One local church alone is no Church

If it is true that, as Tertullian said, ‘one Christian is no Christian’, then by the same token we should be able to say, ‘one bishop is no bishop’, and so ‘one local church alone is no church ‘. A bishop is not an individual who ‘represents’ the local church as if he is empowered to speak for its local identity like a politician for his constituency. The bishop is above all the person who sustains and nourishes within the local church an awareness of its dependency on the apostolic mission, on the gift from beyond its boundaries, of the Church established by the Risen Lord – and he does this, of course, primarily and irreducibly as the celebrant of the ‘Catholic oblation’. Hence, again from the earliest days, the clustering of local churches and their bishops around metropolitan sees which represented the channels through which the Gospel came to be shared; and hence the insistence (an insistence that might almost be called fierce in many instances) that bishops received ordination from their neighbours in the metropolia under the leadership of the local primate – and hence too the seriousness of communicating episcopal election by letter to the region and the severity of the sanction of removing a bishop’s name from the formal intercession list.

Primacy needs to be seen as a sign of the continuing reality of active tradition—that is, the sharing of the gift—as the foundation of each local church. So it should be exercised in the service of the further sharing of the gift; this is why it is problematic if a local church so interprets the gift it has received that it cannot fully share it beyond its own cultural home territory… reminding the local assembly and its chief pastor that it must not lose its recognisability or receivability to other communities – across the globe and throughout history.

Archbishop Rowan Williams Rome, Constantinople, and Canterbury: Mother Churches?

How to pray 3

Praise be to the High Priest of our faith Jesus Christ, the Devout and Holy Sacrifice, Who performed purification of our sins by His own Person and cleansed the world by His sacrifice, the Good One to Whom is due glory, honor and dominion with His Father and with his Holy Spirit at this time of the celebration of this Eucharist and all feasts and seasons and at all times and forever.

O Lord God Almighty, Who accepts the sacrifice of praise from those who call upon You whole-heartedly, accept from our hands, Your sinful servants, this sweet incense and bring us near to Your holy altar. Strengthen us that we may raise to You spiritual offerings and sacrifices on account of our sins and the transgressions of Your people. Make us worthy that we become to You an acceptable sacrifice, and may Your Good Spirit rest upon us and upon these offerings that are set here and upon all Your faithful people in Christ Jesus our Lord with Whom befit You praise, honor and dominion with Your Holy Spirit, now, always and forever.

From God may we receive remission of debts and forgiveness of sins in both worlds forever and ever. Amen.

Syriac Anaphoras – Supplications


Today we celebrate Saint Irenaeus

‘So also by the obedience of one man, righteousness having been reintroduced, shall cause life to fructify in those persons who in times past were dead…so did he who is the Word, recapitulating Adam in himself, rightly receive a birth, enabling him to gather up Adam (into himself) from Mary.’ (3.21.10)
‘Luke points out that the pedigree which traces the generation of our Lord back to Adam contains seventy-two generations connecting the end with the beginning, and implying that it is he who has summed up in himself all nations dispersed from Adam downwards.’ (3.22.3)
For if He be not the God of the dead but of the living, yet was called the God of the Fathers who are sleeping, they do indubitably live to God, and have not passed out of existence, since they are children of the resurrection. But the fathers are his children for (Ps 45.17) ‘Instead of thy fathers, thy children have been made to thee’.. For Abraham according to his faith followed the command of the Word of God and with a ready mind delivered up as a sacrifice to God his only begotten and beloved son, in order that God might also be pleased to offer up for all his seed his own beloved and only-begotten Son as a sacrifice for our redemption. (4.5.4) Against the Heresies
It is a good idea to know your saints

Economics as doctrine of providence

What is economics about? It describes from one angle what people do all day. Jesus (of all people) once noted that since the days of Noah and Lot and until the end of the world, humans have been doing and will be doing four kinds of things. He gave these examples: “planting and building,” “buying and selling,” “marrying and being given in marriage,” and “eating and drinking” : in other words, we produce, exchange, distribute and use (or consume) our human and nonhuman goods. That’s the usual order in action. But in planning, first we choose For Whom we intend to provide, which we will express by the distribution of our goods; next What goods to provide as means for those persons; and finally How to provide these means, through production and (usually) exchange. So we might say that economics is essentially a theory of providence: it describes how we provide for ourselves and the other persons we love, using scarce means that have alternate uses. Scholastic economics began in the mid-13th century when Thomas Aquinas first integrated these four elements, all drawn from Aristotle and Augustine, to describe personal, domestic and political economy. The scholastic economic system is comprehensive, logically complete, mathematical, and empirically verifiable.

Classical economics (1776-1871) began when Adam Smith tried to chop the four scholastic elements to two: dropping Augustine’s theory of utility (which describes consumption) and replacing Augustine’s theory of personal distribution and Aristotle’s theory of social distribution with the mere assumption that everyone is motivated by self-love. This is how classical economics began with only two elements, production and exchange.

Today’s neoclassical economics (1871-c.2000) began when three economists dissatisfied with the failure of classical predictions independently but almost simultaneously reinvented the theory of utility, starting its reintegration with the theories of production and exchange.

I predict that in coming decades Neoscholastic or “AAA” economics (Aristotle, Augustine, Aquinas) will revolutionize economics once again by replacing its lost cornerstone – the theory of personal and social distribution.

John D Mueller The Development of Economics

There are two longer versions of the same argument in The Economist as Preacher, The Preacher as Economist (2008) and (2003).


A contributing factor to post-abortion trauma is silence from the Church. The common reluctance to preach on the matter because there are some women in the Church who have had abortions and it will hurt them is misguided and harmful. There is a crying need to acknowledge the grief of abortion – silence pushes this grief underground and prevents forgiveness and reconciliation.

