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Dr Rowan Williams: joint prayer and contemplation are key to evangelising the world

By on Thursday, 11 October 2012

Bishop Brian Farrell, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, and the Archbishop of Canterbury (Photo: CNS)

Bishop Brian Farrell, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, and the Archbishop of Canterbury (Photo: CNS)

Dr Rowan Williams has told Pope Benedict XVI and the Synod of Bishops that evangelisation is not a project, but the natural “overflow” of an experience of Christ and his Church that transforms lives, giving them meaning and joy.

The Archbishop of Canterbury said that “those who know little and care even less about the institutions and hierarchies of the Church these days” are nevertheless attracted and challenged by Christians whose lives show they have been transformed by their encounter with Christ.

The leader of the Anglican Communion had been invited by Pope Benedict to deliver a major address at the synod on the new evangelisation yesterday.

Dr Williams began his talk by remembering the Second Vatican Council, which, he said, was a sign that “the Church was strong enough to ask itself some demanding questions about whether its culture and structures were adequate to the task of sharing the Gospel with the complex, often rebellious, always restless mind of the modern world”.

In many ways, he said, the synod on the new evangelisation is a continuation of the work of Vatican II.

Presenting the Gospel means being confident that it has a distinctive, life-giving message, the archbishop said. Confidence in the message, and not in oneself, can be cultivated only through contemplation, he said.

“With our minds made still and ready to receive, with our self-generated fantasies about God and ourselves reduced to silence, we are at last at the point where we may begin to grow,” he said.

“The face we need to show to our world is the face of a humanity in endless growth toward love, a humanity so delighted and engaged by the glory of what we look toward that we are prepared to embark on a journey without end to find our way more deeply into it,” Archbishop Williams told the synod.

During an interview earlier in the day with the American Catholic News Service and Vatican Radio, the archbishop said: “If evangelisation is just rallying the troops or just trying to get people to sign up, something’s missing – what’s missing is the transformed humanity that the Gospel brings us.”

The archbishop urged the synod to support the Taizé ecumenical community and similar ecumenical efforts that help people learn prayer and contemplation. “The more we keep apart from each other as Christians of different confessions,” the less convincing we will be, he told synod members.

He also told the Pope and synod participants that nurturing a habit of contemplation “strips away an unthinking superiority toward other baptised believers and the assumption that I have nothing to learn from them”.

Dr Williams, who has announced he will retire at the end of December, also had a private meeting with Pope Benedict.

Earlier in the day, he told CNS and Vatican Radio that the Second Vatican Council was “enormously important” for other Christians as well as for Catholics.

“I was a teenager as the Council began, and a practising Anglican, and what had been a very self-contained, rather remote, exotic, fascinating, but strange body, suddenly opened up,” he said. Seeing what the Catholic Church did with the Council led other churches to re-think how they, too, were interacting with the wider world and with one another.

Preparing to retire, he said he obviously was disappointed that efforts to promote full, visible Christian unity had not progressed further, but no one could deny that Christians pray and work together today in a way that would have been unimaginable in the 1950s.

“Praying together isn’t just a casual thing, a marginal activity,” he said. When divided Christians “share the prayer of the Church”, even if they cannot share the fullness of that prayer in the Eucharist, they are placing themselves before God together and showing the world what it means to be Christian.

At the same time, he said, the Catholic Church and Anglican Communion both have changed over the past 50 years and “we don’t, when we change, always wait for one other”. The archbishop did not identify specific changes, but Blessed John Paul II and Pope Benedict have said the move in many Anglican churches to ordain women priests and bishops has become a new obstacle to full unity.

The Anglican discussions and debates took place and continue to take place very publicly. Asked if there was concern about finding a balance between letting people see the process of discernment and not scandalising people with the differences existing within a Christian community, he said, “the desire not to give scandal is doubtless very worthy in some ways, but it’s so often an excuse for denial [or] sweeping things under the carpet”.

At the same time, he said, “there is a real spiritual, and not just practical, question about a Church which gets so obsessed with its own internal church politics and conflicts – the drama, the clashes and controversy, what I call the soap opera of Church life – there’s something spiritually very damaging if we just sort of wallow in that. And thus, from time to time, pastors and teachers of the Church have to say, ‘Whoa, step back, just remind yourselves of what we’re here for’.”

Without contemplation, the richness of spirituality and the experience of faith in Jesus, he said, “it’s just a matter of winning arguments or winning battles, God help us”.

In his 10 years as head of the Church of England, he said, one of the most enjoyable and faith-confirming things he did was to visit schools and parishes, being with “people who are doing what matters”.

One of the “great illusions” bishops can fall prey to, he said, is thinking that what they do in the office is what really matters. Instead, he said, people who are questioning, people who are educating and offering guidance, people who are “developing in faithful discipleship” are doing the work of the Church.

