20Aug

Beware the brood of vipers

snake

As mentioned yesterday I have some fears ahead of the family synod in Rome. I am probably fearful due to experiences as an Anglican when I lived through the tragic and confusing liberalisation that ate away at the soul of that ecclesial body until it what was unrecognisable from what went before. The via media giving way to the uber liberal modernism we witness today.

My fears are also heightened at this time because it is a matter of public fact that a powerful group of modernist Cardinals have acted against the spirit of the synod by plotting behind closed doors to push a relativist agenda. These skilled manipulators seem to have abandoned their duty in guarding the faith wanting to innovate it instead. The protestantisation of the Catholic church continues with those who glory in an erroneous “Spirit of Vatican II” which contradicts the actual teaching of that council.

So as we approach the Synod pray for the faithful prelates who must beware the damage caused if modernism gets its way. Having lived through the political manipulation within Anglicanism I can share three tricks the orthodox must watch out for. 

Separation of doctrine and practice. A favoured trick of modernists, especially when they acknowledge a weakness in terms of their coherent theological argument, is to leave “official teaching” alone whilst changing practice under the guise of a “pastoral solution”. Then, further down the line, one can point to the dislocation; shifting doctrine to reflect practice is easier than shifting doctrine on sound argument alone!

We saw this in the Church of England when it avoided the thorny issue of changing doctrine to allow women priests by opening a “period of reception” during which women were ordained but nobody was forced to officially accept it!?  People were assured that nothing was set in stone and that the theological debate had yet to be settled…but of course, in reality, nobody was ever going to un-ordain the women or throw them out of jobs. It was a dishonest statement then but it worked a treat. In this way the ordination of women was achieved, with much heated debate in a warring synod chamber maybe but no official working through of the theology set forth in the Rochester Report.

We also saw it playing out in the last half century as modernist Catholic clergy  ignored the actual teaching of the Second Vatican Council and went their own way. Catholic statues were thrown away, altar rails discarded and protestant choruses adopted in place of Catholic sacred music. Thus, in many places today, practice no longer reflects official Catholic teaching. The result being something akin to a papal methodism.

So beware sugar coated arguments that leave official teaching untouched- providing a smokescreen impression of victory for tradition- whilst creating a “pastoral approaches” that bring change via the back door.

What is good for the goose is not for the gander. Theological modernists do not believe in truth as a fixed reality. They are relativists who imagine that what is true for me may not be for you. So watch out for suggestions that the church should adopt local practices in which bishops decide what pastoral solutions should prevail within their own location.

We saw this during the last Synod in the racist comments made by Cardinal Kaspar. He tried to suggest that African views on morality should have little impact on the West because of the difference in cultures. He was trying to suggest that what is right for Africans may not be right for Europeans. As if we are not all children of God called to live by his teaching.

It is chilling  to note that these words mirror the argument of Katherine Jefferts Schori, uber liberal leader of the American Episcopal Church. Words that turn the notion of truth from rock to jelly.  St Paul wrote that truth is the same today, yesterday and forever. So whatever is decided in Rome must be applicable to all people in all places else it is a cause for alarm.

And whilst we focus on truth let us remember that it is not something forged by popular opinion! Else Barrabas not Christ would be Lord! Truth remains true even if everyone rejects it. So appeals to widespread practice should not sway the synod in its theological deliberations.

Appeals to false mercy and use of emotive language. It suits modernists to suggest mercy is a concept recently discovered. They probably believe this too for they often hold a ludicrous belief that the world is naturally moving forward and getting better. They therefore love to paint a picture of a cruel church that only began to love people when they arrived on the scene with a language of change and permissiveness. It is  clap trap but the danger is that media control means the message is widely believed and begins to influence voting.

Beware then the use of highly emotive language that casts liberals as progressive ‘good guys’ and traditionalists as repressive ‘bad guys’. This trick is used to gain popularity whilst applying guilt to manipulate weaker voices. But it is deeply unfair -a tactic of divide and conquer. Let us never forget that Catholicism is not about modernist v traditionalist or left v right but simply  truth and error. We must avoid letting political agendas dictate the tone.

Those then are my fears. Do you share them? Am I being overly anxious or do we stand at a moment of crisis , akin to the Arian heresy, in which the truth of the ages is under assault and the Church in danger of schism?

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48 thoughts on “Beware the brood of vipers

  1. Father – please avoid using your blog to attack your Church and its leaders. You are 4 years into membership of the Church, which has 2000 years of history prior to you joining. Those 2000 years have endured all kinds of unimaginable challenges, trails and tribulations.

    The Church is capable of innovation without error. The creation of Ordinariates and fast-tracking of ordination etc is an example of that.

