Con-forming, not uniformity

In its catholicity, the Orthodox Church is truly and profoundly “ecumenical.â€? Nevertheless, this catholicity or ecumenicity is not “universalâ€? – in the etymological sense of the word (from the Latin “tending toward onenessâ€?), in the literal sense of drawing all things to unilateral homogeneity. This, as we underlined yesterday to our brother Bishops during the Hierarchal Synaxis, is the crucial basis of and essential criterion for Paul’s passionate plea for Church unity “in the same mind and purpose.â€? (1 Cor. 1.10) Nevertheless, at the same time, St. Paul prefers to emphasize “conformityâ€? to the Body of Christ – “until Christ is formed in youâ€? (Gal. 4.19) – rather than “uniformityâ€? in accordance with certain ethical prescriptions. This is a unity that can only be realized in dialogue and collegiality, not in any universal imposition of opinion or doctrine.

Patriarch Bartholomew to the Pauline seminar

The restoration in Christ of the unity of the entire human race

Message of the Orthodox Primates
The Orthodox Church, having the understanding of the authentic interpretation of the teaching of the Apostle to the Nations, in both peaceful and difficult times of its two-thousand year historical course, can and must promote to the contemporary world the teaching not only regarding the restoration in Christ of the unity of the entire human race, but also regarding the universality of His work of redemption, through which all the divisions of the world are overcome and the common nature of all human beings is affirmed.
Nevertheless, the faithful promotion of this message of redemption also presupposes overcoming the internal conflicts of the Orthodox Church through the surrendering of nationalistic, ethnic and ideological extremes of the past. For only in this way will the word of Orthodoxy have a necessary impact on the contemporary world. …

As Primates and the Representatives of the Most Holy Orthodox Churches, fully aware of the gravity of the aforementioned problems, and laboring to confront them directly as “servants of Christ and stewards of God’s mysteriesâ€? (1 Cor. 4:1), we proclaim from this See of the First-throne among the Churches and we re-affirm:
i) our unswerving position and obligation to safeguard the unity of the Orthodox Church in “the faith once for all delivered to the saintsâ€? (Jude 3), the faith of our Fathers, in the common Divine Eucharist and in the faithful observance of the canonical system of Church governance by settling any problems that arise from time to time in relations among us with a spirit of love and peace.
ii) our desire for the swift healing of every canonical anomaly that has arisen from historical circumstances and pastoral requirements, such as in the so-called Orthodox Diaspora, with a view to overcoming every possible influence that is foreign to Orthodox ecclesiology. In this respect we welcome the proposal by the Ecumenical Patriarchate to convene Panorthodox Consultations within the coming year 2009 on this subject, as well as for the continuation of preparations for the Holy and Great Council. In accordance with the standing order and practice of the Panorthodox Consultations in Rhodes, it will invite all Autocephalous Churches.

+ Bartholomew of Constantinople
+ Theodore of Alexandria
+ Ignatius of Antioch
+ Theophilos of Jerusalem
+ Alexey of Moscow …

Catholic culture wars

To undo the Council of Trent would be no mean endeavour, although to anyone with a sense of the religious history of Europe during the last four hundred and fifty years it must seem a madly ambitious one. But what really ignited the Catholic culture wars was the way it was done: by an unprecedented exercise of papal power. Hardly anything of what happened was prescribed by the Second Vatican Council, not the turning around of the altars, not the almost universal use of the vernacular, not the scaling down of the sense of transcendence and sacrifice, not the discouraging of the faithful from kneeling when receiving holy communion, not the receiving of communion in the hand rather than on the tongue. Traditionalists point out that the Council had decreed that the Latin language was to be preserved. It had all been done by Pope Paul VI, Archbishop Bugnini and a close circle of liturgical experts. It was never even passed by a synod of bishops.

