Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Hans Küng weighs in

Cif belief has published The Vatican thirst for power divides Christianity and damages Catholicism by Hans Küng

The astonishing efforts to lure away Anglican priests show that Pope Benedict is set on restoring the Roman imperium…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 28 October 2009 at 12:10am GMT | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Anglican Communion | Church of England
Comments

Quite an interesting and sober take from Hans Kung who argues with some vehemence on the matter.

The issue of how Roman Catholics are supposed to continue living with the insistence on celibate clergy under this arrangement is definitely one to ponder. I struggle to see how this contradiction can be bridged.

He is a little ill informed, though, when speaking about same sex couples. Whilst correct that the C of E has opposed same sex marriage, the adoption of children is a secular matter rather than a religious rite, though children of same sex couples might be baptised in churches.

Of course, in most of the UK same sex couples can adopt and Civil Partnership an other laws do presuppose same sex parenting and I don't recall these being formally opposed by the C of E. I think Hans Kung is thinking here about the law in Germany which is less advanced than that in the UK.

Posted by: Craig Nelson on Wednesday, 28 October 2009 at 12:43am GMT

The estimable Dr. Kung is misinformed. "In Rome, one speaks of a half-million Anglicans and 20 to 30 bishops. And what about the remaining 76 million?" The thing is, of course, that the "half million and [their] "20 to 30 bishops" are not part of the Anglican Communion. While there are some historical connections, the half-million left communion with Canterbury years ago. In that sense they are not Anglicans.

That doesn't mean this isn't a challenge to the Anglican Communion, and more particularly for the Church of England (and with a particular tunnel vision Rome has always wanted to see the Church of England as central and controlling). However, this isn't likely to lead to a devestating split.

Posted by: Marshall Scott on Wednesday, 28 October 2009 at 1:39am GMT

"It is already suffering from the consequences of the heedless and unnecessary election of an avowed gay priest as bishop in the US, an event that split his own diocese and the whole Anglican communion."

Excuse me, but who is Hans Kung to tell TEC or the diocese of New Hampshire what is "unnecessary" for it? And, as far as I know, New Hampshire remains in one piece--what splitting is he talking about there?

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Wednesday, 28 October 2009 at 2:02am GMT

I have just published this
http://www.liturgy.co.nz/blog/anglican-rite/1780
You may consider if it is useful in your next round-up

Posted by: Bosco Peters on Wednesday, 28 October 2009 at 2:18am GMT

I have admired many of +Hans Kung writings. I thoroughly enjoyed his book on Jews and Judaism. I think it's great he recognizes the Anglican Communion as a legitimate branch of orthodox Christianity. He makes many good points in this column.
But, I scoff at the notion that Anglican priests having to be re-ordained to join the RCC's ordinariates will cause Anglicans who stay to question the validity of the orders of Anglican priests. Many Anglicans already know that Rome doesn't recognize Anglican orders. It doesn’t bother them in the slightest. Apostolic succession continues in the Anglican Communion and people still receive communion sure in the belief that it represents the body and blood of Christ in some form.
And, *sigh*, did he really have to take a gratuitous swipe at GLBT people? Let's blame GLBT people one more time, shall we? No mention of those who would encourage schism or a split in order to line their own turf and expand their territory at the expense of other provinces.
And he makes no mention whatsoever of women priests or women's ordination, the proximate cause of those CofE bishops and priests who created the ground for Pope Benedict's edict in the first place. I have to wonder why

Posted by: peterpi on Wednesday, 28 October 2009 at 3:22am GMT

More a question than a comment.
Will those traveling to Rome require fresh Ordination?
If so doesn't that action make a mockery of their present status?
After all they could just as simply resign their pasitions,especially Bishops and or resign their orders.

Posted by: Wayne on Wednesday, 28 October 2009 at 4:28am GMT

"First, a further weakening of the Anglican church. In the Vatican, opponents of ecumenism rejoice over the conservative influx. In the Anglican church, liberals rejoice over the departure of the catholicising troublemakers. For the Anglican church, this split means further corrosion. It is already suffering from the consequences of the heedless and unnecessary election of an avowed gay priest as bishop in the US, an event that split his own diocese and the whole Anglican communion. This friction has been enhanced by the ambivalent attitude of the church's leadership with respect to homosexual partnerships. Many Anglicans would accept a civil registration of such couples with wide-ranging legal consequences, for instance in inheritance law, and would even accept an ecclesiastical blessing for them, but they would not accept a "marriage" in the traditional sense reserved for partnerships between a man and a woman, nor would they accept a right to adoption for such couples."

Kung begins w/ that false concept "Anglican church" [NB: he doesn't mean the CofE, because he speaks of "77 million Anglicans"] . . . and then the paragraph goes rapidly downhill from there.