    The Ordinariate project included for example welcoming back into the fold baptised Catholics who had for whatever reason found themselves ministering as Anglican ‘priests’ (including I think one of the former Bishops, now a Catholic Monsignor in good standing). Is that so different from some of the things you are alluding to in your post, which is presumably about the issue of accommodating ‘divorced’ Catholics……..?

    Kind regards

    Bill

    1. Far from attacking the church i am seeking to defend it against error and ensure it remains as it ever has been. Surely this is what all good and faithful Catholics need to do? Else we would be under threat of heresy at every turn.

      As to my only being a Catholic for four years. What is the relevance of this point? Are you suggesting new comers to the faith should have no voice and act as secondary citizens? How many years must I serve before I am entitled an opinion?

  2. I wondered how long it would be before you started complaining that the Roman Catholic Church was not catholic enough for you Fr Ed. The church, it seems is beginning to start taking steps towards moving with the times, whereas you are stuck in the dark ages. Furthermore, it is rants like this that lead swathes of people to come to the conclusion that the church has nothing to contribute to the modern discourse.

    1. Why is it a good thing that a church moves with the times?
      I thought that many historians regarded the Dark Ages as something of a misnomer.
      Or are you in that group that thinks that the Catholic Church needs to, er, “get with the Programme”.

      1. I don’t know what “get with the programme” means but if you mean do I beleive should the church acknowledge that society (and societal norms) changes over time and does not align with how a group of men decided they would like it to be centuries ago, then yes.

        1. If the church is to be tied to societal norms as you suggest then I guess that means signing up to anything that modern day society has signed up to. The recent decision to redefine marriage would such an example. If legislation is passed allowing assisted killing, then likewise.
          In truth if the church simply says “yes” to what wider society does the I don’t see the point of it. I would join the queue asking for longer shopping hours on Sunday.

          1. It’s one thing to hold up an ideal, it’s quite another doggedly refuse to accept that things have changed since the time scripture was written, because as we’ve debated before on this blog, much of what was written in scripture was written for a particular time and place.

          2. I take your point Harvey. But then who is to say what is truth and what needs to change with the times? Don’t we then fall into the trap of relativism?
            My “get with the programme” was in fact a throwback to what our dear PM said to the CofE about allowing women to become bishops. The perception in his mind they were dragging their feet. Not for long they didn’t after that.

  3. Fr Ed, you speak timely words. Thank you.

    There is a further point. None of the three Ordinaries of the three Ordinariates have been invited to the family synod in Rome in October. They all have first-hand experience of the issues to be discussed, so their contribution would be important. Alas, it will not be heard. I wonder why?

  4. My point re number of years is that there are 2000 years of magisterium and authority. It is not for parish priests or lay people of 4 or 40 year’s standing to posture about the result of a legitimate synod (legitimate because it has been requisitioned by the Pope, not you or me). We must trust in the outcome, otherwise we are mere Protestants.

    On the second part of my previous comment – do you see the point / parallels there?

    Bill

  5. Thank you Father for the timely warning, unfortunatly I think the protestant liberals that infest the Church hierachy are all in place to push through the chages they wish to see – a continuation of the Vatican 2 Reformation. This has been done by purposely denying the teaching of the Church to the Faithfull in schools and parishes for the last 50 years so that these betrayals can be left unchallenged. We are I think a place of schism and I for one have long since stopped attending diocesan Mass and support groups such that are in good standing with tradition and teaching and I get the sacraments from them eg FSSP, ICKSP and the Oratarians. I do pray for the synod but the German cash is all powerful and the current Pope seems to be going along with the flow of the Rhine not the Tiber!

    God Bless faithful Priest such as yourself,

    Patrick.

  6. The ex Anglicans were probably excluded by the hard liners who did not want the experience of pastoral practice. The point is: admitting the divorced and reconciled is just not liberal. ?It is the Catholic practice of healing within the community. Bill is quite right. Ed, you are full of protestant posturing. Where would those who oppose go? The Wee Frees, one would presume or the Marlboro Baptist church.

    1. Hold your horses. I am fully in favour of offering healing and reconciliation. However the annulment procedure is the correct forum for healing, along with confession. I would be strongly in favour of reform of said procedure to make it free and less protracted. What I cannot condone is the acceptance of sex outside of marriage which is what some are pushing for and which runs counter to scripture.

      1. Precisely: the issue is framed as ‘what I cannot accept’, with a direct appeal to the interpretation of scripture which you find to be the most convincing. If there is a more perfectly Protestant position than that, I don’t know what it would look like. I assume that this is why some of the gentler comments in answer to this vituperative posting are as they are: the idea that an individual knows better than the church is, for good or ill, not compatible with membership of that church. You seem to have drawn precisely the wrong conclusion from your unhappiness with the Church of England, which must be rather galling. But there it is.

    2. Robert, I have no knowledge of Marlboro Baptist Church, but what is wrong with it, or with the Christians who worship God there?

