Monday, April 07, 2014

Archbishop Justin gets handbagged by Ann Widdecombe

Last week the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby made history by becoming the first holder of that Holy Office ever to participate in a live Q&A session on national radio. It was, despite much of the post-interview negative media coverage, an undoubted missiological success. It may have caused a bit of grief for the Archbishop's Director of Communications Ailsa Anderson, and it may have been a testing time for Press Officer Ed Thornton. But if the Archbishop is to be effective in his ministry, he must communicate the Faith succinctly, incisively and frequently by all means possible. And Lambeth Palace staff have to learn to live on the edge with all the comms expertise and sound-bite savvy of a political media machine. Spontaneous Q&A is raw, authentic and well worth doing, despite the personal costs and predictably distorted media reaction. So more, please.

But what shall we call this new media phenomenon? 'Ask the Archbishop'? 'Grill Justin'? 'Quiz Welby'?

Whatever the emerging brand, the Lambeth Palace media operation needs to be swift in its spiritual counter-response to the world's knee-jerk response. It is axiomatic in politics that a lie is half way round the world before the truth has its boots on. When it comes to religion, the world spins whole revolutions in honour of the lie while the truth disappears into the stratosphere.  

In an intense and sometimes fractious hour, Archbishop Justin covered a vast array of political topics and social-justice issues, as well as profound theological reflections about Christ and the nature of God.

There has been an array of blogging responses for those who can be bothered to consider the politico-spiritual depths of the exchange (full transcript here). For those who can't be bothered – which will be most of the world – the sound-bite impression from the media coverage is that the Archbishop of Canterbury got a good handbagging from Anglican-turned-Roman-Catholic Ann Widdecombe on abortion and women priests, and was then lured into admitting that the Church of England will not introduce same-sex marriage because it would lead to the mass slaughter of Christians in Africa. These distortions have been lapped up by the world while context, meaning and truth are lost in the ether.

His Grace will not deal with the same-sex marriage issue for two reasons: firstly, he is thoroughly sick of the issue; and secondly, a magisterial response and exposition has been written by eminent theologian Andrew Goddard over at Fulcrum. Do read it, for it is the definitive theological rebuttal to those crass assertions that Archbishop Justin's teaching is "scandalous", "severely mistaken" or "dangerously sloppy".

LBC doubtless admitted Ann Widdecombe into the debate because she is one of the most high-profile defectors to the Church of Rome, her religio-political objective now being to deride wishy-washy Anglicanism at every turn and laud the absolute rock of theological certainty afforded by the successor to St Peter. "The Church of England never seems to know what it thinks about anything," she declared, with all the righteous zeal of an ex-smoker preaching the eschatological judgment of lung cancer. Archbishop Justin graciously later acknowledged via Twitter her "effectiveness".

His Grace would have handled her questions slightly differently, probing why manifestly second-order theological issues such as gender or sexuality - the zeitgeist obsessions of the world - should trump primary theological contentions such as the essence of soteriology, the nature of ecclesiology or the meaning of communion. Does the appointment of women priests really outweigh salvation by faith? If the ordination of women as priests should become a cause of schism and the impetus to abandon the Protestant-Anglican understanding of salvation to embrace the Sacrifice of the Mass, as it was for Ms Widdecombe, what hope is there ever for fuller visible unity?

Are issues about authority in the Church as theological in the same sense as the bigger issues on which there is already clear ecumenical agreement? If they are, how exactly is it that they make a difference to our basic understanding of salvation and communion? And if they are not, why do they still stand in the way of fuller visible unity? Can there, for example, be a model of unity as a communion of churches which have different attitudes to how the papal primacy is expressed?’

The central question, of course, is whether and how we can properly tell the difference between “second order” and “first order” issues. When so very much agreement has been firmly established in first-order matters about the identity and mission of the Church, is it really justifiable to treat other issues as equally vital for its health and integrity?

There are two issues which divide as authority – the nature or indeed the very possibility of the magisterium; and primacy – the extent to which the integrity of the Church is ultimately dependent on a single identifiable ministry of unity to which all local ministries are accountable. The Church of England repudiates the language of rule and hierarchy established by decree, with fixed divisions between teachers and taught, rulers and ruled, advocating instead filial and communal holiness held in a universal pattern of mutual service.

During his conversation with Ms Widdecombe, Archbishop Justin said: "I'm not the Pope: I can't declare infallible doctrine." And later he explained: "We're not a political party: when we do something (which some members don't like), we don't say you've got to quit."


The Church should be concerned with repentance, love and mutual reconciliation; not pride, power and ever-increasing division. The pattern of Church leadership built upon papal primacy is allied to juridical privilege and the patterns of rule and control to such an extent that it fails to achieve what it sets out to do. Of course, this is a slightly sensitive discussion, but the question of altar fellowship and of mutual recognition of ministerial offices should not be unconditionally dependent on a consensus on the question of primacy.

The historic Anglican via media seeks a restored universal communion which would be genuinely a community of communities and a communion of communions. This is not expressed as a single juridically united body, and therefore one which does indeed assume that, while there is a recognition of a primatial ministry, this is not absolutely bound to a view of primacy as a centralised juridical office.

The corporate reading of Scripture, obedience to the Lord's commands to baptise and make eucharist, or the shared understanding of the shape and the disciplines of what we call filial holiness, do not need any further test, and certainly not any imposed by a universal primate.

And so the Church of England repudiates those Roman Catholic theologians who assert that the ordination of women priests or bishops makes the Anglican Communion simply less recognisably a body doing the same Catholic thing. For many Anglicans, not ordaining women had a possible unwelcome implication about the difference between baptised men and baptised women, which in their view threatened to undermine the coherence of the ecclesiology in question. The same unwelcome implications may be drawn from not admitting women to the episcopate.

The challenge to recent Roman Catholic thinking on this would have to be: in what way does the prohibition against ordaining women so enhance the life of communion, reinforcing the essential character of filial and communal holiness as set out in Scripture and tradition and ecumenical agreement, that its breach would compromise the purposes of the Church as so defined? And do the arguments advanced about the 'essence' of male and female vocations and capacities stand on the same level as a theology derived more directly from Scripture and the common theological heritage such as we find in these ecumenical texts?

Even if there remains uncertainty in the minds of some about the rightness of ordaining women, is there a way of recognising that somehow the corporate exercise of a Catholic and Evangelical ministry remains intact even when there is dispute about the standing of female individuals? In terms of the relation of local to universal, what we are saying here is that a degree of recognisability of 'the same Catholic thing' has survived: Anglican provinces ordaining women to some or all of the three orders have not become so obviously diverse in their understanding of filial holiness and sacramental transformation that they cannot act together, serve one another and allow some real collaboration.

It is this sort of thinking that has allowed Anglicans until recently to maintain a degree of undoubtedly impaired communion among themselves, despite the sharpness of the division over this matter. It is part of the rationale of supplementary episcopal oversight as practised in the English provinces, and it may yet be of help in securing the place of those who will not be able to accept the episcopal ministry of women. There can be no doubt, though, that the situation of damaged communion will become more acute with the inability of bishops within the same college to recognise one another's ministry in the full sense. Yet, in what is still formally acknowledged to be a time of discernment and reception, is it nonsense to think that holding on to a limited but real common life and mutual acknowledgement of integrity might be worth working for within the Anglican family? And if it can be managed within the Anglican family, is this a possible model for the wider ecumenical scene? At least, by means of some of the carefully crafted institutional ways of continuing to work together, there remains an embodied trust in the possibility of discovering a shared ministry of the gospel; and who knows what more, ultimately, in terms of restored communion?

At what point do we have to recognise that surviving institutional and even canonical separations or incompatibilities are overtaken by the authoritative direction of genuinely theological consensus, so that they can survive only by appealing to the ghost of ecclesiological positivism? These issues may all seem, to the eyes of a non-Roman Catholic, to belong in a somewhat different frame of reference from the governing themes of the ecumenical ecclesiology expressed. If the non-Roman Catholic is wrong about this, we need to have spelled out exactly why; we need to understand either that there are issues about the filial/communal calling clearly at stake in surviving disagreements; or to be shown that another theological 'register' is the right thing to use in certain areas, a different register which will qualify in some ways the language that has so far shaped ecumenical convergence.

These are political matters which there is no point in approaching theologically, which is quite possibly why Ann Widdecombe finds them so very attractive.

For those of us who are not Roman Catholics, the question His Grace would like to put to Ms Widdecombe and her co-religionists, in a grateful and fraternal spirit, is whether this unfinished business is as fundamentally church-dividing as our Roman Catholic friends generally assume and maintain. And if it isn't, can we all allow ourselves to be challenged to address the outstanding issues with the same methodological assumptions and the same overall spiritual and sacramental vision that has brought us thus far?

As Archbishop Justin said: "I’m not a Pope and I can’t say what the Church is going to do. It’s something we decide collectively, the Church together and we’re beginning that process."

It is good for the Archbishop to be handbagged by assertive women. But he needs to develop a way of responding robustly by swinging his manbag.


Blogger Martin said...

Perhaps His Grace should ask the question, "is the authority in the Church the opinions of men or the Word of God?"

Even if matters are not of vital importance they are still a good indication of where the love of a 'church' lies.

If you aren't prepared to accept what the Bible says on the small things are you really prepared to accept what it says on the great?

7 April 2014 at 11:02  
Blogger Len said...

Ann Widdecombe is a straightforward no nonsense type of person. And I agree with her comments about making clear statements and not 'waffling' or 'sitting on the fence' as Welby is doing about subjects the Bible is clear about.
A PC Church is not good for anyone the' the faithful' or 'the lost'.

(I don`t intended following Ann`s trip down the Tiber anytime soon though)

7 April 2014 at 11:06  
Blogger David Roseberry said...

Paul dealt with the ABC's reasoning behind issue about which His Grace is sick. (Gay marriage)

"If your enlightened views and actions about something hurt or injure another believer whom you think is less enlightened, stop it."

From I Corinthians 8

9 But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak.
10 For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol's temple, will he not be encouraged, if his conscience is weak, to eat food offered to idols?
11 And so by your knowledge this weak person is destroyed, the brother for whom Christ died.
12 Thus, sinning against your brothers and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ.
13 Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.

7 April 2014 at 12:16  
Blogger The Explorer said...

David Roseberry:

There's a question as to what incident in 'Corinthians' is the closest equivalent to SSM.

On the matter of incest, for instance, Paul didn't say we should simply respect the sexual tastes of others. He saw it as a serious and divisive issue that needed to be dealt with.

7 April 2014 at 12:31  
Blogger Uncle Brian said...

The first thing Ann Widdecombe said to the Archbishop, immediately after "Good morning", was this:
"As you will be aware I left the Church of England in 1993."

She sounds very confident that Justin Welby must be thoroughly familiar with her biographical details, including dates. Is her confidence justified? Is that really the kind of knowledge Archbishop Welby is likely to possess?

7 April 2014 at 12:51  
Blogger Flossie said...

I like Ann Widdecombe. She is a straightforward kind of gal. I think the wider point she was trying to make is that if it is okay to cast aside the three-legged stool of scripture, tradition and reason over women's ordination, then it must be okay to do the same over homosexuality, this being the reason the C of E has got itself into such a mess.

I agree with her, although, like Len, I don't think I will be swimming the Tiber any time soon. The lack of authority is one of the main reasons for Anglicans to go over. Not just on these two issues either - with a few notable exceptions bishops have been notoriously reluctant to speak out on moral issues such as abortion, euthanasia,sexualisation of children, etc. The Roman Catholic church shows no such reluctantce. At least Catholics know what their church teaches, even if they disagree.

7 April 2014 at 12:53  
Blogger gentlemind said...

^...and at least the Catholic Church is mobilizing around the most important issues of our time - abortion, "Gender", sexuality and Euthanasia. Abortion is spiritual warfare. To the best of my knowledge Wonga do not kill children.

7 April 2014 at 13:17  
Blogger Ars Hendrik said...

It was a superb and courageous interview with the Archbishop really putting himself in the firing line by agreeing to answer telephone and email questions that he did not know in advance.

He dealt with Anne Widdicombe's questions very well, even at times seeming to get slightly cross with her. He was by no means outmanoeuvred.

As you say, the really good stuff has been ignored by the media, for example his one word answer to a tiresome and ignorant question about evolution, and by pointing out that the average Anglican is a black, sub-Saharan woman under thirty ('it puts us back in our box', as he put it).

Overall a very convincing performance in which he showed that far from being wishy-washy or weak he has, in fact, a steely inner quality (more so than the previous two incumbents).

On the gay marriage issue he was very sympathetic, but did clearly say that the church must follow its own teachings (that sex outside of marriage is wrong and that marriage is between a man and a woman).

His last comment of the interview was quite extraordinary as there was a perhaps unintended bathos to his comparison of standing by the mass grave of over three hundred Africans who had been murdered for being Christian ('standing there with their relatives, it sears your soul') and his sympathy for how gay people in England have suffered. Not much of a comparison is it – he seemed to be saying.

7 April 2014 at 13:19  
Blogger IanCad said...

Thank You so much for the link YG. It was well worth taking the time off work to watch.

