Pope gays welcome defeated2
Ethics & Morality

Pope Francis moves Rome toward reason and experience

 

As the headlines of “failure”, “setback”, “disappointment” and “dismay” spread throughout those parts of world which view just about everything the Church does as a failure or setback, or with disappointment and dismay, it is worth reflecting on some aspects of Rome’s truly extraordinary Synod on the Family, and the political strategy of this magnificently jesuitical Pope to reform both archaic proceedings and pastoral praxis. In consideration of two principal issues – the matter of communion for the divorced and remarried, and attitudes toward same-sex unions – he audaciously cast aside centuries of secrecy, suppression and censorship, and introduced openness, unprecedented transparency and even a dose of democratic accountability. No point a bunch of celibate men theorising and pontificating about the meaning of marriage and the perfection of heterosexual union: in this Synod, the laity freely speak: they counsel and guide as they recount the reality of their experience.

How do you sustain and defend truth when the world’s conception of mercy is at variance with Church orthodoxy? How do you show love and compassion when the sternness of rebuke is apprehended as uncaring and unwelcoming? How do you talk about the imperfection or unacceptability of cohabitation, divorce or same-sex relationships when, for many millions, these family arrangements are normative? In the great mission of the Church, are these questions even relevant? In the important matter of evangelism, are they really priorities? In an age of moral relativity and scientific rationalism, should we really begin with absolute assertions of soteriological truth and unequivocal definitions of sin? Are these assertions and definitions not, in any case, somewhat mutable as faith is critiqued by culture and culture enlightened by faith?

As the Synod Fathers cast their electronic votes like an ‘Ask the Audience’ option, it became apparent that the Church of Rome is divided. “Men and women of homosexual tendencies must be welcomed with respect and sensitivity”, said the motion. 118 Synod Fathers voted “Aye” and 68 voted “No”, and so, failing to reach the requisite two-thirds majority, the Noes have it; the Noes have it. On the matter of opening Communion to those who divorce and remarry civilly, 104 voted “Aye” and 74 “No”. And so, again, the Noes have it; the Noes have it. Of course, there is nothing new in such divisions: we have long known about the Tablet-inclined liberals and progressives versus the Herald-bent traditionalists and conservatives (with a whole spectrum of reasonable moderates in between). But it is not schism, for all are bound by and beneath the authoritative aegis of the Magisterium, we are told, and therein lies the unity of the immutable mind of Christ.

Except we are dealing here with the infinite variety of the human condition, with all its blemishes, defects and failings, and all its muddled confusion and compromise. There is no point preaching about condoms to the weary and starving, or proclaiming the virtues of heterosexual marriage to the destitute and war-ravaged who live every day yearning for the warmth of a human embrace. If there is no creativity or latitude in our responses to people’s situations and lifestyles, we cease to speak in any meaningful way. As Richard Hooker explained, we need to balance Scripture and tradition with reason, and in consideration of that reason must be the contemporary understanding and application of theology informed by experience. It is a path that is often (if not invariably) fraught with tension, but it is the Anglican way – the via media, if you will – tentatively perched between the extremes of holding fast to the letter of the word and the need or desire to be a living voice of mercy, love and compassion.

This excerpt from Pope Francis’ closing speech is profound in its implications:

…I can happily say that – with a spirit of collegiality and of synodality – we have truly lived the experience of “Synod,” a path of solidarity, a “journey together.”

And it has been “a journey” – and like every journey there were moments of running fast, as if wanting to conquer time and reach the goal as soon as possible; other moments of fatigue, as if wanting to say “enough”; other moments of enthusiasm and ardour. There were moments of profound consolation listening to the testimony of true pastors, who wisely carry in their hearts the joys and the tears of their faithful people. Moments of consolation and grace and comfort hearing the testimonies of the families who have participated in the Synod and have shared with us the beauty and the joy of their married life. A journey where the stronger feel compelled to help the less strong, where the more experienced are led to serve others, even through confrontations. And since it is a journey of human beings, with the consolations there were also moments of desolation, of tensions and temptations, of which a few possibilities could be mentioned:

– One, a temptation to hostile inflexibility, that is, wanting to close oneself within the written word, (the letter) and not allowing oneself to be surprised by God, by the God of surprises, (the spirit); within the law, within the certitude of what we know and not of what we still need to learn and to achieve. From the time of Christ, it is the temptation of the zealous, of the scrupulous, of the solicitous and of the so-called – today – “traditionalists” and also of the intellectuals.

– The temptation to a destructive tendency to goodness (it. buonismo), that in the name of a deceptive mercy binds the wounds without first curing them and treating them; that treats the symptoms and not the causes and the roots. It is the temptation of the “do-gooders,” of the fearful, and also of the so-called “progressives and liberals.”

– The temptation to transform stones into bread to break the long, heavy, and painful fast (cf. Lk 4:1-4); and also to transform the bread into a stone and cast it against the sinners, the weak, and the sick (cf Jn 8:7), that is, to transform it into unbearable burdens (Lk 11:46).

– The temptation to come down off the Cross, to please the people, and not stay there, in order to fulfil the will of the Father; to bow down to a worldly spirit instead of purifying it and bending it to the Spirit of God.

– The temptation to neglect the “depositum fidei” [the deposit of faith], not thinking of themselves as guardians but as owners or masters (of it); or, on the other hand, the temptation to neglect reality, making use of meticulous language and a language of smoothing to say so many things and to say nothing! They call them “byzantinisms,” I think, these things…

…Many commentators, or people who talk, have imagined that they see a disputatious Church where one part is against the other, doubting even the Holy Spirit, the true promoter and guarantor of the unity and harmony of the Church – the Holy Spirit who throughout history has always guided the barque, through her Ministers, even when the sea was rough and choppy, and the ministers unfaithful and sinners.

…Dear brothers and sisters, now we still have one year to mature, with true spiritual discernment, the proposed ideas and to find concrete solutions to so many difficulties and innumerable challenges that families must confront; to give answers to the many discouragements that surround and suffocate families.

One year to work on the “Synodal Relatio” which is the faithful and clear summary of everything that has been said and discussed in this hall and in the small groups. It is presented to the Episcopal Conferences as “lineamenta” (guidelines).

A further year to work on a via media between “hostile inflexibility” and being “surprised by God”? He might almost be describing the General Synod of the Church of England. This Synod on the Family seems to have a pre-ordained destination: Pope Francis has a teleological prophetic vocation which will be fulfilled at a future synod. And where previously church doctrine has developed behind closed doors, henceforth all theological discussions and ecclesial disputes will be open. Where previously there has been censorship and confidentiality, there will be honesty, vulnerability and accountability.

Pope Francis is leading the Church of Rome on a journey. It is a journey that the Church of England has been treading for five long centuries, and it is heartening to know that it is not only the General Synod that is frustrated by the need for two-thirds majorities. The journey will open cans of worms and a plethora of pandoras boxes. It will expose hornets nests and devilish knots of vipers, for in these 118-68 and 104-74 divisions the sheep are told they’re goats, though they know the goats are goats. And the goats think the sheep are goats and are certain that the goats are sheep. And the wolves in sheep’s clothing are really goats, but, boy, do they do a good impersonation of fluffy, cuddly sheep.

It is for the Shepherd to discern and divide. It might be painful, but truth hurts. And it is all intrinsic to being Church and doing Mission. There is no earthly destination beyond the better expression of the love, compassion and mercy that might lead to salvation.

  • Albert

    The title of this is a bit odd. The idea that a Church that gave the world St Thomas Aquinas wasn’t using reason before this is very strange. Similarly, the idea that a Church in which clergy hear endless confessions, apart from all the other elements of pastoral ministry, had no access to experience, is very odd. Finally, the idea that the Catholic Church is now doing what the CofE does is particularly strange, given the warning of the Holy Father: The temptation to a destructive tendency to goodness (it. buonismo), that in the name of a deceptive mercy binds the wounds without first curing them and treating them; that treats the symptoms and not the causes and the roots. It is the temptation of the “do-gooders,” of the fearful, and also of the so-called “progressives and liberals.”

    And isn’t that the point? It’s not about finding a middle way between “hostile inflexibility” and being “surprised by God” as you put it, but between “hostile inflexibility” and “deceptive mercy”. It is in between those two points that one is surprised by God, a God of astonishing mercy, who nevertheless commands us to be perfect as he is perfect. Through the confessional, the Catholic Church has more experience of navigating that paradox than any other.

  • Lowry

    Reason and Experience?
    What is reasonable about discussing marriage and sexuality in the absence of women (except as part of a couple) and just 200+ celibate old men?
    Irrational.

    • Albert

      Take your complaint to the Lord who set it up that way.

  • DanJ0

    There’s some strange reporting about this going on in the media. I spotted this in the Telegraph yesterday:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/the-pope/11171593/Pope-prepares-to-purge-conservative-cardinal-in-push-to-reform-Vatican.html

    “Cardinal Burke maintains the hardline, traditional Catholic approach that homosexuals are “intrinsically disordered” and that the act of gay sex is a sin. He has gone further, saying that homosexual acts are “wrong and evil”.”

    Surely that’s the Roman Catholic position? Whether or not the Roman Catholic Church is more welcoming in future to homosexuals themselves, that position hasn’t changed, nor is it ever going to change as far as I can see. Why is the mass media reporting it otherwise to everyone else, as though there’s a potential for change on the fundamentals? People around the world need to know the truth about the Roman Catholic Church and proceed to deal with it accordingly.

    • jillfromharrow

      DanJo, I never thought this day would come – but I agree with you!

      • James60498 .

        Jill. You beat me to it. But I was thinking exactly the same thing. Perhaps I saw the post later than you, or perhaps I am a little more cautious and have had to read it a few more times.

        I think though that the reason for the Press behaviour is exactly the same as the reason behind the BBCs behaviour at the time of the Conservative Party leadership election. Much of it doesn’t like the Conservative Party or the Catholic Church. However if they see a leader who is a little more in line (in Cameron’s case a lot more in line) with their views then they will push that person as being a great leader. In that way they hope the movement to be unstoppable. It has worked in the case of the Conservative Party. Next task, the Catholic Church.

        • Francis has been courting to media and, it appears, manipulating the Synod. As for ‘transparency’, Jack understands this is the first Synod to be conducted in private rather than the debates being open. The majority of the Bishops, headed by Cardinal Pell, were so outraged by the inaccuracies of the first report of the discussions they openly rebelled.

          • Mungo (and Midge)

            You are right – Cranmer’s talk of “openness” and “transparency” is the exact inversion of the truth. It was only thanks to the “Pellian rebellion” that we learned anything at all of the Synod’s inner workings. Francis was dead against it.

            It is worrying how many otherwise astute people seem content to take Francis at his own estimation – humble, open, non-judgmental etc. etc. – and ignore the evidence before their own eyes.

          • James60498 .

            Jack.

            What happened to your question?

            Is the Pope a Catholic? To refer to the common phrase, “bears will stop defacating in the woods next”.

          • Jack thought better of it and removed it ………..

            Is Francis “this magnificently jesuitical Pope” a Roman Catholic?

          • avi barzel

            ….and popes will stop wearing yarmulkas.

        • DanJ0

          I’m not sure there’s an agenda like that regarding the Roman Catholic Church. I expect it’s just that it makes a much more interesting story for non-Catholics than reporting how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. What might be more interesting for Catholics, non-Catholics, and the non-religious alike would be if the Roman Catholic Church chose to ditch the celibacy requirement for its priests. That could actually happen too.

          • Coniston

            I have heard a Benedictine priest explaining very carefully that married priests would be too expensive for the Church to accept. As far as I understand it, the reasons for priestly celibacy are that a priest must be totally dedicated to his job, which marriage and children would prevent. Perhaps, but on the other hand it makes them probably less understanding of the realities of family life. And was not the first Bishop of Rome a married man? The Orthodox Church has probably got it right.

          • “And was not the first Bishop of Rome a married man?”

            Do not let Len read that.

      • DanJ0

        It must be nice for you to be right once in a while. 😉

        Seriously, I’m saying nothing controversial there so it’s hardly a surprise. The Roman Catholic Church has built itself on this theological view of sexuality and written the damned thing in stone so to change now would be to admit fundamental errors. It’d be like the Ulema deciding amongst themselves that the Arabic in the Qur’an is not the literal word of their god. If people find that the fundamentals of the Roman Catholic Church don’t match their experience of reality then reality will win in the end and that institution will be marginalised. Of course, that’s a long way off in the wider world even if it’s happening in most of Western Europe.

    • Agree with your last sentence.

    • Cardinal Burke is correct – he’s been demoted by Francis.

    • “People around the world need to know the truth about the Roman Catholic Church and proceed to deal with it accordingly.”

      And just how should they “deal with it”, Danjo?

  • carl jacobs

    Hrmm. The Israelites should have applied some of this fascinating newly-developed pastoral practice to the Canaanites. They were not sufficiently sensitive to the Canaanite context. And even less so to those of their own number who were unable to practice the sexual ideal of the Law, but instead through the difficulties of life found themselves involved in Canaanites sexual practices.

    OK, OK. There was whats-his-face involved… you know…umm… God. But what does he know about the difficulties of life?

    carl

    • Carl, Jack up-voted you but points out the Israelites did not have an evangelising mission and were mandated by God to eliminate the Canaanites sin.

      • carl jacobs

        Jack

        I’m not tracking with you.

        And the relevance of the would be what? We change the standard for the sake of evangelism?

        carl

        • No …………. God’s law is God’s law. Once someone accepts Christ they conform their life to His.

          • carl jacobs

            Jack

            Which would make the application of ‘pastoral practice’ even less desirable in terms of evangelism and discipleship. And the pagan Canaanites were judged for their behavior despite their unbelief. They didn’t need possession of the Law given to Moses for God to judge them.

            You seem to be making my argument. I still don’t understand what evangelism has to do with this.

          • To be completely honest, nor does Jack if it means accepting objective sin as being okay.

            However, what a mess the modern world is in and people are in all sorts of tangles and confusions. Is membership of the Catholic Church and its sacraments necessary for salvation? By Jack’s understanding, once one accepts Christ’s Gospel, the Holy Spirit will work successfully in those foreknown and predestined for salvation and we cooperate with grace and get our lives straight and keep them straight through God’s grace, the sacraments and, yes, personal effort, .

            The issue then is how do people put their lives right if they have taken wrong turns? And how does the Church respond to people in sinful situations who are converted or reconverted?

            Jack doesn’t know the answers but these are genuine questions to be faced. He is neither divorced and remarried, nor homosexual. His return to the Church had no such barriers, thank God.

  • So glad this sort of thing is behind one, having quit the C of E last December after the last straw of the Pilling report (I quit unbiblical Rome decades earlier) for a church which regards this issue as settled. Because it is settled. Without wasting time on this pointless discussion we are free to devote people, time and money on issues like setting up a Christians against Poverty clinic, supporting Basics Bank, relief and development in Haiti, Oh and preaching the Gospel. You know, the old fashioned Gospel that offers penitent sinners a free pardon and adoption into God’s family. And doesn’t give a blink what enemies of God and Christ like Peter Tatchell think.

    • Albert

      We are free to devote people, time and money on issues like setting up a Christians against Poverty clinic, supporting Basics Bank, relief and development in Haiti, Oh and preaching the Gospel.

      The Catholic Church has never done any of those things, of course.

      • That’s not a fair representation of what I said Albert. The point is that an hour of time is like a ten pound note, you can only spend it once. If you spend an hour, or a fortnight, in a futile discussion about a matter that is already settled, you don’t get it back to spend on something useful later.

        Kind regards.

        • Albert

          Thank you. May I just refer you to a comment I made somewhere else on this thread:

          It may be that the calling of the synod was imprudent, but its aims are perfectly correct. On the one hand, the Synod wants to see if there are any unnecessary burdens on people’s shoulders which can lift. On the other hand, is there any word of encouragement we can give? Anyone who belongs to an ecclesial community that thinks such things are wrong, really ought to convert to a biblical Church.

          On the subject of things being settled, what is the view of your Christian community on divorce, remarriage and Holy Communion?

  • carl jacobs

    Seriously, those vote totals are scarey. I can see why the more orthodox RCs (in the RC sense of the word) were so exercised about this. It is chilling to think that orthodox teaching carried the day only by denying a two-thirds majority.

    The entire RC system is built on the indefectability of the Magisterium. You have to wonder what all those RC apologists will say if those vote totals change over the next twelve months. Assume the Magisterium adopts all this “pastoral practice” without (ahem) “changing doctrine” of course. Will they suddenly submit to the new found indefectable wisdom of the Magisterium and affirm what they had previously declared sin? Will they stand up on their hind legs and assert private judgment to defy the Magisterium? We have been told endlessly that the RCC has an authority structure to decide questions for situations just like this. So will the teacher follow his own teaching? Or will the rules suddenly change when the apologist decides the Magisterium has gone of the rails?

    We shall have to wait and see.

    • Albert

      It is chilling to think that orthodox teaching carried the day only by denying a two-thirds majority.

      Which part of the document are you referring to? I haven’t seen the final version in English, yet. Have you?

      • carl jacobs

        Albert

        I was referring to the vote totals listed in AB Cranmer’s post. I have no reason to doubt them. They surprised me because they were the reverse of what I expected.

        • Albert

          But there’s nothing unorthodox about the paragraphs.

          • carl jacobs

            Well, thanks a lot, Albert. Screwing up my perfectly good polemic against the RCC.

            OK, so it’s considerably less chilling. I read way way way waaaaay too much into that statement about failing to get a two-thirds majority.

          • Albert

            Well, thanks a lot, Albert. Screwing up my perfectly good polemic against the RCC.

            I’m always happy to lend a hand to a Protestant guilty of misinterpreting texts…!

            Just to make matters worse, even if it had said something really wicked, it wouldn’t have made any difference, as the document is not an act of the Magisterium.

          • carl jacobs

            Albert

            If I may quote Kapitänleutnant Jürgen Prochnow:

            “Not yet, Kameraden! Not yet!”

          • Albert

            Not yet?! You must be mellowing towards the Catholic Church.

          • carl jacobs

            Context, Albert. Context.

          • Albert

            You’re weakening, I can tell.

          • carl jacobs

            Heh. You don’t recognize the movie reference. I can tell.

