Blog Template Theology of the Body: August 2008

Friday, August 29, 2008

In the Year of St. Paul: New Views on Justification

A feature of the Protestant view of justification that needs teasing out is the assertion that Paul teaches the imputation of Christ's righteousness as the immediate grounds of justification.

G.E. Ladd states in A Theology of the New Testament that "Paul never expressly states that the righteousness of Christ is imputed to believers. The fact remains that no text in the Pauline corpus speaks of justification in these terms. Paul does not set forth imputed righteousness but incorporated righteousness, which is a shorthand way of saying that believers are justified by union with Christ... thus, believers are justified only for the reason that they share in a corporate solidarity with the justified Messiah, and what is true of Him is (also) true of God's people. In Paul's discussion of justification, it is the terminology of being 'in Christ' which dominates."
- Michael F. Bird, 'Incorporated Righteousness: A Response to Recent Evangelical Proposals on the Imputation of Christ's Righteousness in Justification,' JETS.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Joe Biden, and what it means to be Catholic

... Obama's announcement presses the issue; we've got the son of working-class Irish Catholics, a career politician educated at a Catholic prep school who briefly considered the priesthood, up for VP. And, he is patently not in favor of the invariable defense of human life. Ugh.

Bishop Chaput, God bless him, is off to have a little chat with the culprit in question (shades of Bellarmino), and George Weigel is on the ball, as always: "I don't think it's a happy day for Catholics when a man who is literally dead wrong on what the Catholic leadership of the United States has said for over three decades is the most important issue of social justice in our country is named to a national ticket and attempts to present himself as an intellectually serious and coherent Catholic."
...What I love most in the recent soundbites comes from celebrated author David Gibson: "But anytime you pick a Catholic, it's also courting controversy." Good.

And seriously people, on another level, Biden has got some great ecclesiology. Last year, he told the Christian Science Monitor: "There are elements within the church who say that if you are at odds with any of the teachings of the church, you are at odds with the church. I think the church is bigger than that."

Biden is patently wrong in some of his funny little assertions; ie, that there is no intrinsic right to life in human beings at early stages of development, and that "his views to the contrary are totally consistent with Catholic social doctrine." (Weird- what was he smoking?) And, he should be excommunicated for the good of his own Irish soul on account of the public stance that he has taken on abortion and the votes he has made, until he publicly repents.

But what he is right about goes all the way back to Augustine- the Catholic Church is not a method, nor a body of social teaching, nor a reform movement in the fallen world, and while she demands conformity with the truths that she has received, she is indeed "bigger" than her social doctrines. She is an ontological reality which nurtures and shelters sinners like Joe Biden and me until the day when we are judged together, and she is constituted by her Head, and visibly recognized by His vicar in the sad world. But being Catholic involves and requires a lot more than just showing up on the right side of the life issues.
Let's pray for Biden's repentance... but let's not be Donatists about it.

Monday, August 25, 2008

John Paul the Great

"Since man was created to be the most quiet dwelling- place of the most holy Trinity, God rested from His work after creating man. Therefore let man seek in God the true rest of his heart, for there he will find it. Let him make use of the creatures, and not abuse them. Let him make use of the creatures not as the ultimate end of his desire, but as means to render homage and service to the Creator. Let the brooks lead to the source, and the road to its destination."

Saturday, August 23, 2008

For Christ Alone: Thinking about Mary 101

The Medjugorge Locutions II

"...Besides the Rosary, Our Lady insisted on silence; to listen to others, not to remain inactive. This makes of us a gift for others. I think that it is rather difficult to do for our human existence, because we tend to be protagonists, however, also the prayer of listening teaches us to adore, and to understand who the true Author of life is.

Penance must be the travelling companion of prayer; it becomes the prayer of the body. The word penance is barely present in our vocabulary today; we think that we suffer enough already and that there is no need for other forms of suffering. However, it seems that penance, especially in a moment of laziness or spiritual sleep, is what gives us a shake to permit us to get up and move on.

Little children ask their mothers for everything, but when they mature, they have to know how to stay in the Lord's presence and accept what He gives. Silence and continuous prayer is necessary so as not to lose this presence which accompanies us in the heart.

You have to nourish this type of experience, this continuous prayer, with fixed moments of prayer, because even if there is a presence which accompanies us, it will disappear if it is not nourished. So, we have to pray in fixed moments.