John Casey Rediscovering Traditionalism

Economic growth

A growing band of experts are arguing that personal carbon virtue and collective environmentalism are futile as long as our economic system is built on the assumption of growth. The science tells us that if we are serious about saving Earth, we must reshape our economy. This, of course, is economic heresy. Growth to most economists is as essential as the air we breathe. In recent weeks it has become clear just how terrified governments are of anything that threatens growth. Amid the confusion, any challenge to the growth dogma needs to be looked at very carefully.

The New Scientist on economic growth – and see NEF.
It looks like more fasting.

Crisis: economic, social and moral

Melanie Phillips on the economic crisis

I see this financial breakdown, moreover, as being not merely a moral crisis but the montary expression of the broader degradation of our values – the erosion of duty and responsibility to others in favour of instant gratification, unlimited demands repackaged as ‘rights’ and the loss of self-discipline. And the root cause of that erosion is ‘militant atheism’ which, in junking religion, has destroyed our sense of anything beyond our material selves and the here and now and, through such hyper-individualism, paved the way for the onslaught on bedrock moral values expressed through such things as family breakdown and mass fatherlessness, educational collapse, widespread incivility, unprecedented levels of near psychopathic violent crime, epidemic drunkenness and drug abuse, the repudiation of all authority, the moral inversion of victim culture, the destruction of truth and objectivity and a corresponding rise in credulousness in the face of lies and propaganda — and intimidation and bullying to drive this agenda into public policy.

The financial crisis was brought about essentially by a public which threw away all notions of prudence and committed itself to spending today what it could never afford to pay back tomorrow, and a banking, regulatory and political sector which ruthlessly and cynically exploited and encouraged such catastrophic irresponsibility with a criminal disregard of the ruinous consequences for the poor. The financial crisis and our social meltdown are thus combining to form a perfect cultural storm.

And on Mary Warnock, who suggested that dementia sufferers may have a duty to die

On Planet Warnock, it seems that ties of family and kinship, acts of selfless love, the deep satisfaction from bringing comfort to those who are helpless or who are so poignantly leaving us — essential aspects of our common humanity — mean nothing at all.

Phillips on Warnock

Collective delusion

The Americans have met the enemy, and it is them. America has coasted on a quarter-century wave of power and prosperity since president Reagan won the Cold War and restarted the economy. America in the 1980s was the only model to be emulated, and a magnet for global capital flows. So compelling were American capital markets that by the late 1990s, almost all the free savings of the world sought an American home. In 2007 a trillion dollars of overseas capital poured into American markets.

Americans no longer had to save; the rest of the world saved for them and lent them money at the lowest interest rates in half a century. Americans no longer had to study; engineers from India to Argentina programmed their computers. And Americans no longer had to face a strategic challenge; after the death of the Soviet Union, so Washington believed, America need only export its self-image. Of all the great illusions of the post-Cold War era, this has turned out to be the most pernicious.

Like emerging Asia in the mid-1990s, Americans used cheap foreign capital to make real-estate speculation into a national pastime. And like Asia in 1997, there is no remedy but to let the sickening slide of asset prices take its course, until the grasshoppers learn to work and save like ants.

Scores of millions who were wealthy on paper a year ago will be penniless by the end of 2008. In the American states where home prices rose the fastest – California, Florida, Arizona, and Nevada – prices fell by almost a third during the year to September 30. American equity prices already have fallen by 10% since last October. Both residential and equity values are likely to fall much further before the bloodletting is over.

Americans engaged in a collective delusion according to which infinite wealth would be created on the Internet through shopping and salacious entertainment. Perhaps if someone had perfected virtual-reality sex, the stock price bubble might have continued, but the disappointment attendant on the end of the illusion cut the value of American equities by half.

The world learned that it was dangerous to buy risky American assets and chose instead to buy safe ones. The trouble was that as a whole, the American public was engaged in extremely risky behavior, that is, bidding up home prices with cheap credit. The banks and credit rating agencies declared that a basket of very risky assets could be turned into a very safe asset, by selling off the part of the risk to speculators. This exercise turned out to fall somewhere between the delusional and the fraudulent.

Spengler Putin for President…of the United States
All this was equally true of the UK of course.

