February 22, 2009

Church of Consensus

Gentle Reader: There are many who think all churches should be democracies. If a majority votes on a belief than that is what we will believe. I shudder to think what some of these folks would come up with if they were allowed to vote on who Christ is.

The Anglican and Lutheran communions come readily to mind these days. They are splintering apart over the issue of gay clergy. They've been voting on it but no peace is to be found. Even with the vote, they can't force the faithful to believe. A vote will not make truth. A majority vote may not mean the majority will embrace the result. Real belief and faith comes with trust and conformity. Yes, submission too. Submission to the Will of God and trust and belief.

Our leaders, including The Christ, tell truths that I find hard and challenging because they believe it and they care about me. The Holy Father has never met each and every one of us but he cares enough about us to tell it like it is. He's committed enough to the mission given to him by God, that he does not ask for our opinion because he's worried about being popular. He doesn't need to ask for our opinion. If he bothers to at all it's because he's a scholar and a compassionate man but he's not asking us because he has a plan to change the teachings of Christ based upon our personal opinions. He does not have that authority anyway. No one on earth does.

"When any church finds itself accomodating its teachings to the ways of the culture, that church is in trouble" This quote is brought to us by the Rev. Erma Wolf of the conservative group Lutheran CORE speaking in opposition to the local vote on gay clergy in the ELCA, who appears to me to be a beneficiary of a church adopting its teaching to the culture by deciding to ordain women. Now, a beneficiary of church by consensus decides what adopting to cultural beliefs did for her was enough. No more for anyone else.

Unfortunately, it doesn't work the way you want it. Once you open the doors to adopting your beliefs to popular opinion you are going to have a hard time closing those doors. In the same news story with the Rev. Wolf being quoted with her concerns in opposition to the vote on gay clergy in the ELCA, there were voices in ELCA upset that the ELCA may allow the local vote. They want a communion wide mandate that allows gay clergy in the entire communion. Gosh, a central authority? Imagine that? *meow* It doesn't matter if the doors are literally opened, for some it's enough of an invitation that if they think they are open they will come with their opinions and beliefs and they want everyone to prescribe to them.

Sometimes, I'm surprised that even Catholics, that I think should know better, buy into the idea that if enough of us vote on something it will be so. Last week, a petition was going around the web asking people to sign it to persuade the U.S. Bishops to deny U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, and Vice President Joe Biden Communion because of their pro-abortion beliefs.

Friends, I'm not in favor of anyone who is pro-abortion presenting themselves for Communion. I do think Speaker Pelosi and V.P. Biden may want to sit in their pew and humbly decide to seek repentance in the Confessional and amend their lives before they approach the altar. It's to their Bishops and their pastors and all of us to tell them so and try to instruct them on why that is so. We don't have any business just voting on their worthiness, as an "out" for our failure to evangelize, as though a vote in this case has the same effect as voting on waste water treatment plants in your city. Voting, whether it's on something like this petition, or on the first Tuesday in November, does not, and should not, take the place of evangelization.

Furthermore, the day we all decide to vote on who among our congregation is worthy (in our humble opinions) of approaching the altar of the Lord we better all put on the cloth of penitence and sit in a pile of ashes because we are going to be in big trouble. I have enough trouble voting on MYSELF (via the Examination of Conscience) and my worthy reception of Communion to spend the time before Communion sitting in judgement of others. I leave judgement to someone who knows better than I do and He doesn't need a ballot count to figure it out.

Does that mean we can't have an opinion or express our concerns and outrage when a KNOWN public sinner, as in these two cases, does receive Communion? Absolutely, we can and must be upset and express that, but I think using a ballot or a poll as a tool to try and persuade our Bishops in this matter is a bad way to do it. Do you honestly think our Bishops don't already know what is going on? Did Pelosi's recent visit with the Holy Father leave any doubt where the Supreme Pontiff stands? No. If we need to do anything it's pray that our Bishops lead as they should. That said, they need our support and, yes even though its hard some times to give it, our gratitude.


Blogger Adrienne said...

Yes, yes, yes!!! A hundred thousand yes'es!!!

I think that poll is a bit off (to say the least)

February 22, 2009 10:24 PM  
Blogger Adoro said...

Well said! Have you read "Called to Communion" If not...you should!

February 22, 2009 10:26 PM  
Blogger Mary Rose said...

Bravo, dear sister! Wow, what a powerful post! It goes straight to the heart of many Catholic parishes accepting that the laity is "the priesthood of believers" and as such, should be dictating all sorts of wild ideas into the liturgy, often placing themselves on the same plane as a priest.

I'm not happy about Pelosi, either. But if even the Pope couldn't make any headway, then how the heck would a petition make any difference? Plus, as you've said, it is not within our authority to vote on such a thing. If anything, it is the role of her priest and Bishop to confront her and lovingly coax her back to the truth.

Excellent post!

February 23, 2009 7:07 AM  
Anonymous L. said...

Wonderful post!

February 23, 2009 7:55 AM  
Blogger Terry Nelson said...

You expressed this very well.

February 23, 2009 11:35 AM  
Blogger Adamgv said...

Check out this new Catholic band that just released their first album.

From what I heard on the samples site, they sound really good.

Introducing the new Christian National Anthem: Guns & Jesus.


February 23, 2009 9:43 PM  
Blogger Lynne said...

I disagree (slightly)... I did sign the petition but to me, it's just a way of expressing my opinion. It has no binding authority on the recipients. If some of the bishops chose to deny pro-abort pols communion because they sense a strong support, based on this petition, then that's a good thing. I know that it will make no difference here in the Archdiocese of Boston though...

February 26, 2009 8:46 AM  

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