The prayer group is practically an inevitable experience for one's spiritual growth. It is not possible to imagine a faith walk on one's own. God calls us to communion with others; thus we are called to be in a prayer group. This could be the family, but the family should be the prayer group where we first receive our spirituality. Then there is the parish because it is our most immediate Church; within the parish there are various groups. I'm only saying how it is necessary, the type of group depends on your individual spirituality. The Rosary is always very useful, as is spontaneous prayer, but the reading of the Bible is important because our prayer must not be arbitrary. Its contents must be precise, it must be the revealed word, not like in oriental religions where the mind wanders. We have to stick to the Gospel. We also need a moment in which we can exchange experiences, to encourage each other. This is communion with God, but also with each other.

The presence of God brings much peace and tranquillity, and a sense of freedom and fullness. The presence of the devil brings much anxiety and darkness.

Guides are too precious; people need guides, even if the world yells out, 'freedom and independence'. When guides are lacking, people are attracted by a lot of wrong things. We need someone to push us onwards; the youth in particular need a guide. It is something precious to have someone who gives you light. Our Lady has always said that groups should have a spiritual guide."

Saturday, August 16, 2008

For Christ Alone: Thinking About Mary 101

The Medjugorje Locutions

In the far reaches of Eastern Europe, there is a small mountain town where Mary is said to have appeared to several young people at various times in the course of the past thirty years. Although we will not go into an entire reflection on the implications of Marian apparitions here, the Church's careful consideration of the Medjugorge experience is a good example of the Church's loving response both to lay piety and the plausibility that God shows up in real ways for His people, both directly and through others- and, in particular, through the most blessed young woman who once stood between God and all humanity and said "yes" to Him for them. Although the Church has not yet officialy endorsed the particular visions of Mary in Medjugorje, the fruits of the reported apparitions are promising: healings, conversions, and the resounding approval of two pontiffs.

A friend of mine is part of the second generation of young Medjugorjian Catholics who have been blessed with a personal encounter with Mary- sometimes visually, and sometimes through clear interior locutions. Jelena is now a happy (and busy!) mother of four, but when I recently asked her to summarize what she has received for the benefit of some of my students, she graciously complied. I thought I might pass some of her summary on to our readers. Enjoy...

"My experience is different to that of the other visionaries. I do not have visions in the way they have, although what I experience is a type of vision. More specifically, it is the gift of an intense presence of Mary when I am in prayer. We say that it is an experience of the heart, because it is not just an idea, or a thought which comes to mind, but a true presence of a true person. It takes the heart to really meet another person, otherwise the encounter is superficial; and it is the same with God in this prayer experience. The heart really is involved and thus we speak of locution of the heart.

The first thing that was asked of me was confession, thus, a purified heart so I could see. I think this must be the first step in a serious Christian life; that is, to ask forgiveness. Mary then teaches us to pray the same way, so that when we are before God we ask pardon and mercy. This is the first step towards conversion.

Above all Our Lady was teaching us how to pray. Our Lady always puts prayer before all else, because our Christian lives get strength from the encounter with God. Thus, without this encounter, it is very hard to talk about spiritual life, because it is not something we have to do. I think that in our Christian life we soon realize that we can do very little and that it is instead, grace which leads us. Hence, Our Lady's repeated calls to prayer! Prayer has to become for us a fount of grace for our journey. Hence, Her call to a sacramental life: confession and the Eucharist in particular, which is the heart of our Christian life. You see, it is only through grace that we can be made perfect.
Our Lady has spoken about different forms of prayer, especially the Rosary. This prayer is being reproposed after many years, and I think the reason is that the prayer is very beneficial to our spirituality. If we are called to imitate Christ, to become like Him, to do it through the Rosary is the best way; it is a mini catechesis. All the mysteries of the faith are contemplated in it. To pray the Rosary, I think, makes us similar to Mary, who "kept all these things in her heart," said Luke (Lk 2:12, 2:51). I think that we too are called to keep these mysteries in our heart, through the Rosary. Mary said we should seek two things. The first thing is the Lord's face. The risk is that we often look at ourselves, we want good things, right things, but we do not realize we have someone next to us. Thus, Our Lady asks us to look up, to see Christ in our prayer. Our prayer must be Christ centred. The second step is to seek the Lord's will, because after the encounter with God, it becomes natural to ask oneself: what do You want of me?"

To be continued...

