Sunday, March 24, 2013


"The liberal Protestant Traditions, Episcopalians, Methodists, Presbyterians and moderate Baptist congregations, are hanging by a thread and have become completely irrelevant except to academics and 'The Church of the liberal media.'" --Fr. Allan J. McDonald

Dr. R. Kirby Godsey is the chancellor of Mercer University and has a very interesting op ed piece in this morning's Sunday Telegraph which you can read HERE by PRESSING this SENTENCE.

He no longer belongs to the Southern Baptist Convention version of the Baptist Church, but to the "Cooperative Fellowship" a more moderate coalition, yet another splinter group in the ever dividing and multiplying protestant tradition continually trying to reinvent itself. But that is the Protestant tradition and far be it from me, a Counter "Reformationist" to suggest to Dr. Godsey that Christian division is the greatest problem with Christianity, not some of the things he suggests are the Catholic Church's problems. Nothing has diluted the witness of the Baptist Church and other splintering offshoots of the Protestant tradition than their divisiveness and personal infallibility.

Dr. R. Kirby Godsey served as Mercer University's 17th president and CEO from July 1, 1979, until June 30, 2006. He served as president longer than any of his predecessors. Under Dr. Godsey's leadership, Mercer grew to be among the largest Baptist-affiliated universities in the world.

You can read his entire op ed piece by going to the link above. Overall it is very good and complimentary. Where I would take exception is the following:

However, I would suggest he hits the nail on the head and brilliantly so when he writes, "In the final analysis, the church will stand or fall, be vibrant or a shadow of irrelevance, gain confidence or lose allegiances by how effectively and persuasively and authentically the people who are the church are challenged to embody the ways of Jesus being in the world, to become bearers of grace and instruments of peace, to find the courage for unbridled compassion, becoming hope in flesh and blood for somebody with a face and a name." My Comment: I would suggest that is the pastoral theology of the Catholic Church and of Dr. Godsey's tradition too. We are in agreement there!

But then he adds: "We are often, and I think justifiably, frustrated by the pace and the reluctance of the church, especially the Roman Catholic Church, to face up to outmoded and destructive religious practices. The church is surely weaker and smaller in stature because the power and presence and insight of women is not embraced more fully. The “princes” of the church desperately need “princesses” alongside them.

The church is diminished by continuing to require that priests not marry. Because of the focus of Pope Francis on the priority of the ways of Jesus, some of these outworn and counterproductive practices may be successfully challenged. They will change. The issue is when and will it be in time to help restore the credibility and relevance of the church."

And then he adds this bombshell: "Perhaps some of these practices will be eroded by the people’s pope who is inclined to listen with the heart before and more often than he speaks ex cathedra. Neither should the church nor the pope become obsessed with protecting the sanctity of its doctrines. Doctrines are simply the residue of the religious experience and thoughts of those before us. Faith is rarely about believing the right things; it is about changing the center of gravity of people’s lives, not revising human language."

My Comments: Dr. Godsey fails to understand that apart from naming new saints "ex cathedra" no pope has used this tool of teaching more than twice by himself. The first time was by Pope Pius X in 1864 when he declared the already existing doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary to be dogma and then when Pope Pius XII in 1952 declared the already existing doctrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into heaven to be dogma. Certainly popes together with the bishops in Ecumenical Councils have declared infallible dogmas, illustrated in the Apostles Creed, the Nicene Creed and the actual canon of the New Testament, which Dr. Godsey would not have except for that bit of infallibility. Certainly other Councils have defined certain teachings as dogmas too.

Dr. Godsey fails to understand that the Catholic Church does have married clergy, just like the Orthodox Churches do, in fact these are Catholic Church of the Eastern Rite. We also have married former Episcopal priests and Protestant clergy of other denominations who are married who have been ordained married priests. Will the Eastern Rite of the Catholic Church's discipline regarding married men becoming priests be extended to the Latin Rite (Western Rite). That could happen. But you will not see priests being allowed to married once ordained and bishops will be chosen only from the celibate clergy as is the tradition of the Orthodox and the Eastern rite in union with Rome.

