Fractured Communion?

In my post on Redfern, I referred in passing to the the actions of Sydney Archbishop Cardinal Pell in appointing conservative Priests from the Neo-Catechumenate movement to St. Vincent’s, once the parish of Fr Ted Kennedy and a hub for the Indigenous community – a subject of some discussion a while back in comments on one of Ken’s posts, and documented here.

I also discussed South Brisbane’s St. Mary’s Catholic Community (another social justice oriented inner city parish also in the news lately for departing from the Vatican line).

Brisbane’s Catholic Archbishop, John Bathersby, is one of the few liberal Vatican II style prelates left in what is increasingly coming to resemble Pell-land. He’s had a rather torrid time recently in the press, with a series of stories about a manufactured miracle – a weeping statue of Mary at a financially troubled Vietnamese Catholic centre in Inala. Not to mention nuns allegedly practicing witchcraft. After a glowing report in yesterday’s Courier-Mail about the wonders of the Tridentine Latin Mass (currently being celebrated weekly at Buranda by Fr Greg Jordan SJ) and its massive appeal to youth, the Archbishop today has a very theological opinion piece in the C-M. So theological are the Archbishop’s musings on truth and communion, that the Courier-Mail chose to interview him for a front page news story (no link available) to clarify for its readers what’s actually going on at St. Mary’s.

The controversy has been sparked by the substitution of the words “creator, liberator and sustainer” for the canonical Trinitarian formula of “Father, Son and Holy Spirit” in baptisms performed by St. Mary’s priests Fr Peter Kennedy and Fr Terry Fitzpatrick. The broader context is a reigning in of Catholics perceived as dissident in the face both of Vatican pressure and vocal conservative Australian Catholics, often associated with the National Civic Council, who are very quick to “delate” to Rome any perceived liturgical abuses. Of course, religious and political conservatism are often closely linked, and St. Mary’s social justice ethos is just as much an issue for the Catholic integralists.

ELSEWHERE: More coverage and a number of links about this issue can be found at the CathNews website.
UPDATE: On ABC Brisbane news, Archbishop Bathersby says “Rome may be interested in hearing about this”, and St. Mary’s defends its solidarity with the lesbian and gay community, previously another source of friction with the Archbishop. St. Mary’s is apparently “on notice”.

Archbishop Bathersby writes:

The words of relationship, incredible in their mysterious reality, cannot be replaced by words that are merely functional. To do so is to eviscerate the meaning of the Sacrament, and the reality of the relationships that it effects with God and one another. However, larger questions lie not far beneath the surface of the controversy, and it is the question of communion: namely whether a parish of the Roman Catholic Church can be in communion with the Archdiocesan Church and the Universal Church, if it changes the structure of the Sacraments and locates its authority within the community.

I don’t know that the words used in the St. Mary’s baptisms are functional – they are about envisioning a different relationship with the deity, and have scriptural support, I’d suggest. The Archbishop suggests this struggle is about truth – and sneaks in the demon of “relativism” to bolster a sagging argument. The key to this controversy is probably in the last sentence – what is at issue here (and also in St. Vincent’s in Redfern) is whether authority lies with the institutional Church and its hierarchy or with accountability to the community (Vatican II’s “people of God”).

I’ve been to Mass at St. Mary’s occasionally, and one of my best friends was married there. Their liturgical life has a lot more – well, life – than that of a lot of Catholic parishes, and I admire their work for justice, and in particular their close links with and outreach to the Murri community of South Brisbane.

About ten years ago, the Archbishop’s then Secretary (a respected priest) stated that St. Mary’s had a valued and vital role to play in the Brisbane Catholic community. I suspect the Archbishop still thinks that, but is under pressure from above and below. What has changed over that decade, and is the Catholic Church still truly Catholic and inclusive, or as the British Catholic writer John Cornwell suggests in Breaking Faith: The Pope, the People, and the Fate of Catholicism, has the Church hierarchy increasingly adopted a narrow sect-like vision of the universal Church as a saving remnant?

About Mark Bahnisch

Mark Bahnisch is a sociologist and is the founder of this blog. He has an undergraduate degree in history and politics from UQ, and postgraduate qualifications in sociology, industrial relations and political economy from Griffith and QUT. He has recently been awarded his PhD through the Humanities Program at QUT. Mark's full bio is on this page.
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Francis Xavier Holden
2022 years ago

Whilst I have no truck with Pell, the NCC mob and the likes of Opus Dei I must say I do miss the latin mass, especially a full sung one.

Now I should admit that one of the reasons I miss it is that I haven’t been to a mass other than a funeral or wedding since I was about 19. But I listen to my collection of masses, mostly requiems, a lot, and I sometimes think I “might” go if it was in latin. I’m not a believer either.