            “Das Boot” is a great movie – well, until the last 30 seconds. I hated the ending. But the ending is what makes it applicable to this situation. And that line sets the context for the ending. It’s one of my all time favorite movie quotes. Watch the movie, but only with subtitles.

          • Albert

            It was before my time, I’m afraid.

          • Hi Albert

            I watched that film , when I was learning German at school. Wasn’t bad, just very long (:

          • Albert

            Sounds rather realistic, then!

          • Hi Albert,

            I must admit I wasn’t really paying attention to the plot, I was trying to understand the language… also had to study French. hmmm, in respect of European languages, I preferred Spanish which I learned on my own whilst trying to understand the related language of ladino.

          • Albert

            Sweaty Nazis stuck in an airless submarine. I see why you weren’t trying to follow what was going on…

          • avi barzel

            I believe Das Boot’s Der Alter’s name was Kapitänleutnant Henrich Lehmann-Willenbrock.

          • carl jacobs

            Ah how stupid of me. I copied the actor’s name by mistake. I will fix.

      • Albert

        Impatient as I am to have a proper translation, I submitted Saturday’s document to Google. Here’s the “offending” paragraph, followed by one that got through:

        The pastoral care of people with homosexual orientation

        55. Some families live the experience of having within them people with homosexual orientation. In this regard, we have questioned as to which pastoral care is appropriate to address this situation by referring to what the Church teaches, “There is no foundation whatsoever to assimilate or to establish even remotely analogous, homosexual unions and God’s plan for marriage and the family. ” Nevertheless, men and women with homosexual tendencies must be accepted with respect and sensitivity. “In their regard should be avoided every sign of unjust discrimination” (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions Between Homosexual Persons , 4).

        56. It is completely unacceptable that the Pastors of the Church subjected to pressure in this matter and that international bodies to condition financial aid to poor countries, the introduction of laws that establish the “marriage” between persons of the same sex.

        This is hardly Stonewall liberalism, and it still failed. That I find odd, for surely there is nothing in 55 that is new.

        • carl jacobs

          OK. I see your point. Well made.

        • Albert, the word is a good part of the “No” vote consisted of a protest vote from liberal modernists.

          • Albert

            Judging by the comments of Cardinal Nichols on the BBC he very likely voted no because it did not go far enough, but what he was asking for was hardly unorthodox. He just wanted the paragraph to include a couple of other positive things about the humanity of people with a homosexual orientation. For the record, I would have voted for it as it is, and I would have voted for it if it had included what ++Nichols wanted. But I don’t think anyone down here will think I’m a Stonewall supporter on this one!

            Why then did it fail? Partly because some wanted it to go further (no problem there, within the limits set out by ++Nichols) and partly because the fiasco of the earlier document, which ++Nichols criticises, meant some people refused to play.

          • From what he knows, Jack would regard Vincent Nichols as having liberal, modernist leanings.

          • James60498 .

            You missed out the word very

            That’s why Pope Benedict didn’t make him a Cardinal, but it didn’t take long after he retired.

          • Albert

            What’s your evidence for that?

          • The Soho Masses? Active homosexuals, proud of their orientation and lifestyle, were admitted to the Eucharist – surely a sacrilege?

          • Albert

            The Soho Masses were set up by Cardinal Cormac, under the direction of the CDF. Not surprisingly, they got out of hand, and Cardinal Nichols shut them down. This is not exactly good evidence of liberalism.

          • He moved them to the Jesuit Farm Street church in Mayfair, he didn’t shut them down.

            In 2013, Nichols gave his personal pastoral mandate to the Soho Masses Pastoral Council which renamed itself ‘LGBT Catholics Westminster Pastoral Council’ and adopts positions in direct opposition to Catholic teaching.

          • Albert

            Sorry, I’d forgotten the move to Farm Street. However, it caused a storm because it clearly showed he was not happy.

          • He side-stepped the issue by moving the problem from his jurisdiction to that of the Jesuits, surely?

          • Albert

            Judging the rightness of that comment is a bit beyond my paygrade!

          • Guglielmo Marinaro

            No more of a sacrilege than active heterosexuals being admitted to the Eucharist. I concede, though, that I don’t see why anyone should be actually PROUD of their sexual orientation. A sexual orientation, be it heterosexual or homosexual, isn’t something that one achieves. It just is. It is surely enough simply to be happy with it, and I hope that most people are.

          • “No more of a sacrilege than active heterosexuals being admitted to the Eucharist.”

            Agreed, if the couple were not married.
            As for the rest ……….

          • Albert

            Thank you for that Guglielmo.

          • carl jacobs

            Guglielmo

            Homosexuality behavior is willful idolatrous rebellion. It is the creature shaking his fist at the Creator and saying “Who are you to set boundaries for me? I will do as I please.”

            You can if you prefer choose to believe that you are justified by your desire. And you may convince the majority of those around you to affirm you in your desire. But you cannot change the created order. Nor can you change the judgment of God.

          • Albert

            Is there a natural law argument in there, Carl?

          • carl jacobs

            Albert

            Is there natural law in Romans 1? I would call it general revelation.

          • Albert

            Good! I’m just never sure where you Calvinists stand on such things. God is revealed in creation so we are without excuse when we deny him, but also, we cannot actually pick up his revelation, it’s just there so that God can blame us for not believing in him. That sort of thing.

          • Check ….

          • To be fair, he didn’t actually say one should act on the homosexual desire – just be “happy” with the orientation.
            For a Catholic, this would mean resisting the temptation and seeing the trial as a way of strengthening one’s relationship with Christ.

          • Albert

            He also makes the fair point that there is no reason why someone should actually be proud of their sexual orientation.

          • No more ‘Gay Pride’ then.

          • Albert

            Quite!

          • Guglielmo Marinaro

            Homosexuality is part – albeit distinctly a minority part – of the created order. You cannot change it, even though the universe might have been simpler and more uniform, as well as far drabber, if it had been drawn up to your specifications.

            If homosexual behaviour is rebellion, then it is rebellion only against the “heterosexolatry” of those who are not satisfied with heterosexuality being by far the majority sexual orientation, but insist on exalting it into an idol.

          • DanJ0

            It’s a sacrilege because it goes against the club rules, so to speak. It can’t be much fun being a Christian and homosexual, but hey.

            It’s a slightly weird thing to say that someone is proud of their sexual orientation. Gay Pride is really just a pushing back at some sections of society which want homosexuals to be intimidated and to feel shame for being homosexual. That is, it’s reactive. That it is still going now despite society recognising homosexuality as normal in the human condition is because there are evil people trying to maintain that past dynamic in wider society i.e. outside the restrictive environment of religious belief.

          • James60498 .

            I can’t lay hands on much of it at the moment.
            However, one thing that most will not be aware of is that since he became Archbishop of Westminster, former Labour MP, Greg Pope has been employed by the Catholic Church in England. His first job was as Deputy Director of the Catholic Education Service. Not sure whether he is still doing that but he is working for the Bishops Conference now. The last time he was in the news was to slap down Bishop Egan of Portsmouth who said something Orthodox.
            For anyone who has never heard of Greg Pope, find below a link with a summary of his Parliamentary Voting Record

            http://spuc-director.blogspot.co.uk/2010/04/catholic-education-service-appoints.html?m=1

          • Albert

            Mmmm…the fact that someone unorthodox has been employed doing something or other in the Diocese of Westminster, hardly makes the Cardinal a liberal.

          • James60498 .

            Doing something or other!!! This man was effectively put in charge of Catholic Schools and is now speaking on behalf of the Bishops Conference telling them all to ignore Bishop Egan.
            From your “doing something or other” you would think he was making the tea.

            So who approved this man to get these jobs? Or was that the tea maker?

            Have you actually read that list? Someone who believes that parents don’t have the right to know that their under-16 daughters are being prescribed contraception, or even abortion is put in charge of schools.

          • Albert

            “Doing something or other” was my translation of your words “Not sure whether he is still doing that.” And even if that wasn’t the case, it’s not clear exactly what he was/is doing for the CES.

          • James60498 .

            He was made Deputy Director

            With a voting record like that, does it really matter what his every day job description entails?

            Just to confirm, he still holds that position and that I have two sons at a Catholic School. There is nothing at all to suggest that the school is not fully implementing Mr Pope’s policies and views.

          • Albert

            Well actually, yes. Let us suppose that his job was purely administrative, or checking schools were compliant with the latest laws etc. But look, I’m not going to defend Greg Pope’s voting record. I’m not going to defend his being appointed to the CES. I’m just going to defend a bishop of the Catholic Church until the evidence is clearly set out against him. Until we get a good fix on what Mr Pope was doing and the degree to which ++Nichols was involved in his appointment, I don’t think we’ve got that.

            Was the Cardinal wrong to get Lord Paten to sort out the mess of the Papal visit, just because Paten holds some dodgy views? I don’t think so.

            Evidence is what convicts a man of wrong-doing, not supposition.

          • James60498 .

            If you want to argue that Abp Nichols didn’t personal appoint him to either that position, or personally give him the right to slap down Bishop Egan then that’s fair enough. I am sure that there are plenty of people who would argue that Josef Stalin wasn’t personally responsible for the appointment of all the local leaders who carried out the killings in Soviet Russia. If you are looking for court acceptable evidence then I will have to keep looking and accept that for now at least you win.

            In terms of what goes on in schools now. Where do I start? It’s certainly not Catholic.

          • Albert

            It’s not a question of me winning or not. It’s a question of evidence and justice. The reality is that we all know situations which look one way on the outside, and look differently on the inside. Who’s to know what happened here? As for Catholic schools, well then you have a point in many cases….

          • James60498 .

            And what is happening in schools will only get worse. Even if, as you suggest he may do, Greg Pope does nothing all day but sit behind a desk ticking boxes, merely the fact that he has been appointed to the post, means that those teachers who wish to will point to his actions and use him as their excuse. “The DD of the CES says that we don’t need to be against abortion.” “The DD of the CES says that parents shouldn’t be told when their daughters are on contraception, having abortions, so we won’t tell them”. “The DD of the CES is in favour of “gay marriage” so we will show them videos of Obama praising it and tell them that Catholic teaching is unfair”.
            Perhaps there was some reason for appointing him that seemed reasonable at the time that is not obvious to the outside world. The opportunities that it gives for those who wish to abuse Catholic teaching in schools is very very obvious.

          • Albert

            Just to clarify, what ++Nichols said was missing from the paragraph were the words “respect, welcome and value”. Now provided those words are directed towards persons rather than things like behaviours, what’s not to like?

          • Therein lies the distinction not being made.

            The shift being attempted is to accept the homosexual ‘orientation’ as respected, welcomed and valued, something the Church holds to be ‘objectively disordered’ in itself and not just the acts. Did you read the first report on the Synod?

          • Albert

            I thought the first report was a disgrace for precisely that reason. It clearly backfired (unless of course, it was a double-bluff to wake people up, in which case it worked!). The Cardinal was talking on the radio, so you would not really expect that level of clarity. But given the wider things he was saying, and the fact that he was critical of the first report, I don’t think he was referring to orientation, rather than persons.

          • No, it was premeditated manipulation and exposed the liberals for what they are – and if reports are to be believed, Pope Francis too. The Holy Spirit caused the reaction. The next 12 months will see further politicking within the Church.

          • Hi happy Jack,

            Interesting concept the holy spirit (which I believe blasphemy against is the unforgivable sin?). But anyways , where the 2 thirds majority rule came from? The Anglicans have the same threashold with their general synod. Is this 2 thirds majority thingy:

            1. An ecumenical thing or something from the bible?
            2. How Christians know the will of God, when making decisions?

          • Albert

            There’s no theological reason for it to be two thirds. Really a Council of bishops’ decision should be unanimous. Of course, if it were that simple, you wouldn’t need the Council. Hence, in the end, what matters is whether the Pope accepts it or not.

            I don’t know where that leaves the CofE.

          • Hi Albert,

            Well thanks for that. The wider issue is that I’m fascinated by the way religions change (I’m convinced that they do), albeit in a way which claims a lineage and linkage to the orthodoxy that’s gone before . How and why these changes occur is -to quote Mr Spock- “fascinating”.

          • Albert

            Quite. That’s why the earlier report was so difficult. It implied we were to value homosexual orientation (as opposed to homosexual people). The trouble is that whatever that means, it has to be consistent with the established teaching that a homosexual orientation is “intrinsically disordered.”

            You don’t have to be a traditionalist Catholic to see that to explain “value homosexual orientation” in terms of “intrinsically disordered” is to explain away the former, and leave is devoid of content. Better for the Church just to be honest, if you ask me.

          • Hi Albert,

            I can see that the 2 concepts are mutually incompatible and I can’t see official policy being changed(in either of our religions) for the foreseeable to long term future (whether I like that is of course a different matter).

          • bluedog

            Here’s one for you Hannah. I’m currently immersed in a book by the archaeologist Dr Ian Morris, who claims that Psalm 104 is a Hebrew translation of the Egyptian Song of Ahkenaten. His thinking being that before Moses lead the Israelites out of Egypt, this ancient Egyptian act of worship found its way into the Jewish psalter.

          • Hi blue dog,

            Well happy reading. I’m thumbing through the kuzari by Judah ha Levi.

          • dannybhoy

            It is a method common to both the Catholic Church and the CofE, of which I and my wife are currently members (or perhaps “sojourners” would be a better description).
            Personally I disapprove of the majority method. It is far too democratic and opens the way to all kinds of ecclesiastical arm twisting and horse trading.
            Yet it is clear from both (but especially) the Jewish Scriptures and the New Testament, that the practicing of homosexuality is condemned. It could not be written any clearer than it is.
            Only the repentant or celibate homosexual has a place in Godly communities according to the Scriptures, as young heterosexuals are called to remain celibate or to marry. There is no such Scriptural provision made for the homosexual except to remain celibate, and this is where the Church especially, struggles.

          • Hi Danny,

            It seems to me that the 2 thirds majority thingy was just a method of reaching a high threshold for controversial decisions to be reached at, without creating too much division? (Not that this necessarily works, perhaps you guys should go back to the days of Peter and Paul. As I recall Peter had a vision convincing himself that it was okay for Jews to abandon the kosher laws as laid out in the Torah, his apparent holy book?).

          • dannybhoy

            Hello Hannah,

            “As I recall Peter had a vision convincing himself that it was okay for Jews to abandon the kosher laws as laid out in the Torah, his apparent holy book?).”

            🙂
            Paul or Saul the Pharisee, (Paroshim or Separated ones) and Peter or Cephas, the fisherman from Galilee.
            Both Jewish to their roots. Neither however invented the rules about homosexuality…
            Let’s also accept Hannah, that when Meshiach comes, what do we think He will say regarding haTorah? Will He amend it or as we believe fulfil it and honour it?
            The hardest thing about this issue is that we Christians have no right to reject or judge any person, but we do have an obligation to stay true to the teachings of the Bible.

          • True but they invented another religion.

          • dannybhoy

            I think unfair, young lady!

            We both accept that the only true God HaShem, revealed Himself to Abraham and formed through him the Jewish nation. We agree that He gave the Law both written and oral, to Moses Rabbenu and Moses recorded it for us.

            We must also agree then Hannah, that different schools of thought have grown up within Judaism, but that the concept of the Meshiach is an integral part of Judaism, yes?

            http://beta.moshiach.com/index.php/item/why-belief-in-moshiach-is-integral-to-judaism

            http://www.chabad.org/library/moshiach/article_cdo/aid/2944/jewish/Belief-in-Moshiach.htm

            So what do people expect of Meshiach when he comes?
            We as Christians accept that the early church was founded on the testimony and actions of devout Jews from various backgrounds who believed that Meshiach had come and had fulfilled the Law and had offered Himself as the Passover Lamb for the sins of the people.
            So it wasn’t a new religion, rather (as I see it anyway) the fulfilling of God’s promises.
            Again on a personal note I think that’s why I have always been moved by the devotions of devout Jews; they love God and are loved by Him.

          • Hi Danny,

            I don’t and haven’t denied the concept of messiah in Judaism. It is in fact one of the 13 principles of faith. I agree that both Judaism and Christianity(for that matter Islam) have this concept. Where we disagree is that Christianity sees Jesus as this messiah and Jews do not: if we did they’d be no Judaism. Furthermore Christians have a new testament which is where the explanation for the Christian messiah comes from . These are 2 key differences between our faiths. If I were to accept Jesus as messiah, I would no longer be a Jew, but a Christian. My belief system is Judaism. I trust that this doesn’t come as a shock to you , as I’ve been open about this and I’ve made it clear I’m a Jew for Judaism. I’m all in favour of discussion and dialogue in the right settings, but there are clear boundaries as to what a Jew believes and what a Christian believes. I’m aware that Christianity sees Judaism as being replaced, fulfilled and superseded by Jesus, but I and my co religionists don’t.

            I hope this clarifies stuff.

          • dannybhoy

            Hannah you have made these things clear on your own blog, and I have no problem at all in accepting your beliefs and attitudes. As I said before I admire your honesty and respect your achievements.
            I don’t personally see that a Jewish person stops being Jewish because they come to accept Jesus as Meshiach. I don’t see why a messianic Jew would cease going to synagogue or celebrating the holy days or arguing even!
            What might happen is that they would be rejected by other Jewish people who would feel betrayed and angry, But then we also know that many Jewish people are leaving their Jewish roots anyway, so which is worst?
            I have two “kinda” Jewish people living near me, and I think I am more keen to help them rediscover their Jewishness than they are.

          • Hi Danny

            Messianic Jews are heretics who have converted to Christianity, or a strange version of it. It is the responsibility of the community to bring back Jews to the Jewish fold and not to let them be converted to another faith.

            Oh and I have made these things clear on my blog on 13 August 2014 my post ” an interview with me”, which you commented on, ironically enough. Specifically I address my views on Christianity in question 11 of that post, which is perfectly consistent with the one I’ve made above.

          • dannybhoy

            Couldn’t find ” an interview with me” on your blog Hannah.Got a link?

          • Hi Danny,

            I deleted that half of my reply as I’d misread what you’d said, having thought you’d disputed that I’d written this before. For the record, the post I mentioned will be filed under the August post list on the right hand side of my blog.

