Imagine if we had Facebook at the time of Vatican 2.

another Vatican Council

Imagine if Facebook and Twitter had been around at the time just after the Second Vatican Council. The 16 documents had been written and published and the church was looking at a bright new future, secure in the truth and tradition that the church has always had.

However, there were those in positions of power at the time who chose to misinterpret or ignore what was said in the documents and instead chose to forward their own agenda of what they would prefer the Catholic faith to look like, under the umbrella term “The Spirit of Vatican 2”.

I’m talking about things like communion in the hand and the removal of altar rails, altar girls, the priest facing the people all the time (which was never actually intended), lack of metanoia (the priest calling the people to repent & believe the Gospel), closely followed by the idea of “primacy of conscience” (all things are relative and sin is only what you consider sinful), which no doubt lead to the crisis in the sacrament of confession we have had for the past 2 generations.

Also, the way catechises completely changed from solid rudimentary teaching (which some considered indoctrination) to quite frankly – a complete ‘free for all’ in what ever you fancied at the time. Holding hands or copying the priest by having hands out stretched during the Our Father, Bringing things to the altar at the offertory that are not bread and wine. The ditching of sacred music and architecture for more ‘up to date’ er… things. The dreaded liturgical dance…

Churches designed like Theatres, and most importantly – a congregation that over time has learned to demand entertainment during Mass, and priests who have fallen into the role of entertainers ect ect ect…

Liturgical-Dance

Imagine the difference if the layity had the power of social media back then. I don’t think I am exaggerating in saying that if we did, the church may look very different to how it does now.

The point I am trying to make is that these changes did not happened over night in an open and transparent way. Instead they have been quietly and slyly instituted by those in power, and have over time, gradually been accepted as being the norm – which of course they are not, and never have been. And of course, as an average lay person back then with little or no access to the 16 documents, and no real way of voicing your concerns (other than to go to your bishop – who most likely instituted these changes in the first place) then what could you do? Not much.

I suppose you could have gone to the catholic press, but before you do that i guess you really have to ask yourself: Who owns and directs the catholic press? 🙂

Now, fast forward to today. We are possibly on the brink of a massive crisis in the church in regards to communion for the divorced and re-married. We have those in positions of power ie. Kasper trying to normalise adultery under the guise of ‘mercy’. And in contrast we have the 500 faithful UK priests who have signed a letter urging those attending this year’s family synod to issue a “clear and firm proclamation” upholding Church teaching on marriage. Good move boys! Good move!

And while it is a sad day when priests have to band together to defend the faith against other clergy who want to change things, I can also see that the battle ground and weapons of war being displayed here are signifying a major change in the way the hierarchy has done things in the past, and will be able to do things (or not) in the future.

I’m talking about 2 things in particular: Transparency and Accountability.

Now, disturbingly, one signatory, who asked to remain anonymous, claimed there “has been a certain amount of pressure not to sign the letter and indeed a degree of intimidation from some senior Churchmen”.

Following this, a statement has been released by spokesman for Cardinal Nichols (who is not happy about the letter) saying that the press was not the medium for conducting dialogue of this sort: “The pastoral experience and concern of all priests in these matters are of great importance and are welcomed by the Bishops. Pope Francis has asked for a period of spiritual discernment. This dialogue, between a priest and his bishop, is not best conducted through the press.”  The Cardinal refers to ‘channels of communication’ that, in reality (if you ask any decent faithful priest) are either blocked or permit only one-way traffic.

I know several of the priests on that list and I can tell you now that they would rather not have to publicly defend the faith against those higher up the chain who seem intent on changing it – but what choice do they have? The fact that they have had to take this course of action tells us that they obviously feel they are not being listened to by those in charge. One can only imagine the level of frustration (and patience) that these good men have experienced over the years.

So what exactly have these 500 priests done? They have used the power of Transparency to call out those who are trying to quietly and slyly institute these changes. They are bringing it out into the open for all to see. It is in the press, it is all over social media. People all around the world are linking up, talking to each other about what is happening, what is trying to happen and what should not happen. The truth will out… Good move boys! Good move!

world-map-battles-between-social-networks

In a world of Facebook and Twitter there is really no where to hide any more. Things can no longer be quietly and slyly instituted without people noticing, until they are regarded as ‘normal’. We all have access to the Vatican documents, the CCC and the history books and we can educate ourselves as to what has been happening and where things have gone wrong. And then we can tell others about it.