Mark Bahnisch
Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

Francis, I’m much the same. To the degree that I’m anything more than a cultural Catholic, I am a very eccentric one. But I like the Latin mass, and have been to the Novus Ordo Latin Mass at that beautiful church on Broadway in Sydney (can’t remember the name), and might pay Father Greg a visit for my second Tridentine mass in ten years – I hope they have a decent choir! I’ve also been to the ultra ultra high Anglican Christmas Midnight Mass at All Saints’ Anglican Church in Brisbane: somewhat of a home for liturgy queens – see – http://www.allsaintsbrisbane.com/10_Gallery/gallery05.htm

And I’m also very fond of choral masses, particularly Mozart’s Requiem and Gregorian chant.

Francis Xavier Holden
2022 years ago

Theres a bit of it about:
http://www.fssp.net/

peggy sue
peggy sue
2022 years ago

I must say that I always have a great deal of difficulty understanding people who claim to be Catholics, and reject a fundamental cornerstone of Catholicism – ecclesiastical authority.

Sounds like “I’m a true communist, but I believe in the sanctity of private property.”

Ditto for assorted others who want to run with the fox and hund with the hounds.

Mark Bahnisch
Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

Well, Peggy Sue, it’s not as simple as your analogy implies. It depends on whether ecclesiastical authority is seen as a charism of service to the believing community, or a monarchical form of authority. The theology of this issue is a lot more complex than your simple dichotomy suggests.

Philip Gomes
2022 years ago

Terrific posts Mark. In many ways the treatment of the locals by the church here in Redfern reflects what’s to come for the local community. A case of gods storm troopers preceding the bulldozers?

In so many ways the Church always works hand in glove with powerful vested interests, so it’s not unusual to think that a large real estate holder like the church would tacitly support this massive development of Redfern, after all property values are mooted to rise some thirty percent when this goes thru.

I also think they’d feel very comfortable with the ecclesiastical style and composition planned for the R-W Authority.

Irant
2022 years ago

I’ll leave the complex theology for the wise but it was the authoritarian tone of the Catholic Church that started my doubt (20 odd years of fruitful sinning ago). I still remember a sermon on marriage that was more about the myriad of rules for a non-Catholic to marry than any postive affirmation of the ceremony. It really was an offputting sermon (not to mention the other priest who, no matter what the subject was, made me feel guilty every sermon. Even if the subject was well beyond my teenage ken).

Regarding Pell, my mother is a strong Catholic and heavily involved in the local church. She told me that a Pellite became parish priest at her church and destroyed any concept of parish and community. He is gone much to my Mom’s relief (and a local favourite has returned). It seems the battles are being fought all over the country.

The community is a big part of the church in a country town (as is city parishes) and to ignore this goes against what I (as a long lapsed Catholic) percieve to be an important function of the Church.

Francis Xavier Holden
2022 years ago

peggy – just for the record I’ve never claimed to be a Catholic.

James Farrell
James Farrell
2022 years ago

‘To the degree that I’m anything more than a cultural Catholic..’

So, what degree is that? Of course, you don’t have to answer, but since you’ve been writing plenty about religion, it would be interseting to know where you’re coming from.

You also made a reference once to lapsed Catholics. This term tends to be applied to any ex-Catholics, and I’ve always been a bit insulted by it. It seems to imply shallow inconstancy or laziness.

And what exactly is cultural catholicism? It must mean something more than a pleasure in reminiscing about raconteur priests, terrifying nuns and your first confession. And even if you love church music, Anglicans do it better. If you accept that celibacy is a bad institution, that traditional teachings on sexual morality have perpetuated bigotry, what’s left? One might also celebrate the great work done by catholic schools and charities, but did these flow from specifically catholic doctrines or values?

peggy sue
peggy sue
2022 years ago

FXH – I did read the last line of your post “I’m not a believer either.”

Mark’s theology of “charism of service v monarchical authority” is much too deep for my tiny brain.

In the case of whether baptism should be in the name of the “father, son and holy spirit” or “creator, liberator and sustainer”, it seems to me that there must be a simple dichotomy.
Either it is valid or it is not.
Then the issue of authority raises its head.
Who can change the form of words?
The Archbishop?
Fr Kennedy?
Ms Riley, who says they are baptised Christians but not Catholics?
or “almost 100%” of St Mary’s who support Fr Kennedy?

So who’s got the gift or power?

Mark Bahnisch
Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

James, that’s a hard one. I don’t think I’ve come to terms with religion and spirituality yet and thought through where I stand.

I wasn’t baptised til I was 8 – largely because my Mum got a job at the local Catholic convent school and converted herself. My mother also married a former Jesuit priest when I was 13, who had a reasonable influence on my religious development. After being a star pupil in confirmation class, my interest and belief waned in my teenage years – only to undergo an odd revival when I was about 22, even to the extent that I considered training for the priesthood.

I did some Studies in Religion as an undergrad – and then started but didn’t finish postgrad study in the same field – I mainly concentrated on philosophy of religion, sociology and Christology/history of dogma. I’m one of the few Australian academics currently working in research into the sociology of religion and developed and taught for two years a subject called “Virgins, Saints and Sinners: Explorations in the Sociology of Religion” at QUT.