What a delightful man! What a difficult job.

He is well equipped for it.

Credit also to the moderator --didn't catch his name--very capable.

Ann Widdecombe needed firmer handling.
I mean; who can take seriously a Conservative opposed to fox hunting or a Protestant crossing the Tiber?

And did anyone catch the Manchurian Candidate who claimed that cutting down a few trees was harmful to the environment.

Lord help us.

7 April 2014 at 13:42  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

"At least Catholics know what their church teaches, even if they disagree.".

There's the rub. Roman Catholics, if they are to remain as members of the church and receive the Eucharist, are not free to disagree with essential dogma and doctrinal teachings of the Church. They don't have to understand them, fully follow their scriptural basis, or the reasoning or tradition behind these, but they cannot, or ought not, openly disagree or, indeed, hold significant internal doubts about them.

Add to this the dogma of Papal Infallibility, through ex-cathedra statements, the dogmatic authority of Church Councils and the teachings of the Ordinary Magisterium, align all this with the concept of indefectibility, and one gets a system of established beliefs that are effectively 'locked-down' and essentially unchangeable at their core.

To receive Holy Communion in the Catholic Church one has to be a fully signed up and participating member and this means internally accepting all the dogma and doctrine, or at least not doubting them, and conceding authority to the Magisterium. There may be some room for manoeuvre over what constitutes 'sin' and over some theological issues that remain unresolved (the fate of unbaptised infants and reprobation/predestination, for example) but very little. If a matter becomes divisive, or theological clarity is reached over a hitherto undefined matter, then Rome will either convene a Council or the Pope will issue an ex-cathedra statement.

All the above runs counter to modern Western man's view of the primacy of individual conscience and the his view he ought to be free to believe what he wants and do what he considers acceptable. He is, of course, but it means he cannot be a Roman Catholic.

The above is a fairly 'Traditional' view of Roman Catholicism. There is a 'liberal-modern' wing who disagree and believe in the acceptability of homosexual relationships, women priests, abortion and more open communion.

7 April 2014 at 13:46  
Blogger Sister Tiberia said...

Happy Dodo, frankly I think most Catholics are between the two. We respect the Bishop of Rome, we note that primacy of conscience is also a Roman Catholic teaching, we respect the Sacraments, we think Mundabor and Rorate Caeli are barking mad, and a fair few of the National Catholic Reporter writers are barking mad in the other direction, and we wish they'd all stop throwing bricks at each other. Possibly this can be called the Roman Catholic version of the Anglican via media. :)

7 April 2014 at 13:54  
Blogger Ars Hendrik said...

Here we go... Sod the subject under discussion, it's back to Rome versus Canterbury again.

7 April 2014 at 14:02  
Blogger Uncle Brian said...

Sister Tiberia, you have described the Catholic Church that I know. Happy Jack, are you familiar with the term "oversimplification"?

7 April 2014 at 14:05  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

Well yes, that is another perspective, Sister Tiberia.

The 'primacy of conscience' and 'sensus fidelium' are the modern Western battleground in the eternal fight over Church authority, faith and morals. These are rather slippery concepts.

Happy Jack agrees too that these matters should be resolved by calm and reasoned discussion and all throwing of bricks should stop.

7 April 2014 at 14:06  
Blogger David Kavanagh said...

Welby was a businessman before he went into the Church, so he is likely to be a 'crafty fox' than a bulldozing tank, which is what the C of E prefers. He held himself well against Miss Widdecombe, someone whom I've never been able to take too politically or religiously.

One other point is, I never quite get the angst that comes across in these threads. The Church doesn't seem to be dying to me- my family get 'evangelised' or whatever you people call it all the time. The literature I've got from various Christian Churches is quite mountainous, so that doesn't seem to equate with an organisation which is either on the backfoot or on its knees...

7 April 2014 at 14:22  
Blogger Posieinthepew said...

Posie in the Pew said...

Martin said "is the authority in the church the opinion of man or the word of God".

Martin is my favourite blogger and is so encouraging.

He is an obedient follower of Jesus Christ and his comments are always from a biblical point of view. What other view is there?

7 April 2014 at 14:25  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

7 April 2014 at 14:30  
Blogger David Kavanagh said...


There must be a reason why you are choosing to stick with the C of E, however bad it seems to be in your view?

In respect of the Roman Catholic Church, I'd say from reading the above comments there are liberals, moderates and traditionalists like the C of E (& most religions generally). Also , as my sister pointed out me the other day & wound up the fowl with it, the Catholic Church does actually baptise the children of gay couples. In Argentina recently, a lesbian couple had their children baptised with their President Kitchen (non compos mentis in my view, especially when it comes to stealing British territory) as godmother... And Argentina was the where the current Pope came from, as well as being a 90% Catholic country.

7 April 2014 at 14:30  
Blogger David Hussell said...

I respect Ann Widdecombe as a plain speaking, non-PC genuine woman, who usually supports sensible and conservative ideas. Her poor treatment by Cameron further strengthens my support for her.

Justin Welby is attempting to do an impossible job, and although I find him disappointing in some ways, I accept that he is doing a far better job than his predecessor.

However I do agree with both Len and Flossie above that the lack of straightforward teaching reflecting Biblical truth, and working within the Scripture, Tradition and Reason, three legged discipline, causes frustration and disillusionment amongst many sincere Anglicans, including me.
This prevarication, which is way beyond being considered, is therefore the major push factor for people to swim the Tiber, a journey I shall not be undertaking.
If the moment ever comes when I can no longer spend time with the ever more liberal main body of the C of E, which dominates the area surrounding my home, I shall walk very calmly and on dry land, to the most protestant, evangelical section of the Church of England, that already groups together under the Reform banner. It provides solid, reliable Reformed tradition teaching, in a very joyous way. It is expanding steadily and I spend some of my time there already. I top up my theological batteries at its charging points to power my excursions within the largely liberal churches that I find around me locally. Long may Reform flourish.

7 April 2014 at 14:31  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

Apologies Ars if you think my comments were about "Rome Canterbury". They were not. And Uncle Brian, I did simplify the issue to highlight the central issues as I see them.

His Grace raised "the essence of soteriology, the nature of ecclesiology (and) the meaning of communion" as a matter for discussion.

He identified: two central issues which divide the Christian Church as: "authority – the nature or indeed the very possibility of the magisterium; and primacy – the extent to which the integrity of the Church is ultimately dependent on a single identifiable ministry of unity to which all local ministries are accountable."

I tied to outline, in simple terms, a Traditional Roman Catholic perspective on both.

And Ars, I agree with your comments @ 13:19 about Justin Welby.

7 April 2014 at 14:38  
Blogger E.xtra S.ensory Blofeld + Tiddles said...


Old Ernst always chortles at the self answering questions provided by both CofE and RCC.

HG states "His Grace will not deal with the same-sex marriage issue for two reasons: firstly, he is thoroughly sick of the issue; and secondly, a magisterial response and exposition has been written by eminent theologian Andrew Goddard over at Fulcrum. Do read it, for it is the definitive theological rebuttal to those crass assertions that Archbishop Justin's teaching is "scandalous", "severely mistaken" or "dangerously sloppy"."

Now how is this any different from Rome's magisterial answers on ITS authority to interpret scripture ITS way.

Both seem to say Scripture is important then go off on a totally divergent path of justifying their position contra Scripture!!!

Some of the stalwarts of the faith such as Polycarp, Ignatius, Justin Martyr and then Tyndale and especially J C Ryle, would be horrified to see the positions both CofE (Theologically moved to meet the needs of the world to be acceptable to them as stewards rather than God who establishes)and RCC (Theologically moved to meet the needs of the pagan world, to synergise with it and justifying their own defined legalism to be acceptable, contra Scripture and the early church fathers teaching such as Polycarp, Ignatius, Justin Martyr, to them as stewards rather than God who establishes) have taken from their times with the Church.

" Ars Hendrik said...

Here we go... Sod the subject under discussion, it's back to Rome versus Canterbury again." This is because you cannot see the historic link and the similarities due to your catholicism (Your sell out to God happened many centuries ago!!) and why both stances have weakened God's word and made it a nonsense and double speak to the world!!!


7 April 2014 at 14:41  
Blogger Uncle Brian said...

The central question, of course, is whether and how we can properly tell the difference between “second order” and “first order” issues.

Your Grace, I think this is the crux of the matter. When there is no agreement on whether a given issue is “second order” or “first order”, how is the disagreement to be settled? Not, clearly, by appeal to primacy. How can any one person, or synod, or committee exercise primacy if there isn’t even agreement on what “primacy” means? How, then? By majority vote? But that would mean gaining the prior consent of all the parties that each one of them will accept a majority vote as binding. That just shifts the solution a further step away, doesn’t it?

7 April 2014 at 14:41  
Blogger John Thomas said...

"Archbishop Justin said: "I'm not the Pope: I can't declare infallible doctrine." " - statements of Christian doctrine on (which they were talking about) homosexuality, etc., are not the kind of thing the Pope can pronounce on ex cathedra. Such positions - beliefs of orthodox, authentic Christianity - existed long before Papal Infallibility, and have been equally shared by Protestants, for centuries.
"mutual reconciliation" - doesn't this smack of the indaba delusion? ie. talk, talk, talk until the orthodox Christians eventually concede in order to be able to go home before next week. "Reconciliation" is beginning to mean just this kind of ruse ...

7 April 2014 at 14:44  
Blogger Ars Hendrik said...

No Blowers my lad, I'm just more interested in the Welby interview and others' opinions on it, rather than the imponderables of history about which no one here will agree.

Voluminous response not really needed to this, it's just an observation, not a statement of faith.

Thanks for your comments on my post Happy Jack.

7 April 2014 at 14:58  
Blogger Rambling Steve Appleseed said...

David K @14.22

Alas that we are not often enough on our knees....;)

7 April 2014 at 15:04  
Blogger Integrity said...

John Thomas said;
"mutual reconciliation" - doesn't this smack of the indaba delusion? ie. talk, talk, talk until the orthodox Christians eventually concede in order to be able to go home.
My own thoughts, and confirmed by HG's attitude to SSM. He is sick of it and quite right, so do we say it is ok or is it wrong.

Right on track as usual. The leaders strain at gnats and swallow camels. They just don't get that the broader picture is more important than the nit picking detail.

7 April 2014 at 15:28  
Blogger Cressida de Nova said...

Well Jack I hope that every Catholic questions, ponders and understands dogma. The last thing the Church needs is a flock of zombies particularly in such a dangerously secular age where some of the Bishops are firing off like loose cannon. It has little effect if all the Catholics understand the blueprint of their religion. Comprehension being the

7 April 2014 at 16:22  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

David K, and we in the Orthodox sector have our own issues even among centrists. moderns are nudging towards dome kind of an accommodation for same sex relationships and Rabbi Weiss is heading out with ordination of women rabbis, or "maharats" and other minhagic innovations. This split in Modern Orthodoxy will just entrench the Hareidi, of course, and they are becoming more ultra by the minute with piling humras on top of humras. re you ready next week to go with most recent infallible decree from one of their Gedolim in the ever-expanding kezayis? To stuff your mouth at the seder with two matzas, to somehow chew them separately and swallow everything in 2 minutes without flooding fillings and choking? Rav Nathan has a few sharp words about that excursus from reasonable custom of our fathers and forefathers.

7 April 2014 at 16:36  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

PS If anyone absolutely needs a translation for above, let me know. The gist, though, is that some ultra-Orthodox rabbis have decided to increase the volume of the required amount of matza an individual must eat at the start of the Passover service at the table. Not all agree, of course, and the disagreement involves quite a bit of knowledge of Jewish law and sanctified traditional practices.

7 April 2014 at 16:43  
Blogger William Lewis said...

"It is good for the Archbishop to be handbagged by assertive women. But he needs to develop a way of responding robustly by swinging his manbag."

I am rather pleased that the ABC did not "reach for his manbag" and felt that he "handled" the indomitable Ann Widdecombe with reason, respect and dignity. As he did with everyone else.

7 April 2014 at 17:13  
Blogger Sister Tiberia said...

Avi, does Orthodox Judaism have a version of the Catholic concept of epikeia?

From the New Catholic Dictionary

"An indulgent and benign interpretation of law, which regards a law as not applying in a particular case because of circumstances unforeseen by the lawmaker. The lawmaker cannot foresee all possible cases that may come under the law, and it is therefore reasonably presumed that were the present circumstances known to the legislator he would permit the act, e.g., a mother presumes that she may miss Mass on Sunday when there is no one present to care for her baby. Epikeia is not permitted, however, no matter how grave the inconvenience, if violation of the law would render an act null and void, e.g., to presume that marriage may be contracted because of grave inconvenience in spite of an existing diriment impediment."

It was explained succinctly to me by a priest as "This is what the rules say, now use your own God-given intelligence and common sense" :)

7 April 2014 at 17:19  
Blogger Happy Jack said...


"Well Jack I hope that every Catholic questions, ponders and understands dogma."

Agreed; and Happy Jack would extend this to all Christians. We all need to know what and why the Church teaches what it does about its basic doctrines and about sin.

