The RC Pope relaxes on abortion and SSM, time for us to make a stand?

Discussion in 'Anglican and Christian News' started by Spherelink, Sep 20, 2013.

  1. Spherelink

    Spherelink Active Member

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  2. BrethrenBoy

    BrethrenBoy Member

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    Once again, the media is taking something Pope Francis said and twisting it into something he didn't actually say. If you read the relevant passages of the interview you will find that the pope is not saying he wants to change the church's position on these issues - as matter fact he reaffirms the churches positions of these issues - but he is saying that the church can't be fixed upon these issues to the extent that it neglects to fo its main job, spreading the gospel and teaching about Jesus.
     
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  3. seeking.IAM

    seeking.IAM Member

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    I, for one, embraced this message. I think he was not saying that these are unimportant issues. I think he was making a point as to the syllable on which the church should have its emphasis. I think he was saying the Church needs to spend most of it's time preaching the gospel. I have no disagreement with that. I am aware of another denomination that considers itself "progressive." If you go to their website, you can read about pro marriage equality, the importance of being green, social justice issues, saving the planet, Habitat for Humanity, disaster relief, and a whole host of things. However it seems a rare occasion when God, Jesus, Scripture, or worship gets mentioned. I think churches should have their emphasis on the gospel. Other things are also important depending on a church's beliefs and agenda but they should be a PART of the message and not THE message.
     
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  4. seagull

    seagull Active Member

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    I once attended a talk by Sir Anthony Kenny, a former RC priest who left the church and got married
    (to an American). He was apparently "Cardinal Material" but instead became Master of Balliol College, Oxford. He said that the RC Church was spending too much time on matters sexual, and not enough on the Gospel. Pope Francis seems to agree with Sir Anthony on this. Anglicans too would do well to heed this.
     
  5. Alcibiades

    Alcibiades Member

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    Having read through the full interview...I think actually there is more at work here than simply the Pope wishing to emphasise other (more fundamental?) aspects of the gospel over the 'buzzword' moral issues that have dominated religious media coverage in the last decade.*

    To be quite clear, he certainly has shown no indication of the Roman Church substantially changing its mind about these issues, as this perceptive article by a queer catholic feminist points out:
    http://goodcatholicdykes.wordpress.com/2013/09/20/pope-francis-and-me-a-feminist-kill-joy/

    Yet reading more fully, I think there is something very challenging to certain forms of religious conservatism because it completely challenges their method and the way they view themselves.

    Most importantly, Francis insists that moral reflection (and indeed, all theology) must be done not at a theoretical level but should be deeply embedded in the experience human lives lived as a community:
    In a section where he contrasts the 'genius' of Thomas Aquinas with the 'decadence' of Thomist Scholasticism (acknowledging that in its thought the Church has periodically undergone both times of inspiration and mental decline) he says:


    There is a strong rebuff to anyone who thinks that 'Christianity' can be a crystallized sheet of 'data' or 'facts', that emerge from a kind of pure, abstract space untouched by the messiness of human lives. The truth has to be humanly understood with a strong reference to its out-working through time.

    This is because he insists that "God is real. He manifests himself today. God is everywhere". Which leads him to put an accent largely on the theological virtue of hope as opposed to a kind of cultural pessimism:
    .


    This even acknowledges that changes in human self-understanding and growth in knowledge should alter the message of the Church, and actually this is not a means of compromise but of growth and "maturity".


    And there must be room for continuing growth, which extends to faith-through-doubt about God:


    So much of this strikes me as grating not so much against conservative rules but the conservative mentality, which insist on safety, certainty, preservation, clear-cut responses with no reference to people's individual and actual life situations.




    Francis considers the best description of himself as 'a sinner whom the Lord has looked upon' it is to start from a position of weakness and humility above all else which insists on mercy (which is not to be mistaken for 'laxity' which he characterises as equally 'unmerciful'). Those with spiritual oversight are to behave like parents and the church as a mother above all else:


    and again:
    If conservative Anglicans were to start trumpeting this 'disjointeded multitude of doctrines' because the pope wishes to play them down, I think it would be a misstep and not even a true or viable way of conservatism or even Christianity. I genuinely believe this Pope has raised the bar for the public witness of the Church, but I suspect that Anglicanism can in fact rise to it.