The faithful have a voice now, a strong voice and these 500 priests have used this new weapon very effectively in defending the faith. With the power of social media, bloggers, groups and online communities, the role of the ordinary priest and the layity has changed forever. We are able to speak the truth, and to call out heresy, false teaching and those who teach it. When issues are brought out into the open for all the world to see, it forces those in power out into the daylight so they can stand up and be held accountable for what they say they believe.

What those 500 priests have really done is to say ‘Here we are, solid in the truth’. Now the very public question for those who did not sign the letter, and those attending the synod later this year is: Where do you stand?

There is now a petition to support those 500 priests. Please click HERE to sign it.

The truth cannot be suppressed. The Holy Spirit will never be suppressed. The days of being able to masquerade false ideas as the truth are over.

TRUTH-CAGED-LION

Sources:

http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/news/2015/03/24/nearly-500-priests-in-england-and-wales-urge-synod-to-stand-firm-on-communion-for-the-remarried/

http://blogs.spectator.co.uk/coffeehouse/2015/03/cardinal-nichols-attempts-to-silence-faithful-priests-this-will-backfire/

The 5 Cardinals – Pope Francis – Kasper: Stuck in the middle with you!

Benedict XVI,  Pope Francis

 

Personally I can totally understand why Francis has been “irritated” by the recent 5 cardinals book reaffirming the true teaching on marriage. It shows that they have not understood his approach and they do not trust him. But why not?

Following my previous post on Pope Francis You are Loved I received this comment:

“Orthodox Catholics feel shaky, afraid the Traditional Latin Mass will be diminished, afraid that all the errors they were taught as children will continue, afraid that the Magisterium will not support the true faith. Many of us are like starving refugees who have (under Benedict) finally got food, terrified the lean times will come again. That’s a cross we must learn to bear; we must love and evangelize in the midst of our fear.”

I think this comment expresses perfectly what so many western orthodox Catholics are feeling at the moment in regards to Pope Francis. Generally i think most of us who are secure in the teachings of the church want to like him but there is this underlying fear that he is more favourable to the liberal side of things. I have already discussed that i feel these fears are unfounded. If you read Evangelii Gaudium you will see that he is an orthodox Pope. His papal style strips away the unnecessary superficial parts of the catholic tradition (the red shoes ect…) and focuses on the central message of mercy. He sees the person before he sees the sin. He meets them where they are in their process of conversion and shows them the dignity and respect they are due simply because they are a human being who Christ died for.

This does not mean however, that he is ignoring their sin. Not at all. What he is doing is putting that persons growing relationship with Christ in top priority. He understands that without a relationship with Christ, Catholic doctrine is just a set of cold hard rules that don’t make a lot of sense in the modern world. So in this respect i guess you could say he is putting the doctrine bit ‘on hold’ until that person is in a place where they are going to be able to understand and accept it. And this is where the problem lies…

In the early 1960’s we had Vatican 2. The 16 documents of Vatican 2 clearly set out the Catholic faith in relationship to the modern world. It was a time of massive change in the church. Sadly, some in positions of authority here in the west either did not study and understand these documents properly, or they purposely chose to interpret them incorrectly. It is down to their poor decisions that the true catholic faith has not been transmitted properly, which has resulted in hundreds and thousands of babies now not getting baptised because their parents don’t see the point.

I used to feel a huge amount of anger and resentment towards these people in authority. But now i realise that they too were/are on their own conversion journey’s and are also in need of compassion and forgiveness.  It’s just a shame they ever got into positions of authority. Anyway, here in the west, post Vatican 2, we entered a period where through our schools and parishes, the true teachings of the catholic church were just not taught to ordinary catholic’s. At a time in the worlds history when the true teachings of the church should have been upheld and taught with more vigour than ever, we got served ‘progressive’ ‘modern’ twaddle. Opinions and trends were prioritised over clear doctrinal teaching. In fact it was the faithful catholic’s who clung onto the doctrine for dear life that (i believe) has kept the church going in the west in the midst of a tsunami of modern progressive falsity.

