23Feb Successive popes have transformed the Vatican into an absolute monarchy

While every Christian knows the fifth commandment “Thou shalt not kill”, few are aware of how both religious and historical developments have shaped, nuanced and even modified the commandment over time. The Old Testament abounds with exceptions to the commandment; not only can you kill adulterers (Dt 22:22) but even rebellious sons (Dt 21: 20) and when God came down on Mount Sinai to speak to Moses you could be killed even for touching the mountain (Ex 19:12). As Christians we recognize the superiority of the teaching of Jesus to that of the Old Testament.

In the case of the fifth commandment, he makes no exception, but he does so in the case of the sixth. But in the Catechism there are no exceptions to the sixth commandment, but there are to the fifth. In the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew, Jesus refers directly to the fifth commandment and the Greek text is exactly the same as the Septuagint version i.e. “ου φονεūσεις” i.e. “do not kill.” The meaning of Christ’s teaching is a reinforcement of the prohibition against killing. This teaching is totally consistent with the remainder of Christ’s teaching which can be summed up in the command to love God and our neighbor (Mk 12:29 – 31). Revenge is explicitly excluded, something every Christian says in the “Our Father”, “forgive us…as we forgive those who ‘trespass’ against us”. (Mt 5:38) Despite the total rejection of either killing or revenge taught by Jesus Christ, Catholic commentators down to the present day have cited passages in both Genesis (9:3ff) and Romans (13:1ff) in support of the death penalty as if either source trumps Christ’s teaching.

The issue of killing came to the forefront in the U.S. presidential election (2004) when some very Catholic bishops were vocal in opposing John Kerry, a Democratic Catholic for his support of abortion, thus favouring the election of George Bush, a Methodist who, by then, was directly responsible for the killing of at least 100,000 Iraqis in an immoral war. The bishops appealed to Rome for guidance and the present Pope Benedict, then Cardinal Ratzinger replied. I quote from his reply:

 “2. The Church teaches that abortion or euthanasia is a grave sin. ……In the case of an intrinsically unjust law, such as a law permitting abortion or euthanasia, it is therefore never licit to obey it, or to ‘take part in a propaganda campaign in favour of such a law or vote for it’. (No. 73).

3. Not all moral issues have the same moral weight as abortion and euthanasia. For example, if a Catholic were to be at odds with the Holy Father on the application of capital punishment or on the decision to wage war, he would not for that reason be considered unworthy to present himself to receive Holy Communion…..

The implications of the above are mind-boggling. There was nothing wrong with the crucifixion of the two thieves on either side of Jesus Christ and his execution was wrong only because he was innocent. What is of interest is how the institutional Church arrived at the position enunciated by Cardinal Ratzinger in the above communication. It turns out that it has nothing whatever to do with the church as such, but everything to do with the history of the office of the Papacy.

 THE PAPACY, PHASE 1.

There is abundant evidence that for the first 300 years of struggle and persecution the church was faithful to Christ’s teaching on the fifth commandment. There is no doubt that St. Peter was martyred in Rome, but equally, no hard evidence that he ever was bishop there. Rome very probably had a collegial structure of governance similar to what we find in Antioch in the Acts of the Apostles. Linus was probably the first leader appointed by St. Paul and his function probably paralleled that of James in Jerusalem (Acts 15:19). There, the latter makes a decision in regard to the Mosaic Law and circumcision, but when the result is put into writing, there is no reference to him. Instead it reads: “The apostles and elders, your brothers…” (Acts 15:23). Equally the letter of Clement of Rome to the Corinthians (96 AD), frequently cited as proof of papal intervention in another diocese, is not sent from him personally but “from the Church at Rome”, similar to what we find in Acts in regard to James. A monarchical form of episcopacy emerged early in the second century and rapidly led to the establishment of a chief bishop. The Apostolic Canons (2 -5th century) mention “the need for every bishop to know who is the chief among them, to esteem him as head, not do anything without his consent, nor he to do anything without theirs.” There is no indication that the chief bishop possesses powers not possessed by the other bishops of the area. The emperor Constantine ended the persecution of Christians (313 AD) and soon afterwards moved east to found a new capital in Constantinople.

