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Pope John Paul II 1920-2005

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Walter

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Now we are indeed at the brink of just another political/religious discussion, basically the umpteenth re-issue of the old arguments between conservatives and liberals (or democrats)...

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"'Is it Thou? Thou?' but receiving no answer, he adds at once. 'Don't answer, be silent. What canst Thou say, indeed? I know too well what Thou wouldst say. And Thou hast no right to add anything to what Thou hadst said of old. Why, then, art Thou come to hinder us? For Thou hast come to hinder us, and Thou knowest that. But dost thou know what will be to-morrow? I know not who Thou art and care not to know whether it is Thou or only a semblance of Him, but to-morrow I shall condemn Thee and burn Thee at the stake as the worst of heretics. And the very people who have to-day kissed Thy feet, to-morrow at the faintest sign from me will rush to heap up the embers of Thy fire. Knowest Thou that? Yes, maybe Thou knowest it,' he added with thoughtful penetration, never for a moment taking his eyes off the Prisoner."

Dialog between the Christ and the Grand Inquisitor in the prison (in fact it's more of a monologue of the Grand-Inquisitor); from: F. Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov; "The Grand Inquisitor"
 

Gothmog

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Barliman Butterbur said:
"Thou canst not say I did it: never shake Thy gory locks at me!" :D

Barley
It was your unnecessary questioning of denominational choice in post #28 that caused my request for care in future posts. Both Religion and Politics are subjects where the utmost courtesy is required.
 

Mrs. Maggott

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Gothmog said:
As Nóm has already pointed out your point 5 of post 31 is a problem, this point was an un-necessary answer to a prior post which could result in an argument between two posters that will cause the thread to be closed, this is discourteous to the other posers on this thread. I am aware of, and myself answered the prior post.
Point 5 was in response to something that supposedly addressed a previous post - but did not. As this has happened frequently to me (and, I assume others), I made the point that I do not appreciate having what I have posted "reinterpreted" in such a way that it says something other than what it actually does say. Furthermore, as this situation is then exacerbated by a pointed "response" to what wasn't said, it becomes even more annoying.

However, let's be "real" here. Liberal (or should I use the "new" name, "progressive") and conservative are not limited to religion and politics. They encompass a great deal - possibly all of human intercourse in some way. Indeed, frequently a person can be "liberal/progressive" in some areas and "conservative/traditional" in others. If we are going to be so squeamish that we cannot comment upon this situation, then we are going to find precious little to talk about except the weather.

Of course, you are right to say that discourse should remain courteous, but it would be a shame to see this site become a victim of "political correctness" in which people run about taking (or worrying about giving) offense at every comment that is not so bland as to be insipid. Short of indulging in ad hominem attacks - and what I said was not an ad hominem attack because it addressed an action rather than a person albeit I admit to wondering "aloud" if that person's idology might not be the cause of the problem. Nonetheless, short of outright rudeness, we should be able to have a spirited debate without constant threats to "close the thread".

However, having made the point I wished to make regarding what people say and what others think they are saying, I shall bow to your admonishment - especially since I have made the points I wished to make and can now leave the matter for the input of others on the subject.
 

Barliman Butterbur

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Mrs. Maggott said:
...frequently a person can be "liberal/progressive" in some areas and "conservative/traditional" in others. If we are going to be so squeamish that we cannot comment upon this situation, then we are going to find precious little to talk about except the weather.

Of course, you are right to say that discourse should remain courteous, but it would be a shame to see this site become a victim of "political correctness" in which people run about taking (or worrying about giving) offense at every comment that is not so bland as to be insipid...short of outright rudeness, we should be able to have a spirited debate without constant threats to "close the thread"...
In all of which I am in fervent agreement. Once again I thank the webmaster in allowing the Schiavo thread to be floated (as I dare to believe) as an experiment to see how we'd do. We did well, and so I think that in the light of that success AV began this thread. We must all monitor ourselves — even moi — and if we do that, I would hope that the subjects of religion and politics can once again be included as legitimate topics within The Forsaken Inn area — much too strong stuff for the Prancing Pony — I'd be losing customers and would have to hire a bouncer! :)

Barley
 

Mrs. Maggott

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I agree. We may disagree in some ways, but I have hopes that well intentioned people may disagree without the matter becoming too contentious for words. And if you think that politics and religion causes grief, try sports! I simply cannot get over the fact that the proper and unemotional British are frequently in the forefront of riots during soccer matches!!

If we respect one another as people, we will be able to disagree without being disagreeable and after all, in the matter of human discourse, what more can one ask? :p
 

Arthur_Vandelay

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Mrs. Maggott said:
And, again, I ask what "changes" do liberals want to see a Pope make?
Inasmuch as "liberal" is really a useful term in this regard (does the advocacy of marriage for priests, or for a more frank exchange of ideas within the Church, or for greater collegiality rather than authoritarianism and centralisation, necessarily make one "liberal," for example?), they would like to be listened to. Not shunned. Not ignored. Not told to "find another church."