Full text of Dr Rowan Williams’s address

Your Holiness, Reverend Fathers, brothers and sisters in Christ – dear Friends

1. I am deeply honoured by the Holy Father’s invitation to speak in this gathering: as the Psalmist says, ‘Ecce quam bonum et quam jucundum habitare fratres in unum’ [How good and how pleasant it is when brethren dwell together in unity].The gathering of bishops in Synod for the good of all Christ’s people is one of those disciplines that sustain the health of Christ’s Church. And today especially we cannot forget that great gathering of ‘fratres in unum’ that was the Second Vatican Council, which did so much for the health of the Church and helped the Church to recover so much of the energy needed to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ effectively in our age. For so many of my own generation, even beyond the boundaries of the Roman Catholic Church, that Council was a sign of great promise, a sign that the Church was strong enough to ask itself some demanding questions about whether its culture and structures were adequate to the task of sharing the Gospel with the complex, often rebellious, always restless mind of the modern world.

2. The Council was, in so many ways, a rediscovery of evangelistic concern and passion, focused not only on the renewal of the Church’s own life but on its credibility in the world. Texts such as Lumen gentium and Gaudium et spes laid out a fresh and joyful vision of how the unchanging reality of Christ living in his Body on earth through the gift of the Holy Spirit might speak in new words to the society of our age and even to those of other faiths. It is not surprising that we are still, 50 years later, struggling with many of the same questions and with the implications of the Council; and I take it that this Synod’s concern with the new evangelisation is part of that continuing exploration of the Council’s legacy.

3. But one of the most important aspects of the theology of the second Vaticanum was a renewal of Christian anthropology. In place of an often strained and artificial neo-scholastic account of how grace and nature were related in the constitution of human beings, the Council built on the greatest insights of a theology that had returned to earlier and richer sources – the theology of spiritual geniuses like Henri de Lubac, who reminded us of what it meant for early and mediaeval Christianity to speak of humanity as made in God’s image and of grace as perfecting and transfiguring that image so long overlaid by our habitual ‘inhumanity’. In such a light, to proclaim the Gospel is to proclaim that it is at last possible to be properly human: the Catholic and Christian faith is a ‘true humanism’, to borrow a phrase from another genius of the last century, Jacques Maritain.

4. Yet de Lubac is clear what this does not mean. We do not replace the evangelistic task by a campaign of ‘humanisation’. ‘Humanise before Christianising?’ he asks – ‘If the enterprise succeeds, Christianity will come too late: its place will be taken. And who thinks that Christianity has no humanising value?’ So de Lubac writes in his wonderful collection of aphorisms, Paradoxes of Faith. It is the faith itself that shapes the work of humanising and the humanising enterprise will be empty without the definition of humanity given in the Second Adam. Evangelisation, old or new, must be rooted in a profound confidence that we have a distinctive human destiny to show and share with the world. There are many ways of spelling this out, but in these brief remarks I want to concentrate on one aspect in particular.

5. To be fully human is to be recreated in the image of Christ’s humanity; and that humanity is the perfect human ‘translation’ of the relationship of the eternal Son to the eternal Father, a relationship of loving and adoring self-giving, a pouring out of life towards the Other. Thus the humanity we are growing into in the Spirit, the humanity that we seek to share with the world as the fruit of Christ’s redeeming work, is a contemplative humanity. St Edith Stein observed that we begin to understand theology when we see God as the ‘first theologian’, the first to speak out the reality of divine life, because ‘all speaking about God presupposes God’s own speaking’; in an analogous way we could say that we begin to understand contemplation when we see God as the first contemplative, the eternal paradigm of that selfless attention to the Other that brings not death but life to the self. All contemplating of God presupposes God’s own absorbed and joyful knowing of himself and gazing upon himself in the Trinitarian life.

6. To be contemplative as Christ is contemplative is to be open to all the fullness that the Father wishes to pour into our hearts. With our minds made still and ready to receive, with our self-generated fantasies about God and ourselves reduced to silence, we are at last at the point where we may begin to grow. And the face we need to show to our world is the face of a humanity in endless growth towards love, a humanity so delighted and engaged by the glory of what we look towards that we are prepared to embark on a journey without end to find our way more deeply into it, into the heart of the trinitarian life. St Paul speaks (in II Cor 3.18) of how ‘with our unveiled faces reflecting the glory of the Lord’, we are transfigured with a greater and greater radiance.That is the face we seek to show to our fellow-human beings.

7. And we seek this not because we are in search of some private ‘religious experience’ that will make us feel secure or holy. We seek it because in this self-forgetting gazing towards the light of God in Christ we learn how to look at one another and at the whole of God’s creation. In the early Church, there was a clear understanding that we needed to advance from the self-understanding or self-contemplation that taught us to discipline our greedy instincts and cravings to the ‘natural contemplation’ that perceived and venerated the wisdom of God in the order of the world and allowed us to see created reality for what it truly was in the sight of God – rather than what it was in terms of how we might use it or dominate it. And from there grace would lead us forward into true ‘theology’, the silent gazing upon God that is the goal of all our discipleship.

