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Ecumenical Acumen Excurses Cont'd: A Note of Urgency

Anglicans hesitate on the path to Rome

From Damian Thompson, religious affairs correspondent for the Daily Telegraph
09 May 2008

At least one Church of England "flying bishop" is ready to convert to Catholicism, and so are thousands of Anglicans. What is stopping them?

...The Pope is waiting to welcome the latest converts

There are four provincial episcopal visitors, to give them their proper name, and my information is that one or perhaps two of them want to be Roman Catholics, sacrificing their status as bishops in the process.

There is tremendous enthusiasm for Pope Benedict among Anglo-Catholics, who love his theological emphasis on beauty in the liturgy. He, in turn, is anxious to welcome them into the Roman fold.

Some tremendously talented Anglican priests did cross the Tiber. Of those that remained, I think we can identify four broad groups:

1. Anglo-Catholics who now accept women priests - I would never have believed, 15 years ago, that so many "bells and smells" types would become reconciled to this innovation, but they have.

2. Anglo-Catholic clergy who, despite their extreme Roman ritualism, are in irregular relationships that would not be tolerated by the Catholic authorities, so they pull up the drawbridge.

3. Anglo-Catholics who still believe, against all the evidence, that they will be able to preserve their male-only priesthood until their fellow Anglicans see the error of their ways.

4. Anglo-Catholics who know the game is up, that there will never be corporate reunion with Rome, and that their future lies in submitting to the Holy See.

It is these last people who are enduring the worst pain. They want to seize the hour while the chair of Peter is occupied by a brilliant theologian who recognises the special qualities of Anglo-Catholicism. They admire Benedict's boldness in removing the power of diocesan bishops to block the traditional Latin Mass and encouraging the setting up of congregations using only the 1962 Missal. Could he make similar arrangements for ex-Anglicans?

The current hierarchy feels no more warmly towards conservative Anglo-Catholics than it does towards the Latin Mass Society. It will do the bare minimum to accommodate converts.

No wonder the flying bishops are unhappy and confused. If they submit to Rome, they would like to do so under a truly sympathetic papacy, but who knows how long it will last?

The best solution would be for the Pope to appoint a successor to Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor who is in his own image - the Dominican writer Fr Aidan Nichols, say. But the chances of that happening are slim. We are heading towards another missed opportunity.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Medieval Antisemitism?

“We grant (the Jews) the buckler of our protection… We make the law that no Christian compel them, unwilling or refusing, by violence to come to baptism…Too, no Christian ought to injure their persons, or with violence to take their property, or to change the good customs which they have had until now in whatever region they inhabit…Besides, in the celebration of their own festivities, no one ought disturb them in any way… nor ought any one try to require from them or to extort from them services they do not owe, except for those they have been accustomed from times past to perform.

If anyone, however, shall attempt, the tenor of this degree once known, to go against it...let him be punished by the vengeance of excommunication, unless he correct his presumption by making equivalent satisfaction."

Pope Callixtus II, Sicut Iudaeis (1119-1124)

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


This YouTube video of a mass gone horribly awry will send chills up your spine.

ht: Damian Thompson

Enriching the Lay Vocation


The Confraternity of Penitents

Of course, the Third Order Dominicans

At the outset, Amy Welborn has links for Catholic aid to recently devestated areas.

For keeping it real, Ben Myer's new movie meme

And, for the really serious, a summer retreat at the Benedictine monestary in Norcia.

Monday, May 12, 2008

The Mother of My Lord and the Mother of Christ's Kin

"It must not be denied that God in choosing and destining Mary to be the Mother of his Son, granted her the highest honor. Elizabeth called Mary Mother of the Lord, because the unity of the Person in the two natures of Christ is such that the mortal man engendered in the womb of Mary is at the same time the one and eternal God."

John Calvin
Calvini Opera, Corpus Reformatorum, Braunschweig-Berlin, 1863-1900, v. 45, p. 348, 35.

