The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

The Good
On Sunday, 13th October Pope Francis canonised John Henry Newman. Newman and I go way back. In the summer of 1996 I became interested in the Catholic Church. Don’t ask why – apart from the prompting of the Holy Spirit, I don’t know. That October, I returned to university and started attending the Catholic Society. By January 1997, I knew that God was calling me to His Church. So, I approached the Catholic chaplain and asked to receive instruction. He handed me over to a lady who immediately asked if I had heard of Newman. I hadn’t. She recommended I read his autobiography – Apologia Pro Vita Sua; I did and loved him ever after. Around the turn of the century, when I was – predictably for a still fairly new Catholic – exploring my vocation, I made a few visits to the Birmingham Oratory. There, I saw Newman’s unchanged study and some of his papers, which were then stored only in boxes.

As the years passed, I drifted away from Newman but we met again in 2010 when Pope Benedict XVI beatified him in Birmingham. Guess what happened after 2010; yes, I drifted away from him again, only to be pulled back when word of his second miracle reached me. What pulled me back? God’s golden thread made manifest in the love he has given me for Newman’s writings and example of holiness. It was such a joy seeing Newman being declared a saint, I can only hope that I never drift away from him again.

The Bad
The Vatican wouldn’t be the Vatican without a scandal of some sort attaching itself to the Holy See. Over the past few years the clerical sex abuse scandal has dominated but today I read about another, older, scandal rearing its head again – that involving money. The Times reports that the Vatican is losing money hand over fist due to bad management.

What is to be done? Who knows. Who only knows. It’s the Vatican so I feel like saying ‘Nothing’. Isn’t that sad? It’s more than sad, it’s awful. If anyone in authority thinks like that, it means the bad guys have won; it means the Bad Guy himself, Satan, has won. We can’t have that. We know he has already lost the war; we – or rather, the people who have power in the Church – need to do everything they can to make sure he loses the battles, or at least as many of them as possible, as well. But how? If Pope Benedict couldn’t do it; if Pope Francis can’t do it, who can?

The Ugly
The Vatican is currently hosting a ‘Synod of Bishops for the pan-Amazonian region’ in South America. It’s purpose is ‘to identify new paths for the evangelization of God’s people in that region’ (These two quotations are from the Synod’s Wikipedia entry here).

The Synod started with a ceremony which included some of the delegates from the pan-Amazon region bowing down, paying homage, to wooden statue of a pregnant woman, apparently a symbol of Mother Earth. So far so veering towards paganism. It wasn’t, though, the first controversial moment of the event. Before it started, traditionalist cardinals, such as Raymond Burke, were warning that the working document promoted apostasy (see the Wikipedia link).

I have been reading about the Synod from a fair distance and I believe the Synod Fathers and delegates have been discussing the possibility of having married priests in the region, and perhaps even female deacons.

The possibility of married priests doesn’t alarm me in the slightest; that Catholic priests should be celibate is a Church discipline, not a doctrine derived from Our Lord. My only question would be how such families would be paid for (and could a divorced man continue to be a priest?). I wouldn’t even be averse to female deacons if it could be proved that they were permitted by the Early Church. Here, I would be concerned that progressives would take the matter too far and, having ‘won’ the argument on a female deaconate, try to bring about female priests, for which Scripture and Tradition provide no justification.

What is ugly about all this? Everything and nothing. If the Church gets it wrong at this Synod, goodness knows what damage she will cause for herself in the future. If she gets it right, all will be well. Either way, I, and we Catholics in general, need to get praying: Anything to stop this kind of thing:

The kairos, the culture of encounter, being lauded in the Pan-Amazon Synod is a Bergoglian kairos and culture. The church “called to be ever more synodal,” to be “made flesh” and “incarnated” in existing cultures, is a Bergoglian church. And this church, not to put too fine a point on it, is not the Catholic Church. It is a false church. It is a self-divinizing church.

First Things

If we don’t believe in a Catholic Church that is protected by the Holy Spirit from ultimate destruction then we are simply not Catholics and it is not the ‘Bergoglian church’ that has the problem. I’m being a bit annoyed here; my point is that of course a pope can slip into heresy but he would not be able to take the Church with him. The gates of hell…, remember. The above writer seems to have forgotten this and it both annoys and grieves me.

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