8. In this perspective, contemplation is very far from being just one kind of thing that Christians do: it is the key to prayer, liturgy, art and ethics, the key to the essence of a renewed humanity that is capable of seeing the world and other subjects in the world with freedom – freedom from self-oriented, acquisitive habits and the distorted understanding that comes from them. To put it boldly, contemplation is the only ultimate answer to the unreal and insane world that our financial systems and our advertising culture and our chaotic and unexamined emotions encourage us to inhabit. To learn contemplative practice is to learn what we need so as to live truthfully and honestly and lovingly. It is a deeply revolutionary matter.

9. In his autobiography Thomas Merton describes an experience not long after he had entered the monastery where he was to spend the rest of his life (Elected Silence, p.303). He had contracted flu, and was confined to the infirmary for a few days, and, he says, he felt a ‘secret joy’ at the opportunity this gave him for prayer – and ‘to do everything that I want to do, without having to run all over the place answering bells.’ He is forced to recognise that this attitude reveals that ‘All my bad habits … had sneaked into the monastery with me and had received the religious vesture along with me: spiritual gluttony, spiritual sensuality, spiritual pride.’In other words, he is trying to live the Christian life with the emotional equipment of someone still deeply wedded to the search for individual satisfaction. It is a powerful warning: we have to be every careful in our evangelisation not simply to persuade people to apply to God and the life of the spirit all the longings for drama, excitement and self-congratulation that we so often indulge in our daily lives. It was expressed even more forcefully some decades ago by the American scholar of religion, Jacob Needleman, in a controversial and challenging book called Lost Christianity: the words of the Gospel, he says, are addressed to human beings who ‘do not yet exist’. That is to say, responding in a life-giving way to what the Gospel requires of us means a transforming of our whole self, our feelings and thoughts and imaginings. To be converted to the faith does not mean simply acquiring a new set of beliefs, but becoming a new person, a person in communion with God and others through Jesus Christ.

10. Contemplation is an intrinsic element in this transforming process. To learn to look to God without regard to my own instant satisfaction, to learn to scrutinise and to relativise the cravings and fantasies that arise in me – this is to allow God to be God, and thus to allow the prayer of Christ, God’s own relation to God, to come alive in me. Invoking the Holy Spirit is a matter of asking the third person of the Trinity to enter my spirit and bring the clarity I need to see where I am in slavery to cravings and fantasies and to give me patience and stillness as God’s light and love penetrate my inner life. Only as this begins to happen will I be delivered from treating the gifts of God as yet another set of things I may acquire to make me happy, or to dominate other people. And as this process unfolds, I become more free – to borrow a phrase of St Augustine (Confessions IV.7)-to ‘love human beings in a human way’, to love them not for what they may promise me, to love them not as if they were there to provide me with lasting safety and comfort, but as fragile fellow-creatures held in the love of God. I discover (as we noted earlier) how to see other persons and things for what they are in relation to God, not to me. And it is here that true justice as well as true love has its roots.

11. The human face that Christians want to show to the world is a face marked by such justice and love, and thus a face formed by contemplation, by the disciplines of silence and the detaching of the self from the objects that enslave it and the unexamined instincts that can deceive it. If evangelisation is a matter of showing the world the ‘unveiled’ human face that reflects the face of the Son turned towards the Father, it must carry with it a serious commitment to promoting and nurturing such prayer and practice. It should not need saying that this is not at all to argue that ‘internal’ transformation is more important than action for justice; rather, it is to insist that the clarity and energy we need for doing justice requires us to make space for the truth, for God’s reality to come through. Otherwise our search for justice or for peace becomes another exercise of human will, undermined by human self-deception. The two callings are inseparable, the calling to ‘prayer and righteous action’, as the Protestant martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer put it, writing from his prison cell in 1944. True prayer purifies the motive, true justice is the necessary work of sharing and liberating in others the humanity we have discovered in our contemplative encounter.

12. Those who know little and care less about the institutions and hierarchies of the Church these days are often attracted and challenged by lives that exhibit something of this. It is the new and renewed religious communities that most effectively reach out to those who have never known belief or who have abandoned it as empty and stale. When the Christian history of our age is written especially, though not only, as regards Europe and North America – we shall see how central and vital was the witness of places like Taizé or Bose, but also of more traditional communities that have become focal points for the exploration of a humanity broader and deeper than social habit encourages. And the great spiritual networks, Sant’ Egidio, the Focolare, Communione e Liberazione, these too show the same phenomenon; they make space for a profounder human vision because in their various ways all of them offer a discipline of personal and common life that is about letting the reality of Jesus come alive in us.

