Tag Archives: church crisis

Its not about Pope Francis

The conservative Catholics keep sounding the alarm about Pope Francis while the liberal Catholics keep celebrating his every utterance. Neither group sees the man or his office clearly. In this the conservatives and liberals do the Church a dis-service as what the Church needs is people who can see clearly in this time of acute crisis.

Like every other Pope before him Francis has and will make huge mistakes and these mistake have and will damage the church. Like every other Pope before him Francis has and will make some positive contributions to the Church and these contributions have and will advance the protection and growth of the Church in this time of crisis.

The Pope is a product of his years of training in a jesuit order that both benefited from the the post Vatican II changes and damaged by those changes. Similarly, the modern Church will continue to produce people like Pope Francis…people who combine the best and the worst of the modern intellectual landscape.

To save the church, the task is to learn to discern the times; to learn to identify the gold within the dross, to learn to nurture what is theologically sound from what is heretical and unsound. But there are very very few individuals who can do this. Most people in the church cannot see past “conservative” vs “liberal” labels and rush to identify themselves with those labels and then all too readily “agree” or consent or acquiesce to seeing the entire world through those labels. It is a form of spiritual and intellectual bankruptcy to do so.

In past ages, in past Church crises the people who saved the church were the great anti-heriesiarchs, the great doctors of the Church. They were not necessarily saints. in times like these it is necessary to strive NOT to be saintly but to see clearlyas you will have no chance of becoming a saint unless you can first see clearly.

Father Edward Tomlinson’s Perspective

from Fr. Ed’s Blog – happily found by Allan Gillis


And so it begins

Oh dear. The Synod on the family begins and the climate could not be more depressing. Cardinal Daneels publicly reveals he is part of a cabal of modernists, who not only manipulated the last conclave but engineered the removal of Pope Benedict. Rather chillingly the main protagonists and their ilk are the ones chosen to be present at the Synod. Yesterday a priest of the CDF outed himself, telling the world he has a boyfriend, the timing of this announcement being far from coincidental.

Dear me it is depressing. The church is in crisis. It breaks my heart to watch it unfold. And it worries me deeply that the synod might be sham, a carefully orchestrated fait accompli; the aim being not to change doctrine but practice. The driving of a wedge between what is officially taught and what happens on the ground. That ground may be conceded in favour of modernism.

To really understand what is going on, at a deeper level than newspaper headlines, we must comprehend that the real debate has nothing much to do with how we treat the divorced and remarried or those in same sex relationships. That would be easy enough, I never met an authentic Christian who wasn’t accepting and pastorally kind.

No; drill down beneath the emotive polemic and it becomes clear that what is really under debate is the role of grace and sin, the nature of revelation and the way authority and fidelity are to be understood in the present age. *The modernists want to overthrow traditional Catholic teaching and methodology to conform to the Spirit of the age. And with the Synod deck stacked in their favour, and with it now being a matter of public record that they have control of the Vatican and have been manipulating the process for years, we stand at a moment of genuine crisis for those whose desire is to be faithful to Christ.

As I kneel before the sacrament at present a different angle comes into focus. The spiritual dimension. For always in the church we deal not with political issues of left and right but an eternal battle between Christ and forces of darkness. We lose sight of Satan at our peril. And it strikes me that, on the spiritual level, we find those who no longer love the Jesus of history and wish to substitute him for a faux Christ made in their image. A fake Christ who can accommodate the teaching of the sexual revolution. Why? Because they have fallen in love with the ideals of the sexual revolution. For them scripture is out-dated… precisely because it doesn’t espouse those revolutionary views, traditional teaching no longer pertinent… precisely because it doesn’t chime with the sexual revolution. It is time for change-they say- the church must conform to the world.

