Sunday, December 23, 2007

Faith on the ground
Charley Wingate quotes me as his starting point here (thanks):
Religion on the ground level is often a question of choosing the conscience problems you can live with over the ones you can’t.
And goes on to say:
The real problem for me is not I’ve been increasingly faced with problems in my faith, but rather, that increasingly I’m having trouble finding a place to practice it. In the end, though, I have to have a place to go to church. Surely some will come along and trivialize this problem...

Also, I am not buying the argument that the crappiness of the church experience is irrelevant.
As we were both formed by Anglicanism we don’t go in for ‘as long as it’s a Wal-Mart’. (More.) As long as the religion inside is Catholic (not just in appearance — really and truly) I almost don’t care what the sign says. (Except I obey my bishop and don’t receive the sacraments at churches not in communion with him.)
If most people’s experience of Christianity as religion is church, then it bloody well does matter how well it is done; indeed, it is important above almost everything else how well it is done.

... the problem in most places I’ve been that have been bad is that they are bad on purpose. It is a sin I can’t live with, so I won’t go there.
It’s a question of substance not snobbery.

++Cantuar on Christian unity
From the simpatico liberal-RC journal The Tablet. You’re seeing mainline merger madness (cuckoo for COCU reborn only in the form of intercommunion not structural mergers — the TEC/ELCA concordat for example, different brands and clergy rosters but functionally interchangeable now) but as for relations among Catholics, mainliners and evangelicals it’s like Charley has said: talking to each other teaches; it detoxifies your view of the other side. And blogging ecumenism rocks: reaching across centuries-old religious battlegrounds and even the ravages of recent decades of Anglican history. But like Orthodox Patriarch Jeremias of Constantinople said to the Lutherans of Tübingen who corresponded with him trying to start the ‘Reformation’ amongst the Greeks ‘I like you as a friend’ is as far as it goes! The Anglo-Catholic dream of corporate reunion between the great ancient churches of Christendom (the Catholic family) and the Anglican Communion has been dead since the 1970s.

It all boils down to two points:
  • With the Protestants conservative (‘what I say the Bible says’) and liberal (‘what I say the Bible says’ and any non-moron knows it says to do whatever upper-middle-class society fancies at the moment, one or more of which are things I happen to like doing): ‘You don’t believe in an infallible church.’ (As regular readers here know I now think that’s the tie-breaking issue defining who is a Catholic and who is a Protestant.)
  • Amongst the Catholic churches: ‘We agree there is an infallible church. But how does it work exactly?’ (Which really means ‘Which one of us is it?’)
On that note:

Russia and the Pope

Faith underground
A clandestine, outlawed Catholic church in modern times that survived that way for decades
Between 1946 and 1989 the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church was the largest banned Church in the world. It was at the same time the largest structure of social opposition to the Soviet system within the USSR. Despite relentless persecution, church life continued underground through the work of an elaborate system of clandestine seminaries, monasteries, ministries, parishes and youth groups until the Church was legalized on 1 December 1989.
— From here
Archbishop Volodymyr Sterniuk, locum tenens (acting head) of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in Ukraine (1972 -91). Born on 12 February 1907 at Pustomyty near Lviv, after studies in Ukraine and Belgium he was ordained in 1931 as a priest of the Redemptorist order. He witnessed the liquidation of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church at the “synod” of Lviv by concealing himself in the loft of St. George’s Cathedral.

After his arrest in 1947, he spent five years in prison and labor camps in Siberia. He returned to Lviv to work as a park gatekeeper, bookkeeper, janitor and ambulance nurse while clandestinely continuing his priestly ministry.

In 1964 Sterniuk was secretly ordained bishop and from 1972 to 1991 guided the UGCC in Ukraine until the return of Cardinal Lubachivsky. This period included the vicious persecution of the Brezhnev years and the final struggle for liberation in the late 1980s.

As a charismatic pastor and leader of the underground church, Sterniuk guided it from a one-room communal flat with a kitchen and bathroom shared with neighbors. He is remembered for his combination of prudence, resoluteness, warmth and understanding. He died on 29 September 1997 and a great funeral procession was conducted through the center of Lviv.
— From here

Another historical note: The Week of Christian Unity was started as the Chair of Unity Octave obviously by Catholics, people who believed very much in an infallible church: in this case American Anglo-Papalists, the Franciscan Fr Paul James Francis (Wattson) and the nun Mother Lurana (White), who made their submissions to Rome in 1909 partly as a reaction against exactly what mainstream ecumenism often is today. The last straw for them: the Episcopal Church voted in 1908 to allow non-episcopal Protestant ministers to preach from its pulpits.

The archbarometer: Covenant on ++Cantuar
“For all his personal theological liberalism, Williams does seem to be a great barometer for what is authentically Anglican in this crisis.”

Well, yes.
In both good and bad ways.
And that’s why he is attracting so much ire.
Which church Tony Blair goes to and doesn’t obey. (More via John Boyden.) Just like Benito in New York. (BTW that’s a Spanish name: Mussolini’s radical parents named him after the Mexican revolutionary Juárez.) BTW liberalism ‘on the ground’ among RCs is possibly why people like Mr Blair are welcome and the real Catholics of Archbishop John Hepworth’s little church (anglican not Lambeth Anglican including longtime good friend of the blog Fr Anthony Chadwick) are, well, not.

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