Monday, 16 August 2010

The Papal Visit Site Problems

Don't worry, the problems are not technical. Here's a quote from the website...

'Who is the Pope?

The Pope is a follower of Jesus Christ and although he is coming to the UK as a Head of State (The Holy See – the Vatican), the primary purpose of his visit is to share the Good News that God loves us unconditionally and is merciful. It’s this reality – of God’s love and mercy – that is his primary message and is one that lies at the heart of the Catholic Faith. Visit our section on Pope Benedict XVI.
What is a Catholic?
Catholics are Christians, this means that they are followers of Jesus Christ. They believe Jesus Christ is fully God and fully man, the Son of God, their friend, liberator, Lord and Saviour. Catholics believe that Jesus Christ set up the Church (Matthew’s Gospel, chapter 16, verse 18) to pass on the fullness of his teaching, his life, and to carry on his work.'

So, to anyone interested in the Papal Visit, be they Catholic or not, let's just run through that once more. According to the visit website, the Pope is a Catholic, a follower of Jesus Christ and he is a Head of State. A Catholic is a follower of Jesus Christ who is not a Head of State? Hmm...I think there is more to being Pope than merely being a 'Head of State', though I'm sure being a 'Head of State' is a marvellous thing.

Already, we've got to the section about 'The Catholic Faith' on the visit website and there seems to be some confusion being spread over the role of the Pope. It is almost as if the author is not sure of the Holy Father's role. You could be forgiven for thinking he the Pope is just like any other Catholic. So, let's just deal with this. The Pope is the Successor of St Peter, to whom Our Lord Jesus Christ said, "Peter, you are the Rock and upon this Rock I shall build my Church and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it." The Pope is not a functionary. Neither is his role titular. That is absolutely crucial here. He is not there, nor is he even coming here purely as a 'Head of State'. He might be meeting the Queen as a Head of State, but that is not his capacity when he's going to Hyde Park, Cofton Park or Bellahouston.

The Pope is the Guardian of all Catholics, Chief Shepherd to all Catholics and Guardian of the Deposit of Faith - the Faith handed down by Christ to His Apostles and those Bishops who succeed them. He is today what St Peter was when 'not flesh and blood' revealed Christ's Divinity to him, but His 'Father in Heaven' - the Prince of the Apostles. This was the first infallibale Papal statement and, as far as we know, he wasn't even sitting on the Papal Throne when he said it. The Successor of St Peter, Pope Benedict XVI is still the Rock - a very sturdy Rock at that - and by virtue of his Apostolic Succession as Prince of the Apostles, he is due great reverence, loyalty, deference and obedience. He may be a 'Head of State', but even if he were stripped of this title entirely, he would still hold the Highest Office in the entire World because he is the Pope - the Vicar of Jesus Christ on Earth.

Now, let's move on to...

'Jesus’ teaching

Jesus taught that we should love our neighbour as ourselves (Mark’s Gospel, chapter 12, verse 31). Catholics try to put this into practice and find it to be a life-giving and fulfilling way to live. They are involved in a wide variety of charitable works such as running hostels for the homeless and caring for the elderly.

Some of the core parts of Jesus’ teaching are:

• God loves us
• Believing in him is the way to true freedom, peace and happiness
• We should love God and one another, especially the poor and needy
• Our messes, mistakes and wrongs can be put right - we can be forgiven and know peace
• We can be healed from deep wounds and hurts by calling on the name of Jesus
• If we believe in Jesus we will inherit eternal life and live with him in heaven'

Yes, the Teachings of Our Blessed Saviour are a marvel in our sight. God does indeed love us with an infinite love and following Jesus Christ will indeed bring us true freedom and happiness if we persevere to the end. However, what a wonderful opportunity, in discussing the Teachings of Our Lord, we, and those in charge of the Papal Visit have here, to remember just what He said about His Church and the role of the Pope, Bishops and indeed, Priests:

"He who listens to you, listens to Me." These are the words Christ gave to His Apostles. The Church has God's Authority having been commanded by God, to teach and to 'baptise in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit'. Not only that, but the Church's hierarchy of Pope, Bishops and indeed Priests, in teaching the Gospel to the nations, in teaching the full Magisterium - the full body of Catholic Truth - are speaking and teaching with the Authority of God Himself. In other words, God Himself requires and has asked these men to proclaim the Gospel fearlessly, united, 'as one', in order that He may communicate His Gospel to men and women worldwide. Men need God and yes, God needs men. So, if you are a Priest or a Bishop who does not do that, since it is clear the Holy Father and many faithful to him do this joyfully, woe to you!

To St Peter, Our Lord said, "Feed My lambs, feed My sheep." In other words, Our Blessed Saviour entrusted to Peter, the Rock, the duty to provide spiritual nourishment not just for all Christians, but for the Apostles themselves. It goes without saying that as Prince of the Apostles, the Apostles will have deferred to St Peter as much 2,000 years ago as they most certainly should today. Peter, who denied Our Lord thrice, was told by Christ that when he had 'recovered' he should 'strenghten the brethren' and confirm them in the One True Faith.