Most disappointing, from someone who should know better. :-/

Posted by: JCF on Wednesday, 28 October 2009 at 5:03am GMT

In reply to Pat O'Neill: the Diocese of NH is down two churches from 50 to 48, at least one of which was closed due directly to the consecration of Gene Robinson as bishop. Many others have lost members and revenue for the same reason. Parishes and the diocese have had to make program and budget cuts. Priests have struggled to defend the bishop's actions to their congregations.

Posted by: Hadjie on Wednesday, 28 October 2009 at 8:49am GMT

I was pleased that the supposed reconciliation of Kung and Ratzinger has proved no such thing, but I agree with some of the comments that someone as intellectual and usually well informed as Kung should have checked up on the Anglican Communion before giving his opinion. How unfortunate that he calls Gene Robinson an 'avowed gay' bishop and his consecration 'unnecessary' - does he, like those who speak of 'openly gay' prefer the to keep them in the closet? Then he also seems to have little understanding of what the Anglican Communion is or how it works, since he suggests that the ABC is 'the' primate, something like a pope, with the power to make decision for all Anglicans. He also suggests that ARCIC agreements are accepted positions for all Anglicans. This suggests to me that the whole way we enter into ecumenical conversations needs looking at. It is hard for RCs to countenance how tentative, provisional and penultimate we are on most theological and ecclesiological questions - as is correct from my point of view, until that day when we see no longer in a glass darkly but face to face.

Posted by: Sara MacVane on Wednesday, 28 October 2009 at 9:33am GMT

" Can it be that those caught in the Roman dragnet do not see that they will never be more than second-class priests in the Roman church, that other Catholics are not meant to take part in their liturgical celebrations?" - Hans Kung -

And this point made by Hans Kung - about the lack of interaction between the Roman Catholic and Ordinariate congregations - is something that should exercise the minds of those Anglicans who might seek to be a part of the new so-called Anglican/R.C. Ordinariates offered by Rome.

Don't imagine that - under the present Pope certainly - your priesthood will be exactly the same as that of the R.C. Institutional Church. It will be looked upon as an 'auxiliary ministry', which could be deprived of its uniquely 'Anglican'
character at any time - as and when your new Primate, the Pope himself, determines.

Whatever your ministry may be in these new Ordinariates, it will not be Roman Catholic - but nor will it be distinctively Anglican. You will simply make yup a new appendage to Rome which will have little or nothing to do with the polity of the Roman Catholic Church.

So, the answer for you who want to move out of Anglicanism as it is presently ordered; you had better start thinking about outright conversion to the R.C. Church. This is what your new patron really wants of you.

This will not end in what Pope John XXIII was looking forward to - the mutual recognition of our 2 Churches and their respective patrimony, with il Papa as First among equals. There will still be authentic remaining Catholic and Reformed Anglicans, perhaps no longer having real dialogue with Rome towards the Unity that Christ might really be wanting of us. Think clearly!

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Wednesday, 28 October 2009 at 9:51am GMT

Hadjie:

Which actions of the bishop need explaining? Those he took before becoming bishop or those he has taken as bishop? It was my understanding that his election was by a large majority of all houses?

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Wednesday, 28 October 2009 at 10:29am GMT

Hadjie the RC Diocese of Cleveland (Ohio, USA) has closed 16 parishes and is planning on closing another 34, so what's your point? The latest stock market crash decimated endowment funds, not to mention individual discretionary income. Couple that with less people working more hours to make less money, it's a wonder anybody has any time to worship in this corporate god world.

Good grief, your types are truly going to make the poor man a martyr.

Posted by: choirboyfromhell on Wednesday, 28 October 2009 at 1:31pm GMT

I am only speaking of members of the Diocese of N.H.. As most people in local parishes pay scant attention to what is happening at the diocesan level, the difficulties only began after the diocesan election, that is the morning after at coffee hour.

Posted by: Hadjie on Wednesday, 28 October 2009 at 1:31pm GMT

The diocese of New Hampshire is alive and well and +Robinson is doing a good job here.

Posted by: Walter Ryan on Wednesday, 28 October 2009 at 1:44pm GMT

Hadjie,

"Many others have lost members and revenue for the same reason. Parishes and the diocese have had to make program and budget cuts."

How disgusting! That people would withhold funds from worthwhile projects over Church politics. It says what their priorities are, eh? This is all about punishing the Church they are angry with and if a few poor people have to go hungry, or a few Third World kids don't get educated, what does that matter? As long as the righteous conservatives get to punish the Evil Hell Bound Liberals, the work of the Gospel really doesn't matter, I guess. (And vice versa, by the way. I've heard liberals express the same execrable idea)

I have to tell you, this statement that the income in NH diocese is down as a result of the consecration of Gene Robinson just comes to me as yet another way the conservatives in this current debate deprive themselves of credibility. Withholding funds from Church projects because of Church politics is just, well, unseemly. To me, it says a lot, and none of it good, about the people who actually think it is appropriate to do it.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Wednesday, 28 October 2009 at 6:33pm GMT

My cousin Alice Roberts is a priest in New Hampshire and would agree with Walter.

