Monday, December 03, 2012

An Authority We Do Not Possess

What makes me a Catholic?
It is surely that I  adhere to the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Faith; in short the faith handed on to, by and from the Apostles.

The Apostles were the first witnesses of Jesus Christ, they in turn handed on their "ministry" to others to have "epi-scope" (oversight) of the Church. Today we call those who exercise this oversight Bishops, and Priests who in scriptural terms are the successors of the Presbyters.

This "oversight" was to do what the Apostles themselves had done: to govern the Church through "word and sacrament". Unlike the Apostle, bishops and priests, though their successors lack one vital element: that of being "first witnesses to the Resurrection". The role of a bishop is not to introduce new doctrine but to ensure the passing on of the Apostolic Faith, without addition or subtraction.

Though in the East there might be grave concern over a Western sense of the "development" of doctrine, both East and West believe that although there is degree of legitimate adaptation to time and place the main role of the bishop is to hand on that which they have received from the Apostles to the next generation.

The ancient Churches all believe what has been given to one generation has to in turn be passed on to the nest, this what is meant by "Tradition", nothing added, nothing removed!

Deacon Nick reports various "calls to Obedience" springing up in England and Wales, following on from Ireland, Austria etc. The American National Catholic Reporter, the US Tablet, has decided to come out in favour of women's ordination.

At the root of this disobedience is a claim to an authority to do something which the Church simply does not have. Protestant communities might indeed think they can do anything, ordain who they wish or change doctrine at will or whim, the ancient Churches understand their power is very limited. We are God's servants not his masters, though we have authority to change bread into the Body and Blood of Christ or forgive the most horrendous sins and although we can open the gates of heaven itself, our authority is limited. We cannot even for the most pastoral reasons substitute rice cakes for bread or sake for wine in the Eucharist or change the words of Baptism from those given in St Matthews Gospel.

Pope John Paul's teaching on the ordination of women, was not his own, and therefore something that can be changed or challenged, it wasn't in that sense "positive" teaching but simply stating, as he said, "the Church has no authority" to ordain women. It is the same answer all the Patriarchs of the ancient Churches would given had they been asked.

Again, it is my contention that those "Liberals" who so energetically want to break with tradition, are in fact modern Ultramontanists, they actually want the Church to claim an authority it does not possess and has no right to claim. These movements are obsessed by "the Church", they want to exalt the Church above any position given to it by the image of any renaissance or Counter Reformation Pope, the only parallels are those mad nineteenth century French Jesuits, who went completely over the top on Papal Infallibility.


Wynn said...

Thank you for this timely reminder, Father. When David Cameron, and most of Parliament, have succeeded in browbeating the Church of England into "getting with the programme", the same pressure will doubtless, and quickly, be brought to bear upon the Catholic Church. It needs to be reiterated at every turn that there are certain things that cannot be done by any Church authority, from the Papacy downwards, even if it wanted to, without ceasing to be the Church. The sad thing is that we need to say that at least as forcefully to the Church's own dissidents as to the powers of the State.

Anonymous said...

So, NCR has finally dropped the charade and gone for open revolt.

I endured a lot of people assuring me that John Allen was this lone voice of moderation at this rag even I though I smelled the baloney every time he said something. Can we please stop pretending now?

Scott W.

Rabies Theologorum said...

Yes, we cannot change the baptismal formula but have we not been messing about with the words of consecration for years? All men... and then for all.....?

Our Lady of Good Success-pray for us. said...

St. Vincent of Lerins told Catholic Christians “to take care to cleave to antiquity, which cannot now be led astray by any deceit of novelty”.

Carl E. Olson, editor of Catholic World Report, commented on an article penned for The American Spectator by Anglican Jonathan Aitken who wrote: “Cardinal Carlo Martini, who died on August 31, was the best modern pope we never had." It's interesting, of course, to hear what an Anglican hopes for in a pope, keeping in mind that Anglicanism was the product of a king rejecting the papacy. (If I ever make the mistake of trumpeting my choice for king or queen of England, please chastise me promptly.) It appears that Aitken, not surprisingly, would prefer a pope who is, well, not really Catholic or papal; in short, someone like [Archbishop] Williams who said “dissenters objection to woman bishops is not intelligible to wider society. Worse than that, it seems as if we are willfully blind to some of the trends and priorities of wider society.”