My faith started to fall away again when I was about 27 – I can correlate both this and its earlier revival with certain events in my life, but it’s all still a bit of a mystery to me as to what caused either event in the absence of deeper reflection.

I was very ill earlier this year and that brought me a bit closer to Catholicism. But I don’t know how much I believe, and I’m a very occasional attender at Mass – usually only when I’m under some degree of stress. But I observe some ritual practices in my everyday life.

I think I could consistently defend a theological position, but I wouldn’t be sure how far I’d actually believe in it – in the sense of having faith. I still have a massive academic interest in religion, particularly in its intersection with politics, both contemporary and historically. I do think spirituality is important in my life.

I also think I feel most Catholic when pissed!

Mark Bahnisch
Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

Peggy Sue, leaving aside the theological issues about authority, the sacramental theology of baptism is clear. In extremis, any Christian can validly baptise another person in danger of death. Unlike the other sacraments, the minister of the sacrament need not be ordained. The essence of the sacrament is the use of water, and having the correct intention to initiate the person into the Church. The Catholic Church recognises as being validly baptised anyone baptised into a Trinitarian church, and people who convert to Catholicism but are already baptised Christians do not require another “Catholic” baptism.

The issue of the form that the sacrament takes is a matter of sacramental discipline, and the Vatican instruction ‘Redemptionis Sacramentum’ relates to Church Order and not the validity of heterodox forms of the sacraments.

Thus, there is no doubt that the children baptised in St. Mary’s are validly baptised Christians. The Archbishop correctly backed away from his earlier statement that they would need to be “re-baptised” after taking advice from the Chancellor of the Archdiocese, the Rev. Dr Jim Spence, a canonist with a Doctorate in Canon Law from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome.

I’m also at a loss as to why the issue arose when it did, as it appears that Frs Kennedy and Fitzpatrick agreed a few months ago to revert to using the canonical formula. It seems to me to be evidence that this issue is more about re-enforcing hierarchy and order.

saint
2022 years ago

I don’t want to pass comment on the ecclesiastical manoeuverings of the Catholic church or the joys of Trident Mass (I speak no Latin…) but I do want to suggest that there is more than hierarchy and order behind the frowning upon ‘creator, liberator and sustainer’.

I have seen similar ‘formulas’ introduced in churches of various other denominations, for various reasons, very often because ‘Father, Son and Holy Spirit’ is somehow seens as exclusive, particularly of women – something I find a little amusing given that over 6o% of church attendees in Australia are women, and it is men who are dropping away like flies; here I use the National Church Life Survey for stats. And after observing and listening and thinking about this issue for some time, I realised that all those millions of Christians from all traditions, who for thousands of years spoke of Father, Son and Holy Spirit had it right.

And the reason why those millions of Christians that came before us who got it right is because God as Trinity – Father, Son, Holy Spirit – three persons,one God – while mind blowing to contemplate, is nevertheless the way *God Himself* choses to reveal Himself to us and the way *He* wants us to know Him.

‘Creator, liberator and sustainer’, while encapsulating some truth are really selling God – and us – short. All persons of the Triune Godhead – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – are involved in creation; Father Son and Holy Spirit are involved in our redemption and reconciliation (and here, I would suggest ‘liberator’ is the wrong word anyway, influenced more by PC than by Christian teaching, and just a tenth of the story), and in sustaining life.

But God doesn’t want us to just relate to Him as creatures to our creator, but to relate to Him as Father – who is also creator, provider, protector,etc.

Bathersby did not really explain the reasoning behind ‘Father, Son and Holy Spirit’ over ‘creator, liberator and sustainer’ in his article – how can you in a few sentences. But he did encapsulate the it to some degree by saying “The words of relationship, incredible in their mysterious reality, cannot be replaced by words that are merely functional”

Once you set off down the path of ‘Creator, liberator and sustainer’ or similar, instead of ‘Father, Son and Holy Spirit’, you start watering down and distorting what God has said about Himself and our relationsip with Him. And after observing the implications in other churches, I can tell you it is the thin end of the wedge and it is the people of the parish who lose out in the end.

I’m not a Catholic Christian. Like a good Protestant Christian, I would have some issue with some Catholic teaching and aspects of church life and authority. But on this, Bathersby is right. And there is more than just church order and authority at stake.

Homer Paxton
Homer Paxton
2022 years ago

Saint has stolen my thunder but has stated this far better than I.

James Farrell
James Farrell
2022 years ago

Thanks for being so frank, Mark. At a first approximation it sounds like a tug of war between cold reason and emotional loyalty (intensified sometimes by alcohol). But I can see it’s more complicated than that. I daresay you were exposed to more sophisticated arguments than I. The closest thing to a logical argument I ever got from Sr Euphrasia was a whack on the head with a catechism book, so religion never got a look in on the reason side.