13. And, as these examples show, the attraction and challenge we are talking about can generate commitments and enthusiasms across historic confessional lines. We have become used to talking about the imperative importance of ‘spiritual ecumenism’ these days; but this must not be a matter of somehow opposing the spiritual and the institutional, nor replacing specific commitments with a general sense of Christian fellow-feeling. If we have a robust and rich account of what the word ‘spiritual’ itself means, grounded in scriptural insights like those in the passages from II Corinthians that we noted earlier, we shall understand spiritual ecumenism as the shared search to nourish and sustain disciplines of contemplation in the hope of unveiling the face of the new humanity. And the more we keep apart from each other as Christians of different confessions, the less convincing that face will seem. I mentioned the Focolare movement a moment ago: you will recall that the basic imperative in the spirituality of Chiara Lubich was ‘to make yourself one’ – one with the crucified and abandoned Christ, one through him with the Father, one with all those called to this unity and so one with the deepest needs of the world. ‘Those who live unity … live by allowing themselves to penetrate always more into God. They grow always closer to God … and the closer they get to him, the closer they get to the hearts of their brothers and sisters’ (Chiara Lubich: Essential Writings, p.37).The contemplative habit strips away an unthinking superiority towards other baptised believers and the assumption that I have nothing to learn from them. Insofar as the habit of contemplation helps us approach all experience as gift, we shall always be asking what it is that the brother or sister has to share with us – even the brother or sister who is in one way or another separated from us or from what we suppose to be the fullness of communion.‘ Quam bonum et quam jucundum …’.

14. In practice, this might suggest that wherever initiatives are being taken to reach out in new ways to a lapsed Christian or post-Christian public, there should be serious work done on how such outreach can be grounded in some ecumenically shared contemplative practice. In addition to the striking way in which Taizé has developed an international liturgical ‘culture’ accessible to a great variety of people, a network like the World Community for Christian Meditation, with its strong Benedictine roots and affiliations, has opened up fresh possibilities here. What is more, this community has worked hard at making contemplative practice accessible to children and young people, and this needs the strongest possible encouragement. Having seen at first hand – in Anglican schools in Britain – how warmly young children can respond to the invitation offered by meditation in this tradition, I believe its potential for introducing young people to the depths of our faith to be very great indeed. And for those who have drifted away from the regular practice of sacramental faith, the rhythms and practices of Taizé or the WCCM are often a way back to this sacramental heart and hearth.

15. What people of all ages recognise in these practices is the possibility, quite simply, of living more humanly – living with less frantic acquisitiveness, living with space for stillness, living in the expectation of learning, and most of all, living with an awareness that there is a solid and durable joy to be discovered in the disciplines of self-forgetfulness that is quite different from the gratification of this or that impulse of the moment. Unless our evangelisation can open the door to all this, it will run the risk of trying to sustain faith on the basis of an un-transformed set of human habits – with the all too familiar result that the Church comes to look unhappily like so many purely human institutions, anxious, busy, competitive and controlling. In a very important sense, a true enterprise of evangelisation will always be a re-evangelisation of ourselves as Christians also, a rediscovery of why our faith is different, transfiguring – a recovery of our own new humanity.

16. And of course it happens most effectively when we are not planning or struggling for it. To turn to de Lubac once again, ‘He who will best answer the needs of his time will be someone who will not have first sought to answer them’ (op. cit. pp.111-2); and ‘The man who seeks sincerity, instead of seeking truth in self-forgetfulness, is like the man who seeks to be detached instead of laying himself open in love’ (p.114). The enemy of all proclamation of the Gospel is self-consciousness, and, by definition, we cannot overcome this by being more self-conscious. We have to return to St Paul and ask, ‘Where are we looking?’ Do we look anxiously to the problems of our day, the varieties of unfaithfulness or of threat to faith and morals, the weakness of the institution? Or are we seeking to look to Jesus, to the unveiled face of God’s image in the light of which we see the image further reflected in ourselves and our neighbours?

17. That simply reminds us that evangelisation is always an overflow of something else – the disciple’s journey to maturity in Christ, a journey not organised by the ambitious ego but the result of the prompting and drawing of the Spirit in us. In our considerations of how we are once again to make the Gospel of Christ compellingly attractive to men and women of our age, I hope we never lose sight of what makes it compelling to ourselves, to each one of us in our diverse ministries. So I wish you joy in these discussions – not simply clarity or effectiveness in planning, but joy in the promise of the vision of Christ’s face, and in the fore-shadowings of that fulfilment in the joy of communion with each other here and now.

  • Dorotheus

    Bravo, Archbishop Williams. The work of WCCM (the World Community for Christian Meditation) that he refers to is continually spreading all over the world where people want to know God. It offers not just exhortations to pray, but a simple practical way of prayer that they can take and engage in for themselves, the value and importance of which are more and more being demonstrated. It also offers support and encouragement in sustaining this life of prayer. Now meditation needs to enter the mainstream of church life, but for that to happen bishops and priests have to start practising it for themselves. Bishop Michael Putney of Townsville, Queensland, Australia is showing the way here. Would that others will follow.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/PWZKI7JBARE4DDT3NQ22RWMOJE Benedict Carter

    “The leader of the Anglican Communion had been invited by Pope Benedict to deliver a major address at the synod …”.

    Astonishing.

  • Sweetjae

    Why? Don’t want a brother helping another brother? You are getting bogged down by your judgmental interpretation of tradition, get out of the closet and let your heart and hands do the preaching and good works.