Our Lord breathed on the Apostles and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit. Whoever's sins you forgive, they are forgiven. Whoever's sins you retain, they are retained." In other words, by virtue of the Sacraments that He Himself instituted both before and after His Resurrection, the ministers of the Church, the Pope, Bishops and Priests have been given the Power from God to baptise and to dispense God's mercy through the Sacrament of Confession.

The absolutely glaring error of seeing the Pope or Cardinals and Bishops or Priests as functionaries, is in believing that Ordination has not changed them in any spiritual way. It has and dramatically so! A layman cannot, as much as he may even try, by mouthing the words of consecration over bread and wine at an Altar, change in substance the species into the Precious Body and Blood of Christ. Neither can a layman possibly absolve a penitent. He does not have the power from on High to do so! Even if a layman were the greatest Saint on Earth, he could not do that since he has not the Authority from God to do so! Neither for that matter can a Priest ordain Bishops or make Cardinals. Nor, as Pope John Paul II said, can the Pope change the Church's position on 'wimmin' priests'. Sorry gals! It isn't personal!

Our Lord did not teach His Truths in isolation - dividing His Holy Gospel from His Church in any way. The Church is the Ark of His Gospel, our Mother, just as His Blessed Mother was the Ark of the New and Everlasting Covenant - the Eternal Word, Himself. On Earth, He did not leave any room for separation or confusion between His Truth and His Church, built on His Apostles. He did not teach the Apostles one Gospel for them as Shepherds and another for the rest of the Church. Nor did He teach the Apostles the Faith only for them to teach that the Truth would be found outside of the Church.

No, the Faith of Christ has been given to the Church, to be transmitted by the Pope, the Bishops and Priests to the Laity and the whole Church. This Teaching, meditated upon by the Church, She who is guided by the Holy Spirit down the ages, is full and entire. It is indivisible and it is whole. The Gospel is as much about obedience and loyalty to the Successor of St Peter as it is about feeding the hungry. What God has joined together let no man put asunder - Christ and His Church. No man, nor woman, no layman, Priest, Bishop or even Pope can separate Christ from His Church.

Neither the Pope, the Successor of St Peter, nor Bishops, nor Priests are functionaries, administrators, or house-sitters, neither are they social workers, political activists or any secular vocation you can imagine. They are Alter Christus - other Christs. Christ has called these men to be Christs to the World, Christs who proclaims God's Kingdom to men, Christs who save souls, Christs who are instruments of His Absolution and Salvation, Christs who teach the whole Church and the World, His Truth boldly and without fear knowing that it is the Truth that sets the hearts of men and women free. The great fear of many Catholics, is that many Bishops and Priests seemingly neither know the Catholic Faith, nor do they teach it.

Who is the Pope? He is the Vicar of Jesus Christ on Earth. Where Peter is, there is the Church. Where the Church is, there is Eternal Life. That is one quote which should really be on the Papal Visit website, but sadly, I fear the organisers of this Papal Visit simply do not understand the One True Faith which they are charged with the duty to transmit.


Catholic teacher said...

Erm, in the early church 'lay' people did lead the Eucharist and 'confect' the sacrament (as you may simplistically describe it).
Also confession did not become a custom or sacrament of the church until the middle ages. actually maybe the role of the priesthood is largely functionary as the ministry developed when only when the apostles (bishops) could no longer minister to their large flocks.

Yes there is a change in the person at ordination, but it is a subtle change not a dramatic one. Indeed the change is so subtle that it cannot be noticed. It is a change in orientation of serving the community before oneself which may take a lifetime to internalize and manifest itself externally.

Yes priests are alter christus particuarly symbolically when leadIng the Eucharist but we are all also alter christus for that is the point of becomng a Christian ie to become more like Christ. But preists are NOT Christ, to over emphasise this aspect of their nature is clericalism - If priests were truly alter christus then they would not have sexually abused children. Priests remain fundamentally human even if they strive to be alter christus.

Your theology lawrence is a little simplistic at times and lacks the nuance of a richer catholic understanding.

The Bones said...

...'the nuance of a richer Catholic understanding'

I've never heard heresy described in such glowing terms.

here we go again said...

everythings so black and white for you lawrence, must make life so simple not having to think for yourself

Catholic teacher said...

What bit of the above exactly is heresy Lozza?

Hestor said...

Bloody ridiculous our bishops

georgem said...

Well, that told you Bones. What quaint little ideas you harbour, soooo not 21st century. Sweet, really.

The Bones said...

