Tuesday, April 24, 2018

ACTUAL GRACE AND MERIT, IS THE BALTIMORE CATECHISM ON GRACE PALEGIAN OR IS IT PELAGIAN? IS IT NEO OR NOT?


I was taught as a child that two things are necessary for salvation as the Catholic Church teaches: Faith and good works.

Do we merit salvation by our own works, be it faith or good works? Or is this Pelagian, neo or otherwise?

This is what I was taught from the good old Baltimore Catechism with my comment or question in red:
  1. Actual grace is obtained by good works. (Sounds like we can merit it, no?)  It is especially obtained by the use of means offered by the Church, such as hearing Mass, sermons, etc., and receiving the sacraments, particularly the Holy Eucharist, which contains God, the Source of Grace.
    Although we cannot merit grace by our good works, (oh!)  still our good works can beg God for us, to give us grace. Good works are necessary, for God will not save us without our cooperation.

    Actual grace is made to act through various means: through sermons, reading of good books, illness and death, advice of superiors and friends, good example, etc.

    The first converts at Pentecost were moved by the preaching of the Apostles. St. Ignatius of Loyola was moved by the reading of the lives of the saints; St. Francis of Assisi, during an illness; St. Francis Borgia, upon seeing the corpse of Queen Isabella. Often God sends us sufferings as a means by which the Holy Ghost may speak to us.
    Can we resist the grace of God? --Unfortunately, we can resist the grace of God, for our will is free, and God does not force us to accept His grace.
  1. Grace does not force us. It leaves us free to choose between good and evil. The Holy Ghost guides and enlightens, but we can still close our eyes to His grace. If we cooperate, we gain other graces.
    As Christ said, "For to him who has shall be given, and he shall have abundance" (Matt. 13:12). He who persists in rejecting the gift of God's grace and refuses to be converted will die in his sin and will be forever excluded from the sight of God. "From him who does not have, even that which he seems to have shall be taken away. But as for the unprofitable servant, cast him forth into the darkness outside, where there will be the weeping, and the gnashing of teeth" (Matt. 25:29-30). Would it not be an insult to a king if he keeps offering gifts to one of his people, and these gifts are despised?
  2. We should be on the lookout for the graces of God, ready to accept them as soon as they are offered. The action of the Holy Ghost on the individual soul is not continuous in particular graces; we must be ready when He comes with special gifts. Some receive only one summons to the banquet. In the desert, the Israelites who rose late found the manna melted away. There are times of special grace for the Christian, such as Lent, a retreat, etc.
    How can we make our most ordinary actions merit a heavenly reward? --We can make our most ordinary actions merit a heavenly reward by doing them for the love of God, and by keeping ourselves in the state of grace. (This sounds Pelagian to me, how about you?)
  1. God grants us the right to a heavenly reward for the most ordinary good actions in the supernatural order, provided we are in the state of grace. God does not ask us to do extraordinary things. If we do the most ordinary tasks of the day, like cooking, studying, doing small chores, carpentry work, sewing, and such, in a spirit of love and obedience to Him, our acts will deserve merit before God's eyes. God does not expect all of us to be great scientists saving thousands of lives each day, great discoverers, great lawyers, great statesmen. Does God need our help? All He wants is our love; and this we can give in the most ordinary daily actions. "Whether you eat or drink, or whatever else you do, do all to the glory of God."
  2. By mortal sin one loses the merit he has gained from his good actions. It is necessary that he regain that state of grace before he can regain that merit.
    To regain God's friendship, we must be sorry for our sins, make a good confession, and resolve never to displease Him again. Then He will give us back the gift of His grace and love, and the merit of all our good works.

41 comments:

O. B. Tained said...

"1. Actual grace is obtained by good works. (Sounds like we can merit it, no?)"

No. Any sentence can SOUND questionable or its meaning be misunderstood when it is taken out of context.

"Obtained" does not necessarily connote "earned."

"I obtained a bucket of coal for the furnace from the local purveyor of anthracite" Doesn't mean that I "merited" the coal.

_____________

"We can make our most ordinary actions merit a heavenly reward by doing them for the love of God, and by keeping ourselves in the state of grace. (This sounds Pelagian to me, how about you?)"