  • scary goat

     I’m glad you said that, not me…..but I must admit I did think it.

  • scary goat

     Hello Sweet.  I don’t think the problem here is about a brother helping another brother….it is more about who is helping who.  Don’t forget the Anglicans are separated brethren. I agree that the AB of C should be invited to attend, as a matter of courtesy, but more in the role of an observer. 

    In a way I suppose you could argue that the C of E has played a role in the spreading of Christianity, which is better than nothing, but along with spreading Christianity they have also spread error. 

    If people are taught true Christianity (the Catholic Faith) and then walk away from their own choice, that’s entirely up to them, but if people are taught an incoherent form of Christianity and then wander away, it is a tragedy. 

    True, we can never really know what would have happened if…….maybe England (for example) would have walked away from the Faith anyway in modern times, who knows, but I have a strong suspicion that Henry VIII and his C of E did an awful lot of damage.

    I notice on various threads that you seem to have quite a negative opinion of SSPX.  I am not quite sure what to make of the SSPX position, I’m sitting on the fence on that, but I am not quite sure how you can be negative about SSPX yet take a positive view of the C of E.  The motivations are very different.

  • JabbaPapa

    Am I the only person to find the Druid’s waffling, ambiguous comments to be unreadable ?

    (and I’ve made several attempts BTW)

  • Brian A. Cook

     Thank you.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/PWZKI7JBARE4DDT3NQ22RWMOJE Benedict Carter

    You Jabba and millions of others!

  • Stephen

    God moves in a mysterious – not a predictable – way His wonders to perform.

  • Jon Brownridge

     Do you mean “unreadable” or “incomprehensible”? Whatever else the AB of C said, he hit the nail on the head with this statement: “The Council was a sign of great promise, a sign that the Church was strong
    enough to ask itself some demanding questions about whether its culture
    and structures were adequate to the task of sharing the Gospel with the
    complex, often rebellious, always restless mind of the modern world.” It seems to me, that promise fades more and more with the passing of each day.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/PWZKI7JBARE4DDT3NQ22RWMOJE Benedict Carter

    ” … your heart and hands do the preaching and good works”.

    Do not presume to judge me in either. 

  • JabbaPapa

    I mean “unreadable”, given that I say what I mean.

  • Guest

    Then try, try and try again. If you will only have an open mind, Archbishop Rowan Williams speaks with profoundly brilliant mind.

  • Guest

    When you are dealing with a sanctimonious, deranged and closed mind you will never win. But be assured, your comment will have registered.

  • Fr Martin

    As a Roman Catholic who became an Anglican and is now a priest in London I still hold myself – as do all the Anglican Churches – to be a part of the historic catholic church.  The Reformation was as much about what Archbishop Rowan and Pope Benedict speak against, namely the human desire for control and power, as it was about ‘true’ religion.  We Anglicans are not a perfect church and sometimes it seems that we appear messy and wishy-washy but what we are attempting to do is listen and discern the voice of the  Divine among all the people of God, the Body of Christ.  A truly catholic church, uniting all the Body of Christ worldwide would be one that has to deal with difference of cultures, experience and theological understanding and that would not be a neat and tidy exercise. Indeed, to some looking from the outside it might appear scandelous.  The church, East and West has always lived in the Divine tension of Scripture, Tradition and Reason when composing its theological reflections upon life in a changing world and this is what we are seeking to do as we explore the consecration of women as Bishops and the ordination of Lesbian and Gay men. It seems to me that one of our greatest challenges in the latter is how much weight we give reason, the sciences, and what they have been able to tell us about human sexuality.  I wish the Bishops in Rome all God’s blessing as they gather.

  • Guest

    Well said, Fr Martin, and I say that as someone who travelled in the opposite direction. But “lesbian men”????

  • Guest

    I would say, wonderful! An invitation in the true spirit of Christianity – Peace and goodwill to all men.

  • Kevin

    Contemplate what? God’s revealed Truth or your own feelings about how you would like God to be? It is vital to know the difference, “otherwise our search for justice or for peace becomes another exercise of human will, undermined by human self-deception”.

    In place of an often strained and artificial neo-scholastic account of how grace and nature were related in the constitution of human beings

    This reads like “an unthinking superiority towards other baptised believers” – the neo-scholastics – “and the assumption that I have nothing to learn from them”.

    Pope Benedict has made much of Catholicism being a religion of reason, which it is. There are, however, rules to logic. Rules of argument that enable us to infer what we do not yet know from what we do know.

    Williams does not present a rational argument here.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/PWZKI7JBARE4DDT3NQ22RWMOJE Benedict Carter

    You wrongly “hold yourself”.

  • Tom

    Sadly, you’re wrong, though no doubt sincere in the beliefs you hold. Apostasty can never be right, no matter how chartiably we try to view it.  Come back to the Church founded by Christ – not the man-made invention 1500 years later. I suggest you read Edward Norman’s book “Anglican Difficilties”.

  • Sweetjae

    I didn’t presume, I just suggested you come out of the closet instead of being critical all the time to those that don’t agree with your interpretive version of Tradition.