Is the Church teaching effectively? Does it present an alternative to the modern world view? As Paul wrote to Timothy:

"Before God and before Christ Jesus who is to be judge of the living and the dead, I charge you, in the name of his appearing and of his kingdom: proclaim the message and, welcome or unwelcome, insist on it. Refute falsehood, correct error, give encouragement."

The non-biblical, progressive, liberal answer seems to be to dilute the faith to make it acceptable and inclusive.

7 April 2014 at 17:22  
Blogger Uncle Brian said...

Avi Barzel

Detailed specifications of how many matzas to eat and how to chew them -- this looks like the pursuit of divisiveness for its own sake. A very clear instance of this in the Christian churches is each church's insistence on its own, uniquely correct, way of serving Holy Communion: leavened bread in some churches instead of unleavened wafers, and in quite a number of churches nowadays, grape juice (or even water) has replaced the Biblically authentic wine.

In the kiddush ceremony, have any rabbis, male or female, Orthodox or Reform, gone so far as to serve grape juice instead of wine?

7 April 2014 at 17:27  
Blogger Flossie said...

I don't think this is so much Rome-v-Canterbury as an examination of why Justin Welby is in such a difficult position. The C of E has obviously gone wrong somewhere down the line to become such a target.

Firstly they abandoned the Book of Common Prayer almost wholesale, and replaced it with the childish and facile Alternative Service Book, now defunct, on the pretext that ordinary people couldn't understand 'thee' and 'thou'. A great deal of doctrine went down the pan with this.

Then they decided to ordain women, which in my view was the beginning of the process of eviscerating marriage by espousing a faulty understanding of the inter-relatedness of male and female. This caused the loss of 600 or so orthodox clergy, who were quickly replaced by liberals and the rest, as they say, is history. Andrew Goddard unfortunately overlooks this point.

David K, you ask why I stay. Where would I go?

7 April 2014 at 17:40  
Blogger Sister Tiberia said...

David K

Why do any of us stay in the faith of our birth? Usually because we've fought through the doubts and the frustrations and found something there worth holding on to. It's interesting that in my experience some of the most Traditionalist Roman Catholics are actually Anglican converts...but that's a whole new debate and explains a little about Ann Widdecombe perhaps.

I go on a Roman Catholic retreat once a year as a recharging of spiritual batteries (and often at the point that something about the Faith has driven me to such a frenzy of frustration that I am seriously considering becoming an Anglican) :) The elderly Bishop who preached the retreat last autumn asked everyone on it why they were there. I was the only laywoman - all the rest were nuns! So they all had wonderful, thoughtful reasons for being there, and when he got to me, I blurted out "Because I do one of these every year as an alternative to crossing the Tiber in the wrong direction!" When the whole room finished laughing, the Bishop looked at me, raised an eyebrow and said "Well, that seems to be you and half the cradle Catholics of the United Kingdom" and we all had to stop and laugh again.

7 April 2014 at 17:47  
Blogger Len said...

Welby claims to' not be the Pope'(thank God for that at least) and cannot claim to be 'infallible' but surely he has access to an infallible source?.

If not why not?

To define the choice as Catholic or Anglican is to surely miss the whole point of being a Christian...
Who are we to follow Jorge Mario Bergoglio,or Justin Welby.?. or dare I mention the real Head Jesus Christ...

7 April 2014 at 17:56  
Blogger David Kavanagh said...

Rambling Steve,

Well, they try, but fail; today I've just have Jehvos witnesses call; my sister Esther had the Anglicans and Pentecost-evangelicals this morning (one trying to get a donation for the Church as it 'benefits the whole Parish, even if you are a Jew' and 'come to our Passover meal next Thursday to discover the risen lord'). But it does show that Christianity is hardly about to be extinguished from the UK, which I think was my main point there.

7 April 2014 at 17:58  
Blogger Phil Roberts said...

First comment on the "Thinking Anglicans" Website on this issue.

"Well. At least now we know what dreadful theology and ethics are driving the continued oppression of LGBT people in the CoE…

Because my church lifted me up, told me that I'm created in the Image of God, and honors my 23 year marriage-to-be as a gift from God, I and my church are responsible for the murder of … hundreds, thousands?

And the extreme degree of rape and degradation of women in Africa is due to what, WO and WB?

And the West should obviously take our marching orders from hate monger's in Africa? And African Muslims and Christians would be living in peaceful harmony if it wasn't for those obnoxious Western Churches following Jesus and doing Justice?

Can the ABC (and Rowan before him) not see that brutality is brutality, and perpetrators will always find an excuse? It's called scapegoating!

The theology and ethics of this ABC are dreadful" etc etc

The posts mostly continue in a similar vein. Basically their argument is the usual, God made me this way so it must be alright then. etc.

They are a huge way away from submitting to Christ and with such self righteousness I doubt if they really want to.

David's walk to Reform sadly might be the only answer. I cannot see what if anything, we we have on common theologically.


7 April 2014 at 18:04  
Blogger Phil Roberts said...


Holding the CofE together?

Not very likely if Thinking Anglicans have their way.


7 April 2014 at 18:06  
Blogger Phil Roberts said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

7 April 2014 at 18:06  
Blogger David Kavanagh said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

7 April 2014 at 18:07  
Blogger David Kavanagh said...

Greetings Avi,

I was typing a reply to you and mentioned the words 'women Rabbis' and 'Gedolim' and the computer crashed... um some kind of sign?

For the record I don't really agree with women Rabbis, I certainly do not agree with the 'women of the wall' and the Gedolim are not a Papal Majesterium. I'm also increasingly agitated at how the Sephardim leadership of Israel have been trying to be more Haredi than the Haredi, which simply isn't our tradition.

I'm not going to woof the matzas down... I'm neither a squirel or a hamster. And yes Rav Slifkin is on the ball there...

PS- Had a bad day, so I apologise if the above is somewhat blunt. Blasted raven decided to drop something on my hat and coat earlier.. then the insurance brokers decided to tell me in gibberish that the 'underwriters' wanted to raise the premiums on one of our biz portfolios by 60%.... but I'm going for the broader brimmed hat now. So well and truly Haredi, but Sephardi.

Sometimes I wish my sister Esther would post here more often,as she is more theologically understanding than myself...

7 April 2014 at 18:08  
Blogger David Kavanagh said...


I wasn't trying to pry or make suggestions, I was merely intrigued by what kept you in a place that you seemed not to feel fulfilled in (in a spiritual sense).

7 April 2014 at 18:10  
Blogger Owl said...

Sister Tiberia,

Thank you.

I don't feel so alone now.

7 April 2014 at 18:15  
Blogger Integrity said...

Your Grace,
I was impressed with most of Justin Welby's LBC programme. Although our differences will one day be irrelevant when our Lord returns I do not believe that homosexuals have suffered any more in this country, probably less than other groups.
The good book tells us;
The good man is perished out of the earth: and there is none upright among men: they all lie in wait for blood; they hunt every man his brother with a net.
The best of them is as a brier: the most upright is sharper than a thorn hedge:
Therefore I will look unto the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation: my God will hear me.
Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy: shame shall cover her which said unto me, Where is the LORD thy God? mine eyes shall behold her: now shall she be trodden down as the mire of the streets.
Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? he retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy.

7 April 2014 at 18:17  
Blogger Ps John Waller said...

I could take Ann Widdecombe's views on women more seriously if she hadn't run off and joined a religious system that all but worships one.

7 April 2014 at 18:17  
Blogger Len said...

Ps John Waller
'all but'?.
Oh the irony ,

7 April 2014 at 18:21  
Blogger David Kavanagh said...

Hello Sister Tibs,

Great to have you back on the blog!

I totally understand what you are getting at there in that post. I guess I am a 'cradle Orthodox', who wants to fight his own corner within his religion, so thanks for that; perhaps we all winge terribly, but are all basically wanting our faiths to be better. Oh and as for Mordanbore, I enjoy reading his diatribes, that blog is popcorn entertainment material, a certifiable parody, & he is also useful for winding up the duck of many colours... he even didn't like the singing nun (thought of you) from 'the voice'. There is no why the guy is serious (??!).

As for you question to Avi, I'm sure he'll respond. As I say I wish my sister posted a bit more often. But then she is not as ecumenical as I or Hannah.

7 April 2014 at 18:24  
Blogger Inspector General in Ordinary said...

Plenty of meat in today’s missal, what ! Unfortunately, one is rather short of time this instant, so will comment only on one part. What one considers the most important.

His Grace. “The challenge to recent Roman Catholic thinking on this would have to be: in what way does the prohibition against ordaining women so enhance the life of communion, reinforcing the essential character of filial and communal holiness as set out in Scripture and tradition and ecumenical agreement, that its breach would compromise the purposes of the Church as so defined?”

It all comes down to whether you want a patriarchal or matriarchal church. You can’t have both, obviously. If you are ambivalent or actually preferring of the latter, then ordain as many women as you can squeeze in. You’ll get your matriarchal church soon enough.

And then we come to the nature of God, a necessarily sexless entity. But it was his SON he sent down, not a daughter or a hermaphrodite come to that, or even opposite sex twins. Can we judge from that, that in essence, God tends to veer towards what we would recognise as patriarchal? That is, the giver of the law, and not matriarchal, which in essence will nurture come what may, and turn a blind eye in many cases to their charges faults ? Not the way to salvation. How can it be, the entry criteria is damn strict !


Begorra ! What have you got there Mary ?

It’s me little spring lamb, dad. I love it and I’m going to take care of it

You’ve been seeing that goat again, against my wishes !

We love each other and mum says it’s alright

You didn’t listen to me, and now look. An abomination. But he has got me thinking…

About God’s all understanding, forgiving and merciful love ?

No, rather as to what he’d taste like under the grill…

7 April 2014 at 18:42  
Blogger David Hussell said...

Inspector General of the Far from Ordinary,

I see you have given us your usual lighthearted, peerless, and totally essential banter. Excellent !

The "Mary.... " sketch is particularly appreciated.

Good Evening, Sir.

7 April 2014 at 19:10  
Blogger Sister Tiberia said...


No, you aren't alone. If you haven't found it yet, may I recommend Father James Martin's "Prayer for Frustrated Catholics?" I have found it a great help in times of trouble :)

God bless you

7 April 2014 at 21:31  
Blogger Sister Tiberia said...

David K

Thanks for the good wishes. I'm very glad to be back. Had a few days where I didn't feel at all like posting anything, but I did miss the virtual tea party in His Grace's sitting room. Odd how fond it's possible to get of people you've never met :)

7 April 2014 at 21:33  
Blogger E.xtra S.ensory Blofeld + Tiddles said...

Ernst sees Giles is spreading the Gospel according to Christian political correctness, yet again. Surely he will give us The Cross as he sees it politically, to the political Rebel/Anarchist Jesus Christ, persecuted by the state and religion and crucified for this political ethos stand.

He made himself a victim solely to identify with all other victims, no matter what colour, class or creed and to strengthen their resolve in their daily struggle against authority in general.

"When Eric Pickles calls Britain a Christian nation I side with the atheists
If my religion is reduced to a form of state triumphalism then political correctness seems a far better option" Giles Fraser

"I say it as a Christian( Then say whats on your mind, Giles fella). And Christianity was, among other things, an exposure of the violence of the Roman state towards those who did not share its values (Values? Are you unaware that Rome had it's own religion, my ignorant fella, it was called 'mos maiorum' paganism.

The Roman political triumph was at its core a religious procession, in which the victorious general displayed his piety and his willingness to serve the public good by dedicating a portion of his spoils to the gods, especially Jupiter, who embodied just rule. As a result of the Punic Wars (264–146 BC), when Rome struggled to establish itself as a dominant power, many new temples were built by magistrates in fulfillment of a vow to a deity for assuring their military success.

Roman religion was thus practical and contractual, based on the principle of 'do ut des', "I give that you might give." Religion depended on knowledge and the correct practice of prayer, ritual, and sacrifice, not on faith or dogma, although Latin literature preserves learned speculation on the nature of the divine and its relation to human affairs. Even the most skeptical among Rome's intellectual elite such as Cicero, who was an augur, saw religion as a source of social order.).

That is what the cross is all about (NO IT WAS/IS NOT!!!.) Christianity went bad when it became appropriated by the Roman empire and the cross went from being a symbol of political oppression to a religious form of state triumphalism (The Gospel according to socialism, hmm). Which is why all Christians should be extremely queasy about any cheap talk of us or anyone else being a "Christian nation"." We should be outraged that Christian heritage has given Laws and Values enshrined in our nation then, should we?. Should we therefore TEAR THEM DOWN as they must offend you, you poor dear, so as to please you and your 'good works' ilk???

"For only when Christianity has come out of the shadow of Constantine's conversion of the Roman empire to Christianity – thus creating the dangerous idea of a Christian nation (How can somebody supposedly so 'clever', get it so wrong in a one line statement of ill conceived thought? It was an 'empire' he was creating, to hold together as a synergised entity of state paganism mired with Christianity , therefore NOT Christian as the apostles and early church would know, was it numpty boy)– can we return to recognising its essential force (What might this be, lad?): that God is to be discovered alongside the victim (Ah, that Gospel according to socialism, we are all victims, somehow, somewhere, someway!!), no matter what colour, class or creed. And if that is a form of political correctness, then so be it.(It blooming well is, my dear high priest of Christian socialism)"

Up' North, we have a saying for such as Giles Fraser..A pretentious T*%T!!!


