Wednesday, September 20, 2006
NO APOLOGY NEEDED, THANK YOU
I wrote this on the above date. I was right.
"Benedict XVI will not apologize. He spoke the truth about Islam in Germany about one week ago. He knows it. The Muslim religious leaders know it. The Christian Theologians and Historians know it too. The Pope will not apologize for speaking the truth. I don't blame him and neither should you. Trust me, believe Benedict XVI on this."
It's almost a year since Benedict XVI told this to the Muslims and to the world about Muslims when he quoted a midaeval potentate about Islam. A day or so ago, Benedict XVI reminded us Catholics and the world that "[... Church of Christ...] constituted and organized in this world as a society, subsists in the Catholic Church, governed by the successor of Peter and the bishops in communion with him". (Vatican Council II, Dogmatic Constitution, Lumen Gentium, section 8.2)That's it, boys and girls, that's what we believe. That's what we live and die with. The Catholic Church is the one, true church, the one that Jesus Himself founded.
It is the truth that flows from that statement that is getting all the attention. Attention not only from the non Catholics, who have heard it all before, 45 years ago in Vatican II, but from the Catholics who also heard it and were not ready to hear what it means. In simple, stark terms it means that the Church of Christ, the one that He founded and the Catholic Church are identical. In simple stark terms it means that there are no directly interchangeable parts with others who from the 16th century forward, call themselves churches. For you older people, it means that your Chrysler Fluid Drive can't use my Buick Dynaflo Turbines. It means that your Buick is not a Chrysler and never will be. That is non-negotiable. The Catholic Church is the True Church, that is not negotiable.
Benedict XVI will never back down from this because it is dogma. He was there at St. Peter's when it was hammered out. A couple of months ago I was accused of being too conservative in my doctrinal statements. I was accused of not being ecumenical enough. I didn't show enough compassion and understanding of people from other religions. I couldn't figure out why. All I did was to comment positively on a Vatican document that said that Yoga is incompatible with Christianity, and Catholicism in particular. I have the Pope and the entire Vatican Council II on my side because I believe the dogma that defines our Church.
I have to clarify that the Orthodox Churches are true churches. They are true churches because they have maintained their connection with the Apostles. This is called the Apostolic Succession. They have valid ordinations of priests and bishops, they have valid baptism, eucharist, marriage, penance, confirmation and anointing of the sick. They are connected to Jesus through this succession and so they are true churches, intimately connected with the Catholic Church but have something missing that has to be connected before we can be whole again, and that is the live and valid connection with the Pope.
Even with these churches, we Catholics do not concede anything. We have deep theological understandings with them, but we remember that some of these understandings keep us apart rather than bind us together. Until these understandings come under the same truth, we will not be united and we will not apologize for our position. Neither will they, by the way. After all, a thousand years ago they called themselves "Orthodox" (right) while those attached to Rome called themselves, "Catholic" (universal).
This does not mean that we as Catholics do not believe in ecumenism. As a matter of fact, we have some of the most brilliant theologians in the world working in the ecumenical arena. Ecumenism is not a diplomatic negotiation. Ecumenism is a study of the different ways of looking at Divine truth and expressing the practices that stem from those views. Ecumenism is not a diplomatic game of "Alphonse and Gaston" for vicars; it is not a do-si-do" for parish leaders and it is not a round of cocktail parties for bishops. Ecumenism is a serious Theological endeavor that is closely monitored by the major Vatican departments, called "dicasteries". It comes directly under the Pope's direction in what is called the Congregation for the Unity of Churches. I believe that this congregation is competent to deal with the high level theologians and leaders of other religious communities in the world. I believe that the Unity of mind and heart of the Catholic Church is born of the Truth that sets us free. I believe that ecumenism is a drive towards the fullness of truth in the light of the Catholic Church.
I have had plenty of invitations to join other "churches". I have turned them down without a split second's hesitation. I'm not perfect but I'm still here. I have decided that I will die here too. With a hard head like that, why would you cry at my funeral? You'll know that I died happy, "cuz I dun it my way."