    I'm aware that this is already an extremely long post and bless you if you've stayed with me to the end. There is so much more I could quote about how we experience salvation as community, and how he reprimands centralization, clericalism and unilateral decision making, the church as the people of God altogether..the need for this social and temporal element in all thinking about God, Christ and Salvation.

    However instead I shall finish with one final quote which I think may be something of a challenge to certain members of this forum who perhaps 'find only a God that fits their measure' but which I think look like a promising signal for the church in its third millenium. It's a long one, but a good one and quite the summary of what he says I think:



    I look forward to the response to this.

    * Though he does insist that in sharing the teaching of the Church there is a clear order: "...a genuine sermon must begin with the first proclamation, with the proclamation of salvation...then you have to do catechesis. Then you can draw even a moral consequence" or again "The church sometimes has locked itself up in small things, in small-minded rules. The most important thing is the first proclamation: Jesus Christ has saved you."[/quote][/quote]
     
  6. seagull

    seagull Active Member

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    Thank you for this thoughtful post.

    Speaking as very much a mainstream member of the CofE, not too doctrinaire and confessing to doubts, I have been surprised and saddened by the attitudes of some of our American posters who are basically pushing a very hard-line approach. I have, for instance, been described as an "apostate", and as having "turned my back on God". I don't think I need to give further examples, but I will if you want.

    That sort of attitude to me is simply not Anglican.
     
  7. Spherelink

    Spherelink Active Member

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    Now saying isn't exactly very tolerant and supposedly "Anglican" of you, is it seagull?
    I find it difficult to see how that differs from what you complained of them doing.
     
  8. Spherelink

    Spherelink Active Member

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    I fail to see how much of what you complained about in the post is relevant to people's daily experience. Pro-life champions don't just sit on their hands and write academic articles embedded with abstractions, they actually almost never do that. They have massive March For Life gatherings at the Capitol every year, they have counseling and prenatal sessions with mothers to discuss options, they hold rallies for mothers, babies, and healthy nuclear families. These are very much "living the faith" type of engagements and I find it hard to connect to your criticism.

    You mentioned the Pope lambasting conservative values as "disjointed" and elsewhere in the interview he calls conservative Catholics "small-minded." He is clearly a liberal Pope and it is a problem for conservative Catholics to deal with. Conservative Christian beliefs are anything but disjointed. We value the holy sanctity of human life, the cherished irreplaceability of the nuclear family. Anything that harms it is to be disapproved.

    If the Catholic Church doesn't want to defend these values as strongly as before, we have a clear mandate to redouble our efforts, raise that banner, and adamantly defend that which is sacrosanct in this world.
     
  9. Alcibiades

    Alcibiades Member

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    With all respect, I think you have entirely misread, miunderstood and mis-represented not only my contentions but actually what the Pope said.I shall reply as succinctly as I can.

    I'm not accusing conservatives of behaving abstractly. My contention is that they assume their ethics, and theology are entirely non-contextualized, derived from a transcendent, absolute, unchangeable, static and unerring source. This is in contrast to the view of the Pope who says that Christianity is done primarily from the actual lived experience of human beings who bear the image of God. To ask 'abortion: right or wrong?' is the wrong approach for Francis; morality is not about getting 'the right answer' it's about 'doing the right thing' which is 'the most human thing' when you are confronted by the situation of a woman who's had or is considering an abortion and her self-understanding. 'Human' of course being understood in the divinized and christ-like sense rather than the 'fallen' one, if you will.

    And I don't think that's an inherantly 'liberal' position to take- since some liberal opinions are taken as equally axiomatic and done without much reference to concrete human interactions either.

    It's ultimately not a denigration of principles, but a challenging of what is their most judicious application in a given circumstance in light of something more important- namely the theological virtue of love, especially towards the neighbour.
     
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  10. seagull

    seagull Active Member

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    There's an interesting article in The Sunday Times today. To quote Alberto Melloni, an Italian church historian, "the Pope is behaving like a Parish priest. The Catholic doctrine is still there, but it's not the obsessive, intransigent enforcement of principles to be used against Catholics as it was under Benedict". By the sound of various postings here, some Anglicans in this Forum would do well to heed this.
     