Posted by: Sara MacVane on Wednesday, 28 October 2009 at 6:56pm GMT

There are obviously objectionable elements in H. Kung's piece. Nevertheless, it is a powerful attack on the present wretched Pope from a great RC. Why, of why (I keep crying) are Anglican leaders so deficient in the 'cojones' department, espeically in relation to this Pope? Similar observations apply to the Richard Dawkins piece referenced elsewhere on this blog. Crude as it is in some respects, the following is an absolutely great sentiment:

'Whether one agrees with him or not, there is a saintly quality in the Archbishop of Canterbury, a benignity of countenance, a well-meaning sincerity. How does Pope Ratzinger measure up? The comparison is almost embarrassing.'

Posted by: john on Wednesday, 28 October 2009 at 7:09pm GMT

Yes, I was shocked and disappointed by Kung's ignorannt words on Bishop Robinson and the place of lesbian and gay Christians in the churches.

Posted by: Rev L Roberts on Wednesday, 28 October 2009 at 7:40pm GMT

Dear choirboyfromhell,

You do not know nearly enough about me to typecast me as "your types." I rejoiced at Gene's election and celebrated at his consecration. I have no problem having a gay bishop.
Please do not jump to conclusions and stereotype me.

Posted by: Hadjie on Wednesday, 28 October 2009 at 7:41pm GMT

"Which actions of the bishop need explaining?"

Considering how (defensively) chatty you are on this thread, Hadjie, I wonder why you're not answering this question...

Posted by: JCF on Wednesday, 28 October 2009 at 9:36pm GMT

Kung is scapegoating gays in his ecclesiological campaign. As we all saw last year, Gene Robinson is an extraordinary bishop, and a figure of prophetic courage, parrhesia, exceeding even that of Kung himself.

Posted by: Spirit of Vatican II on Thursday, 29 October 2009 at 12:06am GMT

Hans Kueng sure doesn't cut much mustard on this board! Father Kueng and Pope Benedict are the two most prominent 20th century German Catholic figures (at least to non-Germans). They have been in intense debate with each other most of their lives. In fact, it would be great if after their deaths someone were to write a joint intellectual biography of them.

Father Kueng's passionate disappointment with the Pope's blow to the established ecumenical process leads him into a couple of unexpected positions, one his dogmatic support for traditional strictures on homosexuality, analyzed by commenters above. The other, his seeming opinion that it is a bad thing to raise RCs' conscience about priestly celibacy in the Latin Rite. RCs ought to be questioning this archaic practice; why is it a tragedy that the Pope's actions will encourage such questioning?

My very personal opinion is that one of the Pope's several purposes in his action is to start warming RCs up to married clergy especially people in the global south, where, remember, most RC's abide and can be very averse to change. Priestly celibacy's days are numbered and Pope Benedict is too smart not to start preparing for that, even if it lies a generation or two in the future.

Posted by: anthony on Thursday, 29 October 2009 at 4:36am GMT

I think Hadjie's merely trying to express his/her objective, but concerned, view of the situation.

That's coming from someone whose been known to clear a ten-foot standing conclusion about anti-gays in one jump.

Posted by: MarkBrunson on Thursday, 29 October 2009 at 4:40am GMT

Anthony
"Hans Kueng sure doesn't cut much mustard on this board!"

Hans Küng was a great moral authority in his time, but times have moved on, the moral issues we are now debating have moved on, and he has not followed. His stance on the new hot button issues can only be seen as ill-informed at best.

And as long as people are being marginalised, abused and killed while the church of Christ does not speak out loudly and act visibly against homophobia, misogyny etc and remains trapped in outdated, positively dangerous sexual morality (AIDS, condoms), whatever debates Hans Küng and the present Pope have had can only be of some academic interest.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Thursday, 29 October 2009 at 9:27am GMT

Ford
"This is all about punishing the Church they are angry with and if a few poor people have to go hungry, or a few Third World kids don't get educated, what does that matter?"

I think most of us manage quite well to withdraw funds from the church and give them to relevant charities instead.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Thursday, 29 October 2009 at 9:28am GMT

My point is that problems are everywhere Hadjie. Now please explain what +Robinson's DIRECT actions have had in his diocese and I'll stop labeling "types" when they sound like it on this thread. Do you and Hans Kung have the inside dope on New Concord? You might have "rejoiced" at +Gene's election, but by your defense of a muted theologian's misgivings about a diocese he probably knows little about leads me to believe that you are merely airing (partially) dirty laundry from NH and doing no justice at all to LGBT folks in the communion.