          • dannybhoy

            That’s okay Hannah,
            We’ve all done that! I did look at your blog under August and I do remember “an interview with me” but didn’t see it.
            You got me thinking I’d said something contradictory!

          • dannybhoy

            Yes, I agree about the judging thing. I meant more in terms of judgment as condemnation.

          • Albert

            Judging by the other paragraphs which were rejected, what the Synod votes have shown is that the meeting was rather conservative.

    • Athanasius

      Mr Jacobs, Protestant glee aside, I do not thing you understand the ramifications of a synod of Catholic bishops defying the Magisterium. The Catholic Church exists as an ark for a single purpose – to get souls to heaven, and no other transport exists. If what you suggest were to come about, it would mean the ark was holed below the waterline or, more directly, that God had abandoned man, as He was no longer preserving the Magisterium from error.

      • carl jacobs

        Athanasius

        Your assertion about the RCC being preserved from error would carry more weight with me if RC dogma was not already littered with error.

        That’s the answer I always get when I ask this question, however. “It will never happen” I’m not even sure how you would know it would happen given that you gave no competence to judge the Magisterium. In truth, RCs shouldn’t have been worried about this conference at all. They should just receive what it says whatever it might say. Anything else is the fruit of private judgment.

        • Athanasius

          Mr Jacobs,

          Please re-read my post. I do not say it cannot happen; I speak of the consequences if it WERE to happen.

          • carl jacobs

            Athanasius

            I read your post. I responded correctly to it. God is faithful to His word. He cannot deny Himself. Your error is in presuming that the RCC is the Ark.

            carl

          • And yours is in presuming that’s a presumption.

        • That’s an old one, Carl. All Catholics are entitled, indeed required, to challenge heresy.

          • carl jacobs

            Jack

            Not in direct opposition to the teaching authority of Magisterium you can’t. That was what Luther did. And he was condemned by the RCC for it. You have no authority to tell the Magisterium that its pronouncements are wrong. You can’t even identify heresy in the absence of the Magisterium. And you can’t set a previous Magisterium against the current Magisterium because that would involve judging the current Magisterium on your own authority. That’s the advantage you keep preaching when you spout the canard of 35,000 denominations. “The RCC has authority to decide.” If this goes South – and the RCC is a long way from out of the woods on this subject – then you are going to have to face this issue.

            1. Submit and call evil good.

            2. Reject the teaching and so reject the authority of the Magisterium based on your own private judgment.

            In truth, from your perspective it can’t possibly go South, because the Magisterium us by definition always right.

          • Jack doesn’t have to do either, Carl.

            If a dogmatic doctrine is changed and the Church moves into heresy by clearly contradicting an earlier Magisterium, then Jack will have a decision to make as Truth cannot change.

            “And you can’t set a previous Magisterium against the current Magisterium because that would involve judging the current Magisterium on your own authority.”

            Well, you can actually. That’s how the Church acts. It considers previous Councils and Magisterium decisions and determines those that are unchanging.

            “Not in direct opposition to the teaching authority of Magisterium you can’t. That was what Luther did.”
            Luther did much, much more. He had no infallible doctrine backing up his heresies. He attacked the whole theological and authoritative structure of the Catholic Church.

          • carl jacobs

            Jack

            If the Magisterium told you that a change to doctrine did not conflict with previous doctrine, you would have no aurjority to contradict it. No matter what you thought you knew. No matter what you thought was taught before. You would be bound to submit.

            Your charge against Luther rests upon the very authority you would have to reject. You don’t seem to understand. The Magisterium could very easily place you in Luther’s position. You can’t tell the Magisterium that it’s wrong because there is no competent authority outside the Magisterium that can judge the Magisterium.

            I asked a serious Catholic once: “What would you do if the Pope declared ex cathedra that which you knew to be heresy.” He said “The Holy Spirit would strike him dead first.” Why did he say that? Because he had no other answer to my questions.

          • Well it has never happened Carl and it will never happen. It’s all hypothetical. There have no doubt been heretical Popes. None have changed doctrine through ex-cathedra statements. That’s why the “serious Catholic” replied as he did. God will not allow His Church to commit error.

            In a round about way you are also correct in saying the Catholic answer to be: “I cannot determine heresy. So I will submit to what he says.”

            The two answers amount to the same thing.

            Jack agrees, no one has a right to appeal to their personal interpretation of “apostolic traditions” over and against the authority of the Pope and the Magisterium.

          • Albert

            That last question is a bit like me asking you “What would you do if they found the dead body of Jesus in a tomb, somewhere.” If you have any faith, you will have to say “They won’t.”

            Having said that, the question of a heretical pope is not as hard as you think. In order for the declaration to be valid, the pope first has to hold the Catholic faith. Therefore, if what he says is heresy, it would not be a valid declaration. Hence, the question is unanswerable, because, by definition, it cannot happen.

            So what if the pope were to make a declaration which I think contradicts what has been taught infallibly before? The Church is not limited to the papacy. If I could see other bishops also making this point, that would be a further indication that there was a problem with the new definition, somewhere. The point being, even if I think the pope is a heretic, I would never do so in isolation from others whom the Church has recognized as having Magisterial authority. That is a million miles away from Herr Luther.

          • Albert

            Well said. And it must be remembered that Luther couldn’t in fact defend his position at the bar of scripture, without an element of cutting and pasting.

  • DrCrackles

    Your Grace, this synod is an attempt to bend towards culture or at least to be heard making the right noises. Subsequently, there is nothing to celebrate.

    Today, devout Muslims are enforcing the law of Allah by force. Ushering in shariah. We Christians know that he battle belongs to the Lord, but has His law changed? Not a bit. And of His judgment? It is more certain and is more terrible than Jihadi terror or arms.

    By the way, no Christian should refer to himself as a heterosexual. Utterly absurd.

    • Albert

      Have you read the document?

      • DrCrackles

        I have read excerpts.

        Surely, the fact the synod was held at all is no cause for joy?

        I am not Catholic, but orthodox belief should be supported wherever it is found.

        • Albert

          Have you read excerpts from Saturday’s document (the one the bishops voted on) or from that daft report earlier in the week? See my post below to get a sense of the orthodoxy of the event.

          It may be that the calling of the synod was imprudent, but its aims are perfectly correct. On the one hand, the Synod wants to see if there are any unnecessary burdens on people’s shoulders which can lift. On the other hand, is there any word of encouragement we can give? Anyone who belongs to an ecclesial community that thinks such things are wrong, really ought to convert to a biblical Church.

    • Guglielmo Marinaro

      I quite agree that it’s totally unnecessary for any Christian, or for anyone else, to refer to himself as a heterosexual. It’s only when you’re in the minority that you need to indicate your status, and even then only when it’s relevant to the situation. That’s why, for example, heterosexual nightclubs never call themselves that; there’s no need, because nightclubs are automatically assumed to be heterosexual unless they indicate otherwise. Similarly, although Catholic churches in England invariably state on their notice boards that they’re Catholic churches, I have never yet found one in Italy or France that does (unless it’s for a minority such as Polish Catholics).

      • dannybhoy

        “It’s only when you’re in the minority that you need to indicate your status, and even then only when it’s relevant to the situation”

        (Hums children’s hymn)
        “This is the way of life… since the world begun…”
        That which is different will always be at least remarked upon, or talked about, or ostracised or even attacked.
        It’s one of the quirks of evolutionary theory: how did genetic mutations manage to avoid the disapproval or unwanted attention of the herd?
        We see the “dilemma of the different” throughout nature.
        What we as Christians seek to do is find a place for the different within the community of faith, without compromising the teaching of Holy Scripture.
        We do this because our God out of His love for fallen man provides forgiveness and redemption to those willing to repent.

        • Guglielmo Marinaro

          Yes, as the late Dominican priest and scholar Fr Gareth Moore rightly said, specifically in reference to the gay minority, it may be our duty as Christians to make room for people.

          • dannybhoy

            I would love to see homosexuals coming to church! I would love to see Christians making them welcome and including them.
            What we can’t get away from is that the Scriptures do not allow for homosexuals to continue as practicing homosexuals.

          • Guglielmo Marinaro

            I don’t think that we have to be bound by the opinions of the few biblical writers who refer to the subject. We’ve moved on since biblical times, thankfully.

          • dannybhoy

            If that be true GM, how could we ever have faith or trust in God? I believe that God loves us. He understands us. He knows what is in our hearts.
            God does not hate homosexuals. He hates SIN, and what SIN in all its forms and manifestations, does.
            I haven’t got an answer re homosexuality. I totally sympathise with their need for love and acceptance, and of all people we Christians shou;ld make them welcome. It is the Gospel of salvation which saves sinners, and homosexuals also have to come to repentance, not because they are homosexuals but because they are sinners.

          • Guglielmo Marinaro

            I see no reason to think that faith or trust in God either means or depends on being bound to subscribe to opinions expressed centuries ago. Nor is that necessitated by believing that God loves us, understands us, knows what is in our hearts, and hates sin.

            You say that “homosexuals also have to come to repentance, not because they are homosexuals but because they are sinners.” Which must apply equally to heterosexuals, who have to come to repentance, not because they are heterosexuals but because they are sinners.

          • dannybhoy

            “You say that “homosexuals also have to come to repentance, not because
            they are homosexuals but because they are sinners.” Which must apply
            equally to heterosexuals, who have to come to repentance, not because
            they are heterosexuals but because they are sinners.”
            Absolutely!
            I came to understand salvation 46 years ago when I was a 22 year old unhappy and introverted young man.
            I came to faith when God made me realize that I was indeed a sinner, and that sin manifested in different ways
            (I ain’t going to tell you what they were, or what bad habits or impulses and weaknesses would indeed validate God’s initial diagnosis of my condition :))

          • Oh, go on ………. at least a clue or two.

          • dannybhoy

            Well okay Jack.
            Just to satisfy your questionable.. curiosity.
            I was erm, unhappy and introverted.

          • *Gasp* ………. how shocking.

          • Is that the Gareth Moore who argued homosexual acts were okay and not forbidden by Scripture?

            He went further too saying that even if his interpretation of Scripture was wrong and Scripture does condemn homosexual acts, the condemnation would not be applicable to Christian disciples today because it goes against the more significant and greater commandment of love of neighbour.

          • Guglielmo Marinaro

            Yes, that’s the same Gareth Moore. Requiescat in pace.

  • Athanasius

    I’m afraid Mr Thomas Cramer has completely misunderstood the unique and protected status oh the Catholic Church. The heretical document which caused all the bother was authored, New Labour style, by faceless liberal apperachiks within the Vatican and the released to the media almost as a faith accompli BEFORE it was shown to the bishops. The idea was to stampede them into supporting it. Very Jesuitical to be sure. Unfortunately, it is the Magisterium (NOT the pope, except under very restricted circumstances which last applied in 1950) which is preserved from error. The bishops, particularly the African bishops, were having none of it, and this document, together with the liberal claque who were cheerleading it, were chased out of town. The second half of the synod is due in a year, and the traditionalists are now bulling for a fight. And these people have the support of the Catholic laity, ie, the ones who actually attend to their religion, as opposed to the compassionate, inclusive liberals. I suspect Francis may not be on the Papal throne when it reconvenes.

    • Athanasius

      The Magisterium may be preserved from error, but unfortunately, my spelling is not. Cursed predictive text…

      • There’s an edit function. The joys of discus.

        • Athanasius

          Duly noted and appreciated, Miss Hannah.

          • That’s okay, I’m always happy to help fellow bloggers.

        • Discus ….

          • What would I do without you happy Jack???

          • Er, Happy ………… Jack

          • Hi Jack ,

            Well that’s because I can’t be bothered to click the button for upper and lower case. But onto more important matters. I’m worried about Mr Inspector. It’s not like him to not turn up for a discussion on one of his favourite subjects?? I hope he’s okay!

          • Well, Hannah, it is surprising. Perhaps he’s taking a break in the Lake District and has no internet access. Or, he may have followed Jack’s recent advice and entered a Trappist Monastery. Jack is sure he’ll return soon enough.

          • Oh I don’t know. I couldn’t see Mr I being in a monastery. Hopefully he’s in the lakes. As infuriating as he is, I do miss his contributions herein.

          • Jack hopes he’s not in any lake. Far too cold and we don’t know if he can swim.

          • DanJ0

            I was wondering that earlier!

          • bluedog

            More trouble with Annie or Claribel? He always seems to be at odds with his lady friends.

    • Albert

      I suspect Francis may not be on the Papal throne when it reconvenes.

      What are you implying there?

      • Athanasius

        I’m saying, Albert, that the relatio, the document at the base of this trouble, could not have seen the light of day without his support, and its contents and the tricky manner of its publication has enraged many Catholics. He’s overreached himself, and I believe he may be forced out in the way Benedict was. Lick Benedict, he now has a massive question of credibility hanging over him.

        • Jack understands Francis appointed 5 additional people to those elected by the Synod to author the original and unrepresentative summary of the Synod discussions. It was also the intention not to publish the records of the small group discussions on which this document was supposedly based.

          What happens between now and next October, who can say?

          • Albert

            Sorry Jack, are you saying that the Holy Father did or did not want that document published?

          • He clearly wanted it published – he read it and authorised it. He was forced into releasing the texts of the discussion groups too that clearly show how unrepresentative the document was. The manipulations got too much for the Bishops.

          • Albert

            Releasing the texts of the discussion groups. I missed that. Have you a link, please?

          • Albert

            Thanks Jack. One thought that occurs to me is that the Holy Father evidently wanted the Synod fathers to speak their minds. This they did, and although what they said may not have been what he wanted to hear, he let them.

          • And then he authorised an inaccurate summary of what they said. Now why would he do that?

          • Albert

            Of course that is how popes have tended to behave, and with justice. For a meeting of bishops means what the Holy Father takes it to mean. Perhaps Pope Francis is himself learning the implications of his own view of the papacy!

          • This was a Synod proclaimed as open and transparent – and yet what we see is that it was anything but this.

          • Albert

            Although it has ended up being rather transparent!

          • The Holy Spirit …….

        • Albert

          I’m not sure Pope Benedict was forced out. I don’t think popes should be forced out, except for heresy or gross misconduct, of course.

          • How far from that is Pope Francis? This is a serious concern now surfacing more widely than just amongst the hard-line traditionalists. Time to know where he actually stands as leader of the Church and to give some clear speaking. His closing speech to Synod outlined the issues.

          • Albert

            You think he is guilty (or nearly guilty) of heresy, or gross misconduct?

          • Certainly unbecoming conduct for a Pope – but that’s hardly new.

            As for heresy, Jack is concerned by some of his ambiguous statements and how they can be interpreted in several different ways. He confuses Jack.

            Read this summary of a homily by Francis on the day of the release of the Relatio and then tie it in with the misrepresentation of the Law of Gradualness:

            http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/news/2014/10/13/francis-if-gods-laws-dont-lead-people-to-jesus-they-are-obsolete/

            How many different ways can it be read?

          • Albert

            I can’t see anything remotely heretical in that. The Holy Father takes a lesson from salvation history: when the law does not lead to Christ it is abolished. But he also says that what God has said is never wrong. Isn’t he just asking people to be open to a deeper interpretation of what God has always said to us? At any rate, I would like to see which line in that report, you think is heretical.

          • Jack said it was ambiguous and should be read alongside the original Relatio and its misapplication of the Law of Gradualness.

            “The law teaches the way to Christ, and “if the law does not lead to Jesus Christ,” Francis said, “and if it doesn’t get us closer to Jesus Christ, it is dead.”

            Very orthodox – very Jesuitical. Does the law teach us the way to Christ? It informs us of what God asks from us as His followers. Surely its the Holy Spirit who leads us to Christ and when He does, through grace, we strive to comply with God’s commandments? And what laws was he actually referring to? Bear in mind the timing and his reference was the Mosaic law and yet he switches to Christian Church law.

            Then in his closing speech to Synod he warns of this:

            “The temptation to neglect the “depositum fidei” [the deposit of faith], not thinking of themselves as guardians but as owners or masters (of it)”

            So what is he actually saying about Christ’s law???

          • Albert

            What I mean is that in order to condemn something as heretical, you need a specific proposition, and that the Holy Father does not give, therefore, he could not be condemned.

          • Agreed. Jack did not accuse him of open heresy. He expressed a concern about his ambiguous statements and this Synod and where these things were heading.

            Francis is not daft enough to make at outright heretical statement.

          • CliveM

            Happy Jack

            You will need to explain. Was it his statement? I thought it was a synod commitee that made the statement. How then is Francis being heretical?

          • No Francis made it in a homily at Mass on the Monday morning before the deceptive account of the Synod’s proceedings was launched.

            As Jack said to Albert, it wasn’t overtly heretical.
            “ … if the law does not lead to Jesus Christ and if it doesn’t get us closer to Jesus Christ, it is dead.”

            In one sense, this is a truism but open to twisting. That’s its problem. Just think about its implications. If the ‘law’ on homosexuality, or abortion, or contraception, or divorce, cohabitation etc. serves as a barrier to people coming to Church and receiving the Eucharist, change the law or modify its application, and permit people to gradually reform their lives. If these laws don’t get us closer to Jesus, then they are redundant.

            What it overlooks is that in Christianity, unlike Judaism, following the law doesn’t lead us to Christ. The Holy Spirit and grace does. However, once we are converted, God’s demands are clear and He wants us to follow His ways and make a decisive break with sin and turn to Him. We can fail and put our lives back in keeping with His requests. What we cannot do is say is that its alright to continue in sin because we are weak, or changing our lives is too difficult.

          • Albert

            If that’s what the Holy Father meant, then, yes, there’s a real problem with that.

          • The problem is that what he said can be read in different ways.

          • Albert

            Agreed. I hope that what he is trying to do is to create a canvass on which the bishops were able to paint or write.

            BTW, I’ve just read that the uprising of bishops at the Synod last Thursday was the anniversary of JPII’s election! Perhaps they had some heavenly help!

          • Some have attributed it as a divine intervention as a result of Pope Saint John Paul’s intercession.

          • Athanasius

            Perhaps “forced” is too strong a word. Benedict stepped down because he knew he was perceived (wrongly, I believe) as being the chief fixer in the sex scandals cover-up, and hard as he tried, he simply couldn’t shake off that. For the greater good, therefore, he abdicated. I think if enough senior cardinals quietly go to Francis, he may do the same.