And tragically these people are now so in thrall to the ideals of the sexual revolution, and the modernist faith, they ignore or downplay its devastating effect; widespread abortion, the breakdown of the family, etc.. “What is truth?”, they ask- for with their relativist creeds they are the Pontious Pilates of our day. Washing their hands of the real Jesus because, to them, he has become an embarrassment. A figure to be derided and pitied. A man of sorrows. So they beat him afresh, spit and twist thorns on his head. Oh how painful it is to see. And how more painful still is the fact that, backed by the media and leaders of the modern world, they are in the ascendency; ready to bring the church to its knees. Repent and worship at the altar of political correctness, embrace the ideals of the sexual revolution, or face the wrath of our displeasure.

Those who stand by Christ, and the historic teaching of the church regarding the family, are in the minority. A remnant. I am not a very good Christian, truth be told, but I do want to stand by this number. No matter the cost, I want to support those who uphold the faith of the ages, not a bastardised form designed to suit the present. My deepest prayer then, at the start of the Synod, is that the Holy Father will opt for this too. My deepest fear is that we are heading for schism. That those who want to uphold the institution at any price will concede to the world- and the sexual revolution. Whilst those who want to uphold the true church will be driven back into catacombs and considered anathema. I hope I am wrong.

You can probably tell I am feeling depressed by it all at present. Perhaps, as stated before, my Anglican experiences exacerbate this. Perhaps I have it all wrong – I certainly hope so. But we do need to pray. And, to cheer me up, I received this wonderful document from the Confraternity of Catholic priests. A document that robustly defends the faith as historically understood. Lord Jesus please keep your promise that the gates of hell may not prevail. We may be losing the battle but help us remember we cannot lose the war.

This Star Wars clip rather sums up my feelings today. Or at least how I fear I might feel when the dust settles in three weeks time.

  • (* emphasis by your publisher)
  • ( please visit Fr. Ed’s Blog    http://www.tunbridgewells-ordinariate.com/blog/ )

Homosexuality and the Church

By Augustinus

Homosexuality and the Church Crisis

Few would deny that homosexuality, same sex marriage and gay priests have been front and center issues that exemplify the embittered debates at the center of the crisis in the church since the 1960s to the present day. The “sexual liberation” of the 1960s unleashed a torrent of new groups from feminists to homosexuals to transgendered individuals, who claimed that they were persecuted in the past and that they would no longer tolerate such persecution in the future. All the major churches had up until then viewed homosexuality as a sin expressly condemned by scripture. But as these victim groups began to organize politically and articulate arguments for their full acceptance into the church, many protestant groups began to do so. But traditionalists within these protestant groups found this a complete betrayal of the Christian revelation. The debates soon spread to the Orthodox and Roman Catholic communions and have become acute points of dissension within the church today. Liberals within the church want to claim that homosexuality and other non traditional sexual orientations are not sins at all while traditionalists ask how we can blithely throw out 2000 years of scripture and tradition on these issue just to accommodate sinful people who claim they have been victimized? Aren’t we merely bending to the world’s priorities and abandoning Christ just to be popular in the modern world?

The homosexuality wars in the church are both a symptom and cause of the church crisis in the modern age. Traditionalists claim that not only is there no scriptural foundation for justification of homosexuality (never mind same sex unions), scripture expressly condemns it. So-called progressives within the church on the other hand argue that scripture demands interpretation and that history is the struggle of oppressed minorities to come into full communion with the rest of the society and church. In short traditionalists argue that redefining homosexuality as NOT a sin would be a corruption of church doctrine and tradition while progressives argue that ending persecution of homosexuals by redefining homosexuality as NOT a sin represents a valid development of Christ’s teaching of full inclusion of the “other” into the church.

Who is right? How does a conscientious Christian think through these complex issues. The Catholic magisterium would say “listen to us—we decide—the laity follow and obey period.” But even the magisterium needs to consult with experts, the laity and the rest of the church on matters dividing the faithful. How does one decide what is valid in terms of development of doctrine versus what is a corruption of church doctrine?