Posted by: choirboyfromhell on Thursday, 29 October 2009 at 10:54am GMT

"This will not end in what Pope John XXIII was looking forward to - the mutual recognition of our 2 Churches and their respective patrimony, with il Papa as First among equals."

Whatever the course of ecumenical events ought to be, I think we should be as cognizant of the historical facts regarding Pope John's calling of Vatican II as of the actual outcome of the Council.

As set out in his 1961 encyclical AETERNA DEI SAPIENTIA,

"We are St. Leo's successor in Peter's See of Rome. We share in Peter's See of Rome. We share his firm belief in the divine origin of that command which Jesus Christ gave to the apostles and their successors to preach the gospel and bring eternal salvation to the whole world. We cherish, therefore, St. Leo's desire to see all men enter the way of truth, charity and peace. It is to render the Church better able to fulfill this high mission of hers that We have resolved to summon the Second General Council of the Vatican. We are fully confident that this solemn assembly of the Catholic Hierarchy will not only reinforce that unity in faith, worship and discipline which is a distinguishing mark of Christ's true Church, but will also attract the gaze of the great majority of Christians of every denomination, and induce them to gather around "the great Pastor of the sheep" who entrusted His flock to the unfailing guardianship of Peter and his successors. Our fervent appeal for unity is intended, therefore, to be the echo of that which was made many times by St. Leo in the fifth century. We wish, too, to make Our own those words which St. Irenaeus addressed to the faithful of all the churches, when God's Providence called him from Asia to rule the See of Lyons and confer on it the fame of his martyrdom. Recognizing that the Bishops of Rome were heirs to that power which had been handed down in uninterrupted succession from the two Princes of the Apostles, he went on to address the following appeal to all Christians:—
'For with this church, by reason of its pre-eminent superiority, all the churches—that is, all Christians everywhere—must be united; and it is through communion with it that all these faithful (or those who preside over the churches) have preserved the apostolic tradition.'"

I would not expect many posters here to agree with these sentiments. I note them only to suggest that the differences between Good Pope John and "Bad Pope Benedict" are not perhaps as great as some might suggest.

Posted by: rick allen on Thursday, 29 October 2009 at 2:50pm GMT

"I think most of us manage quite well to withdraw funds from the church and give them to relevant charities instead."

Indeed. There are a huge number of conservatives who manage to do this quite well. I just think we can be better behaved than a bunch of narrow minded fearful people preserving their self declared purity from the taint of being seen supporting political causes they don't believe in. The Church does more than just those particular things that "our" side, or "theirs", don't agree with. It's odd that people don't say "I'll give them my money because they do ten things I think are good in the world", but have no problem at all saying "I won't give them one red copper because they do one thing I think is wrong." If we don't behave better than they do, where does our credibility come from? How perfect does the Church have to be for you to be willing to give Her your financial support? And is this limited to financial support, or do people also refuse to give of their time and talents to the day to day running of their local parish or diocese? What's the difference?

Posted by: Ford Elms on Thursday, 29 October 2009 at 3:55pm GMT

HKs comments, including his gratuitous rag on the queer folks (yet again, do conservative churches ever even talk about heterosexuals any more?) - is a case study in what makes believer responsibility and believer autonomy so difficult. HK can presume a deep-complex-nuanced rapprochement process; yet cannot at all think it applies to New Hampshire discerning VGR as their new bishop?

One process of correction, repositioning, change calls forth poignantly to the other. It may take a customary Via Media type Anglican believer to recall the call.

Posted by: drdanfee on Thursday, 29 October 2009 at 7:36pm GMT

Erika, I could never agree that Father Kueng is "ill-informed". If that is the "best case" then I have to say that Father Kueng's case is not the best. If you wanted to claim that he is losing his marbles I might be more inclined to listen. It happens to the best of us.

As for dismissing the value of theology, history, and all other academic disciplines, seemingly, in favor of limiting discourse solely to two contemporary justice issues, no, no. To me, that is a disturbingly Maoist approach. But no doubt I am misevaluating your rhetoric.

I can speak with assurance only for myself, but I think most commenters on this blog share your justice convictions deeply.

Posted by: anthony on Thursday, 29 October 2009 at 10:00pm GMT

How curious; trying to cut justice off from faith, from God, from religion.

Theology, history and all academic pursuits are nothing - less than nothing - without justice.

You can't reason with people who separate justice from religious responsibility, because they are insane.

