Joining the Catholic Church is About Ecclesiology

This is an excerpt of a long piece by Joel Hodge, a lecturer in theology at the Australian Catholic University.  He writes  (his excerpt follows the **** and ends with ****:

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In the midst of these issues, the first Anglican “ordinariate” in Australia has been viewed as meaning many “traditionalists” will seek admittance to avoid recent Anglican Church decisions.

But by no means will this be the intention of everyone who joins. Moreover, we should be equally clear that to become part of the ordinariate is not and should not be about signing up to a political agenda – about women or homosexuality or another issue – or affirming unreasonable discontent.

These issues are important, but first and foremost the ordinariate is about affirming the ‘catholic’ nature of the church. The Anglican Church itself has always valued this catholic nature. This catholic nature has traditionally been defined as a universality of local churches guided by God, visibly signified by unity around the office of St Peter.

*****

“Moreover, we should be equally clear that to become part of the ordinariate is not and should not be about signing up to a political agenda – about women or homosexuality or another issue – or affirming unreasonable discontent.”

Political agenda?

Huh?

I know there was a lot of concern out there in Catholic circles that we from the Traditional Anglican Communion would be bringing our horrid Branch Theory ecclesiology with us.  We have been framed as anti-women and anti-gay as if the Catholic Church’s teachings on Holy Orders and human sexuality (the whole shebang, including teachings on artificial contraception) are  political issues rather than the are teachings of the Catholic Church from the beginning.

These principles are not political they are foundational to the common good.  Period.  They are not optional beliefs, any more than our understanding of ecclesiology.  But hey, you can talk about ecclesiology and since most people don’t have a clue what the word means their eyes glaze over, unless you wake them up by saying “outside the Catholic Church there is no salvation” or quote Dominus Iesus about other churches being deficient.

I’ve been thinking these days that not only are we Catholics sometimes ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ—you know that sin part—let’s skip over that because people don’t want to hear they are sinners–but also we are ashamed of our teachings on human sexuality.

People see how pro-life folks are framed and say, ewww, I think I’ll find something warm and fuzzy and non-controversial to say so I won’t be a lightning rod for the intense animosity these people experience.

This is of great concern for me.  There is a kind of unity that puts unity and ecclesiology above all else.  You could see attempt in the Canterbury Communion to maintain communion irrespective of huge theological differences on everything from the Eucharist to the role of actively homosexual clergy and differences over the sacrament of marriage, or of sacraments and Apostolic succession altogether.

Unity for the sake of unity–unity that is not led by the Holy Spirit and wedded to the whole of the faith as handed down by the Apostles is something to be concerned about.  And if unity means shutting up about abortion or defending a male-only priesthood, well, too late, I’m Catholic now and I will not keep silent.

 

 

 

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4 Responses to Joining the Catholic Church is About Ecclesiology

  1. Rev22:17 says:

    Deborah,

    The professor wrote: “Moreover, we should be equally clear that to become part of the ordinariate is not and should not be about signing up to a political agenda – about women or homosexuality or another issue – or affirming unreasonable discontent.”

    Yes. In the ideal world of acadamia, those coming to the Catholic Church to join the new ordinariates would be motivated solely by a conviction that the Catholic Church has the fullness of Christian faith that their present denominations lack to some degree.

    But here, Plato reminds us that no reality ever fully lives up to its ideal, and the matter of Anglican Christians coming into the Catholic Church is no exception. Rather, the reality is that both those who have left and are leaving the Anglican Communion have done so out of discontent and rejection of heterodoxy driven by “political correctness” of the current day. There’s no doubt that many individuals who left the Anglican Communion in the past and are now in the various “Continuing Anglican” bodies perceive those bodies to be an interim situation and probably not sustainable in the long term, and thus seek to be part of a larger, more sustainable, body, and that many of those now leaving the Anglican Communion to come directly into the ordinariates have remaied in the Anglican Communion until now out of a perception that the “Continuing Anglican” bodies were not a viable alternative. Thus, there’s no doubt that the reasons for leaving the Anglican Communion are major motives for many to come into the full communion of the Catholic Church.