I don't think it's that big an ask.

From the National Catholic Reporter, April 15, 2005: [font=Arial,Helvetica][/font]

[font=Arial,Helvetica]In the shadow of John Paul II[/font]

The wall-to-wall coverage of Pope John Paul II’s final illness, his death and funeral, and the events leading to the conclave that will choose his successor is certainly indicative of a broad appeal that spanned cultures, national boundaries and religious divides. In a world in need of an anchor and answers, he provided both.

Still, the nature of modern media is such that those unfamiliar with the history of the latter part of the 20th century might conclude that the pope (with some help from Ronald Reagan) defeated European communism with his right hand and defended the faith against internal malcontents and dissidents with his left.

This is a largely comic book caricature that obscures some greater truths not easily transmitted or understood by much of the mainstream media.

There is no great mystery to John Paul II’s worldwide popularity. He combined a powerful message with a forceful personality and used modern communication techniques, not least large televised rallies, to carry that message to the four corners of the earth. Youthful and vigorous (as he was in 1978) or aged and infirmed (as he was in his last years) it didn’t matter. He had a story to tell and he aimed to tell it to whomever -- peasants and prime ministers, the influential and the voiceless -- might listen.

A sophistication about the media would now seem a prerequisite for the job, though it is hard to envision John Paul’s successor having quite the same flair.

It is also difficult to imagine that the next man will possess the absolute certainty that was the hallmark of John Paul’s tenure. Such assurance (some called it arrogance) is a rare commodity even among members of the College of Cardinals. By the time 58-year-old Karol Wojtyla ascended to the throne of St. Peter he knew what he thought -- and he was not shy about translating those beliefs into action once he became Vicar of Christ. The Catholic theological and intellectual landscape is littered with those who paid a price for their disagreements with John Paul II and the Vatican’s enforcers of what some term orthodoxy (NCR, Feb. 25). One imagines that even some among the hierarchy wouldn’t mind a pope who was more open to listening, considering new scholarship and respecting other points of view.

Much of the media coverage over the past weeks has focused on the hot-button issues said to be of most concern to American Catholics: church teaching on birth control, on optional celibacy, the role of women within the institution, abortion, gay rights, stem cell research, the clergy sex abuse crisis, and so on. All of these are, of course, important concerns. But the notion (implied in much of what gets discussed on television) that the next pope, like a newly elected president presenting a program to Congress, could or would move quickly to, say, allow priests to marry, is absurd. Nor, frankly, is it desirable.

The real short-term question is stylistic. Will the new pontiff teach and explain or will he assert? Will he allow discussion of forbidden topics? Will he continue to use the benchmark of enthusiastic fidelity to Humane Vitae as a criterion for episcopal appointments? Will bishops continue to fear the wrath of Rome or will the collegiality envisioned by the Second Vatican Council finally be practiced? Will the expertise of the faithful laity be exploited or ignored? And so on.

These questions will be answered not only in dealing with the hot-button issues, but in those areas that rarely appear on the mainstream media’s radar: in Catholic universities, where academic freedom is threatened; in church-affiliated health care institutions, where guidance on the most nettlesome ethical issues imaginable is needed; at the diocesan level, where for too long the gifts of the laity have been ignored; and in our parishes, where the day-to-day life of the church is carried out.

Personality matters. History would have been different had the College of Cardinals selected an Italian cardinal for the second time in 1978, as most every observer then anticipated. The next pope, operating in the shadow of “John Paul the Great,” will make decisions. He will have to choose.

Pray that God gives him wisdom.
 

Mrs. Maggott

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Discourse on matters that do not challenge doctrine (rather than tradition) is certainly reasonable. "Collegiality" is also perfectly reasonable - after all, the Orthodox Church has no Pope and all matters of the faith are determined by our bishops acting "collegially" if you will. Of course, the bishops themselves have to be held to account that they remain faithful to the doctrines and dogmas of the Church. Historically, the Orthodox maintain that heresies usually start with the hierarchs and the Church has been saved many times by ordinary priests and the laity. So the fact that an individual is a bishop/cardinal is no guarantor of "orthodoxy".

However, I think it is disingenuous to pretend that many "liberals" only want to talk about married priests and to spread the authority around among the hierarchs of the Church. Indeed, when I was young, the saying was "Rome has spoken! The matter is settled!" However, since Vatican II - and perhaps earlier in Europe at least - it has become of matter of "Rome has spoken! Thanks for the input!" I know this to be the case because I have worked closely with a fairly large group of "traditional" Roman Catholics and have heard all that has gone on in that Church at least here in the Northeast and other places in Europe and North America. If you truly believe that the Pope exercises some sort of absolute authority, I think you will find that such is not the case at least in the "West".