The new found freedom posed challenges for the church. Instead of membership being at the risk of life and limb, it now became fashionable to be a Christian. It also led to interference by the emperor in the running of the church and the pope whom he routinely treated as his vassal. Arianism was on the rise and Constantine was only baptized by an Arian bishop before he died, partly because he knew that as a warrior, he could not go into battle as he regularly did, if he were a Christian. The early councils were not called by the pope but by the emperor. With liberation, not only wealth, but power undreamed of now accompanied the office of bishop of Rome. A contemporary pagan historian Ammianus Marcellinus wrote “if that post is once gained, a man enjoys in peace a fortune assured by the generosity of matrons, he can ride in a carriage clothed in magnificent robes, he can give banquets, the luxury of which surpasses that of the emperor’s table”.

Pope Liberius died (24/9/366 AD) and his followers elected Ursinus and had him consecrated. On October 1st, the followers of Felix, an anti-pope elected Damasus, a deacon who had served under an Arian bishop and consecrated him. He immediately hired a mob which attacked the followers of Ursinus in the recently completed basilica (now St. Mary Major), after three days of slaughter 137 bodies were carried out, all of them followers of Ursinus. This is the first recorded killing of Christians by Christians, done by a man who was an anti-pope, who today is hailed as a saint and who was wily enough to whitewash his crime by asserting for the first time in recorded history (382 AD) that he was the successor to St. Peter and that Rome was the Apostolic See. No previous pope ever made that claim, nor is there the slightest indication from the Canons of the early Councils that the 300 bishops at Nicaea or the 185 at Constantinople knew anything about Rome being “the Apostolic See” or its bishop “the successor to St. Peter”. Neither did any of the major saints who commented on the text “Thou art Peter”; such as Cyprian, Origen, Hilary, Cyril, Jerome, Ambrose or Augustine ever make the connection.

The Council of Chalcedon (451 AD) is an interesting insight into church structure at this time. Called by the emperor to combat Eutychianism, the council hailed Pope Leo’s exposition of the true doctrine with cries of “Peter has spoken through Leo”. But his letter was not accepted simply because he was primate of Rome. Rather a subcommittee evaluated its orthodoxy using St. Cyril’s “Twelve Chapters” as a standard of orthodoxy. On their approval was it accepted and endorsed. Like previous councils the assembly issued 29 canons legislating for the universal church. Acting 69 years after Pope Damasus’ proclamation, the council, while referring to Leo’s letter as “the letter of the primate of greatest and older Rome”, resurrects a canon of the Council of Constantinople acknowledging Rome as “the see of older Rome since that is an imperial city”, but they repeat the granting of similar privileges to Constantinople as the “new Rome which is honoured by the imperial power and senate and enjoying privileges equalling older imperial Rome”. They do not accept Rome as having unique power to govern, much less to question their authority as a council to legislate for the universal church.

The killings instigated by Damasus did not occur in a vacuum. To Constantine, the commandment “thou shalt not kill” meant nothing nor did it have any significant effect on Roman law and legal conduct. Damasus was doing what the emperor did before him to obtain power and control. He had Ursinus expelled from Rome, the other bishops of Italy were shocked, but it wasn’t long before killing as a weapon was justified. Damasus died in 384 AD but in the following year a bishop persuaded Maximus to treacherously kill Priscillian and his companions. The killing was condemned by Pope Siricus, who was pope at the time, but Pope Leo 1 (440 – 461AD) looked back with approval at the killings because “both divine and human law would be subverted if ever it should have been licit for such men to live with such doctrine” . The killing of heretics was thus legitimized by the papacy thereby establishing an exception to the fifth commandment.

 THE PAPACY, PHASE 2:

The papacy underwent a further power transformation and secularization in 752 AD when Pope Stephen III sought the help of Pepin the Short, king of the Franks, with the aid of a document called the “Donation of Constantine” against the Lombards. Pepin was impressed; routed the Lombards and gave the territory to the pope, thus ushering in the Papal States. The document was a forgery that was only exposed in 1517. By now, the pope was successor to St. Peter and head of a secular state. Rapidly the papacy laid claim to supreme power over both the spiritual and temporal realms, a claim implicit in the coronation (800 AD) of Pepin’s son Charlemagne in St. Peter’s on Christmas day by Pope Leo 111 as “Emperor and Augustus”. He fought 50 wars in 37 years of which he led 30 in battle; he had children by about twelve different women, he had beheaded 4,500 Saxon prisoners; he used forced baptism and deported thousands of people. Such is the history of the first Holy Roman Emperor.

