Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Welcome back, Archbishop Lefebvre!

B16 is poised to expand the indult that allows the celebration of the Tridentine liturgy, hoping to lure back the Society of St. Pius X, whose founder, Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, was excommunicated in 1988 after he ordained four bishops without permission.

I have to admit, I just LOVE how the Vatican makes concessions to "ultraconservatives" but demands "liberals" toe the line. After all, Lefebvre didn't just reject the liturgical reforms of Vatican II, he rejected the documents on religious freedom and ecumenism, and pretty much everything else that came from the council.

Welcome back, Archbishop Lefebvre! We're sorry; you were right all along.

Of course, if they'd give conciliar liturgists like me the same freedom for liturgical diversity, I'd embrace the new permission for the Tridentine Rite, especially since I'm quite, quite sure that the new liturgy will win any head-to-head competition (if it came to that). Remember that the most recent restrictions on the liturgy in the U.S.--from when eucharistic ministers can receive communion to how many people the presider can offer peace to--were meant to standardize liturgical practice. The Trenties get a pass on that.

The conciliar reform has been welcomed throughout the world, and even the yes-men bishops we have today have nearly unanimously said that they don't want any backward movement on this count. Besides, what the Latin Mass folks seem to forget is that most Tridentine liturgies were "low" Masses for the dead--no music, no preaching, just Father charging through in about 20 minutes. How reverent. And wait til you hear a poorly trained parish choir try to get through some chanty masterpiece. Even George Weigel will be wishing for anything by Marty Haugen!

Friday, October 06, 2006

Talk about making sense

A column by Andrew Greeley in Chicago's Daily Southtown ("Ignoring the North Side seven days a week") points out just what's wrong with the church when it comes to vocations to ordained ministry and, better, how to make it right. Lamenting the closure of the Chicago archdiocese's high school seminary, Greeley notes that current church leadership is content to close schools, parishes, and seminaries rather than come up with creative solutions.

Greeley's idea: "I have been arguing for years that men should be invited to serve in the ministry for limited terms (though they will always be priests), renewable every five or seven or 10 years. If after this period of service they are burned out, can't stand teens or pests or one another or simply want to start families, let them go in peace and gratitude from the active ministry. Many young men would be willing to try the priesthood and discover that they were happy in it. Perhaps we could keep some of the seminaries open. . . . It is surely necessary to reconsider the issue of priestly vocations, to try experiments, perhaps to set up schools for training young men and women for limited-term service in the priesthood and the religious life. That would be much more complicated and perhaps risky. It's easier just to close seminaries."

Let's see: Between dragging the poor Cure d'Ars heart from France and experimenting as Greeley suggests, which do you think has the better shot at success? Now, of the two, which one is the current crop of bishops trying? Now why is that?

Search me.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

This is sure to solve the vocation crisis

The archdioceses of New York and Boston have teamed up to bring the heart of the Cure d'Ars, St. John Vianney, on a U.S. tour. Boston Archbishop Sean P. O'Malley explained, "We bring him [John Vianney] to Boston in the hope that his life and deeds will be an inspiration to our parish priests and an inspiration to others to consider whether they are being called to serve as priests in our parishes," according to the Boston Globe.

Of course I understand that John Vianney is the model parish priest, but, really, his dried up heart in a glass case? Now that is creepy. And what box do you check on the FedEx airbill for something like that? Does it travel in bubble wrap?

Of course, you know a system that relies on traffic in corpses is on its last legs. If the needs of the people of God aren't enough to inspire some to ordination under the current regime, I doubt an internal organ, however holy, is going to do it.

Of course I hear there are legions of folks--married, female, gay, etc.--who don't need a religious sideshow to join up. And I think they love God's people as much as the Cure d'Ars did. Too bad their shepherds don't.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Pagan babies, rejoice!

Looks like all those unbaptized folks are going to get sprung from Limbo. B16's going to abolish it any day now. Read all about it!