'Above all, in the Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium number 28, in the Decree on the ministry and life of priests, Presbyterorum ordinis, and also partly in the Decree on the "munus pastorale" of the bishops, Christus dominus, which treats of the collaborators of the Bishop, it recognizes that also the priests in their grade of ministry are invested with one "Sacred Power" and already participate in the configuration to Christ which they receive at ordination. They are participants together with the Bishops, in the same priesthood and in the same mission of Christ, something which the early church held in highest resteem c.f. Constitution Ecclesiasticum Apostolorum, XVIII: Presbyteri sunt symmystai et synepimachoi Episcoporum (Th. Schermann, Die allgemeine Kirchenordnung I Padervorn 19145, p.26; A Harnack T.u.U., II,4, p.13, n. 18 et 19) Pseudo-Hieronymus, De Septem Ordinibus Ecclesiae: in benedictione cum episcopis consortes mysteriorum sunt" (A.W. Kalff, Wurzburg 1937, p. 45) S. Isidorum Hispalensis, De Ecclesiasiticis Officiis, C. VII: "Praesunt enim Ecclesiae Christi, et in confectione divini corporis et sanguinis consortes cum episcopis sunt, similiter et in doctrina populorum, et in officio praedicandi " (PL 83, 787).

The priests are ordained as co-operators of a Bishop: They do not participate in the supreme power of the Episcopal college for the Church universal ; and they can not speak of a universal "college" of priests in the same sense, but for them, ordination also inserts them into a Sacramental Order, which is universal and confers a new ontological participation to the "munera" of Christ, which makes them capable of implementing these duties in his name and in the name of the Church, in any place, after having first received a concrete mandate from a Bishop.'

Key words here are 'indelible' and 'ontological'. Your comment is indicative of all that is wrong within the Church. A change in the spiritual nature of a person can be 'dramatic' without being visible or noticable.

A priest can decide to refuse all graces. A priest can decide not to take up the spiritual armoury which he is encouraged to take up by the Church. A priest can neglect prayer or even friendship with Christ. Ultimately, however the Priest is a changed soul. He is marked indelibly and will be judged according to that new dignity which he has been given.

The Bones said...

Priesthood is not 'symbolic'. Priests are called to be 'living Signs', yes, but their role is not symbolic or functionary. Priests are not Christ, but they are joined to Him in a special way and stand 'in the person of Christ' sacramentally.

I very much expect that the way you view the Priesthood is the way that you view the Eucharist. 'Symbolic'.

The Bones said...

At Baptism there is a 'dramatic' change - since the stain of Original Sin has been removed and a soul has been brought into the Life of the Holy Trinity.

At Confession there is a 'dramatic' change, since the stain or mortal or venial sin from the soul is removed and a soul has been reconciled to God, the eternal punishment due for sin removed. As far as the East is from the West - that is how far God has taken away our sin.

In Holy Communion there is a 'dramatic' change in the soul, since the soul has received the Precious Body and Blood of Christ, whole and entire, Body, Blood, Soul, Humanity and Divinity.

The effects of these Sacraments may not be visible or appear dramatic - their EFFECTS may appear subtle or not be visible at all, but they have altered the very life of the Soul.

So it is with ordination that a Priest has been marked indelibly to be Christ's own, to be His in this life and if he perseveres in the life to come.

"The priesthood is the love of the heart of Jesus."

"O, how great is the priest! ... If he realized what he is, he would die."

"Without the priest, the passion and death of our Lord would be of no avail. It is the priest who continues the work of redemption here on earth...What use would be a house filled with gold, were there no one to open its door?

The priest holds the key to the treasures of heaven: it is he who opens the door: he is the steward of the good Lord; the administrator of His goods...Leave a parish for twenty years without a priest and they will end by worshiping the beasts there..The priest is not a priest for himself, he is a priest for you."

~ St. John Vianney

sandy. said...

Absolutely right!

support the papal visit organisers said...

Father, the lead-in to the section from which these quotes are taken says "...Want some basic information on the Pope and the Catholic Church?" As it is 'basic information' the website is obviously geared to non-Catholics and in this respect it does a decent job in stating a few teachings without going into great explanation. Everything in the section mentioned is also in accord with Church teaching, albeit expressed in a simple manner.

As for the issue about the Pope being a head of state, perhaps the website is trying to answer the objection of many who wonder why the UK taxpayer is helping to fund the visit.

Rather than be depressed, I am happy that someone is taking the time to reach out to others. Hopefully the website will sow a seed of interest in Christ and possibly even Catholicism. It's certainly more than some clergy are doing.

The Bones said...

I'm not a Priest so just Laurence is fine!

Catholic Teacher said...

I wasn't denying that there was an ontological change, just your intrpretation that it was 'dramatic' which doesn't appear anywhere in the official documents.
You seem to over-emphasise the significance like priest become almost super humans

The Bones said...

Well, I am glad that misunderstanding has now been cleared up.

Catholic teacher said...

Well we have cleared your (probably deliberate) msunderstanding of what I wrote but we still haven't cleared up your confused understanding of catholic teachings which remains at primary school level.

That's the problem with converts, they should come with a health warning!

The Bones said...

"...And said: Amen I say to you, unless you be converted, and become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven..."

For some, the words of Jesus are just not enough.

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