  • Sweetjae

    Scary goat, thanks for the reply.

    Firstly, there is no problem when the Catholic Church invited non-catholics, protestant ministers, Orthodox Patriachs etc. to speak or even propose FREELY at any of her Councils or Synods. The Councils of Florence and Trent are very good examples of this.13th Session of Council of Trent regarding  protestant elders and ministers they had invited:

    “…..so as that they may and shall have it in their power in all liberty to confer, make proposals, and treat on those things which are to be treated of in the said Synod; to come freely and safely to the said oecumenical Council, and there remain and abide, and propose therein, as well in writing as by word of mouth, as many articles as to them shall seem good, and to confer and dispute, without any abuse or contumely,….even though the said crimes should be ever so enormous and should savour of heresy.”

    So you see protestant leaders are not just mere observers at Trent but they have been given the freedom to propose freely, did they influence the outcome of the Council? NO! Same as with VII.

  • Sweetjae

    Moreso, I only have negative opinion on those people from the SSPX or Sedes who constantly undermine the Authority of the Pontiff and a legit Council of the Church. The BIG PART of being orthodox catholic is to give assent and obedience to the Teachings of the Church through her valid Councils. The last time I checked, Vatican II fullfilled all the requirements of the Canon Law for it to be VALID AND LEGIT.

    Only the Holy Spirit has the power to convoked a legit Council of the Church according to Scripture and Sacred Tradition, are you aware of that, my friend?

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/PWZKI7JBARE4DDT3NQ22RWMOJE Benedict Carter

    Come out of the closet!?!

    That has theological meaning? 

    In fact, does it mean anything in English, let alone in a religious sense?

    I think all communication between us shall cease from this moment. 

  • Sweetjae

    You have nothing to say with any hint of common sense at all just your usual
    diatribe and useless rants – that is your closet!

  • Flamingredhed

    He’s a brilliant Anglican theologian and well respected by the Catholics theologian – now Pope! 

    Enough said!

  • scary goat

     Ok, fair enough.  Let him speak.  But what I feel from the quote above is that they are allowed to speak and should be treated kindly (even if they speak crimes and heresies). The assumption being that they will not influence the council, as you said.  I think what worries me, and this is only my personal opinion, I may be wrong, but it seems these days that they are given a little too much credence.  Maybe it is me, but I can’t help feeling some resentment towards protestant denominations.  For example, locally we have “Churches Together.” Mostly the Catholics aren’t very interested, but occasionally we do join in, for example public carol singing at Christmas, just as a means of bringing a bit of Christianity to secularised Christmas to jog the memory of the public.  At the end, all the local Christmas services were announced……except ours!  I had to say, excuse me, and ours!  They did announce it after I said, but then the man spoke to me quite condescendingly saying he didn’t realise there were any Catholics there, they don’t seem very interested in Christian unity.  I was too shocked and too polite to answer. What I thought was, excuse me!  We pretty much had Christian unity. It wasn’t us who broke it up.

    While it might be the right thing to do to treat them kindly, it doesn’t seem right to treat their errors as anywhere near on an equal footing with the Catholic Faith.  Maybe I am mistaken, but there seems to be a bit too much tendency for it to appear that way these days.  I think this is why people like SSPX have a problem with Ecumenism and want it more clearly defined. I am sure the Pope knows what he’s doing, but the masses watching can get a rather ambiguous impression and think “anything goes” is ok these days. 

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/PWZKI7JBARE4DDT3NQ22RWMOJE Benedict Carter

    Not really, no.

  • scary goat

     Regarding your second paragraph, I am not SSPX myself, although I admit to having sympathies, the reason I am wary is because I prefer to trust the Pope (and overall it looks like he is addressing the issues).

    Regarding your first paragraph and related to trusting the Pope, why don’t you trust him on SSPX? I notice you frequently group them in with the Sedevacantists (which they are not) and you also refer to them as protestants and schismatics.  They are not.  If you check the facts, according to the Vatican, SSPX are not in schism. 

    If you read some of the conversations between me and mr C on various threads, you will see that although I am on this side of the fence and he is on the other, we both agree that we want them in not out. That seems to be a quite common view around here. I would think from recent negotiations that that is also the view of the Pope.  They haven’t sorted it out yet….but I hope they will.

    As for V II I am not prepared to say that there is anything wrong with it per se, but clearly there have been abuses.  There is a problem.  The Pope acknowledges that.  My personal opinion is that some things need clarifying so that there is no more room for abuses.  If it is adequately clarified and SSPX still dig their heels in, then I will be less sympathetic, but at the moment it is still a work in progress.  Time will tell.

  • JabbaPapa

    Well spoken !!!

  • JabbaPapa

    For example, locally we have “Churches Together.” Mostly the Catholics aren’t very interested, but occasionally we do join in, for example public carol singing at Christmas, just as a means of bringing a bit of Christianity to secularised Christmas to jog the memory of the public.

    Just for your information …

    The Encyclical Mortalium Animos normally forbids Catholics from participating in such ecumenical get-togethers.