Again, no. And for a very similar reason. How do Catholic understand the term "merit"?

"The Council of Trent stressed: "[N]one of those things which precede justification, whether faith or works, merit the grace of justification; for if it is by grace, it is not now by works; otherwise, as the Apostle [Paul] says, grace is no more grace" (Decree on Justification 8, citing Rom. 11:6).

The Catholic Church teaches only Christ is capable of meriting in the strict sense—mere man cannot (Catechism of the Catholic Church 2007). The most merit humans can have is condign—when, under the impetus of God’s grace, they perform acts which please him and which he has promised to reward (Rom. 2:6–11, Gal. 6:6–10). Thus God’s grace and his promise form the foundation for all human merit (CCC 2008).

Virtually all of this is agreed to by Protestants, who recognize that, under the impetus of God’s grace, Christians do perform acts which are pleasing to God and which God has promised to reward, meaning that they fit the definition of merit. When faced with this, Protestants are forced to admit the truth of the Catholic position—although, contrary to Paul’s command (2 Tim. 2:14), they may still dispute the terminology."


Gene said...

Well, I am a Jansenist on these issues. The Catholic Church has always (well, since Augustine) really, really liked works and has a hissy fit about Justification by Faith, although they recently paid lip service to it. I am a TULIP Calvinist and do not think much of works as having any determinative role in salvation. However, good works are still mandated by Christ..."ye shall know them by their fruits."

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

The Church does not pay lip service to justification by faith. It is our doctrine - and has been our doctrine.

From the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification:

"14.The Lutheran churches and the Roman Catholic Church have together listened to the good news proclaimed in Holy Scripture. This common listening, together with the theological conversations of recent years, has led to a shared understanding of justification. This encompasses a consensus in the basic truths; the differing explications in particular statements are compatible with it.

15.In faith we together hold the conviction that justification is the work of the triune God. The Father sent his Son into the world to save sinners. The foundation and presupposition of justification is the incarnation, death, and resurrection of Christ. Justification thus means that Christ himself is our righteousness, in which we share through the Holy Spirit in accord with the will of the Father. Together we confess: By grace alone, in faith in Christ's saving work and not because of any merit on our part, we are accepted by God and receive the Holy Spirit, who renews our hearts while equipping and calling us to good works."

Marc said...

Perhaps justification by faith has been the doctrine. But doctrines can evolve, so who knows whether that'll be true next week or even tomorrow?

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Who knows? I know.

That we are justified by faith, not by good works, is eternally true and will not evolve.

(The Truth is not to be confused with the words used to express the Truth.)

How we express this belief - the words or images we use to teach and explain this Truth - will, necessarily evolve.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

According to Catholic understanding, good works, made possible by grace and the working of the Holy Spirit, contribute to growth in grace, so that the righteousness that comes from God is preserved and communion with Christ is deepened. When Catholics affirm the "meritorious" character of good works, they wish to say that, according to the biblical witness, a reward in heaven is promised to these works. Their intention is to emphasize the responsibility of persons for their actions, not to contest the character of those works as gifts, or far less to deny that justification always remains the unmerited gift of grace.

Henry said...

From the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification:

"14.The Lutheran churches and the Roman Catholic Church have together listened to the good news proclaimed in Holy Scripture.


I didn't get any further than this in Fr. K's undoubted learned comment. For my eyes suddenly glazed over, having long since learned that these Catholic-Lutheran/Anglican/whateverProt "joint declarations" invariably consist of bloviating "we have heard the good news together" verbiage not worth a self-respecting person's time to parse.

Marc said...

It might just evolve to mean the complete opposite.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Henry, that's unfortunate.

From the Vatican response to the JDDJ: "The "Joint Declaration of the Catholic Church and the Lutheran World Federation on the Doctrine of Justification" represents a significant progress in mutual understanding and in the coming together in dialogue of the parties concerned; it shows that there are many points of convergence between the Catholic position and the Lutheran position on a question that has been for centuries so controversial. It can certainly be affirmed that a high degree of agreement has been reached, as regards both the approach to the question and the judgement it merits. It is rightly stated that there is "a consensus in basic truths of the doctrine of justification".