          • Albert

            Yes, there may be truth in that. I doubt that would apply to Francis though.

          • CliveM

            Albert

            I think he stood down because he knew he didn’t have the necessary stamina to address the structural and administrative problem of the RC. I respect him for that. It is good he showed the necessary honesty.

          • Albert

            That’s my view too.

      • God moves in mysterious ways, Albert.

    • I suspect Francis may not be on the Papal throne when it reconvenes.

      Thanks Ath, you’ve given the Archbish a click bait twitter line to draw people in to an article that doesn’t discuss that subject, in a topic which was discussed better by Damien and less loquaciously over at the Speccie. If Cranmer is hoping the RCC is on a journey into the muddied fudge of the Anglican communion (Western schism) then he is mistaken for the very same reason all the Western schismatics in the Anglicans are: The global south won’t stand for it, and will show the Westerners what an irrelevance they are to the life of the global church they are, if necessary, although purely in a spirit of Romans 1. It is that Global South who are keeping the barque of Rome on an even keel also.

  • len

    This homosexual problem within the RCC will continue until the issue of celibacy is looked at.

    • Oh yeah. That worked for Anglicanism, not.

      • Guglielmo Marinaro

        The issue is not a simple, uncomplicated one, but Len undoubtedly has a point. I doubt very much that the Anglican Church nowadays has anywhere near as many homosexual priests who ought not to be priests as the Roman Catholic Church has. When I say “ought not to be priests”, I don’t mean because they are homosexual. I mean because they entered the priesthood in a futile attempt to escape from their sexuality. I know some of them. In fact I once toyed with the idea myself, although fortunately not for long.

        If a church, which imposes mandatory celibacy on its clergy, teaches that being homosexual is “an intrinsically disordered condition” and that gay relationships are “sinful”, then young gay Catholic men who take this cruel nonsense seriously (although I am gratified to note that ever fewer are doing so) are going to look for a way of copping out of being gay and many are going to see the priesthood as one obvious way. It is likely to be only when they are well and truly trapped in the priesthood, into which they have been “guilted” as opposed to having a genuine vocation, that they will realise that they have not solved their “problem” – which should not have been a problem in the first place – but have merely complicated it by adding another one.

        • Albert

          There are always people who end up ordained for the wrong reasons and I am sure there are examples of what you say. However, the fact that the process takes six years and includes a great deal of discernment, means what you say is less usual than you might think.

          • And that’s one reason why preventing the entry of homosexuals to seminaries was reinforced by Pope Benedict.

          • Guglielmo Marinaro

            I didn’t realise that entry of homosexuals to seminaries was reinforced by Pope Benedict. I think you meant to write something else, didn’t you? No matter. Although I disagree with the thinking behind Pope Benedict’s prohibition, so far as I understand it, if it diminishes the number of gay men who enter the priesthood for the wrong reasons, then I’m all for it. But I think that nowadays gay Catholic men who are prepared to do this are pretty thin on the ground anyway and are getting ever thinner.

          • Guglielmo Marinaro

            Yes, it may be. On the other hand it may be even more usual than either you or I suspect. As I’ve already said, I know priests in that situation. Some have left the priesthood; some have not. I have no reason to go actively looking for such people, but I find no improbability in the supposition that I would find plenty more if I did. The one comforting thought is that, since unenlightened views about homosexuality are fading fast, including among young Catholics, far fewer gay Catholic men will get themselves into this predicament in years to come.

          • Albert

            On the other hand it may be even more usual than either you or I suspect.

            Possibly. I would say though that the evidence is against it because of the length of time of discernment. Indeed, as time goes on, I would think (as you do), that as awareness of homosexuality develops it becomes more unlikely that someone with a homosexual orientation will end up ordained for a wrong reason.

    • Albert

      “The homosexual problem” within the Catholic Church will continue for as long as the Church exists. Homosexuals do not have three heads. They are human beings, like everyone else. Like everyone else, they are also sinners. Like all other sinners, they are loved and called by Christ. Like all other sinners, they sometimes fall and are called back. This is not a question of celibacy, it is a question of the state of humanity in a context in which God has visited his people and made his dwelling among them.

      • Politically__Incorrect

        Yes, homosexuals are sinners, but unlike homosexuals, heterosexual sinners are not asking the church to condone their sin by mis-interpreting Scripture or interpreting it selectively. In that sense, many Cgristian homosexuals are not like other sinners. Most Christian sinners will accept they have broken “the rules”. Homesexuals tend to believe that God got the rules wrong on same-sex relations and want to rewrite them for Him.

        • Albert

          unlike homosexuals, heterosexual sinners are not asking the church to condone their sin by mis-interpreting Scripture or interpreting it selectively.

          On the contrary, many heterosexuals want the Church’s teaching to be changed on the questions of divorce, remarriage and Holy Communion. They often seem quite in favour of ordaining women too. Where do you stand on those issues?

          • Politically__Incorrect

            Man can not rewrite God’s laws. Many people are trying to, but none as noisily or aggressively as the homosexual lobby.

          • Albert

            Well, I’m not so sure. Take the case of remarriage after divorce. It is abundantly clear that this is not possible, but most Christian communities, not only allow communion in this state, but also conduct the remarriages themselves. Perhaps you might argue this is not being noisy or aggressive, but it is certainly successful. Take again, the ordination of women – are not homosexuals merely following in their path?

          • Cressida de Nova

            This is not Catholic and never ever will be, in spite of all the meetings etc etc. It just cannot change in spite of what the Protestant Churches do. No one is going to be able to bend the rules to fit in with modern day life. This is a terrible time for the Church because there is really in truth nothing they can change and they are stuck with millions of Catholics who have adopted the modern ways of contraception divorce and remarriage and they don’t know what to do with them.Homosexuality is a small minority problem compared to the former. They can only offer them spiritual communion and participation in Catholic life and a lot will settle for that anyway without trying to change things .

            I thought all Catholics understood that certain precepts are carved in stone. I am suprised that so many Bishops do not.
            Having said that there are reasonable grounds for annulment of marriages for divorced persons so there can be remarriage in certain circumstances after divorce. However cohabitation comprising a sexual relationship without marriage will never be tolerated.Practising homosexuality will never be tolerated either. The rules for celibacy in priesthood will change eventually . There is no permanent obstacle to that one.

            I don’t think late in life converts ever can ever free themselves from former religious influence. I know it is not your fault Albert that you are still very Anglican in a lot of your attitudes (probably unconsciously .)

          • bluedog

            But Cressida, don’t you think that the Roman Church is harsh and unfeeling in denying the sacrament of the Eucharist to divorcees? Take the instance of a woman abandoned by her husband, which is sadly the most likely cause of divorce. Why should she, the blameless party, be denied the comfort of the sacrament? One reads that within Islam, a woman who is raped is presumed guilty if she cannot provide witnesses to support her innocence, an impossible task. The attitude of your own church to divorced women seems very little different to this Anglican.

          • Cressida de Nova

            Your comparison is a bit exaggerated.In the case you mention Bluedog, of course a divorcee can take communion.She however must remain celibate and cannot remarry unless her former marriage is annulled. Most women don’t observe this ruling and either cohabit,or remarry and don’t receive Holy Communion at the Mass. I am in this group. Do I wish it were otherwise? No, I don’t. To make changes in the basic tenets would undermine the whole concept of Catholicism. I think Catholicism is for the fortunate few like Dodo who accidentally fits into the criterion….or converts who need stability in their lives or very old people who have few opportunities to be tempted by any interesting sins…the rest of we millions of” bad “Catholics will just hang in there the way we are, send our children to Catholic schools, support the Church financially by our volunteer services,lead Catholic lives to the best of our abilities and follow the spirit of the Catholic ethos if not the letter.We are useful and the Church needs us.

          • bluedog

            Thank you for the clarification, Cressida. Reading some of the press comment following the Synod, it seemed to this communicant that a divorced Catholic woman could not take Communion at all. But from your explanation the bar seems unreasonably high, and it’s hard to understand why a divorced woman should be required to remain celibate in order to remain in communion with the RCC. Another of life’s comforts denied to the once married, but possibly not to a spinster, by way of contrast.

          • “Another of life’s comforts …”

            What a terribly Anglican view of the Eucharist. You make it sound like a glass of wine or a day trip to the seaside.

          • Albert

            Bluedog, you have a point in that one listens to Catholic teaching as thinks “If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is not expedient to marry.” But that’s the problem: Catholic teaching comes direct from the Lord himself.

            If someone divorces and marries another, then Jesus says that is adultery. Why adultery? Not because they are divorced, but because they are still married to the previous spouse. Now St Paul warns against receiving Holy Communion unworthily. Ergo…

            But yes, it is very tough. Am I glad that the marriage is indissoluble? Yes, I am. It is an immense gift of God to his people. Do I feel for those who get into difficulties because of this great gift? Yes, I do, but that does not alter the teaching, for that teaching comes from the very highest authority.

          • bluedog

            Albert, setting aside the strictures of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith on the matter, from a practical perspective the restrictions on taking Communion by divorcees is an excellent way of persuading them to leave the Roman Church, together with their children. It happens.

          • Albert

            I didn’t mention the CDF, I mentioned the teaching of the Lord and the teaching of St Paul.

            the restrictions on taking Communion by divorcees is an excellent way of persuading them to leave the Roman Church, together with their children. It happens.

            This is sadly true. It is not however a reason to depart from the Lord’s teaching. It just means that what happened to him happens to us:

            Many of his disciples, when they heard it, said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?”…After this many of his disciples drew back and no longer went about with him. Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also wish to go away?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life; and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”

            So sad as I am that that happens, the fact that it happened to the Lord would mean that I would worry if people never deserted the Catholic Church because we are faithful to Jesus. What would worry me more though, would be if I belonged to a communion to which people turned, when, in rejecting the Catholic Church, they are really turning from the Lord’s teaching.

            Of course, all this rests on the Catholic exegesis of Jesus’ teaching being correct. But since that hasn’t been challenged, the argument must proceed on the assumption that Catholicism is only doing what Jesus says it should do.

          • bluedog

            Albert, I do understand that you didn’t mention the CDF, but equally I presume that as the invigilator (is that the right word?) of RC doctrine, it is within the power of the CDF to recommend and promulgate a change of position with regard to divorcees/Communion. I don’t want to get bogged down in procedural matters, which is a different argument. Nowhere in the gospel does Christ reject the idea of divorcees being offered Communion, and we both know why. We live in a world where divorce is faultless and very common with up to one third or more of marriages failing. Thus there is a huge demographic of the divorce affected, both parents and children in the formerly Christian West. Taking a globally Christian view, and not a point scoring Anglican/RC view, it seems utterly insane for the largest Christian denomination to alienate this needy population. Not much Christian forgiveness there. The secularists, Islamists and any other enemies of Christianity can hardly believe their luck.

          • Albert

            Bluedog,

            I do understand that you didn’t mention the CDF, but equally I presume that as the invigilator (is that the right word?) of RC doctrine, it is within the power of the CDF to recommend and promulgate a change of position with regard to divorcees/Communion.

            That’s quite a controversial claim, and much of what has been said about the Synod on the Family has been precisely about whether even an authority higher than the CDF (the Pope) can make that change. The issue is simply this:

            1. Remarriage after divorce is adultery (Jesus).

            2. Adultery is a grave sin (Ex.20)

            3. People should not receive communion unworthily (St Paul).

            4. Therefore people who have remarried after divorce (i.e. with the previous spouse still living) should not receive communion.

            4. is painful and upsetting, but it follows from 1-3. The question therefore is not “Shall we change it?” but “How do we love and support people in this situation?”

            Nowhere in the gospel does Christ reject the idea of divorcees being offered Communion, and we both know why.

            Because he knew he could leave the principle to St Paul? Actually, it is implicit in his teaching since someone in a state of adultery would not, I think, be able to participate fully in the religious life of the nation, in Jesus’ time.

            Taking a globally Christian view, and not a point scoring Anglican/RC view, it seems utterly insane for the largest Christian denomination to alienate this needy population.

            Yes, and you could say that of our Lord in John 6, or on the cross for that matter. Being a Christian is not a popularity contest. However, one thing is certain, cease to be faithful and your numbers will decline.

            Not much Christian forgiveness there.

            What actually are you asking to be forgiven there? The divorce? That is not the obstacle to communion. What about the remarriage? If so, does not forgiveness and reconciliation first require repentance? But aren’t you arguing that communion should be given while someone continues to consummate an adulterous union? The issue therefore is one of what the scripture means, and I don’t see that you have addressed that yet.

            The secularists, Islamists and any other enemies of Christianity can hardly believe their luck.

            Well, isn’t that a telling point?!

          • bluedog

            Matthew 5:32: But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.

            Time for some segmentation. In the first instance, Christ knew the Torah so we don’t need OT references because they are implicit in Christ’s teaching.

            In Matthew 5:32, Christ speaks from the perspective of a man, he talks firstly about a woman being rejected as a spouse for no apparent reason (put away), and then secondly a woman being rejected on account of her unfaithfulness or adultery(fornication). Christ then makes a single observation that applies to both forms of divorce that he had mentioned in the previous comment, ‘whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery’. At the risk of being struck down, was Christ right to have proscribed a common punishment for two different situations, in particular one where the woman is the injured party (put away) rather than the injuring party (fornication)?

            We can agree that adultery is a sin but in Matthew 5:32, Christ seems to declare that a woman is a sinner following her divorce even though there may be no fault of her own (put away).

            Do you concede this point?

          • Albert

            Yes, Jesus is saying that a woman who has been divorced becomes an adulteress, even if it isn’t her fault. The question is, why does he say this?

          • bluedog

            Albert asks, and possibly knows the answer, ‘The question is, why does he say this?’
            Now this a tricky one and fraught with reputational risk. After all, if you are the Son of God and you are caught out making self-contradictory remarks about key social policies it doesn’t look good. So in the circumstances this communicant would suggest that Jesus falls back on the standard line, ‘I was misquoted’.

          • Albert

            I don’t understand this answer. Are you saying Jesus didn’t say what Matthew 5 says he says? I also cannot see why you think Jesus is apparently being self-contradictory. It’s perfectly possible to interpret his words in a coherent sense, indeed, the problem of incoherence only arises if one interprets Jesus in a “pro-divorce” kind of way.

            I think there is a very clear reason why Jesus says that a husband divorcing his wife make her an adulteress. Jesus says that he who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery. Why adultery? Because the first marriage still exists, so the second marriage is necessarily adulterous. Thus he teaches the insolubility of marriage.

            But the question then arises of the remarriage of the deserted spouse. Is that adultery? In Matthew 5 Jesus replies in the affirmative. Why? Because the first marriage is indissoluble, so if the divorced wife marries another (and Jesus is realistic enough to see this as likely once a woman has become single again), then she commits adultery (and whoever marries her commits adultery too), but the husband who left her has caused her adultery.

            It’s in this context that the exception applies. It clearly cannot mean that the deserted party gets to remarry, as he has just called that adultery. So that is not what the exception means.

            The question Jesus is addressing in the exception clause, seems to be this: given that the husband causes the wife’s adultery if he divorces her, is he still guilty of her adultery, if she goes off fornicating with someone else? Here Jesus answers in the negative. Hence the passage as you quoted it yesterday, can be understood without contradiction, provided one opposes all remarriage of divorcees, whether deserted or deserting:

            Matthew 5:32: But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.

            There is no stronger teaching against divorce in the corpus than this teaching which is used (contradictorily) to claim that Jesus permitted the “innocent” party to remarry. Now if this interpretation is correct, then surely pretty well every church is in open rebellion against the teaching of the Lord on marriage. There is, of course, one Church which is faithful to the Lord’s words in scripture on marriage, and it is Roman.

          • bluedog

            A magnificent response from the Roman perspective, Albert, congratulations. I should have read more into the verse. You may say that every church other than that of Rome is in open rebellion against Christ’s teaching, but it is within the power of a church to interpret the scripture. Faced with the societal damage caused by divorce, most churches, save Rome, recognise the need to permit mitigation rather than the enduring social catastrophe inherent in the absolutism you advocate..

          • Albert

            Thank you Bluedog. I don’t think any Church has the right to contradict our Lord in its interpretation. Secondly, the absolutism I advocate is simply that of our Lord. Thirdly, as to societal damage, are you aware that in the 1920s the USSR introduced divorce on demand (along with abortion) precisely to undermine the family (the latter being a source of opposition to the Communist regime). I find it curious that the position of the USSR is now adopted by Christians against the Lord’s teaching. By describing the later relationships as adultery, Jesus is not setting up an ideal, he is describing a truth. That truth is that the second marriage is not a marriage at all, and that the relationship is itself adultery. That’s quite a serious point. Is it kind of a Christian body to deny the flock that truth? (Of course, if it isn’t a truth, then my interpretation should be challenged.)

          • bluedog

            The absolutism of our Lord in this case is further evidence of the dangers of power without responsibility. Nobody can persuade me that a woman who is put away and who is then deemed to be an adulteress in perpetuity has not suffered a gross injustice, twice. Why should anyone be morally penalised for an injury over which they have no control? It makes no sense and is an essentially indefensible position. Any institution promoting or enforcing such injustice deserves to fail. While it may be a ‘truth’ to describe any subsequent marriage as adulterous, such truth can only be obtained at the expense of human happiness and at the cost of further societal damage (recognising that divorce itself is enormously damaging in the first instance). Thus the Roman proscription is to resolve damage by inflicting further damage. Masterly.

          • Albert

            Bluedog,

            The absolutism of our Lord in this case is further evidence of the dangers of power without responsibility.

            Are you accusing our Lord of acting with power but not responsibility?

            Nobody can persuade me that a woman who is put away and who is then deemed to be an adulteress in perpetuity has not suffered a gross injustice, twice.

            No, she is not deemed to be an adulteress because she is divorced. A woman divorced in Jesus’ example is a wronged woman. Jesus says she becomes an adulteress if she remarries, but that’s not because she is divorced, but because she is still married. Hence, the following is mistaken:

            Why should anyone be morally penalised for an injury over which they have no control?