Posted by: MarkBrunson on Friday, 30 October 2009 at 4:38am GMT

Mark, this is what Erika said that I was responding to: "And as long as people are being marginalised, abused and killed while the church of Christ does not speak out loudly and act visibly against homophobia, misogyny etc and remains trapped in outdated, positively dangerous sexual morality (AIDS, condoms), whatever debates Hans Küng and the present Pope have had can only be of some academic interest." Your comments force me to read it more carefully. I previously misinterpreted it owing to its flamboyance. Looking closer, I see that when she says "the Church of Christ" she is referring specifically to the RC church and not all churches. So we can presumably still exhibit interest in the theologians of other denominations which have taken effective actions to repeal anti-gay laws in Africa and stop the hatred of women in its tracks. OK. You can't reason with me because you have decided that I am insane. And I can't argue against sloganeering.

Posted by: anthony on Friday, 30 October 2009 at 8:18am GMT

"I would not expect many posters here to agree with these sentiments. I note them only to suggest that the differences between Good Pope John and "Bad Pope Benedict" are not perhaps as great as some might suggest.' - Rick Allen -

Rick, I was privileged, in 1961, to be in St. Peter's Rome, to witness Good Pope John XXIII, being processed down the aisle in his 'sedia gestatoria' after ordaining 14 missionary bishops. The Pope was in tears - and so were we. It was obvious that this good and holy man was embarrased by the indignity of having to be carried down the aisle of St. Peter's in such pomp and ceremony. Whatever Papa Giovanni was, he not a 'monarchical mediaeval' pontiff!

I guess if Benedict had his way - as former head of the *Inquisition* under John Paul II - not only the Sedia Gestatoria, but the Triple Crown would be brought back into use, to support his ambitions to revive the mediaeval papacy.

The real difference between John and Benedict, I feel, is the difference between a Pastor and a Politician - one who feels 'lost ground' ought to be recovered.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Friday, 30 October 2009 at 8:41am GMT

Anthony
"Erika, I could never agree that Father Kueng is "ill-informed"."

Even our own Rowan Williams seems to be ill informed about the way TEC comes to decisions and how it implements them. To call Hans Küng ill-informed on this matter is not to insult him. For anyone to state blithely that Gene Robinson's consecration was "unnecessary", he is either extremely morally biased or not well informed about the church that effected the consecration.
I prefer to think the latter, because I actually respect Küng very much.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Friday, 30 October 2009 at 9:15am GMT

Ford
there is nothing badly behaved in deciding not to give money to the church, and I don't think there's anything wrong with stopping cutting the grass in the graveyard and working for a charity shop instead.
You and I have a different understanding about what church is. I certainly don't feel I owe the official body any loyalty, far less financial support, while it discrimminates against people like me.
As it happenes, I personally do quite a lot in my local parish, but that is because it is a wonderful place to be and giving in kind directly to it seems the right thing to do.

When more of our hierarchy speak out loudly against things like the appalling law in Uganda, when genuinely opposing discrimmination and actual harm done to people becomes the norm rather than the exception, I might change my mind.

You can choose differently. Everyone has to make up their own mind of where they personally draw the line and how they draw it.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Friday, 30 October 2009 at 9:23am GMT

You are only insane if you believe justice and duty to God are two different things, dear anthony!

God is a just God. To worship Him is to work for justice. If He is not just, then He is not worth the time, and it would be insane to worship Him, as an unjust God will not care for His creation.

You cannot separate the two, justice and a Christian life, without splitting your own mind.

Posted by: MarkBrunson on Friday, 30 October 2009 at 10:49am GMT

anthony,

I'm sorry. I believe I see what I did. I took remarks of yours as a stepping-off point for my own observation, and, hurriedly and sloppily, launched into talking about some issues that had been bothering me in the whole debate *without* being clear that your remarks were merely a locus for my tangent.

I wasn't saying you were insane. Though, you may be if you separate justice and God. I don't know. I've only seen a few of your posts and I have my own crazy to deal with.

I *was* responding to you directly in another thread in which you mentioned Spong, and as I do wander, let me be clear that I wasn't pounding away at Roman Catholicism, but the way all institutions of our religion have absolutely failed.

Posted by: MarkBrunson on Friday, 30 October 2009 at 11:01am GMT

"I guess if Benedict had his way - as former head of the *Inquisition* under John Paul II - not only the Sedia Gestatoria, but the Triple Crown would be brought back into use, to support his ambitions to revive the mediaeval papacy."

Benedict has had his way. Not only has he followed the practice of the last two popes in dispensing with the triple crown, he has removed it from the papal coat of arms, for the first time since the fourteenth century.

Posted by: rick allen on Friday, 30 October 2009 at 11:58am GMT

Anthony
"Looking closer, I see that when she says "the Church of Christ" she is referring specifically to the RC church and not all churches."

