Monday, June 12, 2017

The Church is 'always the same but always changing" by Simon Bryden-Brook, Wijngaards Institute for Catholic Research


The following is an editorial by Simon Bryden-Brook in the June edition of RENEW a magazine of Catholics for a Changing Church published in the UK.

The death of Una Kroll, physician, mother, Anglican priest, Catholic convert and solitary on 6 January this year prompted a correspondence in the columns of The Tablet. The issue of 28 January printed a letter suggesting that Kroll did not accept the Church's teaching 'in its entirety' and was at best disingenuous.  The assumption of the correspondent is that it is 'Church teaching' that women cannot be ordained.  The correspondence was brought to a close on 25 March with a stinging letter from Ambrose Walsh quoting a 17th century Jesuit assessor of the Inquisition that  "The opinion of the Earth's motion is of all the heresies the most abominable, the most pernicious, the most scandalous".

Only the historically ignorant can afford themselves the fundamentalist position that Church teaching has never changed.  The difficulty is that it is not always clear what that teaching might be.  Can the re-married divorced be re-admitted to Holy Communion in some circumstances?  Ask Cardinals Burke or Meisner and get a different answer to that of the current Pope.

The infallible teachings 'revealed by God' end up in human words and are re-stated from time to time, totally legitimately and necessarily, for a Church which is 'always the same but always changing'.  Bishop Raymond Lucker lists 65 areas where Church teaching has changed in an article on the website of the Wijngaards Institute for Catholic Research

We all surely remain loyal to the teachings of the Church but work to have them ever better expressed and understood. "Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words of eternal life."

Furthermore, as has been pointed out in these pages by others, Pope Francis urges us to be right practitioners of Christianity rather than simply right believers.  Do we believe in the real presence of God in the Eucharistic Bread and Wine?  Of course we do, but more important is our practical response: do we recognise the real presence of God in the marginalised and rather the genuflect, actually reach out to help, to feed, to clothe, to protect?  We seek to recognise God in the marginalised.  Our prayer is that the marginalised recognise God in us - for we are the Body of Christ,Corpus Christi.

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