Since, sadly, the rate of abortion among Catholic women is about the same as the rate in the general population, there is no question that there will be many women in our parishes who have had abortions. They need the grace of the sacrament of penance, the understanding of the Church and the clear and unambiguous commitment of their priests to preaching compassionately against this evil – and indeed the reaffirmation of the virtue of chastity for their own children.

Tim Finigan

A mother and daughter, both of whom had had abortions, and became pro-life. They went to the parish priest with a pro-life poster asking him to display it in their church. He politely took the poster and folded it, saying to them: “You know, I can’t put this up. Don’t you know there might be women in my congregation who have had abortions?” Our silence denies these women the right/opportunity to grieve for their child. Silence means that their child’s existence is denied.

There are prayer vigils regularly outside the abortion mill at Bedford Square.

John Boyle


The Society for the Study of Christian Ethics 2008 2008 Annual Conference is 5th-7th September at Westcott House, Cambridge. The conference theme is The Sermon on the Mount

Rt Hon John Battle – MP, Leeds, Former Faith Advisor to the Prime Minister

Richard Bauckham – Professor Emeritus of New Testament, University of St Andrews

Carolyn Muessig – Senior Lecturer in Medieval Theology, University of Bristol

Oliver O’Donovan – Professor of Christian Ethics and Practical Theology, Edinburgh University

Susan Parsons – President, Society Study of Christian Ethics, Editor, Studies in Christian Ethics

Glen Stassen – Lewis B. Smedes Professor of Christian Ethics, Fuller Theological Seminary

No small accomplishment

Last weekend, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a wonderfully concise and eloquent statement on embryonic stem cell research. When printed out, it comes to barely more than six double-spaced typewritten pages, but within that relatively small compass may be found all of the elements essential to a well-formed Catholic conscience on this important question. Even more remarkably, the statement marshals its argument in a manner that can be grasped by a person of ordinary intelligence.

Given the complexity of the subject and the continual stream of disinformation propagated by the mainstream media on the question, this is no small accomplishment. The bishops deserve a hearty round of applause for piercing to the heart of the matter in such a thoughtful and accessible fashion. The pity is that it hasn’t been done before, but now that the statement is out, every effort should be made to ensure wide dissemination throughout the nation’s parishes. A rough estimation suggests that its fifteen paragraphs would fit nicely onto a single two-sided page for insertion into weekly bulletins. But there’s no reason why the effort to educate the laity should end there. Homilists should be encouraged to expound upon its themes from the pulpit.

Michael Uhlmann The bishops get it right


A member of President Sarkozy’s Cabinet once told me that France – as the “eldest daughter of the Church” – could never lose the faith. I suggested to her that she visit Ephesus. The Holy Mother spent her last days there and was assumed from there into Heaven. Ephesus was one of the ancient churches mentioned in the Gospels. Go there now. It is an archeological dig. There is a village a few miles away and in it there is no Christian church. But there are mosques. The faith does not grow on stones but only in human hearts.
And so the Southern Baptists had it right in Vienna a few weeks ago and so did Weiler before them. Europe is tired. Europe may be spent. Europe is almost certainly dying. The spread of radical social policies and their death-dealing pathologies, the epoch-ending birth rates, the death of marriage; all these are symptoms of a deeper malaise of the spirit. Europe can only be saved by “more Europeans proclaiming the lordship of Jesus Christ.”
To reiterate: This is the language of America and of American Evangelicals and it is the language that has kept America percolating as the most religious country in the west. Catholics owe a great debt to Evangelicals for this kind of language. It may not be our language, but it is language that has protected this country from going the way of Europe.

Austin Ruse Saving Europe

Man and Woman

Karl Barth Church Dogmatics III.4 3.

1. When marriage is seen in the light of the divine command it is surely evident that the decision for the way of marriage is for some, as the choice of the unmarried state is for others, the matter of the supremely particular divine vocation. (p.183)

2. When marriage is seen in the light of divine command and it is plain to men and women united in marriage that here too and especially that they are called to be obedient to God then the fulfilment of this life-partnership becomes for them a task (p. 187)

3. When marriage is seen in the light of the divine command, it is apparent that it is full life- partnership. It is this fact which differentiates marriage from other relations between human beings and between man and woman. (189)

4. When marriage is seen in the light of the divine command, it is clear that it is an exclusive life-partnership. With or without a family it builds and shapes a home where many may go in and out… The man who thinks it is possible or permissible to love many women simultaneously or alternately has not yet begun to love. (195)

5. When marriage is seen in the light of the divine command, it is clear that it is a lasting life-partnership. It is the full and exclusive union of a man and a woman for the whole of the time which is still before them and which is given to them in common. To enter upon marriage is the of renounce the possibility of leaving it. (p.203)

6. When marriage is seen in the light of the divine command, this is decisive for the question of its genesis. It is now made manifest that to be concluded and lived out in freedom, marriage requires from both participants free and mutual love. And we further maintain that it is not their love for each other but God’s calling and gift which is the true basis of marriage. (213)

Stifling debate in Europe's freest country

Holland — with its disproportionately high Muslim population — is the canary in the mine. Its once open society is closing, and Europe is closing slowly behind it. It looks, from Holland, like the twilight of liberalism — not the “liberalism” that is actually libertarianism, but the liberalism that is freedom. Not least freedom of expression.

The governments of Europe have been tricked into believing that criticism of a belief is the same thing as criticism of a race. And so it is becoming increasingly difficult and dangerous to criticise a growing and powerful ideology within our midst.

Douglas Murray We Should Fear Holland’s silence