Thinking Anglicans

Roman election

The election process to fill the vacancy in Rome begins today. The Conclave will meet for mass and the doors will be locked and they will be left alone to their deliberations.

Geza Vermes writes in the Telegraph, Let’s hope Vatican politics do not hinder the Holy Spirit in which he hopes for a more liberal, thoughtful Roman Catholic Church, less wedded to dogma and closer to Vermes’s view of Jesus of Nazareth:

To judge both the legacy of John Paul II and the problems facing the new papacy, there should be one sure criterion – the teaching of Jesus. Is conservative Catholicism based on the gospel?

It would be presumptuous for an outsider to offer advice to the conclave, but may he be allowed a dream? In this dream, the new Pope is urged by God to revitalise Catholicism from within by concentrating on the authentic gospel of Jesus, on the message conveyed by him to his disciples, and not on the doctrine about Jesus developed by St Paul and two millennia of Christianity. This is a simple and moving message, which Jesus formulated in his own language for his simple Galilean audience, about God, the heavenly Father, the dignity of all human beings as children of God, a life turned into worship by total trust, an overwhelming sense of urgency to do one’s duty without delaying tactics, a sanctification of the here and now, and, yes, the love of God through the love of one’s neighbour.

If made prominent, and not concealed under verbiage about sex, rituals, mass canonisation of saints and Mary worship, the authentic gospel would concentrate on the true essence of religion, an existential relationship between man and man, and man and God.

Reconstructed with the tools of 21st-century historical and biblical scholarship, and perceived by 21st-century minds in 21st-century circumstances, it would appeal to thinking people all over the world, who have left the Church in droves, and feed a genuine ecumenical spirit among religious groups outside Catholicism.

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19 years ago

Gosh, the Telegraph got something almost right there. There’s an awful lot to be gained by occasionally stripping all the institution and tradition away and just concentrating on “Follow Me”.

I’m not sure I’d put some a human-centric view on it as the author there, with the phrases “the love of God through love of one’s neighbour”, although what *is* important is the outworking of the principles Jesus lived by and taught, amongst Christians today. (Likewise I’d flip the two clauses in “man and man, and man and God”.)

Mike Jackson
Mike Jackson
19 years ago

“An existential relationship between man and man, and man and God” is what many seek, and in so doing they reject centuries of tradition – liturgical, musical, authorative, etc. But the raging debates in both Roman and Anglican churches are not about how quickly to throw away tradition, rather, they are about whose property it now is.

J. C. Fisher
19 years ago

This appeared in *The Telegraph*? I’m gobsmacked.

“Joseph Ratzinger used to be a progressive theologian before becoming John Paul’s doctrinal enforcer at the head of the Vatican department formerly known as the Inquisition. Can the Holy Spirit persuade him to turn back to his original self?”

We can only hope . . .

The Holy Spirit has, from time-to-time, pulled out some gobsmacking surprises (Nixon to China? Gorbachev’s Glasnost/Perestroika? The Resurrection?): praise Her!

Rodney McInnes
Rodney McInnes
19 years ago

The Ratzinger papacy could be very interesting. Who knows? When Angelo Roncali was elected in 1958 nobody had the slightest idea of what was to come. Chosing to be known as Benedict rather than following immediately as another John Paul or Pius is some indication of an independent spirit. After 25 years at the top of the Vatican bureaucracy there are bound to be some highly developed notions floating around in what is undoubtedly a keen intellect. Put that with highly developed political skills and perhaps a feeling of release from the constraints of serving his predecessor the Roman church… Read more »

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