I have some thoughts on the question of theological position versus faith, but this post wasn’t about that, so I’ll save it until you blog on the topic of belief.

Mark Bahnisch
Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

Ok, thanks James.

Saint and Homer, you have a point. I would suggest though that we have to think carefully about what’s implied by the idea that the traditional formula is “the way *God Himself* choses to reveal Himself to us and the way *He* wants us to know Him”. There’s a respectable argument that scriptural revelation is mediated through human language and that human language is that appropriate to the culture of the time. Having said that, I’d be personally inclined to go with the argument from tradition, and I think Dr Bathersby also has a point about the universality and catholicity of the Church. But as I said, I don’t think that this is what the sanctioning of St. Mary’s is principally about.

michael carden
michael carden
2022 years ago

I used to attend St Mary’s regularly in the early 90s but I became disenchanted because of a number of reasons. Firstly, it struck me very much as a confortable ghetto. St Mary’s is not really a parish church like, say, Redfern. Most of its congregation is drawn from elsewhere in Brisbane. Of course, wehen I say this I reflect that I am becoming involved in an independent Catholic church, which is most definitely inclusive in a way that St Mary’s can never be unless, either there’s a change in the Roman church or St Mary’s goes independent itself. BUt, of course, the Ecumenical Catholic Church (http://www.eccaustralia.org/) can just as rightly be accused of being a ghetto church too. Except that it is genuinely officially inclusive and without having to make too many dramatic changes to the liturgy.

And that’s where my other problem with St Mary’s lay. Liturgically it was quite all over the place and I felt was in many ways illiterate, ignorant of its traditions. For example, last year I turned up with a friend for the Good Friday service. The invasion of Iraq had just started and it was announced that the service would start with a native american dance for peace. I felt quite angry about that – St Mary’s congregation is drawn from many places but there are no native americans there and there were none there that day. My friend was also angry because he had on previous occasions seen St Mary’s appropriate Australian indigenous motifs in the rituals – indigneous Australians are as common in St Mary’s as native Americans. And what really pissed me off was that I recognised the intent behind what was planned but I felt that the traditional Good Friday rituals provided more than enough raw material for anyone with any spiritual imagination to reflect on the atrocity that is the invasion and occupation of Iraq.

I have also found that on the very few recent occasions when I’ve attended Mass at St Marys that I could only regard it as a memorial of a Mass. I have no problem with use of inclusive language – and Peter Kennedy’s eucharistic prayers in the past were quite beautiful and inclusive. But the last couple of masses I attended were devoid of any clear theological/spiritual eucharistic material. The irony is of course that they still insist on having the ordained priest recite the prayer, together with the congregation. In other words the old power structure is reinscribed in the very process of resisting it. And at the same time all the content, from which I thnk a serious challenge to that structure could be developed, had been evacuated from the process in the attempt to mask those self same power structures.

St Mary’s used to celebrate the 3rd rite of reconciliation at the start of the mass on the odd occasion many years ago but stopped immediately the word went out from Rome. Personally I think they should have kept to it. Similarly if they really want to challenge the patriarchal power structure I would strongly endorse them appointing women ministers to preside at the eucharist. Instead they have dissolved everything except the fact of the sanctioned male priesthood.

Nevertheless, the controversy over the last few days is a clear example of the Catholic Right trying to trample on any diversity in the church. I think Bathesby is as much the target here as St Mary’s. I fond Bathesby to be well meaning bureaucrat with little or no intellectual theological depth. But his well-meaningness puts him way ahead of Pell who lacks all three qualities and is simply a power freak. What he’s done in Redfern is a disgrace and particularly that he’s employed the cult-like Neo-Catechumanetes who from what I’ve read are as far off the planet of Catholic traditions (East and West) than anything at St Marys, if not moreso. Except the Neo-cats are clearly into power and hierarchy just like Pell so I guess they can buy into that hideous triumphalism that has so marred the Roman church over the centuries. (For an interesting traditionalist criticism of the Neo-cats go to http://www.cathud.com/LINKS/pages_MR/neocatechumenate.htm).

As regards any ‘clampdown’ on St Mary’s. I am totally opposed. That sort of authoritarianism is what blights the Roman church and as I said before this is about getting at Bathesby as it is St Mary’s. And through both attempting to return to a more rigid and authoritarian Catholicism. I like to think that catholic means inclusivity. I always thought it was stupid of Rome to suppress the old Tridentine mass after Vatican 2. Roman thinking tends to read catholic as uniformity – the rules and regulations about when and how a Latin (western) rite Catholic can participate in eastern rite Catholic ceremonies (Maronite, Melchite, Ukrainian) etc are torturously legalistic. Inclusion must mean diversity. Inclusion and diversity means that rather than stamping out something there should be discussion and debate. BUt sadly the Roman church has a long way to go before discussion and debate become the norm.

