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Posts Tagged ‘Catholic Herald’

My musings about God and Jesus Christ in my recent Quest for God series of postings must surely strike a chord with many other people.  But this sort of thinking gets short shrift in the Easter 2017 edition of the Catholic Herald.

The theme is resurrection from the dead. In attacking the belief “that the Resurrection was only an event in the faith consciousness of the disciples, however real, rich and radical that might be imagined,” Fr Ron Rolheiser stipulates that “to believe in the Incarnation is to believe that God was born into real physical flesh, lived in real physical flesh, died in real physical flesh and rose in real physical flesh.”

Fr Julian Large agrees: “The Ascension indicates that heaven is not merely some disembodied state of spiritual bliss but a real place where bodies exist.” (Where does that leave Job 19:26?)

I find these assertions fascinating.  They assume that the laws discovered by science these many centuries can be and are circumvented by divine fiat.  Where in our universe, for example, is a physical heaven to be found?  And where does this leave St Paul when he explains that the dead “are buried as natural human bodies, but they will be raised as spiritual bodies” (1 Cor 15:44)?

As such these statements of fact in the Herald are literally incredible in the post-Enlightenment sense.  To be precise, they are nonsense.  But they do not mean that the Resurrection and the Ascension didn’t happen.  They did, I believe, but in a metaphorical, symbolical way (I take this to be a valid layer of meaning in Article 6.660 of the Catechism) that represents an authentic article of faith.

I am comfortable with that, and shrug off Richard Ingrams’ remark in the same issue: “Anyone hoping to take comfort in [the explanation of the Gospel story as some sort of beautiful poetic “myth” which was not intended to be taken literally] is more likely to find it in the writings of progressive theologians or the sermons of renegade CofE bishops.” Ouch.  The renegades have my sympathy.

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Following the publication of Amoris Laetitia, the Roman Catholic Church is still it seems divided over the matter of divorced persons receiving Communion, something that was being discussed by Anglican theologians fifty years ago.  So it’s heartening to see a different, positive take on it in, of all places, the letters page of the Catholic Herald (31 March 2017) and from a nun at that.  A Sister Mairead Murphy writes: “Holy Communion is not a reward for the good and faithful, it is food for our journey.  Food and nourishment for all God’s people. So if Pope Francis wants to do some more ‘loosing'[in the spirit of Matt 18:18], to demonstrate God’s love, tenderness and mercy for his people, I say ‘bring it on.'”  Amen to that, Sister.

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A local retired priest lets me see copies of the Catholic Herald when he has finished with them (I get the Church Times from another source).  As a liberal member of the Church of England I find the experience both fascinating and appalling.

The news items and factual articles are interesting enough but the tone of much of the theological explanations and contributors’ pieces, and especially the letters page, seems to lose no opportunity to denigrate Anglicanism with frequent well-chosen sneers.

The overall impression is one of beleagurement, a siege mentality shaded with vindictiveness; altogether disheartening.  Why is this?  “Extra Ecclesiam nulla salus” taken all too much to heart? Why is Rome so strident?

‘Twas ever thus.  I am reminded of the Trotskyite I met in the Horn of Africa who claimed that cradle Catholics grow up to make the best communists, whilst Church of England babies eventually adhere to nothing better than woolly liberalism.  In Hilary Mantel’s novel Fludd the parish priest reports that his village community has no Christians, only Catholics and heathen.  Or, as Oscar Wilde remarked, “The Catholic Church is for saints and sinners alone. For respectable people, the Anglican Church will do.”

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