Nor has there been total acceptance of papal authority amongst "traditional" conservative Catholics as witnessed by the Cardinal LeFebvre movement. This was a response to what many "trads" believed to be a "watering down" of the faith by - guess who? - the Pope (as well as, of course, the local hierarchs)! So the picture of a Church which is under the thumb of an autocrat without any possibility of discourse is simply not true.

Certainly there is nothing wrong with discourse within the Church on those matters that are not dictated by established doctrine. That is the difference between, say, debating the question of whether priests can be married as opposed to the acceptance of women priests or "alternative lifestyles" or abortion.

I am reminded of something that happened many years ago when we belonged to an ethnic Greek church. My husband was at a meeting with the rest of the parish in the presence of the local bishop and the question of the parish having bingo to raise money came up. The bishop simply stated that the canons of the Church forbade the parish from having bingo. After the bishop left, the matter was brought up again and the president of the council called for a vote on the matter. My husband stood up and told them that they had just been informed by the bishop that they couldn't have bingo and therefore they couldn't "vote" on something that they were forbidden to do. That's what I mean when I say that discourse on certain issues is not only inappropriate, but forbidden. If the Church doctrinally and dogmattically forbids something, then "discussing" it is not only pointless, but calls into question the validity of Church doctrine.

As for telling people to "find another church": if a person is unable to live with Catholic teachings that are fundamental to that Church, then that person should in fact find another Church rather than casting about to find similarly unsatisfied individuals and trying to "democratize" the Church by making the argument that "the majority" want the doctrine to change. That's not how it's done. As already mentioned, the Church is not a democracy. Frankly, I find it personally offensive that any individual or group should seriously believe that they have the right to influence fundamental doctrines of the Church simply because they want to do so. That type of thinking smacks of elitism; I want it and therefore it should happen.
 

Shireman D

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In the long term, I have a hunch that the most significant feature of the tenure of JP2 (sometimes, unkindly, called Long Haul the Second) was that he began to evolve an idea of petrine ministry that may be workable for the future. For those of us in the Reformed Catholic churches (Anglican/Episcopal/Lutheran) who have begun to break down barriers of traditional antipathy by simply accepting that we are different, it was quite remarkable to find a bishop of Rome who was able to take the same approach with integrity - recall that lovely photograph of him kneeling outside the doors of St. John Lateran at the beginning of the jubilee year of 2000 flanked on either side by an Orthodox and an Anglican Archbishop. What we hold to be important does not have to divide and he lived that in a remarkable way, thus allowing the Roman see to be again as it once was - perhaps only glimpsed through the mist at the moment - a sign of unity: by agreement not by compulsion.


May he rest in peace and rise in glory.
 

Mrs. Maggott

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Certainly, unity within the Christian community is to be devoutly wished. After all, it is supposed to be ONE Holy, Catholic (universal) and Apostolic Church. However, unity is not the main criteria. We could all be unified - and wrong. Historically, at the time of the rise of the great Arian heresy (for which the First Great Ecumenical Council was called in Nicea in the Fourth Century), virtually all of the hierarchs and even the Emperor were in agreement with Arius who taught that Christ was not fully God and fully Man, but rather, that He was a Man whom God "used" much as you would put on a garment. Among the songs being sung around Constantinople in the various ale houses was one that went, "There was a time when He was not."

In the Council, virtually alone against Arius and his followers, was a small, ugly, mean tempered, red-headed deacon (not even a priest) named Athanasius who declared the Truth - that Jesus of Nazareth was both fully God and fully Man and there was therefore no time in which He, as Second Person of the Trinity "was not" - albeit it, there was a time in which He was not Incarnate as a Man. Standing with Athanasius was the Bishop of Myra, the great St. Nicholas (yes, "Santa Claus") and a few others, but it was virtually, Athanasius contra mundi - Athanasius against the world. Fortunately, the Holy Spirit enlightened the Council and Arius was defeated. From that Council came the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed which was used unchanged in the Church until 1054 AD (the time of the great East/West schism) and is still used in the Orthodox Church today.

So you see, unity is not nearly so important as Truth. Had unity been the measure of things, the Church would have supported Arius and the entire Faith would have been not only changed, but wrong. Before there can be unity among Christian denominations today, there certainly has to be doctrinal standards that are accepted by all the various denominations wishing to participate in that unity. And while this might not involve matters such as married priests - after all, in the early Church, the West had a celibate priesthood while the East had married clergy - it certainly will involve seminal issues like the nature of the Trinity, the Personhood of Christ and the procession of the Holy Spirit (in matters of theology) and, of course, moral issues which, at one time not so long ago (when I was young), all Christian denominations were in fact, in accord despite their other theological and liturgical differences.