Sorry, I must have expressed myself badly. The body of Christ consists of all members of all churches, not one denomination.
And what I am saying, without meaning it to be sloganeering, is that moral authority is not arrived at by having clever theology, but by how you live out that theology.

And if I find that high minded people with hugely intelligent ideas suddenly clam up and become ever so silent in the face of actual harm being done in their name, then I am entitled to treat their theology as being merely of academic interest.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Friday, 30 October 2009 at 12:03pm GMT

"there is nothing badly behaved in deciding not to give money to the church, and I don't think there's anything wrong with stopping cutting the grass in the graveyard and working for a charity shop instead."

As you say, I disagree. To me, you are saying that when conservative parishes withhold their givings because they don't agree with homosexuality, that's OK too. I don't believe it is. As an example, I don't think that children in a third world country should be deprived of a school because some conservatives don't like that TEC is trying to redress centuries of oppression of gay people. Our CLB company went last year to build a school in Belize. Ought they not have gone? I don't know if the Church in Belize even exists, or what their position on homosexuality might be, but that's moot. There are certainly places where this argument would apply. The children in that village needed a school, there was no-one else going to do it and they didn't give a cobbler's cuss about whether or not the people building that school liked gay people or wanted to burn us at the stake. Conservatives would withhold their money from things like this because the Canadian Church is also "apostate", as they say, and friendly to gays. You are implying that liberals should do exactly the same thing where the local Church, or the one providing the aid(?), is hostile to gays. I cannot agree with conservatives doing that, I don't think it's any better when liberals do it. Agree with us or we won't help you? That's an awful lot like that tactics of some Evangelists in encouraging "rice Christians". It's all very well and good to say that some secular organization will do it, but how many secular organizations are there in third world countries working side by side with the the Church? I don't know, but I imagine scarcity of funds would mean that such organizations avoided duplication of services where-ever possible. You say you do a lot of work for your local parish because it's a good place. Yet you also speak of the problems you have encountered from some conservatives there, and comment on the complexity of that situation, it isn't all black and white. You do not withhold your talents from your local parish, even though your bishop thinks you too tainted to read the scriptures publically at Mass. Extend that to the wider Church of which your parish is the local manifestation.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Friday, 30 October 2009 at 1:39pm GMT

Justice is a cardinal virtue. Thinkers from Plato to John Rawls have labored to define it. But we all think we know it when we see it. If we didn't know it when we see it, God would not require it of us. God also made us capable of thinking more than one thought, and of working toward more than one goal. Some of these goals are more limited than others, true. But one can, for example, strive for one's children to be educated while at the same time trying to raise our consciousness over the welfare of gay people in Uganda. Or Wyoming. But if we feel God calls us to drop all academic pursuits until this and all other justice issues are solved, our kids won't be able to go to college. That's a simplistic analysis, but it is just meant as an example. It doesn't help the effort to create a just and otherwise virtuous culture to heap scorn on people working on socially beneficial goals even though they are not the most important at the moment. They are all needed, all the time. It is not possible for society to function based on the ethics of the Desert Fathers. Even though if some observe those ethics it enriches and sanctifies society.

Why Pope Benedict has not spoken out on Uganda I do not know. But I am an RC and know that he is not going to listen to my advice, even if I shout as loud as I can while facing in his direction.

Posted by: anthony on Friday, 30 October 2009 at 4:42pm GMT

Ford
There are church initiatives that are not doubled by other organisations, but there are also other charitable organisations that are involved in charitable projects not doubled by the church.
The argument that some children in Belize will loose out is false to the extent that if I give my money to the group that supports them, I am not giving it to a group that might support equally needy children somewhere else.

It's not about leaving some in the lurch, it's about deciding who best to support with the limited funds I have. Wish that I could do it all!

You may not agree that I have the right to decide which group I want to support with my money, but I certainly don't see why I should fund one that use a large share of those funds to work against me, when there are others that would use an even larger proportion to fund actual charitable activities.

We are used to looking at the accounts of all charities before deciding whether to support the one that gives 5p in the Pound to charitable work or the one that gives 25 p in the Pound.

I also reserve the right to support those charities that are close to my heart, and so I personally rather give to cancer charities or for heart and kidney research than to animal charities. Of course you could call that cruel to the RSPCA, but it does benefit CLIC.
Christian Aid has my money any time, as do other non-Christian organisations.
I feel no particular moral obligation to support the church above all else.

But I’m afraid I have strayed too far off topic.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Friday, 30 October 2009 at 4:51pm GMT

Ford,
I also think there is a difference between a parish making decisions to withhold funds from the church and an individual doing the same.
After all, the parish is inextricably a structural part of the organisation and should not be allowed to hold it to ransom or to withdraw funds from the body that sustain it.