    Here, it’s entirely possible that honest discussion of motives for coming into the Catholic Church during the period of catechetical formation in each parish of the Anglican Catholic Church of Canada (ACCC) may have influenced many members and parishes of that body not to come into the Catholic Church at this time. There may have been a realization that many individuals had the wrong motivation, and the “mentor priests” probably encouraged such individuals to wait until they could come into the Catholic Church for the right reason.

    You wrote: I know there was a lot of concern out there in Catholic circles that we from the Traditional Anglican Communion would be bringing our horrid Branch Theory ecclesiology with us.

    That’s obviously not possible because “Branch Theory” is contrary to the ecclesiology of Lumen gentium echoed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, to which members of the ordinariates must ascribe.

    You wrote: And if unity means shutting up about abortion or defending a male-only priesthood, well, too late, I’m Catholic now and I will not keep silent.

    Amen, sister! I’m with you completely on this!

    For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent,
    for Jerusalem’s sake I will not remain quiet,
    till her vindication shines out like the dawn,
    her salvation like a blazing torch.
    The nations will see your vindication,
    and all kings your glory;
    you will be called by a new name
    that the mouth of the Lord will bestow. (Isaiah 62:1-2)

    Norm.

  2. Dom says:

    For me, the matter of the magisterial Tradition, the teaching authority of the Church – the right and duty to interpret the Bible authoritatively, was the first necessary hurdle to overcome to make the leap from Anglican to Catholic. I was already drawn to liturgical worship, but except for embracing the claim to authority which the Church made, I would have never grown beyond that. The book Not By Scripture Alone: A Catholic Critique of the Protestant Doctrine of Sola Scriptura was a watershed point. If I could grant the Catholic Church her claim of magisterial authority, and that Tradition and Scripture supported one another as inseparable twins, then everything else must necessarily and logically follow after. I cannot pick and choose for myself in matters of belief.
    God is not impressed with my own exegetical or theological brilliance… what He sees is my humility, obedience, and meek submission…in imitation of Jesus. Workable clay.

    • Rev22:17 says:

      Dom,

      You wrote: The book Not By Scripture Alone: A Catholic Critique of the Protestant Doctrine of Sola Scriptura was a watershed point.

      Indeed, there are two fundamental problems with the dogma of sola scriptura adopted by many Protestant denominations.

      >> 1. The bible, as we know it, did not exist until the end of the fourth century. Thus, faith predicated on the bible alone could not have been the faith of either the first Christians in apostolic times or the next ten generations to whom they handed on Christian faith, and thus cannot be the “real deal.”

      >> 2. The dogma of sola scriptura is contrary to scripture! Note II Thessalonians 2:15, here quoted from the New International Version (NIV), which many evanelical Christians favor.

      So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.

      A translators’ footnote explains that the word here rendered as “teachings” also could be translated as “traditions” — but in any case, the fact that there are two bodies of teaching, oral and written, is clear.

      You wrote: If I could grant the Catholic Church her claim of magisterial authority, and that Tradition and Scripture supported one another as inseparable twins, then everything else must necessarily and logically follow after. I cannot pick and choose for myself in matters of belief.

      Yes, obviously, with one caveat. To be fully rigorous, one must ask why the magisterium resides in the Catholic Church and not in the churches of the Orthodox Communion, the ancient oriental churches, or even other bodies such as the Polish National Catholic Church (PNCC) here in the States that have retained a valid apostolic succession and thus a mantain a validly ordained episcopacy.

      Norm.

  3. cattolico says:

    http://fromrome.wordpress.com/2013/09/07/dogmas-terrible-or-radiant-tomorrow/

    Since you discuss Ecclesiology and the importance of dogmatic principles, I’d thought you’d be interested in this book reveiw of Radaeli’s new book on that topic…

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