Intentions of the Holy Father for April

Ecology and Justice. That governments may foster the protection of creation and the just distribution of natural resources.
Hope for the Sick. That the Risen Lord may fill with hope the hearts of those who are being tested by pain and sickness.

Can Anyone Guess?

Can anyone guess what is the problem with the views expressed in this interview?

Well, that's a trick question. Problems would better state the matter. In case you don't know, the "Rev." Mary Glasspool has recently been elected by separated "Christians" to be their second gay "bishop".  She will serve as an auxiliary in Los Angeles. (The quotation marks are deliberate, and yes, I mean exactly what they imply.)

Her last comments are what are most profoundly disturbing and revealing about what's wrong in the Anglican Communion. On the surface we seem closest to them in theology, and for years, there was a more apparent similarity that has now broken down because of the Episcopalians' acceptance of every sort of sexual aberration.

Here's what's wrong. Mary Glasspool, and many Episcopalians with her, believe that as long as we can all gather for the Eucharist and share communion together, then we are OK. It doesn't matter if we all believe different things - some accepting the Gospel, others implicitly rejecting it and trying to reshape it in their own image; it doesn't matter if some are striving to live Christian lives dependent on grace, overcoming their vices and growing in virtue - while others do whatever the hell they want and call it living in grace rather than law (the Gospel calls this lifestyle lawlessness, e.g., Acts 2:23, 2 Thess 2:8, 2 Thess 2:9, 1 Tim 1:9, 1 Pet 4:3, 2 Pet 2:8, 2 Pet 3:17).  According to Mary Glasspool, now a "bishop" of the Episcopalian "Church," none of that matters, as long as we can come together for communion.  The Latin word means "strong union," it is exactly what does not exist within the Anglican Communion, and especially within the American branch - the Episcopalian "Church".  There is no doctrinal union - union in how they see the world; nor is there moral union - union in how they live their lives.  They haven't got any communion at all, really.  And their "Eucharist" means about as much.

The Anglican Communion started off with compromise - the Bishops of England deciding to go with Henry VIII's flow.  Then, to quell internal dissent about this doctrine or that, they came up with 16 and then 39 points of agreement, written so vaguely that anyone could sign in "good conscience."  The Communion has since then seen itself as a "Via Media," a broad, middle way between "Roman" Catholicism and "Reformed" Protestantism.  They'd have the best of both worlds, they would.  Two contradictory propositions can be held at the same time by a thinker or by a Church, given enough latitude between them so they won't fight.  That's their thinking.  Implicit in that attitude, as much as in Mary Glasspool's, is that none of it is really that true, or at least, not that important.  This is the very serious deadly sin, the dreadful decay, of sloth: seeing a good (truth) and just not caring about it.  From the moment one embraces this sin, even if one likes the various Christian doctrines, one doesn't accept them as true and conform one's life to them.  Instead, one just likes them.  If we treated our knowledge of gravity with such mental laziness, we'd fall very visibly.  But we cannot see spiritual truths quite so obviously as material truths, and so it is easier to fake them.  But precisely in thinking that contrary spiritual propositions can be held simultaneously as true, they reveal what they believe: spiritual propositions aren't real.

We Catholics have something of this tendency - but it is always about matters of practice and discipline - never about faith and morals.  That is, our latitudinarian expansiveness requires celibacy for priests in the West and marriage for priests in the East.  It allows colored vestments in the Roman Rite and white ones only in the Byzantine.  We can fast from meat on Fridays, or from whatever else is suitable.  We can read this spiritual writer or that, it's all of a piece, really.  We can depict Christ on the Cross as African, Asian, or Australian.  These distinctions are based on prudential judgments and aren't really from God, but by convention.  But it's all prudential judgments based on the same faith and morals throughout the Catholic world, and those are real and they are really from God.  What we are not free to do is to insist upon celibacy for all priests or to prohibit it.  We are not free to say, "Mass on Sunday isn't obligatory."  We must not say that because we can depict Christ as whatever sort of man we like, he was no man at all.  These things are from God and to reinvent them is to fake them, to lie.

We must do the hard spiritual work of maintaining real spiritual unity, based on real love and real agreement on the real essentials of Christian faith and morals.  Far from scoffing the erosion of Christian faith in separated Christian communities, we should take a warning from the direction they take, pray for them, and extend to them a hand, an invitation to rediscover Christ and the Church that He founded.  Otherwise, we will have abandoned Christ.

No comments: