Tuesday, December 29, 2015
Accusing the church and the clergy: Same old story
Interestingly that's what the Protestants accused us of when they started.
Then you had the Anglicans. Part of their opening game was to make the same accusation because they wanted to steal the monks' lands. Then, even after they changed the theology and church ceremonial, they cheerfully ripped off the poor as much if not more than the most corrupt medieval churchmen (many of whom weren't, such as most English monks). Rectors as landlords living off multiple parishes while not doing any pastoring; that's what poorly paid curates were for. Guilds/confraternities, chantries, and monk-run schools for the poor were history. Forget that hard popish mumbo-jumbo; gimme! A shell of the church's structure (hierarchy including episcopacy is God's plan; establishment can be good) without its substance. No wonder the English pretty much lost their faith at the "Enlightenment." Actually, they'd been happy being Catholic; that survived furtively into the 1580s. By 1600 they'd been beaten into accepting the new church, but really being Catholic, they treated it with the same reverence they did the Catholic Church. (The Puritans, who were serious about Jesus, were fanatics who understandably didn't appeal to most people.) Their Civil War and the "Enlightenment" pretty much killed lively Christianity in England (men such as C.S. Lewis were an exception).
An anti-Catholic country now but because it used to be a Catholic one, it's haunted by the church in a way the U.S. isn't. You had a revival of the church once it wasn't outlawed anymore and Catholics were allowed to vote, in the 1800s. And after that, Anglo-Catholicism, some Anglicans' attempt to assert their claims (one of several attempts to reconvert the people) that became an emulation of the church. 25-30 years ago you could find high churchmanship in Catholicism there if you were looking for it.