I’ll have to check out the latin mass at Buranda myself sometime. I presume it’s the new order mass post Vat 2, and not the tridentine one. I wonder why Buranda when the priest is based at Toowong (the Toowong church is quite a striking one too).

blank
blank
2022 years ago

“In extremis, any Christian can validly baptise another person in danger of death”

Actually, Mark, check the Catholic Encyclopedia, ANYBODY can administer baptism.

“In case of necessity, baptism can be administered lawfully and validly by any person whatsoever who observes the essential conditions, whether this person be a Catholic layman or any other man or woman, heretic or schismatic, infidel or Jew.”

http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/02258b.htm#XIII

They also insist on Father, Son and Holy Ghost.
(It is the 1907 edition!)

Mark Bahnisch
Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

Thanks, Michael, I haven’t been to St Mary’s for a long time, and I too used to like Fr Peter’s eucharistic prayers, but the sort of liturgical stuff you describe is troubling – particularly the (mis)appropriation of Indigenous ritual – something I’d also be critical of in New Age practice. I’d agree that the traditional rites are often very productive of spirital reflection.

I’d also echo your remarks about the Catholic Church. And also your suspicion that it’s a kind of trap for Bathersby to wiggle out of, or dig himself into. I doubt the integralists would care either way.

I have a feeling that the mass celebrated at Buranda is the Tridentine rite. The reason for thinking that is that I read somewhere that they needed a dispensation from the Archdiocese. That wouldn’t be the case with celebrating the Novo Ordo mass in Latin – presumably any priest could do that at will.

As to Buranda v. Toowong – Fr Greg Jordan SJ is not part of the pastoral team at St. Ignatius – he’s Rector of St. Leo’s College at UQ, or was the last time I looked. I used to know him – and he’s certainly a Jesuit of a more conservative stripe than the Fathers at Toowong.

I think Buranda is probably the site because it’s not now a parish with its own priest – it falls under the direct jurisdiction of the Central Deanery with Fr Dillon as its administrator. That also reinforces my feeling that this is something the Archdiocese is providing directly to traditionalists. They seem only to have one Sunday Mass aside from the Latin one and one in Croatian.

Mark Bahnisch
Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

Oh, thanks Philip – I suspect you’re right about Redfern, and thanks blank for the info!

saint
2022 years ago

Mark,
“There’s a respectable argument that scriptural revelation is mediated through human language and that human language is that appropriate to the culture of the time. ”

Definitely agreed (which also makes me wonder at the value of mass in Latin *grin* unless you just want to enjoy the music). And I would base my arguments, as thousands of erudite minds and devoted Christians from all traditions have before me, on the same premise.

However, sometimes words don’t translate well across time and culture, and there is also a role for teaching and explaining the significance of say words like ‘son’ as used in the scriptures in their historical context. And such teaching often obviates the need for some of the linguistic contortions and distortions we go through and which have to be constantly updated given the rate at which both culture and language changes. I will have to find a link to a Canadian Anglican site with some brilliantly funny examples)

Michael, that was a very illuminating post. Thank you. I am sorry to hear that mass at St Mary’s is devoid of any clear theological/spiritual eucharistic material and that it was a disappointment to you. But in some ways I am not surprised…it is the sort of end point of the thin end of the wedge which I noted above and which I have observed in many other churches of different denominations.

Mark Bahnisch
Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

saint, thanks for that – I guess my main concern is with the patriarchal images associated with ‘Father’ when God is meant to be without gender…

saint
2022 years ago

Mark – I understand that perfectly. I think all Christians have struggled with that at some stage in their lives, if not continually. I certainly did.

At the risk of veering even more off topic I will tell you briefly what broke that mindset for me.

Because, as you say, scriptural revelation is mediated in human language in words and ways that humans of the time could understand, it is quite common and easy to begin with human analogies and apply them to God. So we start thinking of God as being ‘like a father’ or ‘male like our fathers’ and from there we compare him with our own imperfect human fathers. And the more pained and difficult the relationships with our own fathers, the more difficult it is to understand and know God.

Or to put it more broadly: we all love to think about God as if he is an infinitely good (or bad) and infinitely powerful (or weak) version of ourselves.

But if you read carefully – at least Christian scripture – it is always the other way around. God IS Father, not ‘like a father’. All human relationships -fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, wives, husbands, sons, daughters…are derivative of Him and the relationships between the persons of the Godhead.

Once that begins gelling in your mind and heart, it trully does transform even your own human relationships. Even those broken relationships with human fathers and mothers.

It’s a wise bit of advice from a crusty old theologian who said: If you want to keep your thinking on track, always begin with God and work down to us. Don’t start with us and try and work back to God.

And I do think that idea of calling God Father as representative of ‘patriarchy’ is the wrong way round.

Just a couple of thoughts. Perhaps best left for talk at another time – I feel you have kindly indulged me enough (thanks) and your other readers might not appreciate this (well I know at least one reader who won’t!)

