I have just been listening to a number of podcasts from John Cleary’s Sunday Night program on ABC Radio National on the subject of “The Future of the Church”. It all got a little boring after a while (although I enjoyed listening to my Evangelical friend Prof. Brian Edgar trying to explain to the Catholic and the Anglican on one episode that it was “all about Christ” – I don’t think they quite got it…).
Then Christine sent through a link to this mob calling itself “The American Catholic Council”. They too are on about “the future of the Church”:
American Catholic Council is a movement bringing together a network of individuals, organizations, and communities to consider the state and future of our Church. We believe our Church is at a turning point in its history. We recall the promise of the Second Vatican Council for a renaissance of the roles and responsibilities of all the Baptized through a radically inclusive and engaged relationship between the Church and the World. We respond to the Spirit of Vatican II by summoning the Baptized together to demonstrate our re-commitment. We seek personal conversion to renew our Church to conform to the authentic Gospel message, the teachings of our Church, and our lived context in the United States. Our reading of the “signs of the times”, as we experience them in the US, our plan and our agenda are set out in our Declaration. We educate; we listen; we facilitate discussions and encounters; and, we build toward an American Catholic Council at Pentecost 2011. At this Council we hope to proclaim our belief in the Rights and Responsibilities of US Catholics.
The idea that has been going through my head as I listen to all this is: “How Occidental this all is.” In other words, I wonder what would happen to all this blather if we just put our hand up and said: “Aren’t you forgetting about the Orthodox?”
Aidan Nichols knows what I am talking about and says it in the conclusion to his great “Rome and the Eastern Churches”.
Rome…not only desires but needs reunion with the Orthodox East. In the face of her own numerous theological liberals and the innovationist tendencies of churchmen (and churchwomen) in various portions of her far-flung “Western” patriarchate, from Santiago de Chile to Manila, from Melbourne to Detroit, Catholicism’s grasp of the historic Christian tradition can only be strengthened by the accession of Orthodoxy to communion with Rome. In such matters as the upholding of the transcendentality of revelation vis-a-vis human understanding; the defence of the Trinitarian and Christological doctrine of the first seven councils; a perception of the nature of salvation as more than temporal alone; the maintenance of a classical liturgical life; the nourishment of group and personal devotion to Mary and the saints; the preservation of the threefold apostolic ministry of bishops, presbyters, and deacons (in that same gender in which the incarnate Word exercised his own high priesthood); the encouragement of the consecrated life, especially in its most basic form. monasticism; and the preservation of the ascetic dimension in spirituality, in all of these the present struggle of the papacy to uphold Catholic faith and practice in a worldwide communion exposed to a variety of intellectual and cultural influences often baleful, if some times also beneficent, can only benefit from Orthodox aid.
So next time you are in a conversation where someone is going on and on about how this or that should be done for the future of “our Church”, just stick your hand up and say: “What about the Orthodox?”