7 April 2014 at 21:52  
Blogger E.xtra S.ensory Blofeld + Tiddles said...


Giles had said in the article... ""Pickles said "We are a Christian nation,", "And don't impose your politically correct intolerance on others." These words come a few days after the communities secretary had ordered the police into Tower Hamlets council to investigate apparent financial mismanagement of a local authority that is run by Britain's first Muslim executive mayor, Lutfur Rahman, and this in a borough with one of the highest ethnic minority populations in London, many of them Bengalis.

At the very least, this sort of crass Christian flag waving is wildly inappropriate, especially from a communities secretary. Tower Hamlets has a good record of community relations. From the curry houses of Brick Lane to the largely white working-class estates in Bow further east, Christians, Jews and Muslims get on remarkably well. For Pickles to talk provocatively of us being a Christian nation at the same time as sending the coppers into a Muslim-dominated council is a whopping misjudgment.

For if political correctness means anything, it is surely that language matters. It matters because language often serves and reinforces the interests of a dominant culture to the exclusion of others – women, homosexuals, people of colour, people of other religious traditions. "

As the Romans extended their dominance throughout the Mediterranean world, their policy in general was to absorb the deities and cults of other peoples rather than try to eradicate them, since they believed that preserving tradition promoted social stability.

One way that Rome incorporated diverse peoples was by supporting their religious heritage, building temples to local deities that framed their theology within the hierarchy of Roman religion.

Inscriptions throughout the Empire record the side-by-side worship of local and Roman deities, including dedications made by Romans to local gods. (You sound as though you share the same values as the Roman empire you despise??? It appears you are no Josiah, then?)

7 April 2014 at 21:53  
Blogger David Kavanagh said...

Sister Tibs,

You're welcome.

'the virtual tea party in His Grace's sitting room'... yes I'm the 'mad hatter', which is better than being the door mouse or whatever it was in alice in wonderland...

7 April 2014 at 21:56  
Blogger Flossie said...

David K, you are very kind, but my concern is not for myself but for the wider communion. I have managed to hunker down in my own little corner of the Anglican Communion with my Book of Common Prayer and my flying bishop, so am not in any immediate danger of finding myself afloat, but as soon as we get women bishops and they start ordaining, then the position changes. A few years down the line we will not know if clergy were ordained by women or by men, (and whether their ordinations are valid) so the apostolic succession goes out of the window, for ever. There will be no turning back.

The liberals are in charge now. It won't be long before we all see how we fare.

7 April 2014 at 22:18  
Blogger bluedog said...

Ernsty @ 21.53, it seems as though Giles Fraser has misread the excellent book by Robin Lane Fox, Pagans and Christians in the Mediterranean World.

Fraser's cringe makes the skin crawl, but not out of surprise.

7 April 2014 at 22:23  
Blogger E.xtra S.ensory Blofeld + Tiddles said...


Ernsty @ 21.53, it seems as though Giles Fraser has misread the excellent book by Robin Lane Fox, Pagans and Christians in the Mediterranean World." Dear fellow...For these types anything can be misinterpreted or misquoted to justify their own warped stance...The Truth is merely an intended victim of their collateral damage to our heritage.

Sometimes I doubt he has even read the Bible..Probably gets his strange beliefs from solely reading Christianity Today and works of Ernesto "Che" Guevara.

Fraser's cringe makes the skin crawl, but not out of surprise.

"Becoming Giles: The quotable christian socialist rebel.;

The Liberal revolution is not an apple that falls when it is ripe. You have to make it fall by giving the tree a bloody damned good shake by bashing the pig headed fundamentalists against it." *chuckles*


7 April 2014 at 22:49  
Blogger Esther Shabo said...


It's not that I am 'less ecumenical' it is simply because living among a predominately non Jewish community, I'm beyond trying to justify my existence as a Jew. So if people want to discuss my faith, I'll give a blunt and honest answer about it.

As for women Rabbis, I'm opposed to them. Not because I am some kind of 'brainwashed slave' nor because I can't accept that in theory Jewish law doesn't allow this, but because :

1) The manner in which they are foisted upon communities, in a way which seems to indicate a desire to go with the modern zietgiest

2) Because in essence the centre of the Jewish faith is the home and family. Something which I've come to appreciate with the lack of a Synagogue. The most importance task, dare I say Mitzvot is to bring the next generation into the Jewish world. That is predominately my responsibility as a woman. If I had a choice between being a Rabbi and seeing my children grow into the Jewish faith, I know which one I would always choose and which one is really the more 'feminist' approach.

Just my view.

7 April 2014 at 22:50  
Blogger Esther Shabo said...

Avi,hi, to me the response to this :

"To stuff your mouth at the seder with two matzas, to somehow chew them separately and swallow everything in 2 minutes without flooding fillings and choking?"

Would be to reflect on Nahmonides (an answer perhaps to Sister Tiberia, above) & his quote about being "a scoundrel with the full permission of the Torah";e.g. so one could stuff ex amount of food into one's gob in 2 minutes flat at the Passover table, but that would still leave one a potential glutton & slob...

7 April 2014 at 23:04  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

Sister Tiberia Father James Martin? Surely not?

Two excerpts from the prayer:

"But I get frustrated most of all when I feel that there are things that need to be changed and I don’t have the power to change them."

One suspects that would be advancing the liberal agenda. The Church needs to adapt to the world and modernise.

He's a supporter of the LCWR, who's prominent members have spoken in favour of pantheistic beliefs, women's ordination, abortion, homosexuality and same-sex marriage.

"Help me to be peaceful when people tell me that I don’t belong in the church, that I’m a heretic for trying to make things better, or that I’m not a good Catholic."

Nowadays you wont be persecuted, thank God, but if the Church clearly advises your soul is at risk because, according to its binding teachings, you are holding to heretical views and/or living in a state of objective sin, surely, as a member of the Church, this must be listened to?

That is Catholicism, after all, notwithstanding the much misrepresented concepts of 'primacy of conscience', 'sensus fidelium' and 'epikeia'.

7 April 2014 at 23:10  
Blogger David Hussell said...

Flossie @ 22.18

You have my sincere sympathies.

Although I am at the other end of the Anglican theological spectrum to you, I believe in a genuinely broad Church, linked by Richard Hooker's Scripture, Tradition and Reason, sources for authority. But the two ends, which gave the church its breadth, have been attacked, from what was the tolerant liberal centre. My grandmother attended a very high Abbey Church, which supported her deep, genuine faith.
So it concerns me how the sense of identity at your end of the Church is being deliberately weakened, for what I see as politically derived and inspired beliefs.
Ironically the word "inclusive" is banded about much nowadays, but it is a lie, as tolerance of the genuinely different is constantly being attacked. "Inclusive" is merely jargon for imposing bossy, haughty, illiberal so called liberalism on all, regardless of the damage done to conscience of faith.
Interestingly we have seen recently a so called Anglo-Catholic Archbishop of Canterbury, Williams, who was in fact deeply liberal, be replaced by an Evangelical Archbishop, Welby, who is in fact, a very liberal one. So liberalism keeps popping up but dressed in different clothes, it seems to me.

The evangelical end is thriving and will survive, on its own if needs be. But the High Church end is not faring so well, in a world that wishes to cast off visible, deep tradition, and that is not good at all. I have the feeling that the era of so called liberal domination will be short lived and that, in the long run, both ends will outlive it by a good few country miles.
Demography and statistical trajectories suggest that the C of E is due to shrink markedly in numbers soon, and most of that shrinkage will probably be in the wide liberal middle. So hang on, through faith, is my advice, especially to the younger ones.

7 April 2014 at 23:19  
Blogger Esther Shabo said...

Sister Tiberia,

This is my view in response to your post to Avi. In respect of situations in which there is no precedent or generally agreed view, the 'legal' decision depends on the Poskim of the Jewish community you are a part of.

In general there has always been a debate about how lenient or not Jewish law should be interpreted. This dates back to the schools of Hillel and Shammai, as documented in the Talmud. Hillel being the more lenient of the two, although if one where to analyse the sayings of Jesus (without the claim of divinity) as a Jewish Rabbi he would be to the left of Shammi on some issues and to the right of Hillel one others (e.g. divorce).

There is also the Jewish concept of "lifnim mishuras hadin", which means beyond the letter of the law, which (as I am not familiar with Roman Catholic Canon Law) might be the same as this 'epikeia'.

7 April 2014 at 23:19  
Blogger Sister Tiberia said...

Esther, thank you for that. There certainly seem to be similarities in the two concepts.

7 April 2014 at 23:21  
Blogger Sister Tiberia said...

HJ - I'm well aware of your opinion of Fr Martin. That does not alter my opinion of the prayer as a way to return to spiritual peace when driven to fury by the ill considered words or actions of one's co-religionists (no persons here present included). And I have found his books to be though provoking and intelligent, none of which requires me to be in full agreement with everything he says or does. :)

7 April 2014 at 23:27  
Blogger Esther Shabo said...

Hello Sister Tiberia (or Tibs),

I'm glad you appreciated my efforts there. As I say, I don't know enough about Roman Catholic canons to really tackle this as a direct comparison. But then, in one sense I don't need to worry about that so much (:

7 April 2014 at 23:43  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

Sister Tiberia, in a roundabout way all I'm really saying is that, fundamentally, Catholicism is about acceptance and submission to an external authority - the Church - invested, we believe, with Christ's authority and guided by the Holy Spirit to interpret scripture and God's will and laws. Ideally, with proper formation, there will be unison between an individuals understanding of scripture, conscience and Church teachings.

Isn't this the source of the rift between Roman Catholicism and the Anglican Communion?

As Catholics, whether we like it or not, and whether we might think the Church right or wrong on certain moral issues, the room for private interpretation and independent action is constrained. And the Church is unable to change clearly stated doctrines and teachings. There's a whole range of issues that really are divisive because the Church already has a settled position on them and they are not up for further debate - contraception, women priests, abortion and homosexuality. The problem is many Catholics appear not to know or understand its teachings. And some simply ignore them. Given this, just how the Church resolves the matter of Communion for divorcees without causing a schism or undermining all of its core teachings, will be critical.

8 April 2014 at 00:29  
Blogger E.xtra S.ensory Blofeld + Tiddles said...

King Josiah was Judah's last gasp — the last good thing that happened to the Israelites before their kingdom was destroyed.(Where oh where is our Josiah, whether Monarch or parliamentarian or Archbishop or priest?)

Josiah became king as a child of only eight, and soon took an interest in the LORD, contrary to his father King Amon. Early in life he instituted reforms and took steps against idol worship.

At 25 years of age, Josiah decided to rebuild the LORD's temple, deteriorated with age. As the workers were cleaning, they found an obscure book that no one had ever heard of — the Bible, forgotten by previous generations (Or today it is ignored or misquoted or just plain liberalised away).

As the king listened to his secretary read the Bible, he was struck with grief and terror, certain the LORD was furious with Josiah and his people for their disobedience (Is our disobedience in even the basics of His Word any the less terrifying?).

Immediately, Josiah set upon a sweeping program to eliminate pagan worship and renew the ancient covenant of the LORD. He toured the land, destroying pagan shrines, and celebrated the Passover for the first time in decades.

The revival was wonderful. But as soon as Josiah died, the people returned to their evil ways, and before his sons reached middle age, the LORD's judgment for centuries of evil practices came, and Judah was no more (Perhaps prophetic for when a country that laims His name and ways in it's ordinances and statutes forgets the old ways and path where there is peace?).

What have we become and what will the end be for us ..

Hosea 4:1-6

Amplified Bible (AMP)

4 Hear the word of the Lord, you children of Israel, for the Lord has a controversy (a pleading contention) with the inhabitants of the land, because there is no faithfulness, love, pity and mercy, or knowledge of God [from personal experience with Him] in the land.

2 There is nothing but [false] swearing and breaking faith and killing and stealing and committing adultery; they break out [into violence], one [deed of] bloodshed following close on another.

3 Therefore shall the land [continually] mourn, and all who dwell in it shall languish, together with the wild beasts of the open country and the birds of the heavens; yes, the fishes of the sea also shall [perish because of the drought] be collected and taken away.

4 Yet let no man strive, neither let any man reprove [another—do not waste your time in mutual recriminations], for with you is My contention, O priest.

5 And you shall stumble in the daytime, and the [false] prophet also shall stumble with you in the night; and I will destroy your mother [the priestly nation].

6 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you [the priestly nation] have rejected knowledge, I will also reject you that you shall be no priest to Me; seeing you have forgotten the law of your God, I will also forget your children.


