“And now, from the people who brought us Limbo..”

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Whilst I’m not a supernaturalist [you're not?! - Ed] the politics, both internal and external, of the organisations involved are still interesting to watch. The latest being the approval by Emperor Pope Benedict XVI of a document – available here – which, as the Irish Times front page report notes, “reaffirms points originally outlined in the document Dominus Iesus, issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 2000 when it was headed by Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict.” The IT also notes the reactions of other, similar, organisations

The president of the Methodist Church in Ireland, Rev Roy Cooper, expressed dismay at its content, while a spokesman for the Presbyterian Church in Ireland pointed out that, in its view, it is the Roman Catholic Church which is in error. A spokesman for the Church of Ireland, Archbishop of Dublin Most Rev John Neill, said: “We regard the Church of Ireland as having full apostolic succession.” The World Alliance of Reformed Churches said the document “makes us question the seriousness with which the Roman Catholic Church takes its dialogues with the Reformed family and other families of the church”.

The Irish Times’ religious affairs correspondent, Patsy McGarry, explains what the document says [subs req]From the Irish Times report

And now, from the people who brought us Limbo, then took it away. Who gave us Hell, took it away too, and have since tried to give it back to us. Who gave us the Latin Mass, took it from us, and gave it back last Saturday.

Yes, from those same people we now have a repeat, summer-time restatement of why being Roman Catholic is “simply the best”. Furthermore, they explain again why being Protestant is to be a yellow-pack Christian.

Yes, from the very people who under Pope Paul VI told us that Christians who were Protestant belonged to “sister churches” of the Roman Catholic Church, we are being told again that Protestant (Reformed) churches are not really sister churches at all.

Now, they are not even churches “in the proper sense”. A bit like St Christopher, they have been demoted. They are now mere “ecclesial communities”. You could say they remain in something of an ecclesiological Limbo. If Limbo still existed.

Pity our Anglicans, our Presbyterians, our Methodists, etc. They do not know it really, despite being told before, but their priests/ministers are not really priests or ministers at all. And as for their Holy Communion – it’s a sham! All a sham.

Even if, when in 1997 Cardinal Desmond Connell used that word after President McAleese received communion at a Church of Ireland Eucharist service in Dublin’s Christ Church Cathedral, he meant it was “a sham” for a Roman Catholic like her to do such a thing. But, let’s be frank, it is the Holy Orders and the Holy Communion of the Reformed Churches that Rome really sees as “a sham”.

To be fair and as you would expect, Cardinal William Levada, current prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, put in somewhat differently in yesterday’s document (which was approved by Pope Benedict).

He said: “According to Catholic doctrine, these Communities do not enjoy apostolic succession in the sacrament of Orders, and are, therefore, deprived of a constitutive element of the Church. These ecclesial Communities which, specifically because of the absence of the sacramental priesthood, have not preserved the genuine and integral substance of the Eucharistic Mystery cannot, according to Catholic doctrine, be called ‘Churches’ in the proper sense.”

All of which can be summarised in one pithy word – sham!

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  • Dawkins

    I have to say I haven’t a clue what the pope is up to. He obviously has an agenda, but what?

    What’s the point in antagonizing his fellow Christians at a time when (one would think) the Churches should be on the same page when facing up to the very real threat from Islam.

    No doubt all will be revealed in due course….

  • George

    Dawkins,
    I was thinking just the same thing.

    Perhaps he reckons it’s heading towards a “them and us” situation and Christians will gravitate towards a single Church – his ?

  • Jamie Gargoyle

    It really smacks of comb-fighting amongst bald men to me… but it’s definitely a change of direction from the previous “reach out to our brothers and sisters in christ” line they’d been going for in recent years…

  • DK

    Dawkins,

    This comes after pissing off all the Muslims with quoting some olde text at them last year. My money is on the Hindu’s next.

    If I had an invisible friend, I would make it a nice one – not one that constantly berated me and told me that other people were sinners.

  • http://sluggerotoole.com/index.php/weblog/comments/brown-puts-cat-amongst-l Manfarang

    The original and true Church was in Jerusalem for God’s sake!

