Keep the Anglicans at Bay

Here is a passage from an authoritative manual of moral theology. It makes interesting reading:

“It is not, as a general rule, permitted to Catholic nurses in hospitals to send for non Catholic ministers to attend non Catholic patients for religious purposes; they must be passive in such cases (Sacred Office March 15 1858).  This was further explained (Feb 5 1872) to mean that nurses might tell some non-Catholic attendant that the patient wanted the non-Catholic minister, and this was declared not to be active co-operation.  Furthermore, if even this were found impossible, then for very grave reasons and to prevent enmity arising against the Church, nurses might themselves send for the non-Catholic minister if asked to do so.”

This passage comes from Moral and Pastoral Theology by Henry Davis SJ. It is a four volume work, and the 1958 edition. Apparently a nurse might prepare a table with flowers since this was not a specifically religious act but might not join in prayers even those common to Christians.

Now I read that the Catholic Education Service is recommending that Catholic schools should, if possible, provide a multi-faith prayer room for non-Christian pupils. And I think that if a Catholic nurse were to make a fuss about calling a non-Catholic minister to attend a patient, he or she would be regarded as a fundamentalist of the deepest and most unchristian dye.

The basic teaching about the uniqueness of the Catholic Church has not changed, but its exercise has changed quite dramatically. I wrote in my column posted on 20 November “The changes in the Church have taken place over so many centuries and, with some exceptions, by such small steps that we are often unaware of how considerable they have been.”

A question presents itself: if a common prohibition of 50 years ago was taken as orthodoxy, what orthodoxies of today will look grotesque in 50 years time? Have we now got it all right, or are we children of our time – blind to what will one day seem obvious. Who are our prophets?

Interestingly, the Catholic Herald went as far as it dared to be a prophet during the Henry Davis period, and before. But it did so in the teeth of the bishops who often threatened to ban its sales in their dioceses. I know, I was there.

So let us at least attempt to be prophets and make suggestions for the changes which could occur over the next 50 years.

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About Quentin

Science Editor, Catholic Herald. Portrait © Jacqueline Alma
This entry was posted in Church and Society, Moral judgment. Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Keep the Anglicans at Bay

  1. kouin says:

    Establishment of a cult.
    When does the ideal turn? The moment where someone enforces or imposes a rule on someone, showing disregard for their judgement.
    Fasting is probably the only way to keep us humble enough to see it coming.
    Isn’t there a passage which says artists have to fast twice in a week.
    And to fast- skipping a meal, 2 meals a whole day or 12 hours or just until people stop imposing themselves on you…is that holy?

  2. Brighton says:

    I can see two scenarios for 50 years time. In the first there will be an extreme shortage of priests in the industrialised countries. This will not be much relieved by allowing priests to marry because the problem lies in the small size of families. This will require lay Catholics to be much more fully engaged in parish activities, involving Communion services. Mass will be much valued as a rarity, and only the fortunate ones will be able to attend as often as once a month. It may not always be on a Sunday, as the few priests available will have to maximise their duties by using weekdays. Despite Quentin’s reservations about deacons, there will have to be more of these, in order to maintain the necessary link to the bishops.
    However the Catholic community, itself reduced in size, will be strong and closely integrated.
    In another scenario, we will be served by priests from overseas – much as we have been by the Irish clergy in the past. But, again, the lay community will be smaller yet more active. We will be seen by our society as very much more of a ‘foreign’ religion. The English have never been able to bring themselves to see the Irish as foreign.

  3. kouin says:

    A postemptive defence:
    Catholic spinach puree, penne, sauce,
    vegan cheese and pepper, 2 plates with
    toast, tea and orange juice.

    #\a preemptive defence:
    Tap water, no bread, crackers, fennel tea.
    ^C9-++x WHooose.

    I don’t trust a pre 1997 kouin but I
    wouldn’t live without him.

  4. Horace says:

    Perhaps not quite what Quentin had in mind I’m afraid, but this might be relevant:-

    [Quote from an Economist Review: “The Man Who Knew Too Much: Alan Turing and the Invention of the Computer”.]
    “Sadly, in the climate of the day, which treated homosexuality as an abhorrent mixture of sickness and weakmindedness, rather as paedophilia is regarded now, …

  5. I think Horace’s comment is very relevant. In a technical sense the homosexual condition is a disorder only in so far as the psychological capacity is out of accord with the physical structure of the body. In that respect it has no more moral significance than any other disorder for which the owner has no responsibility. Of course its exercise comes under the generalised requirement that genital sexual activity is confined to marriage. It is worth remembering that the Gospel account suggests that, for Jesus, sexual sins ranked pretty low.

