Let bishops be bishops

What is the case for collegiality? According to Quinn, this was not a revolutionary idea invented at Vatican II, but something prefigured at Vatican I, and later endorsed by Pope Pius IX in 1875 when the German bishops insisted they were not mere functionaries of the pope. â??The pope is bishop of Rome,â?? they maintained, â??not bishop of any other city or diocese, not bishop of Cologne or of Breslau.â?? Pio Nono explicitly agreed with that.

At Vatican II, the fathers of the council expanded and elaborated on the notion, and found solid theological backing for collegiality â??in the will of Christ, in the sacrament of Holy Orders and in the nature of the church as communion.â??

On paper, John Paul II agrees. In Ut Unum Sint, he lays down seven ways the pope can and should exercise his primacy (which Quinn endorses) and then adds, â??All this, however, must always be done in communion. When the Catholic church affirms that the office of the bishop of Rome corresponds to the will of Christ, she does not separate this office from the mission entrusted to the whole body of bishops, who are also â??vicars and ambassadors of Christ.â?? The bishop of Rome is a member of the â??College,â?? and the bishops are his brothers in the ministry.â??

In practice, says Quinn, the pope (and/or his curia) go right on with their autocratic ways, and thus continue to alienate Orthodox and Protestant Christians. He quotes Paolo Ricca, a Waldensian scholar in Rome: â??John Paul II must be convinced that the papacy as it is today has no real ecumenical chance. To have one, it must change.â??

How change? Quinn suggests the pope should:

* Get off the monarchy train. For a thousand years, the pope didnâ??t act like a king, but â??a servant of the servants of God.â?? Then a monk named Hildebrand came along at the beginning of this millennium and, as Pope Gregory VII, turned the church from a communion of autonomous churches into â??a juridical monarchyâ?? that had no precedent.

* Let bishops be bishops. By ancient tradition, bishops are the watchers of the faith. (The word bishop comes from the Greek episkopein, to watch over.) According to Vatican II, they are â??Vicars of Christâ?? every bit as much as the pope. But thereâ??s a currently powerful bloc in the church, writes Quinn, that thinks â??the pope can at any moment and for whatever reason intervene in the affairs of any diocese or even of any parish. This is the mentality that identifies primacy with sovereignty and regards the desire for a truer collegiality in the church as a plot to take power from the pope and â??turn the church into a democracy.â?? â??

* Encourage local churches to select, even elect, their own bishops, as they did in the beginning. Quinn here leans on the scholarship of the late Dominican Cardinal Yves Congar, whose work took the fathers of Vatican II back to the early primitive church for ideas that would help them bring the church up to date in the 20th century. According to Congar, â??the election of priests and bishops goes back to the time of the apostles.â??

Robert Kaiser A blueprint for papal reform â?? a review of John R. Quinn The Reform of the Papacy: The Costly call to Christian Unity and see Timothy Radcliffe’s Reply to Neal Ascherson Democracy in the Church?

Religion, Citizenship and Liberal Pluralism



‘Religion, Citizenship and Liberal Pluralism’

Lord Raymond Plant, Professor of Jurisprudence and Political Philosophy, King’s College London

All seminars are held between 5.30pm and 7.00pm in room 3c, Old Committee Room, Strand, London

Re-learning the ascetic practices of Christian discipleship

Driving the development of the ascetical tradition was a religious culture of hope and love – hope that one can genuinely train his or her spiritually destructive passions, and the expectation that the meek and merciful would achieve a love of Jesus Christ. It was the ascetical discipline that in no small measure protected the early Church from the onslaughts of pagan sexuality, and indeed, contributed mightily to the development of Christian culture. Because the purpose of religion has changed, this ancient understanding of the ascetical tradition has faded in the Catholic Church.
. . . .

