Saturday, November 24, 2007

Fr Timothy Radcliffe on`Facing difference in the Church.`

The weekend before last, there was a conference in this diocese at which the main speaker was Sr Helen Prejean. I didn`t make any of the conference but I was given a copy of a talk given by one of the other speakers, Fr Timothy Radcliffe, the former Master-general of the Dominicans. The title of his talk was `Facing difference in the Church`.

I find it hard not to like Fr Radcliffe. I enjoyed his book `I call you friends`. In the talk of which I have a copy, he spoke about divisions in the Church and the need for `liberals` and `conservatives` to speak to each other. I think this is progress. I`m not keen on the tags `liberal` and `conservative` as they generally refer to those who are happy to follow the Magisterium and those who aren`t and they smack too much of politics.

However as regards Summorum Pontificum Fr Radcliffe had this to say in the context of dialogue between Catholics:

But what do liberal Catholics fear? I suggest that there is a deep unease that the Church is stuck or even retreating. After the Council, many people dreamed of a Church that would be radically transformed. Forty years later, this has not happened, at least not as the liberals hoped. does this mean that we may be stuck forever with a Church that is over-centralised, authoritarian, patriarchal, exclusive of women? Some people ask how they can remain if the Church does not change.

Maybe this is why the Pope`s decision about the Tridentine Mass has been the focus of such an intense anxiety for many `liberal` Catholics. You would not expect that the celebration of the Eucharist in its ancient form would be quite so threatening. Of course it matters how you celebrate the Eucharist, but this issue has become symbolic of something deeper, that the Council is being undone. I gave a retreat for a southern diocese a few weeks ago and the topic evoked profound angst. When I asked whether there had actually been any requests for more celebrations of the Tridentine rite, it seemed there had been none.

So no need to panic as there have been no requests. I suppose if your parish priest is complaining bitterly about the Motu Proprio a Catholic may think there is no point in approaching him with a request. It might only upset the poor man more. I know at the minute of a group of parishioners who are preparing to approach their parish priest with such a request and am very interested to see what happens. Catholics who would take offence at the suggestion that they are `against Vatican II` and yet desire to worship in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman rite, especially younger ones, including priests, who don`t see what all the fuss is about, need to be sensitive to the reaction that such requests may produce in older Catholics. Yet now the so-called Tridentine rite is part of the current form of the Roman rite and I suppose it will take a while for this to percolate through.


Anonymous said...

Father - Are you aware that Sr Helen Prejean is seen as far from heroic in some circles.....e.g. there has been concern about her veiws from pro life groups in America she was also a key speaker at a "Call to Action" conference - a quick google sheds more light on this I quote from one pertinent entry, "ROME, December 8, 2006 ( - The Vatican has confirmed an American bishop's decision to excommunicate members of the dissident group Call to Action. In addition to touting itself as a Catholic group working for justice and peace, the group promotes altering Church teaching on sexuality, women in the priesthood, and electing bishops.

Call to Action is "causing damage to the Church of Christ," wrote Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re (bio - news), the prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, in a letter to Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz of Lincoln, Nebraska.

In March 1996, Bishop Bruskewitz had announced the excommunication of all Catholics in his diocese who were members of Call to Action or several other dissident groups which he described as "totally incompatible with the Catholic faith."

The Nebraska chapter of Call to Action appealed the bishop's decision to the Vatican. In his November 24 letter to Bishop Bruskewitz, Cardinal Re reports that Vatican's finding that the disciplinary action was "properly taken."

The Vatican has determined that "the activities of 'Call to Action' in the course of these years are in contrast with the Catholic Faith due to views and positions held which are unacceptable from a doctrinal and disciplinary standpoint," Cardinal Re writes. He concludes: "Thus to be a member of this Association or to support it, is irreconcilable with a coherent living of the Catholic Faith."

It concerns me that Ratcliffe et al doing the 'catholic celebrity circuit' are given platforms to spread their particular version of The Faith.

Fr Michael Brown said...

Thanks Catholic Traveller, that`s very interesting. I must confess I don`t know much about Sr Helen Prejean.

Alnwickian said...

I am glad to read of your unease with the expressions 'conservative' and 'liberal' when applied to members of the Church.

Is it necessarily 'conservative' to wish to have beautiful and spiritual liturgy, using the greatest music ever composed for any religion? Is it necessarily 'liberal' to have problems with Humanae Vitae? Is it 'conservative' or 'liberal' to have deep unease with the morality and jursprudence of annulments?

I find John MacNeill's classifications of 'pathological religion' (religion as a system of control and blind obedience) and 'healthy relgion' (religion as a source of grace through mature spirituality) to be much more helpful.

Anonymous said...

i'm afraid he gives me the creeps..& if you look on my blog..i say i am neither liberal or conservative....just Catholic..