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Saturday, January 26, 2008

Protestant bishop against ecumenical borders

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Huber gegen Abgrenzung

Wolfgang Huber is against a strategy of demarcation in ecumenism. The Chairman of the Council of the Protestant Church in Germany (EKD) who is also Lutheran Bishop of Berlin said on Wednesday in Bensheim. The perception of differences should not be guided by the intention to act against the ecumenical partners and to position one’s own church in distinction from them. The first ecumenical task should be to adhere to what is common between the churches. However, it would be wrong, to loose sight of the different characters of the family members of the church, the Berlin bishop. However, commonality also could be preseverd in difference and could be lived. Huber had a few years ago even coined the term "ecumenism of distinct image". He spoke at a church service to celebrate the move of the Hessian Ecumenical Confessional Institute in Bensheim.

See the Limits to Ecumenism. Huber himself sets the borders and then says there should not be any.

The Dominican Order censures three of its theologians in the Netherlands

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Cathcon translation of L'ordre dominicain recadre trois de ses théologiens aux Pays-Bas

"La Croix" reveals the contents of the report sent by the Dominican Order in response to the booklet written by three of them in the Netherlands, suggesting that communities elect their parish priests.

Yes, the shortage of priests creates a crisis among Catholics in a country like the Netherlands, where Masses can no longer be celebrated everywhere. But if solutions are to be considered, such as the ordination of married men, they cannot be taken outside the Communion of the Church, and especially not in opposition to the bishop of the place.

That is, in essence, was the response sent Wednesday, January 23 by the Dominican Order to its the three members who are theologians and who published last June a booklet entitled Kerk in Ambt ("Church and Ministry"), which was sent to many parishes, and which now circulates throughout the country. This is the response which La Croix has read in the whole text.

The Dutch booklet did not beat about the bush. In about thirty pages, citing Vatican II, it sets out the possibility, in the absence of a priest, that a person should be appointed to preside at Mass: "It does not matter whether a man or a woman, or a homosexual or a heterosexual, a married person or a single person, "said Kerk in Ambt:" to pronounce these words (of the institution of the Eucharist) is not a prerogative reserved to the priest. These words are the expression of faith of the entire community. "This booklet had received approval from superiors of the Dutch province of the Dominicans.

Not disciplinary, but severe criticism.

The response among the Dutch faithful led the Cardinal Adrianus Simonis, Primate of the Netherlands as Archbishop Utrecht (he has since retired), to have recourse to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. In an unusual step, the former Holy Office decided to argue for subsidiarity. They divested themselves of the case, leaving the Order of Preachers to respond to the case.
The response of the Order takes the form of a text by the French Dominican Hervé Legrand, introduced by the Master of the Order which reiterates . "We did not want to give a disciplinary answer and we place, as the original document, on a theological level," says Father Mario Couto, of the Dominican Curia in Rome. However, to avoid a canonical penalty, the Dutch Dominicans have pledged to disseminate this response to wherever they sent their brochure, - to at least 1400 parishes. Not disciplinary then, but severe criticism.

Because the Legrand report highlights weaknesses in the Dutch text on the form as well as fundamental faults, failing to make distinctions between the observations, proposals and the recommended action. Indeed, the Dutch text makes demands for action, and as the report of Father Legrand notes, "a Provincial of a religious order has, as such, neither jurisdiction nor responsibility for providing guidance to parishes throughout the country." Nevertheless, writes the French theologian, that does not deny the right to debate, on the contrary: "It is legitimate to propose a debate to explore any serious problem which is poorly resolved.

An excessive opposition which dishonours the Hierarchy

The Dominican Order acknowledged that the situation was serious: in some dioceses of the Netherlands, half of the celebrations take place in the absence of a priest. The booklet, the report adds, to its credit, put his finger on a situation which to say the least is chaotic, "where the discussions are focused on the problems of power."

Nevertheless, the initiative of the Dutch Dominicans cannot be accepted. The report contains weaknesses such as an excessive contrast between ordinary Catholics and the Hierarchy, which totally dishonours the Hierarchy, including the bishops. Similarly, in binding together the cases of all married men, homosexuals and women, Kerk en Ambt is concerned about a mixture of issues which makes all the more unlikely a resolution of the core issue.

On the substance, Father Legrand notes a number of claims which contradict Catholic doctrine. One can, he says, show that parishioners participate in the election of ordained ministers: "It was a common practice in the Germanic countries at least until the Reformation." But the election is not sufficient for ordination -since the beginning of the Church, there is a constant link between Eucharistic communion and ecclesial communion, the first could not be celebrated without the second. As a result, by affirming that the Eucharist can be celebrated by even a Christian unordained by the bishop, Kerk en Ambt was advocating nothing less than schismatic conduct. The report, endorsed by the Master of the Order, said that Vatican II did not say anything to that effect.

Celibacy of priests, "there must be a debate"

The conclusion is clear: "Nobody will be surprised that the Master of the Order, not informed beforehand, has to respond responsibly to such a public initiative and clearly disowns this text.

But the text of Hervé Legrand does not stop there. Refusing to avoid the substantive issue, the lack of priests, he recalled that "the current status of priests is not the only one possible". The law of celibacy is a discipline and not a dogmatic issue, "and pastors could therefore modulate the law of celibacy today if it proved to be the main cause of the shortage of priests." The question of celibacy of priests, raised by Bishops at the Synod on the Eucharist, in October 2005, was then closed. "In the Church as in the Order," said Father Couto, it is a debate. With this response, we recognize that the situation is difficult and that even if the findings of Kerk en Ambt must be rejected, there are acceptable solutions, which have been raised several times, such as the ordination of married men.

One way, the report concludes," to raise publicly concern at seeing so many members of God's people continue to roam as "a flock without a shepherd."”


Kerk en Ambt English version


Kerk en Ambt Dutch version



At the Padre Pio Bookshop in London

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no-one ever went far wrong

"A thing I really love doing is to go to these places where people give their lives for the faith and try to convey the message that I love what they are doing, I support it,"

Vespers closing

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Week of Prayer for Christian Unity at St Paul outside the Walls.

Non-Catholics get walk on parts- why don't they do what the founders of the week did, and become Catholics. Save them a lot of time and trouble on their road to salvation.

Long live life!

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