Can unity happen? If God so wills it, it can - and will. However, before we begin to concern ourselves with unity, it would be well if we could at least treat each other - Christian and otherwise - with respect and love. That would certainly be a giant step in the right direction.
 

Walter

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Mrs. Maggott said:
As for telling people to "find another church": if a person is unable to live with Catholic teachings that are fundamental to that Church, then that person should in fact find another Church rather than casting about to find similarly unsatisfied individuals and trying to "democratize" the Church by making the argument that "the majority" want the doctrine to change. That's not how it's done. As already mentioned, the Church is not a democracy. Frankly, I find it personally offensive that any individual or group should seriously believe that they have the right to influence fundamental doctrines of the Church simply because they want to do so. That type of thinking smacks of elitism; I want it and therefore it should happen.
I guess my prior reply to that must be invisible... ;)

Again, I can see nothing wrong in an attempt to adapt the Christian church and bring it in accordance with the teachings of the Christ instead of what the orthodoxy (note the small cap) wanted to make us believe his teachings were. That might actually de-politicize the church and have it focus more on spirituality rather than worrying about power, influence and money (let alone the even more mundane sources of income of the Vatican)...
 

Mrs. Maggott

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Walter said:
I guess my prior reply to that must be invisible... ;)

Again, I can see nothing wrong in an attempt to adapt the Christian church and bring it in accordance with the teachings of the Christ instead of what the orthodoxy (note the small cap) wanted to make us believe his teachings were. That might actually de-politicize the church and have it focus more on spirituality rather than worrying about power, influence and money (let alone the even more mundane sources of income of the Vatican)...
I'm sorry, I was responding to the prior post, not yours.

Money, power, influence... alas, that is the nature of mankind. Yes, there are hermits and great holy men who live in caves and little hermitages who are probably far closer to God than the high and mighty in any religion. But let's face it, when something is important to people, they invest it with a great deal of pomp, circumstance and wealth. After all, God Himself had much to say about how He was to be worshipped in the Old Testament! He demanded a great deal of those who worshipped Him and it is easy to understand how that would continue even into the New Testament Church which was, in fact, an extension of Temple worship.

Furthermore, the Church - indeed, most of man's religions - were/are intrinsically bound up in other aspects of life including government. In the Christian world (and others as well), the Church provided the moral foundation for laws and government and where Her sway was absent, there was often great tyranny and excess. Now does that mean that those representing the Church always represented the Church and not their own ambition? Certainly not. A day long overview of the papacy was proof enough that many popes were put on the papal throne for political reasons - and acted accordingly. However, where there was no moral authority - even a compromised one - the situation was usually many times worse (as in Nazism and Communism in the 20th - and 21st Centuries). As some wag once pointed out, if we are this bad with God, how much worse would we be without Him. I think that question was answered in Auschwitz and Bergen Belsen.

Indeed, this is one reason why the Church cannot simply "retire" from the world but must attempt to influence life outside of the confines of narthex, nave and sanctuary. That does not mean that She will try to force people to believe, but rather that Her representatives must act as the moral conscience of the world calling into account all those who are unjust and wicked. This is the reason why scandal arising within the Church is so much worse than scandal arising in some other segement of society. As Captain Ahab pointed out in "Moby ****", where do you go when the Judge Himself is called before the bar? When those representing the forces of good are themselves evil, what hope is there?

I am less concerned with the trappings than with what they represent. Good can come in rags or furs; likewise so can evil. External appearance is just that - external. I'm afraid until we witness the actions of the new Pope, we will have no idea whether he will be another John Paul II or a Medici wannabe.
 

Barliman Butterbur

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In that this thread has evolved into something much more complex than simply giving our impressions of the departed Pope (which we did), and has gone into areas which have nothing directly to do with me (Christian "in-house" matters), I now withdraw from it. However, I hope that the forum remains open now to serious discussions of all sensitive issues — religious, political and cultural — and that we will all rise to the necessary courtesy and civility for that to maintain itself ongoing.

Barley
 
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Walter

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Mrs. Maggott said:
After all, God Himself had much to say about how He was to be worshipped in the Old Testament! He demanded a great deal of those who worshipped Him and it is easy to understand how that would continue even into the New Testament Church which was, in fact, an extension of Temple worship.
Now I wouldn't take that too seriously... ;)

In the later written books of the OT God doesn't seem to honour mankind with his direct presence or express his will directly, IIRC. Only in the older - mythological - cycles (namely the parts ascribed to J and E, which were written about 900BCE - and are, btw., roughly contemporary with the greek epos ascribed to Homer) such things happen occasionally (as they do in Homer's epos, where the gods occasionally grace mankind with their presence).