8 April 2014 at 00:35  
Blogger Sister Tiberia said...

HJ, fundamentally Catholicism is about loving The Lord your God with all your heart, your soul and your strength, and loving your neighbour as yourself. I don't need to remind you who said that. Nor who appointed the Apostle Peter to care for his flock, and not many minutes later rebuked the first Pope for thinking as the world thinks, not as God thinks. If I truly thought that the most important thing about Roman Catholicism was mindless submission of will to external authority, I would have been off down the road to Canterbury a long time ago. Thankfully I don't think that, and nor does any Catholic I've ever met in real life.

And the source of the rift with the Anglican Communion could fill a thesis rather than a blog post.

8 April 2014 at 00:45  
Blogger E.xtra S.ensory Blofeld + Tiddles said...


The priest in Hosea is supposedly the believer (sound familiar recently in the news?) who is obviously NOT believing God and His Word regarding Him and His Immutable Laws.

Tragic but so apt for today in our nation that sent so many missionaries abroad "Isaiah 52:7

7 How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good tidings, who publishes peace, who brings good tidings of good, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, Your God reigns!"


Romans 10:13-15

13 For everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord [invoking Him as Lord] will be saved.

14 But how are people to call upon Him Whom they have not believed [in Whom they have no faith, on Whom they have no reliance]? And how are they to believe in Him [adhere to, trust in, and rely upon Him] of Whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without a preacher?

15 And how can men [be expected to] preach unless they are sent? As it is written, How beautiful are the feet of those who bring glad tidings! [How welcome is the coming of those who preach the good news of His good things!]


8 April 2014 at 00:50  
Blogger Sister Tiberia said...

And please don't tell me that rebuking those you disagree with on Internet forums is the greatest act of love - I hear versions of that on every Trad site and I consider it rubbish. Our Blessed Lord made it very clear - feed the hungry, clothe the naked, care for the sick, visit the prisoner, comfort the suffering, and know that in doing all those things, you are doing it to Him. Not for Him. To Him. I will have many things on my conscience that I will eventually have to answer to God for, but my failure of mindless submission will not be top of that list. My lack of control of my anger, and my lack of charity towards my fellow Catholics when they push my buttons (of which I still have far too many) will be a lot higher on the list.

And with that I shall now go and say the two decades of the Rosary I've just incurred for losing my temper on a blog again before the end of Lent, and put my forfeit in the Cafod box :)

8 April 2014 at 00:55  
Blogger E.xtra S.ensory Blofeld + Tiddles said...

In Romans, Paul tells us how God deals with people in rebellious nations such as ours is becoming and boasting in it, calling for celebrations and blessings towards the evil committed and condoned.

Paul says that "Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their [own] hearts to sexual impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves [abandoning them to the degrading power of sin]," (Romans 1:24).

In other words, God steps back, lowers His grace of protection around the nation, and allows sin to multiply as a judgment upon the nation.

The first consequence is a sexual revolution like the one that occurred in the 1960's. Paul refers to it as the "dishonoring of their bodies" (Romans 1:24).

Paul says that if this judgment does not produce repentance, God will take another step back and lower His grace of protection even further.

In this second stage, He will deliver the nation to "For this reason God gave them over and abandoned them to vile affections and 'degrading passions'. For their women exchanged their natural function for an unnatural and abnormal one," (Romans 1:26).

Paul explains that this judgment will be manifested in a plague of homosexuality. And the men also turned from natural relations with women and were set ablaze (burning out, consumed) with lust for one another—men committing shameful acts with men and suffering in their own [a]bodies and personalities the inevitable consequences and penalty of their wrong-doing and going astray, which was [their] fitting retribution.(Romans 1:27).

Paul even mentions that those who participate in such evil will receive in their own bodies "the due penalty of their error" (Romans 1:27). Thus, the modern day AIDS epidemic and other bodily complications from this depravity is portrayed clearly as a judgment of God.

Nor is that the end of the process. Again, Paul notes that if the society persists in its rebellion, God will take another step back and lower His grace of protection even further, giving them over "to a depraved/base mind" (And so, since they did not see fit to acknowledge God or approve of Him or consider Him worth the knowing, God gave them over to a base and condemned mind to do things not proper or decent but loathsome,Romans 1:28).

At that point Paul says the society will become like the one he describes in 2 Timothy 3 in total but especially:12-15

(12 Indeed all who delight in piety and are determined to live a devoted and godly life in Christ Jesus will meet with persecution [will be made to suffer because of their religious stand].

13 But wicked men and imposters will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and leading astray others and being deceived and led astray themselves.

14 But as for you, continue to hold to the things that you have learned and of which you are convinced, knowing from whom you learned [them],

15 And how from your childhood you have had a knowledge of and been acquainted with the sacred Writings, which are able to instruct you and give you the understanding for salvation which comes through faith in Christ Jesus [through the [b]leaning of the entire human personality on God in Christ Jesus in absolute trust and confidence in His power, wisdom, and goodness].)

(Romans 1:29-31

29 Until they were filled (permeated and saturated) with every kind of unrighteousness, iniquity, grasping and covetous greed, and malice. [They were] full of envy and jealousy, murder, strife, deceit and treachery, ill will and cruel ways. [They were] secret backbiters and gossipers,

30 Slanderers, hateful to and hating God, full of insolence, arrogance, [and] boasting; inventors of new forms of evil, disobedient and undutiful to parents.

31 [They were] without understanding, conscienceless and faithless, heartless and loveless [and] merciless.1 ).

He then adds a sobering thought: "We know that the judgment of God rightly falls upon those who practice such things" (Romans 2:2).

8 April 2014 at 01:24  
Blogger E.xtra S.ensory Blofeld + Tiddles said...

What a week or so it has been for those that hold to the truth once delivered to the saints..I've even been called a knuckle-dragger for disagreeing with this depraved behavior on HG twitter account by some others and especially the refusal to accept SSM is acceptable to God and thereby lacking christian love!!!

The nonsense that is spoken by those that advocate such depravity and believe the Bible actually condones this twaddle reminds Ernst of a story...

"A group of deacons was interviewing a thirty year old Bible student for priest in 1994.

Several deacons were concerned about the man’s youth and inexperience and having a phd in philosophical theology on a thesis of 19th-century German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche 'who famously declared that God – at least in the old-fashioned sense – was dead'.

Another deacon, impressed with the candidate, attempted to ally his colleagues’ fears so he asked the would be preacher to give a brief overview of the Bible.

The neophyte held his head high and started, "Well the Bible begins when God placed David and Bathsheba in the Garden of Gethsemane where they were told to eat manna and quail.

But when they ate five loaves of bread and two fishes, God sent them out of the garden into the fiery furnace.

Moses led the Egyptians out of Israel in six days and then he rested on the seventh day.

Elijah was a fiery prophet whose successor Eleazar asked for a double portion of baked fish.

The sleeping prophet Jeremiah cried his entire life over a broken alabaster jar which had been thrown into the lion's den.

Jesus had twelve apostles whose wives were called the epistles. He preached to the Ninevites who walked on the water until a big fish coughed up a handful of change.

Paul was converted on the road to Emmaeus when he saw a bright star in the east. On one occasion, he preached an all nighter and a man named Zaccheus went to sleep; Zaccheus fell off the Tower of Babel and died, but Paul raised him on the third day.”

After the recitation the obviously embarrassed deacon turned to the chairman and asked "what do you think about that?" The seasoned chairman gushed, “I still think he’s a bit young, but he sure knows his Bible! Lets make him parish priest for St Mary's, Newington, near the Elephant and Castle.

As he is also circumcised under the Jewish tradition, we could hope he would lead and enlighten the Jewish there along his path of sound inclusive knowledge.

He may one day become Stonewall's Hero of the Year and he could even end up a future bishop of the CofE. Now how inclusive would that be? "


8 April 2014 at 01:57  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

Sister Tiberia, well, of course, all those are core teachings of the Catholic Church found in any penny catechism and underpinning the social teachings of the Church.

And who said anything about "mindless submission"? Exposition of all the teachings of the Catholic Church are available in many documents. 2000 years of them, in fact. Understanding Trent and Vatican I and Vatican II would take many, many hours! Similarly, the Church's position on a range of contemporary moral issues is expounded in various Encyclicals and in the catechism.

If after reading them and giving them considered attention, you cannot consent that is your right and between you and your priest. But mindless submission? No! The greater fault is mindless dismissal or neglect.

And I am sorry you got angry. I can only repeat Paul's words to Timothy:

"Before God and before Christ Jesus who is to be judge of the living and the dead, I charge you, in the name of his appearing and of his kingdom: proclaim the message and, welcome or unwelcome, insist on it. Refute falsehood, correct error, give encouragement."

8 April 2014 at 01:58  
Blogger Sister Tiberia said...

And since we're both up at 2 am writing on blogs ( God help us) I'll point out that that particular letter is the one many scholars think wasn't actually written by Paul at all, and that if I ever saw even half the amount of encouragement as opposed to the "correction of error' expounded on the Trad blogs, they'd have considerably less power to wind me up.

In case you think I only pick on the Trads, I got thoroughly annoyed on a liberal blog recently when I took issue with a rather gloating post about the Holy Father's acknowledgement of the collateral victims of the sex abuse scandals being the good and decent priests who live under the shadow cast by the actions of the few. Her premise was that nobody had any right to consider themselves a victim if they had been part of the hierarchy. I called that rubbish too - and dangerous rubbish at that. And incurred a couple of decades of the rosary for that tool

I will agree with you entirely about the duty of all Catholics to study Church history, and Church teachings and to try to find some point of contact between those teachings and their own dilemmas. Often there is indeed a point of contact to be found. But I consider the mindless dismissal of the honest seeker for truth, because their points do not fit with the Penny Catechism to be as great a fault as the mindless dismissal of Church teachings without the time taken to study them. And of this fault there are plenty of Traditionalist examples out on the Net.

8 April 2014 at 02:43  
Blogger Cressida de Nova said...

Tibs,I have been thinking about these dilemmas .As it is not the middle ages everything is not as straight forward as it used to be.The dilemma is being a Catholic and making a sort of fit with the modern age which after all is essential for survival. I can see a point in both Tibs and Jack's positions. The reason I still hold fast to Catholicism is because

1 I am instinctively not an atheist and have a need for a connection with the Divine. Religion and the religious arts
are tools for this connection.

2. Catholicism's greatest gift to me was to encourage a pursuit of truth and to delve deeper into the mysteries of life rather than being a surface dweller. I will be forever grateful for the education I received which placed a great emphasis on authentic behaviour.

Thanks to Cranmer for allowing Catholics and Jews and Anglicans and others to put forth their views. It is very interesting to know why and how the others think. I would never have this opportunity in my everyday life. It has strengthened my faith. I do not think my views and understanding would be as clear if it had not been for the opinions and contributions of the other faiths as well so for this I owe Cranmer a great debt because to my knowledge no other blog is like this in that regard.

I agree with you Tibs that Catholicism is not the one of our ancestors in the middle ages where the Catechism contained all the answers. There are variations and hues. It is not all black and white . There are mitigating circumstances to many rules as long as the truth is pursued with no self interest ever entering into the evalution.The reason to be advised by an intelligent priest.

Ithink Jack would believe this too. He is just upset at the blatant manipulation of the scriptures by liberal Catholics acting out of self interest. These people have not understood the crux of Catholicism .This to me also is hard to tolerate.

It is difficult to be a good Catholic, especially in the modern age. I have never been able to manage it :)
Tibs your little outbursts are not demonstrations of anger . They are just small puffs of assertion in my culture anyway:)
God is French. You may as well come to terms with that:)

8 April 2014 at 03:45  
Blogger Mike Stallard said...

This is exactly why I left the CoE.
Where is the authority?
Perhaps in the Bible - forget it. That is just scriptural evidence suitable only for fools.
Perhaps in the consequences (i.e. the terrible anger of the LGBT community, many of them in responsible positions within the Anglican Church).
Perhaps in the Bishops. "Well, on the one hand, I feel..."
Perhaps in tradition. Forget that - it is just colonialism.

Where the real authority lies is in the "guidance of the Holy Spirit" a totally fictitious body of opinion based largely on who shouts loudest and who is most in tune with Newsnight and the Today programme.

8 April 2014 at 07:44  
Blogger Len said...

Catholicism is submission to the Roman Catholic Church and its doctrines.

Islam is submission to Allah and his doctrines.

New age religions are a submission to the Occult.

Christianity is where Christ has submitted in your place so you can stand before God. Which makes Biblical Christianity unique amongst all religions because you totally rely on the 'work' of another not yourself.

8 April 2014 at 08:37  
Blogger Flossie said...

David Hussell @23.19 - you are of course quite correct. Anglo Catholicism is all but dead. Bishop Jonathan Baker signed off the Pilling Report, which has killed it off as far as I am concerned.

I have been to a few Reform events and have been flabbergasted to see so many men - and young men at that. I have many Evangelical friends who I love dearly. They seem to me to be the best chance the C of E has of survival.

I have long been curious about the differences between us (apart from one of 'style') and all I can discover is that they don't believe in the Apostolic Succession - whereas Anglo-Catholics believe that women CANNOT be priests by nature of their sex (in the same way that they cannot be fathers) Evangelicals tend to believe that they SHOULD not. If anyone has a better explanation, I should be pleased to hear it!