The claim of total power by the pope caused squabbles by powerful families for the office of the papacy. In addition, there was widespread ignorance and immorality among the clergy. Islam had moved into Spain in 711AD but its movement in Europe had been checked by Charles Martel at Poitiers in 732 AD. Within 5 years of Mohammed’s death, his followers had captured Palestine (638 AD) but, apart from taxing Christians, gave them freedom of religion. This lasted till the 11th century when the controllers of Palestine were overthrown by an African group much more hostile to Christianity and the Caliph destroyed the Holy Sepulchre (1009 AD). Meanwhile the secular power and prestige in Rome led to the rise of religious reform movements, many of which were partly heretical in their beliefs. In response popes insisted that states could only have “orthodox” Christian members and the repression of heresies was seen as a priority. Matters came to a head with the rise of Albigensianism in southern France and events in Palestine and led to a further militarization of the Christian message.

 THE PAPACY, PHASE 3:

Pope Gregory V11 (1073-1085 AD), was a devout reformer but he also called on “knights of all lands to dedicate their swords to the service of Christ and of St. Peter and to realize their Christian vocation in so doing”. Before this, the pope was “Vicar of St. Peter”; gradually he became “Vicar of Christ” {exclusively so from the time of Hadrian IV (1154-9 AD)}. Urban 11 (1095) called for a holy war promising the “glorious reward of martyrdom and the halo of present and everlasting fame” for those who died fighting in the Crusades. Why? Partly to recapture the Holy Places, but also to avenge the Jews for the death of Jesus. And so the revenge condemned by Jesus is now glorified by the papacy as a stepping stone to the glory of Heaven and martyrdom.

Despite Damasus’ killings, by the turn of the first Millennium, there was no official deviation from the teaching on the fifth commandment. But the practice had changed and soon the official teaching followed suit. Within a 42 years period, the popes had justified war, the death penalty, the killing of heretics and the use of torture. Pope Innocent 111 (1198 – 1216 AD), elected aged 37, whose father was a Count and whose uncle was a pope, claimed he was set “midway between God and man, below God but above man… . He succeeded in making Aragon, Poland, Portugal, Ireland and England papal fiefs. The crusade, which he sent against the Albigensians in the South of France (1208 AD), led by the Cistercian general of Citeaux, killed between 7,000 and 20,000 men, women and children in the town of Beziers with no trial, no judicial process. They were butchered in churches where they had taken refuge; and the town was burned with the corpses inside. The next leader, Simon De Montford marched his victims on to funeral pyres and kept the Pope fully informed of what was occurring. During his reign we find the first official justification of the death penalty. In 1208 a group being reconciled made a profession of faith with no mention of the death penalty but in 1210, a group called the “poor Lombardians” being reconciled had in addition, to reject the condemnation of the imposition of the death penalty by the secular power The killing of heretics was sanctioned post factum when in establishing the Roman Inquisition, (forerunner of both the Spanish Inquisition and the current Office for the Defense of the Faith) in 1231 Gregory 1X (1227-1241) wrote: “it is the duty of every Catholic to persecute heretics”. He incorporated into Canon Law the explicit permission to burn heretics at the stake. With Innocent IV (1243- 1254) son of a Count, brilliant canon lawyer, we come to the pinnacle of papal excesses. 1252 in the Bull “Ad Extirpenda” he sanctioned the use of torture and established the Inquisition as a permanent institution in Italy. This legacy of legislation was untouched from then on, until Vatican 2.

For centuries Europe was ruled by absolute monarchs. Inevitably a similar role was exercised by the popes in the Papal States. The French Revolution began their demise but not before the greatest religious champion of the concept became pope and head of the Papal States. Pius 1X (1846 to 1878) was protected by a French garrison until 1870. On its withdrawal, Rome fell to the forces of the unification of Italy. Though Christ had said his kingdom was not of this world, Pius IX decided that he could not exercise his absolute spiritual power without one. Besides he persuaded the remaining bishops at Vatican One (1870 AD) to declare that he, the pope has “supreme, full, immediate and universal ordinary power in the Church and he can always freely exercise this power” (Canon 331). In other words, the pope is now the sole remaining absolute monarch in Europe and in the church and this was supposedly willed by Christ!

During the Reformation, neither Catholics nor Protestants saw anything wrong with war, persecution, or the death penalty. Tragically Vatican Two did reverse the position on torture, (long after secular democracies had rejected it), but did not touch the issues of war and the death penalty. The Catechism says of the death penalty “cases in which the execution of the offender is absolutely necessary are rare, if not practically non-existent.” It doesn’t find anything intrinsically evil with the practice in itself. Unfortunately, Evangelium Vitae is Evangelium Mortis for those on death row and for the victims of war. The effect is that the killings sanctioned at the beginning of the second millennium, are now fixed in stone for the Church at the beginning of the third millennium.

