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Church of the Zeitgeist

Church of the Zeitgeist

Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

William Butler Yeats, Second Coming

For any who think that there are not bishops and higher prelates rubbing their hands with glee at the prospect of ditching most of the morality in sexual matters taught by the Church since the time of the Crucifixion, Christopher Johnson, a non-Catholic who has taken up the cudgels so frequently in defense of the Church that I have named him Defender of the Faith, gives you the cold shock of reality:

Roman Catholics?  Many of us former Anglicans know from bitter experience that the Episcopalianization of churches always starts small.  A bishop here, a bishop there:

Two Catholic bishops in the UK have expressed hope that the upcoming Extraordinary Synod on the Family, to be held in Rome in October, will bring about massive changes to the Church’s approach to marriage and human sexuality.

Bishop Terence Drainey of Middleborough told the far-left magazine The Tablet that he is hoping for and expecting a “radical re-examination of human sexuality.”

Drainey told The Tablet that this “re-examination” should be made “in light of modern psychological and anthropological insights and the lived experience of lay people.” This, he said, “could lead to development in church teaching on all aspects of marriage and family life: contraception, homosexuality, divorce and remarriage, cohabitation; even the position of women in the Church.”

“The Church has to hold in tension its imperative to proclaim the high Christian ideals to which all should aspire with its desire at the same time to welcome with love and compassion those whose lives are complicated and messy,” the bishop said.

“A careful discussion of this dichotomy could yield pastoral solutions in the areas of family life where many are struggling, enabling the Church more readily to welcome and include these people,” Drainey said.

Bishop Drainey said the issues to be addressed by the Synod and brought up in a Vatican questionnaire are “multifaceted and complex” to which there are no “simple soundbite answers.”

Sound familiar?  If you’ve been hanging around here long enough, it better.  So you might want to hold off criticizing those Catholics who are worried about such trends or you may see a day when you yearn to hear their voices and find that they’re no longer there.

Go here to read the comments. One of the glories of the Church has always been the timelessness of the Church.  The Church has always taught the Gospel of Christ through 2000 years of dizzying changes.  Anti-Catholic historian Lord Thomas Babington Macaulay captured this aspect of the Church well in this passage:

There is not, and there never was on this earth, a work of human policy so well deserving of examination as the Roman Catholic Church. The history of that Church joins together the two great ages of human civilisation. No other institution is left standing which carries the mind back to the times when the smoke of sacrifice rose from the Pantheon, and when camelopards and tigers bounded in the Flavian amphitheatre. The proudest royal houses are but of yesterday, when compared with the line of the Supreme Pontiffs. That line we trace back in an unbroken series, from the Pope who crowned Napoleon in the nineteenth century to the Pope who crowned Pepin in the eighth; and far beyond the time of Pepin the august dynasty extends, till it is lost in the twilight of fable. The republic of Venice came next in antiquity. But the republic of Venice was modern when compared with the Papacy; and the republic of Venice is gone, and the Papacy remains. The Papacy remains, not in decay, not a mere antique, but full of life and youthful vigour. The Catholic Church is still sending forth to the farthest ends of the world missionaries as zealous as those who landed in Kent with Augustin, and still confronting hostile kings with the same spirit with which she confronted Attila. The number of her children is greater than in any former age. Her acquisitions in the New World have more than compensated for what she has lost in the Old. Her spiritual ascendency extends over the vast countries which lie between the plains of the Missouri and Cape Horn, countries which a century hence, may not improbably contain a population as large as that which now inhabits Europe. The members of her communion are certainly not fewer than a hundred and fifty millions; and it will be difficult to show that all other Christian sects united amount to a hundred and twenty millions. Nor do we see any sign which indicates that the term of her long dominion is approaching. She saw the commencement of all the governments and of all the ecclesiastical establishments that now exist in the world; and we feel no assurance that she is not destined to see the end of them all. She was great and respected before the Saxon had set foot on Britain, before the Frank had passed the Rhine, when Grecian eloquence still flourished at Antioch, when idols were still worshipped in the temple of Mecca. And she may still exist in undiminished vigour when some traveller from New Zealand shall, in the midst of a vast solitude, take his stand on a broken arch of London Bridge to sketch the ruins of St. Paul’s.

