Monday, July 7, 2008

The Pope and the Church of England and the Orthodox

Very historic events taking place in religion now. The Church of England's Bishops at their General Synod meeting ~ some of them anyway ~ have voted to ordain women bishops. The Church of England, along with the Catholic Church, and the Eastern Orthodox Church are centered on the literal descent in an unbroken line of bishops, priests, and deacons from the 12 Apostles with each bishop/priest/deacon ordained by the laying on of hands from a bishop who himself was ordained by another bishop...etc. etc. going back to one or more of the actual Apostles. The Dogma is that without this unbroken line of descent it is not possible to celebrate Mass and turn the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ ~ an holy act established by Jesus Christ Himself and directed by Him to His followers that they shall "Do this in memory of Me".

In 2,000 years of history the Christian churches ~ at least the Catholic & Orthodox & Church of England ~ have not ordained women as bishops. There were no woman Apostles and church dogma is firm that women cannot be ordained ~ that their spirits cannot be infused with the holy order of a bishop regardless if a dozen other bishops lay their hands on their heads and pronounce words of ordination. This belief is centered on the fact that Jesus did not select women to be in the group of 12 Apostles.

If women cannot really be bishops, those women "ordained" as bishops cannot themselves pass on valid ordinations of priests and deacons and bishops, thereby ending the 2,000 year line of unbroken succession from the Holy Apostles themselves. This is a REALLY BIG DEAL for those still following the 2,000 year old Christian faith.

A significant percentage of Church of England (CofE) bishops and priests and deacons are prepared to break away and several bishops have been meeting with the Pope's top people to work out a deal for the reunion of many bishops, priests, and deacons with hundreds of thousands of faithful, with the Roman Catholic Church. A key problem is mandatory celibacy, the Church of England bishops and priests can be married and most are. The Catholic Church and the Orthodox Churches have married deacons and married priests ~ in the Catholic Church the married priests are almost all in the Eastern Rite; some are former Anglican (Church of England) or Lutheran priests re ordained as Catholic priests. Neither the Catholics nor the Eastern Orthodox have married bishops.

The issue of celibate priests and celibate bishops is not, however, a matter of church dogma. It is a matter of tradition and man made rules. We know that the first Pope, St. Peter, was married and we know that at least several of the 12 Apostles were married. St. Paul says that deacons, priests, and bishops should be married. The rule of priestly celibacy is only about 800 years old in the Catholic church, not in effect for the first 1,200 or so years. The rule for celibate bishops is older but goes nowhere back to the time of Christ ~ there were mostly married bishops for hundreds of years in the Church (and this was before the Eastern Orthodox Catholics and the Roman Catholics split in the 1100s).

Will the Catholic Church under Pope Benedict XVI allow a mass return of a large part of the worldwide Church of England? This would include re ordaining the Church of England bishops, priests, and deacons as Catholic bishops, priests, and deacons. The issue of allowing a rite unique to former CofE clergy and faithful is a minor issue, easily solved if the celibacy issue can be resolved. Really the only way to resolve the issue is for the Pope to allow for married bishops and priests in the Catholic Church (at least in a English Rite for former CofE members).

The real question is will Pope Benedict XVI trade his support for celibacy for the reunion of a great many clergy and faithful from the Church of England (something sought by all popes for hundreds of years). If not, he will be in the position of placing a man made rule over a central theme of Catholic dogma ([bringing] all Christians [back] under the One True Church). If he accepts the married priests and bishops the demand to allow the same throughout the Church will be unstoppable. Local bishops will begin to ordain married priests, to end the critical shortage of priests, on their own authority in violation of his authority/central rules (this is actually happening in many nations already but it is being done quietly). How could he allow many or even most of his bishops to be in open revolt against him?

If he does not open the Church's arms to the Church of England's clergy and faithful, the Russian Orthodox (and its main overseas branch the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia) and the Antiochian Orthodox Church both have Western Rites that are apt to welcome their fellow Christians from the Church of England. They have no problem with married priests but the issue of married bishops would be a problem.

This issue is one of great historic importance and will be increasing one of high drama in the days ahead.

Stirling

UPDATE: Vatican Cardinal Dias tells 650 Anglican bishops at Lambeth Conference they have spiritual Alzheimer's ~ link.

Scottish barony title for sale ~ link.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Part of a browse through the subject on the internet..These notes have been of great interest and clarity .....
Farquhar