30 October 2008

"In Communion"

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What does "in communion" mean when the Bishop is prepared to tolerate anti-rubrical practice?

Suppose a Bishop (a real Bishop, such as the Bishop of Arundel and Brighton, for example) assents to a form of celebration of Mass on the feast of Christ the King which drives a coach and horses through the rubrics? Am I "in communion" with him?

Suppose another Bishop encourages (not in writing, or in any way that might form the basis of a complaint to Rome) his Parish Priests only to allow women to be extraordinary ministers, and encourages them not just to allow these women to purify the sacred vessels after Holy Communion, but specifically not to do so himself. Am I "in communion" with him?

What does one do if the Head of one's Church appears not to believe in what Catholics believe, and him obliged to uphold it?

5 comments:

Fr B said...

One presumes always that the Bishop acts in total communion with the Holy See.
One presumes any aberration is a misunderstanding either of his instruction or in very rare cases a well intentioned misunderstanding on his part.

Ttony said...

OK Fr B.

But confused.

Moretben said...

This is precisely what's been on my mind ever since you linked to the good Dr Paulinus's "Rocky Horror Rite". I followed the link, but couldn't finish the piece. It didn't make me laugh.

The question of communion is one of the most serious there are, because, as the Russians say, "The only thing a Christian can do on his own is perish". The Church is where the Lord intends us to live - and its constitutive elements are therefore essential to us. We cannot know, love and serve him as He intends anywhere else; but we cannot "become by grace what God is by nature" in an unrelenting atmosphere of scorn, disaffection, complaint and estrangement. Eventually, it enters and hardens our hearts, rotting our faith from the inside out. The Trad Archipelago (whoever is responsible for constructing it) is not a good place. Solzhenitsyn learned "to be free" in the Gulag; the only thing you'll learn in TradWorld is how to be angry, for years at a stretch.

If one sincerely does not know - really and truly does not recognise - one's shepherd's voice, the chances are he may not be one's shepherd at all; especially when it's not a case simply of one bad or negligent or heterodox bishop, but of entire hierarchies, over a protracted period; in which case one must begin to ask very hard questions about why we are where we are, and how we got here and then to assume the responsibility of a baptised person to act in order to be able to live as the Lord intended us to. Seeking refuge in legal formulae or buttress upon buttress of theoretical constructs (hermeneutics of continuity, and so on) is not a viable alternative to telling ourselves the truth. Of course, the truth might be that we ourselves are the problem - that we need to stop whining and learn to swallow our vittals... that's what we have to decide. The decision cannot be postponed sine die.

Londiniensis said...

We are enjoined to read the Signs of the Times: Are we witnessing the last gasps of the "liberal" Bologna School gerontocracy who have seen the green shoots flourishing in Rome amid the decay and ruin brought about by 40 years of their ideas, or are we seeing the ever more secure entrenchment of those ideas in the fervent if diabolical hope that the kindly but severe old scholar in Rome will die soon. For on this judgement the answer depends.

Tawser said...

I am Orthodox, and from our point of view, the answer to your question is simple. No, you are not in communion with your bishop and your bishop is at fault. But from the RC perspective, the problem is exacerbated by the fact that these shenanigans have been going on for decades and the pope, who is supposed to be the arbiter of who is in communion and who isn't, refuses to do his job, and please pardon me for being blunt. I know that conservative Catholics are relucant to criticize the pope, but sooner or later the pope is going to have to be held accountable. It doesn't make any sense to assert that the pope's authority is absolute, but he isn't responsible when error runs rampant in the hierarchy. No sense at all.