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Note: Augustine Blog Conference at Per Caritatem

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

For Christ Alone: Thinking about Mary 101

On the Exterminatrix of Heresies-

As often happens, I have a lot of explaining to do around the time of the Feast of Mary's Assumption. And as always, simpler is better. Yes, she is our Queen Mother. She's the mother of the King. And yes, we think that her Son once called her to be assumed through the clouds to be in His presence in Heaven. This is what He promised to do for all of us as He did for a few of His Old Testament servants; and it just makes sense that our courteous Lord would have His mother go first in the promised resurrection of the body which He provided.

I am struck lately by how desperately the Church needs to cling to its Queen these days- not in terms of gorgeous litanies and personal affection, but in terms of the doctrinal rigor that only she can afford. The heresy of our day is that the Incarnation of God that occured in her womb is negligible. Spiritually, liberalized Christianity has decided to die the easy death of those who follow an unembodied Christ ideal. Our atmosphere is rife with such lovely-sounding, air- headed proposals of uber New Age spiritualities that make the devil chuckle. Politically, a national culture that once generally affirmed that the Body of Jesus saves us now has its future threatened by the irritated Islamic heresy that does not tolerate this truth, while from within, we kill our unborn babies and "euthenize" our infirm because we have forgotten that from the reality of the Incarnation, every human body intrinsically belongs to God. And all the while, the sacred warning of I John rings in the backgound like a distant memory... every spirit that denies that Christ is come in the flesh is the spirit of antichrist... who is the antichrist but he who denies that Christ is come in the flesh...any spirit that denies...

The Church has not forgotten that we are saved by knowledge of the Son, in the Biblical sense. The Church has not forgotten that we are not saved by a set of well-worded propositions about God, but by the visceral, physical reality of Jesus of Nazereth, who is God united to human flesh. The Church has thus not forgotten that Mary, above and beyond all the human creation, really knows the Son. He is her Son. She knew his stirrings in her own body before His birth. She recognized dominant DNA patterns from her parents and grandparents in His features. She knew Him when He was two. While He grew in wisdom and stature, she knew what He liked to eat and what He did not (look people, this is essential to what Christianity is- the firm conviction that God in Christ probably has favorite foods). It is she who knew that just as much as His human will grew in perfect conformity and union to His divinity, He had eyes of a certan color and pains of a certain sort, and she knew exactly what His excruciating bloody wounds looked like on the day He died for the great love of His life. And it is thus that it is Mary, the mother of our Lord, who can uniquely crush that elegant and sinister lie that God has not come in the flesh, that redeeming Truth is separate from a Person. Mary wiped His nose and rocked Him to sleep. She knows.

History has proven that it is the mother of God who protects the essential, precious truth of our salvation: the Word is made flesh and dwelt among us. Several essential aspects of the Church’s worship and confession were expressed around the 4th century in response to the proposals of detractors. The first, at the Council of Nicaea in 325, declared that Christ is fully God. At stake was an understanding of salvation: the Cross can save us only if the Crucified Redeemer is fully divine. Once the Church had expressed that the Son is also fully man at the Council of Constantinople in 381, the third statement, expressed shortly thereafter at the Council of Ephesus in 431, responded to the proposals of Nestorius.

Nestorius wanted above all things to evade the harsh implications of the Cross. In sum, Nestorius was convinced that a God who suffered in the flesh could not save us. Surely such a God would have ceased to be God. So, Nestorius invented the sad proposal that I have run into over and over again: Jesus of Nazareth is not fully God because in Him God is not fully united to man. Jesus is only a "temple" in which God dwells; the child born of Mary may be honored as the vessel in which God's power became manifest, but Jesus cannot be worshipped as God. In short, the Nestorian heresy contended then (as it contends now) that the Word has not been made flesh, that God has not united Himself to us.

As promised, the Holy Spirit led Christ's Church into all truth, and the conciliar clarification came through loud and clear in the orthodox doctrine that Catholic Christians confess today while we joyfully worship Jesus. Mary's testimony won the day: the Person conceived by the Holy Spirit in her virginal womb is Himself the unity of God and man. He has a rational soul and a human body born of His mother; everything that belongs to a real human is in the divine Christ. The subject of the whole human reality is the Logos, which He took on from the Virgin in mortal time. With respect to His essential humanity born of Mary, God was born, God suffered, God did everything that Jesus was doing… the one who was born of the Jewish girl is the same as the one who was begotten of the Father before all worlds. As Athanasius had put it, the whole Christian story must be the story of Jesus’ descent and ascent- of the Logos' descent into our flesh, and of the taking of our flesh into the very heart of God. The story of salvation is the story of the Logos, from the bosom of the Father, to the depths of our flesh, returning to the Father clothed forever in our flesh, fused with it. What Christ has not assumed of our nature and united to His godhead cannot be healed.