The Catholic Church is, however, of the opinion that we cannot yet speak of a consensus such as would eliminate every difference between Catholics and Lutherans in the understanding of justification. The Joint Declaration itself refers to certain of these differences. On some points the positions are, in fact, still divergent."

A self-respecting person,I would suggest,should be grateful that the Holy Spirit is very much as work in the world, moving us toward healing the wounds we have caused in the Body of Christ.

As Saint Pope John Paul II wrote in Ut Unum Sint, "No one is unaware of the challenge which all this poses to believers. They cannot fail to meet this challenge. Indeed, how could they refuse to do everything possible, with God's help, to break down the walls of division and distrust, to overcome obstacles and prejudices which thwart the proclamation of the Gospel of salvation in the Cross of Jesus, the one Redeemer of man, of every individual?

I thank the Lord that he has led us to make progress along the path of unity and communion between Christians, a path difficult but so full of joy. Interconfessional dialogues at the theological level have produced positive and tangible results: this encourages us to move forward." (no 2)

Fr Martin Fox said...

Grace is always prior. And by always, I mean, always.

So when we talk about good works helping or being necessary, do not fail to remember that good works, themselves, are preceded by grace; and insofar as they are prompted by grace, are they truly "good."

So when we say, we are saved in some measure "by" good works, this does not contradict salvation by grace, because those good works are the fruit of grace.

Why?

Because grace is always prior.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Well said, Martin.

rcg said...

Fr Fox is awesome. Go read his web page and think about the last time you have heard such a sermon. I would live in Russia, if it weren't so flat.

FWIW, the link between good works and grace, a priori, is obvious. The good works are an outward expression of the excitement of True Love. It is the fruit of inspiration.

Sort of like liturgical dancing, but real.

George said...

There are those who have an incorrect conception or an incomplete understanding of how grace operates which is not coincident with, or does not correspond with what the Church teaches. It is grace which precedes any good work and it is grace which sanctifies and imputes goodness to it.

Here I will expand upon Blessed John Baptist Scalabrini:
It is our faith and the grace of God which make our works worthy of merit. Without good works faith is unproductive, without faith and the grace which makes them good, works are not effective to the good ends God desires of us.

Christ performed many good works such as prayer and fasting and these were eminently good and of the greatest value since He is God Himself. Are we not to be a good follower of His and do the same? And is it not in performing works that He desires of us that they are good and given spiritual value through His Divine Providence? Certainly if one can fast to become more physically attractive, it is not beyond us to fast and pray and thereby avail ourselves of God's grace for our spiritual good and that of others.

There is no pelagianism or semi-pelagianism to be found in Catholicism with a true, proper, and authentic understanding of the Church's belief and teaching in how God's grace operates. Grace is an unmerited gift. We do not receive grace as one who works a certain number of hours and then receives a paycheck for his labors. We receive God's grace when we co-operate with God's work of sanctification.

Fr Martin Fox said...

Fr. Kavanaugh, RCG:

Thanks for the kind words.

Oh, and if anyone has a cavil about my formulation of grace, I invite you to read Trent's Decree on Justification. Trent says the same thing: grace is always prior.

Gene said...

Theologically, there are subtleties that are important. Calvinists and, to a lesser extent Lutherans, have always had trouble with the notion that we have some "faculty" for receiving Revelation remaining in us after the Fall. For Calvinists, the image of God was broken in the Fall and nothing remains. Whatever "faculty" we have is restored to us by Christ's grace. It is totally from outside of us. This is the theo-logic of Total Depravity. The positing (as Catholic theology does) of a faculty within us, of some vestige of the Imago remaining in man, is to thereby diminish both God's glory and Christ's Sacrifice. From Total Depravity follow Unconditional Salvation, Limited Atonement, and Irresistible Grace. This is not just Calvinism; Calvin followed Augustine.

Fr Martin Fox said...

Also, about the Lutheran-Catholic joint declaration:

While I agree that this document probably means less than its framers hoped, I see no reason for Catholics to attack it.