Vatican 2 discussed the issue of torture and condemned it as an activity.”(Church in the Modern World No. 27)But the Catechism (2297) makes torture an omission with different moral implications. To the question; “which is the more serious crime, to torture someone or to kill him or her”? the answer is obvious. It is more serious to kill them. So the Vatican teaching finds torture seriously sinful while killing is not! This raises some serious issues:

The teaching “thou shalt not kill” and the teaching “thou shalt kill” are not contrary positions; they are contradictory. The question then arises: did the Popes Innocent 111 and Gregory IX enjoy infallibility when they contradicted the teaching of Christ as well as the earlier tradition of the Church in regard to the morality of war and killing? Does the above teaching cited by Cardinal Ratzinger mean that the Pope, in interpreting the teaching of Jesus Christ, is free to contradict it?

CONCLUSION:

The central problem outlined above is that whereas the western world in which we live has moved over the centuries from absolute monarchy to participant democracy, at the same time, the Catholic Church, in the name of fidelity to Christ, has moved in the opposite direction. From participation by clergy and laity in the apostolic church, the quest for absolute power has led successive popes to transform the Vatican into an absolute monarchy with the concentration of all power exclusively in the one holder of the office of Bishop of Rome. A by-product is the justification of war and the death penalty as not falling under the fifth commandment.

 

12 Responses

  1. Stephen Edward

    Popes were being elected when almost every country was ruled by a monarch who inherited his/her position. They are not monarchs they are elected viceroys. Widening the electorate is a different point. I am still seeking in vain for the ‘one person, one vote’ quotation from Scripture.

  2. Lloyd Allan MacPherson

    The horrors I read. I don’t think anything as subversive I’ve read, created in the minds and imaginations of history’s most sociopathic, could hold a candle to life today, suprisingly. “On the brink” comes to mind. They speak of the secularization of “society”. I think these examples and even today’s outlook would infer that the RCC has been systematically drawn away from religious orientation itself first, and consequently like sheep, we appear to have followed. Some of the most secular inventions of our time were willed into existence by some of the most developed, God-fearing societies this planet has to offer. We live in a time where peaceful protest works but only if the ethical bodies that govern offer more than “observance” and “critique”. I have huge issues understanding the last paragraph. The people of the Western world are ruled by a group (which holds +90% of the wealth) – that is not a participant democracy by any stretch and not one of us has agreed to it. The “rule” in regards to “elected official” is a participant democracy in that we have options to elect but their official rule has less to do with us and more to do with what’s been previously established (call that a monarchy). Where there is a power to be had, at any stage in this game, there will always be found an influence for it to grow as an absolute and the various labels placed on it has done nothing more than confuse people of its integral intentions over the years; slavery, by any other name, is still slavery; equal under one family, peer group, work unit, community, provice, country, religious entity, so on and so forth. But in all of this there is an opportunity, as there always has been, to establish equal footing if we truly want it or if we think that this is the missing element for us to properly institute a new cohesion.

  3. Mary O Vallely

    ‘Maybe, as the church elects a new pope, we will not be afraid to love this church, as it is, as it desires to be, as God wills it to be. Maybe we will glimpse again the greatness of the church’s heart and mission.’

    Thought provoking article by Fr James Hanvey. Hopeful and constructive, I believe. http://americamagazine.org/issue/article/shape-church-come

  4. Darlene Starrs

    That is quite the article in America Magazine, Mary. All I know, is that no matter who I’m with, no matter where I am, and no matter, who I’m speaking to, I have an obedience to always act in the integrity of Christ!

  5. Darlene Starrs

    What is the transformation that the Church requires? Yes, the full implementation of Vatican II, right? So, the single most important action that is happening simultaneously, but perhaps, too, imperceptibly, is the dismantling of the Church Monarchy and the complete, and comprehensive, mobilization of the laity. This action, would be the greatest action that changes the Church, since, the resurrection of Christ. I would call it a “Copernican Revolution”, although, it looks and feels, like a “Copernican Evolution”

  6. Kevin

    Had to check the meaning of ‘kenosis.’ What he says seems to speak of what Jesus does on, from, through the Cross. What we are all called to follow. Love stoops to conquer. Meeting our selves, and others, where we are at – and bringing life to our selves and the other through that loving. Very Scriptural I believe – from a ‘lay’ reading of Scripture.