            She isn’t being morally penalised for the fact that she is divorced. So I suppose my question to you is, tweaking your position to account for the fact that she is not an adulteress just for being divorced, do you still stand by the rest of your comments in this post?

          • bluedog

            ‘Are you accusing our Lord of acting with power but not responsibility?’

            That’s the way it seems to me. Even accepting that the woman put away is a wronged woman, and recognising that in the eyes of Christ she becomes an adulteress once remarried, from my perspective this judgement simply compounds the woman’s injury. Is that the act of a loving God? Consequently if the wronged woman has the chance of finding happiness in marriage to another man, that benefit is compromised by the guilt her sin of adultery according to the Roman church and/or Christ. Scarcely an incentive to reform the family unit, which we all recognise as the bedrock of society.

            Let’s look at a further example, very common in modern society. A woman leaves (deserts?) her husband as a result of domestic violence, taking her children with her. This woman has acted in self-defence, a position regarded separately and in other circumstances by the law of the land as a defence for murder. But the teaching of Christ through your interpretation would appear to be once again that the woman, although undoubtedly wronged but not ‘put away’, is destined to be an adulteress if she remarries. Yet if she had remained married she may have become another one of the very many women killed each year by their partners. Forgive me Father, for I have sinned; and as a result I am still alive and happy, no?

            You ask, ‘do you still stand by the rest of your comments in this post?’ Oh yeah.

            My message is simple. It’s all very well to deal in strictures of Cartesian purity, but confronted with the reality of the human condition and the potential for massive collateral damage by following these strictures to their conclusion, the Roman church proves that the road to Hell is paved with good intentions.

          • Albert

            Bluedog,

            That’s the way it seems to me. Even accepting that the woman put away is a wronged woman, and recognising that in the eyes of Christ she becomes an adulteress once remarried, from my perspective this judgement simply compounds the woman’s injury.

            Are you not in danger of accusing our Lord of sin? Don’t we, as Christians recognize God as the highest good and the first truth? If you were saying that my interpretation is incorrect, then I could understand your position, but you seem to be saying that it is Christ who is wrong. What is the standard by which you judge him wrong? “Truth always speaks truly, or there’s nothing true” as St Thomas Aquinas says.

            Is that the act of a loving God?

            But how do you know that God is love? Look at natural revelation and you will see the evidence is ambiguous. Yes, God has created this wonderful world, but it is also a terrible world. Can you infer with confidence that its creator is love? Our confidence that he is love comes from Christ, but it is Christ’s authority that you are impugning here. So how can you use his teaching on God’s love against his teaching on other things? Isn’t a better way of looking at it to ask whether perhaps, despite appearances, the teaching is itself part of God’s love for his people?

            On which note, if you stand against our Lord here, on the grounds that a woman may be unhappy, why stand on the authority of Paul against homosexual relationships? Isn’t it the same argument, except that Paul would be the first to proclaim that he has no authority if Christ does not?

            A woman leaves (deserts?) her husband as a result of domestic violence, taking her children with her.

            For her to do that may well be the right thing for her to do – very likely is as temporary measure – and it may turn out to be that that temporary measure becomes permanent. But that is not the same thing as deciding permanently to end a marriage. If you use such comparisons, shouldn’t you be campaigning for the vows to be altered? “For better for worse” for example ought to be removed. But no one would accept that, because everyone, in getting married at least, recognizes that marriage “for better for worse” is part of the very essence of marriage.

            This woman has acted in self-defence, a position regarded separately and in other circumstances by the law of the land as a defence for murder.

            Careful. Anyone can kill in self-defence – i.e. if there is an immediate threat to one’s life, but that does not mean anyone can kill once that immediate threat is removed. So you cannot justify a remarriage because you can justify killing in self-defence. Secondly, a woman killing because she is under great mental strain may find that the law looks kindly on her because her guilt is mitigate or wholly removed by the mental state he has put her in. But all that shows is that a woman remarrying may have her guilt mitigated or removed by her circumstances. That is true for any act. But that does not allow us to declare that was is sin is really good.

            It’s all very well to deal in strictures of Cartesian purity

            How did Descartes come into this? It’s about the teaching of Jesus. Show me my interpretation is wrong, and we can have a discussion

            but confronted with the reality of the human condition

            You think Jesus did not know about the human condition?

            and the potential for massive collateral damage by following these strictures to their conclusion

            And what about the massive collateral damage of weakening the nature of marriage? A day or so ago I mentioned how the Soviets brought in divorce to attack the family. Eventually, they had to tighten up on divorce, because, although they wanted to undermine the family, they found they had created so much chaos it undermined everything. So even if I concede your utilitarian ethic, it still isn’t obvious that your conclusion follows. And as I assume Jesus knows best, why would I then follow your argument, and having followed your argument, why would I ever listen to Jesus again?

            the Roman church proves that the road to Hell is paved with good intentions.

            No, no, no. Let’s call a spade a spade, earlier you complained of our Lord acting without responsibility in this and you recognis[ed] that in the eyes of Christ she becomes an adulteress once remarried,. It might be easy for you, as a Protestant to put this down as some terrible “Roman” thing. But isn’t it the case that the Catholic Church takes her position on this in order to follow Christ? And isn’t following Christ the way to salvation, and rejection of him the way to hell?

            The issue then can only be this: what does Jesus teach? The fact that his teaching is almost (but not completely) universally rejected by Protestants is telling in itself.

            None of this means that I have no sympathy for those in the situations we are discussing. But since when has “love your neighbour” meant “Tell them not to follow Jesus”?

          • Albert

            [Bluedog, mysteriously my reply to your post appears somewhere else entirely, so I am re-posting it here]:

            I don’t understand this answer. Are you saying Jesus didn’t say what Matthew 5 says he says? I also cannot see why you think Jesus is apparently being self-contradictory. It’s perfectly possible to interpret his words in a coherent sense, indeed, the problem of incoherence only arises if one interprets Jesus in a “pro-divorce” kind of way.

            I think there is a very clear reason why Jesus says that a husband divorcing his wife make her an adulteress. Jesus says that he who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery. Why adultery? Because the first marriage still exists, so the second marriage is necessarily adulterous. Thus he teaches the indissolubility of marriage.

            But the question then arises of the remarriage of the deserted spouse. Is that adultery? In Matthew 5 Jesus replies in the affirmative. Why? Because the first marriage is indissoluble, so if the divorced wife marries another (and Jesus is realistic enough to see this as likely once a woman has become single again), then she commits adultery (and whoever marries her commits adultery too), but the husband who left her has caused her to commit adultery.

            It’s in this context that the exception applies. It clearly cannot mean that the deserted party gets to remarry, as Jesus has just called that adultery. So that is not what the exception means.

            The question Jesus is addressing in the exception clause, seems to be this: given that the husband causes the wife’s adultery if he divorces her, is he still guilty of her adultery, if she goes off fornicating with someone else? Here Jesus answers in the negative. Hence the passage as you quoted it yesterday, can be understood without contradiction, provided one opposes all remarriage of divorcees, whether deserted or deserting:

            Matthew 5:32: But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.

            There is no stronger teaching against divorce in the corpus than this teaching which is used (contradictorily) to claim that Jesus permitted the deserted party to remarry. Now if the interpretation I am giving is correct, then surely pretty well every church is in open rebellion against the teaching of the Lord on marriage. There is, of course, one Church which is faithful to the Lord’s words in scripture on marriage, and it is Roman.

          • “I think Catholicism is for the fortunate few like Dodo who accidentally fits into the criterion….or converts who need stability in their lives or very old people who have few opportunities to be tempted by any interesting sins…”
            Now, now, Cressie. Jack is “fortunate” in the sense he is not a homosexual nor is he divorced. He is grateful not to have these burdens. The former he has no control over as he’s never found men sexually attractive. The latter he makes no boasts about and thanks God his marriage has lasted through several rocky patches. Jack will say that the indisolvability Of course, now he is older he has fewer opportunities to be tempted by “interesting sins” too.

          • Albert

            Cressida, I agree with everything you have said here. In fact, (excepting the slight “pseudo-donatism” at the end) I think this is the best comment of yours I have ever read.

            However, you have misunderstood my point. I wasn’t saying that the Church was going to change, I was talking about other Christians and changes made in other ecclesial communities.

            So you see, I am more Catholic than you realise (the fact that I have to defend my Catholicity may cause some amusement in some circles!).

          • The feminist agenda remains pretty vocal over the *right* to *sexual freedom*, meaning contraception and abortion. The euthanasia lobby is becoming louder too. In Germany the divorced want access to Communion and have some financial clout. These issues tend to converge and form unholy partnerships which either dismiss God and His laws as fantasy or by reinterpreting scripture.

          • Albert

            And to follow that, I would say that some of those agendas are far worse than the homosexual agenda in itself. Abortion is a far greater sin, and euthanasia too. I would add that, in my experience of homosexuals, they are far more tolerant of my opinions than your average supporter of abortion.

          • Its an aligned agenda, Albert. They all attacking family life and the male-female relationship and children. Tolerance isn’t the issue as they all continue chopping away at the faith of our fathers. Some with a smile and soft words; others with a snarl.

          • Albert

            A lot of these people might have been communists in a previous age. The kind of person who is an instinctive cultural wrecker.

          • Cressida de Nova

            How arrogant but predictable ! You think homosexuality is a lesser sin than abortion or euthanasia because homosexuals are nice chaps who tolerate your opinions.Who told you your opinions are valuable? With a statement like this no intelligent person could possibly take you seriously.

          • Albert

            No Cressida, as my comment indicated (“I would add that”), I do not conflate those things. I think abortion is a greater sin than homosexual acts because abortion involves killing an innocent child, whereas a homosexual act does not.

          • CliveM

            Absolutely correct. Personally I uncomfortable with this obsession with homosexual sex. It is interesting that people seem happy to excuse heterosexual sexual sins (men shagging their way around available women in an indescrimibate and selfish way) and seem not to raise not a single eye brow, but as soon as Gay sex is discussed, their is a mass frothing at the mouth.

          • Albert

            Well said, Clive. One of the things I admire about Catholic moral teaching is that what it says on sexuality applies to everyone. It might sometimes look like gays are the target, but everyone can see (if they care to look), that there is a remarkable consistency to Catholic teaching.

          • bluedog

            ‘men shagging their way around available women in an indescrimibate and selfish way’
            In fact a highly misogynistic practice, and Exhibit A would be Jude Law.

          • CliveM

            Bluedog

            You’ve shamed me. I said rubbish to another statement you’ve made. I am embarressed as you have hit the nail right on the head here!

          • carl jacobs

            CliveM

            I think that is because definitions of masculinity and femininity come into play. Fornication though wrong is still commensurate with the natural use of the body. Homosexuality is confusion. People react to that confusion in a visceral way. That’s why you always hear the “I’m not gay, but…” qualifier. People who support the normalization of homosexuality are often very concerned to make sure their support is not misinterpreted. They want to be identified in accordance with their own understanding of what it means to be a man or woman. It may be about autonomy, but they want it clearly understood which autonomous choice they have made. Which is curious. Because if homosexuality is morally neutral, then that shouldn’t be the case.

            carl

          • CliveM

            Hi Carl

            Yes I think you are right. A lot of this is about the ‘disgust factor’ that many people feel. I think deep down many of us look at someone like Jude Law and understand! But then we look at a gay’s lifestyle and feel disgust and react accordingly. There is no moral difference, we just find Jude Law easier to excuse (and understand)!

          • carl jacobs

            Clive

            More than lifestyle, and I wasn’t referring to disgust. I was talking about identity. Was does it mean to be a man? If masculinity is defined independent of complementary sexual desire, then we have defined it in the absence of the very division of gender that makes masculine and feminine comprehensible. The whole point of the division into two genders assumes sexual desire across the genders and not within. So we end up asking “What does it mean to be a man” as if gender does not exist. The Scripture calls homosexuality confusion for very good reason.

          • DanJ0

            I’ve watched this happen all of my adult life, and been very interested in it for obvious reasons. The teleological view of sexuality in Christianity provides a theoretical approach to the issue but lots of people, Christians included, seem to bring a bucket load of irrational or non-rational stuff into it. I have a rule of thumb for identifying homophobia, even when people are using biblical justifications. If people are very focused on the physical details of the act then they’re almost certainly bringing more to the table than moral intuition and moral reasoning.

          • DanJ0

            Also, lots of us have monogamous, loving, and supportive relationships which are analogous to heterosexual ones in that respect. There isn’t a homosexual lifestyle. Also, I’m probably more masculine than some of the heterosexual men who post here, especially if one employs common stereotypes of church-going people in the UK. I’m an outdoor-pursuits man these days, and used to be a surfer and wind-surfer. I expect there are quite a few Derek Nimmos around here, wearing cardigans and smelling like newborn babies. 🙂

          • CliveM

            Danjo

            Agreed lifestyle was the wrong word as that wasn’t what I meant. I simply meant sex but was being to coy to state it!

          • DanJ0

            Fair do’s.

            As it happens, I expect lots of people also feel disgust at heterosexual people ‘going for it’ inappropriately. I know I do. That’s probably especially true for many if the people are old, fat, or ugly even if it’s not particularly inappropriate. Some of it will be social conditioning. Afterall, it seems that Victorians were shocked and/or titillated by the sight of a woman’s well-turned ankle yet most of us don’t give a hoot today.

          • CliveM

            DanJo

            I have always assumed that homosexuals have the same feeling, but in reverse, if you get my drift. So if Gays find heterosexual sex uncomfortable, I can understand why. Although obviously I don’t feel it. I suppose it’s why I’m convinced it’s an orientation as opposed to a lifestyle choice.

          • CliveM

            Victorians where less shockable then popular mythology would have it.

        • Guglielmo Marinaro

          “heterosexual sinners are not asking the church to condone their sin by mis-interpreting Scripture or interpreting it selectively”

          No, but they soon would do if the church started declaring that heterosexuality was an “intrinsically disordered condition” and that all heterosexual relationships were sinful, and tried to impose perpetual sexual continence on all heterosexuals as a moral obligation.

          As for wanting to re-write the rules on same-sex relations, although an omnipotent God is able by definition to do anything and everything, the evidence that he has ever actually written anything in the first place is poor.

          • James60498 .

            But it won’t and it can’t. Guess what. The human race would die out if heterosexuality and heterosexual acts were stopped. Even woodwork has male and female parts to stop things falling down. That’s the way the world is.

            Some people may naturally be homosexual. But if we all were, society would collapse pretty quick, a bit like those bookshelves you try to put up when the pieces don’t fit.

          • Guglielmo Marinaro

            Yes, and the same would apply if all heterosexual couples used 100% effective contraception every time they had sexual intercourse, if we were all asexual, or if we all became celibate priests, monks or nuns. But there is no greater likelihood in the real world of everyone being homosexual than of any of those other things happening, which is why we don’t need to worry about any of them.

          • bluedog

            ‘But there is no greater likelihood in the real world of everyone being homosexual’ So you would concede that homosexuality is an evolutionary luxury that any species can only afford to a limited degree before it leads to extinction?

          • Guglielmo Marinaro

            Yes, of course. That’s presumably the reason why the mysterious processes of nature keep homosexuality decidedly a minority orientation. Just as, for example, they keep a balance between males and females. We couldn’t afford to have EVERYONE being male or EVERYONE being female, because that would lead to extinction very quickly. But that’s not going to happen either, so we very wisely don’t trouble our heads about such fantasies, but turn our attention instead to matters of real practical concern.

      • CliveM

        Hi Albert

        Frankly you are not on this site enough recently, although I am not always in agreement you never say anything not worth listening to.

        That said I am confused. Not being a RC I may simply not be able to pick up the sub text of what is going on at the synod here.

        To me nothing particularly controversial was being debated. Whilst the RCC was maintaining its position that active homosexuality was wrong ie it did not and would not condone homosexual sex, SSM etc (so far so orthodox) it was willing to accept that people with a Gay disposition, provided they were willing to remain celibate, had a part to play in the Church (like the rest if us sinners). Any changes were purely of tone.

        So I was a little surprised to see any real controversy and upset within the RCC itself. Ok I was NOT surprised to see the media over play what was said, but I did expect the Cardinals to not be too fazed by what was being proposed.

        To my surprise their actually seems to be quite a lot if controversy over it. If I am honest I don’t see what was being said to be substantially different to what you outlined above? What is going on, what am I missing? As far as I can see the chances of the RCC accepting SSM has not sugnificantly changed.

        I’m confused?!!!!!!

        • Albert

          Thank you for your kind comments.

          As I see it, the issue is really to do with the report from the Synod which was published earlier this week. It asked whether Catholic communities were ready to value homosexual orientation (and it wanted the answer “Yes”). Now there are two problems here: firstly, that, in the light of the Church’s teaching, we cannot value homosexual orientation (even though we must value homosexually oriented people). Second, there was a feeling of some sense of manipulation, that, as the final voting and document showed, there was a mismatch between the report and what the bishops were actually saying or thinking.

          The end result has been a triumph for orthodoxy, I think, and it is that that you are picking up. But that triumph did not look likely earlier in the week.

          There was a further issue about homosexual civil partnerships. This too seems to have died a death, as far as I can see, although I haven’t read the whole document.

          Does that shed any light?

          • CliveM

            Albert

            I wasn’t being kind, simply honest.

            Yes thank you for your clarification, I think I am picking up the subtlety of the argument now (although I am not always the brightest bulb in the shop so who knows!).

            I wish that the media listened and reported the whole of what the Church says, and not just that little bit it is obsessed with.

            Of course when I say Church I don’t just mean RCC’s!

          • The much bigger issue was the indefectibility and infallibility of Church teaching on faith and morals and the Magisterium’s job of preserving this and being guardians of it – not adapting it to suit the world. No Pope or Council can change the Truth.

            The manipulations at Synod and use of subtle language is seen by many Catholics as attempting to undermine traditional teaching, especially the application of concept of ‘Gradualism’ in divorce and remarriage in admission to the Eucharist. You cannot say these are God’s laws about homosexuality and marriage and then apply them differentially or ignore them in practice.