  11. seagull

    seagull Active Member

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    There's an interesting article in The Sunday Times today. To quote Alberto Melloni, an Italian church historian, "the Pope is behaving like a Parish priest. The Catholic doctrine is still there, but it's not the obsessive, intransigent enforcement of principles to be used against Catholics as it was under Benedict". By the sound of various postings here, some Anglicans in this Forum would do well to heed this.
     
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  12. seagull

    seagull Active Member

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    I find it quite easy to see. I have never accused anyone in this Forum of being apostate or having turned their back on God. And the Church I belong to, the Church of England, is loving, kind and tolerant. We do not use the sort of language I was referring to. But yes, you can if you want to.
     
  13. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    It is disheartening to see the Pope change positions so quickly after Benedict. The good people of faith will lose good allies among members in the Roman church who still fight for Christian life and family values.

    Umm are we Romanist? Roman Catholics started sacrificing traditional Christian values even before the Reformation (hence why it was needed).
     
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  14. Spherelink

    Spherelink Active Member

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    I actually happen to think it's almost a beneficial thing that this fell out. It is an eminent opportunity for us as the faith that champions Christian beliefs. When Christ beheld the woman guilty of adultery, he told her "leave, and sin no more."

    I'm sorry that it's the wrong answer for Catholics, from now on. It seems to be the right answer for God, whom we follow.
     
  15. Spherelink

    Spherelink Active Member

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    You will have to pardon me, as I'm by no means an expert on all that you had written and spoken of here, but, you did say that beliefs differing fro yours were not Anglican. That is neither loving, nor kind, nor all that tolerant.
     
  16. seagull

    seagull Active Member

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    No, what I said was that being intolerant was not very Anglican. But, yes, we tolerate the intolerant. We're like that. An example is how the CofE has bent over backwards to try to accommodate people who will not tolerate women priests.
     
  17. Alcibiades

    Alcibiades Member

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    I think actually you forgot some important aspects of the story of the woman caught in adultery; 'let he without sin cast the first stone?' and 'neither do I condemn you'.

    The problem I think the Pope has is precisely this rock-throwing tendency of people who want to use 'the rules' merely as a measuring and/or whipping rod upon people without sharing in the pastoral work of the priesthood of christ that seeks reconciliation above condemnation.

    Or does your bible conveniently omit the sentence: "For judgement will be without mercy to anyone who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgement."?

    Let me put it to you another way - you have your clear views on abortion, fine. So what would you personally do if a woman came to you saying she was considering having one if:
    a) she is a teenager being forced to choose between an abusive relationship or single parenthood?
    b) she is a victim of a rape which impregnated her?
    c) she is a heroin addict with a history of mental illness?
    d) she was your daughter?

    Even if you still would give the same answer in all circumstances about the abortion, you'd have to agree the moral situation is complicated by the different circumstances of each of them.

    Then, and more importantly for my point, what would happen if all these hypothetical women went through with it? What would you say to them about the love of god and forgiveness without being glib or slipping into 'cheap grace'?

    Or to mix it up even more, what if they were already a long-established, apparently mature Christian who felt forced into it by desparate circumstances? how do you treat them then?
     
  18. Spherelink

    Spherelink Active Member

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    Tolerance is an opinion, just like everything else. You said and now reaffirmed that those who don't accept an opinion of yours "were not" very "Anglican." You can hardly cry crocodile tears here.
     
  19. Spherelink

    Spherelink Active Member

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    This is not about condemning or being without sin. Condemnation shouldn't be confused with a statement of fact. A woman caught in adultery is a sinner who violates the law of God, whether I am an adulterer as well, or not. It is not blameworthy to state the sins of men, but only to proclaim yourself to be sinless, which we most assuredly do not. All we seek is to state the sins, as God and the church have always stated them. Anyone who goes against God ourselves included is subject to "Righteous Condemnation."
     
  20. Spherelink

    Spherelink Active Member

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    The Christian answer has always been very clear on your dilemmas.
    a) raise it alone with her family
    b) raise it or give to a nursing home for adoption
    c) give to a nursing home for adoption
    d) raise it with her family