St. Paul’s prophetic words and Peter Seewald on the attack

“The time is sure to come when people will not accept sound teaching, but their ears will be itching for anything new and they will collect themselves a whole series of teachers according to their own tastes” [2 Tim 4:3]

Saint Paul’s writings often turn out to be strikingly prophetical, especially considering the larger developments within the Christian communities. He wrote to the small communities in the Near East, Greece and Rome, but his inspired words are equally applicable to the modern world and Church. The above quote seems fitting today, in the aftermath of a memorandum from 143 German theologians who propose far-reaching changes in the Church, essentially protestantising it. Luckily, a quick glance at the headlines at Kath.Net reveals that the suggestions meet with some serious resistance from , at least, the German laity.

Peter Seewald at the presentation of his book 'Light of the World'

One of the strongest critics is Peter Seewald, the author of ‘Light of the World’, the best-selling book of interviews with the pope released last year. In an extensive commentary, Seewald rips the initiative of the theologians to shreds, calling it a neoliberal action against the very essence of the Church:

“Here we see a concerted action from neoliberal forces who want to force an accelerated  restructuring which will deprive the Church of her essence and so her Spirit and strength. In the end there will be a worldly Church, in which not God, not the Gospel, but the autonomous member of the community will be measure of all things, directed by the high priests of the spirit of the times.”

Seewald continues by identifying the memorandum not as an uprising from the young, but a “rebellion in the nursing home”, identifying the whole general problem as a generation issue.

For those who read German (or have access to someone who can offer a proper translation), go read Seewald’s comments. They are not just applicable to this specific situation, but to so much of the current attitudes and actions of luke-warm Catholics. Just as St. Paul’s words still apply, really.

Artwork: David Myers
Photo credit: Franco Origlia/Getty Images

The sensible response

Attentive readers will undoubtedly have heard about the madcap scheme of professional atheist Richard Dawkins to have the pope arrested for ‘crimes against humanity’ when he visits the UK in September. A ludicrous suggestion, of course, and Dawkins seems to have realised that too: in recent days he has been eager to withdraw his comments, saying he didn’t call for an arrest, but for legal consequences to the pope’s alleged ‘criminal activities’. Yes, still ludicrous.

In Britain, representatives from The Catholic Union and the Thomas More Legal Centre have explained exactly why Dawkins’ suggestions make no sense. Read it in their press release.

A clear and sensible response like this one, as Father Tim Finigan indicates, is the best way to answer the harebrained schemes and sloganeering from certain quarters. To some, this situation seems to be nothing but an excuse to vilify the pope and the Catholic Church.

The fear of change

American Papist has news that Roger Cardinal Mahoney, archbishop of Los Angeles, has approved a coadjutor bishop to eventuelly succeed him. Interesting news for LA, of course.

What struck me was the following paragraph:

Some of the faculty at St. John’s Seminary – where new priests for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles are trained – have expressed concern that the new coadjutor bishop will lean more “conservative” than his predecessor, and some have even threatened to resign or retire if this turns out to be the case.

What would be the cause of such an enormous fear, which by no means is limited to Los Angeles? We’ve seen the same reactions very recently surrounding the appointment of Msgr. Léonard in Brussels, and here in the Netherlands, bishops like Msgr. van den Hende and Msgr. Eijk have also been cause for similar threats.

A new bishop – or any new ‘boss’, really – will do things differently and employees will notice changes. Some changes will be minor, some perhaps quite major. And sometimes these changes may be countered by such threats as quoted above. But the striking thing in this case is that the mere mention of a new bishop leads to the threats. It is as if people go from square one to square nine or something, missing a few steps in between.

Could the reason to fear conservatism or orthodoxy, which are often treated as the same (they really are not), possibly be an awareness, perhaps subconsciously, that the current situation has no hope to continue for all eternity? That eventually things must return to the condition they are supposed to be in?

For the Church, certainly in this country, that means that the empty churches, lack of priests and associated lack of knowledge about the faith, to mention but a few points, must end. And people know that their liberal course which relativises anything that even smells of faith has no hope of continuing. In the end this approach will kill itself.

So, yes, I fully understand why some people would fear an orthodox boss. He is the personification of the closed road they’re on. Let’s hope and pray that future appointments, in LA and elsewhere, will shows that there is no need for fear, even if there is need for change.