Idiots and worse in positions of great power within the Church wish to end all that.  These fools want the Church to bless the current zeitgeist of the chattering classes of the West and thus end their embarrassment at cocktail parties with representatives of that zeitgeist.  They wish to sell out the Gospels for the roar of popular approval.  May God forgive them for I cannot, and I will fight against them as long as breath remains in my body.

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Donald R. McClarey

Cradle Catholic. Active in the pro-life movement since 1973. Father of three and happily married for 35 years. Small town lawyer and amateur historian. Former president of the board of directors of the local crisis pregnancy center for a decade.

9 Comments

  1. When Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote Sherlock Holmes, Dr. Watson, when encountering true evil, would say: “Saints preserve us.” A saying I have adopted because it so much says what needs saying.
    Now, Drainey would discard the Church Triumphant and impose the Church not so holy.
    Jesus Christ, Who led a sinless life as an innocent man, a virgin, too, would be exiled and expelled. Discounting God is the work of atheism. Usurping the brotherhood of Jesus Christ is not Catholic.
    Destroying the future of persons conceived in true innocence and virginity is the work of the devil. Saints preserve us. Drainey appears to not have the brains with which he was born.

  2. Related thoughts from Ed Peters, as quoted by Father Zuhlsdorf [Fr. Z’s comments in brackets]:

    Why the gathering storm over divorce might be worse than was that over contraception

    Interesting parallels are being suggested between, on the one hand, Paul VI’s dithering over contraception in the 1960s (which, though reversed by his reassertion of Church teaching in Humanae vitae, contributed to widespread repudiation of that teaching by Catholics), and Francis’ recent mixed signals (or what are widely perceived as mixed signals) over the future of Church teaching against divorce-and-remarriage and the reception of holy Communion. Notwithstanding some important differences between the two men and situations, I write to suggest that the stakes for all might actually be higher this time around.

    Consider two points:

    First, Church teaching against contraception had to be teased out over the centuries from natural law theory and what we call now ‘theology of the body’. It rests today largely on conclusions of logic, philosophy, and theology. Church teaching against divorce-and-remarriage, in contrast, is expressly proclaimed in the New Testament and any literate Catholic can read Jesus’ strong words about it in the Bible. This teaching was heatedly and repeatedly defended by the Church Fathers, was reiterated consistently in numerous Councils, and has been expounded by all major theologians.

    Second, short of personal admission, there is no way to tell whether this Catholic couple or that is practicing contraception, and so there are virtually no ecclesiastical consequences possible in the external forum for disregard of Church teaching by pew Catholics. Indeed, with exceptions too rare to mention, there weren’t even official consequences for high-profile Catholics defending contraception in the ’60s. But cohabitation and post-divorce ‘marriage’, in contrast, are public acts falling squarely with the parameters of well-established (if inconsistently applied) public consequences (withholding of Communion being the best known). Millions of Catholics abide by this consequence. The millions of others who do not abide by it pretty much know they do not.

    What does this mean?

    It means, I suggest, that the complexity of the arguments underlying Church teaching on contraception allowed for the ecclesial equivalent of “plausible deniability” in regard to acceptance of that teaching by rank-and-file faithful, and the nature of the contraceptive act virtually excluded public enforcement measures. [NB:] But Church teaching against divorce-and-remarriage is utterly obvious to any but the deliberately blind and the appropriateness of public consequences for public violation of that teaching has been unanimously upheld, and usually observed, for two millenia. Those factors combine to imply, I think, higher stakes in the divorce debate today than those confronting the Church over contraception a generation ago. [Couple all that with today’s increasing antinomian spirit and plummeting ability to think clearly.]

    Now I think Church teaching against divorce-and-remarriage will, in the end, be squarely upheld in principle. My concern is different: what if Church teaching is duly upheld but, as happened after Humanae vitae, that teaching is allowed to twist slowly in the wind? For ecclesiastical officialdom to look the other way on contraception was, in a sense, possible; [Because of its more hidden, private nature.] but for it to do so in regard to divorce, remarriage, and the reception of holy Communion would be immediately recognized as the practical abandonment of a major doctrino-disciplinary point.