Mark Bahnisch
Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

Thanks saint, that’s interesting. It’s not quite the same point but I’ve always been attracted to apophatic or “Negative Theology” – that is, the idea that if God is transcendent, then he is ineffable and all we can do is define what he is not.

More here – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apophatic_theology

As the article in Wikipedia says, it’s characteristic of Eastern Christianity. I’ve always loved reading the Sayings of the Desert Fathers, which have a lot in this vein.

I also quite like this saying from the apocryphal Gospel of Thomas:

‘Jesus said, “Images are visible to people, but the light within them is hidden in the image of the father’s light. He will be disclosed, but his image is hidden by light.” ‘

saint
2022 years ago

Not surprised Mark. One of my dad’ many brothers is very devout Eastern Orthodox, and a bit of a lay theologian (if there is a thing in the Eastern Orthodox tradition) and sometimes your writing reminds me of his discourses.

But as you would know, even in the eastern tradition apophatic never stands alone without the cataphatic.

saint
2022 years ago

Oops, and if you are interested, Mark, here is that great dummy spit with some funny examples of exclusivity I mentioned:

http://www.prayerbook.ca/library/machray/issue3/machray3d.htm

Forgot that it was written by a lecturer in English lit at the Uni of Sydney

Mark Bahnisch
Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

Thanks, saint, for the link!

DREADNOUGHT
2022 years ago

I’m a believer, a homosexual, an orthodox Catholic and a young man (23). I’ve posted on St Mary’s.

To my generation this looks like the last gasp of the 60’s liberals who also cited a theology so complex that it was hard to grasp, but that turned out to be communism, protestantism, basically anything other than Catholicism. These are the people who gave us boring, patronising ‘trendy’ Masses in carpeted sheds. These are the people who told us our natural piety was superstition. These are the people who told us the Pope was a political figure. These people are fundamentally unattractive to my generation and their theology represents a nonsense we are happy to cast off.

Pell and Pell-land, however, are very popular with our cohort. We are done with Catholic ‘lite’. Nothing shines are magnificently as the Truth in splendour, certainly not a Mass that’s more about the Federal Government than the Heavenly Kingdom. The activities at St Mary’s are an outrage, the priest’s comments on vocations and el Nino demonstrate his narrow vision.

The seminaries in Sydney and Melbourne (under Pell and Hart) are filling up. Millions of us flock to World Youth Days to pray with a Pope and worship a God, neither of them are to be found at St Marys and nor are the young people.

DREADNOUGHT
2022 years ago

Oh, and the Creator is called Father because that’s what the Son chose to call him. Rather than trusting in Wikipedia and Apophatic formulations, I’d reckon Christ has the inside knowledge.

Mark Bahnisch
Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

Dreadnought, are you sure you speak for your entire generation? I was a kid in the 70s and certainly grew up with a very orthodox theology being pushed – parts of the Mass were still chanted in Latin when I was first attending church. I’m very suspicious when I read these sort of claims being made. I think that anyone making sweeping generalisations finds the onus on them to offer more than anecdotal evidence to convince.

I’m also interested to hear whether you experience any tension between sexuality and your commitment to Pell-style catholicism.

It is true that seminaries in more conservative dioceses are fuller – that holds in the US as well. But is this a good thing? Is the future of the Catholic church inclusive or a backward looking sect rather than a truly Catholic church? One need only look at the website I linked to about the events at St. Vincent’s in Redfern to realise that imposing conservative priests on parishes doesn’t lead to spiritual renewal.

DREADNOUGHT
2022 years ago

I’m not sure what would comprise spiritual renewal other than a return to orthodoxy and Catholic theology. Counter-reforming a wayward parish might risk a drop in attendance, but 1 devout parishioner at Mass is better than a room full of heretics.

The ‘new faithful’/’young fogies’ phenomenon is well-documented, read this or google “young fogies” + “catholic”.

Parts of the Mass are chanted in Latin at almost every Mass I attend in Melbourne, from the lowliest parish church to the Cathedral. Usually the Kyrie, the Agnus Dei and sometimes the Credo. I find this lends the text transcendence and dignity. Certainly more meaning than the tambourine ‘Lamb Of God’ Rally Mass style crap I grew up with.

I post on my religion each Sunday, this Sunday I am setting out my faith and how it interacts with my homosexuality. I expect comments from you!

Melbourne’s Aboriginal Ministry is a model of orthodoxy and inculturation. The organisation is vast and the indigenous population is satisfied. When the Church becomes nothing more than a lobby group and the priest a social worker people will look elsewhere for spiritual nourishment.

DREADNOUGHT
2022 years ago

‘this’ = http://www.the-tidings.com/2004/0220/difference.htm your system wouldn’t let me post the link.

DREADNOUGHT
2022 years ago

Mark, note also Mass attendance during the 70’s and the figures today. People went to Mass when it was Latin and incense, they stay away in droves today when it’s carpet and guitars.