    My prediction, for what it’s worth, is that, while the Pope retains his power as the source of visible unity and inspiration, the Church will become much less centralised and monolithic in the exercise of this. I think that Pope Benedict has already shown signs of moving in that direction.

  6. kouin says:

    Q de B’s intention is purity in and for artistic style rather than purity for holiness though
    a society used functional but underused capabilities
    Anglicanism both hi and lo
    loves farmers
    whom react to unexpect…

  7. Horace says:

    I am afraid that you may have missed the point, to rephrase the quote from my earlier comment:-

    ” . . in the climate of today, which treats paedophilia as an abhorrent mixture of sickness and weakmindedness, how may paedophilia be regarded in 50 years time?”

  8. Horace, I hope that I haven’t misunderstood you again. Let me give it another shot.
    A particular element in many cases is that paedophilia involves the abuse of power, e.g., parent over child, cleric over child etc. I can’t see you, I or the Church ever regarding that as other than sinful.
    In addition there is the question of potential long term effects on the personality or attitudes of the victim. You may know more about this than me, but I certainly met it in marriage counselling clients (long before the whole question was in the public forum). So much so that, when confidence had been established I would customarily put a question about this – and often hit the mark.
    Of course we have to distinguish between the objective sin, and the subjective guilt of the abuser. However the harm is done either way.

  9. Horace says:

    Yes.
    I agree that paedophilia is different from homosexuality in that it involves a ‘victim -who may suffer long term damage’ and is ‘an abuse of power’.

    Just as the Catholic church considers homosexual activity a serious sin while a homosexual inclination is simply a ‘disorder’, I would hope that a paedophile inclination will always be considered as a ‘disorder’ and paedophile activity a very serious sin.

    I was however thinking of the attitudes of the secular society in which we live and how this may impinge on the life of the Church. Will society become more or less tolerant of the Catholic stance? What difficulties may this cause and how will they be accommodated? (Consider, for example, the plight of Catholic Adoption Societies.)

  10. We are not by any means alone. The Institute of Public Policy Research, which is a political think tank with no religious affiliation, publishes some excellent stuff. info@ippr.org
    You will see that they have recently published ‘Faith in the Nation’ which has an essay by Cardinal Murphy O’Connor which includes some constructive approaches in a secular society. It’s worth getting their newsletter.
    I don’t think that we handled the adoption society question very well and, although I agree with the CDF’s Dignitatis Humanae, it could have been better expressed. Vatican PR can sometimes be disastrous.
    I don’t know the answer to Horace’s question, but I am sure that, unless we hold to, proclaim and explain our fundamental principles we are certainly lost.
    Much will depend on the choice of the next Cardinal.

  11. kouin says:

    Overcrowding would increase rather than decrease the chances of the ‘wrong man’ getting the injection which permanantly cures but science makes it easier and easier to chemically manipulate.
    The ‘Floride in the water’ argument is relevant though hopefully cleaner cities (less oil power) will decrease deaseased minds and natural social justice can expand healthfully.
    200 years of industrialisation have corrupted mans ability in the supernatural so psychic development to higher dying ages across the base education stratum.
    A Pope Smith in the new Holy See in Utah…halleluia!

  12. claret says:

    Sadly the seeds of discord are well and truly set. At least in the UK. I was talking to a lady recently who on discovering I was a catholic said words to the effect , ‘I envy you catholics because you are so certian.’
    While thankful that she saw certainty in Catholicism I said to myself ‘How I wish that this were true!’
    In truth we have been let down by our Bishops who have removed all the old certainties (or are in the process of doing so,) and replaced them with the vagaries of doubt.
    The list is endless but here are just a few recent examples.
    1. The abject surrender over SORS in relation to to Catholic Adoption Agencies. However this surrender has highlighted the fact that these agencies ceased to be Catholic in anything other than name years ago. Consequently they have allowed children to be adopted by homosexuals and lesbians provided they were not in a ‘patrnership’ situation. To be adopted by couples and single people of no faith background whatsoever. Do the Bishops not believe in the eternal soul? if so why sentence an innocent child to the likely loss of his or her own by putting them, in effect for life, in an environment totally devoid of Christ.
    2. The publication of a recent booklet by the Council of Bishops in which the clergy are encouraged, via bidding prayers and homilies, to thank homosexual parishioners for the special gifts that they bring to a parish .
    What these gifts are, and how hetrosexuals are totally devoid of these qualities is not explained.
    What the booklet does of course show is that our Bishops do not believe in the Cathechism of the Catholic Church as to the ‘serious disorder’ of homosexulaity but have accepted the unproven ‘fact’ that homosexuals are born that way and cannot ever change.
    I assume the Bishops booklet on trans gender persons and bi-sexuals also having special gifts is soon to be published too.
    3. Catholic schools are more and more promoting the pill, aborficient drugs, abortion as a matter of ‘choice’ and no-one in authority stops them.
    Life for the unborn , now not so important , for our children. (remember the Bishops advice on not being swayed by ‘single issue’ politics when voting. This gave Catholics a free conscienece to vote Labour and put abortion ‘up for grabs’ to be weighed against other issues. What a cheap price we have put on the unborn child.)
    So forget 50 years, more like in 10 years from now Catholicism will have lost all its last vestiges of certainty and authority and be just like the Anglican Church of today. The only hope is that this is confined to the Western Church. At least the Bishops in Africa, India and China, have a firm grasp on their faith.