The problem with the traditional Lutheran position on grace and justification is that it is too narrow; or, rather, that the Lutheran denomination is stuck with Luther's assertion that everything revolves around the doctrine of justification. As a result, Lutheranism tends to be rather cramped.

The Catholic position, on the other hand, is more expansive; so as a result, the Catholic Church can make room for those who, like the Protestant Reformers, want to emphasize faith and grace over and over. But Protestantism can't make room for Catholicity; so when it tries, you get the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification, which is more uncomfortable for Protestants than for Catholics. Nothing about it creates problems for us, but the document hasn't fared well in Protestant circles. Not even all Lutherans accept it.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

CCC 405 "Although it is proper to each individual, original sin does not have the character of a personal fault in any of Adam's descendants. It is a deprivation of original holiness and justice, but human nature has not been totally corrupted: it is wounded in the natural powers proper to it, subject to ignorance, suffering and the dominion of death, and inclined to sin - an inclination to evil that is called "concupiscence". Baptism, by imparting the life of Christ's grace, erases original sin and turns a man back towards God, but the consequences for nature, weakened and inclined to evil, persist in man and summon him to spiritual battle."

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

The Joint Declaration has been accepted by a growing number of Protestant denominations over the years. While "not all Lutherans" accept it, neither do all Catholics it seems.

Be that as it may, since the signing of the JDDJ in October 1999 between the World Lutheran Federation and the Catholic Church, other Protestant denominations have "signed on." The World Methodist Council associated itself with the JDDJ in 2006 and the World Council of Reformed Churches in 2015. In 2017 Archbishop Justin Welby and the Anglican Communion affirmed the JDDJ.

The "listening together to the good news proclaimed in Holy Scripture" has borne good fruit. When we were finally able to do this and to move away from the mutual condemnations that constituted most of the (un)ecumenical dialogue of the first 400 years after the Reformation, we discovered that we were saying many of the same things, though in different ways and believing many of the same things, though expressing these beliefs differently.

rcg said...

Gene, even if the image of God is broken completely, isn't there a place where it once was? Even if that location is filled with our Id the place for the image is still there, no? We cannot reconstruct it ourselves as without the intervention of external Grace because we do not have all of the parts. But we alone were made in the image of God, so for that reason we are different than the rest of Creation. It seems universal in Man to seek the meaning of himself and Creation. But without the intervention of God through His Son we can't get there from here. That some reject that revelation is a mystery that I don't think is explainable by predestination for the reasons I give here. We are a smaller infinity that God, who is the complete Infinity, but I think we have that mark whether we admit it not.

Fr Martin Fox said...

Fr. K:

The groups that have signed on are in rapid decline.

The Protestants and Evangelicals who are growing are mostly disinterested.

Henry said...

There is one ecumenical initiative in the past half-century that has borne tangible fruit--the Anglican Ordinate.

Has any "joint declaration" brought any separated brethren back into the bosom of Holy Mother Church?

"The Joint Declaration has been accepted by a growing number of Protestant denominations over the years."

All the more reason for skepticism? Given that some of those cited are not conspicuous in their fidelity to Christian doctrine. (Not having read this joint declaration itself, I have no basis for substantive criticism of it.)

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Amen to that Henry! Most ecumenism today, while not bad or evil, is the tea and crumpets kind. Let's be nice to each other, say nice things about what we have in common and get together for the prayer for Christian Unity and at Thanksgiving. They pat themselves on the back for their papers and workshops and declarations.

But they are not returning to the full communion of the Church except for the small number who enter the full communion of the true Church.

But the Ordinariate is the way to go and way to go Pope Benedict, the pope of true ecumenism!

TJM said...

Pope Benedict IS the Pope of Christian Unity!!!

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

"Most ecumenism today, while not bad or evil, is the tea and crumpets kind. Let's be nice to each other, say nice things about what we have in common and get together for the prayer for Christian Unity and at Thanksgiving. They pat themselves on the back for their papers and workshops and declarations."

This, Allan, is an unfortunate characterization that springs, forgive me, from your ignorance.

"There is one ecumenical initiative in the past half-century that has borne tangible fruit--the Anglican Ordinate."