Mark Bahnisch
Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

Thanks for the link, Dreadnought – html tags are turned off to discourage the flood of spam we get regularly. I’m not sure how often I’ll be in front of a computer on the weekend but I’ll certainly read your post with interest when I have a chance.

I’m interested in your remark about inculturation – don’t you see a contradiction between believing this is appropriate for an Indigenous ministry and apparently unnecessary in broader Australian culture where the Roman line seems to be your only option? Couldn’t you argue that a parish like St. Mary’s is actually putting inculturation into practice?

The remark you make about heretics is instructive. That’s what I was getting at in my other post on all this – tilted ‘Democracy and the Signs of the Times’. Shouldn’t we rather think of the Church as open to all (“every last sheep” etc) rather than as an orthodox sect-like remnant damning everyone else as a heretic with a symbolic book, bell and candle?

Mark Bahnisch
Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

ps, Dreadnought, as I said in an early comment, I’m very partial to Latin, chanting and incense. But as a number of churches in Brisbane prove (both Anglican and Catholic), this form of liturgy doesn’t necessarily imply judgementalism.

DREADNOUGHT
2022 years ago

You cannot do anything you like and still be a Catholic, otherwise membership of the group would be meaningless. The good shepherd line you use implies Christ looks and waits for each and every person to return to the fold, not for the fold to dissipate. A good shepherd doesn’t let the wolves in with the lambs.

Similarly, inculturation doesn’t imply jettisoning something as fundamental as the Trinity. Aboriginal Catholic Ministry in Melbourne doesn’t baptise in the name of the Rainbow Serpent!

Mark Bahnisch
Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

So someone with a different perspective on liturgy than yours is a wolf? I suppose you’d agree with Paul VI’s apocalyptic comment just before his death “The smoke of Satan has entered the sanctuary”.

Do you think it’s a problem for the Church when Catholics holding different views can’t talk to each other without acknowledging their shared Catholicity and tossing round epithets like “heretic”?

Mark Bahnisch
Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

Dreadnought, I hate to tell you this, but the Kyrie is in Greek.

DREADNOUGHT
2022 years ago

Thanks for condescending, but I am more than aware of the origins of the Kyrie.

It’s also disingenuous to paint me as a reactionary. Popes from the past have authority indeed, but the man I look to for guidance is contemporary and modern. Indeed, he is more modern than the 60’s.

There is no shared faith between people who deny the Trinity and those who affirm the Trinity. The first are not Catholic and the second are Catholic. This is fundamental. Claiming we are in the same church is a nonsense.

michael carden
michael carden
2022 years ago

Paul VI must have been referring to Cardinal Ratzinger

Mark Bahnisch
Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

No one’s denying the Trinity, Dreadnought.

“Indeed, he is more modern than the 60’s.”

How so?

Mark Bahnisch
Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

I apologise if you thought I was being condescending. It just occurred to me that it would have been very ultramontane if the Greek Kyrie were being chanted in Latin in Melbourne.

How would you define the scope of papal authority? We could start talking about conciliarism, collegiality or Lumen Gentium –

http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_const_19641121_lumen-gentium_en.html

But I think Hans Kung said it all in his book “Infallible: An Unresolved Enquiry?”

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0826406785/qid=1102122863/sr=1-7/ref=sr_1_7/104-1898580-8448769?v=glance&s=books

Alex
Alex
2022 years ago

Interesting discussion, Mark and Dreadnought. Coming at this from a Protestant perspective, I’d suggest that some of this debate is relevant to the wider Christian church. The main issues seem to be (1) cultural relevance and (2) adherence to tradition. Could I suggest that both are possible? I see no reason why a church cannot continue with its traditional liturgy (either in traditional language, or in the vernacular) while adapting to the culture in which the church is situated (for example, in using music in keeping with local traditions). I’m sure you would find many churches in, for example, Asia, South America and Africa where that occurs.

While on the issue of musical relevance, another reference to the hilarious rant linked to by Saint earlier in this thread:

http://www.prayerbook.ca/library/machray/issue3/machray3d.htm

Machray seems to have totally lost the plot. Is he suggesting that plainsong chant would be an appropriate choice for an Anglican church in, say, Botswana?

Churches should, if they want to reach out to communities around them, keep the core of Christianity (both by teaching and example), keep as much of their tradition as possible (such as liturgies etc) while removing all aspects of worship that constitute impediments to communicating and connecting with the broader community. This is not always easy. But there are plenty of churches around the world that seem to achieve it.

Mark Bahnisch
Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

Yes, Alex, I agree.

Readers generally and Dreadnought specifically may be interested in this site drawn to my attention by Dr Michael Carden in an email:

http://www.geocities.com/pharsea/

The owner is a traditionalist Gay Catholic from the UK who’s sceptical of papalism and the hierarchy.