The conclusion centered on Mary. In the end, in summary of the Church's Christological confession, Mary was declared Theotokos, Mother of God- not mother of a fleshly "vessel," nor mother of an earthly "temple." Rather, she herself was known to be the Vessel and Temple in whom God Himself had dwelt. In sum, we are left today with the historic Fourth Anathema against Nestorius: if anyone distributes between two persons/subjects of Jesus Christ and attaches some to the man as separated from God, let him be anathema.

The lie that the second Person of the Trinity had not come in the flesh and been born of a woman was silenced. At the time, the Church celebrated with processions similar to those that Catholic churches will perform tomorrow. In defeat of the heresies, an image of the mother of God Incarnate is paraded through the towns of the fallen world in public proclamation that the hellish lies about her Son have to stop at her humble feet. The Church recalled prayers from the Fathers Eusebius, Cyril of Jerusalem, Origin, and Gregory of Nazianzan then, as we do now: sub tuum presidium, we fly to your patronage, oh holy mother of God. Do not reject our prayers in time of need... you who alone are pure, holy and blessed... if anyone does not believe in Mary as the Mother of God, he is severed from the godhead

(On this Feast of the Assumption, while I am in glad procession against deadly heresies, I will enjoy recalling the prayer of a more modern figure):

In this work whereby she was made the Mother of God, so many and such great good things were given her that no one can grasp them. ... Not only was Mary the mother of him who is born in Bethlehem, but of him who, before the world, was eternally born of the Father, from a Mother in time and at the same time man and God...She is full of grace, proclaimed to be entirely without sin- something exceedingly great. For God's grace fills her with everything good and makes her devoid of all evil...The veneration of Mary is inscribed in the very depths of the human heart...It is the consolation and the superabundant goodness of God, that man is able to exult in such a treasure. Mary is his true Mother, Christ is his brother, God is his father...Mary is the Mother of Jesus and the Mother of all of us even though it was Christ alone who reposed on her knees . . . If he is ours, we ought to be in his situation; there where he is, we ought also to be and all that he has ought to be ours, and his mother is also our mother.

- Martin Luther.

For Christ Alone: Thinking about Mary 101

On Mary, from the Protestant Divines:

Martin Luther

"It is the consolation and the superabundant goodness of God, that man is able to exult in such a treasure. Mary is his true Mother, Christ is his brother, God is his father."(Sermon, Christmas, 1522)..."Mary is the Mother of Jesus and the Mother of all of us even though it was Christ alone who reposed on her knees . . . If he is ours, we ought to be in his situation; there where he is, we ought also to be and all that he has ought to be ours, and his mother is also our mother." (Sermon, Christmas, 1529)

John Calvin

"It cannot 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 was such that she could have said that the mortal man engendered in the womb of Mary as at the same time the eternal God." (Calvini Opera, Corpus Reformatorum, Braunschweig-Berlin, 1863-1900, v. 45, p. 348, 35.)

Huldreich Zwingli

"It is right and profitable to repeat the angelic greeting - not prayer - 'Hail Mary' . . . God esteemed Mary above all creatures, including the saints and angels - it was her purity, innocence and invincible faith that mankind must follow."

Heinrich Bullinger

'The Virgin Mary . . . completely sanctified by the grace and blood of her only Son and abundantly endowed by the gift of the Holy Spirit and preferred to all . . . now lives happily with Christ in heaven and is called and remains ever-Virgin and Mother of God."

For Christ Alone: Thinking about Mary 101

Augustine on Mary's perpetual virginity:

"Her virginity also itself was on this account more pleasing and accepted, in that it was not that Christ being conceived in her, rescued it beforehand from a husband who would violate it, Himself to preserve it; but, before He was conceived, chose it, already dedicated to God, as that from which to be born. This is shown by the words which Mary spoke in answer to the Angel announcing to her her conception; "How," says she, "shall this be, seeing I know not a man?" Which assuredly she would not say, unless she had before vowed herself unto God as a virgin. But, because the habits of the Israelites as yet refused this, she was espoused to a just man, who would not take from her by violence, but rather guard against violent persons, what she had already vowed. Although, even if she had said this only, "How shall this take place?" and had not added, "seeing I know not a man," certainly she would not have asked, how, being a female, she should give birth to her promised Son, if she had married with purpose of sexual intercourse.