    The Vatican II document on Ecumenism provides Bishops, Bishops Conferences, or the Holy See with the ability to permit Catholics to attend specific ecumenical events or groups, sometimes as a permanently established permission as with the Taizé group for example, but where no such permission has been provided, such locally organised ad hoc ecumenical initiatives as you describe remain utterly forbidden to us.

    Not Lay Catholics, nor religious, nor even priests may provide themselves with the authority to attend such groups. Only Bishops, Bishops Conferences, and the Holy See may do so.

    (If your local Bishop has authorised participation in this “Churches Together” thing, then OK ; otherwise, you should avoid these people, particularly given their hostile attitude)

  • JabbaPapa

    The church, East and West has always lived in the Divine tension of
    Scripture, Tradition and Reason when composing its theological
    reflections upon life in a changing world and this is what we are
    seeking to do as we explore the consecration of women as Bishops and the
    ordination of Lesbian and Gay men. It seems to me that one of our
    greatest challenges in the latter is how much weight we give reason, the
    sciences, and what they have been able to tell us about human
    sexuality.

    Are these the contents of the “writing on the wall” for Anglicanism ?

    The proper “Divine tension” (ugly phrase BTW) in the Church is between Charity, Souls, and Revelation.

    Reason in itself is simply the tendency towards individual conscience and Error.

    Carry on “exploring” the consecration of women as Bishops and the
    ordination of Lesbian[s] and Gay[s] — but you’re heading off into the blank areas of God’s Map where it is written “Here Be Monsters”…

    Reason and the sciences tell us far FAR less about human sexuality than what has been known about it for the past few tens of thousands of years.

  • Guest

    You could not have said it better!

  • Christopher Forrester

    xplore all you want as you dabble with sin. Christians conform themselves not glory in their vices like pigs in the mud! Woffle woffle as an Englishman belonging to the Universal Church rather than the local generic brand looking at itself and telling itself soothing lies to cope.Get out of the goldfisn bowl.

  • Sweetjae

    I agree to most of what you said and I also symphatized with the SSPX and I would personally take them rather than the modernists in the Church, no dispute. However, there are some elements within it that in fact an internal survey done inside SSPX confirmed that around 20% are closet Sedevacantists. Remember, SSPX has many offshoot sects that go either way, you could google them if you want.

    I don’t label the SSPX as Protestants rather they use the same tactic and reasoning as the Protestants e.g. cherry picking.

  • Sweetjae

    Furthermore, don’t you find it odd my friend that SSPX and Sedevacantism are opposed and nothing to do with each other yet they share the same, exact catholic Tradition, pre-Vatican II, both can’t be right, right? Now throw in there other old catholic sects too…..it just proves to you without a doubt, they are all quilty of private judgment!

  • scary goat

     Thanks Jabba….don’t worry, it has permission in our diocese.  Some parishes are more actively involved with these things, some less so, depending on the type of parish.  Personally I don’t have anything much to do with it, I don’t like it, but I did go for carol singing a couple of times…..I’m not sure if I will go again.  It’s a bit difficult to decide which upsets me more….a Christless Christmas in the shopping centre or being talked down to by protestants.

  • Sweetjae

    Correct but academically brilliant doesn’t necessarily translate to being obedient to Scripture and have the courage to be faithful……he caved in to secular immoralities.

  • scary goat

     Well, sort of but not exactly.  They are not exactly opposed, it’s more a question of degree.  They share the same pre-Vatican II Tradition, both are opposed to the “changes” brought about by V II, but they understand the reasons for what’s gone wrong differently.  The sedevacantists think that the Pope is the head of the Church and a “real” Pope wouldn’t have let this happen so therefore the Pope is not “real” and the seat of Peter must be empty.  This must be a pretty untenable position really.  SSPX do not reject the Pope, but believe that “other things are at work here” and the abuses after VII had their root in “wooly wording” which allowed it to happen.  They see it more as, if there is doubt better to stick with the old, and God help the Pope sort out this mess and turn back the tide, and in the meantime they are “holding the fort”.  The mainstream agrees that there are abuses but that is the fault of those who have abused the system and there is nothing wrong with the system or V II so now we need to put a stop to the abuses by clarifying. 

    IMHO there is only a very thin dividing line between saying V II per se is good but it has been misinterpreted and abused and now it needs clarifying, and saying there is “wooly wording” in V II which allowed misinterpretation and abuse and now it needs clarifying.

    I hope and pray that now we will get that clarification, end of problem. 

  • scary goat

    I have no interest in offshoots of offshoots….to my mind that is getting silly, as you said, it becomes like the protestants.  Each step further away becomes sillier. I am only talking about “mainstream” SSPX. Also, I am not interested in “closet” anything.  I am not responsible for what anyone thinks “in their closet”. I am not a mind reader.  I can only form an opinion on what people say they are and what they state that they believe.