            Here’s a good summary of some of the issues:

            http://jimmyakin.com/2014/10/good-news-from-the-synod-of-bishops-12-things-to-know-and-share.html

          • DannyEastVillage

            if you knew church history better than you seem to do, you’d easily see that the way you’re using scripture doesn’t bear scrutiny in light of the history of polity and doctrine in the Roman church. Roman catholics tend – still tend, after all that’s come and gone (mostly gone) to believe that what was said at Trent is what always was and always will be. But that is a very, very long way from being the case.

          • Jack is perfectly aware when the celibacy requirement was introduced and that it is not a dogmatic requirement but a disciplinary requirement.

            As for Trent, it was addressing three Protestant contentions. One, that marriage as a state in life was superior to celibacy; and that Western priests could marry, and that to say otherwise was to disparage matrimony; and that all those who are not aware of having received the gift of chastity are free to marry.

            Trent responded:

            “If any one saith, that the marriage state is to be placed above the state of virginity, or of celibacy, and that it is not better and more blessed to remain in virginity, or in celibacy, than to be united in matrimony; let him be anathema.”

            :’If anyone says that clerics constituted in sacred orders or regulars who have made solemn profession of chastity can contract marriage, and that the one contracted is valid notwithstanding the ecclesiastical law or the vow, and that the contrary is nothing else than a condemnation of marriage, and that all who feel they have not the gift of chastity, even though they have made such a vow, can contract marriage, let him be anathema, since God does not refuse that gift to those who ask for it rightly, neither does he suffer us to be tempted above that which we are able(1 Cor 10:13)’.”

            The above is entirely consistent with Saint Paul in 1 Corinthians 7 which was hardly a glowing recommendation for marriage, it being to avoid the risk of fornication.

            ” I say this by way of concession; I am not imposing a rule on you. I wish you were all in the same state as myself; but each of us has his own endowment from God, one to live in this way, another in that. To the unmarried, and to the widows, I would say that they will do well to remain in the same state as myself, but if they have not the gift of continence, let them marry; better to marry than to feel the heat of passion.”

            Catholics believe the calling to Ministry will be accompanied by the gift of celibacy.

          • Albert

            I doubt Happy Jack has a problem with his Church history. I suspect that he just knows that Church history includes an element of development of doctrine. Did you know that?

      • That is doubtless true, but it is no reason not to correct the monstrous and unnatural (Not to say unbiblical- 1 Tim. 3:2) position of the Church of Rome on the marriage of its ‘priests.’

        • Why’s it “unbiblical”? If men cannot chose to be celibate for the purposes of God’s Kingdom, how can you expect homosexuals to be celibate?

          • Martin

            HJ

            The point is that it is a choice, freely made or rescinded at any time and not for all.

          • Yes, and there’s no compulsion on anyone to enter Catholic Holy Orders and freely take the oath of celibacy. Whether its necessary and appropriate is another question. However, it is not unbiblical. Jesus endorsed it for the sake of the Kingdom and doesn’t Paul commend celibacy?

            And is it a choice freely made or rescinded at any time for Christians who are homosexual, divorced or widowed, or the life long unmarried? Yes it is …. as it is with the clergy.

          • The point is that it is absolutely, clearly and indisputably unbiblical, not to mention unnatural, and as long as the Church of Rome has this rule it will have a larger number than might be expected of its ‘priests’ (and where is a separate class of priests in the New Testament?) fiddling with their choir boys or whatever.
            The point of 1 Tim. 3:2 is that an overseer may not have more than one wife (this at a time when many pagan converts to the Gospel may have been polygamists); it does not forbid a single person from becoming a Pastor, but it does forbid the wicked practice of forcing such a one to choose between his calling and normal family life.

          • “The point is that it is absolutely, clearly and indisputably unbiblical, not to mention unnatural,”

            That’s not been established. Man doesn’t live by sex alone ! Priests, like all Christians, are called to emulate Christ and to overcome ‘nature’ and our fleshly passions.

            ” … and as long as the Church of Rome has this rule it will have a larger number than might be expected of its ‘priests’ (and where is a separate class of priests in the New Testament?) fiddling with their choir boys or whatever.”

            And that’s not an evidence based statement, just assertion based on a prejudice against Rome which is clearly evident in your post.

          • CliveM

            Martin

            It is a sad fact that child abusers operate wherever they can get trusted access to children. Which is why they tend to be attracted to churches. All Churches, not just the RC’s. Which is why all Churches need to take safeguarding seriously. This is not an issue related to celibacy, any more then it is related to homosexuality.
            It is possible to have a serious discussion on celibacy, but only if people avoid un-supported assertions.

          • Where does it do that it is “wicked”?

            And how do you know there is a forced choice to be made between a calling to the Priesthood and family life?

          • CliveM

            Happy Jack

            I thought the Priesthood was a vocation a calling by God. In which case is it freely entered into? Indeed I thought their was a tradition within the RCC (maybe more then a tradition) that said to ignore such a calling was a sin?
            So as the celibacy issue is a discipline not a dogma, has the RCC restricted Gods call to those who will be able to handle celibacy or is God calling those who will ultimately fail this discipline.
            I believe it is the Orthodox Church that calls both, but only allows the celibate to become Bishops (my memory maybe faulty here). It is clear the early Church called the non celibate, Peter was married, so why abandon what was clearly viewed as a good by Jesus and the early Apostles?

          • The Priesthood is a calling by God and, if genuine, and the Holy Spirit wants one to respond, its unlikely to be successfully resisted. As for it being sinful to do so, Jack has never heard that one.

            The Church believes that if one is called to the Priesthood then God will give them sufficient grace, including the gift of celibacy, to overcome our sexual and lustful natures as well as other sinful desires. Priests are not ready made saints but are called to be Christ like. Jack doesn’t believe God would call or place any person in any situation where they were bound to fail, although temptation still has to be resisted and this can only happen through our cooperation with His grace. A mystery remains as to why all people are given sufficient grace, whereas others are given efficacious grace.

            Jack recalls the Church imposed the discipline of celibacy universally in Medieval times for a range of reasons, mainly because all sorts of problems were arising. As for Christ calling married men, He called them away from their jobs and their families and they devoted their lives to Him and His work. Did their spouses and children accompany them? And a number of Apostles appear not to have been married. Certainly, Saint Paul wasn’t.

          • CliveM

            HJ

            I have amended my post slightly, see if you can spot the difference!

          • Martin

            HJ

            Clearly there have been not a few ‘priests’ who have not received sufficient grace. Why might that be do you think?

            BTW, it is quite clear that all Christians are saints, not just a chosen few. Acts 9:13, 32, 41, 26:10, Rom 1:7, 8:27, 12:13, 15:25,26,31, 16:2, 15, 1 Cor 1:2 …..

          • “Clearly there have been not a few ‘priests’ who have not received sufficient grace. Why might that be do you think?”

            We all receive sufficient grace, Martin. As to efficacious grace, that remains a mystery and is a whole new topic.

          • Martin

            HJ

            Clearly they didn’t. Or maybe your whole understanding of grace is wrong.

          • You fully understand grace, predestination, election and damnation, Martin? Even the Catholic Church stops short of making such a claim.

          • Martin

            HJ

            That’s because the church of Rome doesn’t understand them.

          • No, Martin, it’s because the Catholic Church accepts both predestination and man’s free will and has different permissible understandings of the dynamic between these.

            It simply rejects the blasphemous man made idea of ‘double predestination’ presented by Calvinists.

          • Martin

            HJ

            Guess what, no ‘Calvinist’ believes in ‘double predestination’. What we believe is that we all, by nature, deserve Hell. But God in mercy saves some whom He has chosen before time. If you look you will find that in the Bible.

            BTW, since Man by nature is dead in his sins, how can Man have free will? Did Lazarus choose to be raised from the dead, did he exercise his free will? The sinners will is enslaved, he can only choose what angers God.

          • Martin

            HJ

            I’m not sure what ‘Catholic Holy Orders’ are, because nowhere in the Bible is such a concept mentioned. And since these so called orders require celibacy there is no freedom about it at all.

            Neither Jesus nor Paul require it but allow it for those who can. And clearly in the case of ministers of the church of Rome, there are many who cannot.

            It certainly hasn’t been a practice in the Christian Church since its inception, even in the church of Rome it has only been a practice since the Middle Ages

          • Your unbiblical prejudice against an Apostolic Church and Priesthood aside, and the nature of vocation to Ministry, Jack has been clear it is a Church discipline that was universally introduced in the Middle Ages.

            And ………. ?

          • Martin

            HJ

            An apostolic church is one that does not add to the gospel, for one thing there is no office of priest given to the Church in the NT so that is clearly an addition, as is celibacy.

          • Jack doesn’t worship the bible, Martin. He worships the God it reveals. Not all Truth is clearly stated in scripture. There’s more than enough biblical support for both the Priesthood, for the Sacrament of ordination and for the Papal Office.

          • Martin

            HJ

            So you are telling me that God could not provide a Bible that had sufficient clarity for His people to understand? The Bible is God’s word to us, it tells us of God’s design for salvation, the inability of Man to save himself and best of all, of God Himself. To accept what it says is not to worship the book but to worship God.

            There is no support in the Bible for “the Priesthood, for the Sacrament of ordination [or] for the Papal Office”. Indeed, it is quite clear that every Christian is a priest to God, that the sacrifice is over and that no teacher should be called father. What the church of Rome has done is add to what the Bible says and thus it comes under the condemnation of Galatians 1:8. Just like the churches in the early chapter of Revelation, the lampstand has been removed.

          • Each one of your statements can be refuted by scripture – the Priesthood, the Sacrifice of the Mass, and the use of the term Father for Ministers.

            What Jack is saying man cannot comprehend God without God’s revelation and that scripture has to be approached with humility and requires the Holy Spirit’s assistance to comprehend. The Truth as given to the Church as a Body and so requires a collective understanding. It is a book with many levels, cultural metaphors, language nuances and different styles to give us the information needed for salvation. It can only be understood by the Apostolic Church appointed by Christ to do this.

            This is all scriptural and biblical.

          • Martin

            HJ

            Then refute my statements from Scripture.

            The Bible was given by the Holy Spirit & the Holy Spirit is well able to make Scripture understandable to the man in the pew.

            Indeed, it is the duty of that man in the pew to examine what is being taught and ensure it is in line with Scripture.

            The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue. Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.
            (Acts 17:10-11 [ESV]

            The Church, as I have already said, is the congregation of believers, not a man made hierarchy.

          • Oh dear. 1 Timothy 3:2. ‘A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded……etc.’ As I’m sure you are aware, the word ‘Bishop’ here really means the overseer of a church.
            You are the expert on these matters, but it is not my impression that the overseers of the Church of Rome are able to choose whether or not they marry.

          • Oh dear – that’s biblical literalism gone crazy! You actually believe that was an instruction requiring all clergy to be married? Was Saint Paul married?

          • carl jacobs

            Jack

            No, it’s a presumption that in the normative case, they would be married. Celibacy provides advantages to the church. Single men are available and cheap. But to turn celibacy into the normative case is to stand Scripture on its head.

            Virtually all men when given the choice would choose a sexual life. We’re sexual beings. We’re made that way. The celibate priesthood is in truth a distortion of life. Most of those men would choose a wife if given the opportunity – any alleged gift of celibacy notwithstanding.

            Unfortunately, those who have lived the discipline would have their sacrifice invalidated by removing the discipline. And they get to make the decision. So I don’t see it changing any time soon. But it should.

            Celibacy – the only gift people want less than fruit cake.

          • One or two assumptions in there, Carl. Besides, even if correct, how’s the choice of a celibate priesthood “unbiblical”? Because it goes against the grain of human nature?

          • There is no choice as you know perfectly well.
            Your ‘magisterium’ (actually Hildebrand in the 11th Century) decreed, in absolute denial of the plain word of God, that anyone who felt called to pastor God’s people had to remain single.
            The result has been a whole pile of lies, denial and wickedness down the centuries.

          • See they are just assertions, Martin.
            You really haven’t established that priestly celibacy is in “absolute denial of the plain word of God” or that “wickedness down the centuries” is attributable to it.

          • “Celibacy – the only gift people want less than fruit cake.”

            Well, for one, Jack would have welcomed it many moons ago. It was not to be and he now knows he would have made a very poor priest indeed. His calling in life lay in another direction.

            And you do know the Pope has the authority to change this discipline as its not a dogmatic doctrine?

          • Hi Happy Jack ,

            Could the Pope ever make the celibacy rules a dogmatic doctrine?

          • The Magisterium base doctrine on scripture, tradition and reason. Celibacy has always ben a discipline and never a dogma, unlike a male only priesthood.

          • Hi happy Jack,

            The first bit sounds Jewish to me(albeit not the language we’d probably use). The second, I get that. But I was wondering about the extent to which the Magisterium can change stuff.

          • Jewish? Of course. Christianity is after all the fulfilment of Judaism – but that’s a whole other subject ;o)

            The Magisterium cannot “change stuff”. It is charged with providing an interpretation of God’s Will as revealed in scripture, the Tradition of the Church and through the application of reason. Truth cannot be changed. It existed before we existed; before Abraham; and before Peter was given the Keys and authority to lead the earthly Church.

          • Hi Happy Jack,

            Thanks for that information. I didn’t follow a lot of it and like Clive with my Jewish references, I had to look up some of the terms, but I get the drift….

          • CliveM

            Hi Hannah

            I had google some of it as well!

          • Albert

            No.

          • Hi Albert,

            Well a direct answer there! (which is unlike you). I was genuinely interested, the question wasn’t loaded or trying to provoke a debate…. I’ll try Wikipedia next time (:

          • Albert

            Don’t worry, I didn’t think it was a loaded question. It’s just that, like the Catholic Church, sometimes I just like to say “No”!!

          • dannybhoy

            Interesting article here…
            http://www.dennyburk.com/was-the-apostle-paul-married/
            But in support of your comment, Paul regarded his celibacy as a gift.

          • IanCad

            Come off it Carl!!
            Americans make fruit cakes like we Brits only dream of.
            Texas fruitcakes. Nothing like them.
            The monks of Mepkin Abbey come pretty close though.

          • CliveM

            Fruit cake – the devils food!!

          • Albert

            No, it’s a presumption that in the normative case, they would be married.

            Is it? That’s not what it says. In order to get your interpretation, you have to move from the literal meaning. And your interpretation is open to challenge. Why as our Lord and Paul both commend celibacy as superior to marriage (I don’t think that is difficult to see) would Paul then say that marriage should be normative for those who minister? Surely, his meaning is that ministers should not be married more than once. And that of course, would require celibacy if the wife died.

            Moreover, I find it odd that Protestants quote this passage, when it so clearly tells against the practice of having remarried ministers, which are so common in Protestantism. Quite apart from the fact that, for so many Protestants, their practice on divorce and remarriage is so plainly contrary to the plain teaching of the Lord:

            Blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.

          • CliveM

            Hi Albert

            Sadly what is an interesting discussion gets polarised by the use of inflammatory language. Some people seem to equate extreme language with proof of orthodoxy and piety!!

            On saying that, clearly celibacy has had a place within the Church since the start. But then so has the married Clergy. For me it’s the denial by the Church that married men can have this Priestly role that is wrong. The way it’s sometimes put (by defenders of an exclusively celibate Priesthood) it can read as if that in calling men to this role, God will adjust who he calls to suit Church discipline, whereas surely Church discipline should be adjusting to Gods call?

          • Albert

            I think you make some good points, Clive, and your position is entirely consistent with Catholicism (since celibacy for the clergy is not doctrine). Of course, the Catholic Church always has had some married clergy because Eastern Christians always retained the tradition. I think your point about God’s will is important, and raises some theological questions. There is certainly a case to say that the celibacy rule conflate priesthood and monasticism.

            My interest here would be to say that the rule can be defended on four grounds:

            1. The rule is not inhumane.
            2. The rule is not contrary to scripture.
            3. There are serious benefits of mandatory celibacy.
            4. There are disadvantages of married priests.

            But it’s not something I would die in a ditch for, as it could be changed, and I think may well be changed.

          • CliveM

            Albert

            I am broadly in agreement with points 1 and 2. With regards 3 and 4, whilst true, so is the contrary. Their are disadvantages to mandatory Priestly celibacy and their are advantages to having married Priests.
            However as I am sure the Pope isn’t going to listen to my views, it’s all a bit academic!!

          • Albert

            Agreed. All I want to show is that the Catholic Church’s position is reasonable from a Christian perspective. How one weighs 3&4 is a matter of opinion and a faithful Catholic could go either way.

            A big problem of married clergy is what happens when they divorce. An existing problem of divorce would be made worse. An existing problem of priests falling in love with their parishioners would be made worse as well.

            Having said that, if the Holy Father feels he has been blocked and frustrated by conservatives, he might make precisely this kind of change to assert his authority and to ensure he has some kind of legacy. On the other hand, if he feels he has been blocked, he may feel bound not to make any more moves, and feel that to do so would be petulant. On the other hand again, he may not feel he has been blocked and frustrated – we just don’t know.

          • CliveM

            Understood. I find these discussions useful as they help me to identify what the basis is for my opinion on something ie are my objections more ideological as opposed to theological!!

          • CliveM

            The snake handlers of certain US Churches are examples of Biblical literalism gone crazy! This seems to be within the bounds of a reasonable understanding!

          • Albert

            I’m still waiting for a reply to my comment a day ago:

            I wonder if you could flesh out a bit what you mean by “monstrous” and “unnatural” in this post. What you think 1 Tim.3.2 is saying would be helpful also.

        • Albert

          I wonder if you could flesh out a bit what you mean by “monstrous” and “unnatural” in this post. What you think 1 Tim.3.2 is saying would be helpful also.

          • First of all, sorry to be so long replying.
            One dictionary definition of ‘monstrous’ is Outrageously wrong or absurd. Will that do? To forbid those who feel called to Christian ministry to marry quite obviously falls into that definition. It forces them into a choice that no one should have to make. To say that a minister who will have to counsel married couples on a regular basis is the one person who is to be denied any experience of the matter is just completely crazy as well as being utterly opposed to the Bible. It is in fact part of the apostasy foretold by the Apostle Paul (1 Timothy 4:3).
            I don’t believe that 1 Tim. 3:2 forbids an unmarried man from entering the ministry. As I understand it, in the early church many pagans who were polygamists were converted and the question arose as to whether they should put their excess wives away. The decision was that this would cause excessive hardship to the discarded spouses and therefore they should keep their wives (if the wives were content with the situation) but that such people should not become church officers so as not to show approval of polygamy (1 Cor. 7:2). I believe churches in Moslem countries sometimes face similar issues today.
            Some single men have made fine church ministers. John Stott is an example. However, to exclude the married from ministry, which was only brought into the Church of Rome in the 11th Century under Hildebrand, is IMO just plain wicked.

