I admire tremendously the thought process that Philip Augustine described in his post Support the Pope. It is one of the most reasoned comments I have seen on the matter.
I’m not going to opine on it, it is something for Roman Catholics to settle, except to say that I too think the Pope should answer for the reasons Philip points out. But it does have ramifications for all of us. We Lutherans and Anglicans as well, as well as others, do indeed subscribe to the creed as the one Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, some who profess Rome are not Christian, and quite a few who do not are, which is something to keep in mind.
I also note that, long ago, although not as long as it seems, our resident Baptist, Geoffrey, wrote about this phenomenon, as well. You’ll find that post here.
This month we will commemorate an Augustinian monk’s posting of ninety-five theses for discussion on reforming the Church, on the door of Wittenberg’s Castle Church, 500 years ago. Most of the reforms he called for, eventually happened in my Lutheran Church, but also in the Catholic Church. The Church, founded by the sinner St. Peter, like all organizations of men, is not sinless, and never will be. For all that, it is an institution that we all, Catholic and Protestant, look to often for leadership, not least because it has done better than most of us at preserving the things that we have always done, everywhere.
An observation, one thing that many of us have observed is that sometimes the Church appears, especially to outsiders as a bureaucratic, legalistic maze. It may or may not be, but sometimes it appears so to the rest of us. QVO yesterday said, “Amoris laetitia, in so far as it encourages a perversion of discipline re admission of unrepentant adulterers to Communion has a bearing on the external forum.” He’s not wrong, but it begs the question of “How does he know whether said sinner is repentant or not? Surely that is for him and his priest to discern, not a legal document that applies to millions around the world. Guidelines, absolutely there need to be, but in the last analysis it is up to him and his God to resolve. Finally it is a matter of the communicant’s free will. I think we should give St. Paul the last word in the matter.
“Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an
unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of
the Lord. A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread
and drinks of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing
the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself.”
I Corinthians 11:27-29 (NIV)
The other thing I want you to consider is this. Like Philip, I urge you to read Amoris laetitia thoughtfully and prayerfully. I suspect you will find it says something very different from what you have seen reported. Again like Philip, I try to eschew terms like ‘liberal/conservative’ or ‘Modernist/traditionalist’ although sometimes we all end up using them, they do not help us to understand, this, after all, is not politics, this is about eternal souls. But for that very reason one cannot trust the media, many of whom are demonstrably Godless people, and as such do not have your, or my, best interests at heart. To take them at their word is neither prudent nor provident. On the other hand, it would be well if the Pope were to refrain from making off the cuff comments to people who may, or may not, have the best interest of the Church at heart. It is considerably more pernicious than President Trump’s Twitter feed,
I’ll leave you with a few words from William Tyndale, whose first translation of the Bible from Greek into English is the basis of our favorite version. From his “To the reder” of his 1526 rendering of the New Testament.
Note the difference of the lawe/and of the gospell. The one axeth and requyreth/the wother perdoneth and forgeveth. The one threateneth/the wother promyseth all good thynges/to them thatt sett their trust in Christ only. The gospell signifieth gladde tydynges/and is nothynge butt the promyses off good thynges. All is not gospell that is written in the gospell boke: For if the lawe were a waye/thou couldest not know what the gospell meante. Even as thou couldest not se person/favour/and grace/excepte the lawe rebuked the/and declared vnto the thy sinne/mysdede/and treaspase.
Repent and beleve the gospell as sayth Christ in the fyrst of Marke. Applyee all waye the lawe to thy dedes/whether thou finde luste in the bottom of thyne herte to the lawe warde: and soo shalt thou no dout repent/and feale in the silfe a certayne sorowe/payne/and grefe to thyne herte: be cause thou canst nott with full luste do the dedes of the lawe. Apllye the gospell/that is to saye the promyses/vnto the deservynge off Christ/and to the mercye of god and his trouth/and soo shalt thou nott despeare: butt shalt feale god as a kynde and a merciful father. And his sprete shall dwell in the/and shall be stronge in the: and the promises shalbe geven the at the last (though not by and by/lest thou shuldest forgett thy sylfe/and be negligent) and all threatenynges shalbe forgeven the for Christis blouddis sake/to whom commit thy silfe all togedder/with out respect/other of thy good dedes or of thy badde.
And finally, I join Francis and all people of good will in welcoming theinfiniterally as he joins us on our journey, to the Cross, and beyond.
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