When it comes to the ordination of women as priests and bishops, Dr. Godsey does not realize that the pope has no authority whatsover to change this Tradition of the Ordinary Magisterium of the Church. Pope John Paul II made that abundantly clear. He and no pope has that authority. Their authority is limited. The bishop and priest represent in a sacramental way in their ministry and in their role at Mass the icon of Jesus Christ the Bridegroom and the Church collectively (clergy and laity) is the Bride of Christ. We normally refer to the Church as "souls." In Latin the word soul is always feminine, "anima."

Could women be ordained deacons? I think the verdict is not complete on that and that it could come to pass. I'm not clairvoyant. And certainly women have held high places in the Church running hospitals, universities and in significant positions of authority on the parish level as pastoral assistants, principals and Directors of Religious Education and Youth Ministers.

Could a lay women be named a "cardinal?" A cardinal is an honorary title and one need not be a bishop to be named such. So that is in the realm of possibility. But in the eyes of the world, in the eyes of the Church of the Media, that would be tokenism.

Of course Dr. Godsey would be in favor I believe of same sex marriage, so gender neutrality is a part of his new infallibity in redefining marriage and ridding the Church of that pesky problem of gender, male and female, bride and groom as well as Natural Law.
In Dr. Godsey's infallible understanding of twisiting Scripture, Tradition and Natural Law, it makes perfect sense that a woman can be a bridegroom.

Of course, Dr. Godsey's Baptist tradition is non-sacramental so it really doesn't matter in their tradition about the deeper meanings of our sacramental theology and doctrine, not to mention dogma.

The liberal expressions of Protestantism which began in the late 1800's and of which Protestant fundamentalism evolved as a result of the liberal expression abandoning the core beliefs of the Church has be a castastrophe for the Church but a boon for the secularists who wish to undermine the truths of the Church in whatever way they can.

In the liberal Protestant Traditions, Episcopalians, Methodists, Presbyterians and moderate Baptist congregations, are hanging by a thread and have entered complete irrelevance except by academics and the Church of the liberal media.

Dr. Godsey falls into what many Protestants believe about Catholics which isn't true, that Good works save us. If that were the case then anyone can be saved by themselves and their Good works as they interpret these. No we are save by God, through the Grace He gives us that enables us to have faith, hope and love. Faith and good works combined are a sign of us having embraced the gifts of Grace God gives us and thus His gift of salvation. We can't really judge another's good works, save God, but we can judge right faith, right practice. Orthodoxy is not the enemy of society or the Church.


Gene said...

Godsey was a real disappointment to many faculty and alumni at Mercer. He followed Rufus Harris, the former President, who was a true scholar and an advocate of the small, liberal arts college. Godsey wanted to turn Mercer into a big university and followed a strictly business model. Godsey is no theologian and he is no scholar, either. I have never paid any attention to anything he said. No one else should, either...

Marc said...

Look at Canon 351 s 1 and you'll find all cardinals are bishops. If not when selected, they are to be made so.

So no women cardinals unless the canon law changes.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Marc, not all cardinals are bishops, the Jesuit priest, Father Avery Dulles was a cardinal, but not a bishop, never ordained a bishop.

Marc said...

Father, read the canon. I'm not giving my opinion... I'm quoting the canon.

Cardinal Dulles was given a special dispensation from the canon due to his age.

Pater Ignotus said...

Include among the recent non-bishop cardinals Roberto Tucci, Albert Vanhoye, and Urbano Cortes.

Traditionally, not all cardinals have been priests. Reginald Pole (16th c) was a cardinal 18 years before he was ordained a priest. In 1962 John XXIII decreed (Cum gravissima) that all cardinals be priest/bishop, unless and exception was granted by the pope.

The practice of the Church would, it seems, allow a woman to be a cardinal, if that is the pleasure of the Supreme Pontiff.