Now prepare for the onslaught of "it was never really a Catholic doctrine" spin. Sorry, folks, limbo was a commonly held belief a mere generation ago, and it's demise the result of a doctrinal change far more common (and drastic): "No salvation outside the church." Remember that one? It's been replaced by the universal salvific will of God. (See Lumen Gentium, 13.)

Thank you, Vatican II.

More on the Pope and the Prophet

Below is an excerpt from an interview in this morning’s Zenit. Notice the difference between the Christian Logos and the Muslim Allah; I got this same basic idea on my own reading of B16’s speech. It basically confirms for me, first, that the pope was critiquing Islam (though in an oblique way), and, second, that if I was a Muslim, I'd be madder about B16's "reduction" of Allah to "will." The tradition of the 99 or 100 names of Allah alone calls into question the true extent of B16's understanding of Islam. Besides, worshiping the "Logos" for 2,000 years has not prevented Christians from acting incredibly irrationally.

Here's the excerpt. I added the bold, of course:

“Jesuit Father James Schall, professor of political philosophy at Georgetown University, is author of "The Life of the Mind: On the Joys and Travails of Thinking" (ISI Books).

"He shared with ZENIT why he thinks the Regensburg lecture was liberating and imperative, and how the reaction to it highlighted the modern disconnect between faith and reason.

"Q: At Regensburg, Benedict XVI highlighted the Christian understanding of God as Logos. How does the idea of God as Logos differ from an Islamic conception of God?

Father Schall: The Holy Father posed the fundamental question that lies behind all the discussion about war and terror. If God is Logos, it means that a norm of reason follows from what God is. Things are, because they have natures and are intended to be the way they are because God is what he is: He has his own inner order.

"If God is not Logos but 'Will,' as most Muslim thinkers hold Allah to be, it means that, for them, Logos places a 'limit' on Allah. He cannot do everything because he cannot do both evil and good. He cannot do contradictories.

Thus, if we want to 'worship' Allah, it means we must be able to make what is evil good or what is good evil. That is, we can do whatever is said to be the 'will' of Allah, even if it means doing violence as if it were 'reasonable.'

Otherwise, we would "limit" the "power" of Allah. This is what the Pope meant about making violence "reasonable." This different conception of the Godhead constitutes the essential difference between Christianity and Islam, both in their concept of worship and of science.”

CtotheL: Of course, you get a whole other theology if you’re primary symbol for God is love (agape) rather than reason (logos). For B16 God is the Ultimate Knower (following Thomas Aquinas rather than B16’s more natural theological father, Augustine, who I think would go more for God as the Ultimate Lover if forced to pick). What’s funny to me is that I think it’s hard to read Jesus descriptions of his Abba and get an Ultimate Knower. Ultimate Forgiver, maybe...

Monday, October 02, 2006

Fight terror withn non-terror

Ran across this from Mohandas Gandhi, something to think about just days after the Senate gave the president the power to "interpret" the "vague" Geneva Conventions when it speaks of torture. And once again, the silence from our church leadership is deafening. Gandhi, I'm sure, would have much to say about our fight-terror-with-terror approach to extremism. But I'll let him speak for himself.

In reply to photographer Margaret Bourke's question just hours before his assassination in 1947 about what he would do if the atom bomb came to India, Gandhi replied: "I will not go underground. I will not go into a shelter. I will come out in the open and let the pilot see that I have not a trace of ill will against him. The pilot will not see our faces from his great height, I know. But the longing in our hearts that he will not come to harm would reach up to him and his eyes would be opened. If those thousands who were done to death in Hiroshima, if they had died with that prayerful action--died openly with that prayer in their hearts--their sacrifice would not have gone in vain.

"Nonviolence is the only thing the atom bomb cannot destroy. Unless the world adopts nonviolence, the atom bomb will spell certain suicide for mankind. . . . The moral to be legitimately drawn from the supreme tragedy of the bomb is that it will not be destroyed by counter-bombs, even as violence cannot be destroyed by counter-violence. Mankind has to get out of violence only through nonviolence. Hatred can only be overcome by love. We have to make truth and nonviolence not matters for mere individual practice but for practice by groups and communities and nations."

Ceasefire anyone?