An individiual not particularly tied to a church is in a completley different situation.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Friday, 30 October 2009 at 5:21pm GMT

"it's about deciding who best to support with the limited funds I have."

An argument that applies equally to those conservatives who refuse to support the Church because of its stand on homosexuality, or who withhold a portion of their taxes because of legalized abortion. If you have the right to not support the Church because you disagree with their stand on homosexuality, so do they have the right to withhold their givings because they disagree equally as strongly as you but in the other direction.

Posted by: Ford Elm on Friday, 30 October 2009 at 7:14pm GMT

"God is a just God. To worship Him is to work for justice."

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: God is manifestly NOT just. And thank God for that.

God is not just, and Christianity is not a system for putting justice into action. "Doing justice" isn't God's will: doing mercy is.

Posted by: BillyD on Friday, 30 October 2009 at 7:22pm GMT

Thanks, Rick. The disinformation and hatred about and towards this pope are best quelled by actual information and love. Not that that always works with the hard-hearted, but thanks for trying. Viva il Papa.

Posted by: trooper on Friday, 30 October 2009 at 10:16pm GMT

Therefore the LORD will wait, that He may be gracious to you; And therefore He will be exalted, that He may have mercy on you. For the LORD [is] a God of justice; Blessed [are] all those who wait for Him. - Isaiah 30:18

Posted by: anthony on Saturday, 31 October 2009 at 1:25am GMT

anthony,

I'm not saying - I can't speak for Erika and she'd give me a thick ear if I did - give up academics. They're useful, but they mean nothing without the heart of justice.

It's like those elaborate toy steam engines: they have a fire box, whistle, safety valve and turn a piston and wheel . . . but neither go anywhere or power anything other than itself. Fun to play with, fun to watch. A toy.

Posted by: MarkBrunson on Saturday, 31 October 2009 at 4:42am GMT

"Isaiah 30:18"

Anytime I want to get into a battle of the proof-texts, I'll know who to go to.

Posted by: BillyD on Saturday, 31 October 2009 at 1:16pm GMT

Ford
"An argument that applies equally to those conservatives who refuse to support the Church because of its stand on homosexuality, or "

Absolutely.
No individual should be compelled to spend their money on supporting something they truly abhor - with the exception of paying taxes.

Whole parishes withholding funds, on the other hand, is not legitimate, because the parishes are part of the structure of the church, and because they are only administering the funds given to them by the members of their congregation. They cannot second-guess what the congregation might have had in mind, and in any case, there are rules about parish shares etc. that should not be broken.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Saturday, 31 October 2009 at 6:27pm GMT

BillyD - Right on!
Anthony

Posted by: anthony on Sunday, 1 November 2009 at 12:40am GMT

"No individual should be compelled to spend their money on supporting something they truly abhor - with the exception of paying taxes."

Here's a hypothetical situation:

My Parish supports an AIDS clinic in Africa, and a school for the orphaned children of those who have died of AIDS. It is also quite vocal in its opposition to gay marriage (or, in your case, it is also vocally supportive of gay marriage). Explain to me how the good done in that clinic and that school is somehow cancelled out by their support for/opposition to, gay marriage? That's just saying "Your refusal to do what I want on my pet issue negates any other good you may be doing, I'm taking my money elsewhere, and if those kids don't get an education, well....." What? They didn't deserve an education anyway because they had the nerve to go to a school supported by a parish/diocese that wouldn't be led by me? How many issues does the Church have to disobey you on before you decide to withhold your tithe? One thing? More? How many more?

Posted by: Ford Elms on Monday, 2 November 2009 at 2:42am GMT

Ford
are you telling me that there is no other way of getting money that AIDS clinic in Africa and that school than by giving money to your local parish?

You could either give the money direct, or make a special donation to your parish marking it for their giving account, or you could give to another AIDS clinic.
There is no reason why you should have to give it to an organisation that will use a share of it to work against you.
In your hypothetical situation, if you were so very concerned about the AIDS clinic, you could even argue that it's counterproductive, because that share used to work against you would be better given to the clinic, and it is up to you to ensure that it gets there.

I don't care much about denigrating major moral issues as "pet issues" as though that made it petty and trivial to have strong feelings about them.
I would no more give money to an organisation that finances female circumcision or one that supports child labour.

Ethical giving needs a bit more discernment than simply putting money on a collection plate at your local church.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Monday, 2 November 2009 at 10:48am GMT

"are you telling me that there is no other way of getting money that AIDS clinic in Africa and that school than by giving money to your local parish?"

Conceivably. How many needy Third World communities do you know of that are fortunate enough to have two NGOs doing relief work? And while my example was hypothetical, the school idea was real. The organization running it is secular. But if they weren't doing it, I'd have no idea how to get money reliably to that rural African community. Are you suggesting that the staff of a rural African School have the connections or the infrastructure to coordinate all the charitable donations they need to keep running?