  3. We have always known that, whilst the Church cannot err, there can be error and widespread error, in the Church, lasting for centuries.

    In the age of her greatest doctors, we find, as Bl John Henry Newman recounts, a virtual consensus on the subject of baptism by heretics. “The Apostolical Canons say, “Those who are baptized by heretics cannot be believers.” The Synods of Iconium and Synnada declare that “those who came from the heretics were to be washed and purified from the filth of their old impure leaven.” Clement of Alexandria, that “Wisdom pronounces that strange waters do not belong to her.” Firmilian, that “we recognize one only Church of God, and account baptism to belong only to the Holy Church.” “It seemed good from the beginning,” says St. Basil, “wholly to annul the baptism of heretics.” Tertullian says, “We have not the same baptism with heretics; since they have it not rightly; without, they have it not at all.” “Then may there be one baptism,” says St. Cyprian, “when there is one faith. We and heretics cannot have a common baptism, since we have not the Father, or the Son, or the Holy Ghost in common. Heretics in their baptism are polluted by their profane water.” St. Cyril says, “None but heretics are re-baptized, since their former baptism was not baptism.” St. Athanasius asks, “Is not the rite administered by the Arians, altogether empty and unprofitable? He that is sprinkled by them is rather polluted than redeemed.” Optatus says, “The stained baptism cannot wash a man, the polluted cannot cleanse.” “The baptism of traitors.” says St. Ambrose, “does not heal, does not cleanse, but defiles.”

    They all erred. Great and holy bishops and doctors of the Church, St Athanasius, St Ambrose, St Basil, St Cyril were all simply wrong. Pope St Stephen (254-257), standing alone and distaining to give the grounds or motives of his decision, held the contrary. He pronounced the baptism of heretics to be valid and, a hundred and fifty years after his death, his teaching prevailed. St Augustine embraced it and the Novatians and the Donatists were anathematized for rejecting it.

    Bishop Terence Drainey of Middleborough may rival these Fathers in sanctity, learning and zeal, but he can err, as they erred, even in things pertaining to the Faith. Why suppose the bishops of Germany incapable of error, when the bishops of Phrygia, Galatia, Cilicia and all Asia Minor erred at the Synod of Iconium?

  4. if they do not get what they publicly ask for and the boss says no will they as brits say, “put theit money where their mouth is and resign” ?

  5. Some remarks by R.S. McCain a few months back, which, while concerned with the protestant congregations, describe some of our predicament.

    http://theothermccain.com/2013/09/08/courage-alessandra-let-us-determine-to-die-here-and-we-will-conquer/

    I suspect those of us who grew up in Anglicanism are inured to loser clergy. (David Mills description of the Episcopal bishops he had known: “…most of them very mediocre men…”). You expect your pastor to be manipulative, evasive, inane, and altogether useless for most intents and purposes. (But inveterately defended by the organization (wo)men who dominate vestries; “the worship which unites us rather than the issues which divide us” &c.). You see less of that in the Catholic Church (but more bad taste). The extension of grinning boobery into the College of Cardinals (Timothy “Bravo” Dolan) following upon the manifestation of dithering nincompoopery (see the Archpriest of the Basilica of St. Mary Major) is most demoralizing, though the current Pope’s serial hoof-in-mouth episodes do provide diversion from time to time.

    We’re not quite in the 10th century yet, but these chaps will do a great deal of damage before the Church is done with them.

  6. The bishops of England, Ireland, Germany and Austria have long been a bunch that I would not look up to.

    It has been speculated that when Papa Bergoglio turns 80 he will resign and return to Buenos Aires. He has maintained Argentine citizenship. What is clear is that in the past year, the lunatics have asserted themselves and are running the asylum. In any case, the answer is to pray, fast, give alms and hope in the Lord. The pagan roman government executed Him – but did not stop Him. In the end, the pagan Roman government withered away.

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