I can't say I am particularly high up the candle, but I should miss the wonderful music and liturgy and sense of the numinous and transcendence (sp?) if I had to give it all up. I can't see myself doing happy-clappy. But hey, that's not what really matters, if it's what it takes to save the C of E.

8 April 2014 at 09:41  
Blogger Martin said...

Could I make the point that the Holy Father is God. Anyone else who takes such a title is clearly placing themselves in the place of God.

8 April 2014 at 09:57  
Blogger David Hussell said...

Flossie @ 09.41

Your understanding regarding the different reasons given by, Anglo-catholic as opposed to Reform, for women not being ordained is spot on, correct.

Like you because of my generation, and being raised in a parish church that had a touch of ritual and dignity, I do find the Reform services very plain, but then nothing is ever perfect in this world.
Reform really do uphold the meaning and content of The Prayer Book, whilst using contemporary language for services. However I still miss the beauty of Cranmer's liturgy.
But as their formula for traditional protestant beliefs, coupled with the use of contemporary language, seems to be bringing in and holding young families, including as you observe, the men folk, that seems far more important than my love of poetic language which I can read at home.

Their undoubted strength is good sermons, coupled with vigorous hymn singing. The Reform churches I am aware of are not happy-clappy though, whilst having sincere and involved congregations. As you say it seems to represent the main future life-force of the C of E.

8 April 2014 at 10:06  
Blogger Len said...

It seems to me we will all arrive at the Throne of God one day and the question will be asked "Why should I let you into Heaven?"

At this point we might be asking ourselves"have I done enough?."

Or perhaps" Did Jesus Christ do enough?."

Certainly the question we are not going to to be asked will not be "What denomination?"

The Atheist or those in false religions will not be able to claim ignorance because by that time the Gospel of Jesus Christ will have gone out to the entire World.

Your answer to the all important question by God declares what lies inside your Heart.

Of course if you have placed your entire faith in the finished work of Christ at Calvary that has already been accepted by God.

8 April 2014 at 11:21  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

"Catholicism is submission to the Roman Catholic Church and its doctrines."

Just so we're clear on that one, the Church considers itself Christ's earthly representative and sees His authority as invested in it until His return. Accordingly, submission to the Church is actually submission to Jesus Christ. That's the theology, whether you agree or not - and I know you don't.

If Christ stated clearly to you that certain actions were forbidden or required would you turn around and say "Lord, my conscience sees it differently and my reading of scripture tells me something different"? You'll agree, I trust, that God has authority over us and that we should submit to Him.

The ideal state is where through the indwelling of His Spirit we act in total unison with His law, it is no longer a burden and there is no tension between what we want and what He desires for our wellbeing and salvation. Who ever achieves this state? Until then we do our best.

Cressida, naturally the world is complex and many situations throw challenges our way, Agreed, counselling by a spiritual adviser is necessary. This used to be regular confession and a close relationship with one's confessor. I have no issue with a confidential, loving and sensitive approach to individuals in the actual circumstances of their lives.

You are correct, my angst is with the 'liberal-progressive' who wants to adapt Church teaching to accommodate ways of lives that have been regarded as objectively sinful by Christians. To me, the Church, its members and its ministers should reach out and assist each person (all of us, in truth) to continually amend our lives to conform as best we can to God's law. This is not the same thing as liberalising the law.

8 April 2014 at 11:43  
Blogger Integrity said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

8 April 2014 at 12:28  
Blogger Integrity said...

Flossie said;
But hey, that's not what really matters, if it's what it takes to save the C of E.
David H said;
raised in a parish church that had a touch of ritual and dignity
I know where you both are coming from as I was raised in the CofE, rang bells and sang in the choir.
It was when I became a Christian through the Ministry of Billy Graham that I found that Christianity was about LIFE, not Ritual, Liturgy or any particular denomination. I went to church where the word of God was preached, the parts of the service had meaning and relevance, not performed as a matter of tradition or in a ritualistic way and as for dignity, I have been in a service which went into hilarious laughter for the duration of the service. (This only happened once though).
The form of the church has gone through many changes in the last two thousand years and many House Churches may be considered more like New Testament Churches. (My only reservation there is the importance of discipline and anointing).
The saving of the CofE is less important than the saving of souls and if the leadership of the CofE will not wake up to their anointed rolls then the rest of the body of Christ must move on.

8 April 2014 at 12:32  
Blogger David Hussell said...

Integrity @ 12.32

If you are preaching to me, you are preaching to the converted. My conclusion is always that preaching the true gospel of salvation through faith in Christ takes overwhelming precedence over my aesthetic sensibilities. Therefore to communicate we must use contemporary idioms.

My born 1951 generation have always been an "on the cusp" of change demographic, so most of us adapt to new services for the sake of the souls of the young and future generations. But please do not disregard the spiritual needs of those, older or less flexible than I, who still require BCP services to approach God. Reform delivers formal services for this age group, as do many churches across the C of E.

But I would not be honest if I did not express a wistful remembrance of forms and liturgies that resonate with my childhood and youthful experiences of journeying towards faith. What other generation has been asked to adapt to so much change so quickly I ask ? Such changes have resulted, sadly, in many falling by the wayside. The universal Church must serve all types of people and long may that continue I say.

There is no superior or inferior form of service or liturgy. The only test is the one that has always applied, "does it cure souls?"

8 April 2014 at 13:01  
Blogger Len said...

Submission to 'the Church' is certainly not the same as submission to Christ..Why not go directly to Christ and cut out 'the middle man' (namely the Church or more correctly the Priestly system of 'mediators' who stand in the place of Christ)

As God said,'No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, 'Know the LORD,' because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest," declares the LORD. "For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more'(Jeremiah 31:34)

8 April 2014 at 15:55  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

David H, but doesn't liturgy reflect and reinforce theology? What positive influence might exposure to the BCP have had on your emerging faith? Worship impacts on all the senses.

8 April 2014 at 16:34  
Blogger Integrity said...

Davd H,
I would not presume to preach at anyone on this blog. Although I have 4 years on you, I do understand, as I said, that I appreciate where you are coming from. In our church we have from babies to 90+ and all work together in praising God with one voice. I am sure that there are many that find it difficult to adapt,as indeed I do to some of the music that the younger people seem to appreciate. It is somewhat lacking in spiritual depth I feel however.
Bless you in whatever your hands find to do.

8 April 2014 at 16:44  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

Sister Tiberia said, Avi, does Orthodox Judaism have a version of the Catholic concept of epikeia?

Yes, Sister, it's a central premise in halakhah, Jewish law; laws must be changed and interpreted in every generation while they remain true to the Torah. The written Torah was addressed to the post-Exodus generation, with its stress on combatting idolatry and instituting a system of ethics and laws suitable for the times. The modern bet din, Jewish religious court, must extrude justice from, for example, agricultural laws distilling it, for example again, from the principles behind the liability of one's ox goring another's and applying it to car accidents.Miss Shabo, though has answered your query inwith more detail and more ably.

Uncle Brian asked: In the kiddush ceremony, have any rabbis, male or female, Orthodox or Reform, gone so far as to serve grape juice instead of wine?

Kiddush can be said over a precious liquid, such as an alcoholic beverage (but not beer) and even among Orthodox, with genuine grape juice as long as it's kosher. I don't know how that became accepted; something I'll try and remember to ask. Mind you, if you've seen the price of kosher grape juice, you'll agree it's a precious liquid. The difference is that liberal congregations use regular grape juice. The kashruth strictures, which loosened during the Middle Ages, were reintroduction by the Maharal, the Prague Rabbi Loew of the Golem fame.

In case you missed this from my older post, try, it's clips of popular programs, unless you want live stream through iTunes.

The Divine Comedy is here:

Miss Shabo: one could stuff ex amount of food into one's gob in 2 minutes flat at the Passover table, but that would still leave one a potential glutton & slob...

That is precisely the issue raised by several dissenting rabbis. By getting into the minutae of halakhah, trying to jam together the opinions of several poskim into one and going stricter because...hey, that's the way Hareidim prefer to pasken... this approach violates the intent of concentrating on the meaning of Pesach, takes away from the dignity and enjoyment (imagine a table-full of guests choking and spewing matza crumbs all over the hors d'oeuvres) and is sheer gluttony, contrary to number 169 of the Rambam's 613 mitzvot.

8 April 2014 at 17:42  
Blogger Uncle Brian said...


Thanks twice over, Avi, for the information about grape juice (which surprised me, I must admit) and for your tip about Dante on the BBC.


8 April 2014 at 19:13  
Blogger Esther Shabo said...

Avi, hi, thanks for your complimentary words. I'm a 'Mrs', not a Miss, btw, but you can call me Esther; I'm not Shomer Negiah. And David and Hannah are my siblings, just in case you haven't already guessed (:

8 April 2014 at 22:44  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

Welcome and enjoy, Uncle Brian!

A mix of Old World and mainstream Orthodox manners, Mrs Esther; ladies are to be addressed with more deference.

But let's not even jest about the shomer negiah issue which does not (yet) go as far as how one addresses women or puts limits on Internet communications with them...thank goodness for the little mercies. Give it a year or two until some hareidi Gadol comes up with such a p'sak, though. I suppose I would then have to leave my front door open when addressing a woman online...or not look at her post and have it read to me by a man (to avoid kol isha of course, but don't get me started on that!)

Incidentally, neither the Rambam, nor the Shulchan Aruch ever stated that touching alone is prohibited. No clue about The Rebbe or the Tanya, assuming you count Habad-Lubavitch as Jewish (kidding...kind of). One of the rebbis I study with from time to time, a total "black hat" from Monsey, the pupik of the Hassidic world of North America, will shake a lady's hand if she extends it. He reasons, quite soundly, in my not always humble opinion, that it's preferable to violate a custom and a more recent stricture, a humra, than to humiliate a woman and make Judaism look ridiculous.

9 April 2014 at 01:11  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

Avi, Happy Jack would love to be present during discussions with your Rabbi and fellow Jews. He thinks it would be a hoot to witness your explorations of the Halakha and Mitzvot.

How do they cope?


9 April 2014 at 02:42  
Blogger Esther Shabo said...

Happy Jack,hi,

The way which the Torah is studied is via lots of argument and debate, usually in pairs, which leads one to a better understanding of these matters.

9 April 2014 at 08:04  
Blogger Esther Shabo said...

Hi Avi,

You are such a nice old school gentleman with top class brain like a university lecturer. I don't mind being called Miss really.

Thinking about the Chabad part of Judaism, I know a bit about it as my brother's first wife came from that background, albeit a rebel herself, as she decided to go to university and get a secular education, which was just as well as she met my bro & together they went back to mainstream Orthodoxy.

I must admit I do get perplexed, though, with the current Azkenazi Haredi schools of thought. Growing up there was Orthodoxy or varieties of liberalism and that was it, with a reasonably broad level of observance, but nothing like what the Haredi come up with or rather demand. I do get upset when I look at Israel and see the Sephardi spiritual leadership trying to go further to 'the right' of Haredi generally, something which was not part of the traditional, traditional Torah observant Orthodoxy of the middle east.

I can't recall my mum ever wearing a wig, for a example and I certainly don't. To me modesty is about attitude as well as appropriate dress sense (which can be 'sexy' and refined without being about wearing mini-skirts, tight tops which flaunt my baps, hot pants and bikinis). I don't have a problem with being in the company of men, women having a religious and secular education or even swimming in the same pools. But then I'm very conservative in other ways.I'm not able to be really pigeon holed.

9 April 2014 at 08:05  
Blogger John Thomas said...

"right, so do we say it [homosexuality] is ok or is it wrong." (Integrity). Above all, WE (if we're Christians) don't conentrate on our own views/feelings, etc., but take note of God's. God clearly, in the Bible (as far as I can see it) unequivocally, indisputablly says it is sinful, and that, for me (I'm just not God ... surprising, perhaps, but true) is the end of the matter (but does this mean all anal intercourse is sinful - married men and women do it, in some cases, so I understand - or is it just sinful if two men do it?) Or is it something about male relationships (other than the anal intercourse) that is sinful?)

9 April 2014 at 10:47  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

Esther, Happy Jack says hello to you and doffs his cap.

Jack understands that about Judaism. He just thinks it would be interesting with Avi and his sometimes quirky take on situations and passion for engaging in debates.

9 April 2014 at 11:29  
Blogger E.xtra S.ensory Blofeld + Tiddles said...

God clearly, in the Bible (as far as I can see it) unequivocally, indisputablly says it is sinful, and that, for me (I'm just not God ... surprising, perhaps, but true) is the end of the matter (but does this mean all anal intercourse is sinful - married men and women do it, in some cases, so I understand - or is it just sinful if two men do it?) Or is it something about male relationships (other than the anal intercourse) that is sinful?)

The answer, from your question, that you are looking for can be found in Old and New testaments in regard to what it means to defile the bed of a married couple is found in Hebrews 13:4

4 Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge..

Hebrews 13 contains a variety of admonitions by the apostle Paul.
In verse 4 he admonishes that marriage be considered honorable by all people and that "the marital union be undefiled" (the KJV has "and the bed undefiled").