Erika, to me this is the same as one issue voting. No organization like the Church is going to please everybody. If we all decided that we weren't going to give to the Church unless She does what we want exclusively, nobody'd give anything. I don't withhold my vote from an election candidate who in addition to doing things I really believe in also supports some things I do not. Why is giving to the Church any different? There are a few overwhelming issues that would make me do that, but, as a general principle, I don't have much time for it. And by defending your right to do it, you are defending the right of conservatives in New Hampshire to withhold givings because of Gene Robinson.

Posted by: Ford elms on Tuesday, 3 November 2009 at 12:44am GMT

BillyD,
Our former rector was fond of saying "I'm not looking for God's justice, I'm looking for God's mercy. If I get His justice, I'm sunk."

Posted by: Ford Elms on Tuesday, 3 November 2009 at 12:50am GMT

Ford
if your parish manages to get money to a particular project, it doesn't seem altogether inconceivable that you might be able to do it too.
I don't know what your accounting systems are like, but here, you can make targetet donations, so it would be easy to support your school. Non-church goers use this option all the time.

It's not about single issues and it's not about wanting all my money to go to causes I approve of.
But is IS about having a general moral compass, and if something falls too far below the line of what is moraly acceptable, then yes, I make a decision.
I do it in all other aspects of my life too. I try to buy Fairtrade, I try to avoid companies that don't pay living wages, I try not to buy products that have been made by children etc etc. there is nothing wrong with having a baseline for what is morally acceptable.

You can argue whether I draw my baseline in the right place - is it legitimate to avoid companies who make war equipment, for example. There are legitimate arguments for and against.
You can argue with every single one of my moral decisions.
But you cannot argue with my right to make moral decisions.


Posted by: Erika Baker on Tuesday, 3 November 2009 at 9:34am GMT

"But you cannot argue with my right to make moral decisions."

No, I can't. And I agree there baselines of acceptibility. There ARE things I'd withhold givings because of, I guess. And my parish's givings to the work of the wider Church are remitted to the wider Church, first of all. Second, if my parish is supporting a Church run school in Africa, am I not still giving to that Church by sending the money to them directly? More importantly, though, where does it stop? Conservatives are just as sincere in their beliefs as we are. I still don't accept it is right for them to withhold givings because they disagree with +Gene Robinson as a bishop. That has to apply equally to me.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Tuesday, 3 November 2009 at 5:58pm GMT

Ford
And I would grant every conservative his or her right to withhold their own personal funds if they genuinely believe the church to act immorally.
I would not grant that right to whole parishes for reasons I have already explained.
But individuals, of course.
I would expect true Christians to use that withheld money for other charitable purposes and not just keep it to themselves.

Are you supporting your wider church if you give to the church charitable fund? Yes, I suppose you do, just as much as I support my local parish by volunteering.
I am happy if my own money doesn't go to activities I consider to be deeply immoral.

But if you or anyone else felt strongly enough about it, then I suppose they'd be entitled to withhold ALL support.
On the other hand, one would then have to question their moral right to any of the benefits from church membership, and in practice, someone who withholds absolutely every shred of support is unlikely to want to go to church in the first place.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Tuesday, 3 November 2009 at 8:09pm GMT

"I would not grant that right to whole parishes for reasons I have already explained.
But individuals, of course."

But the individual is part of the parish! This is where we divide. You have a much more, shall I say, "Protestant" idea of the individuality of the believer than I do. This is what I believe, I don't judge you if you don't, don't take what follows as some authoritarian statement that people are not Christian if they don't believe it. Outside the Church there is no salvation. I don't believe that means one is damned if one is not a Christian or not a member of a certain part of Christianity. I believe it means that we work out our salvation in fear and trembling in the context of the commuinity. Redemption( a word I use far more often than 'salvation') is not a deal between me and God that if I have enough faith in Him, or am appropriately obedient, or whatever, I get to play in the Divine Sandbox when I die. I get to play in the Divine Sandbox when I die if I have lived out the Gospel requirememts to love God and neighbour in the context of the Christian community. That's why you can't have a Eucharist with only one person. That's why He grants our requests "when two or three" are gathered in his name. Even our God is a community! That is messy, it's painful, especially for an opinionated, vaguely mysanthropic person convinced of his own rightness like I am. That's the point. Part of being Christian is learning to get beyond those things, and that's done in community, not in private. I'm still in Kindergarten in that school, and I may never get to Grade One in this life, but God doesn't want you to pass, He just wants you to keep working at it.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Wednesday, 4 November 2009 at 4:38pm GMT
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