  • observer

    behold, catholic bigotry in the light of day.

  • Cormac

    A bunch of old men in vestments arguing about utter nonsense.

  • jp

    he has been making these comments even in his role as inquisitor general in the 1990′s, this is nothing new, and his form as an ultra conservative and even a triumphalist have been in evidence since his dramatic shift from liberalism a decade ago, his intentions are obvious, even the name is a statement of intent.

    perhaps if people paid attention to these powerful groups and their beliefs, instead of gahuffing along with limited academics at them, we could be a little better informed.

  • inuit_g

    A step back for hopes of Christian unity.

    Pope Ratzinger seems to have a very divisive agenda – and not just in terms of this attack upon the legitimacy of the Faith practised by fellow Christians.

    In the context of today’s Ireland with all that has changed the Pope’s decree comes across as very divisive and sectarian – a harsh contrast to his predecessor Pope John Paul.

    This comes hot on the heels of the anti-Jewish reintroduction of the Latin Mass – the traditional format of which contains a passage stating that Jews live in “blindness” and “darkness” and asking God to “remove the veil from their hearts.”

    A reference to Jews as “perfidious” was excised from the liturgy as recently as 1969 – perhaps reinstating this reference will be next on Ratzinger’s agenda?

  • james orr

    I’m an evangelical Protestant, but I’m kinda impressed that the Pope has put theological conviction before political correctness on this issue.

    I wholeheartedly disagree with him, but fair play to him for taking a stand.

  • Dawkins

    “perhaps if people paid attention to these powerful groups and their beliefs…”

    Fair enough, Jp, but most of us godfree peeps didn’t pay too much heed to Benedict’s arcane burblings in the 1990s. And why should we? As Jamie G puts it, they’re like those proverbial fights between bald men.

    I only hear about such things when they’re reported in the MSM, so do please forgive my ignorance.

  • Jocky

    Surely he’s just reinforcing the essential base fundamental crux that all religions share, that there is the one true faith. Sure some of the other religions dont come flat out and say it but it’s always there. you can only buy what he’s selling, not be tempted buy the other purveyors of high quality faith.

    He’ll be as popular as Mel Gibson soon if he keeps this up.

  • Liam

    That’s it, he’s pissed off Muslims, Jews and now fellow Christians. I’m leaving the Catholic Church to become a Humanist, something I should have done long ago.

  • Cruimh

    “That’s it, he’s pissed off Muslims, Jews and now fellow Christians.”

    Not to mention all those in south America

    “I’m leaving the Catholic Church to become a Humanist, something I should have done long ago.”

    Hell, humanists are the biggest loonies of the lot!

    There’s moonies, scientologists and if they don’t appeal you can always head down to 356 Ravenhill road.

  • willowfield

    Very depressing stuff.

    Christianity doesn’t need its internal barriers to be reinforced: it needs them to be weakened and a few gates installed.

  • Rory

    I really can’t see what all the fuss is about. If one is a Catholic then, of course, one must consider that one’s church is “the best”, certainly correct if not indeed the only true church.

    No doubt Baptists, Lutherans and even (God forbid!) Free Presbyterians feel in much the same way about their institutions.

    Why on earth would anyone join (or remain with) a church that they did not regard as other than the very best.

    For example, I have long considered John Ford’s The Searchers not merely the best Western but the best film ever made. The film by which all that came after must be judged. Now I know that others do not agree with my choice and some of these would advance the claims of another contender. They may even make the most persuasive arguments in its favour.

    But, frankly, fuck ‘em! I’m a Searchers man and it’s The Searchers for me and Citizen Kane and all those Japanese and French and Swedish and Italian cinematic heretics can go take a running jump.

    And of course I’m bigoted. One must surely always be a bigot, not alone heavily but completely biased towards one’s choice.

    Otherwise choice has no value, no integrity, no purpose.