If your sole criterion for bearing fruit is the conversion to Catholicism of Protestants, this may be, marginally, true. But it is not the Church's sole criterion.

The "ecumenical initiative" is the work of the Holy Spirit. Four hundred plus years of mutual condemnation and acrimony has been, in large part, overcome by the action of the Holy Spirit.

The first fruit is doing the will of Christ. Seeking the unity that Christ desires for the Church is, itself, an act of being conformed to God's will for the Church. When we conform ourselves to the Divine will, that is a very good thing.

Another of the fruits of the ecumenical movement has been the recognition and acknowledgement by the Catholic Church that we contributed to the divisions, the wounds, in the Body of Christ.

Another was the extraordinary, even unprecedented, outreach by Saint Pope John Paul II to leaders of other Christian denominations in assisting him to seek a way to exercise the Petrine office that would better serve all Christians. "Whatever relates to the unity of all Christian communities clearly forms part of the concerns of the primacy. As Bishop of Rome I am fully aware, as I have reaffirmed in the present Encyclical Letter, that Christ ardently desires the full and visible communion of all those Communities in which, by virtue of God's faithfulness, his Spirit dwells. I am convinced that I have a particular responsibility in this regard, above all in acknowledging the ecumenical aspirations of the majority of the Christian Communities and in heeding the request made of me to find a way of exercising the primacy which, while in no way renouncing what is essential to its mission, is nonetheless open to a new situation." (Ut Unum Sint no 95)

John Nolan said...

'The "ecumenical initiative" is the work of the Holy Spirit'. What grounds have you for this assertion? After all, you are the one who requires concrete evidence for everything, including the workings of cause and effect in recent history.

Odd that you do not apply the same forensic criteria to your own opinions. Or perhaps not, given your track record.

Not that the said initiative has achieved much. Ignorant and badly catechized Protestants can make common cause with ignorant and badly catechized Catholics. Big deal.

Years of discussion and reams of paper were wasted on ARCIC I and ARCIC II (known to us traddies as 'arse-kick') only for the Anglicans to torpedo it by deciding unilaterally to 'ordain' women.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

"The movement for the restoration of communion among all Christians was fostered by the grace of the Holy Spirit (cf. UR, 1). It is the Spirit who arouses the desire for unity among Christ's disciples and for those actions which will enable everyone peacefully to reestablish that unity, in the manner desired by Christ. Then the Gospel will be proclaimed more effectively and the world be open to faith. Therefore, the Church «should invoke the Holy Spirit with ever greater insistence, imploring from him the grace of Christian unity ... Unity, after all, is the gift of the Holy Spirit» (TMA, 34).

"We cannot 'bring about' unity by our powers alone. We can only obtain unity," says Benedict XVI, "as a gift of the Holy Spirit. Consequently, spiritual ecumenism—prayer, conversion and the sanctification of life—constitutes the heart of the meeting and of the ecumenical movement."

"Ecumenism is in fact a spiritual process, that is realized in faithful obedience to the Father, in fulfillment of the will of Christ and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.” Pope Francis


"For us, Christian ecumenism is not a choice: it is our mission to witness together with and in Christ, and it is a gift we receive from God through the Holy Spirit." Lutheran World Federation

"It is the Holy Spirit, dwelling in those who believe and pervading and ruling over the entire Church, who brings about that wonderful communion of the faithful and joins them together so intimately in Christ that he is the principle of the Church's unity. By distributing various kinds of spiritual gifts and ministries, he enriches the Church of Jesus Christ with different functions, 'in order to equip the saints for the work of service, so as to build up the Body of Christ'". Ecumenical Directory

Forensic criteria applied.

The bishops who were and are engaged in ecumenical dialogue are not badly catechized Catholics. Your assertion is nothing more than self-aggrandizement at its disgusting worst.

George said...