The Greek word translated "undefiled" is amiantos, Strong's Concordance #G283, which literally means unsoiled or pure. The last part of verse 4 is a warning that those who do "defile their bed," like adulterers, will be judged by God.

To understand what it means to have an undefiled martial relationship, we need to know what can defile it, Mr Thomas.

The Torah in the Old Testament has plenty to say regarding how a person can pollute themselves through sex.

God tells us NOT to commit adultery with another person's mate (Exodus 20:14, Leviticus 18:20). We are also commanded NOTto have intercourse with animals (Leviticus 18:23). Sex between those of the same gender are also expressly forbidden (verse 22).

Avoiding these practices would not only save a person from experiencing the negative consequences they bring, they would keep (for those who are married) the "marriage bed" or sexual relationship with their partner pure.

The New Testament book of 1Corinthians, the seventh chapter, gives us a principle or two regarding the proper sexual relationship within marriage. Both the husband and the wife need to seriously consider their mate's sexual needs and their capabilities.

Each person should regard their bodies as belonging to their mate and not under their own total control to do with it whatever they please. Sex should be refrained from only by mutual agreement for the purpose of fasting and prayer, after which time the couple should come together sexually so that they are not tempted to fulfill their needs elsewhere (1Corinthians 7: 1 - 5).

Aside from the above on how not to defile the marriage bed, the Bible does not put any restrictions on how a couple perform sexually.

Old Ernst, Lad.



Ernst has been awarded that job, subject to security checks. HUZZAH!!!!

9 April 2014 at 12:43  
Blogger David Kavanagh said...

Happy Jack

I've never really seen Avi as particularly quirky in his views. Always seemed quite sound, both politically and religiously. Argument,that is a good argument for a reason, is a cultural pastime in our community.

9 April 2014 at 13:31  
Blogger IanCad said...


Boy! I sure hope security doesn't check your postings. You'd be a goner.

However, can't help but notice that your last comment was during the lunch hour.
Mustn't post on the employers time; that would be stealing.

I'm sure I speak for all in rejoicing at your success.


9 April 2014 at 15:19  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

"Ernst has been awarded that job, subject to security checks. HUZZAH!!!!

Well done, that man!

HJ is absolutely thrilled for you and he's sure Mrs B is chuffed you'll be out of her hair too.

9 April 2014 at 15:47  
Blogger Sister Tiberia said...

Thank you Cressida for that :) I always had a suspicion that God was Polish since His sense of humour was similar to my late father's :)

Thank you to both Avi and Esther for clearing up my query. :)

HJ, a close relationship with one's confessor is indeed a great thing, and when I was in great distress last week, I actually did go up to my church, find my PP and let out all the anger and the tears to someone who would not judge, or give me easy answers or false comfort. That sort of relationship is precious - and sadly rare. I can think of no other parish I have been in where the parish priest would have been the person I went to in that situation.

9 April 2014 at 16:08  
Blogger Uncle Brian said...


Congratulations on the new job, Blowers. Are we going to be given a hint about what sort of job it is? Or have you given us that information already, on a thread that I missed?

My guess would be one of the following:

Explaining people's mistakes to them, in the nicest possible way;

MI5, MI6, or even, who knows MI7, but in that case, of course, your lips are sealed under the Defence of the Realm Act or the Official Secrets Act or both;

Professor of Patristics at a leading university.

Am I warm?


9 April 2014 at 16:15  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

NHS - Customer Complaints Department?


9 April 2014 at 16:19  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

Sister Tiberia, Happy Jack says you are blessed to have such a priest.

Jack is not as strict a 'traditionalist'. Certainly, he is conservative. However, he agrees there should be a degree of pastoral flexibility between a priest and his parishioners. Where to set boundaries is the critical issue. He's noticed that 'exceptions' for individuals can quickly become the settled norm or lead to wider compromise. And Jack most certainly disapproves of the more radical liberal-progressive priests.

These are testing times for all Christian churches as they contend with increasingly complex situations. Our culture now openly contradicts God's law. In the past, it reinforced it. People find themselves in all sorts of difficult and messy situations and lifestyle arrangements today because of ill-considered decisions already made. Many feel unable to return to the Church because of this or completely ignore the call.

9 April 2014 at 16:48  
Blogger Sister Tiberia said...

There was something in one of the Morris West books, HJ, that I remember touching upon this - I think it was Eminence, the last one in the series, and it was a character commenting on why the best thing for the Church has always been an Italian pope. The reason given was that they have grown up in both the Italian political system and the Italian matriarchal family, and because of this they understand the need for strict rules, the absolute impossibility that people are going to manage to stick to those rules, and the "toleranzia" that bridges the gap. By contrast Anglo Saxon (and indeed Slavonic) popes are used to the concept of rules that everyone follows, and the end result is a disaster for the Church and a nervous breakdown for the Pope ;) I will have to find my Morris West books again, and see if I can actually track down the quotation :)

9 April 2014 at 17:19  
Blogger Uncle Brian said...

Sister Tiberia

Morris West is one of the many authors whose books I have never read, but the remark you ascribe to him about the Italian church is very familiar to me in a slightly different context: as a fundamental difference in the approach to rules and regulations of any kind (from tax laws to marriage vows) between southern or Latin Europe and the Germanic north.

9 April 2014 at 18:01  
Blogger Len said...

Congrats with the job Ernst.

9 April 2014 at 18:48  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

Sister Tiberia, but can objective sin ever be tolerated? Forgiven and overcome, through grace, and the assistance of God, most certainly. The inclination to sin must be actively resisted, successfully or not, throughout our lives.

As Happy Jack sees it, because of our fallen natures we will always sin until the day we die, with very few exceptions.

Christians accept there is an absolute, unchangeable morality. It is not contingent or relative. This code can be understood through scripture, the natural law and reason. These laws of God are there for our own good and reflect His will for us. We are obliged to comply. Assisted by grace, the sacraments and the Church, we can, God willing, participate with grace and resist temptation. And God forgives sin that is sincerely repented - time and time again.

Pastoral guidance can help us sort the mess our individual lives fall into. This has to be an individual journey.

What Jack struggles with is toleration and acceptance of clear breaches of what is and has always been accepted as grievous sin. Instead of assisting people to transform their lives, with patience and love, some liberal theologians and priests want to accommodate sinful behaviour and amend our understanding of the moral law. According to conservative Catholic thinking, this will not only place souls in peril but also increase social disorder, human misery and increases sin.

9 April 2014 at 21:56  
Blogger Sister Tiberia said...

HJ, let's take one possible example.

Divorce and remarriage is the hot topic and the present system is unjust. The tribunals are arbitrary, access to them is variable as are costs. Pope Benedict himself said they made mistakes.

So is there a difference between:

The woman on her third civil marriage with increasing alimony payments every time. She's about to divorce number 3 and marry number 4. None of these were sacramental weddings. Whatever her please on the subject of greed and other things, she's free to marry in the Church.

The woman who left an abusive husband after the third time he put her in hospital. There is no way he's going to cooperate with a tribunal and indeed may be actively obstructive. Her chance of justice under the tribunal system is poor. She doesn't dare even approach the tribunal because there's a history in that diocese of ex-partners getting access to former spouses through tribunal paperwork, some of it with appalling results. She remarries outside the Church and endures many years of being unable to receive communion.

The woman who divorced civilly after finding her ex-husband sexually abused her daughter. The husband's in prison. There are no grounds for annulment that the Church would recognise. She remarried civilly and left the Church. So did her daughter. Her granddaughter is now being brought up in the Methodist faith.

The woman who was divorced by her husband after his affair. She has no way to contact him, and infidelity is not a ground for annulment. She is living with a partner but has not married him. They have two children. She has not set foot in a Catholic church since a priest said some extremely ill advised things to her about the failed first marriage and her current common-law husband.

The woman... but I think you can see where this is going. Adultery is a sin. Always. Now, are you going to judge all four of these women the same? "By the book" - the first one isn't committing adultery. She's never been married. The other three are. Number 2 will never try to get an annulment. Number 3 won't either, and probably will never set foot in a Catholic church again. Number 4 if she ever tries to get an annulment won't be granted it (not enough evidence).

This is where people stop being potatoes. One and one and one and one does not equal four, it equals one and one and one and one. Numbers 2, 3 and 4 of this list are personally known to me. When the bishops meet in the autumn, they have to find some way to give better justice than the current system, whatever the "risk of scandal" if they change the system. Because we don't just lose these women, we lose their children and their children's children.

9 April 2014 at 22:23  
Blogger E.xtra S.ensory Blofeld + Tiddles said...

Ian, HJ, UB and Len.

Thank you for your kind words.

Ernst had thought nobody would employ him anymore after years of ill health and the level of senior management that Ernsty served at, as all i wanted was a little work, nothing glamorous or high pressured anymore.

An Admin assistant is all old Ernst was after, to potter on without any pressure but doing something that is useful and enjoy his time with grandson, Joey.

Civil service!!, Uncle B, hence the security checks old boy....Fear Not chaps.

It's going to be OK, Francisco Scaramanga, me old mate, has ensured that all details of Ernst's dodgy history are erased from M's database.!!!*Chuckles*


9 April 2014 at 22:48  
Blogger Esther Shabo said...

Hello Happy Jack,

Thanks for the doffing of the cap... as for debates. You and the Sister Tibs are having one at the moment. We'd probably add crockery and the kitchen sink, lots of arm waving and dramatic hyperbole as well, whilst playing backgammon and strong black coffee ... (:

9 April 2014 at 23:05  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

Sister Tiberia, Happy Jack would not pass judgement on any of these particular situations.

He would say that even though these women cannot receive Communion there is no reason why they cannot still go to Church or raise their children as Catholics.

Jack would look at Church teaching and the words of Jesus. Is divorce and remarriage permissible based on the Church's understanding of the bible and tradition? No. Can the Church make individual decisions and annul marriages? Yes. Answer: de-bureaucratise and localise the annulment process. Review and amend the existing channels. But if a marriage was a valid one, and the permanent nature of marriage was understood by the person, then it was valid and is permanent. What can be done? As hard as it is, that's the position.

In Jack's opinion, what the Church cannot do, without contradicting itself and colluding with what has always been seen as sin, is to approve Communion for divorcees and leave it to individual priests and/or members to bend or ignore the rules. That would be inciting sin rather than resisting it.

Jack knows a parish where the priest actively encouraged divorcees who regularly attended Mass to receive Communion. The two men known to Jack both refused because it was against Church teaching. They were also shocked by the priest. Who do you think God favoured? The priest or the men?

God understands and forgives and sometimes life involves suffering. However, what the Church cannot do is smooth over the validity of and permanent nature of the sacrament of marriage and compromise access to Communion.

Out of interest, do you know how the Orthodox Church gets around this? Jack understands they allow divorce and remarriage in Church?

9 April 2014 at 23:58  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

Esther, Happy Jack likes to be polite to women and remove his hat as a sign of respect. Is that sexist? *chuckle*

Jack understands that about your faith and it's why he thinks it would be funny witnessing Avi in discussions. He knows he is passionate and also has a rare wit and capacity to see things from different perspectives.

10 April 2014 at 00:03  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

Sister Tiberia, Happy Jack says, then on the other hand, we live in a broken and fallen world. People, through no fault of their own, often find themselves in horrendous situations where their safety and the wellbeing of their children is at risk. What can they do? Should they then be condemned to a celibate life on their own?

Unfortunately, and Jack has some insight into this, the state agencies encourage separation and divorce. In some circumstances they demand it. Has everything been done to rescue marriages? Do people turn to the Church for help? We also live in a society, in the West, where serial monogamy is now the norm. Adultery is no longer a shameful thing. Divorce is common place. How can people cope? Marriage is not considered permanent.

Is it really unexpected that facing these forces divorce and remarry or live with common law partners? People they marry turn out to be abusers or desert them for another person.

Who would be a Pope or bishop attending a synod?

Let us pray the Church is guided by the Holy Spirit and makes the right decisions.

10 April 2014 at 02:17  
Blogger Sister Tiberia said...

This is the Greek Orthodox position

Pope Francis made reference to this back in August of last year

Bisho Geoffrey Robinson wrote a thought provoking piece on the subject. He is a liberal bishop, and I ask you to read this with an open mind before dismissing everything it has to say.

This is a republishing of an essay by Pope Benedict which examines the problem.

I have no idea how the bishops will handle this and like you I pray the Holy Spirit guides them. We cannot keep losing people like the three women I named - one of whom is still attending mass and is holding onto the Faith by her fingertips. The whole thing turns on whether we judge in favour of the law, or in favour of the person - because in so many failed marriages, it may well be that there is more than adequate ground for annulment, but no hope of a proof of that that will satisfy the tribunal system. So we deprive someone of the Sacrament who has every right to receive it because of the "scandal" caused if we do otherwise - and that is not justice, at any level.

10 April 2014 at 08:44  
Blogger Cressida de Nova said...

I cannot stay long...busy day but I must say I am finding the exchange between Tibs and Jack very interesting and I will read the material Tibs has submitted .

I am a divorcee and refrain from receiving communion. I could have my marriage annulled but have no intention of ever remarrying .