Templar said...

Tucci: was given a dispensation from Canon 351 s 1 by JPII.

Vanhoye: wsa given a dispensation from Canon 351 s 1 by BXVI.

Cortes: was given a dispensation from Canon 351 s 1 by BXVI.

Can. 351 §1 Those to be promoted Cardinals are men freely selected by the Roman Pontiff, who are at least in the order of priesthood and are truly outstanding in doctrine, virtue, piety and prudence in practical matters; those who are not already Bishops must receive episcopal consecration.

The Canon clearly states "MEN", there can be no women Cardinals without a change to Canon Law. Furthermore they must be at least Priests, and if not Bishops, must be ordained such or dispensed.

Really, basic research is easy to do.

Anonymous 2 said...

As someone who has been a Mercer University faculty member for 33 years (at the Law School), I feel compelled to respond to this post.

Dr. Godsey is a controversial figure, no doubt. He has been controversial among Mercer faculty and alumni, as Gene points out, and he has been controversial among Baptists, as Father’s post indicates.

However, whether one agrees or disagrees with him (and I do not agree with everything he has said or done myself), his is a voice worth listening to. He is certainly no enemy of the Roman Catholic Church – far from it. He is a friend who is also prepared to offer friendly critique. I agree that he seems to misunderstand some things. However, that just reinforces my consistent point about the value of dialogue to further mutual understanding.

I hope that followers of the Blog will indeed read the entire article, so that they can hear all the nuance and cadence in Dr. Godey’s voice. And to people like Gene, I would again urge that we not throw out the baby with the bathwater. As Father suggests, there is much with which we as Catholics could and should agree in what he says.

And Gene, regarding Mercer, however controversial the journey may have been, and despite the temptations of the “business model” now or in the past, what Dr. Godsey ended up creating was not a “big” university but a “comprehensive” university, which now has 12 schools and colleges. This is an extremely important difference, Thus, Mercer is one of the smallest comprehensive universities in the country, perhaps indeed the smallest (I would have to check that). And as such, it offers opportunities for collegial and collaborative cross-disciplinary work and projects that much larger institutions do not and cannot provide. I have myself been involved in some major initiatives across the university in the area of professionalism and vocation, for example. I feel blessed to work at an institution of this character.

Gene said...

Anon 2, I have discussed Godsey with many faculty and alumni who were very dissatisfied with him. Of course, I know there are factions who think he is just great. Mercer lost its small school atmosphere when Godsey started his run. It is gone. You may think this is good, I do not.

Anyone talking out of his you know what about the Church like Godsey, while not a professed enemy of the Church, is tantamount to an enemy. He needs to keep his mouth shut and find some First Baptist Church somewhere to go and give a nice Kiwanis Club type homily. Sheesh.

Anonymous said...

Gene - I think Dr. Godsey is a member of First Baptist Church across the street from St. Joseph's.

Father, are you going to respond to this one with a letter to the editor?

Anonymous 2 said...


I know about the dissatisfaction. Remember, I have experienced the entire journey from inside the institution itself. So I do know what you are talking about. And I don’t dispute that the feel of the institution has changed significantly. Moreover, I do not consider this good or bad. It is what it is. My point is that, compared with other comprehensive universities, which are often colossal, Mercer is still comparatively intimate and personal, both for students and for faculty and staff. Here is the entry on Mercer from Wikipedia. Based on the matters of which I have firsthand knowledge, it seems pretty accurate. And as you can see from various rankings, Mercer compares very favorably with other institutions of higher education:

I do not mean to engage in some kind of sales pitch for Mercer. But I do feel a responsibility to correct any possible misimpressions. I am sure you can understand. Those interested can read the above article and judge relevant matters for themselves.

As for publicly expressing opinions about matters about which one may not be completely informed, I suspect that all of us are prone to do this sometimes – I believe I have even noticed such tendencies in your good self, Gene =). The appropriate response is not to tell the other person to zip it but rather to correct any misimpressions through reasoned argument. Perhaps Father McDonald, or someone else, will respond to Dr. Godsey’s article in the paper as Father did to another article last week.