And those older parts of the OT clearly have the same mythological and poetical nature that Homer's Trojan War has. But to read a poem or a myth as a factual report means - at least - to miss the point.

Those "books", which originally were brought from Babylon to Jerusalem at about 400BCE and which now represent the older parts of the Old Testament, are the - probably much edited - outcome of an already thoroughly orthodox priestly tradition.

But one shouldn't take for granted, that someone who claims to "report" God's very word necessarily is actually doing just this.

What is much more revealing - and what might bring us closer to "God's word", IMO - is to compare the Biblical myths with other myths of the same time and to see the ample parallels. And even more revealing than to check the parallels is to check the divergences. To see where older, common, myths have been - deliberately, it appears - altered and to find out which purposes and goals these alterations served might bring us more spiritual insight than following some churches doctrines.

But if we are able to make out the common roots of these various myths, we might eventually be able to perceive a few chords of the Music of the Ainur, or feel the breeze of the pneuma (spirit/wind/breath) of God hovering upon the face of the waters (Gen 1:2), or catch a glimpse of the logos that was with God, and that was God (John 1:1)...

That said, I think too I have - once again - said more than enough here....

----
Edit:

As for the next pope, I wish for one whom Jesus would consider perfect:

Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.

Luk 18:22
and thus sells all the riches the Vatican and the churches have amassed (yes, Castel Gandolfo too, no cheating...), and give to the poor and feed the hungry...
 
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Arthur_Vandelay

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Walter said:
But one shouldn't take for granted, that someone who claims to "report" God's very word necessarily is actually doing just this.
Excellent point.

Mrs Maggott said:
However, I think it is disingenuous to pretend that many "liberals" only want to talk about married priests and to spread the authority around among the hierarchs of the Church.
I think it is disingenuous (not to mention fallacious) to make generalisations about the motives of "liberals" (or "conservatives," for that matter). It is equally disingenuous to assume that it is only "liberals" who want to talk about married priests and decentralisation. That is, you'd need to specify what you mean by "liberal." Does it mean the same thing in the context of this discussion as it might do in other contexts?

If you truly believe that the Pope exercises some sort of absolute authority, I think you will find that such is not the case at least in the "West".
I think you should take a look at this interview with historian William M. Johnston. Here's an excerpt:

Stephen Crittenden: It seems very interesting to me that the further down you go in the cadre, if you like, the more vocal people are. Priests and nuns are very outspoken about what they really think; bishops remain silent, but you can see from their faces and you hear from what they tell you in private, just how crestfallen and demoralised they are.

William Johnston: The way you describe with silence and conformity at the top, and then a gradual loosening as you go down, pertains very aptly to all the Soviet regimes in Eastern Europe, and the regime that also pertains in today’s church. So that, if you will, there’s a pyramid with a maximum silence in control at the top, and then at the bottom there is more freedom of speech. In these 2-1/2 weeks before the next Pontiff emerges, we’re all enjoying the freedom of speech without a central voice and without the apparat repressing anyone, that’s why this moment is special.
So I repeat the following questions, because I think they are important:

Are democracy and the free exchange of ideas good things in themselves? If so, why are they not good for the Church? Or are they only good in certain contexts? Why those contexts, and not others?

Is authoritarianism a bad thing in itself? If so, then why is not bad for the Church to operate upon such lines--as it has done so particularly under Pope John Paul II's reign? Or is it only bad in certain contexts? Why those contexts, and not others?


These questions are important because they bear upon Mrs M's point that "discourse on certain issues is not only inappropriate, but forbidden." Why "forbidden?" Why not "debated," "argued against," "refuted?" If Church doctrine represents the "Truth," then surely it will hold up under any scrutiny. So the Church should have nothing to fear from an open exchange of ideas on any topic among its members; and it certainly has no reason to forbid such an exchange.

Mrs Maggott said:
However, before we begin to concern ourselves with unity, it would be well if we could at least treat each other - Christian and otherwise - with respect and love.
But it seems that there are limits to this respect and love--at least from the perspectve of those alienated from the Church under John Paul II, including those whose "alternative lifestyle" (a euphemism for homosexuality) has been denounced by the Pope as constituting a "more or less strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil" which must therefore be seen as an "objective disorder."
 
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Mrs. Maggott

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I think we are speaking about different things or looking at the same thing differently.