Protestants by and large argue that valid development only occurs when the new doctrine represents a clear logical unfolding or implication of something present in scripture. Despite this seemingly clear criterion for valid development recall that it has been Protestant churches who have taken the first steps in welcoming homosexuals, same sex unions, female clergy and so on.

But is that criterion an adequate or valid one to use in assessing whether a new development in church doctrine is valid or not? Take the case of the development of the trinitarian doctrine formulated in the first several ecumenical councils in the first few centuries of the Church. While the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are certainly mentioned in the New testament gospels there is no reason to suppose that they compose a trinity of 3 persons and one God. More parsimonious interpretations of those mentions would simply claim that the terms merely refer to differing modes human experience of the one God or differing ways of expressing one experience and so on. The strict monotheism of first century Jews would have militated against arguing for Trinitarian positions on the Godhead. That is one reason why it took centuries for the Trinitarian interpretation to win out over all the other more common sensical interpretations of these mentions of the names of the god experiences in the New Testament.

Clearly, then one cannot arrive at the doctrine of the Trinity by merely reading the gospels and following out logical implications of whatever it is you read there. The logical implications of gospel texts are literally endless. Constraints are needed in order to limit endless and destructive interpretations of these texts.

Where do these constraints come from? The orthodox and Catholic communions say they come from tradition which includes the magisterium and debates at Church councils. Tradition also includes input from the laity in the form of popular forms of piety as well as social, cultural and political influences.

While the addition of tradition to help gauge genuine doctrinal development helps it does not help very much. Tradition too can be interpreted in endless ways and the influence of popular and social forces are often inimical to the Christian revelation.

In the 19th century several theologians began to formulate tests for assessing whether a given doctrinal development was valid or a corruption of church doctrine. In particular Cardinal Newman argued that “There is no corruption if it (a doctrinal development) retains one and the same type (when compared to the earlier doctrine that serves as the origin of the new doctrine), the same principles, the same organization; if its beginnings anticipate its subsequent phases, and its later phenomena protect and subserve its earlier; if it has a power of assimilation and revival, and a vigorous action from first to last.” (Newman, 1845, Essay on development of Christin Doctrine, p171)

If we use Newman’s tests to assess whether the new doctrine “homosexuality is not a sin” is a corruption OR a valid development of Christina doctrine I think we just get more muddled. All of Newman’s tests depend on the original reference doctrine one starts with. If we start with literal reading of scripture then the original reference doctrine would have to be homosexuality is a sin. The “development homosexuality is NOT a sin” then does NOT retain one and the same type, organization and so as the original doctrine nor does it protect and subserve the original doctrine. In fact the new doctrine literally overturns the older one.

If on the other hand we start with a different base doctrine perhaps the doctrine of “Love your neighbor as yourself” then Newman’s tests on “homosexuality is not a sin” are no so clear. If I place myself in the shoes of my homosexual neighbor he has undergone severe affliction and condemnation simply because of his sexual orientation. This neighbor has never acted on his sexual orientation. Instead he became a catholic priest and is universally acclaimed a saint by those that know him. Except for his sexual orientation and his views that homosexuality is not a sin he is an exemplary man of the Church. He has single handedly kept alive the Latin mass at his parish, has served as hospital chaplain for decades, and has written very militant catholic apologetics. He opposes same sex marriage nut not same sex unions. He opposes marriage for priests and female ordination. He was decorated for bravery when a young combat solider in the Viet Nam war and has since then stridently supported all branches of the US military. He describes himself as a traditional catholic and a political conservative.

Extrapolating from the Christian doctrine of Love thy neighbor as oneself…does this man’s views that same sex attraction and unions (not marriage) are not sinful pass Newman tests? Including same sex attraction and unions in the family of acceptable practices in the church appears to be congruent with the original doctrine and certainly preserves and protects that original doctrine and so forth. But again this just proves that Newman’s tests depend entirely on the reference or base doctrine you use as the standard from which develop occurs.

We need something better.