It is important to remember that man has free will and can refuse the promptings of grace. Grace proceeds from God who makes it available to man who is to co-operate with it. God precedes man, and since it originates from Him, His grace precedes us as water precedes our partaking of it. Unlike water though, which we must partake of to sustain our bodily existence, partaking of grace can be refused. There were two great Falls; the first was by Satan and his minions and the second, that of man. The first can be likened to one who falls from a great height and suffers death from irreparable injury. The second is as one who falls from a lesser height, who suffers significant injury, but nonetheless survives and recovers, although crippled or deficient in some way from his previous self. Spiritually speaking, Satan and his followers could no longer avail themselves of God's grace.
This say nothing about the power of God and His Holy Grace. God does not force His grace on us but makes it available for us to co-operate with.
Man, unlike the Devil and his followers, was not so damaged by his fall that he was beyond redemption.

rcg said...

Fr. K., respectfully those citations are for assertions, not evidence. The first is questionable because it claims to ‘orders’ from the Holy Ghost and I think missquotes Christ in desiring peace among people. The second is a goal statement from B-XVI and the third is from a group we cannot be sure has any interaction with the Holy Spirit, but was no doubt pleased to have the One True Church admit that it was co-equal in culpabilty as a step towards being the same in every other way. The last confesses that all are co-equal. If that is indeed the position of the Catholic Church then it seems revisions of the various Creed is in order.

It is awkward, in this current social environment, to admit out loud that the fruit of ecumenism is the conversion of others to the Catholic faith but I cannot think of any other goal we should have.

Gene said...

RCG, the Imago Dei IS the place.

TJM said...

Kavanaugh, having a bad day? It looks like you are imitating MT's style of research! LOL

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

rcg - Statements made by the Church in her teaching office are not merely "assertions."

"But the Lord of Ages wisely and patiently follows out the plan of grace on our behalf, sinners that we are. In recent times more than ever before, He has been rousing divided Christians to remorse over their divisions and to a longing for unity. Everywhere large numbers have felt the impulse of this grace, and among our separated brethren also there increases from day to day the movement, fostered by the grace of the Holy Spirit, for the restoration of unity among all Christians." (Unitatis Redentigratio 1)

Pope Benedict plainly states that "We can only obtain unity as a gift of the Holy Spirit." This makes, without question, the desire for unity (the desire and the work), which is the fruit of ecumenical dialogue, the work of the Holy Spirit.

The one, true Church has admitted it's culpability in causing divisions in the Body of Christ - officially.

"Even in the beginnings of this one and only Church of God there arose certain rifts, which the Apostle strongly condemned. But in subsequent centuries much more serious dissensions made their appearance and quite large communities came to be separated from full communion with the Catholic Church - for which, often enough, men of both sides were to blame." (UR 3)

The third quote says nothing about anyone or anything being "co-equal."

John Nolan said...

'Men of both sides were to blame'. This does not equate to the assertion that 'the one, true Church has admitted it's (sic) culpability in causing divisions in the Body of Christ - officially.' Far from it, in fact.

Benedict XVI, when addressing the Lutherans, was careful not to say, explicitly or implicitly, that the Catholic Church was to blame for the Reformation.

The Church herself is indefectible; the men who serve her, from popes downwards, are not so.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

John Nolan,

I never said or suggested that the Catholic Church "was to blame for the Reformation."

The Church's leaders have openly acknowledged that the Catholic Church shares the blame; that members made errors that contributed to the seeds of the Reformation and that stymied efforts for unification since then.

By the working of the Holy Spirit we have come to a place where we can acknowledge past faults on both sides and, by the working of that same Holy Spirit, work together for the unity that is the will of Christ.

John Nolan said...

MJK

You stated that the Catholic Church 'has admitted its culpability in causing divisions in the Body of Christ'.

Please enlighten us as to how the one, true, Church can be at fault. Members may have made errors, but that is not at all the same thing.

Also, why is 'ecumenism' seen as simply a matter of Catholic-Protestant relations? As far as the Church of England is concerned, we are further away from unity than we were thirty years ago, so the 'Holy Spirit' is not doing a particularly good job.

Since 'Dominus Iesus' the official position of the Catholic Church is that the CofE is not a church, merely an 'ecclesial community'; and the Anglicans have repaid the compliment by attempting to arrest their terminal decline by embracing modern nostrums of inclusivity and gender theory.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

"You stated that the Catholic Church 'has admitted its culpability in causing divisions in the Body of Christ'."