  • The Dubliner

    “Pity our Anglicans, our Presbyterians, our Methodists, etc. They do not know it really, despite being told before, but their priests/ministers are not really priests or ministers at all. And as for their Holy Communion – it’s a sham! All a sham.” – Patsy McGarry

    Does he actually get paid as a “religious affairs correspondent” to write this stuff? Those who are expect pluralism from the secular don’t properly understand the basics of organised religions or faith. Ecumenicalists just want better relations between Christian denominations, with no divisive theological arguments about whose sect is the true faith, whereas the pluralists can’t decide whose theology is closer to truth (less false) and hedge their bets by seeing virtue in all denominations irrespective of the theological arguments. There was a time when Catholics would have burnt “heritics” at the stake and Protestants would have hung, drawn and quartered them – with each denomination being each other’s heritic. While Chistians (the most violent of all sects) no longer massacre each other in crusades over theological arguments, it is safe for the secular to be openly secular with only the risk of incurring the hysterical wrath of the ecumenicalists, the pluralists, and those who don’t grasp the concept of monotheism (as the Pope obviously does).

  • Cruimh

    “I really can’t see what all the fuss is about.”

    The timing is perfect – here we have had the usual procession of bigots, preparing themselves to be offended by proxy at Bonfires and parades, screaming purple bloody murder about how terrible it is that the Orange Order is less than enamoured with those lovely people at the Vatican – they even say prayers about them! – and up pops Benny to remind us that the Orange order might just have a point !

  • The Dubliner

    Correction: secular = sectarian, rather

  • willowfield

    Rory

    Thinking your church is “the best” is not the same as saying other churches are not proper churches.

  • confused

    The first time European Protestants challenged the Pope he introduced The Inquisition with all that torture.
    Surely even he is not contemplating a similar action?

  • Cruimh

    Is Peter de Rosa writing his speeches ? ;)

  • Cruimh

    “The first time European Protestants challenged the Pope he introduced The Inquisition with all that torture. Surely even he is not contemplating a similar action? ”

    confused – according to the Vatican we exaggerate – the inquisition was a stroll in the park

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/3809983.stm

  • Dawkins

    If the Catholic Church, or indeed any religion, is the one and only, surely that’s enough for a believer?

    Either it is the one true Church, in which case discussion is unnecessary. Or it’s not, in which case … er …

    This sort of talk from the pope simply betrays a lack of confidence in his Church.

    And I can’t blame him for that :0)

  • circles

    Can we not just completely ignore these jokers in the hope that they’ll slowly die out?

    I sincerely wish that this old man would just shut up and stop dictating to people who did not elect him (even the catholics didn’t)and who represents an anachronistic, mysogynistic association based on a belief in magic tricks. If they want to duke it out between them thats fine, but i don’t care what they say.

    Pete could you not have posted something on MMcG’s brother-in-law instead?

  • Cruimh

    “This sort of talk from the pope simply betrays a lack of confidence in his Church. ”

    “Not a bullet, Not an ounce” thunders Benedict ? ;)

  • willis

    Well here is a blogger who couldn’t be happier

    http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/default.htm/Pope%20Benedict

    Please please can we have a “Let’s Talk” with Damien and David Vance

  • joeCanuck

    “All of which can be summarised in one pithy word – sham!”

    Surely a misprint! Shouldn’t it be “shame” rather than “sham”.

  • Belfast Gonzo

    This is just the Pope getting his retaliation in early, as he knows he’ll be on the top of a few bonfires tonight. No doubt it’ll merit him a few mentions in tomorrow’s speeches!

  • Rory

    Dawkins,

    Ooooh! You just demonstrated the antidote to my (less than innocent) query. Which brings us in a way to the crux of the matter.

    The popular form of stance is to take one side or the other. Is Dawkins right? Is Rory wrong?

    What if both are right (or indeed that both are wrong)? What indeed if all including Cruimh And Trowbridge and MickHall or, who you will, are either “right” or “wrong”?

    Having said that, had I had the misfortune to be elected Pontiff I would have been inclined to use my great encyclical to evangalise the holy words of Little Bo Peep:

    Leave them alone and
    they will come home
    wagging their tails behind them

    Having failed in my ambition to be Pope I shall just have to continue spreading my doctrine of The Blessed Bo Peep alone,

    Some may fall on stony* ground

    * stainy in “Ulster-Scots” (to demonstrate my ecumenism).