This is the last time i will talk negatively about that period in the church’s recent history, because although it is important to acknowledge why things have happened, i feel it is unhelpful to keep dragging up the past. The new generations of committed western catholic’s coming through now ARE solid in their faith AND they are brilliant evangelisers.

One more very interesting point from a American friend of mine living in the UK…

“I admire Pope Francis for his compassion, his humility and his ceaseless preaching about the mercy and love of our Lord.  But I think there are things he does not understand about the Church in the English-speaking Western world.  Here, orthodox Catholics are often the movers and shakers amongst the faithful, in contrast to the more liberal within the Church who view traditional liturgical practice as exclusionary and irrelevant, piety as quaint, and evangelisation as gauche and anti-social.  Traditionalists are scandalised when the Pope appears to encourage this latter element.  Conversely, in much of Latin America and the developing world “conservative” can be a byword for arrogance, clericalism, and an attitude towards the poor that is at best indifferent and at worst repressive, whereas so-called liberals may burn with the boundless evangelical zeal the pope wishes for all Catholics to have.  Of course not everyone fits into these boxes, but I do think that these are the social trends that shape the way many of the faithful, including the Holy Father, speak and listen to each other, and may be at the root of the suspicion with which Pope Francis is regarded by some traditionalists, despite their shared aim to live and spread the Gospel.” – Victoria Seed.

Pope Francis

Pope Francis’ style is reminiscent of this post Vatican 2 era for us in the west because, as i said earlier, he puts the doctrine part of the conversion process ‘on hold’ until the person has established a relationship with Christ. He is showing the person mercy. But the huge and fundamental difference here is that he still upholds the doctrine. Repentance comes later on in the conversion process and he knows this.

This is fundamentally different from the approach Cardinal Kasper has taken. Kasper also believes in ‘mercy’ for the individual but in his mind this means changing the teachings of the church so as to make it so the person is no longer committing a sin. For example his solution to the issue that most catholic’s use artificial contraception, is to allow artificial contraception rather than actually teaching NFP (something that hasn’t been done over the last 2 generations). His solution to re-married catholic’s receiving communion is to just let them, rather than explore the annulment process AND take responsibility for the lack of effective marriage prep available at the time these people got married. Kasper is choosing to ignore the sin and ignore any responsibility the church may have had in terms of lack of catechesis. He wants to give in and change the doctrine. That is not mercy, it is indulgence. It is defeatist because it implies that the church has nothing better to offer. Kasper is at a stage in his conversion where he believes he knows better than the Holy Spirit. We’ve all been there.

Cardinal Walter Kasper

Cardinal Walter Kasper 

People are getting confused between the two hugely different approaches of Francis and Kasper because they both holler ‘Mercy’. They both look very similar on the surface but one does not have to dig very deep to see that the two men are coming at it from vastly different angles.

“They claim to know on their own what truth is, but Catholic doctrine is not a closed system, but a living tradition that develops. They want to crystallize the truth in certain formulas … the formulas of tradition.” – Cardinal Walter Kasper, September 2014

This is what Pope Francis said regarding Doctrine:

“Fidelity to the Church, fidelity to its teaching; fidelity to the Creed; fidelity to the doctrine, safeguarding this doctrine. Humility and fidelity. Even Paul VI reminded us that we receive the message of the Gospel as a gift and we need to transmit it as a gift, but not as a something of ours: it is a gift that we received. And be faithful in this transmission. Because we have received and we have to gift a Gospel that is not ours, that is Jesus’, and we must not – he would say – become masters of the Gospel, masters of the doctrine we have received, to use it as we please”. – Pope Francis, Janurary 2014

Francis is not a threat to doctrine. He is not repeating the errors of past. He is a threat however to those of us who see the sin before we see the person behind the sin, and believe that following doctrine comes before a relationship with Christ. We must not let our fear of the past make us cold. Love comes first, and those of us here in the west who are secure in the true teachings of the church must be the ones to make the first move. Francis is challenging the Pharisees amongst us Orthodox to become Evangelisers –  “…we must love and evangelize in the midst of our fear.”

pope

You are Loved.

pope1

I had a thoroughly good time this morning. A nice young man from BBC Radio 4 came round to interview me for like 2 hours on how people view Pope Francis. He was very interested to hear that i identify as a totally orthodox catholic but i am also totally pro Francis. I will post the interview here when it airs at the beginning of October (please pray that they edit it fairly!).