    “No greater love………. ”

    ‘The council understood how only a church that lives out of a kenosis of love and joyous self-sacrificing gift can realize this vision. For such a church, secularization is not a threat but a call…. ‘

    “The light shines in the darkness but the darkness does not overcome it….. ”

    ‘It will take a humble, free, mystical church to see this, to go even into the darknesses where God has been hidden or discarded. When it takes this next step….. it will find him where he is not expected to be; it will discover that there are many who bear his name and hear his voice. They have been waiting so long for the church to find them.’

    Beautifully said. Hat off to you ! :)

    Someone mentioned the Church as offering ideals, the other week. This is a wonderful ideal.

    “Ideals are like the stars. We may never reach them but can use their light to help us find our way.” Was a wee priest told me that years ago. May he have found his way home to the Light. :)

    It’s nice to see another perspective. Another ‘vision’. Thanks Mary.

    We all need hope.

  7. Darlene Starrs

    The entire church is going through quite a kenosis……..it is more than moving the furniture around, and it is even more than rigorous reform……….it is a paradigm shift………moving from the absolute monarchy to the awakening and raising up, of the sleeping giant, the laity! The process will not be for the faint of heart, and yes Mary and Kevin, we will, need “mystics”, and “prophets for change”, and “mystics” and “prophets” for hope and love!

  8. Kevin

    “An event of enormous importance is taking place: the Church is awakening within souls.’

    The result of this awakening was ultimately the Second Vatican Council. Through its various documents it expressed and made part of the patrimony of the whole Church something that, during four decades full of ferment and hope (1920 to 1960), had been maturing in knowledge gained through faith….”

    ““ ‘The Church is awakening within souls.’ Guardini’s expression had been wisely formulated, since it finally recognized and experienced the Church as something within us—not as an institution outside us but something that lives within us.

    “If until that time we had thought of the Church primarily as a structure or organization, now at last we began to realize that we ourselves were the Church. The Church is much more than an organization: it is the organism of the Holy Spirit, something that is alive, that takes hold of our inmost being. This consciousness found verbal expression with the concept of the ‘Mystical Body of Christ,’ a phrase describing a new and liberating experience of the Church. At the very end of his life, in the same year the Constitution on the Church was published by the Council, Guardini wrote: the Church ‘is not an institution devised and built by men … but a living reality…. It lives still throughout the course of time. Like all living realities it develops, it changes … and yet in the very depths of its being it remains the same; its inmost nucleus is Christ…. To the extent that we look upon the Church as organization … like an association … we have not yet arrived at a proper understanding of it. Instead, it is a living reality and our relationship with it ought to be—life’ (La Chiesa del Signore, [English translation: “The Church of the Lord”]; Morcelliana, Brescia 1967, p. 160).”

    Sr Hermes suggests being taken through the documents of VatII. Maybe time to start. Me I mean. Seems good what I’ve heard from people so far – here and elsewhere.

    http://pauline.org/ACatholicApproachtoLiving/TheChurchTakesHoldofOurInmostBeing/tabid/878/Default.aspx

  9. Kevin

    ‘The kingdom of God is within you.’

    “The Church is awakening within souls”.

    ‘Guardini’s expression had been wisely formulated, since it finally recognized and experienced the Church as something within us — not as an institution outside us but something that lives within us.’

    Beautiful concept – Church as Mother. Yet to be wholly realised it would seem, when real mothers, women, have a real voice in the maternal heart of the Church.

    Benedict:

    “….the Church is not an apparatus, nor a social institution, nor one social institution among many others.

    It is a person. It is a woman. It is a Mother. It is alive. A Marian understanding of the Church is totally opposed to the concept of the Church as a bureaucracy or a simple organization. We cannot make the Church. We must be the Church.

    We are the Church. The Church is in us only to the extent that our faith more than action forges our being. Only by being Marian, can we become the Church. At its very beginning the Church was not made but given birth to. She existed in the soul of Mary from the moment she uttered her fiat.

    This is the most profound will of the Council:

    the Church should be awakened in our souls.”

    I am wondering about the ‘Marian’ dimension here – what he means. Considering he speaks of the Church being birthed – then a ‘Marian’ Church might be one we each give birth to – when we’ve been approached – asked, consulted and allowed to offer that ‘fiat’ of our own to our becoming that same Church.

    THE ECCLESIOLOGY OF VATICAN II (2001)
    Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger,
    Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

  10. Lynne Newington

    So much virtue and depth in what is being written here.

