So then, the new year has actually arrived. And apparently the Anglican Church has rid itself of Sin and the Devil. This very second I’m imagining Justin Welby wearing some early 90’s action star parody outfit, walking through the gates of hell and planting his crosier in Santan’s bonce. Anyway I vastly prefer Welby to his predecessor as my parents will be relieved to hear. My rants about Rowan’s duplicitous nature drove them crazy.
Yes this is the news that sin and the devil are being excised (or should I say exorcised?) from a new translation of the Anglican baptismal rite. Well that was easy. Maybe they could eliminate poverty from the world by not mentioning it during prayers of intercession. Anyway I should stop, Anglicanism is too easy to make fun of. The fact is I’m fairly sure the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales have committed similar follies of wishful thinking many times over.
Talking to a chap in the Pub after Mass, the last couple of times we have met we discussed how basically every problem the hierarchy of the Church complains about is of their own making. Complaining about Catholics who pick and choose what to believe, when often priests pick and choose how to say mass. Complaining about not enough vocations to the priesthood when I’ve heard first hand stories of shocking goings on in seminaries. Complaining that Catholics don’t know their faith whilst offering little to nothing in the way of Catechesis coupled with theologically vacuous sermons. Complaining that there isn’t enough reverence to the blessed sacrament when the Church in England and Wales has been doing everything in its power to stop us from showing reverence for the blessed sacrament.
Personally I’ve been very lucky with priests, but the best two of the four I’ve had have been converts from Anglicanism and Methodism respectively. It seems to me converts have to know and embrace Catholicism, and embrace Catholicism as the Church says it should be, rather than actually is. Basically Catholicism in England is like the bright kid a teacher writes “could do better” on his school report.
Catholcism talks with certainty about lots of things it is essential to be certain about, like sin and the devil, it also talks clearly in the Vatican 2 documents about how the Church should be going about its business of getting souls into heaven, and among other things, that’s why I converted. If only this clarity of vision was accompanied by forthright action.
Things are in such a mess it occasionally makes me think about becoming a priest to see if I can do any better… and that would probably be a nightmare for all concerned. Anglicanism may be a theological mess but at least the priests have a sense of fun.
Last night I also Skyped with a friend who’s been reading traditionalist blogs too much and he’s turning into a grumpy curmudgeon. But again, the election of Francis does make me wonder. Going from a theological and liturgical savant to Francis is going to give people whiplash.
The thing I hear the most vitriol for from parish priests is the SSPX. Again a problem of the hierarchy’s own creation. I don’t agree with the SSPX, they have a reductionist view of the Church I find sad, which inevitably dabbles with Sedevacantism. But I understand the allure. They say “here, you can have all the things the Church itself says it should be doing”. The best confessor I’ve ever had happened to be an SSPX priest on a pilgrimage to Walsingham. Only to find out later it was probably illicit on his part (but still valid because I had no reason to suspect it wasn’t at the time of the sacrament, ah canon law you crack me up.)
So yes. My one hope is that Pope Francis’ emphasis on Catholicism in action will be a driving force to start the transition of the Church back to its roots of evangelism, back to a more faithful execution of what the Church itself says Catholicism should be. I just hope that the clarity of vision offered by Pope Benedict is not forgotten.
I also hope there is more to the the story about the Franciscans of the Immaculate as reported by one of the aforementioned traditionalist blogs, who it seems are being roundly persecuted by somebody high up in the Vatican. Now I know that religious communities are difficult to judge because there are assuredly things going on behind closed doors we can know nothing about. But something odd is going on, I just hope this isn’t yet another problem of the Vatican’s own device.