Tuesday, May 07, 2013
Environmentalists, Gays, Feminists say it better!
The Eucharist is at the heart of the Christian polis.
Receiving the holy Eucharist signifies the recipient is in Communion with the Church and also that the Church is in Communion with recipient.
The Bishops are custodians of the Eucharist, they "bind and loose", they are the gate keepers.
In the 1970/80s many writers were saying things like "the Eucharist is not a reward for good behaviour", many Bishop spoke of the dangers of "politicising" the Eucharist, "politicising" in the sense of linking it directly to "party politics". Perhaps Bishops and the Church in general became anxious about blanket decrees of excommunication, such as post-war Italian bishops excommunicating anyone, and on the face of it everyone, who voted Communist. Many Bishops too who witnessed the great exeunt of fellow clergy and religious after the promulgation of Humanae Vitae are still wounded by the experience and fearful of repeating it..
At the same period a new sense of morality inside the Church led by moral theologians like Charles Curran and outside the Church by Existentialists and Deconstructionists made many of us rather fearful of any objective statement of morality to the point where many bishops and priests were happy to speak about secular morality and to adopt secular causes "banning the bomb", "social justice", immigration, religious freedom and plurality. These tend to be socially acceptable, they tend to be about the reform or changing of structures but to neglect anything that involves personal conversion. Essentially they are middle ground Liberal politics and concerned about "them" rather than "us".
What seems to mark this type of moral outlook is that it is "safe", non-judgemental about individuals, it is "tolerant", though mildly critical about social structures, insofar.as it takes the line of least resistance. In England it seems to characterised by Cardinal Murphy O'Connor's reception of Tony Blair into the Church without any expectation of a renunciation of views that seem out of kilter with mainstream or "institutional Catholicism", as if his personal beliefs expressed in his voting record, his views on Life issues and sexuality are of absolutely no importance. The same could be said of successor, in his failure to speak strongly and consistently about practically every issue that faces the Church in this country today.
In a similar way Cardinal Brady when asked this week about the exclusion of pro-abortion "End-a life", Prime-Minister, Kenny from Holy Communion says that the Irish bishops had not even considered the matter and that he did not want to "politicise the Eucharist", instead he wishes to strip the Eucharist of any meaning of Communion, or Morality and render it a meaningless "symbol".
What Brady seems to be suggesting is that there should be no connection with morality and belief. Pope Benedict stressed the connection between belief and worship, his attempt at liturgical reform, not so much the outward signs, the ornaments, of the liturgy but rather his insistence that the translations of the liturgy really reflected the belief of the Church. What on the face of it he only glancingly touched on was the relationship of morality to faith. This seems to be something Pope Francis seems to be addressing on a very simple level. "Stop grumbling", "care for the poor", "welcome the disabled ", "do a good turn everyday", "be kind", "be joyful", "smile" are the rather prosaic messages of Francis' daily Mass sermons but they seem to indicate an attempt to suggest that faith and morality are intimately connected.
When the Church and its clergy are identified as being far from moral, hypocrite, and as actually being evil, pedrastic, self-serving there is a serious problem. Today Christianity is no longer identified as being about goodness, or being moral. It is no longer, salt that gives savour, or leaven in the lump or light in the world. It no longer seems to have a message that changes lives or societies.
No longer does the Church teach humanity how to live. In fact, today most people do not think the Church has anything to say that is not better said by a whole variety of secular groups ranging from Environmentalist to the Gay or Feminist movements. In fact they say it a whole lot better, without the hypocrisy and kant of many ecclesiastics, take Cardinal O'Brien as an example. The reason seems to be because we have lost the connection between faith and personal morality.
In brief: What I hope this Papacy will address is the gulf between faith and goodness.
Posted by Fr Ray Blake