  11. Darlene Starrs

    The story of the barren fig tree, a gospel reading from this weekend, might well be describing the current, crisis of corruption in the Church. Jesus has been looking at the “fig tree”, the Church, for fifty plus years now. He makes a visit to the vinedresser (Holy Spirit) to see if the tree has produced fruit. It hasn’t. Jesus says, well, I’ll cut it down. The vinedresser, (the Holy Spirit)says, well, you know, let me work with it, a little while longer,” I’ll dig around it, put some manaure around it), and maybe, it’ll produce fruit. Jesus, says, well, all right, but if it doesn’t produce fruit, I’ll cut it down.

    Will the fig tree, better known, as the Universal Catholic Church, produce fruit, yet? We shall soon see, and it won’t take very long for any of us, to figure that out……….then what?

  12. Kevin

    I am not sure the fig tree is the Church, Darlene – as in the Body of Christ – Universal Catholic Church.

    It could certainly be the corruption within and through it on various levels.

    Jesus is the Vine and the rest of us the branches we are told. If we remain in Christ – “the gates of hell shall not prevail” – and we can bear fruit. The corrupt branches will be cut off or wither, in time.

    Seems to be happening. I believe so. God is not mocked.

    I read in another post how the former Pope said that disunity in the Church disfigured the face of Christ. I am sure it does. But something lacerates it even more – to the point of being completely unrecognisable. Corruption – the ‘rot and filth’ have disfigured the face of Christ, to such a degree it did not drive people away from the ‘Church’ – but did/does from Christ Himself, left thinking, believing what is wholly good to be evil.

    That’s what has been done to the beautiful face of Christ.

    Whatever is or is not going on in all of this – the corruption to its very core – we can accept that we are the Church; that as branches connected to the Vine, we can bear fruit in our own ways, our particular lives – day by day.

    The ‘corruption’ – which amounts to myriad spiritual abuses on so many levels, for so many people – lay and cleric – can blind us to beauty; not least that beautiful face of Christ, which we, as Church – people of God, women and men, can show to others in our daily lives – bearing fruit – day by day. “Love one another as I have loved you….. ”

    Oh I hear a song coming on. 😉 “See Thee more clearly……. follow Thee more nearly…. love Thee more dearly….. day by day…. ” (Shoot me 😛 ) Might be too ‘happy clappy trappy’ for some but there you go.

    I see similarities in so much of this to what happens to those who have known sexual abuse. It can become all consuming to the degree nothing else can be seen, known, for however long. A blindness to beauty – your own and that of others.

    It’s insidious and can do/does that. Blinded to the true face of Christ in the Church – the Body of that same Christ. Blinded to seeing the face of Christ in our selves and each other – maybe in time, in the ‘corrupt’ ones too. We don’t need permission to try to do that – day by day. I think we need to be careful that we not become wholly distracted/consumed by what is happening in the palaces and dungeons. I don’t mean you Darlene. I am talking any, all of us in these matters. That too is a kind of spiritual abuse. It drove me away for over twenty years. ‘Filth and rot’ will never have that power again. I paraphrase Benedict there when he spoke of ‘rot and filth’. Course I admit what he understood by that and what I see it to be may well not be the same vision.

    Sometimes that saying, “Render unto Caesar…. ” comes to mind for me with so much of all of this. Give ‘Caesar’ his due.

    And then getting on with being the Church as we are able – day by day – as we are called to do; as people do regardless, living their lives as we do in all the varying situations in which we find ourselves, that we must live in and through.

    I think we can be the Church we wish to be, which is what it seems people are looking – and should get on with that. Empowering ourselves as lay and cleric. Does not mean going against ‘teachings’ or ‘Rome’ necessarily – just getting on with living life – seeing to the ‘widow and orphan’ however we can, day by day.

    And if there are ‘ideals’ that speak to us – using the light of those to help us plot our respective courses. We don’t need to follow the blind. We are not expected to do so.

    This becomes something of a ‘black hole’ it seems to me at times. Devouring everything, and will suck in the very light too, and leave us all in darkness and truly blind.

    I get the impression from the little I’ve learned of Vat II – that it is about the People of God becoming mature Christians.

    I believe the Holy Spirit got to work through ‘the Media’ and others at exposing the rot and filth of the abuses of children, young people, women and vulnerable adults. That we might ask and trust that same Holy Spirit will work to finish what was begun. To do what we can, all of us, cleric and lay, in healing those wounds inflicted on all of us as the Body of Christ to one degree and another – and guided by that same Holy Spirit – continue in being, becoming truly the Universal Catholic Church.

    Jesus told us, “The gates of hell shall not prevail….. ”

    Do we believe Him ? :-)


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