DREADNOUGHT
2022 years ago

I am not skeptical about the Pope. I am a Catholic and one cannot be both Catholic and anti-Pope.

Ultramontane? I cannot understand your insistence on these dated labels.

More modern than the 60’s in that JPII’s reign and influence, chronologically and intellectually, post-date the 60’s. ‘Liberals’ and ‘progressives’ of the St Mary’s mould are actually regressive conservatives when viewed in this light. They certainly do not speak for my generation. The wider Church, in Botswana and elsewhere, have moved on. And I’m sure Africans would prefer plainsong chant to guitar horrors.

Hans Kung is a certified heretic, there’s one label most Catholics agree with. I have no doubt he dislikes infallibility, it means someone can tell him he’s wrong, a situation most proud ‘reformers’ dislike intensely.

Mark Bahnisch
Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

Dreadnought, I think this discussion is becoming a bit repetitious and unproductive. As I anticipated, your response to my question was again couched in terms of generationalism. Unfortunately, it’s not on the web, but the Courier-Mail has a feature story on St. Mary’s today which highlights the attendance of many young people, and also has a photograph of the congregation which shows this to be the case. I note that you posted a photo of parishioners at St. Mary’s on your blog to make an opposite point, so I’d invite you to have a look if you can get the paper in Melbourne.

I also noted that you describe yourself on your site as a philosophy student. You’d know then that rational argument is advanced by providing evidence, rather than assertions. I find your generalisations about “youth” unconvincing, and you’ve not really done anything to substantiate your point other than to repeat it.

Your facility for labelling opponents of your positions “heretics” also adds little to the possibility of a productive engagement with your views. It might benefit you to read Kung’s books, even if you disagree with his position.

But I don’t think this interchange is taking us very far.

saint
2022 years ago

Got no idea if Machray is suggesting that plainsong chant would be an appropriate choice for an Anglican church in Botswana, Alex. You could read his statements that way…

The essay was written a few years ago at the height of liturgy/worship wars. I remembered it because of its invective -kept me laughing – and as an example of the battle over inclusive language gone feral: like Jesus is ‘a season’.

DREADNOUGHT
2022 years ago

In an organisation of over one billion people I don’t think one photograph, anxiously framed and politically informed, counts much as evidence. Perhaps I was a little silly to assume you’d be familiar with a phenomenon widely commented upon in both the secular but particularly the religious press. Not everyone is a liturgy warrior.

Philosophy? Reductio ad absurdam, the issue is fundamental: Catholics worship the Trinity, Father Son and Holy Spirit. The formula is both necessary and sufficient to delineate the term Catholic as it applies to a specific faith oritentation. The St Mary’s formulation is neither/nor.

Thus, the onus is on those who’d worship some other entity or who’d impute different terms to prove they’re Catholic.

Ultimately the scoreboard speaks for itself. Compare Mass attendance pre- and post- the liturgy reforms. That is perhaps the finest philosophy I can offer.

Mark Bahnisch
Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

You don’t need to think yourself silly, Dreadnought. I’m well aware of the phenomenon to which you point. What I deny is that it is “representative”. The survey evidence I’ve seen suggests that most Catholics are “moderates”, if you like, and that holds for all age groups. I would reiterate that you’re relying, it seems to me, on anecdotal evidence and you don’t cite any of the press reports you refer to.

As to the liturgical reforms, one can indeed make that comparison and come up with the results you describe. But that doesn’t prove causality. I’m prima facie suspicious of any reductivist causal argument and much more inclined to look to multi-factorial causality. Factors such as the general crisis of authority in the Church (symbolised by the reception of Humanae Vitae), a more general secularisation within society that affected Protestant denominations as well, political factors in some countries, and so forth, are all relevant.

It would be difficult for your yardstick (conservative Catholicism, papalism, liturgical tradition – I’m not sure what it is) to account for the great decline in mass attendance in conservative Poland and Ireland in the 1990s, for instance.

I’m still unconvinced, in other words, that you’re arguing on the evidence rather than pronouncing dogmatically.

I also think you’re confusing Trinitarian belief with a formula. If you were better informed about sacramental theology, you’d know that intention is key to the essence and thus validity of the sacrament.

I really don’t know how a rigid dogmatism and a concentration on rules expresses the spirit of Christianity in any real sense. I, for one, don’t find such authoritarianism and legalism in the least spiritually attractive. Christ, after all, came to supercede the Law. The integralists are in danger of becoming the Pharisees and scribes of the new millenium.

But, as I said, I don’t believe you’re really engaging with any argument put to you, so I’m going to end my contribution to this thread here.

Mark Bahnisch
Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

saint, he’s a good writer! on the topic of music, there’s nothing worse than going to a funeral and hearing mawkish songs played like “will I see you in heaven?”. In the instance I’m thinking of, this song was picked by the person’s mother, and he would have hated it. It did nothing to add to the meaning of the event for anyone else, I don’t think.