Thursday, October 11, 2007

Mass in San Francisco

Read this first. WARNING: Some of the pictures are disturbing.

I saw the pictures before I read the text of the report. (I refuse to post them on this website.) My first thought was "nothing new here, just the Episcopalians doing their thing." Then I read the report and I have to confess my astonishment. Yes. It is well known that the Roman Church has some bishops who are a little sketchy in terms of their adherence to what comes from Rome. But this is beyond the pale. I really don't want to sound like I am picking on my former co-religionists. The overwhelming majority of RCC bishops (even most of the sketchy ones) would not be OK with this. But still...


I mean really... What was the man thinking? I know that one of the Latin Church's alleged advantages I am repeatedly reminded of is that they have the Pope to maintain some sort of discipline. I will be very interested to see what comes of this sacrilege. In Orthodoxy we don't have the centralized chain of command that exists in the Western Church and yes we have our share of problems. But I can tell you that it is inconceivable that something like this could happen in an Orthodox church. In the unimaginable circumstance that a bishop did do something like this; I think he would be called on the carpet very quickly by the Holy Synod.

Forget the Pope in Rome. I will be most interested in any reaction from his fellow bishops here in America. Is that the sound of crickets I hear?

On a related note this sort of thing does not help the ongoing efforts by Pope +Benedict XVI aimed at restoring communion with Orthodoxy. Ignoring for the moment the very real theological issues dividing us, most Orthodox see this and shudder. 'What further evidence do we require, that the time has not yet come to restore communion with the Latins?' It is a stark reminder of all the baggage that would necessarily come with the Roman Catholic Church in the event of restored communion. And frankly it is baggage no one over here feels we need.


Anonymous said...

Humm... It must be a sign of really bad times when this doesn't surprise me. It upsets me, but I wouldn't say it surprises me.

Chris Jones said...

Forget the Pope in Rome. I will be most interested in any reaction from his fellow bishops here in America.

I share your disquiet (of course) about what this Archbishop has done. But we can't "forget the Pope" and concentrate on the reaction of his brother bishops in America. In the polity of the Roman Catholic Church, there is no Synod of bishops in the United States, there is no primate, and his brother bishops have no canonical responsibility or authority to hold the Archbishop accountable. Only the Pope has that canonical responsibility.

Any reaction the other American bishops might have would not be an instance of mutual accountability among bishops; it would only be political posturing. It would do nothing to address the situation. I should be very surprised if there is any reaction at all from any other American bishop.

Ad Orientem said...

Chris Jones,
You raise an interesting point. The ecclesiological differences between us are also huge. On the one hand Latin bishops complain about the lack of collegiality from Rome, whilst on the other hand they refuse to police themselves. It sounds like they want an anything goes arrangement. And the evidence of the last 30+ years is that such is pretty much the way things have been. I think your comment and its implications vis a vis restoring communion with Rome deserves some serious thought.


Athanasius said...

A frequent internet commentator of Byzantine Catholic persuasion (I shall not name him, as I generally respect his insight) has often asserted that Orthodoxy is
"Anglicanism waiting to happen"--presumably because we do not have a Pope. Antics like those in San Francisco reveal why I find his assertion ludicrous. Any reasonable person, looking at the two churches, would have to say that the Romans have gone much farther down the road of Anglican silliness than have the Orthodox.

Vir Speluncae Orthodoxae said...

I'm not the least bit surprised either. We don't have these things happen because we take our faith seriously and we're all on the same page: We don't change. Our position is intellectually honest. What good is having an "infallible all supreme" Bishop if the flock just ignores him anyway?

Athanasius, you're friend can keep waiting. It hasn't happened in 2,000 years and it isn't about to start.