Anonymous 2 said...


You seem to have cited the basic relevant canon law provisions. However, in the following interview from March 2012 both Father Groeschel and Cardinal Dolan seem to accept the theoretical possibility that a woman could become a Cardinal and discuss the rumor that Pope John Paul II offered a Cardinal’s hat to Mother Theresa (go to about 3:45 in the video):

I infer from all this that either they do not know canon law or that there is more to be considered than just the provisions you cite. So this is where additional research beyond the basic may be helpful. =)

Gene said...

Anon 2, I try not to comment on things about which I am not well-informed. That is why I do not take part in discussions of liturgy with others on this blog..other than to say I like it or I do not. Most of my comments on the blog have been theological or areas of expertise...unless you want to discuss English lit. , firearms, or Japanese martial arts. LOL!

Gene said...

I would not at all discount the possibility that they do not know Canon Law.

Templar said...

Anon 2: And Father Groeschel, and Cardinal Dolan, have even less authority on the matter than does the Current "Bishop of Rome" and/or any other Pope living or dead. The current Canon says it can not be done, which means if it were done, and the Canon not changed then, said Pope would be violating Canon Law, and in my humble opinion cease to be Pope. One can not go about willy-nilly changing the meaning of words (like changing marriage to mean union between any two creatures instead of one man and one woman) without inviting chaos to the party.

Anonymous 2 said...

Correction to my earlier comment -- Mother Teresa has no "h" in her name. Sorry to be such a pedant.

Anonymous said...

A violation of canon law does not result in the pope not being pope.

Templar said...

Anon: Please note I said "In My Humble Opinion". If it be Heresy to say I will not follow a Pope who does not walk the walk and talk the talk, then Heretic I shall gladly be.

Gene said...

Is there hope for a Pope
Who with Canon Law can't cope?
Could one Pope be an un-Pope?
How about a nun Pope,
Or an Annie Get Your Gun Pope?

Anyway, Pope Julius II was very familiar with cannon law...

Marc said...

Actually, the Pope can willy-nilly change canon law according to Catholic doctrine. He is above the law... He is the supreme legislator as well as the supreme interpreter of the canon law. The laws aren't applicable to him and do not bind him. And no one can judge him.

Anonymous 2 said...

Thanks, Marc. I had just been wondering about two possibilities:

(1) Papal dispensation from canon law rules in a particular case.

(2) The proper procedure for amending the rules of canon law so as to permit the possibility under the rules themselves.

It is unclear to me which of these two possibilities Father Groeschel and Cardinal Dolan may have had in mind, or indeed if they were thinking of something else.

Perhaps a canonist can weigh in on this. So . . . calling all canonists. . . .

Gene said...

I just re-read Godsey's piece. Can you say, "unbelief?"

rcg said...

Dr. Godsey seems to be completely unaware of Catholic teaching in context. It seems that protestant leaders want women PREACHERS. We have that, see Mother Angelica. And there are more. The rest is an apologetic for non-belief.

Templar said...

Marc, and Anon 2: Once again, I am speaking in my "opinion". Lord knows Popes can do as they please, Hell by all objective evidence, Bishops and Priests in this Church do as they damn well please with hardly any attempt at correction from anyone. What I am saying is, if even the head of the Church can't be bothered to follow the Law then why on Earth would I follow him? All of our jobs, from laity to Pope are to pass on what has been handed down to us, but instead we get this crap: One Bishop is as different as another, Priests in the same town as different as night and day, and the papacy changes its rules every handful of years. Is it too much to ask that the Church actually stand for what it has always stood for, and not mimick American politics?

Anonymous 2 said...