  13. RBlaber says:

    I am intrigued that many of the comments have brought the issue of sex to the fore – the Augustinian legacy strikes again!
    Can I get us off that topic, please, at least for a little while? I rather liked the title of this ‘blog entry, ‘Keeping the Anglicans At Bay’, as if they were some sort of dreadful invading force, like Soviet Russia, threatening to take over our parishes and park their tanks on our presbytery lawns.
    As an ex-Anglican, who was and is very grateful for the warm welcome he received on his conversion, can I point out that there are quite a few Anglicans out there now who are very upset and confused by the General Synod’s approval of women bishops, and its refusal to make adequate provision for thosee who cannot in good conscience accept this change.
    ‘Forward in Faith’, the Anglo-Catholic organisation that represents many of these people, may well seek to approach the Catholic Church with a view to some form of corporate union – something that has been well advertised, not least in ‘The Catholic Herald’.
    The Catholic Bishops in England and Wales are known to find this prospect unattractive, as are some clergy and laity, given their liberal views – but it is Rome that must decide the matter in the end. Will ‘Forward in Faith’ be given a welcome, if and when they do make the Rome-wards journey?

  14. Stair Sainty says:

    If we are making predictions, then I can see several potentially diverse and contradictory trends. On the one hand the gradual erosion of Catholic practice (genuflection, crossing oneself at certain moments in the Mass, bowing or kneeling at the Incarnatus est, etc) which is already so evident in many churches, particularly in the USA, will continue. We may also expect that those groups that have split from the Anglican and Episcopalian Churches and sought reception into the Catholic Church will be permitted to retain aspects of their traditional liturgical practice. The latter groups will not find themselves having much in common with the “Catholic-light” practices of a growing minority, actually a majority in the US, and which may yet become a majority in the world-wide Church.

    At the same time, the “traditionalist” parts of the Church, not necessarily just those who have welcomed the motu proprio allowing the Extraordinary Form of the Mass but also those who attend Churches where the Ordinary Form of the Mass is celebrated with greater solemnity (the London Oratory being an example), will gain adherents. The “traditionalists” may find they have more in common with these new convert groups from the Anglican and Episcopalian churches.

    How will the establishment of more personal prelatures such as that proposed for the Traditional Anglicans (and probably for the SSPX), or groups such as the Society of Christ the King and the Priestly Fraternity of St Peter affect the direction of the Church? Will those lazy priests who cannot be bothered to instruct their catuchumens in Catholic ritual nor attempt to encourage their use in the liturgy, continue to be elevated to the Episcopacy, or will the Church recognise that it must maintain the distinctive liturgical practices that were once so very different from Protestantism?

    In the USA (where I lived for 23 years) people shift Church with ease – from Presbyterian to Lutheran to Episcopalian and back, such changes perhaps dictated by geography or personal friendships with little concern about theology. This practice is becoming increasingly frequent among Catholic families and, if the Catholic Church does not affirm clearly its adherence to traditional liturgical practices for the sound theoligical reasons that dictated their introduction, then the boundaries between the Catholic and Protestant churches will surely become increasingly vague. It is already clear that many Catholics do not really understand the difference between transubstantiation and consubstantiation or the Lutheran understanding of the Real Presence and the Calvinist communion. Nor are they bothered by the dubious positions taken by some of the other Chistian churches on human sexuality or abortion.

    I hope that the Church does recognise these dangers and that those elevated to leadership positions will recognise that they are entrusted with the survival of a distinct Catholic ethos. There is no doubt that Christians will gradually be divided between those Churches which fully compromise with the secular state and those which are forced to increasingly vocal and determined dissent. The Catholic Church could be strengthened by secularist assaults or it could be fatally weakened by different interpretations by what it means to be a Catholic. The next few years will dictate the course of the following 50, as the great question of what type of Bishops we can expect to lead us is the most pressing the Church faces.

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