1. If one is a Christian, there is no question that God's "directions" regarding His worship in the Old Testament represents in fact, God's directions and not simply some writer's invention. Therefore, there is no sense in questioning that fact within the context of a discussion regarding believers and the Church. Of course, for those outside the Church, that is something else again. But you cannot mix the two. You cannot take opinions held by unbelievers relative to Scripture and Tradition and apply or attempt to apply them to believers. To do so is, in effect, "changing the rules of the game" - rather like trying to apply the rules of the game of baseball to the game of football; it doesn't work. Those outside of the Church are perfectly free to hold their opinions but they cannot expect those in the Church to give credence to those opinions especially when they are diametric to Church teachings.

2. In the same vein as above, the Head of the Church is Christ. He did not take polls or ask His disciples what they thought. As Christ was obedient to His Father, He expected obedience from His followers. "Democracy" is an oxymoron in the Church. Now, does that mean that the pronouncements of men - however exalted - are to be accepted unquestioned? Certainly not! That's why the Church had Councils. But those Councils were not a matter of people sitting down and taking a vote on the most "popular" theological idea. As I mentioned, had that been the case, Arius would have won hands down. The ultimate determinant of what the Church would or would not accept was the Truth (with a capital "T") as determined by prayer, fasting and a study of Christ's words and the Scripture that was available - the books of the Old Testament - as well as the testament of earlier Saints and Fathers of the Church - and, finally, the passage of time.

3. I am well acquainted with what many at least American "liberals" have tried to do in the Catholic Church in this country - and it was not simply a discourse on the possibility of married priests. This is a matter of knowledge on my part, not speculation. I have many traditional R.C. friends who are very active in their parishes and so I am well aware of what has been going on for a long time in the American Church. I'm sorry if that offends anyone, but you cannot change the truth of the message by becoming annoyed at the messenger.

4. For every interview with someone who believes that the Pope is the "be-all-and-end-all" in the Catholic Church (at least in the US), there are hundreds - no thousands - of examples that can be brought to the fore which show that far too many bishops and priests "go their own way" in these matters. They pay "lip service" to the authority of the Pope, but quietly go about remaking that Church in their own (usually liberal) image.

What more clear example of that can there be than the "seamless garment" criteria regarding an American Catholic politician's "overall" sanctity of life rating. In this "test", American bishops created a list of "pro-life" categories on which politicians were judged. Yes, abortion was one of the categories - but it was of no more importance than any of the others. The rest were mostly about "helping the poor and needy". Of course, the correct stance on all of these issues is/was liberal/socialist. So American Catholics were presented by their bishops with strongly pro-abortion liberal politicians who had higher "pro-life" scores than "pro-life" conservative politicians. Thus Teddy Kennedy who is profoundly pro-abortion was considered on the basis of the "seamless garment" criteria to be more "pro-life" than Henry Hyde, an outspoken opponent of abortion. Why? Because Kennedy supports all the liberal programs so dear to the heart of most Catholic Charities liberals including many bishops.

Now, it is imperative to remember that while the Church has definite a doctrine regarding the prohibition of abortion, She makes no doctrinal determination regarding government programs. She does speak to the necessity of individuals being charitable to the poor, but to my knowledge, there isn't one "socialist" dogma in the Church. Charity is always a matter of individual choice, not government coercion. Therefore, while T.K. and his ilk were given "high marks" by American bishops for their socialist policies, their support and promotion of the only action actually condemned by the Church in canon law and doctrine - abortion - was excused because it was "only one" among the many categories in the "test". Indeed, many bishops and their staffs did not even consider it as a very important category.

Although I am not a Catholic myself, I have had many years of involvement with conservative Catholics within the pro-life movement. Therefore I am aware of what was and is going on in that Church at least in the US and, I suspect, in Europe as well. To imply that I am "guessing" about these matters because I am not a Catholic myself is simply wrong. And, finally, while one may agree with what liberal Catholics are doing - and attempting to do - in the American Church, one may not deny that they are doing it - at least with any credibility.

5. As for the Pope's statements on the homosexual "movement" - and make no mistake about it, he was not speaking about the actions or inclinations individual persons but of advocacy groups which are pushing their own agenda - again he was speaking relative to his understanding of Church doctrine which, as Pope, he was bound to do. He could have said (indeed, might have said) the same thing about heterosexuals who pushed an agenda contrary to Church doctrine (open marriage, bigamy etc.). Sexual sins are not limited to any particular group nor is anyone condemned by his or her "sexual identity". It is behavior that condemns or elevates, not proclivities. Still, you cannot expect the Pope to be politically correct when he speaks for the Church. If he were, he would be failing in his duty to the faithful - and to Christ.
 

scotsboyuk

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Mrs. Maggott said:
1. If one is a Christian, there is no question that God's "directions" regarding His worship in the Old Testament represents in fact, God's directions and not simply some writer's invention.
I suppose that is the great problem; we just don't know.