She might have been bidden also to continue a virgin, that in her by fitting miracle the Son of God should receive the form of a servant, but, being to be a pattern to holy virgins, lest it should be thought that she alone needed to be a virgin, who had obtained to conceive a child even without sexual intercourse, she dedicated her virginity to God, when as yet she knew not what she should conceive, in order that the imitation of a heavenly life in an earthly and mortal body should take place of vow, not of command; through love of choosing, not through necessity of doing service.

Thus Christ by being born of a virgin, who, before she knew Who was to be born of her, had determined to continue a virgin, chose rather to approve, than to command, holy virginity. And thus, even in the female herself, in whom He took the form of a servant, He willed that virginity should be free. And on this account, that one female, not only in the Spirit, but also in the flesh, is both a mother and a virgin. And a mother indeed in the Spirit, not of our Head, Which is the Saviour Himself, of Whom rather she was born after the Spirit: forasmuch as all, who have believed in Him, among whom is herself also, are rightly called "children of the Bridegroom," but she is clearly the mother of His members, which are we: in that she wrought together by charity, that faithful ones should be born in the Church, who are members of That Head, and in the flesh, she is the mother of the Head Himself.

For it behoved that our Head, on account of a notable miracle, should be born after the flesh of a virgin, that He might thereby signify that His members would be born after the Spirit, of the Church a virgin: therefore Mary alone both in Spirit and in flesh is a mother and a virgin: both the mother of Christ, and a virgin of Christ; but the Church, in the Saints who shall possess the kingdom of God, in the Spirit indeed is altogether the mother of Christ, altogether a virgin of Christ: but in the flesh not altogether, but in certain a virgin of Christ, in certain a mother, but not of Christ. Forsooth both faithful women who are married, and virgins dedicated to God, by holy manners, and charity out of a pure heart, and good conscience, and faith unfeigned, because they do the will of the Father, are after a spiritual sense mothers of Christ. But they who in married life give birth to (children) after the flesh, give birth not to Christ, but to Adam, and therefore run, that their offspring having been dyed in His Sacraments, may become members of Christ."

Holy Virginity IV, VI.

For Christ Alone: Thinking about Mary 101

At the end of this week, the Church will celebrate one of the major feasts that punctuate the liturgical year with a spotlight on Mary, the one “full of grace” and “most favored,” whom “all generations will call blessed.” (Luke 1)

With her Son, Mary of Nazareth presents a stumbling block to the world’s fads and decadence; and far too often, her images and tradition of devotion present an offense to Protestantism’s scruples and proper avoidance of idolatry. So at this juncture of the year, we might ask, what does all the fuss about Mary really mean?

Mary means many things to the Church, who honors her as its prototype. Mary is the instantiation of the New Testament promise that “by grace you have been saved by faith; and that not of yourselves- it is the gift of God, not by works, lest any man should boast.” We celebrate Mary because she is the one first saved by the prevenient and supremely efficacious grace of her Creator and Savior, and in her profoundly simple person we see the personal model of the promise that we can ultimately be saved by grace alone. Above all others, Mary has nothing that she has not received.

In the Gospel account, notice that the angel of the Lord does not hail Mary as being “full of merit,” but merely, “full of grace.” Mary’s appropriate response in her Magnificat is to proclaim the greatness of God, who has looked with mercy on her own lowliness. And that is precisely why she is rightly exalted. In the Church’s belief that Mary was preserved by grace from the moment of her conception in view of her motherhood of Jesus, the one Redeemer of the world, we confess that because Mary is most clearly God’s handiwork, we pay attention to Mary because we live in the hope of the same work. In other words, Mary is Christian soteriology personified.

These proposals are developed beautifully by Bl. Duns Scotus, who wrote of Mary’s Immaculate Conception in his twelfth century Ordinatio. Scotus explains that Mary enjoyed real sanctification in view of the imputed merits of her son, by which she was protected from original sin from the very moment of her conception. In this regard, Mary was the prime recipient of the imputation of the merits of Christ, both in temporal terms as well as in qualitative and quantitative terms; this is clarified by Scotus’ ensuing explanation that Mary is the most redeemed and most sanctified, by being the one to whom Christ’s merit is most imputed:

It was evident that the door was open to her through the merits of Christ that were foreseen and accepted in a special way for this person, so that because of his passion this person was never in a state of sin…for thus God determined that although he had accepted the foreseen passion of Christ to remit original sin of all who have believe in that passion, nevertheless he only remitted that punishment due to the sin… for the sake of the passion he foresaw, since it was exhibited as present.

