31 March 2010

Superb Article

Anyone who has been reading the news cannot but note the attacks upon Benedict XVI, Bishop of Rome. Lutherans, of course, see many of the problems Rome faces in this regard as self-created by the insistence on clerical celibacy of men who manifestly do not have that gift. We rightly condemn the forbidding of priests to marry as a human tradition, contrary to the express witness of the Sacred Scriptures, indeed "a doctrine of demons." And yet, there is something rabid and hateful about the way that the Press has it in for the current pastor of St. John Lateran. My dear friend and colleague, Dr. John Stephenson, has written powerfully about this in a recent Logia article. It is long, but quite worth the read and the pondering:

The dictatorship of relativism

Sober holy week reading.


Jon Townsend said...

Some thoughts:
1. Ratzinger's work is always interesting reading, much preferable to JP II's. His writing is much more christcentric than JPII's. In this regard he is more likable for a man of Lutheran sensibilities.
He does however embrace theistic evolution, as does most of Roman catholicism, which is probably just a result of their watered down take on original sin.
2. Scandals in the priesthood: I think the clerical celibacy rule is the root cause of he sexual scandals, but I do not think it is the direct cause. By root cause, I mean it is the underlying condition that enabled the development of the problem. The direct causes lies in an unfaithfulness to the faith and a culture in which late adolecent young men with weak and absent fathers were mentored by unfaithful priests and fell into pederasty. I have witnessed this phenomena amongst acquaintences in the roman church. Rome is now addressing the direct causes, but its rejection of scripture as the sole mean and norm causes it to reject the root cause, namely scripture's clear support of priestly marriage.
3. In and interesting fact, when Pope Gregory VII instituted priestly celibacy and nulified the marriages of thousands of priests, several bishops began to whisper and write the name antichrist in association with the pope - because he violated scripture with his edict and caused men to fall in to sin. Gregory VII was often written of as "the false monk Hildebrand".
4. I really has high hope for Ratzinger, but alas, I am afraid he too sits as sucessor to the antichrist.

Anonymous said...

It's the coverup that has peoples attention even as much as the fact of child rape and abuse. If Rome keeps acting like Lehman Bros, Enron, Nixon et. al. things are really going to get ugly.

Don't anyone think that Lutherans, Anglicans and the rest can point fingers,,,, the same stuff happens among them as well.

Past Elder said...

Ratzinger deserves every bit of it.

While he has addressed the abuses in question with more candor than others, given that there was none at all in them that is not saying much at all about him.

And the fact is, he like the others only does so because the roar from the victims has become too loud to ignore. Any would continue to be ignored if it did not threaten the only thing that matters to these guys, the RCC itself.

Most laughable at all, from within a Catholic context as I once was, is his attempt to locate this within the "reform of the reform" agenda and see it as primarily an example of post-Vatican II excess. It isn't. Odd, or at least rare, as it may be for me to say anything good about Vatican II , this particular issue, if anything, is better now than before. Pure crap on his part.

What Stephenson misses in his otherwise correct summation of the Concilium/Collegio thing, is that the one was not a rejection of the other and a return to Catholic orthodoxy, but simply a milder version of the same thing. Both are themselves modernist entirely, the one more conservatively so than the other.

They are not opposites, but different points on the same spectrum, and that is why the original and more liberal points on that spectrum have it in for the more moderate liberals like Ratzinger, because whereas the "traditionalists" are just outcast from the start in this mentality, the conservative revision of this mentality is more of a traitor to it, in their eyes.

It is not at all the the world jumps on this because it hates Christ and his church, though it does, but because as a previous commenter pointed out, the RCC behaves in a way indistinguishable from other large corporations whose wrong doing becomes public, and, as another previous commenter pointed out, sitting as he does in an office bearing the marks of Antichrist, but not seen as such, this woeful misrepresentation of the catholic church by the Catholic Church makes the catholic church suffer yet again from the Catholic Church.

Not at all to say that these things do not happen among us or others, and not to excuse it either, but at least these church bodies do not labour under and teach the notion that they are that in which the fullness of the church is found, or as we used to say, the "true" church.

Jim Huffman said...

I think it's an error to imagine that someone abusing children would behave better if married. Jon Townsend's differentiation of the root and direct causes is on the money.

Chris Jones said...


I respectfully disagree.

First of all, the fact (if true) that the Pope "embraces theistic evolution" is irrelevant to the matter at hand, unless you are trying to insinuate that, being a believer in "theistic evolution," the Pope is a modernist in traditionalist clothing. Good luck trying to make that case.

More importantly, I cannot agree that clerical celibacy is the root cause of the abuse crisis. If it were, then the incidence of sexual crimes among Roman Catholic clergy would be significantly higher than among married Protestant or Orthodox clergy, and significantly higher than among the adult population at large. It is my understanding that such is not the case.

Attributing the crisis in the Catholic Church to clerical celibacy is a rather facile analysis, one which owes more to modern individualism than to a truly Biblical understanding of marriage and celibacy. There can be little doubt that, while the Bible presents both marriage and celibacy as honourable and blameless ways of life, it presents celibacy as the higher calling:

For I would that all men were even as I myself. But every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that. I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, it is good for them if they abide even as I. But if they cannot contain, let them marry. (1 Co 7.7-9)

That is not to say that I agree with Rome's discipline of priestly celibacy; I do not. But the insinuation that the celibate state is unnatural, and that it inevitably leads to sexual perversion, is false. And it is certainly un-Biblical and un-Christian.

Anonymous said...

Dear Pastor Weedon,

Many thanks for this post with the link to this wonderful article.

As I pondered parts of this article, a quote came to mind that has helped me better keep on an even keel in the face of wrongdoings reported by any church body (whether ELCA, TEC, Roman Catholic, LCMS, or etc.). I offer it here in hopes that you will appreciate it, too.

[i]"To be connected with the church is to be associated with scoundrels, warmongers, fakes, child-molesters, murderers, adulterers and hypocrites of every description. It also, at the same time, identifies you with saints and the finest persons of heroic soul of every time, country, race, and gender. To be a member of the church is to carry the mantle of both the worst sin and the finest heroism of soul because the church always looks exactly as it looked at the original crucifixion, God hung among thieves."[/i]

-- Fr. Ronald Rolheiser, O.M.I., "The Holy Longing"[/i]

Schutz said...

Thanks, Lily, for Fr Rolheiser's comment. And thanks Pastor Weedon for the article reference, which hits the right note.

Any Christian aware of the "Wheat and the Tares" story should understand what both the Logia article and Fr Rolheiser is talking about.

For the other commentators, let's just be a little careful of casting stones at one another. It is one thing to have confessional differences and differences of belief, but to see these differences of belief and practice as the cause - either root or direct - of acts of evil and sin is not justified.

The real root cause of any sin is the sin of Adam and the concupiscence from which we all continue to suffer (whether you call it sin in "the proper sense" or not) and to which most of us succumb fairly regularly in smaller or greater ways.

Dr Luther far more clearly saw the root and direct causes of sin as "the flesh, the world and the devil". The latter is the real winner in this current crisis, and we should be under no misconceptions about this. No Christian community is free of any of these causes, and it does not befit us as Christians to take the high ground against our brothers and sisters in this regard.