The View from Lambeth

To view truth is to move away from a binary right or wrong attitude, a binary them and us, a battlefield of ideas and loyalties. St John Henry saw truth and loved it, despite the cracked pots in which it was held.

If you are an apostle of ‘inclusion’, everyone and every thing is grist to your mill.

As Francis has dragged S.Francis of Assisi. into his warped world of eco-ethics and multi-faith celebration, so these were the (nearly) last words of Justin Welby in a sermon preached about John Henry Newman at Vespers in Westminster Cathedral. Both traduce the saints to whom they refer.

Francis of Assisi sought to be reconciled with Muslims by converting them; and John Henry paid the price of a ‘parting of friends’ for his belief that Truth is binary. Both Francis and Justin. alas, are prepared to betray history in pursuit of principles which they hold to be self-evident. And in so doing they show themselves to be prisoners of their own time.

Let the saints be saints; not vehicles for Virtue Signalling.

Call My Bluff

In the culture wars which have ravaged Europe since the seventeenth century, the principal tactic of the Left (to use the term broadly) has been entryism. This has been particularly so in the Churches. More recently WOKENESS in the guise of ‘inclusion’ has sought to replace the Christian virtues of tolerance, hospitality and forgiveness. This was never more true than in the cases of women’s ordination and the approval of gay marriage. (Bishop Michael Adie’s assertion in the women priests debate that the innovation was ‘required by the tradition’ comes readily to mind.)

Seldom have orthodox Christians called the bluff of the liberals. They have been prepared to acknowledge that the innovations were church-dividing issues; but they have – with few exceptions – stopped short of dividing the Church.

Step forward the evangelical Archbishop of Sydney, Dr Glen Davies, who called for gay marriage supporters to leave the church, provoking from liberals the expected response: ‘he seems to want to exclude people rather than to engage with them’.

What liberals want is endless conversation, dialogue without terminus. What they cannot stomach is a blunt recognition of their own apostasy. Davis has called their bluff: it is open to them to found a new church. What they cannot legitimately do is to claim fellowship in the Body of Christ, the Church Apostolic.

Mass Exodus

Stephen Bullivant has produced a wonderful book.  Mass Exodus is a masterly and authoritative analysis of the statistical decline of the Catholic Church in Britain and America (and in other parts of the Anglosphere).

Whilst Bullivant does not lay the entire blame on the effects of Vatican II, he persuasively demonstrates that the reforms often attributed to the Council were a major contributory factor.  With the legendary Peter Berger he agrees that there is little or no evidence that the use of Latin (or indeed Cranmerian English) was alienating for the laity. But both were axed with a clerical ruthlessness which is difficult to explain. With the legendary Mary Douglas he agrees that the removal of other cultural markers (such as fish on Fridays) weakened a sense of loyalty and belonging. God, he points out – in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries – has no grandchildren. Converts are no more than a tenth of those abandoning the Church.

What the book does not say, because of the limits Bullivant has set himself, is that the numerical decline of the German Church is as disastrous and precipitate; but that in the Bergoglian Church German theology is in the ascendant.

Werden sie nie lernen?

Fruits of the Amazon

It is now pretty clear that Francis has got what he wanted out of the Amazon Synod. He promises very quickly to come up with his magisterial post-Synodal Exhortation – though in truth that was probably drafted some time ago.

He will get three things from the synodal exercise:

  1. Permission for local conferences of bishops to authorize a married priesthood. This will begin as a concession to the special circumstances of the Amazon basin, but will spread like wildfire to other areas. (Just watch the proposed German ‘Synodical Path’!).
  2. Encouragement to re-open his Commission on women deacons – and to pack it with further nominees in favour of the innovation. No longer will the Commission’s focus be historical. History will be massaged to serve what are perceived to be the needs of the Future.
  3. Further endorsement for synodal ‘walking together’, which is in fact a cover for further diminishing central authority and devolving it to local or national churches. More and more decisions about doctrine and praxis will be taken at the regional level rather than at the level of the Church Universal. |So ‘walking together’ becomes walking apart.

All this fulfils what have long been this Pope’s aims and aspirations. It amounts, with Francis’s egalitarian view of other religions (as expressed in the Abu Dhabi Declaration), to a radically new ecclesiology.

You have been warned!

Not what it seems?

We are all too familiar with the knee-jerk reaction of Vatican apparatchiks when Francis has said or done something outrageous. But this is something quite other.

In the face of video evidence which has reportedly gone viral among Protestants and Pentecostals, the Vatican communications supremo, Paolo Ruffini, simply denies that the prostrations took place. ‘We said here that there was no ritual and no prostration took place, we have repeated this here, so we have to be vigorous in saying things that actually happened before cameras, so we have explained that this did not happen.’*

He is, of course, on a hiding to nothing.

People who have observed that the Pope thinks a diversity of religions is intended and purposed by God (‘The pluralism and the diversity of religions, colour, sex, race and language are willed by God in his wisdom, through which he created human beings.’) are bound to conclude that Francis is capable of all manner of idolatry. And the evidence of their own eyes will contradict any number of assertions by Vatican officials. No matter that the Holy Father himself did not take part in the rituals.

In Muslim areas and in the Amazon basin, Evangelical Protestants will continue their campaign against Catholicism with renewed vigour.

*This probably sounded more convincing and more coherent in Italian!

Down under

The confluence of the Rhine and the Amazon is flowing passed Ayres Rock. Witness the official prayer for the Plenary Council of the Catholic Church in Australia 2020:

Come, Holy Spirit of Pentecost.
Come, Holy Spirit of the great South Land.