  7. Don’t panic!
    ‘ I am with you always even to the end of the world’
    We should worry less and pray more.
    All shall be well and all manner of things shall be well.
    We survived the Borgias!
    We survived Napoleon ! (Unlike the Doge, the Holy Roman Empire, the Grand Master in Valetta etc).
    We have a mandate and a cast iron guarantee.
    What other institution has survived for two thousand years run by saints, sinners, geniuses, the valiant, the cowardly and the downright inept.
    ‘The gates of hell shall not prevail against you’
    Let’s trust in the Holy Spirit and pray with confidence.
    Remember the storm in the Sea of Galilee and Jesus saying ‘Do not be afraid’
    He still steadies the barqe of St. Peter.

  8. Father,
    I fully share your concerns. Far too many of our Church leaders have long since abandoned the Faith, and their duties to Our Lord and to their flocks.

  9. Right, just got off the phone from William Hill. He says they have stopped taking bets on the liberal horse – someone from the TW area put a huge wager down overnight…..

      1. Mmmm…so am I, but no Rome ticket for me (yet) either.

        On a serious note, thank you for keeping going at your blog, there is some really nice stuff eg about your parish on there; As well as the occasional thought provoking article which then leads to the inevitable pub-style ding dong. …..

        It is great that you publish responses and allow the debate to flow also.

        Have a good weekend everyone

        Bill

    1. Yes, as Fr Ed says, all three are married.
      Also, as Anglicans they witnessed first hand the chaos that resulted from changing the Church’s marriage discipline from the Biblical model.

      1. Understood Roland. Although as Bishops I would suggest they were complicit in what went on rather than witnesses/bystanders

  10. Fr Ed has as much right as any Catholic, however recent or ancient, to express an opinion on this, and I welcome his faithful views.

    However, just to add to the discussion: many of the issues regarding marriage could be resolved without any sacrifice of principle by a more efficient application of the annulment process, which is in drastic need of reform. Currently, it is something of a diocesan lottery, with some tribunals, chiefly in North America, too “liberal” and others, in the UK, requiring burdens of proof which are impossible to ascertain without the cooperation of the other spouse – frequently the spouse who deserted the marriage and not in the slightest interested in facilitating the process. One of the most irritating aspects of recent statements about the issue is the indiscriminate and relativistic application of the term “mercy” and the assumption that both spouses in a post-divorce situation are somehow equally at fault/responsible/in need of mercy. In most cases, there is the deserted and the deserter, the abandoned and the abandoner. Very often the deserted and the abandoned require a rigorous justice from the Tribunal, not some bland notion of “mercy”, which can seem to those most painfully affected to be at best sentimental and at worst – however unintentional – patronising.

        1. Not if Jesus was serious about the need for unity. One would have to imagine he wanted to found many bickering bodies each out of communion with the other. And that seems idiotic to me.

          1. Let us put that into the following scenario:

            Anglicans: We no longer want unity with Rome. Henry is leading us into autonomy. We are going it without you.
            Catholics: Sorry to hear that. We will of course respect your decision though we are heartbroken.
            Anglicans: Ok. Now let us share communion again.
            Catholics: That is wonderful. The door is always open. If you could just show your desire for unity by signing up to the teaching of the church
            Anglicans: Er…no. We don’t want unity just communion.
            Catholics: Sorry then. Communion is a sign of unity. That which you opted out of.
            Anglicans: Aww Why won’t you give us communion? Lets just pretend we are united without having to actually share faith or belief? Oh and could you look the other way whilst we also seriously undermine any unity remaining by acting autonomously on major issues such as ordination and sexuality.
            Catholics: Sorry that would be dishonest. And it only furthers us…
            Anglicans: But we want to share communion whilst remaining apart and not actually being united.
            Catholics: As stated that would not be honest. Communion is a sign of unity. But we would love you to enter communion. Look we have erected an Ordinariate.
            Anglicans: Well you are just mean. Besides we want to ignore the Ordinariate convincing ourselves it isn’t serious. Besides my friend is a Catholic and shares all my beliefs and says it is just fine and we can have communion with a nudge and a wink.
            Catholics: That is still very dishonest.
            Anglicans: Well that is just mean. Look everyone the Catholics don’t want to share communion!
            Catholics: We do. Please go back to point 1…

            and on and on and on

          2. By the way this response was supposed to be on the thread below about whether the Anglican church is a church or an “ecclesial body”.

  11. Ed, I think your Anglican past is hindering you here as you suggest.

    Firstly you always believed as an Anglican that you were in The Church. Not as an ‘ecclesial body’ as you now refer to us. You were ordained into a church with dual integrities on the issue and you knew it was only a matter of time before women were Bishops of some accept them as Priests. But now you want the world to believe that it’s changed beyond all recognition? Pull the other one it’s got bells and smells on it!

