Wednesday, October 7, 2015
ARE WE HEADING FROM HAPPY BUT UNEASY COEXISTENCE TO ACTUAL SCHISM?
We've always had this under the surface, but previous popes have had an ability to keep in somewhat in check. But not so with Pope Francis. I think the major problem is that liberals have claimed His Holiness as their own and traditionalists agree. Thus the split is widening and a true schism is looming. Even Cardinal Mueller is warning of this and I think he is right!
And now I ask are the categories that Father Dwight Longenecker uses in a recent Crux article I reprint in part below mutually exclusive? He is suggesting that the Church might be divided into three groups loosely connected to one another by an open pope similar to how Judaism's divisions are although there is no pope.
But I don't think we can categorize the divisions in the Church so neatly. This is how Fr. Longenecker in his article in Crux (and you can read the full article here) puts it when he comments on Daniel Maguire's analysis with whom Fr. Longenecker only partially agrees, with my comments at the end:
In a recent letter to The New York Times, Marquette theologian Daniel Maguire suggested that the Catholic Church was headed toward a three-way schism.
Writing about Pope Francis’ reforms to the annulment process, Maguire predicted:
Catholicism is going the way of its parent, Judaism. In Judaism there are Reform as well as Conservative and Orthodox communities. This arrangement is not yet formalized in Catholicism, but the outlines of a similar broadening are in place …. While conservative and orthodox Catholics welcome this annulment concession by the Vatican, reform Catholics don’t need it. Their consciences are their Vatican. Reform Catholics, whose numbers are swelling, are still bonded to the church but not to the Roman curia.
The jury is still out as to whether the Society of St. Pius X is formally in schism, but as traditionalists who reject the Novus Ordo Mass and the authority of the Second Vatican Council, they’re high on the list. Nevertheless, their leaders continue to flirt with Vatican authorities and recently Pope Francis granted their priests faculties to hear confessions, so rapprochement is possible.
Schismatic traditionalists fall into two main groups. The sedevacantists (the See is vacant) who believe there is no longer a valid pope, and the conclavists who have gone one step further and elected their own pope. The Society of St Pius V, a sedevacantist group based in New York, is steered by Bishop Joseph Santay, while the Traditional Roman Catholic Church, founded by His Lordship Sherman R. Pius Mosly, is based in New Jersey. Another sedevacantist group is The Congregation of Mary Immaculate Queen. Founded by Francis Konrad Schuckardt (d. 2006), they are dedicated to the messages of Fatima and are part of Schuckardt’s Tridentine Latin Rite Catholic Church.
Conclavists are distinguished by having their own pope. The Palmarian Catholic Church is a notable conclavist group from Spain where they follow Pope Gregory XVIII. Noteworthy American anti-popes are Pope Michael, who lives with his parents in Kansas; the Rev. Lucian Pulvermacher, known as Pope Pius XIII (d. 2009), and a former Episcopal priest, Chester Olszewski of Pennsylvania, who reigns as Pope Peter II. South African Victor Von Pentz (Pope Linus II) lives in Hertfordshire, England, while Argentinian Alejandro Tomás Greico is Pope Alexander IX. Around the world, there are about a dozen other papal claimants whose “conscience is their Vatican,” including convicted sex offender William Kamm, whose papal apartment is a jail cell in Germany.
Among the traditionally minded, there are also some intriguing groups that overlap with other Catholic-minded traditions. They often have curious histories that meld not only Catholicism and Anglicanism, but also link with Eastern Orthodoxy, Syrian, Coptic, and Celtic Christianity. A good example is the group recently established by His Eminence, Rutherford Cardinal Johnson, Patriarch of The Anglican Rite Roman Catholic Church. His Eminence claims that the ARRCC is rooted in the Catholicism of 16th-century Tuscany and the ancient English Catholic rite. The Church of the Culdees, led by the Most Rev. Ivan MacKillop, OCC, celebrates medieval Anglo-Irish Monasticism, while The Celtic Orthodox Church has revived the ancient Coptic-Celtic traditions of Brittany, Ireland, and Western Britain.
Not enthusiastic about popes at the best of times, Catholic progressives don’t consecrate their own anti-popes, but they do boast more than 20 “Independent Catholic Churches” with their own bishops and archbishops. Not counting the Eastern Orthodox and more than 100 independent Anglican denominations, the progressive schisms are made up of Independent Catholics, Old Catholics, and Alternative Catholics. Like the traditionalist groups, most of them claim apostolic succession from the Old Catholic Church of Utrecht — which was established in the 1870s in disagreement over the definition of papal infallibility.