2. In the same vein as above, the Head of the Church is Christ. He did not take polls or ask His disciples what they thought.
From my limited knowledge of Christianity I was always under the impression that Jesus wasn't trying to create a new religion or be the head of any religious order. Wouldn't that therefore mean that human beings have placed Christ at the head of the Church?


Charity is always a matter of individual choice, not government coercion. Therefore, while T.K. and his ilk were given "high marks" by American bishops for their socialist policies, their support and promotion of the only action actually condemned by the Church in canon law and doctrine - abortion - was excused because it was "only one" among the many categories in the "test". Indeed, many bishops and their staffs did not even consider it as a very important category.
If I believe that people should eat brown bread and you don't, would you refuse my bread if you were starving?
 

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scotsboyuk said:
I suppose that is the great problem; we just don't know.
There is no "problem" for Christians; we know or we certainly wouldn't be bothered following a faith - call it "religion" if you will - in which we had no "faith". Of course, non-believers "don't know" or, in some cases, assert that they do know and that Scripture is merely a human creation.
scotsboyuk said:
From my limited knowledge of Christianity I was always under the impression that Jesus wasn't trying to create a new religion or be the head of any religious order. Wouldn't that therefore mean that human beings have placed Christ at the head of the Church?
That is a fallacy put forth by many who make much of the "historical" Jesus as if He was somehow "different" from the Christ of Scripture and the Church. You will find that most who espouse that view also believe that He was nothing more than a "good teacher" and a "good man". But as C. S. Lewis pointed out, that's not what Christ Himself said. So either He was the Son of God or He was a liar or He was demented. Those are the only options open under the circumstances.

No, according to both Scripture and the testimonies of witnesses present at the time (most of which is found in Scripture), the Church was founded by Christ and its spread entrusted to His Apostles and disciples as well as those chosen by them into the future. Certainly in the beginning, many of the Lord's Jewish disciples believed that the Church would be limited to the Jews, but that belief was soon put right as Paul became the Apostle to the Gentiles while Peter continued his work among the Jews. But Christ certainly intended to found a Church to be His Body in the world until the time He comes again.
scotsboyuk said:
If I believe that people should eat brown bread and you don't, would you refuse my bread if you were starving?
Sorry, I don't quite understand that reference. I was pointing out that according to the "test" created by the Council of Cathlic Bishops - the so-called seamless garment theology of life - liberal/socialist economic policies "trumped" actual Church doctrine prohibiting the commission, counseling, advocacy or support by Catholics of abortion. Now I am no economic liberal - indeed, I think, as did Winston Churchill (whom you quote) that that economic system merely spreads misery and want around to more people - but that is not the criteria on which any politician should be judged if he or she presents him or herself as a Catholic. For one thing, I may believe (indeed, I do believe) that the poor are much better served by capitalism than socialism. However, whether one intends to help the poor by socialism or capitalism, one is being concerned about the poor and that is what matters as neither economic system has a more elevated spiritual status.

On the other hand, no such argument can be made regarding those who support abortion. The Church condemns that practice and no mitigating circumstances can be presented that would in any way dispense with that condemnation. Ergo, Ted Kennedy would never - in any realistic doctrinal test - be considered pro-life at all, much less more pro-life than a conservative politician like Henry Hyde who opposes abortion. Again this is not a "liberal/conservative" or "socialist/capitalist" argument. It is an example of a very, very flawed "test" to determine just how in keeping with Catholic teachings were the many Catholic politicians in the US at that time. When you have a "test" that gives high marks for something with no doctrinal foundation in the Church - that is, a particular economic system - while ignoring actions diametric to fundamental Church dogma, then in fact, you have no true "test" - at all at least with regard to the Catholic Church.

Now as this "test" was widespread in the American Catholic church and we all know the Pope's position on abortion as well as the importance of the issue within the Church, I think the "seamless garment" business is a pretty fair indication of just how much "power" the Pope exercised over American bishops - very little to be sure. And that was the point that I wished to make when I presented this example. If the Pope was in fact, "in charge" of the American Church in the way many believe to be the case, then his "hot button" issues - like abortion - should have been the "hot button" issues for American bishops, archbishops, cardinals and priests. Does anyone really believe that was the case? Not according to my Catholic friends, it wasn't! Indeed, many of them despaired of the Pope's failure to take charge of the American church and get rid of bad bishops while installing good ones. In one instance, Long Island pro-life Catholics wrote to the Vatican asking that the Pope install a pro-life bishop in the Diocese of Rockville Centre instead of Bishop John McGann with whom they had been at odds for years. McGann found out about it and went ballistic. However, he also began to be more public on the issue of abortion however unwillingly. Of course, it's hard for many Protestants to overcome the vision of an autocrat in the Vatican, but reality is very different at least in Europe and the US.
 