One possibility that the modern age gives us is scientific input. Perhaps we can consult the science on homosexuality in order to assess whether or not it is a sin.

There are lots of papers on homosexuality because male homosexuality in particular is a puzzle. Given that male homosexuals rarely have many (or indeed any) children, the phenomena of homosexuality should disappear from the gene pool. But obviously homosexuality has not disappeared. Scientists therefore infer that it must be conferring some kind of genetic advantage to relatives of the homosexuals. The best evidence to date that that is indeed the case comes from studies of Camperio Ciani’s group in Italy. They (see Francesca Iemmola Æ Andrea Camperio Ciani Arch Sex Behav (2009) 38:393–399 DOI 10.1007/s10508-008-9381-6 New Evidence of Genetic Factors Influencing Sexual Orientation in Men: Female Fecundity Increase in the Maternal Line) have demonstrated via several studies of the genetics of families with homosexual members that the average fecundity of the female relatives in the maternal BUT NOT THE PATERNAL line of homosexuals, was increased relative to families without homosexual members. In other words having a homosexual in the family significantly increases the chances that women vs the men in the extended family will have large numbers of offspring! Homosexuality might therefore be seen as one more strategy in the eternal battle of the sexes to immortalize their respective genetic legacies.

Even if these studies and data are replicated and later confirmed do they help us decide whether or not homosexuality is a sin? Obviously not. The data certainly are interesting but they are silent on the central question which of course is a theological question.

So where does this leave us? Biblical literalism cannot decide on whether homosexuality is a sin. Catholic and Orthodox traditionalism can’t do the job either. Nor can Newman’s tests or recent science tell us whether homosexuality is a sin.

I suggest that to intelligently debate the issue of homosexuality we need to start with an agreed upon definition of sin. That will be the subject of another post.

Reflections On the Much Discussed “Benedict Option”

By Augustinus

The crisis in the Roman Catholic church is occurring within the larger context of the collapse of Christian civilization in Europe and North America and indeed in large parts of the world in general. What can we Christians do to reverse the collapse of Christianity? Rod Dreher has suggested that the first step in responding to the crisis is to wake up and realize just how serious the crisis is. Not only is Christianity no longer the background moral and cultural ethos in Europe and North America -it is in active retreat and very likely going to see a coming persecution. So what can we and what should we do? the “Benedict option” would have us focus on preserving what we can within our own communities while not retreating from the battle in the world at large. like St Benedict who created monastic communities while the Christian Roman Imperium was collapsing all around him, so too should we create vibrant local Christian communities where the faith is preserved while still somehow continuing the fight in the public arena. Critics of the Benedict option have pointed out that the insular monastic model of tactical retreat and rebuild cannot address the pressing issue that the barbarians are at the gate or are actually in charge and imposing a kind of Arian heresy on orthodox christians everywhere….Arianism says Jesus was great but not God so there is no real presence, no real sacrifice at calvary, no real resurrection etc..these are now all the standard positions of many protestant sects and certainly the current media take on Jesus. It also happens to be the Islamic Koranic take on Jesus…

Over at TAC blogs Dreher has attempted to answer critics of his “Benedict Option” http://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/critics-of-the-benedict-option/

Despite Dreher’s spirited response to critics I do not think the Benedict option is correct for us at this historical moment. The Benedict option would work if it weren’t the case that Arianism has already triumphed among ideological elites. If i am correct in my assessment that the Benedict option is not appropriate for these times then what is? I would call it the Augustinian option or the Athanasian option…We need less a modern St Benedict like Dreher or Alasdair McIntyre assert…instead we need a modern anti-heireasiach like Iraneaus, Augustine or Athanasius. In Dreher’s reply to his critics he quotes the personalist philosopher Claes Ryan whom I much admire who argues that we need to do battle at the level of culture and ideas and I agree wholeheartedly. We need to specifically develop a critique fo modern version of gnostic and Arian heresies in order to win back the culture.