Typical examples of progressive Catholic groups are The Reformed Catholic Church and the Worldwide Ecumenical Catholic Church of Christ with Archbishop Karl Rodig. Then there is the Ecumenical Catholic Church, not forgetting the Ecumenical Catholic Communion and The American National Catholic Church. Most of the progressive groups endorse remarriage after divorce, women’s ordination, married clergy, same sex unions, and contraception. Some exclude women priests, but those Catholics whose “conscience is their Vatican” can affirm women’s ordination by joining The Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests.
Among the more unusual progressive schisms are The Antiochian Church in America, a little church in Tennessee with a taste for Eastern Orthodoxy; the Imani Temple African-American Catholic Congregation founded in 1989 by former priest George Augustus Stalling Jr., and The Traditionalist Mexican-American Catholic Church known for their veneration of Sante Muerte and drug trafficking. Their current archbishop, David Romo Guillén, is serving a 66-year jail sentence for kidnapping and money laundering.
While some progressive Catholics find a home in the “Independent Catholic Churches,” more find their way to the the mainstream liturgical Protestant churches. With the same progressive agenda, and a stronger infrastructure, the Episcopal, Lutheran, and Methodist churches also offer a Catholic atmosphere for Catholics who are bonded to the Church, but not to the Roman Curia.
Some might suggest that Catholics whose “conscience is their Vatican” stop being hypocrites, follow their conscience, and join one of the many groups with whom they are in agreement. If a progressive Catholic wants married priests, New Age spirituality, women’s ordination, artificial contraception, same-sex marriage, and abortion, wouldn’t they be happier with Christians with whom they agree?
Likewise, if a traditionalist Catholic finds himself continually worked up because Pope Francis is too leftist, the new Mass is too informal, and he is dismayed by what he perceives as the hypocrisy of “liberal” Catholics, spineless bishops, poor catechesis, lax clergy, and heretical leadership, shouldn’t he let his “conscience be his Vatican” and either scoot off to join one of the traditionalist schisms or start his own?
My Comments: I think Maquire categorizes things succinctly but there is overlap for many Catholics.
There have always been fervent Catholics, some would call fanatics. And there have always been lax Catholics, some would call heretics or mortal sinners. But I think the majority of Catholics who still attend Church are a mixed bag and cannot be categorized too succinctly and most Catholics aren't reading the divisive blogs and commentary on Pope Francis either extolling him and excoriating him.
When I read the liberal's glee about Pope Francis, I wonder if His Holiness is Catholic. When I read the conservatives excoriation of him, I wonder if he is Catholic. The truth lies somewhere else and I think rank and file Catholics know the truth better than the two extremes I cite.
But, as with the Episcopalians, one can have a love for High Liturgy and even prefer the Extraordinary Form but be socially liberal, open to gay marriage, women priests, artificial contraception and abortion. Just because someone prefers the finer aspects of liturgy (and many gays do) doesn't mean they are ultra-traditional in other aspects of their personal faith.
Just because a Catholic might like a less formal Ordinary Form Mass doesn't mean that they would support gay marriage, women priests, artificial contraception and abortion. They simply like a friendly Mass where there is a more horizontal approach and a lot of hand holding.
Cafeteria Catholics while having their own preferences about this, that and the other and traditionalists now have become more and more like Cafeteria Catholics, I think many of them still respect the pope and any conservativism and traditionalism about him that might exist. Some of them loved Pope Benedict all the while rejecting some of his positions.
It was said of Pope St. John Paul II that the world loved him but hated his religion.
I think we can say of Pope Francis that the world loves him. But the difference I see is that Pope Francis is trying to get the world to love God and to love his religion by giving his religion a new make over.
Is it going to be a heterodox make-over. There are those in the college of bishops who seem to want it. But in making the world love the Church we'll become just like the Anglican Communion, completely irrelevant and on the verge of extinction as it has become so fragmented and what is left of its parishioners soon will be altogether gone.
The Holy Spirit will not allow this to happen long in the Catholic Church although we might have to suffer for a while. Some of us alive today will not see a positive movement toward orthopraxis pastoral theology and orthodoxy in general leading to authentic unity before we die. That's the way it is.
As for me, I'm staying with Peter and doing my best to save my own soul and the souls under my charge. Of course it is the Holy Spirit that does this, not me.