"What God has thus joined let not man put asunder. To those to whom he is a Father, the Church must also be a mother....There is no other way to enter into life unless this mother conceive us in her womb, give us birth, and nourish us at her breast...Away from her bosom one cannot hope for any forgiveness of sins or any salvation."
- John Calvin
Institutes IV. i. 1

Saturday, May 10, 2008

This is where I'm going this summer

An article in the Catholic Herald ("Britain's leading Catholic newspaper") on American Benedictines in Norcia (a.k.a. Nursia), Italy. Read it!

Friday, May 09, 2008

Neiman Marcus Bars

For those of us who duly boycott NM, we can still enjoy their time honored recipes. A girl friend of mine treated a house party to these a few weeks ago, and they were pretty much some of the best things I've ever put in my mouth. It's got to be the superfluity of egg yolks. I'm adding little chunks of crystallized ginger when I try the recipe, because that's the way I roll. Here is the recipe...


1 pkg. yellow cake mix
1 egg, beaten
1 stick of butter
1 lb. powdered sugar
8 oz. softened cream cheese
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla

Mix cake mix, 1 egg, and butter until crumbly. Pat into 9 x13 inch pan. Sprinkle with 1 cup pecans. Mix powderedsugar, cream cheese and 2 eggs plus vanilla until smoothand pour over crust. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes until brown and set. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Chill and cut into squares.

...Speaking of, check out this very cool blog for celebrating the Church's feasts and seasons with apropos goodies: CatholicCuisine. Fruit salad and red cake for Pentecost... yummie. The blog is dedicated to St. Anne, patroness of homemakers.

...And our erstwhile resident foodie, Lee Nelson, used to have some great ideas when he posted here; I was just re-reading his recs for a simple but thorough kitchen, and they are great.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Why John Lipscomb Became a Catholic

I believe God is now calling us to continue our ministry to serve in the healing of the visible Body of Christ in the world. I am convinced our Lord’s deepest desire is for the unity of the Church.

I attended a gathering of Catholics in the DFW area a few weeks ago to hear former Episcopalian bishop John Lipscomb share the story of his conversion to the Catholic Church in December 2007. Lipscomb is now waiting to become one of the almost 100 former Episcopalian clergy who have been received into the Catholic Church under the Pastoral Provision since 1980. He had already explained his story in an open letter to his friends in Christ, here. Hearing his story was like a breath of fresh air. So, here are some of his major points, from my notes. Please don't shoot the messenger.

1. The Episcopalian experience was primarily one of inward-looking mediation and reconcilliation attempts from day one, and all along Lipscomb was less and less able to be at peace about what he was doing. First, ECUSA continually took positions which refuted sound moral theology. Secondly, the 'gifts' of catholicity that Lipscomb had hoped to infuse into ECUSA were simply not wanted. And, he was just so tired of the jargon which carefully differentiated 'Anglicanism' from ECUSA, and shopped for bishops; to have such a misguided sense of boundaries in the Church is not 'catholic' at all.

2. The unity which John 17 calls for is a unity for the purpose of a united mission. This had become impossible in ECUSA. And, ECUSA's brand of ecumenism apart from truth could never produce any sense of unity at all; added to that is the fact that the English Reformation was about rebellion from the outset, the quest for unity becomes futile. In other words, the Anglican crisis is 500 years old.

3. For those who bristle about the idea of submitting to Catholic authority in the See of Peter, the heart of the issue is that for those who walk in the Spirit, freedom and law are not contradictions; rather than being a burden, the service of Christ in the paces of His authority is not a burden, but perfect freedom.

(Lipscomb suggested that this idea would be most difficult for those who had already submitted to ECUSA's dogma of postmodern relativisim, and had agreed to be a community that would merely accomodate the public, or, that would equate Church order with friendly small talk) The straw that ultimately broke the camel's back, he said, was the American Primate explaining that Jesus is actually not the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Here, Lipscomb recommended C. FitzSimon Allison's The Cruelty of Heresy.

4. Regarding the hope for prophetic action through local options in the world, Lipscomb pointed out that Biblically, prophecy calls God's people to repent and to return to the place they came from. Furthermore, he urged that it is impossible to think that ecclesial communities that are totally opposed in confession and practices from ecclesial communities in other parts of the world (as is the case for the Anglican Communion) will not inevitably contravene each other's mission; they will.