Scotus thus describes Mary’s redemption as the most perfect instance of the imputation of Christ’s merit; hers is a unique reception of imputation so strong that it ontologically transforms her and sets her apart from every other creature:

For a most perfect mediator has a most perfect act of mediation possible with respect to some person for whom he intercedes… (And) with respect to no person did He have a more excellent degree than regards Mary… because He merited to preserve her from original sin.

Thomas Aquinas agrees with this notion of Mary’s preeminent privilege in her redemption, explicitly in Summa III.27 ad 2, and implicitly when considering another issue in Super Psalmos 51: “also the mercy of God is reckoned among those things because it removes sins. But it is better that it should be removed all together.” In sum, Aquinas agrees with Scotus that “it is a more excellent benefit to preserve one from evil than to permit one to fall into it and then free such.” In other words, Scotus reasons that if coming into being in the state of original sin is the greatest punishment possible for a child of Adam, then the greatest instantiation of Christ’s redemption is the preservation and rescue of one creature from the greatest punishment; “therefore if Christ has reconciled us most perfectly to God, He has merited that this most grave punishment itself be taken from someone- His mother.”

In fact, given that Christ’s reparation and reconciliation remedy original sin even more immediately than actual sin, such that Christ is more urgently the Mediator for Mary and her preservation than for any other creature, Scotus concludes that Mary is more indebted to Christ for her redemption than any other creature:

Mary most of all needed Christ as a redeemer…He was so perfect a Mediator for some person- Mary- that he preserved her from original sin… from what persons reconciled owes the mediator, I argue in this way: a person reconciled is not obligated to the mediator in the highest way unless he or she has received from him the highest good that the mediator can give… no person is obligated in the highest degree to Christ as Mediator unless he has been preserved from original sin.

Thus, Mary, as most redeemed and perfected creature, is most indebted to Christ for her innocence. In sum, the Church believes that Mary was prevented from the stain of original sin by her Son’s sanctifying grace, which she gained in view of His passion and death. As Catholic scholar D.N. Cross puts it, “Jesus pays the debt that Mary would have incurred had Jesus not paid it… Jesus as it were pays His mother’s potential debt.” In this way, the perfectly assignable nature of Christ’s merit, and our dependence upon it, is highlighted by its retroactivity. And it is for this reason that Catholics rejoice with Mary, because with her, we know that we rejoice and boast in nothing other than in God our Savior, who alone is able to preserve us for Himself.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Dear Cardinal Levada: What in the world is a Tabletista?

Just for today (I promise) I am reminded of a snippet that once helped me to take the difficult step of faith into the Catholic Church, even though there was always a dim promise of easier corporate reunion with Rome, somewhere in the future; but this went on... year after year... after year... after year.

Fr. Christopher Phillips, a pioneer of the Pastoral Provision for Anglican conversions, wrote something striking on point in the early spring of 2007 which was helpful to me:

"It’s one of those things that would be amazing if it were true: Headlines are all over the place today in newspapers and on web news sites: “Churches back plan to unite under Pope.” The claim is that “senior bishops” (whatever that means) have agreed on proposals which would unite Anglicans and Roman Catholics. The media make it sound as though it will take place at the snap of the fingers and everyone will live happily ever after. If only.

When we read a little deeper we find that a forty-two page report published by the International Anglican-Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission states within it, “Anglicans and Roman Catholics are urged to explore how they might reunite under the Pope.” So apparently there is no actual “plan” to back, more like a “plan to explore.” And that would be very nice. It would also be nice to see the Israelis and the Palestinians become best friends...The only problem is that we probably won’t see any of those things happen. Sure, it’s nice to hope. And we should do everything we can to help good things come to pass. But let’s be realistic. The Anglicans can’t even agree on who’s an Anglican, and we’re supposed to think there’s a possibility of a plan which will bring them all under the Pope?

...There’s no doubt we need to pray for Anglicans. We need to be ready to welcome them into their only real home, which is the Catholic Church. But it’s silly to think there is some “plan” providing a way for corporate reunion. It’s a matter of the conversion of individual hearts and lives, and headlines such as the ones we are seeing today don’t help. They give a false sense of hope to those who might be on the verge of returning to the Church, and they add fuel to the anti-Catholic bitterness of those who would rather drink poison than submit to Rome."
Relevant lately? Maybe, maybe not.