  • Dewi

    Does anyone believe in this stuff anymore ?

  • Cruimh

    “Does anyone believe in this stuff anymore ? ”

    That’s two of us not going to Catholic heaven then Dewi – just as well, I hear it’s lonely.
    Not a sinner to be found about the place!

  • Dawkins

    Rory,

    Let me go back a little to your earlier post, when you state: “Otherwise choice has no value, no integrity, no purpose.”

    The difficulty here being is that very few Catholics actually chose their religion. Even the pope was baptized into it without anyone asking him for his opinion. I consider myself very fortunate indeed to have been born into a godfree family. When I was old enough to choose responsibly, did I choose religion? You crazy?

    Dewy wonders whether anyone believes this stuff. Well, that’s the second problem: too many do. It’s hard to believe that in these enlightened times there are still those who believe this kind of nonsense. But believe they do, and in the case of the Muslims you better not cross them, or make jokes about their prophet Mohammad (piss be upon him). Thankfully the Catholics have left those darker days behind them.

  • Dewi

    It is odd though – my late mother confessed to me that she only sent us kids to Sunday School so that she and dad could have a Sunday afternoon shag in peace. I dunno – each to his own

  • Cruimh

    Isn’t that what Friday nights are for Dewi?

  • Dewi

    Cruimhh – not in my house when we were kids, Friday night was about finding rugby, ballet or whatever , kit for Saturday morning.

  • Cruimh

    ballet ? Get her ;)

  • joeCanuck

    John and Sarah wanted to have a shag in peace so they sent their son Jimmy out to the balcony with instruction to keep watch and tell them everything that was going on below.
    Jimmy goes out.
    Shouts in “Mr Johnson is looking under the bonnet; I think he’s changing the oil”.
    Mrs Morrison must be going shopping; she’s left with her shopping trolley.
    That oul geezer on the first floor is talking his dog for a walk.
    Mr and Mrs O’Reilly are shagging”.
    From inside: “How do you know that?”
    Jimmy: “Their son Mickey is out on the balcony”.

  • Dewi

    Joecanuck – that’s wonderful !
    Cruimhh – shouldn’t u be out watching bonfires !

  • http://www.moveon.org Sean Graham’s Bookies

    The Pope is saying what his religion believes. From a Catholic viewpoint he is right. The Methodists and other DIY Billy come latelys can prattle as they wish but from a Catholic stance the Pope is right. Enjoy your marches and desecration of churches and hosts today. I hope you get an old priest or nun to beat up today to add to the fun. But, as they say, any Taig will do.

  • Reader

    Sean Graham’s Bookies: but from a Catholic stance the Pope is right.
    And each of the other denominations thinks exactly the same. And the Orange Order thinks much the same about groups of denominations. In the western world, churches have little option but to be tolerant; you can’t execute heretics any more. Instead, the modern debate is about this – can other denominations help to save souls?
    Rhetoric like “have not preserved the genuine and integral substance of the Eucharistic Mystery cannot, according to Catholic doctrine, be called ‘Churches’ in the proper sense.” and the OO references to “the fatal errors and doctrines of the Church of Rome” are not exactly reassuring on the above – crucial – question.

  • Liam

    “Hell, humanists are the biggest loonies of the lot!”

    Well, they don’t base their lives on a deity who may or may not exist nor place their faith in a highly corrupt and powerful organisation that has interfered in numerous political systems and has opposed pretty much every innovation since the Enlightenment. Not that Protestantism is any better, or most religions for that matter.

  • Cruimh

    “Well, they don’t base their lives on a deity who may or may not exist nor place their faith in a highly corrupt and powerful organisation that has interfered in numerous political systems and has opposed pretty much every innovation since the Enlightenment.”

    Nope – the humanity that gave you Rwanda, the killing fields of Cambodia and Auschwicz is as good as it gets with them.

  • The Dubliner

    If you believe something to be true, then it doesn’t take a logician to deduce that you also hold all competing beliefs to be false. The Pope, basically, is saying what he believes to be true and stating what must be false. Naturally, those who hold the false beliefs don’t like being informed of their error and cry “foul.” It was okay for other faiths to hold opposing beliefs so long as they didn’t directly challenge each other’s beliefs, e.g. they could say “this is true” just as long as they didn’t apply logic and say “therefore, that is false.” It seems the gloves are off.