Here, Lipscomb recounted a personal story of meeting with young Rwandans who were former Anglicans, but who had renounced Christianity entirely and converted to Islam since ECUSA's forays from 2003 on.

5. To other clergy, Lipscomb said that when told that he had 'sold out' on the Episcopalian vision, his rejoinder is that he is proud to have sold out to the truth, and that he is eager to bring to the fullness of the Church the fullness of who he is, without compromise.

...My favorite point went to a notion that has become popular in the thought of Episcopalian clergy like Ephraim Radner, who has urged his brothers that the thing to do is to "live in the wounded church" as a way of living the Christian life most fully. The idea is that the wounded church, in her divisions, best reflects the wounded body of her Lord.

I've always thought that there are some serious problems with this idea. First, it's the world that is wounded- and certainly not on account of sharing in the wounds of Christ, but because of sin. It's not a problem to become content with, but a disaster for the Church to fix.

The Church, on the other hand, is the body of those people who are healed by the wounds of Christ- not in order to remain weak and wounded- but so that we may get about the business of healing a broken world. And, we worship the wounds of Christ. To equate the Church with His redemptive wounds seems terribly presumptive. In as much as the Church is the Father's good and perfect gift to the Son, the damages and divisions inflicted and suffered in schismatic communities are antithetical to the Church's very nature.

Yes, the Church is Christ's body in the world, but as a creature she is also qualitatively different from the divine and humanly wounded body of her Lord. What's more, she is a nuptial body, formed in hope and beauty to be Christ's flourishing lover and the mother of His children so that the world may believe... not His ailing convalescent so that the world might empathize.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

When the body stoops down to the feet of a brother, then in the heart itself the affection of humility is either enkindled, or if it is already there, confirmed. What a man is before God, that he is, and no more.

- St. Bonaventure, Sermon on St. Francis IV, 1267

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Rome to Canterbury: It's Time to Choose

Anglicans must choose between Protestantism and tradition, says Vatican

By Anna Arco
6 May 2008

The Vatican has said that the time has come for the Anglican Church to choose between Protestantism and the ancient churches of Rome and Orthodoxy.

Speaking on the day that the Archbishop of Canterbury met Benedict XVI in Rome, Cardinal Walter Kasper, the president of the Pontifical Council of Christian Unity, said it was time for Anglicanism to "clarify its identity".

He told the Catholic Herald: "Ultimately, it is a question of the identity of the Anglican Church. Where does it belong?

"Does it belong more to the churches of the first millennium, Catholic and Orthodox, or does it belong more to the Protestant churches of the 16th century? At the moment it is somewhere in between, but it must clarify its identity now and that will not be possible without certain difficult decisions."

He said he hoped that the Lambeth conference, an event which brings the worldwide Anglican Communion together every 10 years, would be the deciding moment for Anglicanism.

Cardinal Kasper, who has been asked to speak at the Lambeth Conference by the Archbishop of Canterbury, said: "We hope that certain fundamental questions will be clarified at the conference so that dialogue will be possible.

"We shall work and pray that it is possible, but I think that it is not sustainable to keep pushing decision-making back because it only extends the crisis."

His comments will be interpreted as an attempt by Rome to put pressure on the Church of England not to proceed with the ordination women bishops or to sanction gay partnerships, both serious obstacles to unity.

They have come at an extremely sensitive time for the Anglican Communion, as cracks between different factions in the church are beginning to show ahead of the conference in July.

Dr Rowan Williams faces rebellion from conservative and liberal Anglicans over homosexuality and women bishops.

The Rt Rev Gene Robinson, the Anglican bishop of New Hampshire, whose attempts to enter into a civil union with his gay partner have angered conservative Anglicans, plans to attend the public events of the conference despite the fact that he has not been invited by Dr Williams.

On the other side of the spectrum, rebel conservative bishops, headed by Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria, dismayed by the Archbishop of Canterbury’s refusal to condemn homosexuality outright, plan a rival conference in the Holy Land in June.