    Now you fear the Magisterium we both admire (me as an Anglican and you as a Catholic) will be infiltrated, and infected by liberalism rather than finding God’s will? You couldn’t make it up and I wonder (with deep respect) why you regularly seek something to worry about and protest about. Maybe you are still infected by Protestantism? If the church of which you are now a part makes some changes to its teaching on the admission of divorced people to The Eucharist you will have to accept it as God’s will. If not you will be disproving the hypothesis of Rome’s primacy you’ve presented on this blog over the years.

    I don’t think I’m alone in easily imagining a future where some things change and you and a few others join a split unwilling to accept it. If so your Protestant credentials will be well and truly proven. I hope and pray I’m wrong.

    1. It has changed beyond recognition. The via media has given over to liberal protestantism. The three fold order has changed to something no longer shared by Rome or Eastern Orthodoxy. The leaders of both those bodies having warned Canterbury of the serious ecumincal implications- Canterbury even acknowledging it. Yet you say I am the one pulling the other one?!

      As to the challenges faced by Rome- they will not endure though they could cause damage. And I wouldn’t leave because it is the true church no matter what any try to do to destroy it. I can however speak out for orthodoxy as I try to do.

      1. So let’s examine that response.

        Firstly, what’s the media got to do with anything?

        Secondly, women have been ordained Bishops and the historic churches don’t recognise it. You KNEW this would happen when you were ordained into the CofE!

        Thirdly, ++Justin has acknowledged the serious implications.

        That’s not a change ‘beyond all recognition,’ Ed. you’re using exaggerated language to make your point.

        I don’t doubt for a minute that you’ll leave Rome and I may well be joining you if I can’t remain in the C of E, but I’m merely hypothesising a group such as the one unable to accept the changes of Vatican II to contain those who won’t accept the changes your church will doubtless make in the next decade.
        !

    2. Referring to the Anglican church (or any non Roman Catholic church) as an ecclesial body is indeed insulting. Did you not consider it to be a church when you were ordained into it and when you administered sacraments as one of its priests?

      1. I was raised to believe the claims of the Church of England but later came to doubt them and then dismiss them. Hence I left for Rome. Which, one would imagine, is the journey of all converts

    1. I find child abuse horrific and have no truck with any who condone it and have said so previously on this blog. But this blog is here to expound the faith and reflect on theology etc… not report on such matters which are for the police and appropriate authorities.

  12. I want to come back on this, Father Ed. In a case like this, it is not only the original sexual abuse (which is not restricted to children), but it is the continuing cover-up and abuse of power, seemingly all across the hierarchy (in this case, the RC hierarchy in Scotland). I find a similar abuse of power in the C of E hierarchy – when, for example, they hound gay priests who contract civil partnerships or civil marriages or when they systematically block Jeffrey John from episcopal preferment, even though he is completely compliant with official policies. These are very concrete evils, they persist, and not nearly enough publicity is given to them. They outweigh, it still seems to me, the rather generalised things you keep talking about.

  13. Can’t reply to the thread above for some reason but you sound rather emotional Fr Ed.

    Thank the Lord that not all Catholics are as dogged as you otherwise there really would be no hope of unity. In fact some that I have come across, for example the Monks at Aylesford Priory strike an altogether more conciliatory and less strident tone.

    1. In no way emotional just vexed at how you keep bringing up the same issues repeatedly without taking on board any explanations given. Clearly you troll this blog given that you fail to actually move a discussion forward but just trot out the same lines.

      1. “Trot out the same old lines” – this is the pot calling the kettle black if ever I heard it.

        What do you do to move the debate forward? The vast majority of your invective is profoundly negative.

        When you persistently attack and insult other people’s churches, do you seriously expect people not to respond?

      2. Trolls are active only where they get some kind of satisfaction from their activities. In other words, they get fed. Hence the advice to not feed the troll. The article below is informative:-
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_troll

        The ‘net is awash with such and ancient history is one hotbed for them. But the academic world also has its members. I’ve seen a well known, and up to that point respected scholar whose arguement, in public, when analyzed, came to a statement that because something did not fit his beliefs it could not possibly be true. He pointedly ignored all the evidence which said he was wrong.

  14. An ecclesial community is one which does not have Apostolic succession or valid orders in the sense of a sacrificing priesthood and which has attempted to ordain women to the priesthood and episcopacy which is impossible.
    Non-conformist and Protestant Ministers can of course have women in their ranks because such ministers do not claim priesthood or Apostolic Succession in the Catholic sense.
    The marks of the Church are that it is One, Catholic and Apostolic. Only the Church founded by Jesus has these marks and it subsists in the Roman Catholic Church.
    Other Ecclesial communities are founded by individuals and states and not by Christ Himself.

    1. David, you confuse me. On another thread you are pro gay marriage, but here you lambast women’s ordination. Seems inconsistent.

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