          • Albert

            Martin,

            To forbid those who feel called to Christian ministry to marry quite obviously falls into that definition.

            The fact that someone feels called to something, does not mean that they are. The Catholic Church, recognizing that both marriage and ministry are whole life vocations judges that it is not possible to do both at the same time. That’s not wicked or absurd, it’s just realistic.

            To say that a minister who will have to counsel married couples on a regular basis is the one person who is to be denied any experience of the matter is just completely crazy as well as being utterly opposed to the Bible.

            On that basis you ought to be making marriage a requirement. But, your example still fails. One of the reasons for that counsel is because marriages may be in the process of failing. Does a minister have to have a failing marriage in order to be able to counsel someone in that state? Does he need to have attempted suicide in order to talk someone down from a bridge? Does he need to have had a homosexual relationship in order to be able to relate to homosexuals? I could go on…

            It is in fact part of the apostasy foretold by the Apostle Paul

            You call that a fact?! This is the problem with Protestantism, it encourages people to assume that their thoughts are God’s thoughts…

            I don’t believe that 1 Tim. 3:2 forbids an unmarried man from entering the ministry.

            But once you have conceded its correct meaning is not its literal meaning, it can no longer count against a celibate priesthood.

            The decision was that this would cause excessive hardship to the discarded spouses and therefore they should keep their wives

            So your interpretation rests on that belief. Do you have any evidence for it?

      • dannybhoy

        Good observation Uncle.
        All men are sinners, regardless of how that sin is manifested, and to single out homosexuals as being “especially sinful” is to ignore their humanity.

        • Albert

          Quite. In a sense, those who persecute homosexuals and those who are overly campaigning for homosexuals make the same error: they confuse the sexual orientation with the whole person.

      • Hi Albert,

        I’d go further and say so long as heterosexual couples continue to produce children, there will always be a percentage of the population who are gay [we don’t come in blankets, via a stork (: ]. Just as there will always be people born with blue eyes or who are left handed.

        • I’d also note the whole “celibacy is unnatural” makes me wonder why you same people can’t see this in the context of being gay. That’s how most gay people feel, that being single/celibate is unnatural, but most of you would say (or have said) that gays must be celibate. At least Catholic priests have a choice, because no one forces you to go into the church.

        • Albert

          Exactly. We don’t know what causes sexual orientation to be what it is. But homosexuality seems to occur a few times in every hundred people. If the Church is going to be made up of humanity some of it will be made up of homosexuals. My guess is that among the saints, homosexuals are over-represented, simply because in earlier ages, before people were labelled as this or that, homosexuals were more likely to adopt a celibate life-style (priests or religious), and therefore were more likely to be canonised.

    • Martin

      Len

      All Rome’s problems are based on their additions to what Scripture says. Nowhere does Scripture prohibit the marriage of elders, it’s just an invention of men. Nowhere does Scripture allow a NT priesthood, another invention.

      And Scripture provides a very simple answer to all sexual sin. It may not be ‘modern’ to say that sex outside the marriage of one man to one woman is sin but that’s God’s view & it should be every Christians too.

      • Albert

        Nowhere does Scripture prohibit the marriage of elders, it’s just an invention of men.

        Nowhere does scripture prohibit the prohibiting of thing not prohibited in scripture. You really cannot have it both ways.

        • Martin

          Albert

          On the contrary, perhaps you should read Galatians, and this verse in particular:

          For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

          (Galatians 5:1 [ESV])

          • Albert

            Seriously? Galatians is about persuading people not to turn their backs on Christ in order to return to the Jewish Law. That tells us nothing about the Church having the prudential power to make particular disciplinary judgements in particular circumstances. Are you seriously saying that the leaders of your Christian community do not ever decide something cannot happen unless scripture says it cannot happen? If that never happens in your community, then what sense do you make of Hebrews 13?

            Obey your leaders and submit to them.

            So I say, that rather ironically, you have read into the text what isn’t there, in order to find in it a prohibition against prohibiting what isn’t prohibited in scripture, and in so doing you have set one scripture against another. Thereby you show the point you need isn’t in scripture, else, why would you engage on eisegesis of one passage against another? Rather a heavy price to pay to attack Rome on this isn’t? Meanwhile you say nothing at all about Protestant ministers who are remarried, nor about the Protestant practice of marrying those who are divorced.

            If you wish to convince Catholics that you take scripture seriously, you need more than this.

          • Martin

            Albert

            Galatians is about telling them not to add to the gospel they had already been taught. The Church doesn’t have such a power since the Church is the congregation of believers, not some hierarchy. The Bible is the ruling authority.

            Christians are freed from any requirement to obey rules in order to be saved. They are saved & from gratitude must behave in a worthy manner.

            Of course the verse says more than you quote:

            Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.

            (Hebrews 13:17 [ESV])

            And gives a reason for the obedience. But that rule must be justified by an appeal to Scripture & if it is not commanded in Scripture it is not required. Hence, since ‘priestly celibacy’ is not commanded it is not required.

            As for divorce, I’m afraid it is more complex than the church of Rome suggests. Indeed even Rome has a number of get out clauses that it can use when it chooses.

          • Albert

            Galatians is about telling them not to add to the gospel they had already been taught.

            Actually, Galatians is about trying to stop people going back to Judaism. Nevertheless, the point you make is true in a more general sense, but rules in matters of discipline are not additions to the gospel. I notice that you haven’t answered my question about whether your religious leaders ever make rules not in scripture.

            The Bible is the ruling authority.

            Who’s interpreting? You? Len? Giles Fraser? Luther? Did you know that Luther held that the rule preventing a Christian man committing bigamy was in addition to the teaching of scripture? He therefore allowed Philip of Hesse to have two wives at once! IanCad will tell you that the rule to worship on Sunday is in addition to scripture.

            Christians are freed from any requirement to obey rules in order to be saved

            If that is true then there can be no requirement to obey a rule that you cannot prohibit what is not prohibited in scripture. Neither can there be any requirement to obey the rules in scripture – e.g. the 10 Commandments, or the teaching of Jesus.

            They are saved & from gratitude must behave in a worthy manner.

            And if they break certain commandments they cannot be saved, that is what scripture says. The very chapter of Galatians you cite says this:

            For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love be servants of one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word, “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another take heed that you are not consumed by one another. But I say, walk by the Spirit, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you would. But if you are led by the Spirit you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are plain: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension, party spirit, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

            So how can you say:

            Christians are freed from any requirement to obey rules in order to be saved? Paul explicitly warns the opposite!

            You continue:

            And gives a reason for the obedience. But that rule must be justified by an appeal to Scripture & if it is not commanded in Scripture it is not required.

            Yes, it gives reason for obedience, but it does not say your next sentence. This is you reading into scripture what it does not say.

            As for divorce, I’m afraid it is more complex than the church of Rome suggests.

            Go on then. Take us through it.

          • Martin

            Albert

            No, once again, they were not going back to Judaism, they were trying to add the rituals of Judaism to the gospels. No doubt they would have approved of still having priest.

            As for Luther & bigamy, the only rule in Scripture explicitly forbids more than one wife is the one relating to church officers. But, of course, the Bible isn’t a book of rules but a book of principles and the principle laid down in Genesis is one man and one woman. Indeed the Christian life is not bound by rules for Christians are free. But that should be placed in balance with the gratitude and love they hold for God and His commands.

            Remember too that none of us have perfect understanding but rely on the Holy Spirit to guide us. Most things are fairly simple tho’, once the sinner is saved.

            That saved sinner is not saved by anything they do and cannot lose their salvation by anything they do. Their salvation is an act of God, like birth, and no one can undo their birth.

            Divorce? How is a marriage destroyed? A marriage is destroyed by unfaithfulness or mistreatment, by one party breaking their marriage, effectively dissolving it. Think on that.

          • Albert

            No, once again, they were not going back to Judaism, they were trying to add the rituals of Judaism to the gospels.

            St Paul explicitly says that is not the case. You cannot add Judaism to the Gospel. If you do, it ceases to be the Gospel, and just becomes and eccentric form of Judaism.

            But, of course, the Bible isn’t a book of rules but a book of principles and the principle laid down in Genesis is one man and one woman.

            Interesting. If that is so, it follows that the Church may need to add rules to ensure the principles are kept. As for Genesis, I don’t see why that should govern the interpretation. They were after all, also naked! On the other hand, we find examples in the scriptures, after that pure state, of polygamy and clothing. It’s not as simple therefore as referring back to the pristine state and ignoring what followed.

            Indeed the Christian life is not bound by rules for Christians are free.

            I think your notion of antinomian freedom is inconsistent with scripture. Yes, we are set free from sin. We are also set free from the Jewish law. But we are, as St Paul says slaves to righteousness and obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which we were committed. Sin leads to death, Paul tells us, but obedience leads to righteousness. And notice that these lines from Paul in Romans fit with the verses I gave from Galatians (which you have not answered).

            But that should be placed in balance with the gratitude and love they hold for God and His commands.

            As I say, the scriptural word you are looking for there, is obedience.

            Remember too that none of us have perfect understanding but rely on the Holy Spirit to guide us.

            Indeed so, but does that mean that an individual is infallible?

            Most things are fairly simple tho’, once the sinner is saved.

            Perhaps I can concede that, provided I can appeal to the full breadth of scriptural teaching on being saved. It’s not a one off in the past, but also something in the future.

            That saved sinner is not saved by anything they do and cannot lose their salvation by anything they do.

            There is a sense in which the first part of that is true, but frankly, as for the second part, I wonder which Bible you are reading.

            Divorce? How is a marriage destroyed? A marriage is destroyed by unfaithfulness or mistreatment, by one party breaking their marriage, effectively dissolving it. Think on that.

            He says that he who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery. He also says that if a man divorces his wife, he makes her an adulteress. Now how can it be adultery, unless the previous marriage still exists, despite the unfaithfulness? Arguably, you make it impossible to commit adultery by your interpretation, since the marriage is destroyed by the unfaithfulness. But that clearly makes a nonsense of the passage.

            BTW, I find it extraordinary that you don’t seem to think committing bigamy is sinful.

          • Martin

            Albert

            Paul says that when you add things to the gospel, like circumcision, or even baptism, you destroy the gospel. It ceases to be a gospel of grace & starts to become a religion of works.

            Why would the ‘Church’ need to add rules? Indeed it is not for the Church or any church to create rules, the principles given in Scripture are sufficient. As to marriage, The principle is laid down as one man and one woman, anything other than that fails to meet the mark.

          • Albert

            Sorry, where does Paul say baptism is something added to the gospel?

            It ceases to be a gospel of grace & starts to become a religion of works.

            This is undoubtedly true, but it is invalid reasoning to infer from it that we are justified by faith alone and not by faith working through love.

            Why would the ‘Church’ need to add rules?

            Sometimes because questions arise that scripture has not addressed. But there is no difficulty here, because, as you have indicated, scripture only gives general principles. The application of those principles in new and different situations, necessarily involves going beyond those principles. As a matter of logic then, what you say, implies the Catholic position.

            Indeed it is not for the Church or any church to create rules, the principles given in Scripture are sufficient.

            This is not a principle given in scripture!

            As to marriage, The principle is laid down as one man and one woman, anything other than that fails to meet the mark.

            So your ecclesial community does not remarry divorcees and teaches the indissolubility of marriage?

          • Martin

            Albert

            He wasn’t adding baptism to the gospel. Saying you have to be baptised to be saved would however be adding to the gospel.

            Since the faith we have is the gift of God we are justified by faith.

            Scripture is a source of principles, not rules. Therefore any question that arises can be traced back to first principles and answered. It doesn’t require new rules.

            Since the authority is in Scripture and not in the Church no church has the right to impose rules.

            Try to think through what I said on marriage. And by the way, I don’t have an ecclesial community, I have a gathering of God’s people.

          • Albert

            Saying you have to be baptised to be saved would however be adding to the gospel.

            What you mean, like this:

            Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

            In Mark 16:16 Jesus says, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.”

            Acts 2:38
            Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

            You go on:

            Since the faith we have is the gift of God we are justified by faith.

            Undoubtedly, but what does that mean?

            Scripture is a source of principles, not rules.

            What did Jesus say “A new commandment I give to you”? He did not say “a new principle, which you don’t have to accept, but it would be nice if you did in a spirit of gratitude.”

            Anyway, I am not sure I understand this distinction between principles and rules. It seems to me that the NT does give rules:

            This is my rule in all the churches.

            Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching.

            In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of the elect angels I charge you to keep these rules without favor, doing nothing from partiality.

            If any one thinks that he is a prophet, or spiritual, he should acknowledge that what I am writing to you is a command of the Lord.

            Try to think through what I said on marriage.

            But you haven’t answered my objection to what you said. In fact, as per usual, you haven’t really responded to any number of my biblical arguments against you. If you want to show that you take the Bible seriously, you need to start attending to it, for at the moment, it seems the longer our discussion is going on, the less you refer to scripture.

          • Martin

            Albert

            What you mean, like this:

            All these things are subsequent to the act of God which saves a soul. Water baptism is a picture of the immersion of the soul in Christ, an act of obedience and symbolism rather than effect.

            Undoubtedly, but what does that mean?

            It means it is something God gives us, not something for which we can claim merit.

            What did Jesus say “A new commandment I give to you”? He did not say “a new principle, which you don’t have to accept, but it would be nice if you did in a spirit of gratitude.”

            And is that not a principle?

            Anyway, I am not sure I understand this distinction between principles and rules. It seems to me that the NT does give rules:

            Perhaps the problem is that you think of principles as rules which must be applied to the letter.

            But you haven’t answered my objection to what you said.

            Is it the legal declaration of divorce or the act of the partner who breaks their vows that causes the ‘putting apart’?

          • Albert

            Martin,

            All these things are subsequent to the act of God which saves a soul. Water baptism is a picture of the immersion of the soul in Christ, an act of obedience and symbolism rather than effect.

            That’s just an assertion, and it seems ill-fitting with what scripture says, not only in the passages I gave, but also here:

            For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by men and hating one another; but when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Saviour appeared, he saved us, not because of deeds done by us in righteousness, but in virtue of his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit, which he poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Saviour, so that we might be justified by his grace and become heirs in hope of eternal life.

            You go on:

            It means it is something God gives us, not something for which we can claim merit.

            Well obviously, but that does not answer the question of how we receive that gift, nor does it answer the question of the effect on us of that gift, nor of whether we can lose that gift.

            And is that not a principle?

            He calls it a command. But you said,

            Indeed the Christian life is not bound by rules for Christians are free.

            You continue:

            Perhaps the problem is that you think of principles as rules which must be applied to the letter.

            I think of commands as, well, commands. It’s the way you want to water them down that worries me:

            But that should be placed in balance with the gratitude and love they hold for God and His commands.

            Finally:

            Is it the legal declaration of divorce or the act of the partner who breaks their vows that causes the ‘putting apart’?

            You claimed that a marriage is destroyed by unfaithfulness. But that stands explicitly contrary to what Jesus says:

            But I say to you that every one who divorces his wife, except on the ground of unchastity, makes her an adulteress; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

            Thus Jesus makes it clear that the marriage survives the unfaithfulness and even the divorce. Is that the practice in your gathering of God’s people?

            I note again the complete absence of references to scripture in your post (except for your quotation of me – the exception that proves the rule, perhaps!).

          • Martin

            Albert

            That’s just an assertion, and it seems ill-fitting with what scripture says, not only in the passages I gave, but also here:

            For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by men and hating one another; but when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Saviour appeared, he saved us, not because of deeds done by us in righteousness, but in virtue of his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit, which he poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Saviour, so that we might be justified by his grace and become heirs in hope of eternal life.

            The passage you highlight seems to back my point, baptism isn’t just washing with water.

            Well obviously, but that does not answer the question of how we receive
            that gift, nor does it answer the question of the effect on us of that
            gift, nor of whether we can lose that gift.

            We receive that gift by being born again. Can one born be unborn?

            He calls it a command. But you said

            Is not a given principle a command? And who wants to water them down? principles have a wider remit than mere rules.

            You claimed that a marriage is destroyed by unfaithfulness. But that stands explicitly contrary to what Jesus says

            Where does it stand contrary?

            Thus Jesus makes it clear that the marriage survives the unfaithfulness
            and even the divorce. Is that the practice in your gathering of God’s
            people?

            I don’t see that.

            I note again the complete absence of references to scripture in your
            post (except for your quotation of me – the exception that proves the
            rule, perhaps!).

            So your misuse of Scripture outranks my correction?

          • Albert

            baptism isn’t just washing with water.

            Who ever said that it was? Your claim was that baptism was additional to “being saved”. But the Bible says:

            he saved us…by the washing of regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit

            That biblical teaching is the Catholic teaching. The question is, is it your teaching?

            We receive that gift by being born again. Can one born be unborn?

            And Jesus says, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That was my point!

            Is not a given principle a command? And who wants to water them down? principles have a wider remit than mere rules.

            Well, I’ve been asking you for clarity on how you are using words like “command” “principle” and “rule”. I don’t think you’ve given any.

            Where does it stand contrary?

            Matthew 5 makes it clear that if a woman is divorced and marries again she commits adultery, and the man with her also. That shows her first marriage still exists, and was not destroyed by her first husband’s infidelity.

            I don’t see that.

            Well, if her second marriage is called adultery that can only be because she is still married. That seems to be the point of the passage, marriage is (to use later terminology) indissoluble.

            So your misuse of Scripture outranks my correction?

            You haven’t shown how my use of scripture is a misuse, and you haven’t offered a “correction” which is founded in scripture – at least not for the last few posts. You only quote the Bible when you are quoting the Catholic!

          • Martin

            Albert

            Your claim was that baptism was additional to “being saved”.