In its purpose, theory, and practice, the therapeutic mentality stands in stark opposition to religious devotion and personal repentance for sin. Allegiance to the therapeutic mentality has dislodged ascetical habits and manners…

These ideas persist because of a deeply held assumption about the role of science in probing the foundational truths about living things. Since Descartes, science has claimed the privileged status as the arbiter of all objective truth. Philosophy, traditionally understood in the writings, for example, of Plato, and especially the natural philosophy of Aristotle and St. Thomas Aquinas, can no longer lay claim to the truth (it is supposed) since this ancient and dated discipline does not have the specialized knowledge of the sciences, which give them their unique and privileged status. Rather than begin with the study of the intellect, the life of virtue, and that of the spiritual life in religion, in the empirical sciences, and many in the therapeutic disciplines, rest comfortably with the idea that man’s conscious behaviors about the good, and about the significance of sex, can only be understood by investigating the bodily appetites – most importantly sexual desire – and social forces. Many believe that only the scientist is uniquely qualified for this task and both the cleric’s and the commoner’s judgment on such matters must defer to this expertise. In sum, little quarter is given to religion or philosophy for guiding sexual behavior or teaching the student of its nature. This is especially true for therapeutic psychology, the branch of behavioral science that treats persons with emotional concerns.

On the contrary, Plato observed, for example, that in the act of healing, the body of man cannot be cured without a knowledge of the soul – the psyche. This principle implies a hierarchical understanding. That is, the lower part, the body (and here we include the emotions) cannot be completely understood without understanding of the higher part, the soul, because the body is by nature meant to serve and be governed by the soul. Hence, when the physician treats the patient, he must consider the soul as well as the body.

As a result of the decline of asceticism, the currents of pagan sexuality have seriously harmed the Church. Without a return to asceticism and the ancient purpose of religion which gave birth to it, the Church remains unprepared to withstand the inevitable waves of sexual corruption. The recent crisis demonstrates that the mental health professions imbued with the therapeutic mentality provided no safe harbor. They have no theory of Christian asceticism for use with laymen, the formation of seminarians, or in the rehabilitation of deviant priests. Virtually nothing can be found in therapeutic science on the subjects of asceticism, chastity or virginity, and prayer is addressed only superficially. Without this understanding, therapeutic psychology cannot proceed from a rational basis to assist in the psychological treatment of the fallen Christian in the return to authentic devotion, the priest in his return to ascetical practice, and the seminarian in the formation of an ascetical chastity.

It is time that we move beyond the idea that the psychology of the Christian be left in the hands of specialists who have no interest or understanding of religious devotion, chastity, prayer, and ascetical discipline. We take the first small steps in outlining a psychological theory of Christian asceticism and draw upon experimental science in both psychology and biology to illustrate the points that we set forth from St. Thomas Aquinas. However, we must define the nature and the scope of the problem as it currently exists, how the sexual apology grew out of therapeutic science and infiltrated the Church, the obstacles in the path of reform, and finally, how ascetical tradition can be framed to address the problems we face today.

CWN Church scandal reflects ascetical breakdown with an excerpt from a chapter of The Linacre Institute After Asceticism: Sex, Prayer and Deviant Priests

The church says that the world is too small

A church, in fact, when it’s working, when it’s alive and healthy, is a place that tells you the world is too small. That may sound a rather odd way of putting it, but the church should be a place that tells you that the world is too small. That is, the world of rational calculation, the world of profit and negotiation, the world where we know exactly how to measure success and failure, and the world which teaches us ways of successfully managing the uncomfortable edgy feelings at both extremes so that we don’t have to pay too much attention to them. A church says that that’s not enough, the world is too small. You need bigger words than the world will allow; you need a bigger heart than the world would allow because you need words for gratitude and ecstasy just as you need words for terror and pain and misery. And the world is not going to give you that space. And the church is, because the church celebrates a hospitable God in whose embrace is room enough for the whole of you.

Archbishop of Canterbury at the CTE Forum in Swanwick 2003

Next Friday evening (27 April 07) Archbishop Rowan Williams is speaking on discipleshipship at Fulcrum in London. See you there?

Each church is the Church catholic and not simply a part of it

The catholicity of the Church expresses the fullness, integrity, and totality of its life in Christ through the Holy Spirit in all times and places. This mystery is expressed in each community of baptized believers in which the apostolic faith is confessed and lived, the gospel is proclaimed, and the sacraments are celebrated. Each church is the Church catholic and not simply a part of it. Each church is the Church catholic, but not the whole of it. Each church fulfils its catholicity when it is in communion with the other churches. We affirm that the catholicity of the Church is expressed most visibly in sharing holy communion and in a mutually recognised and reconciled ministry.

