Thursday, July 31, 2014


We know what many Catholics, both clergy and laity, think of the Anglican Church. We think that there liberalization which has led to schism after schism in this denomination will eventually lead to its complete demise.

But what do some Anglicans think of the Catholic Church. We get an insight from a renowned historian in the Church of England who is also a deacon, Diarmaid MacCulloch who thinks we are heading for a schism.

He thinks this is going to happen because the hierarchy, especially during the reigns of Pope St. John Paul II and Pope Benedict which tried to interpret the Second Vatican Council within continuity with traditional, historic Catholicism. He calls this irrational!

But the Catholic Church faces ridicule from more progressive Christian denominations who have joined the fads and trends of godless secularism in the following areas:

1. Female clergy: The Church is painted by the media and others as women hating, medieval and backwards for not ordaining women although it makes perfect sense when one takes into account the Church's sacramental economy (which is outdated by secular standards that do not take sacraments or faith into account).

2. The other has to do with the Church's position on marriage which is related intrinsically to the Church's teaching on the Sacrament of Holy Orders. Spousal relationships are male and female, not same sex. The Church's fight agains same sex marriage as well as her teachings on chastity and natural law marginalize us today.

3. Because of this, the Catholic Church is being painted as racists of previous generations. We are painted as gay bashing, homosexual hating and transgendered phobic. This is influencing scores of Catholics who are turning away from the Church's traditional teachings in the area of sexuality as they embrace the openness of the culture which has been manipulated by elitists in the entertainment and news media.  

Secular sources for belief are more influential than Scripture, Tradition and Natural Law for many Christians and Catholics today.

I don't see a liberal schism but we could well have a traditionalists' schism if the Catholic Church moves in the direction of the Anglican Communion. I don't think any pope would make that mistake.

But we will see liberal Catholics ultimately becoming nones or joining the Anglican Communion of other feel-good religions that allow for vapid opinions to be elevated to dogma.

Top church historian sees Catholic schism ahead


JBS said...

Thanks for posting this, Fr. McDonald.

Since schism describes the departure of bishops and their wayward followers, I would be interested to know where he believes this process will begin.

It's obvious enough that a majority of Catholics in Europe and North America doubt essential truths of the Faith, but I wonder why he thinks such Catholics will form their own churches/ecclesial communities rather than just joining the Anglicans or some other existing group.

I'm not sure I understand why celibacy keeps coming up in these sorts of conversations. Why does he think people will leave over this particular vocation? And, since we were the only church for most of Christian history, I think he needs to expand his argument a bit. He also needs to explain what is unrealistic about the vocation of celibacy.

More importantly, what texts of VCII require a "radical move to change the way authority is expressed"? Does he believe this change in expression of authority was the primary focus of VCII? More generally, why do men such as this fellow so often focus on authority in their analysis of the state of the Church? The Church exists to reconcile sinners to the Father. Authority, at least in the worldly sense, is either a minor concern for us or even irrelevant.

Gene said...

MacCullogh speaks like a true rationalist/humanist. Fine. It is a very short step from married clergy and female ordination to gay marriage, abortion, birth control and whatever else turns anyone on. Let's make "Roll Out the Barrel" a Liturgical hymn.

Cameron said...

I once talked to a Franciscan superior and he said that, again and again, throughout history the most successful (by which you know what I mean) schisms have been those perpetrated by more "conservative" groups, or those right of center, so to speak.

Basically what I took away from our conversation is that more "liberal" groups aren't organized enough to mount a real schism. Yes, there are small groups who corporately dissociate from the Church and also individuals who remove themselves from Communion, but they are so loosey-goosey that long-term maintenance of a new corporate structure is nearly hopeless. This is why the Orthodox have remained relatively stable for the length of their Schism while we have seen no real post-Vatican II lefty schism. It would fall apart.

I think groups like the Anglicans aren't an exception to this because, while they are now quite lefty and are falling apart, up to the recent past this either wasn't the case and/or theological liberalism had not yet infected the larger culture. Also note that because the Anglican Church is and was the state church of England, it had the force of culture behind it directly. Whereas, while Catholicism has rightfully enjoyed the protection of governments at various points throughout Her history, there have been significant periods of political unfavorability towards the Church.

Wipo of Mainz said...

MacCulloch is a good historian whose scholarship is somewhat compromised by an antipathy (coupled with a grudging admiration) for the Catholic Church. As he is openly homosexual he refused ordination to the Anglican 'priesthood' since he had issues with the Cof E's official stance on homosexuality, and although he remains a deacon I believe he now describes himself as agnostic.

There is a de facto schism in the Catholic Church anyway, and liberal Catholics make no bones about the fact that they are at odds with official Church teaching in almost every respect. Even their so-called 'liturgies' are in fact Congregationalist in all but name.

Which is why I avoid them like the plague. Sorry, Ignotus, 'skip' them.

MR said...

Very interesting to read. I definitely agree with Fr. McDonald on liberal vs traditional schisms.

mgl said...


An alternative way to look at it might be that leftists avoid schism because their goals are best served by white-anting organizations from the inside, while the orthodox schism out of a sincere (if mistaken) desire to maintain orthodoxy.

If there's one thing that leftists instinctively understand, it's power. The prize for them is the transformation of a once-solid, orthodox organization into a vehicle for their own projects and preoccupations. Doctrinal purity is a far lesser concern, to be sorted out afterwards. The mainline protestant denominations are a perfect example of this. On the Catholic side, leftists have been white-anting the post-conciliar Church and have racked up a large number of wins, though the battle is far from over.

This is why leftists will never definitively "turn" on Pope Francis when (or if) he fails to deliver for them. Sure, they'll kvetch and emote, but they understand that (regardless of his own personal beliefs), he's very much more useful to be able to claim as an ally.

Conservatives, contrary to your claim, are far less organized than leftists. The more perceptive among them urge them to emulate the ruthless efficiency with which leftists have systematically undermined and taken control of education, the media, the bureaucracy, the judiciary, and the churches--but the trouble is that conservatives are more interested in ideas than power.

Look at the squabbling among orthodox Catholics under Pope Francis, compared with the relative serenity and confidence among liberals. Conservatives (or "neo-Catholics") lambaste traditionalists for not getting with the Francis Effect, trads mock neos for their implausible excuse-making, and so on. These people are all fundamentally on the same orthodox side, but they can barely stand each other. Liberal Catholics, by contrast, know that the critical task is to cement their takeover of the Church, and will put aside purging each other until they're in power. (But once they get going on the purges ... hoo, boy!)

rcg said...

Wipe, whom I admire, is right on although a little late for that post in this blog. One consistent theme has been to question why people who are at odds with not just one, but many, teachings stay with the Church at all. The conclusion has been, so far, one of two reasons: they are lazy per the Franciscan Cameron met, or they are trying to destroy the Church.

Gene said...

RCG, Wipe…please.

rcg said...

Apologies to 'Wipo'.

I really admire Steve Jobs but I wish he would leave my phone alone.

Cameron said...

Interesting food for thought, mgl.