            What did you not understand about “Water baptism is a picture of the immersion of the soul in Christ, an act of obedience and symbolism rather than effect.”?

            When Christians are immersed in the water it is as a testimony and act of obedience. If they are not doing so of their own volition it is of no value.

            That biblical teaching is the Catholic teaching. The question is, is it your teaching?

            No it isn’t. You splash water on babies which is of no value whatsoever.

            And Jesus says, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That was my point!

            Jesus was talking of being born again, again, can a person be unborn? Can a person lose the gift of salvation. Clearly the answer is, since a person cannot be unborn they cannot lose the gift.

            Well, I’ve been asking you for clarity on how you are using words like “command” “principle” and “rule”. I don’t think you’ve given any.

            Are they not English words, do not words have meaning? A rule is clearly a simpler thing, something you obey to the letter, than a principle which is wider and requires thought.

            Matthew 5 makes it clear that if a woman is divorced and marries again she commits adultery, and the man with her also. That shows her first marriage still exists, and was not destroyed by her first husband’s infidelity.

            Where is there any mention of the husbands infidelity?

            You haven’t shown how my use of scripture is a misuse, and you haven’t offered a “correction” which is founded in scripture – at least not for the last few posts. You only quote the Bible when you are quoting the Catholic!

            What did you not understand of my corrections of your misunderstandings of the passages?

          • Albert

            What did you not understand about “Water baptism is a picture of the immersion of the soul in Christ, an act of obedience and symbolism rather than effect.”?

            I understood it perfectly well. But you are confused if you think that I move from understanding something to believing it. My objection is that did not provide any reason to think what you said is true, and since I have provided four unanswered biblical passages to arguing it is false, I not only lack reason to believe what you say, I have reason to believe what you say is false.

            When Christians are immersed in the water it is as a testimony and act of obedience. If they are not doing so of their own volition it is of no value.

            Again, these are just assertions.

            No it isn’t. You splash water on babies which is of no value whatsoever.

            Another assertion, but this one fails to follow the thread. I was not talking about infant baptism, but about baptism per se. Let’s talk about adult bapsim. You claimed:

            Saying you have to be baptised to be saved would however be adding to the gospel.

            And I gave biblical support for the view that actually baptism is part of the very act of God saving us.

            Jesus was talking of being born again, again, can a person be unborn?

            And what is being born again? – it involves water and Spirit.

            Can a person lose the gift of salvation.

            Yes.

            Clearly the answer is, since a person cannot be unborn they cannot lose the gift.

            If you’re going to be that literalist about the metaphor, I would point out that someone can still die after being born…

            Are they not English words, do not words have meaning? A rule is clearly a simpler thing, something you obey to the letter, than a principle which is wider and requires thought.

            The basic point is that rules, like commands have to be kept. They are not suggestions of how it would be nice to behave. They demand obedience, but you don’t agree, or at least, you don’t seem to:

            Christians are freed from any requirement to obey rules in order to be saved.

            Would you rework this statement as follows:

            Christians are freed from any requirement to obey commandments in order to be saved. ?

            Where is there any mention of the husbands infidelity?

            That’s what the passage is about:

            “It was also said, `Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I say to you that every one who divorces his wife, except on the ground of unchastity, makes her an adulteress; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

            You go on:

            What did you not understand of my corrections of your misunderstandings of the passages?

            I understand the point you are making. I just don’t understand why you think they are corrections, because, at the moment, they are, shall we say, “Bible-lite”.

          • Martin

            Albert

            My objection is that did not provide any reason to think what you said
            is true, and since I have provided four unanswered biblical passages to
            arguing it is false, I not only lack reason to believe what you say, I
            have reason to believe what you say is false.

            The passages you gave supported what I said.

            Again, these are just assertions.

            Show me where the Bible says that water baptism has a salvic effect.

            And I gave biblical support for the view that actually baptism is part of the very act of God saving us.

            Actually the passages were not speaking of water baptism.

            And what is being born again? – it involves water and Spirit.

            But not water baptism.

            If you’re going to be that literalist about the metaphor, I would point out that someone can still die after being born…

            But they aren’t unborn. Salvation is an act of God, changing the person, hence ‘new birth’.

            The basic point is that rules, like commands have to be kept. They are
            not suggestions of how it would be nice to behave. They demand
            obedience, but you don’t agree, or at least, you don’t seem to:

            Principles, such as “love one another” have a wider range than mere rules.

            Christians are freed from any requirement to obey commandments in order to be saved. ?

            Absolutely, since they are unable to keep the rules God intervenes.

            Now, therefore, why are you putting God to the test by placing a yoke on the neck of the disciples that neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? But we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.
            (Acts 15:10-11 [ESV]

            That’s what the passage is about:

            Where does it say that the husband has been unfaithful?

          • Albert

            The passages you gave supported what I said.

            You haven’t said how.

            Show me where the Bible says that water baptism has a salvic effect.

            I have done so already, several times:

            he saved us…by the washing of regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit

            You go on:

            Actually the passages were not speaking of water baptism.

            Just an assertion again. Do the exegesis. Show me how they are not speaking of water baptism. Because it seems to me at the moment, the only reason you have given me for denying they are about water baptism is because such interpretations are not about consistent with the rest of your theology. But I don’t think the rest of your theology is biblical, so that’s not convincing.

            But not water baptism.

            The words “water and Spirit” are those of our Lord.

            But they aren’t unborn. Salvation is an act of God, changing the person, hence ‘new birth’.

            I never said they were unborn. This reply in no way falsifies my previous claim.

            Absolutely, since they are unable to keep the rules God intervenes.

            Indeed, they cannot, but that does not mean that they need not or cannot keep the commands in order to be saved. There’s a false logic here, caused by a reductive notion of “be saved” – i.e. one that does not encompass the full breadth of scriptural teaching.

            Your quotation from Acts 15 does not require the interpretation you need. It is talking about the need to keep the Jewish Law. It is not talking about the need to keep some commandments. This is evident from the fact that that in vv.20 & 29) the council did say they needed to keep some commandments.

            Where does it say that the husband has been unfaithful?

            Here:

            very one who divorces his wife, except on the ground of unchastity, makes her an adulteress

  • Uncle Brian

    Among the relevant points that most of the media seem have overlooked, an important one is that this year’s synod was planned as a preparatory session for the main synod on the subject of the family, to be held in a year’s time, in October 2015. Whatever the final report from this year’s synod had said, technically it would amount no more than the agenda for the real negotiations to be held next year.

    To the extent that this year’s synod can be regarded in isolation, it seems undeniable that, as most of the media are reporting, Pope Francis seems to have emerged the loser. But he wasn’t the only loser. On the “reform” side, Walter Kasper dug his own grave when he rashly attempted to deny his way out of an embarrassing remark about the African clergy that he had made in the course of a conversation with a group of journalists. According to Sandro Magister [hyperlink here,] the Pope had given him every encouragement to pursue his reform policy:

    On February 20 and 21, 2014, the cardinals met in Rome in consistory. Pope Francis asked them to discuss the family and delegated the introductory talk to Cardinal Walter Kasper, already in the early 1990’s a combative supporter of dropping the ban on communion for the remarried, but defeated at the time by John Paul II and by Joseph Ratzinger.

    At the consistory, held behind closed doors, Kasper revived all of his ideas. Many cardinals opposed him, but Francis approved him with the highest praise. fterward, Kasper would say that he had “coordinated” with the pope on his proposals.

    (To be continued)

  • The real threat at this Synod was the attempted twisting and misapplication of the ‘Law of Gradualness’ in the Relatio post disceptationem. Expect more of this in the coming months from the liberal modernists.

  • Albert

    The more I think about this Synod, the more it seems obvious that the Lord has said “I will be Master in my own House.”

  • bluedog

    Well, Your Grace, it now seems that if Canterbury and Rome are to re-unite, it will be because Rome has accepted the ways of Canterbury rather than vice versa.

    • CliveM

      Oh dear, what rubbish. I have respect for both Churches, but their is a big gulf between them. Don’t listen to the media, it has it’s own agenda, and it is secular not Christian.

    • Then we’re all dooooooommmmeeeeeedddd.

  • Uncle Brian

    (Continued from earlier)

    Magister says that in the end Francis got what he wanted, despite the failure to get the controversial clauses included in the final text, because the media exposure counts for more than the votes in the synod. The interim report released a week earlier was the work of a clique of spin doctors who must have known that they were unlikely to prevail against a majority of the synod, but from the point of view of their opponents, once the report was out the damage was done. Magister quotes approvingly the cardinal archbishop of Durban, Wilfrid Napier:

    On Tuesday, October 14, at a press conference, South African cardinal Wilfrid Napier denounced in biting words the effect of the prevarication carried out by Forte by inserting those explosive paragraphs into the “Relatio.” These, he says, have put the Church in an “irredeemable” position, with no way out. Because by now “the
    message has gone out: This is what the synod is saying, this is what the Catholic Church is saying. No matter how we try correcting that, whatever we say hereafter is going to be as if we’re doing some damage control.”

    No doubt Napier is right about appearances, but the rules, after all, remain unchanged. Napier and Magister both seem to be taking it for granted that the reform movement has gained such momentum that in a year from now it will have become irresistible. Maybe they’re right, but maybe not. I think we’ll just have to
    wait and see.

    • ….. and pray they are wrong.

    • Albert

      No, I think it is pretty clear that the reform movement has been stopped in its tracks, humiliated and exposed. Everyone who is interested and looks at what happened on Saturday night knows Catholic teaching is hardline on homosexuality. Napier could not see that at the time he was speaking.

      • Uncle Brian

        In your view, Albert, when Kasper said he had “coordinated” with the pope on his proposal to drop the ban on communion for the remarried, do you think he was telling the whole truth and nothing but the truth? And also, is it true, as Magister says, that “Francis approved him with the highest praise” ?

        • Albert

          I think I would need to make a lot of judgements there for which I do not have the evidence. There are several ways of reading this Synod. One is that the Holy Father really wanted to introduce more liberal reforms, and was derailed by an unprecedented revolt on the part of the bishops. The other is that the Holy Father really wanted see the Holy Spirit working through the entire college of bishops, and therefore encouraged reforms to be on the table for the bishops to chew over. It strikes me that the evidence you have raised supports both positions. Personally, I incline to the latter interpretation.

          • Uncle Brian

            Albert, I have to admit I’m mystified, I thought at one moment I had understood what he was trying to do, but now I’m not sure any longer.
            And by the way, what happened on Saturday night? You’ve got me mystified on that point as well.

          • Albert

            Was he wanting to liberalise the Church or was he wanting to exercise collegiality? If the former then it was a devastating failure. If the latter a great success (except for the media element which was a disaster).

            What it reminds me of is the early days of the Second Vatican Council. Then the Curia produced a load of pre-prepared documents. John XXIII gave the bishops their head, and they rebelled against the curia and tore the documents up.

            What is interesting about the present situation is that we find it surprising. In a sense, this is because we have all swallowed the liberal propaganda that it’s the pope who is the break on “progress” and the bishops are more “open minded”. What we have perhaps seen is the opposite.

            This leaves a third possibility which combines both positions: the Holy Father wanted to used collegiality to liberalise the Church. If that was the case, he must be very shocked, and he must also wonder if providence will give him enough time to change the character of the episcopate to reflect his own opinions.

            However you look at it, we live in interesting times, but, for now at least, it is more interesting to be conservative.

          • Uncle Brian

            we live in interesting times,
            We do, Albert, we do.
            Thank you for your painstaking explanation.
            Regards,
            Brian

  • Uncle Brian

    comment deleted

  • SidneyDeane

    It really is hilarious for the rest of us watching religion trying so desperately hard to stay relevant. It’s cute how its sheep wrestle with ideas that the rest of us can happily regard as common sense and ethical. Fretting how to reconcile their ‘beliefs’ and reinterpret their medieval, draconian text in a way that doesnt expose them to a grown up society as the bronze age morons they undoubtedly are.

    • carl jacobs

      I see Sidney Dean has made a step up from telling tasteless jokes about killing people. This is just standard ad hominem. I suppose that’s an improvement … of a sort.

      carl

    • Politically__Incorrect

      The Bronze age came long before Christianity. Atheism probably predates both, so it’s surely the least “progressive” (to borrow a popular secular phrase) of world views. It’s quite hilarious for the rest of us to read your basic lack of schoolboy history 🙂

      • Martin

        PiC

        And of course the psalmist was aware of fools who pretend there is no God.

    • Martin

      Sidney

      Indeed, the Bible is entirely clear, sex outside the marriage of one man to one woman is sin. That is entirely relevant in any age.

      • SidneyDeane

        The bible is clear on slavery. How many do you have?

        • Albert

          Would you care to give details?

          • Martin

            Albert

            I doubt he would.

        • Martin

          Sid

          The Bible version of slavery was quite different from the modern slavery, as no doubt you know. It provided a lifebelt for those in need and debt, while requiring something from them in return, something our social services fail to do.

          It would be interesting to see your solution to such problems in that society. But, of course, you aren’t interested in solutions, just in waving your feeble fist at God.

    • Sidney. You forgot to say ‘fairy tales’ or ‘mountains of overwhelming evidence’. You’re slipping.

      • SidneyDeane

        If atheists repeat phrases or points of argument it’s because they have never been countered and are in response to repeated baseless arguments offered by moronic theists such as “if we came from monkeys why are there still monkeys?”

        • Albert

          I think Stephen’s point is that your post didn’t include an argument. It’s just a load of assertions, some of which, as Politically Incorrect has indicated, are contradicted by the evidence.

        • Martin

          Sid

          All the Atheists’ arguments have been answered, but you haven’t answered the Bible’s, that you know God exists.

          BTW, the Bible was written long before the Medieval period and your comment shows amazing chronological snobbery.

  • Peter the Carolinian

    Where is the truth? Is there nothing laid down in the Scriptures? Are we now tasked with figuring everything out all over again?

    The Christian Gospel is centered on Christ and his saving work, as most readers here are aware, I am sure. In Christ, those who believe are saved from their sins and their sinful condition. Obviously, this does not mean that Christians are not sinners anymore, but it does mean that they have been saved from the the governing principle of sin. As St. Paul says in Romans 6, sin shall not have dominion over you. And, As in Adam, all die, so in Christ, shall all be made alive. In Galatians he says that Christians have been crucified with Christ, therefore they have died with him. In the resurrection, they have also been raised with him bringing new life. This is part of the saving work of Christ. Following Christ’s cleansing work, Christians are given the Holy Spirit to give them the power to live righteous lives. Right living, then, is the outgrowth of right relationship to Christ.

    What does all that have to do with the issue at hand? First, what those outside the church should come in contact with is the work of Christ on their behalf, if they will accept it realizing that they do not have the power to live righteous lives. Second, the Christian Gospel extends to every area of life. God’s standard is perfection. What he has laid out, that he means. Scripture leaves no room for the mush that says “well we have to figure it out in our own times. That might have meant that then but it surely means something else now.” Going there only leads to confusion. We can rightly expect homosexuality and marital infidelity and divorce outside the church, but if Scripture is true than it surely has no place within the church.

    A final note, those without the church must not be told they have to fix up their lives in order to come in. Lets face it: they can’t. That is why Christ came. Remember that he said “I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”

    (all scriptures are paraphrased)

  • len

    Pope Francis is probably a well meaning very nice man.Pope Francis wants
    an’ all inclusive Church’ without all those judgmental people putting
    people off coming into his nice Church.So what is need is to water down
    those remarks about sin and sinners just like they are doing in the
    American ‘mega Churches ‘who have thousands of ‘participants who turn up
    for that fuzzy feel good feeling about being accepted by God who will’
    turn a blind eye to their sin ‘ and accept them regardless.
    After all it is about numbers isn`t it?.

    • Albert

      Len, I think we need to remember that what was clear from the Synod is that the bishops upheld the Church’s teaching. But anyway, I wonder if that’s the nicest thing you have ever said about any pope! It might be good to keep in mind what the Pope actually said. He warns of temptations:

      – One, a temptation to hostile inflexibility, that is, wanting to close oneself within the written word, (the letter) and not allowing oneself to be surprised by God, by the God of surprises, (the spirit); within the law, within the certitude of what we know and not of what we still need to learn and to achieve. From the time of Christ, it is the temptation of the zealous, of the scrupulous, of the solicitous and of the so-called – today – “traditionalists” and also of the intellectuals.

      This is just an exposition of “the letter killeth, the Spirit giveth life” isn’t it? He goes on, lest anyone misunderstand:

      – The temptation to a destructive tendency to goodness [it. buonismo], that in the name of a deceptive mercy binds the wounds without first curing them and treating them; that treats the symptoms and not the causes and the roots. It is the temptation of the “do-gooders,” of the fearful, and also of the so-called “progressives and liberals.”

      The biblical balance of the next paragraph is stunning:

      – The temptation to transform stones into bread to break the long, heavy, and painful fast (cf. Lk 4:1-4); and also to transform the bread into a stone and cast it against the sinners, the weak, and the sick (cf Jn 8:7), that is, to transform it into unbearable burdens (Lk 11:46).

      And then:

      – The temptation to come down off the Cross, to please the people, and not stay there, in order to fulfil the will of the Father; to bow down to a worldly spirit instead of purifying it and bending it to the Spirit of God.

      – The temptation to neglect the “depositum fidei” [the deposit of faith], not thinking of themselves as guardians but as owners or masters [of it]; or, on the other hand, the temptation to neglect reality, making use of meticulous language and a language of smoothing to say so many things and to say nothing! They call them “byzantinisms,” I think, these things…

      Now, I’m the first to acknowledge that Pope Francis isn’t always completely clear – don’t be this, but don’t be that, he says. But I think that a man who warns of the temptation to come down off the Cross, to please the people, and not stay there, in order to fulfil the will of the Father; to bow down to a worldly spirit instead of purifying it and bending it to the Spirit of God, cannot reasonably be called someone who is trying to “water it down.”

    • The Protestant ‘Mega Churches’ are Evangelical and Pentecostal. They have no discernable dogma or doctrine to found faith in Christ upon. It is all about “feeling”. The Catholic Church is attempting to find a way to reach people drowning in a sea of secular, relative morality whilst still holding true to its unchanging teachings.