The relationship among churches is dynamically interactive. Each church is called to mutual giving and receiving gifts and to mutual accountability. Each church must become aware of all that is provisional in its life and have the courage to acknowledge this to other churches. Even today, when eucharistic sharing is not always possible, divided churches express mutual accountability and aspects of catholicity when they pray for one another, share resources, assist one another in times of need, make decisions together, work together for justice, reconciliation, and peace, hold one another accountable to the discipleship inherent in baptism, and maintain dialogue in the face of differences, refusing to say â??I have no need of youâ?? (1 Cor.12:21). Apart from one another we are impoverished.

World Council of Churches Called to be the One Church

Threats in Dora

“Get rid of the cross or we will burn your Churchesâ??. This is the threat aimed at the Chaldean Church of Sts Peter and Paul, located in the ancient Christian quarter of Baghdad, Dora.

The Islamic group active in Dora seems to have delivered an ultimatum to the Christian community there: convert to Islam or die; moreover reports say that they have delivered a Fatwa forbidding Christians to wear the cross or make any religious gesture. It also permits the confiscation of goods and properties belonging to the Christian families who find themselves forced to flee their homes for safety at short notice.

Baghdadâ??s Christian communityâ??s worries have been added to by the US militaryâ??s decision to forcibly occupy Babel College, property of the Chaldean Church. The Babel, the only faculty of theology in the country, houses on of the most ancient religious libraries in the region, full of priceless manuscripts. Because of the increased insecurity in the city and continual abductions of religious the faculty had transferred to Ankawa, in Kurdistan January last, leaving the building empty.

Asia news Threats to the Church in Iraq

Learning to live with the time to end all times

The Eschatological Economy: Time and the Hospitality of God

Right from the days of Jesus’ mission between the Jordan, Galilee and Jerusalem, some have been embarrassed by the eschatology articulated in his message of the approach of God’s final reign. Some have not been able to avoid asking whether there is something shamefully mistaken or wrong hereabouts. Such embarrassment has persisted to this day. For about the last 100 years such concerns have become especially strong amongst some academic circles including theologians, historians, anthropologists and others. Complementing this, we are familiar with a recurrent cluster of embarrassments in encountering death or the dying, and topics such as guilt, sin, judgement, the worth and meaning of human life, authority, tradition, and related matters, in a wide range of contexts. The anthropologist Mary Douglas, most famously in her book Purity and Danger, explored insights concerning how we (as human beings) tend to find dangerous or dirty (impure) matters which we do not know how to make sense of, in terms of our conventional and established ways of trying to sort out our experience into various kinds and schemas. For example, is blood more to do with life or death, and how can we, how should we, keep these apart, or connect them, or both?

If Knight is right, then he offers us a powerful paradigm, new yet with ancient roots, for living and working face-to-face with such matters, so as to make better sense of them and of our shared, shareable humanity, in the company of Israel, Jesus Christ and the Christian community. His account of the triune God articulates the grammar which guides this approach. Knight helps us, here and now, towards appreciating better the riches of the vision of Irenaeus of Lyons: the glory of God is a living human being: human life is the vision of the glory of God. This is a book to buy and re-read, to argue and struggle and live with.

Ian McPherson Amazon (UK) review of The Eschatological Economy: Time and the Hospitality of God

You can read the Introduction to The Eschatological Economy on this site (right side bar) and chapter 1 at Amazon

Now you can read chapters 2-6 of The Eschatological Economy at Google Book .

Acquiring the freedom of the glory of God’s children

What is occurring in modern Europe? We are all observers of how a dramatic weakening of Europeâ??s Christian identity is taking place. Europe is losing the characteristics given to it by Christianity â?? I would like to stress: both Western and Eastern! Borrowing some words from the title of our conference, Europe is losing its soul. Over the centuries the Christian soul of Europe gave it life, made it remarkably attractive for the most remote countries and peoples and endowed its culture with universal character.