    My position is that I do not like to move away from Peter…..it’s dangerous. BUT I do see problems which need solving.  I can see the Pope working on it….and in the current climate he has got his work cut out. God help him. My hope is that it can be clarified sufficiently to get SSPX on board, then let them help continue sorting out the mess from the inside.  I hope that is what the Pope wants and what SSPX want too. 

    I agree with you that we can’t “cherry pick” but I think it’s a bit more subtle than that….more like we all view things through our own lens. The motives may be good, but we all have our human failings, and sometimes things get in the way.

    I keep praying for the Pope and SSPX.

     

  • Flamingredhed

    “Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent, and discerning if they hold their tongues”. 

  • Dorotheus

    Pope Benedict obviously does not share your reservations about Anglicans, since I gather that it was by his personal invitation that Archbishop Williams was asked to address the synod. If the Pope can accept that Anglicans may have something of value to offer a Catholic synod, it is a pity that Catholics still have to bang their exclusivist drum. Having read the address now three times I am glad that the Pope is more open than some traditionalist Catholics, as the archbishop has something of great importance to say from which we all need to learn. Far from being “waffling and ambiguous” it is simple and clear – the contemplative dimension of the Gospel (i.e. knowing God, not knowing about him or talking to him or worshipping him) has to be at the centre of everything Christians do.

  • scary goat

    Well….I finally actually read it.  I didn’t feel at all inclined to, and it was a bit of a struggle, but I thought I should. Some good points…..but I still just “don’t get” protestants. Why not just “come home to Rome” in humility? Then we can all work together.  All that talk about contemplation and forgetting about self and our own whims etc…….ummmmmm??????

  • scary goat

     I’m not quite sure what you mean by exclusivist.  We didn’t exclude anyone….they walked away, in protest, at what? Depends on the denomination.  The mind boggles when it comes to Henry VIII.  The Catholic Faith has “the fullness of faith” and we all hope very much that anyone might come to it…far from exclusive.  Welcome home.  But you cannot put truth and heresy on an equal footing.  I do not know what Pope Benedict’s personal views are but I am guessing he does have reservations about the Anglican Church otherwise we would have inter-communion…..which we don’t. The fact that Dr. Williams was invited to speak does not mean that the Holt Father doesn’t have reservations.  Please see Sweet’s comments on this.

  • Luisa Navarro

    Thank you.

  • Allan Daniel

    Everything is wrong about Rowan having been invited to address the Synod of Bishops. Rowan leads one of the most confused sects in the Western world. Women priests, homosexual bishops–It’s difficult to follow the ever changing novelties within the Anglican Church. There is no mystery why the their membership is drying up faster than raisins in the sun.

    With heresy (yes, I know, we are supposed to engage in euphemism to get around the H word) as his  credentials and a foggy mind as his weapon, he dared to to offer specious nonsense like :

    evangelisation is not a project, but the natural “overflow” of an
    experience of Christ and his Church that transforms lives, giving them
    meaning and joy.

    and

    those who know little and care even less about the institutions and
    hierarchies of the Church these days are nevertheless attracted and
    challenged by Christians whose lives show they have been transformed by
    their encounter with Christ.

    The man has not a clue about what the Church is. He’s steeped in absurdity and it is a scandal that such an enemy of the Catholic Church was invited by the pope. This bodes poorly for any optimism that the Year of Faith will have any real meaning.

  • Dorotheus

    By exclusivist I did not mean so much excluding others as believing that the Catholic Church has exclusive access to all the truth of God, such that it can never learn anything about him from other Christians or people of other faiths. Whatever reservations the Pope may have officially about Anglicanism, clearly he is not exclusivist in this sense, else why would he invite Archbishop Williams to address the synod? This suggests also that the Pope for one is able to recognise in non-Catholics wisdom, holiness, authority and perhaps that he realises that the ecclesial dimension is not the be all and end all of everything when it comes to the things of God. 

  • Sweetjae

    I mostly agree with you but I think the position of Sedevacantism is logically correct and tenable THAN the SSPX. Sedevacantism believed that a duly convened Council of the Church with the Pontiff presiding CAN NOT teach errors to the Universal Church (correct) and since they believed that the Council of VII had taugh some errors, therefore the Council, the present Church and Popes since VII are not valid. Logically cancelled out the error.

    SSPXs position on the other hand is logically inconsistent. Scripture and Tradition clearly says that a duly convened Council of the Church can not teach error to the Universal Church yet SSPX believes the opposite, Martin Luther once said, “an Ecumenical Council can err”, how can you tie this?

  • Sweetjae

    Again I agree with most of what you had said but still you havent put any substantial analysis on what separates the SSPX, Sedevacantists, Conclavists, Old Catholics, SSPV etc who shared the same exact preVII catholic tradition YET they strongly opposed each other on the same Tradition. WHY?

    Hint: protestants share the same, exact Bible YET they strongly opposed and arrived at differing beliefs on the same Bible? WHY?

  • James

    Filling your mind with heresy does not make one academically brilliant.  He is a pretty stupid man, really.  Brilliant in the eyes of the world, but not in God’s eyes.