Unthinkable, heart-breaking

Church teaching, reflected in Scripture and Tradition, affirms that it is a man and a woman, united in marriage, who, together with their children, form a family. This community is the basic cell of society and the foundational and determinative point of reference according to which all other forms of family relationship can be assessed (CCC 2202). It is certainly true that the qualities of love and care which are intrinsic to the family may not always be adequately realised, sometimes with devastating consequences. Equally, aspects of the values particular to family life can be found outside of the familial unit composed of husband, a wife and their child or children. There are, however, unique and indispensible characteristics of the accepted understanding of family which make it the rightful and preferred context in which to raise children, namely the diverse and yet reciprocally enriching nature and contribution of both male and female parents, exercised within the security and the
permanence of marriage.
The Church teaches that God created man and woman and thereby established the fundamental constitution of the human family (cf. Gen 2:24; CCC 2203). While the traditional notion of family is not immune from breakdown and difficulty, this is no reason for it to be abandoned or replaced as the primary building block of society. On the contrary, more effort should be made to support families, whether the children within them are genetically the offspring of their father and mother or have been placed in their care through adoption.
Because of this constant teaching and the Church’s adherence to it, I find it unthinkable, indeed heart-breaking, that Catholic Caring Services, so linked to the Catholic Church since its inception, would abandon its position and capitulate to recent same-sex adoption legislation. Again, it is abundantly clear to me that you are adamant in your pursuit of an Open Policy, at variance with the Church’s teaching.
As your Bishop, I cannot give permission to an agency of the Catholic Church to act in opposition to her teaching and her long and rich experience of the placement of children with adoptive parents.

Patrick O’Donohue, Bishop of Lancaster
Letter to ‘Catholic Caring Services’

The most destructive piece of legislation in our lifetime

Christian Concern for our Nation
The final stages of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill (HFE Bill) will take place on 22nd October, subject to final confirmation still to be given by the Public Bill Office.
This Bill is one of the most destructive pieces of legislation that we will see in our lifetime. It is anti-life, anti-family and anti-God. It will liberalise abortion law, create animal-human hybrids and create fatherless families unless we pray and act to stop it.

The March for Life is on Saturday 18th October. CCFON provide informationabout the ramifications of the Bill to help in letter-writing to MPs.

Our Confessor

Monday 13th October St Edward the Confessor

O God, who didst call thy servant Edward to an an earthly Throne that he might advance thy heavenly kingdom, and didst give him zeal for thy Church and love for thy people: Mercifully grant that we who commemorate him this day may be fruitful in good works, and attain to the glorious crown of thy saints; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Saturday 18 October – National Pilgrimage to the Shrine of St Edward the Confessor

9.00am Matins, said with hymns
11.00am Lecture: The Reverend Dr Nicholas Sagovsky, Canon Theologian
12.00pm Sung Eucharist
3pm Choral Evensong
All day – visits to the Shrine of St Edward the Confessor

And also on Saturday 18th October

Prayer Procession – 1000 Crosses for Life
Starting at 1pm from Westminster Cathedral, over Westminster and Lambeth bridges, ending with a mourning ceremony at Westminster Abbey
More at Family Life International.

Reparation

You know what we need now? Large public acts of reparation (that’s repentance, and penitence, which is repentance over the long-term).

Annual Rosary Crusade of Reparation – Saturday 11th October

Procession from Westminster Cathedral to Brompton Oratory with the statue of Our Lady of Fatima and the 15 decades of the Rosary. Starting 1.45pm in the Cathedral piazza and ending at the Oratory with the solemn crowning of the statue and solemn Benediction.

This procession is offered for downfall of the Human Fertilisation and Embyrology (HFE) Bill.

These people are not afraid to use the word ‘crusade’, so why should you be afraid to pray with these others with their rosary? If you are still a bit iffy about Mary, just sing ‘Lord have mercy upon us’, and think of it as another Prayer-Walk/March-for-Jesus. As it re-learns how to repent the Church in London is rediscovering the pavement. Maybe we will soon find out how to cry too. Here’s a report of the procession from the year before last.