  • Seamus Leahy

    Patsy McGarry has, unsprisingly, got it wrong. The ecclesial communities that originate from the Reformation, or their subsequent heirs, do not constitute ‘churches’ because they are devoid of a validly ordained priesthood, and thus cannot dispense the sacraments. The Orthodox communities do enjoy the attribution of ‘churches’ in the CDF document, because although they are in schism, and their masses are illicit (not invalid however), their priesthood is valid and they maintain apostolic succession. This is why Orthodox priests do not have to be re-ordained if they convert to Catholicism (unlike Anglican ‘priests’, whose orders are considered ‘null and void’, see Apostolicae Curae), and vice versa, and why is possible for Catholics to have their sins absolved by Orthodox priests. It is also the reason why many Orthodox leaders have welcomed the document. Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk, the leading ecumenical official of the Moscow patriarchate said that “everything contained in the Catholic document rightfully applies to the Orthodox Church” since the Orthodox Church has preserved apostolic succession and does not recognize the validity of Anglican Holy Orders.

    The authority that Christ conferred on St Peter and his apostles in the Gospel of St Matthew was bestowed to their apostles (the Church Fathers) and their subsequent bishops. Catholics and Orthodox churches trace a linage of succession back to the apostles and it is unacceptable for Catholics to rebel against the sacraments (which are needed to dispense grace—necessary for salvation) by elevating Protestant ecclesial communities to the status of churches. All who do so lead themselves out of the Church–and their own perdition.

    Also btw, the ‘Catholic Church’ described in the CDF document refers to the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, which includes all the adherents of the liturgically distinct rites in communion with Rome, including the Alexandrian and Byzantine rites, not just the Roman rite (or the “Roman Catholic Church”).

    The Reformation is already dead! A Lutheran minister (whose name escapes me) said the same thing at his ‘bishops’ conference back in the forties, after his community dropped the ban on unnatural forms of contraception, which guess what…was inspired the Lambeth Conference in 1930 where, for the first time in history, a Christian denomination approved contraception (even the so-called “reformers” like Martin Luther and John Calvin condemned it). Anglican leaders are even too cowardly nowadays to critize homosexuality and abortion (…one of the reasons Lord Steele drafted his Abortion Act was because he was ‘inspired’ by a recommendation from the Anglican ‘bishops’ calling for its limited legalization).

    I am also offended by the remarks of the Church Society regarding the Catholic Church’s history of persecuting Protestants. That is very much a regrettable part of our history (however the Roman Inquisition should be worn as a badge of honour by all orthodox Catholics—not only was it perfectly justified, but it was the Church at her gloriest), but some do not acknowledge the persecution caused by the ‘Established Anglican Church’ over here in Ireland. You and your so-called church killed Catholics (and were a major contributor to the famine genocide), confiscated our lands and churches, banned us from sitting as MPs in Parliament, and still to this day we are considered ‘unfit’ to sit as monarchs.

  • Cruimh

    bit more to it than that Dubliner – Papal statements, especially the ones made in the past 12 months, have profound political implications both in respect of internal Church politics and relations with Islam, Judaism and now the rest of the Abrahamic family. Then we have International ramifications with South american countries and Israel being upset.

  • The Dubliner

    MR, they’re just the voices crying foul.

  • Cruimh

    I don’t know Dubliner – The Pope REALLY crossed the line with South America – imagine if instead of the famine apology TB had said that Irish people had been “silently longing” for the arrival of the English and Protestantism!

    He’s obviously decided to crack the whip – dangerous at such a time of religious and international tension.

  • sammaguire

    For a change I must say I agree with Pope Benny on this one. If you are in charge of an organisation you really have to believe in it otherwise you’re a hypocrite. There are plenty of fundamentalist Protestants and Muslims out there with similar views. The great thing about free will is that none of us is forced to believe any of them.

