Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Facts on the ground, ecclesiastical change by stealth, you have been warned!

For quite a bit of the 2000s -as I recall - a mantra doing the rounds of conservative blogs concerned about the spread of liberal Anglicanism went something like this, "Watch Out! Liberals are changing the church through facts on the ground." That is, by pushing some practice or other to be tolerated rather than disciplined, liberal activists (so the narrative went) created 'facts' about church life which laid a foundation for a future change to ecclesiastical polity which caught up with the change.

Well, is another church up to the same tricks? Is at least one 'liberal activist' creating 'facts on the ground' which paves the way for future ecclesiastical polity change. In this case the change concerns marriage and the church. Guess who the activist is?

Answer: here.


Happy Jack said...

Hardly the act of a liberal modernist, though Francis may be both. Who can tell? Who is Jack to judge?

This is just rectifying a long-standing and unnecessary grievance held by the Eastern Catholic Church over a matter of internal discipline. It doesn't concern doctrine or morals, the favourite territory of the liberal modernisers. If he had sought to sanction the ordination of women priests or active homosexuals, it would be news.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Jack
I disagree. On the celibacy or marriage of clergy the Rome-centred universal church has maintained the division between celibacy in the West and marriage in the East. To permit marriage for Eastern priests in Western countries is surely a potential paving stone on the way to permitting marriage for Western priests in Western countries.

Andrew Reid said...

I wonder if this is comparable to the Anglican situation in the (admittedly toungue in cheek) way you suggest, Peter?

We don't really have an equivalent to the Eastern rite churches in our Communion - maybe if the ABC said that Anglican monks and nuns could marry it would be similar? It's a group that recognises the Pope but has different liturgy and practice to the Western Catholic church.

I can't judge the size of the momentum this will create in the Western church, but I would have thought the acceptance of Anglican married priests into the Western Catholic church would have been more significant than this step?

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Andrew
I do think this is comparable in at least a few ways to our Anglican situation, that is, facts on the ground are created which later are used to justify change to the formal apparatus of the church.

Reception of married Anglican clergy into the Roman priesthood is one of those facts re possible future change re Roman Western celibacy. Whether that is more significant than this latest move could be a matter of time will tell. Reception of Anglicans may be a matter of the moment (I.e. The present moment of present Anglican crisis) but this latest change will be for the long-term.

In my own experience of Roman views, faraway from Rome, I have heard priests and laity ask aloud why married priests cannot be permitted to overcome the shortage of priests. I suspect Francis is well attuned to what local Roman thinking is compared to the Vatican hierarchical thinking.

Father Ron Smith said...

I think, Peter, that Happy Jack is probably a Roman Catholic apologist - maybe under a misleading pseudonym.

His defence of Pope Francis' recent move would seem to try to cover up the reality - that Pope Francis may not be entirely happy with the current Roman Catholic stance on married clergy. In fact, with the accommodation of married ex-Anglican clergy, the Roman Church has already compromised its historic stance.

Peter Carrell said...

There are now virtually no reasons for Anglo-Catholics to remain Anglican, Ron :)

Especially not those who enjoy Solemn Pontifical Masses!!

Father Ron Smith said...

Ha Ha! Well enunciated, Peter. I, myself might have avoided the term, which, however, is merely another way of saying that a bishop presided at a Solemn Celebration of the Eucharist. It was good to see you at Sty. Michael's on Sunday - as the Presenter of 1 (or 2?) of the candidates for Confirmation

Even some protestant churches use the Latin language for the choral services they so beautifully present. Look at our cathedral services, for instance!

Peter Carrell said...

It was a wonderful service, Ron, and the two candidates I presented were well and truly confirmed :)

Happy Jack said...

Hi Peter

And what if it is a paving stone to married priests? The 'Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham' set a more significant precedent in 2011 for the Western Latin Rite. Many in the Church would welcome a married priesthood; many might object. It's not a doctrinal issue. It's entirely a matter of Church discipline where the Pope is free to act.

Peter Carrell said...

It is a paving stone, Jack.
That is what is interesting.
It is not a motion for the next Extraordinary Synod of Bishops to discuss and possibly vote down.

liturgy said...