Cardinal Martini, he notes approvingly, "was the counterweight to papal conservatism. On a crucial range of issues—contraception, homosexuality, family values, and the right to end life—he took popular positions that made him almost a leader of the opposition within the hierarchy of the church." Or, in other words, he apparently took positions contrary to historical, traditional Catholic teaching. Agreed—those positions are certainly popular, most notably among those who have either renounced the Catholic Faith or large chunks of it. Shocking, that. Anyhow, this means Martini is deemed worthy of one of the greatest titles that can be granted a capitulating Christian: modernizer. The assumption is that being "modern"—which seems to ultimately fixate on loosening moral and marital bonds while lamenting the demands of traditional beliefs—is not just inevitable but enviable.”

as for the ‘trends and priorities of wider society’: in the US Catholic Hispanic immigrants have been having more babies than native born American women and that has kept the average appearing to be just good enough at 2.1 But that has now changed. Immigrant women in America are now having sufficiently fewer babies to cause a significant drop in the rate. In short .. immigrant women mostly Hispanic come to the US and within a few short years adopt the customs and practices of the native born American women around them and start contracepting and aborting and nearly the same rate.

Happily Filipino women are willing to be a bulwark against the ‘trends and priorities of wider society’:

GOR said...

Yes Father, Pope John Paul II was pretty explicit about the inability of ‘the Church’ to change Church Teaching, adding: ”…this judgment is to be definitively held (“definitive tenendam”) by all the Church's faithful.”

“Definitively held” are not idle words. They are a theological definition. The Holy Father is referring to the Tradition of the Church and reiterates what the Church has always held by defining it. And it is not just any kind of declaration by the Holy Father. It is an ex cathedra definition – to which the faithful are bound to adhere. It is not ‘new’ doctrine – but a concrete reaffirmation of what the Church has always held.

As with Humanae Vitae, the scandal here has been the hair-splitting by clerics and theologians trying to find wriggle room with the Holy Father’s declaration. It harks back to then President Clinton’s: “It depends on what the meaning of ‘is’ is.” Or even further to Pilate’s “What is truth?”, not to mention assorted Pharasaic objections to our Lord’s teaching.

We expect that kind of game-playing with words from the secular sphere and relativistic religions. But it has no place in the Catholic Church. We have Our Lord’s guarantee that the Church will never lead us into error. That should be enough for all of us.

Anonymous said...


I had a look at the CallToAction Forum post on the Brentwood meeting on 'dialogue'. That was what it was. A dialogue about dialogue. Again.

I was going to comment as well on the Revd Hitchener story. But I will spare you - and myself. It did make me feel very very glad to be Roman Catholic.

Anonymous said...

I had a look at the CallToAction Forum post on the Brentwood meeting on 'dialogue'. That was what it was. A dialogue about dialogue. Again.

Indeed whenever the Usual Suspects talk about "dialog" (especially when using it as a verb) I think of this:

Scott W.

Frederick Jones said...

Mad Jesuits? Were they as mad as Ward and Manning and those who condemned Newman for his judicious moderation?

Fr Ray Blake said...

I can't think of names but certainly they would almost promote the view that Pope and God were connected by telegraph.
One suggested that Bishops were merely delegates of the Pope, another there was no need for Bishops, that the Pope could run the Church and appoint delegates to ordain etc.
They show the moderation of Ward and Manning! Newman they regard as a heretical Liberal anti-Christ.

Sitsio said...

Father, as one of these meetings was in my diocese (Brentwood), I took the time and effort to look into this in some depth: I find it deeply disturbing that this is allowed to go on (even though only 25 people turned up to the meeting in Brentwood).

Matthew Roth said...

It was so odd on the Fishwrap website last night, as someone suggested at one point that Newman was in support of disobedience, and virtually every other person who dissents from male-only ordination proved your point from this post on Ultra-Ultramontanism.

Rachel M. Gohlman said...

Women do not look good in cassocks

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