Yes. I did. And Popes have acknowledged and regretted that reality. You can find their words as easily as I can copy and paste them here.

Ecumenism is what it is - I don't define the terms. I don't often encounter Church of England members hereabouts, but I will keep an eye out for them. PECUSA - the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America (or the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America) is more our style here in the Colonies.

I think the Holy Spirit is doing a perfect job, actually. We, I would suggest, are the ones not holding up our end of the table, wot wot.

John Nolan said...

ECUSA is part of the 'world-wide Anglican communion', loose as that definition is. Cardinal Ratzinger once remarked that doctrinal agreement with episcopal Protestants was impossible when national 'churches' in effect decided doctrine for themselves.

Ironically this seems to be the direction in which the Catholic Church is heading under this pontificate. But will this make the longed-for unity easier to achieve? I doubt it.

Admittedly, the CofE has yet to appoint a lesbian bishopess, but sooner or later it will.

By the way, no-one here refers to 'the Colonies', even in jest. 1783 was a long time ago, and you've had plenty of time to grow up.

TJM said...

Kavanaugh,

LOL. You are now reduced to "wot, wot." Watch the "Madness of King George" lately? I thought saying such things was on your "no, no" list when pontificating to the rest of us on good manners for posting.

John Nolan said...

TJM

On a practical level, ecumenism has borne fruit. Ten years ago the then Bishop of Gloucester generously invited the Association for Latin Liturgy and Schola Gregoriana of Cambridge to celebrate Solemn Mass and Solemn Vespers in his cathedral. Before the Reformation it had been a Benedictine abbey, and the celebrant was the present abbot of Downside, who thanked the Anglicans for looking after it so well.

JP II in 1982 attended a service in Canterbury Cathedral, and in 2010 B XVI was present for a service of Evensong in Westminster Abbey. The then AoC, Rowan Williams, was invited to join the Pope for Vespers in St Peter's, and was attired in cope and mitre.

I don't understand how it can be argued that 'we' are not holding up 'our end of the table'. It wasn't we who moved the goalposts by 'ordaining' women (which also soured relations with the Orthodox). Since Rowan's departure the Anglo-Catholics have been cold-shouldered by the rest of the CofE which prefers to pursue unity with the Methodists.

As an aside, the film you mention was to have been called, like the stage play, 'The Madness of George III', until someone pointed out that American audiences would wonder what happened to the first two parts. What! What!

Anonymous said...

The Holy Spirit is holding up his end of the table, we are not.

John Nolan said...

Kavanaugh the Troll

What are 'we' not doing that we could be doing? I know you are averse to being specific but why not change the habits of a lifetime and actually answer a question?

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Among other things, we could continue to do what Saint Pope John Paul II spoke of in Ut Unum Sint: "Whatever relates to the unity of all Christian communities clearly forms part of the concerns of the primacy. As Bishop of Rome I am fully aware, as I have reaffirmed in the present Encyclical Letter, that Christ ardently desires the full and visible communion of all those Communities in which, by virtue of God's faithfulness, his Spirit dwells. I am convinced that I have a particular responsibility in this regard, above all in acknowledging the ecumenical aspirations of the majority of the Christian Communities and in heeding the request made of me to find a way of exercising the primacy which, while in no way renouncing what is essential to its mission, is nonetheless open to a new situation. For a whole millennium Christians were united in "a brotherly fraternal communion of faith and sacramental life ... If disagreements in belief and discipline arose among them, the Roman See acted by common consent as moderator."

In fact, this is being accomplished. Numerous bishops and theologians from other Christian denominations have risen to the challenge to write about what 'the new situation" for the exercise of the Petrine ministry might be - what it might look like.

Also, Catholics, like the owner of this blog, could step away from unfortunate and unnecessary caricatures of ecumenism and ecumenical dialogue.

Also, Catholics could become more aware of the essential nature of ecumenical dialogue in the fabric of our own Church.

If God will that there be one Church - and God does - then is there anything other than the actions of sinful humans blocking the accomplishment of that will? Mind you, no one denomination has cornered the market on failing to fulfill God's will.