Ecumenical dialogue between Rome and the Anglican Communion ground to a halt in 2006. Cardinal Kasper said at the time that a decision by the Church of England to consecrate women bishops would lead to "a serious and long lasting chill".

But last month the Church of England’s Legislative Drafting Group published a report preparing the ground for women bishops, who are already ordained in several Anglican provinces.

- an unusually clear call for integrity. I have posted in the comments some remarks culled from another blog and forwarded to me, which are very interesting of themselves.

Edit: Damian Thompson has more to say at The Telegraph, where there are more interesting comments-

"Kasper is the Catholic Church’s worldwide head of ecumenism, committed to a search for formal unity between Rome and Canterbury. That can only come about if the Anglicans eventually decide to stop ordaining women. Well, dream on.

The Pope, on the other hand, recognises that old-style ecumenism is dead in the water, and that a degree of unity is most likely to be achieved by large numbers of conservative Anglicans becoming Catholics. That possibility is growing stronger by the day."

Edit II: Another sort of review at Popinainteasy...

The newest meme

I predict the ideas in this article will be making the rounds for a while. The author's basic idea is that the religious life of most people is a form of what he calls 'apatheism', which is that they may believe in God, but are mostly apathetic about it. I actually think that his description is fairly accurate and the neologism is very clever, but of course I don't think this is a good state of affairs. What he seems to neglect, or perhaps have never met, is a non-violent passionate believer...

Monday, May 05, 2008

Oh Dear.

From Rowan Williams’ famous lecture, “The Body’s Grace”, presented to the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement in 1989.

“In a great many cultural settings, the socially licensed norm of heterosexual intercourse is a perversion.”

- Note the archbishop's grammar. He is not talking about rape or incest as a perversion; Williams is suggesting that we flirt with the idea that "the socially licensed norm of heterosexual intercourse" may not actually be God's great and intrinsically good gift for the building of the family, and the extension of the Church for the benefit of the world, but may rather be, in itself (how fun!)... a "perversion."

I call this an occasion for intellectual auto eroticism, which I think is (given Williams' position in the world) almost as great a sin as the auto eroticism of homosexual activity.

No wonder Anglicanism, in all its manifestations, has been running in circles for far too long.

HT: Faith and Theology.
We have discussed the Church's position on homosexuality here.

Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity

Jesus comes to reveal the mystery,
To give all of the Father's secrets
To lead from glory to glory
Even unto the bosom of the Trinity.


Sunday, May 04, 2008

MM's Weekend

Just for fun... Because I think that doing good theology is a bit like going on safari. (Relax, my little dog and I were not the ones to shoot the poor elephant)

Saturday, May 03, 2008

More literary Catholics

Although with Shakespeare the jury may be permanently out, apparently Oscar Wilde experienced a death-bed conversion to Catholicism:

In his Present Time Appraisal (1951), Mr St John Ervine makes an apposite comment upon the failure of Wilde’s power of speech. ‘The lord of language,’ he says, ‘so brilliant in his discourse on mundane matters, was silent in the hour of his most high decision: his tongue was tied in the presence of his Lord God. He was baptized and given Extreme Unction, but not the Sacrament, which he was now physically unfit to take.’

The last comment may well be left to Fr Cuthbert Dunne, who wrote feelingly of the great injustice ‘done to a dead man who can say no word in self-defence, and who, whatever his sins may have been, expiated them by suffering severe penalties: imprisonment, ostracism from the great world in which he had been an idol, loss of all that the cultivation of his brilliant talents had brought him, poverty in which he was left dependent on others for his sustenance. After all this, he turned to God for pardon and for the healing grace of the Sacraments in the end, and died a child of the Catholic Church.

I was a little surprised, and greatly comforted to stumble across this whilst conducting research this evening (as opposed to "research"), since Wilde's escapades and peccadilloes are so well known. It would be nice to see this facet of his life equally emphasized. There is nothing more important to life than the leaving of it, as they say. (And if they don't, they should.)