I have a lot of sympathy for what you say here. As someone of an inherently “conservative” disposition, I value tradition, continuity, and stability. That is one reason I am disoriented by the vertiginous pace of technological and economic change nowadays. My cell phone is 10 years old. It does a remarkable thing – you can talk to people on it. It does not access the internet, enable me to “tweet,” or make tea. I do not consider my life impoverished by these lacks. Indeed, I am still in awe that I can walk around with a device that enables me to speak with another person, and half the time I expect to be “beamed up” to the starship. (I imagine Father McDonald has the same feeling with his “communicator pen.” =)) My washing machine and dryer are 25 years old. My current vehicle is almost 5 years old and I only got it because my previous car did not work well after 17 years. I still wear, and can wear, clothes from my college days even forty years later. I learned how to use a computer only three years ago.

So, I am really not too much into Shumpeterian “creative destruction” or “built in obsolescence.” And please don’t get me started on the overall decline in quality of products (with some notable exceptions, of course), resulting from our love affair with Wal Mart and China, or the fact that in the long run it is much more expensive to have to buy, over time, 5 units of a foreign made product, each one at half the price of one American made unit, which will however last five times as long.

By the same token I value cultural traditions, within the limits of justice, and I value traditions in the Church. Indeed, my “conservative” disposition probably explains in significant part why I was attracted to the Roman Catholic Church over 35 years ago. But I joined the post V2 Church, not the pre-V2 Church, so the absence of the TLM for example was no felt loss for me. It was for my mother, and as I have said before I was very pleased to see Benedict’s notion of continuity in reform. The post V2 elimination of the TLM as an option seems, with hindsight, to have been an example of throwing out the baby with the bathwater, and I am generally opposed to throwing babies out with the bathwater.


Anonymous 2 said...

But, of course, sometimes bathwater does need changing. So, I must be open to some change. Here I try to distinguish the essential from the accidental. Is it essential that the Church protect the rights of the unborn? Yes. Is it essential that the Church work to alleviate the plight of the poor and needy? Yes. Is it essential that the Mass be truly spiritual and encourage an “active inward participation”? Yes. Is it essential that this be done in the EF? I would say no. For me at least, that is accidental. Is it essential, on the other hand, that the EF form be easily available to those who prefer it? Yes. Is it essential that the Mass not be a “folk mass”? Again, for me, this is accidental, and I try to participate actively whichever form the Mass takes. So, I attend St. Josephs as my regular home parish but sometimes I attend Holy Spirit as well. I like both.

But we are all different. Some people like rapid technological and economic change. I do not, so I try to live accordingly. Some Catholics would prefer there to have been no change in the Church liturgy after V2. To them I would say, I hope that a TLM will be offered in every parish so they can worship accordingly. Some Catholics are more accepting of the different liturgical forms. And to them I would say that I hope the TLM never again becomes the sole form of the Mass; instead, I hope they can find a parish with a Mass that offers the essentials while offering also what works for them liturgically as far as accidentals are concerned.

And so we come to cardinals. Is it essential that only men be ordained to the priesthood? Ordinatio Sacerdotalis makes clear that it is. Is it essential that only men be cardinals? I do not read that document to say so. So perhaps that is accidental, and as such, the Pope could legitimately, as well as legally, dispense with it. Would it be wise to do so given that such a move could be misconstrued? Perhaps not, but that is a different question.

I apologize for writing so much. Apart from the tendency to “loquacity” being an occupational hazard, your comment struck an important existential chord with me.

Anonymous 2 said...

P.S. When I wrote “To them I would say, I hope that a TLM will be offered in every parish so they can worship accordingly” I may have put the case too strongly. I should perhaps have said “To them I would say, I hope that a TLM will be offered in a nearby parish so they can worship accordingly.”

Marc said...

Templar, I agree completely. My comment was intended to point out the silliness of the idea. One need only consider the conciliar canon law of the early ecumenical councils to see the underpinnings of the current system refuted.

But, given the state of the development on this and related issues, it's clear to me that people like Fr. Kavanaugh are correct: this sort of change can happen and it's legitimate. That's the result of the development of doctrine idea coupled with the above papal ideas.