I attend Mass and have been involved with the Catholic Church in a work capacity as well. All the children have attended Catholic Schools and changing to another religion has never been a consideration for me.

I refrained from receiving Communion when I was quite young and devout because I came to realise that receiving Communion was treated in far too cavalier a fashion. I personally considered what was going on about me to be sacrilegious and did not want to be complicit in it.

I doubt that most Catholics really believe in transubstantiation otherwise a deaconess swanning around in a mini skirt and high heels distributing the host would not be permitted ,and this, in a Cathedral, with a Mass being celebrated by a Cardinal, only a few weeks ago.

This is not the religion of my Grandparents and it is not mine either. I will wait. I will worship in the way of my forebears. I will find it somewhere again.


10 April 2014 at 10:12  
Blogger Len said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

10 April 2014 at 11:17  
Blogger Len said...

I don`t know if Catholics have noticed but things are changing within the Catholic Church[rapidly]with your new Pope Francis

'Lesbian couple says baby’s baptism a sign Catholic views changing'.

The Church is literally falling apart( not just the Catholic but the Protestant as well)
The Protestant Church is [apparently] coming into some sort of 'agreement' with the Catholic Church.
Bible Prophesy is becoming reality at an ever increasing speed.

10 April 2014 at 11:26  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

Sister Tiberia, Happy Jack will read those links.

We are not a million miles apart is seeing the issue as the balance between the law of God, as always understood by the Church, and its application to individual circumstances.

In terms of "scandal", the word properly understood is a stumbling block to the faith of others.

Cressida, Happy Jack says what matters when the Eucharist is being received is your relationship with God. No matter what is going on around you, it is whether you are in a state of grace.

And Jack believes one can be married in the eyes of the Church without the civil process. Just as one can be married in a civil ceremony without going to Church.

10 April 2014 at 13:45  
Blogger Sister Tiberia said...

Just found this as well, HJ, as proof that the National Catholic Reporter can actually on occasion manage a balanced piece - it only came out today.

Michael Sean Winters explains quite well why we can't just lift the Orthodox solution to this in its entireity, but also points out how we might learn from their substantially more pastoral approach. And notes that the whole process is going to be a walking-on-broken-glass nightmare for the bishops to sort out :)

10 April 2014 at 15:36  
Blogger Sister Tiberia said...

I would also agree with him that RC marriage preparation for a generation was unutterably lousy, with a few notable exceptions if the prospective couple were lucky with their parish priest. I have to hope this has improved, but also suspect that the improvement is also hit-and-miss.

10 April 2014 at 15:39  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

Sister Tiberia, Happy Jack has only just finished reading and thinking about those other papers - now you throw another at him!

Jack will read it later but will say what he thinks now.

The Australian bishop, Geoffrey Robinson, comes at the issue from a liberal stance. We in the 21 century are more educated and have studied Jesus in His context and analysed His words very carefully and applied modern techniques to scripture. We are better informed because of all this knowledge.

(This is the root of the movements behind women priests, abortion, contraception and accepting homosexuality).

Jesus lived in patriarchal times which were judgemental, sexist and authoritarian. His words and the authors of scripture have to be understood with this in mind.

They also stress Christ's humanity and His Mercy; down playing His Kingship and God's Justice. This is a whole other discussion - the humanisation of Jesus of Nazareth).

Jack cannot accept this line of argument at all. Jesus said what He meant and meant what He said. Just how we are to understand His words and apply them is also where Catholics and some/all protestants disagree. Catholics believe this is entrusted to the Church. Some interpretation is demanded because Jesus spoke in different ways.

Cardinal Ratzinger was to Jack a much more considered and thoughtful approach. Marriage is sacred and permanent. Once entered into it cannot be undone and people cannot remarry without that being adultery which means cannot receive Communion.

However, many marriages might not be valid for a whole range of different reasons - not just whether the service was conducted. The tribunal system needs an overhaul and some greater flexibility is applied in understanding the words of Jesus and the reality of people's lives now and when they were married. Tribunals and priests make mistakes and some people will be treated unjustly.

This is where the concepts of "primacy of conscience" and “epikeia" come in. Could the Church consider the 'spirit of the law' in its judgement?

Jack's solution would be to simplify tribunals and also give them the authority to consider all the circumstances outlined by Cardinal Ratzinger. If after all this the Church considers the marriage a marriage then, if it was him, he would abide by its ruling.

At the end of a long and difficult process, Jack may feel unjustly treated but he would still attend Church and still maintain a relationship with his priest. If he had children he would raise them as Catholic and explain his situation when they were able to understand.

Jack will now read that other link and see if it alters his perspective.

10 April 2014 at 16:52  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

Sister Tiberia, Happy Jack has read and reflected on that newspaper article.

Jack agrees with this bit:

" ... what I perceive is a core problem: How does grace operate? The Church can only be truly the Church if it acts “in full obedience to the Lord” as we sing in the hymn, “The Church of Christ in Every Age.” If we do not believe that, if we think we can do whatever we want, regardless of what the tradition instructs about what God wants, we are truly lost."

Tradition being 2000 years of consistent teaching based on Jesus' own words. Jack cannot fully agree with this. Not so much because it is wrong but more because of what the writer seeks to do with it:

"We have noted previously that in this pontificate, it appears that moral theology will be seen as an extension of pastoral theology, and not the other way round, and this is a very good thing. Put differently, our understanding of the sacrament of marriage and the reality of divorce must not be seen as something beyond God’s mercy."

Where he's taking it, is suggested here:

"The legalistic approach to pastoral theology carries within it that neo-pelagianism the pope has warned us against, the idea that we can earn our way to salvation by being good little boys and girls. It is not only patronizing, it does not cohere with the Gospel."

'Neo-pelagianism' is not the same thing as a considered and balanced attempt at following God's laws as presented to us by the Church and its tradition.

This is the part Jack was confused by:

"The abstractions of the moral law, however valuable they may be, must be put at the service of the pastoral ministry of the Church, and that ministry is first and foremost a ministry of mercy. Jesus “goes beyond the law” as the Holy Father said and his followers must be willing to do the same. We do not go beyond to law to achieve a libertine disdain for the moral law. We go beyond it in search of God’s mercy."

An over emphasis on God's mercy is as dangerous as an over emphasis on legalism. Somehow the two must be brought into line in our day and age. To receive Holy Communion, we need to be in a State of Grace.

Jack still thinks a careful reappraisal of the annulment process is the best way forward. One that is much simpler and also takes the modern age into account and the frame of mind of the parties concerned. A marriage validly entered into with full understanding and the freely promises by both parties, remains a life long marriage.

Catholic's believe the Church has this authority:

"If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven."

Jack would look to bishops in 2014 and in 2015 to find a solution.

10 April 2014 at 18:51  
Blogger Sister Tiberia said...

I hear you Jack, and I do not dismiss what you've said. I agree that there is a fine balance between law and mercy, that there has to be found a way to walk between the two poles. I do not envy the bishops.

But I do disagree with your earlier statement "At the end of a long and difficult process, Jack may feel unjustly treated but he would still attend Church and still maintain a relationship with his priest. If he had children he would raise them as Catholic and explain his situation when they were able to understand." - It may well be true for you. It is true for some. But if the statistics out of Germany and Austria and American are to be believed, there are very few who manage that. The overwhelming response by those who feel they have been unjustly treated by the Church over their divorce seem to walk. Many in America end up Episcopalian. A surprising number end up as Quakers! I would find it very hard to condemn them for doing so if they genuinely think themselves wronged with no possible redress and go seeking a kinder faith. But we lose their children too, and their children's children. The status quo simply isn't working.

10 April 2014 at 19:06  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

Sister Tiberia, Happy Jack understands your position too.

Those who walk away from the Church may in their 'heart of hearts' remain Catholic. Some may not have been faithful Catholics before walking. Who knows? Only God can judge moral culpability in these things.

In any event, the Church cannot judge its mission to convert the world by the numbers of members it keeps, or on the behaviour of those turning their backs on it. It cannot alter Truth because of the behaviour of some living in America, Germany and Austria.

10 April 2014 at 19:47  
Blogger Sister Tiberia said...

Nor can it wash its hands like Pilate of the people that its system has wronged and say "It is necessary that this person should suffer for the many". But at present I'm hopeful. At least they're actually admitting in public there's a problem! :)

10 April 2014 at 19:51  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

Sister Tiberia,
"You know nothing at all, nor do you take into account that it is expedient for you that one man die for the people, and that the whole nation not perish."

This is recorded in the bible as a prophesy by the Jewish High Priest, Caiaphas, that Jesus was going to die. It is never morally justifiable to base decisions on expediency.

And suffering, even unjustly, is a central message of Christ:

"The Son of Man must suffer many things ..."

Jack doesn't accept the Church is trying to wash its hands like Pilate. If it has "failed" and "wronged"" people by its "system", then it must work this out. It cannot just change Divine law and 2000 years of how this has been infallibly understood.

Agreed, it can teach better, ensure marriage is not entered without a full understanding, even decline it in some cases, simplify the annulment process and possibly extend the points to be considered as to whether a marriage existed.

10 April 2014 at 20:47  
Blogger Sister Tiberia said...

Christ also had something pretty pithy to say about priests who laid unjust burdens on their flocks too... :)

Matthew 23:23
"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices--mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law--justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.

10 April 2014 at 21:03  
Blogger Sister Tiberia said...

Was actually looking for the quote about laying burdens on people and found that one instead :)

10 April 2014 at 21:06  
Blogger Sister Tiberia said...

But I agree Jack that they are not washing their hands. There's been a lot of public admissions of failures in the current system. There's never in my recollection been an attempt to ask for the opinions of the laity before, as there was recently. Things are happening, and they need to happen. Here's hoping the Holy Spirit finds a way out of the mess.

10 April 2014 at 21:11  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

Sister Tiberia, Happy Jack says, well, perhaps the quote you did supply was better! It references justice, mercy and faithfulness.

Here's the quote you were looking for:

"And you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them."

10 April 2014 at 21:31  
Blogger Sister Tiberia said...

That was the one I was looking for - I agree the other one was better! It emphasises justice, mercy and faith - and that encompasses both our concerns :)

10 April 2014 at 21:40  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

Surely we haven't reached a juncture where we agree?!!

Happy Jack too hopes a balance between justice, mercy and faithfulness is achieved. He thinks this is best done by following Cardinal Ratzinger's approach rather than Bishop Robinson's liberalism or the emotionalism/experientialism of the reporter Michael Winters.

10 April 2014 at 22:06  
Blogger Sister Tiberia said...

I think we agree more often than you think, HJ, we just come at things from different angles :)

But as your (least) favorite Jesuit says:

"Help me to understand that there was never a time when there were not arguments or disputes within your church. Arguments go all the way back to Peter and Paul debating one another."

You and I could probably both recite the Nicene Creed together and believe every word of it. And then after that temporary harmony, dispute interpretation of every line individually :)

10 April 2014 at 23:00  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

Goodness, Happy Jack hopes not, Sister Tiberia!

Our areas of difference are in the area of moral ethics and the amount of room for pastoral accommodation, not the fundamentals of the Christian faith.

Jack's pleased we got through this discussion without you breaking your Lenten commitment too.


10 April 2014 at 23:24  
Blogger Sister Tiberia said...

On the plus side, CAFOD has done very well out of me this Lent. And I'm hoping to manage to miss out the Luminous Mysteries... :)

10 April 2014 at 23:45  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

Happy Jack asks what are these 'Luminous Mysteries'? He thought the 3 mysteries were: Joyful, Sorrowful and Glorious.


10 April 2014 at 23:59  
Blogger Sister Tiberia said...

Look them up. Pope John Paul 2 tacked them on :)

11 April 2014 at 00:04  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

You don't say .... ;o)

Best avoid them then and stick with 400 years of tradition.

11 April 2014 at 00:17  
Blogger Sister Tiberia said...

rofl - frankly I don't think they add a lot to it either, but the existence of five more decades did at least give me a fighting chance of finishing Lent without having to start the Joyful mysteries again :)

11 April 2014 at 00:20  
Blogger Happy Jack said...


This made Happy Jack think that although John Paul maybe a saint, and Jack believes he is, he was still human and so not perfect. Much of what he did and said (or didn't do and say) can be discussed and debated. He undoubtedly made mistakes. He undoubtedly did great good. He gave of his best.

The thrill of our faith is that although much is settled there is still room for exploration and discussion. God is beyond our comprehension and so we must continually seek Him. What wonderful discussions to have. And the world does change and His Church has to teach and apply universal and infallible truths in sensitive ways. It also has to be aware that the Church is not just the West. The different continents are in different places materially, culturally and spiritually.

And, so you don't think Jack a complete 'reactionary', two of the people Jack admires greatly are Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin.

11 April 2014 at 00:43  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

.... and Pope Francis wouldn't approve of you keeping counting. Too neo-pelagian.

11 April 2014 at 00:50  
Blogger Sister Tiberia said...

Better than being a sourpuss? :)

11 April 2014 at 11:08  

Post a Comment

<< Home

Newer›  ‹Older