NEWS:  July 25, 2002

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Bird’s Eye View of the News

Atila Sinke Guimarães

MISERABLIST CHURCH – The Vatican press agency, Fides, issued a press release condemning those who wear precious Crosses and "expend millions for acquiring the sacred symbol of Christianity and simultaneously forget, in a not very Christian way, that many suffer hunger in the world." It seems that the communiqué was aimed principally at some top models of the high fashion couture who are wearing expensive crosses, but indisputably it also targets Bishops who have still not given up their golden Crosses. Actualité des Religions, the magazine from which I took the news item (July, 2002, p. 6), understood quite well the Vatican’s double intention in its comment that "Fides gives the example of the president of the Pontifical Commission Justice and Peace, Cardinal Nguyen Van Thuan, who wears a wooden Cross hung on an electrical metal wire …."

The magazine went on to comment: "The epoch of chalices in heavy gold and Crosses adorned with precious stones and diamonds has ended." My comment: The Miserablist Church is taking over in everything Yes, it is 'miserable-ist' since it looks to misery and poverty as a kind of ideal. It is a strange Church that, in name of giving money to the poor, is destroying what remains of the pomp and sacrality due to God and His ministers. What the huge conflagration set by Vatican II has not already burned in this regard, these recent initiatives of the Vatican are trying to destroy.

It seems that some Bishops are adjusting their households to these Vatican demands, and are putting aside the last signs of grandeur and wealth. One of them is Patrick O’Donoghue, the Catholic Bishop of Lancaster, England, who wants to sell his official residence, a magnificent Victorian mansion estimated at $1.6 million, to "help the poor." He announced his desire to become an "itinerant Bishop." To achieve that end he desires to reduce ceremony and bureaucracy as much as possible. O’Donoghue stated, "We need a revolution in the Church." (Actualité des Religions, ibid, p. 30). The Cardinal-Archbishop of Chicago, Francis George, also has offered to sell his Episcopal residence, estimated at $1.2 million, to help cover the expenses of lawsuits over pedophiles priests (ibid.).

This Miserablist Church is not something new. Paul VI had already thought it necessary for the Catholic Church to abandon her symbols of sacrality in order to "not scandalize the people." He suggested that Vatican City with its magnificent Basilica, priceless history, extraordinary Palaces, and many work of arts should be abandoned. In fact, Paul VI affirmed that "the Pope should leave the Vatican, along with those who inhabit it," and "should go to live for some time with his seminarians, with his people at St. John Lateran …. At St. John’s, his cathedral, he should inaugurate a new way of governing the Church in the manner of Peter who was poor" (Evidence of this and other points on the Poor Church can be found in my book Animus delendi I, Los Angeles: TIA, 2000, pp. 399-400). By the way, this Poor Church was also the ideal of Judas Iscariot, who, when he saw St. Mary Magdalene washing the feet of Our Lord with a precious perfume, proposed that it be sold to give the money to the poor. Was it really a love for the poor? This was not exactly what the Gospel of St. John (12:6) affirmed…

SINCERELY YOURS... – On June 27 the government of Sudan, a sincere ally of the United States in the war against terrorism, ordered the bombardment of a Catholic Bishop’s residence. Auxiliary Bishop of Torit, Akio J. Mutek, was not hurt, but four colleagues were injured when government aircraft dropped four bombs on the Episcopal quarters, razing the Bishop’s house, priests’ lodgings, offices, and a newly constructed youth center. "Everything has been destroyed," reported a statement from the country’s Episcopal Conference. The statement said that the same aircraft also dropped 12 bombs on Isoke, a mission about 50 miles east of the Bishop’s home, where 500 children attend primary and secondary schools (Our Sunday Visitor, July 14, 2002). What the news report did not mention is that the government’s religious persecution against Catholics in Sudan is stimulated by Muslim religious authorities, the very same that sincerely attend the numerous ecumenical meetings sponsored by the Vatican.

LOVE QUARREL – The moderate progressivists subsist on their attraction to the radical progressivists. The moderates admire the courage of the radicals, their consistency of thought and action, and their clarity of objectives. They only differ over method. The moderates want to reach the goals slowly and the radicals prefer to reach those same aims in the fast lane. It is somewhat like the story of a love quarrel between a teenager and her beau. The former is normally more prudent in her opinions, but at the same time fascinated by the courage of the latter. Something similar to this took place recently in Spain. On July 30, the Spanish Bishops’ Conference asserted that supporting the We Are Church movement actually "inhibits the authentic renewal postulated by the Second Vatican Council."

We Are Church is a Catholic reform movement, born in Austria in 1995, which since then has spread throughout Europe and around the world. In the United States the movement works together with Call to Action. The original platform for We Are Church contained five points: 1) equality between laity and the ordained; 2) equal rights for women, including ordination; 3) lifting mandatory celibacy for priests; 4) a "positive" understanding of sexuality; 5) teaching the Gospel as a message of joy, not of condemnation.

The Bishops said that "in spite of the name that it has adopted, it [We Are Church] is an ecclesial group, and has not received any approval or canonical recognition." According to Their Excellencies, the movement espouses "affirmations and statements that clearly depart from the teachings of the Catholic Church and are detrimental to ecclesial communion" (National Catholic Reporter, July 19, 2002). I can understand why the Bishops are taking a more cautious approach, since they are probably receiving many complaints from their grassroots and donors. But they were not very consistent in their statement. The Bishops’ assertion that We Are Church has not received ecclesiastical approval is not objective. The radical progressivist group has received the explicit or implicit approval of many ecclesiastical authorities. Let me cite only some Cardinals: Franz König, Archbishop Emeritus of Vienna, Karl Lehmann, President of the German Episcopal Conference, the late Basil Hume, Cardinal-Archbishop of Westminster, the late Joseph Bernardin, Cardinal of Chicago, Cardinal Paulo Evaristo Arns, retired Archbishop of São Paulo. I examined each of these adhesions, and many others, in a booklet – We Are Church, Radical Aims, Dangerous Errors.

The Spanish Episcopate also claimed that WAC does not represent the thinking of the Church. Of course it does not represent the teachings of the Catholic Church. But many of the positions of the Spanish Episcopate also no longer coincide with the traditional teaching of the Catholic Church. With the new Conciliar Church’s admittance of an evolution in Dogma and Morals, it has potentially admitted the final progressivist goals that are diluted in the intermediary steps along the road. Therefore, what We Are Church defends today, tomorrow will be the common doctrine of the Conciliar Church. It is just a question of time. So, this condemnation does not seem serious. It seems more like a love quarrel that will be resolved sooner or later.




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