Friday, May 02, 2008

One of the most beautiful things I've heard in a long time

Set aside abstractions about the intrinsic sanctity and dignity of human life and the politics of Jesus for a moment, and just read this account of a bereaved Catholic family from my hometown:
In a stunning gesture that was met with applause by hundreds of mourners, the son of slain restaurateur Viola B. Barrios announced at her funeral Monday morning that her family would pay for the legal defense of the 18-year-old neighbor arrested and charged with her killing.
Although it seems that there will be some legal obstacles to the family's merciful response to a capital crime, their stance needs to be celebrated; theirs is the kind of posture that cherishes the human person and proclaims the Gospel.


(The Biblical teaching by Catholic bishops on the death penalty is here, by the way. Meanwhile, back at the ranch...)

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Cardinal Arinze on Other Religions

I was so disheartened a few months ago while sitting on a hiring committee at my school. We were evaluating candidates for the relevant chair in evangelism and international missions, and the candidate was a Nigerian Anglican priest. Great! ...I thought... after weeks of candidates who stuttered over the relationship of ecclesiology to mission, at last we would get something decent from a representative of The Hope of the Anglican Communion: an orthodox Nigerian man who knew what it meant to share the Gospel in the hostile context of Islam and shamanism...

Not so. The good Nigerian stuttered over ecclesiology with the best of them. He hinted at his disapproval of his conservative archbishop. And then, the clincher:

MM: Fr., if you do not believe in proclaiming the Gospel to Muslim friends, do you at least pray for their conversions?

Fr. Nigerian: (sputtering) Oh, God no. OF COURSE NOT! I can't imagine.

So it was a relief to hear from another sort of Nigerian when His Eminence Cardinal Arinze lectured for the University of Dallas a few weeks ago. Apart from the fact that I could have listened to his rich accent for a long, long time, His Eminence's talk acheived what so much modern theology fails at: the presentation of clear, healing, invigorating, wisdom in an area where it is most needed. In the absence of a transcript or even careful notes (I was jotting things down on my IPhone) I'll reconstruct here what I can remember of Arinze's proposal for the grammer of Catholic dialogue with other traditions.

1. Pluralism, as relativism's presumed agnosticism, is the opposite of a respectful acceptance of the plurality of religious traditions, in which real people faithfully believe stuff. Thus real inter-religious dialogue requires the maintenance of a clearly defined, recognized, and presented-at-the-outset Catholic identity by which to engage the real identity of the other. This kind of stance requires and produces real friendship, wherein each may freely work for the conversion of the other, while honoring the elements of holiness and truth wherever we find them- the hallmark of the Holy Spirit Himself- among the nations. (His light has enlightened every person...)

2. Inter Religious dialogue is located in theory and practice under the rubric of evangelism for the Catholic. Our dialogue with other religions is an inextricable aspect of our larger missionary movement, which has its apex in the bold proclamation of the Gospel. Until proclamation is possible, we engage in dialogue for the goal of sharing our faith clearly. We see God in Jesus of Nazareth, and to confess this in joyful gratitude is not pride; we proclaim Him because we can do nothing less. We exist as Christians in the world in order to evangelize. (Amen. Dialogue has a purpose. Small talk is for cocktail parties, not the Apostolic Church.)

3. To reduce world religions to mandate for mere friendliness is to denigrate the faith claims of real people to glib hypotheses. This is disrespectful! We must not neglect the intelligence and freedom of other religions by proposing that their faith claims are merely empty slogans for "something that we all share in common." (Amen. In reality, we have so little in common that we are more like strangers than friends to one another. But having so recognized, we are all the more free to behave like Christians towards the stranger- with love and hospitality.)

4. And finally, Jesus is the Way to the Father. He is not just a complementary revelation. God really has nothing else to say. And, the Church is His plan of salvation.

Blessed Duns Scotus on Ecclesiology

I go to church to fulfill an obligation in justice, because of obedience and vow. And I also go out of charity or love of God, to pray or to worship Him. And I also go out of fraternal charity to edify my neighbor.

- Quodlibet, Question 18.