European values are becoming more and more secular, but I would not say that these values have totally lost their ties with Christianity. Many of them could not have appeared if there had been no Christianity in Europe. They represent a watered-down, worldly version of traditional European Christian values, and in this devitalized version are often turned against the Christianity that gave birth to them, casting doubt on the Christian identity of Europe. Breaking with the spiritual foundations of European civilization, these values risk losing the good that was placed in them by Christianity. Our concern is that Europe, having lost its connection to Christianity, may in the end make recourse to such forms of oppression or even violence against the individual that have always been foreign to her. Russia, as no other country, has experienced just how grave the break with oneâ??s spiritual roots can be for civilization, something that threatens societies not only with the loss of their countenance, but also with the rise of violence toward the person, egregious violations of personal freedom and the suppression of spiritual needs. The history of Russia in the twentieth century should serve as a warning to modern Europe, demonstrating that the rejection of the spiritual and cultural foundations on which a civilization is founded can present a serious threat to civilization itself. Indeed, the forms of social relations that were shaped in the twentieth century were to a significant extent a secularized variant of values characteristic of the Russian spiritual tradition: collectivism became the secularized version of conciliarity (â??sobornostâ??â??) and the community-centered life, a single state ideology replaced the spiritual authority of the Church. The effects of this substitution are well-known to everyone. Thus, secularism, the break with spiritual traditions, represents a great threat to the existence of European civilization.

At the foundation of this declaration lie two principal distinctions: between two meanings of human dignity, which we have agreed to call value and dignity, as well as between two meanings of freedom: freedom as the non-determinatedness of human actions and freedom as not being subjugated to evil and sin. The fact that man is created in the image of God, as well as the fact of the Incarnation, i.e. the assumption by the Son of God of our nature for the salvation of the human race, serve as the basis for the affirmation of the pre-eminent value of human nature. This value cannot be taken away or destroyed. It should be respected by everyone: by other people, society, the state, etc. An integral part of human nature that gives it special value is the freedom of choice. This freedom was placed into human nature by God Himself and cannot be violated by anyone: neither other people, nor evil powers, nor even God Himself.

By itself this freedom is only an instrument with which the person realizes his moral choices. Freedom of choice should be used for attaining freedom from sin. Only by liberating oneself from the shackles of sin and acquiring the â??freedom of the glory of Godâ??s childrenâ??, as St. Paul wrote in his Epistle to the Romans (8,21), can one give meaning to his inherent ability to make free choices and acquire that which in the Declaration is called dignity. Human dignity is the highest goal of existence. Expressed in theological terms, it corresponds to the likeness of God in the person. Dignity is acquired when one makes his choices in favour of the good, and is lost when one chooses evil.

Just as freedom of choice, human rights, to which the Declaration is dedicated, are instruments that should serve the higher goal of the moral perfection of the person. On the one hand, the Declaration recognizes human rights as an important social establishment that defends people as Godâ??s creation from infringements from outside. On the other hand, it places the category of human rights into a moral context. The text of the Declaration states: â??We are for the right to life and against the â??rightâ?? to death, for the right to creation and against the â??rightâ?? to destruction. We acknowledge the rights and liberties of the person to the extent that they help the person rise toward the good, protect him from internal and external evil, and help him to realize his potential positively in societyâ??.

Therefore, as mentioned in the text of the Declaration: â??Rights and liberties are inextricably connected with the obligations and responsibilities of the personâ??. In the Declaration the categories of the liberties and rights of the person received an additional, very important dimension â?? the moral dimension. This dimension sets a higher goal to the essentially instrumental categories of the freedom of choice and rights. Thanks to this moral dimension, the category of human rights acquires a teleological completion and a goal that lies beyond its own boundaries, in the realm of the most profound areas of human existence. From this perspective the Declaration contains a more multi-faceted, complex and holistic approach to the problem of human rights, an approach that takes into account the fact that the person bears the image of God and that his existence should have moral significance.

Along with the participants of the Tenth World Russian Peopleâ??s Council, we too can testify to the fact that the welfare and perhaps the very existence of human civilization in a globalized world will to a great extent depend on the ability to combine rights and freedoms with moral responsibility. For freedom and morality, placed by God Himself into human nature and which belong to everyone regardless of their culture or religion, are able to combine the existing civilizational models in a peaceful and viable manner.

Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad Introductory Speech at the European Conference on Christian Culture â??Giving a soul to Europeâ?? Vienna, 3-5 May 2006

Benedict's Jesus of Nazareth

â??Jesus of Nazarethâ?? is the first part of a two-volume work that Joseph Ratzinger conceived many years ago as part of his â??long interior journeyâ?? in search of â??the face of the Lord.â?? In this first volume, the narrative begins with the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan, and continues to his transfiguration on Mount Tabor. The second volume will continue to his passion, death, and resurrection, with another chapter dedicated to the accounts of his infancy: the annunciation, his birth, the wise men, the flight into Egypt.

In this first volume, the narrative begins with the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan, and continues to his transfiguration on Mount Tabor. The second volume will continue to his passion, death, and resurrection, with another chapter dedicated to the accounts of his infancy: the annunciation, his birth, the wise men, the flight into Egypt. In the preface, Ratzinger explains his intention in writing this book: to present the Jesus of the Gospels to the men of today as the historically real Jesus, true God and true man.

In the introduction, Benedict XVI presents Jesus as the â??new Mosesâ?? proclaimed by the Old Testament in the book of Deuteronomy: â??a prophet with whom the Lord spoke face to face.â?? But it goes much further: if Moses could not contemplate the face of God, but could only see his â??shoulders,â?? Jesus is not only the friend of God, but his only-begotten Son; he is â??in the bosom of the Fatherâ?? and therefore can reveal him: â??He who sees me sees the Father.â??

The first chapter is dedicated to the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan. Immersing himself in the water, Jesus â??accepts death for the sins of humanityâ?? â?? while the voice from heaven that proclaims him the beloved Son of God â??is an anticipation of the resurrection.â?? The trajectory of his life is already drawn.

Chapter two: the temptation of Jesus. In order to save humanity, Jesus must overcome the main temptations that, in different forms, threaten men in every era. And by transforming them into obedience, he reopens the way to God, to the true Promised Land that is the â??kingdom of God.â??

The third chapter is dedicated to the Kingdom of God, which is the lordship of God over the world and over history, but is identified with the very person of Jesus, living and present here and now. In Jesus, â??God comes to meet us â?? he reigns in a divine way, meaning without worldly power; he reigns with a love that endures â??to the very endâ??.â??

Chapter four: the sermon on the mount. In this, Jesus appears as the â??new Moses,â?? who brings to fulfillment the Torah, the law. The Beatitudes are the hinge of the new law and, at the same time, a self-portrait of Jesus. He himself is the law: â??This is the point that demands a decision, and thus it is the point that leads to the cross and the resurrection.â??

Chapter five: the Lordâ??s prayer. Having become a follower of Jesus, the believer can call upon the Father with the words that Jesus taught him: the Our Father. Benedict XVI explains this point by point.

Chapter six: the disciples. Their fellowship with Jesus gathers the disciples into the â??weâ?? of a new family, the Church, which is in turn sent out to bring his message to the world.

Chapter seven: the parables. Benedict XVI illustrates the nature and purpose of these, and then comments on three of them, all from the Gospel of Luke: the parable of the good Samaritan, the one about the two brothers and the good father, and the one about the rich pleasuremonger and the poor Lazarus.

Chapter eight: the great Johannine images â?? water, the vine and wine, bread, the shepherd. The pope comments on these one by one, after having explained who the evangelist John was.

Chapter nine: the confession of Peter and the transfiguration. Both of these events are decisive moments for Jesus, and also for his disciples. These clearly show what is the true mission of the Son of God on the earth, and what is the fate of those who want to follow him. Jesus, the Son of the living God, is the Messiah awaited by Israel who, through the scandal of the cross, leads humanity to the kingdom of God, to definitive freedom.

Chapter ten: Jesusâ?? statements about himself. Benedict XVI comments on three of these: â??Son of Man,â?? â??Son,â?? and â??I Am.â?? The last of these is the mysterious name with which God revealed himself to Moses in the burning bush, and through which the Gospels provide a glimpse of the fact that Jesus is that same God.

Sandro Magister And He Appeared in Their Midst

Benedict XVI Jesus of Nazareth