I have had many discussions online recently regarding Pope Francis where the tone has been rather negative to say the least. It seems that my orthodox buddies just don’t get Francis. At best people think he is sloppy at his job and at worst they think he is single handedly going to destroy the catholic church!

There are several reasons for this:

1. He is not Benedict. 

Benedict was just the most wonderful pope for the orthodox catholic community. He sorted out the liturgy, he loved and embraced the ‘traditional’ parts of Catholicism in a very visible way, he was a master theologian. He was old skool and rock steady. Orthodox catholic’s were extremely comfortable under Benedict.

Francis on the other hand has shunned many ‘traditional’ things ie. the red shoes, the papal apartment, the pomp and the highly bejewelled vestments ect… He has a completely different, simplistic style. He breaks with tradition in a big way.

I think there is a temptation to misunderstand Francis here. He is only breaking with tradition on superficial matters. If you take the time to really listen to his homilies and read Evangelii Gaudium (or a summary of it – it is 51,000 words long!) you immediately see that he is a completely orthodox pope. The man knows he is not God. He is not trying to change doctrine or re-write the 10 commandments or ‘loosen the rules’. What colour the man’s shoes are makes no difference to his capability to lead the people of God for goodness sake!

2. He uses ambiguous language.

Many orthodox catholic’s i have spoken to have described Francis’ ‘conversational’ style to be wishy-washy at best, and open to wrong interpretation at worst. Personally I think this style of speaking to be extremely clever. I believe he uses ambiguous language on purpose. It is difficult for the fringe catholic to immediately reject something that he/she might agree with in part… Francis understands modern western culture. He understands modern man’s lack of respect and suspicion of authority. He understands the moral relativist media style we have all become so accustomed to hearing. In fact the style Francis uses is actually very biblical in nature. Jesus spoke in parables which people could easily understand and interpret in different ways – the core element of the teaching is still the same, but the interpretation of how it actually effects your life is individually relevant to each listener on a personal level. Francis’ style actually encourages the reader to look within themselves and apply what is being said to their own lives.

The ugly side to this of course is that people on both sides of the fence can take ‘some’ of the information and misunderstand what has really been said ie the “who am i to judge” comment.

3. He challenges the Orthodox catholic to evangelise.

Something i have certainly been guilty of in the past has been to sit up nice and tall on my theological and moral high horse. Even though i still am in no doubt that I AM RIGHT, high-horsing is never going to work in terms of evangelisation.

Francis is a man of great humility. Just as Christ did, Francis meets people where they are on their journey of conversion. He doesn’t point the finger or condemn, but instead sees the person behind the sin and encourages them into a deeper relationship with Christ. This requires sensitivity, kindness, compassion and patience.

By his example, Francis challenges us to evangelise in the same way. Essentially the Gospel is a message of mercy and forgiveness. Christ died for every single human being who has ever lived out of total pure love including all members of ISIS and Adolf Hitler and paedophiles. He loves and values every human being the same as he loves you. This is the radical message of Christianity. Introducing people to this love, to this person – Jesus Christ – is the first step.

We are called not only to preach love, but to be love to others. For those of us who are secure and solid in our faith the weight of responsibility is much, much heavier regarding evangelisation. If we don’t get out there and start proclaiming the truth, other will (and their version of the truth is well, not true!) But it is how we approach our brothers and sisters that is key. Calling someone ‘a homosexual’ or ‘a muslim’ or a this or that in a negative tone, dilutes their humanity. This makes the person defensive. This is not bringing Christ to them. Im not saying sweep all the other stuff under the carpet – not at all, what i am saying is that they will never understand and accept the doctrine without first having a relationship with Christ. You have to BE Christ to them as you build bridges of trust, and respect where they are on their journey of conversion.

Pope Francis understands this. He is out there doing it. And you might, just might, have totally misunderstood what he is doing.