  • http://sluggerotoole.com/index.php/weblog/comments/and-now-from-the-people- Manfarang

    Seamus Leaky
    “After the apostles, James the brother of the Lord surnamed the Just was made head of the church at Jerusalem.”
    Saint Jerome De Viris Illustribus

  • Liam

    “Nope – the humanity that gave you Rwanda, the killing fields of Cambodia and Auschwicz is as good as it gets with them.”

    Uh…what?

  • Cruimh

    “Uh…what?”

    Putting your faith in the the inherent goodhess of mankind is likely to disappoint.

  • Dev

    “Nope – the humanity that gave you Rwanda, the killing fields of Cambodia and Auschwicz is as good as it gets with them.”

    Uh…what?

    Posted by Liam on Jul 12, 2007 @ 09:16 AM
    “Uh…what?”

    Putting your faith in the the inherent goodhess of mankind is likely to disappoint.

    Posted by Cruimh on Jul 12, 2007 @ 09:43 AM

    Are you suggesting that it was some absence of strong religious belief that caused these atrocities? Humans have been mudering each other since the dawn of time, it doesn’t necessarily follow that we should abandon all hope for mankind and devote ourselves to worshipping a diety/deities instead. Surely we can at least aspire to a state of affairs where humankind co-exist peacefully even if it doesn’t exist at the moment, this seems like a far more proactive approach than leaving everything in the hands of the Gods.

    Besides which, your logic cuts both ways, if e.g. Rwanda can be used as an example of the folly of having faith in the basic decency of the human race it can similarly be used to oppose any notion of a loving God because what sort of sadistic bastard of a deity would allow his creations to inflict that kind of cruelty on each other?

  • Liam

    Well, there is more to Humanism than faith in the inherent goodness of humans. It encompasses rationality, compassion and working for the common good which were ideas not present in the orchestration of the aforsaid conflicts. Anyway, I have a large list of reasons to why I should leave the Catholic Church and they are all pretty obvious ones.

  • Cruimh

    Liam – by all means leave Church – they are after all mere human creations. No need to leave God though – don’t be throwing the baby out with the bath water.

  • Southern Observer

    From the Irish Tmes, 2000:

    For many years now, and in different versions, a joke about German Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger has been doing the Vatican rounds. The action takes place outside the gates of Heaven, where three new would-be residents have just arrived, Brazilian liberation theologian Leonardo Boff, dissident German theologian Hans Kung and Cardinal Ratzinger.

    St Peter emerges from his shed-cum-gate-lodge to assess the new arrivals, telling them he wishes to interview all three. Leonardo Boff is the first to be shown into St Peter’s office.

    Four hour later an exhausted-looking Boff emerges and stumbles over to the Pearly Gates, which open for him, muttering as he goes: “Oh, my goodness, that was so tough . . . I just never knew, I’m so sorry.”

    Hans Kung is the next man into St Peter’s office. His stay is even longer, and after six hours he emerges, looking distraught and crushed. He, too, is muttering to himself: “Oh, my goodness, that was so tough . . . I just never knew, I’m so sorry, how could I have been so wrong.”

    Finally, it is Ratzinger’s turn. His session with St Peter turns out to be longest of the lot.

    After 72 hours, however, it is the exhausted, distraught St Peter himself who emerges from his office, heading for the Gates of Heaven and muttering to himself: “Oh, my goodness, that was so tough . . . That was the hardest thing I’ve ever done . . . How could I have been so wrong.”

  • willowfield

    Seamus Leahy

    Do you really think God cares about apostolic succession or denominational differences generally?

    Incidentally, the Anglican Church (and, I assume the Lutheran Church) have retained apostolic succession, so the RC logic fails if that is the basis for saying they are not churches.

  • Liam

    “Liam – by all means leave Church – they are after all mere human creations. No need to leave God though – don’t be throwing the baby out with the bath water.”

    Yeah, I think that’s partly my trouble with the Catholic Church. It is a human organisation pretending it has a supreme mandate from God. I just don’t have the faith to keep up a belief in a God in the theological sense, I would much prefer just to concentrate on the material world and in trying to make it better in my own way while I am still here. I don’t deny a spiritual element, I just can’t settle on its true nature.