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Mrs. Maggott said:
There is no "problem" for Christians; we know or we certainly wouldn't be bothered following a faith - call it "religion" if you will - in which we had no "faith". Of course, non-believers "don't know" or, in some cases, assert that they do know and that Scripture is merely a human creation.
I rarely make correction of others' beliefs, but you do not know. You believe, hence the idea of faith and religion. If you knew then I would warrant that the rest of humanity would also be Christian. You have no irrefutable facts to be able to know, what you have are words that you believe to be the words of God, as do any followers of any religion with regards to their holy texts. If any religion had anything that enabled them to know then there would be no need for other religions because that religion would stand out as being the one that offered the truth beyond shadow of doubt. Belief and knowledge are not necessarily one and the same.

That is a fallacy put forth by many who make much of the "historical" Jesus as if He was somehow "different" from the Christ of Scripture and the Church. You will find that most who espouse that view also believe that He was nothing more than a "good teacher" and a "good man".
You will find that the majority of the world's populace also have that view of Jesus.

But as C. S. Lewis pointed out, that's not what Christ Himself said. So either He was the Son of God or He was a liar or He was demented. Those are the only options open under the circumstances.
Out of interest, did Christ ever call Himself the Son of God or in any way state that He was divine?

No, according to both Scripture and the testimonies of witnesses present at the time (most of which is found in Scripture),
So really just according to scripture ...

... the Church was founded by Christ and its spread entrusted to His Apostles and disciples as well as those chosen by them into the future.
I was unaware that the Bible stated that Christ founded a Church, I thought that was St Paul; the other Apostles and followers of Christ, am I correct in this assumption?

Certainly in the beginning, many of the Lord's Jewish disciples believed that the Church would be limited to the Jews, but that belief was soon put right as Paul became the Apostle to the Gentiles while Peter continued his work among the Jews. But Christ certainly intended to found a Church to be His Body in the world until the time He comes again.
As my earlier points made clear, I was under the impression that Christ didn't intend to found any Church, merely to spread his teachings.

Sorry, I don't quite understand that reference. I was pointing out that according to the "test" created by the Council of Cathlic Bishops - the so-called seamless garment theology of life - liberal/socialist economic policies "trumped" actual Church doctrine prohibiting the commission, counseling, advocacy or support by Catholics of abortion. Now I am no economic liberal - indeed, I think, as did Winston Churchill (whom you quote) that that economic system merely spreads misery and want around to more people - but that is not the criteria on which any politician should be judged if he or she presents him or herself as a Catholic. For one thing, I may believe (indeed, I do believe) that the poor are much better served by capitalism than socialism. However, whether one intends to help the poor by socialism or capitalism, one is being concerned about the poor and that is what matters as neither economic system has a more elevated spiritual status.

On the other hand, no such argument can be made regarding those who support abortion. The Church condemns that practice and no mitigating circumstances can be presented that would in any way dispense with that condemnation. Ergo, Ted Kennedy would never - in any realistic doctrinal test - be considered pro-life at all, much less more pro-life than a conservative politician like Henry Hyde who opposes abortion. Again this is not a "liberal/conservative" or "socialist/capitalist" argument. It is an example of a very, very flawed "test" to determine just how in keeping with Catholic teachings were the many Catholic politicians in the US at that time. When you have a "test" that gives high marks for something with no doctrinal foundation in the Church - that is, a particular economic system - while ignoring actions diametric to fundamental Church dogma, then in fact, you have no true "test" - at all at least with regard to the Catholic Church.

Now as this "test" was widespread in the American Catholic church and we all know the Pope's position on abortion as well as the importance of the issue within the Church, I think the "seamless garment" business is a pretty fair indication of just how much "power" the Pope exercised over American bishops - very little to be sure. And that was the point that I wished to make when I presented this example. If the Pope was in fact, "in charge" of the American Church in the way many believe to be the case, then his "hot button" issues - like abortion - should have been the "hot button" issues for American bishops, archbishops, cardinals and priests. Does anyone really believe that was the case? Not according to my Catholic friends, it wasn't! Indeed, many of them despaired of the Pope's failure to take charge of the American church and get rid of bad bishops while installing good ones. In one instance, Long Island pro-life Catholics wrote to the Vatican asking that the Pope install a pro-life bishop in the Diocese of Rockville Centre instead of Bishop John McGann with whom they had been at odds for years. McGann found out about it and went ballistic. However, he also began to be more public on the issue of abortion however unwillingly. Of course, it's hard for many Protestants to overcome the vision of an autocrat in the Vatican, but reality is very different at least in Europe and the US.
My apologies, I shall rephrase; should a man be condemned for not agreeing with something when he does a lot of good work?
 
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