Actually, Happy Jack, it's not at all as straight-forward as you appear to suggest.

The much-neglected Canon 277 has relatively recently been much debated. Should married couples desist from having sex once the male is ordained? Works by Christian Cochini and Stefan Heid are good starting places to refute your contention that there is no doctrinal content to this discussion.

Canonist Doctor Edward Peters, the Edmund Cardinal Szoka Chair Professor of Canon Law at the Sacred Heart Major Seminary, argued against the possibility of ordained men having sex. Deacons' wives blogged that they had discussed this and were prepared to cease having sex on the husband being ordained to the diaconate.

The alternative position comes from Francesco Coccopalmerio and Juan Ignacio Arrieta who hold that married permanent deacons are not bound to observe perfect and perpetual continence, as long as their marriage lasts.

I hope that helps you.



Happy Jack said...

Hi Liturgy

Jack is not a canon lawyer but says it is a canon that it is not founded on a dogma or a doctrine but a discipline. As such, it can be changed - unlike other canons which cannot such as access to Holy Communion.

liturgy said...

Christian Cochini and Stefan Heid strongly disagree with you, Jack.


Father Ron Smith said...

Jack, I hope you continue to be happy in your ongoing dialogue on this site. You will be challenged, but don't be afraid.

Happy Jack said...


Well, who is Jack to argue with them then? He's happy to leave it to others.


Happy Jack fears no man - just the Lord.

Father Ron Smith said...

Happy Jack; do remember that Jesus was, also, 'fully human'. And He did have, on a couple of occasions, to reprimand Peter.

Happy Jack said...

Saint Paul also had to clip his ear too. Peter was human and Jack has always chuckled at Jesus' choice. A passionate, reckless man, so full of love for Jesus the man, and the first to see Him as Christ A man who fell apart in grief and fear when Jesus was taken. Yet he bounced back with such strength.

Popes are capable of all sorts of weaknesses, even (Jack will lower his voice here) heresy. You do know this? Both Jesus and Paul had to keep Peter on the straight and narrow.

Father Ron Smith said...

Alas, Jack, lineal descent from Peter is only possible through his physical line of descent. There is no biblical evidence of Simon bar-Jonah's successors. As Bosco reminds us, Rome is not God's Holy City.

The Church initially had 12 Apostles, 13 if you count Paul, or 14 if Mary Magdalene was actually 'sent' by Jesus to proclaim the Good News to the male membership.

Apostles have been chosen by the Church throughout the Christian era - irrespective of any geographical location. Certainly no Vatican in the Bible.

And then, of course, there is the odd historical factor of 2 'popes' at one time. All very confusing for dogmatic papalists. I think you will find that even Pope Francis has shown preference for his true title as 'Bishop of Rome'.

Happy Jack said...

"There is no biblical evidence of Simon bar-Jonah's successors."

Why would you expect it to so? There is a biblical record of Apostolic succession. As Bishop of Rome, Peter and his successors were given primacy and there is evidence of this in early Church documents.

"As Bosco reminds us, Rome is not God's Holy City."

No but the Church is the New Jerusalem.

"And then, of course, there is the odd historical factor of 2 'popes' at one time."

There were three at one time and the Church met and resolved this.

"All very confusing for dogmatic papalists."

Eh? Do you mean Papists? Jack wasn't aware that expression was still in use. All Catholics believe in the Magisterium and the authority of the Bishops in communion with him. It is part of Catholic dogma.

"I think you will find that even Pope Francis has shown preference for his true title as 'Bishop of Rome'."

He's learning ..... And, of course, he is the Bishop of Rome which carries additional universal responsibilities. Have you read his closing speech to the recent Synod? In this he outlined his views of the Papacy and it was all ... well ... very orthodox too.

Father Ron Smith said...

I don't think, 'Happy Jack' that ALL papalists really 'believe in the Magisterium'. Or, if they do, they have been tricked into giving the R.C. Church primacy over the Rule of Christ The King!

Many R.C.s do not even 'believe in the magisterium' - at least, they don't agree to its 'rule' on contraception!