Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Enduring or fluid catholicism

Father Andrew Greeley has studied Chicago's Catholics for years. Chicago is the biggest city in the rustbelt. What is true there is true in Lorain and Sheboygan. We who are Catholic are Catholic, even many of those that left (many would come back).

We, who, have been hurt and betrayed by the Church [or really members of the Church] have been formed by the Church. Catholicism embeds itself in the mind. It leaves a permanent impression. But we are not at peace.

A small Anglican/Episcopal congregation, Mount Calvary, in Baltimore has voted to join Rome. They voted 24-2-2. The property is negotiable. The congregation holds the deed. Under their rules the property is held in trust for the denomination. There is another congregation in Omaha, that is in litigation with its bishop.

This is not the first Anglo-Catholic church to see itself more comfortable as Catholic than Anglican, some have crossed the Tiber, but no mass movement, but it does happen. Most of this is because of the theological drift in Anglicanism. Anglicanism often prides itself in its broadness. There is much liberty and license. It seems, the only requirement is to say "No" to Rome. These people said "Yes".

Now, in the US, people looking at a High Anglican, and a Roman Catholic church often see little difference. For many people the transition is not difficult. The flow more often goes the other way. An old joke says when a Catholic gets rich, he joins a country club, becomes a Republican, and joins the Episcopal church.

Other Catholics make a switch because of hurt suffered in the church, and/or disagreement about divorce and other such matters. Greeley's study will show, what many people know: many would come back if treated better. Sure, some leave because of irreconcilable differences of belief, but really it is doubtful that that is the greater part. Now, others drift through laxity of observance, and are yet still Catholic.

In the diocese of Cleveland/Lennongrad, the number of Anglicans rushing in is very paltry. The rushing out is a flood. An hundred years ago, virtually all Puerto Ricans were Catholic. In this diocese the majority are Pentecostalists. Other Latinos have also left. This is partly pastoral neglect and incompetence, partly protestant evangelisation, and americanisation. They and others have married out. There is nothing in the character of the diocese itself, that draws people in. Clearly, the present leadership is pushing even more people away.

Cleveland has had both clerical sex scandals and cover ups, and financial scandals. This is disheartening, and condemning, but even these serious wounds can be mostly healed. A new leadership would improve the situation, but would it be willing to correct abuses and reverse injustices?

How do the Anglicans deal with the properties? Lennon, Cleveland's bishop, is like pharo of old; he is the only citizen. Everything is his. The State of Ohio, may not act, but under civil law, the bishop is the chief steward of a public charitable trust--not the owner. As Greeley maintains, catholicism is a communal religion. It is a religion of us and God. The chief protestant heresies have religion as many mes and God.

A friend of mine, again and again compares Lennon to the anti-Catholic Oliver Cromwell. Cromwell, the invader of Ireland, and dictator of Britain, massacred the entire town of Drogheda. Burned them in their church. He wanted a genocide of the vermin irish, because of their obstinacy in clinging to the old faith. Only the logistics of the matter prevented him. An editorial cartoon in the Plain Dealer, also alluded to Cromwell.

Of course, Lennon is not Cromwell [there is no re-incarnation, read Paul's Epistle to the Hebrews*]. The usual comparison is with his homophone Vladimir Ilich Lenin, the marxist atheist, and his successors whom wished an extinction of christianity. Lennon has made parish after parish go extinct in two dioceses. It must be remembered he ruined Boston first.

In parts of the Church, there is a high clericalism. There are proponents of this view in the pews, pharasaical ultra Catholics who weigh other Catholics' catholicism. Many of these have not been gored by Lennon, or have a disposition accepting of autocracy. Lennon is awash in high clericalism. It benefits and exalts him. This clericalism does us no good.

May God have Mercy on us, and send us a saint instead of an executive.
ix. 27.-- καὶ καθ' ὅσον ἀπόκειται τοῖς ἀνθρώποις ἅπαξ ἀποθανεῖν, μετὰ δὲ τοῦτο κρίσις,
Et quemadmodum statutum est hominibus semel mori, post hoc autem judicium:
And as it is appointed unto men once to die, and after this the judgment:

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