O God, bless and unite all your people in Australia and guide us on the pilgrim way of the Plenary Council. Give us the grace to see your face in one another and to recognise Jesus, our companion on the road. Give us the courage to tell our stories and to speak boldly of your truth. Give us ears to listen humbly to each other and a discerning heart to hear what you are saying. Lead your Church into a hope-filled future, that we may live the joy of the Gospel. Through Jesus Christ our Lord, bread for the journey from age to age. Amen.

Our Lady Help of Christians, pray for us.
St Mary MacKillop, pray for us.

This is prayer as indoctrination; and it needs to be unpacked.

It begins with an invocation of the ‘Holy Spirit of the great South Land’. Who, you will ask, is this deity, unmentioned in scripture? The zeitgeist? The genius loci? An aboriginal fetish? Who can tell?

In the prayer ‘truth’ is discovered in the telling of stories. And in listening attentively to one another. Revelation, it is being claimed, is a human construct. And there can be little doubt what those stories will be about. They will be tales of hurt, isolation and rejection, brought about by an unfeeling ‘rigid’ Catholicism. The ‘pilgrim way of the Plenary Council’ is one which will ’unite all your people’ and lead them into a ‘hope-filled future’.  

The whole liberal agenda is set out in this prayer, in much the way in which the aims of a Papal Synod are set out in the Instrumentum Laboris – and in the closing summary (which is invariably written beforehand). What God is saying (despite focus groups and grass roots consultations) has been predetermined. And there are no prizes for guessing what it will be.     

Voodoo

In an operation involving the Roman Carabinieri, a life-size image of Pope Francis has been dredged from the Tiber, where it was thrown by thieves who stole it from the sanctuary of the church of San Giorgio in Velabro.

The statue, part of a tableau honouring St John Henry Newman in his titular church, was found to be tarred and feathered and covered with nails. A spokesperson from the Rome Museum of Ethnology has identified the image as one used as a cult object in voodoo rites. ‘The statue was probably employed in an attempt to cause harm or pain to the Holy Father,’ she said.  

The search is now on for the culprits.

Cardinal Baldisseri, head of the Synod of Bishops, has named cardinals Burke and Mueller as prime suspects. ‘The action,’ said the Cardinal, ‘shows the operation of perverted and corrupt minds. This crime was clearly intended to bring the Amazon Synod and the indigenous peoples of Amazonia into disrepute. Only rigid theologians could have done this. We must always be on our guard, as Pope Francis is constantly telling us, against the malign forces of clericalism.’

The statue itself, alongside another of St Francis of Assisi,  has been erected in the Vatican gardens as an object of devotion.   

Brexit Correction

The subsequent claim of the opposition parties that Johnson‘s action [in proroguing Parliament] was ‘illegal’ demands further scrutiny. How could a man avoid transgressing a law which did not exist until defined by the Supreme Court after the event? One, moreover, which might (or might not) subsequently have been devised to outlaw the very action he was contemplating?

That is what I said in my post (The Death of Brexit, below).

A kind correspondent informs me that in Common Law such judgments have a puzzlingly metaphysical dimension. Court decisions of this kind operate retrospectively – that is to say that what nobody knew to be the case before the judgement was arrived at is assumed always have been the case; and ignorance of that fact is no excuse.

Poor Boris! For him there was no escape. Such is justice; such apparently is the Law.

“If the law supposes that,” said Mr. Bumble, squeezing his hat emphatically in both hands, “the law is an ass “

Montalbano

It was announced today that Inspector Salvo Montalbano of the Sicilian Police has been relocated to a new assignment in Rome to investigate (at the request of his old friend and former colleague Domenico Giani), financial dealings in the Vatican involving among others Cardinal Angelo Becciu of the Secretariat of State.

At a press conference hastily organised at Palermo’s Punta Raisi airport, Inspector Montalbano said: ‘The case involves investment, via a Swiss Bank, of hundreds of millions of Euros in a luxury property in London. This transaction has all the hallmarks of Mafia involvement. In that case I am well-qualified for the job. ‘

‘Domenico, who was summarily dismissed from his post, has asked me to clear his name. Which I am happy to do.’

Where next?

Perhaps the most fascinating thing about feminism is its dependence on a victim culture. Women, it is claimed, are everywhere oppressed by the Patriarchy. And no amount of success in changing society and institutions makes that sense of oppression and injustice go away.

The Church of England is by now a largely feminised institution. Though irksome pockets of resistance remain, women priests have generally been accepted and welcomed; women bishops have been appointed with alacrity by those (largely men) who decide these things. But the anger and hurt continues. And among a radical minority, at least, there continues to be a burning sense of injustice. Among those who aim to be more feminist than Germaine Greer, there is always the campaign to normalize trans-sexuality. And increasingly the ‘mission’ is extended to homosexual equality and gay marriage. The connection, needless to say, is not pellucidly clear. But the question remains: what do women campaigners in the Church want?

The attempt to geld God – an extension of the urge to ‘police the pronouns’ – was never going to gain general approval. As the earliest radicals saw, back in the 70’s, the religion is too grounded in the language of a Son sent by a Father to accept change without general dogmatic degradation. ‘What will happen to God? they asked. And the answer was that He would become increasingly irrelevant.

So where next? Women have entered the Patriarchy (and have signally failed to change it substantially or radically). What remains to be done? Are we simply left with the smoldering embers of a discontent which can never be put out?