Let me tell you what happened in the Church of England over women’s ordination. The change came about by stealth and persistence.
First they said it was just about the idea of women’s ordination. It was a question that should be debated. No one dreamed that it would happen of course, but dialogue was needed. Discussions should be opened up.
Of course this was not about women “priests” and bishops. It was really about whether or not women could be ordained as deacons. After all, the church already had deaconesses. What was the difference?
Then by the early 1980s the women who were training to be deaconesses were sent to the same seminaries as the men and doing the same training. It was necessary we were told, “Because the women would be ordained one day. It was just a matter of time and they needed to be prepared.”
But in public it was all about “Dialogue, discussion, debate and an awful lot of demands for listening and more talk and more listening and more dialogue.” Right. But in the backrooms it had already been decided.
So the consultation went on and on and on because the Church of England has a synodal form of government. While the discussion went on up front, what really went on was a fair bit of politicking. Elections were held for the synod seats and both sides began to fight bitterly about the elections. Of course it was all done in a polite and “prayerful” Church of England type style. They were not arguing they were “discerning the way forward”
Then there was much rejoicing because they decided that women were to be ordained as deacons. Overnight the existing deaconesses jumped up a notch to become deacons and the women in training were ready to take the step.
This was not about women priests you see. It was just about women deacons. That was it.
But then all that was forgotten and the crusade to have women priests kicked in. The same cycle of discussion and dialogue and debate went on while behind the scenes the decision had already been made by the establishment and all they needed to do was manipulate the synod in the right direction to get the vote through.
Those in favor of women priests said passionately that this was not a theological issue. It was not about the Fatherhood of God or patriarchy or any of those things. That was inviolable. This was NOT about theology they said. It’s about equality and justice for women. That’s all.
Meanwhile they were already tinkering with the liturgy creating new prayers and forms of worship that weeded out the patriarchal language and started to call God “Mother” and refer to the Trinity as “Creator, Redeemer Sustainer.” But of course it wasn’t about theology no indeed!
Well, you know the rest of the story. With tiresome predictability the whole lumbering thing went on until women were also made bishops.
I wrote a piece some time ago over at Imaginative Conservative about the diabolical technique of talking opponents to death and how the evil one uses “dialogue” to wear down the opposition. To read it go here.
I tell that long sad tale to connect to what is happening in the Catholic Church today.
Notice first of all, that the path of the Anglican Church began as it embraced synodal government. A synod is different from a council mind. The idea of a synod is much more focussed on votes and majorities and proper representation, and when this is the form of government the whole thing opens up to politicking and lobbying and every other kind of abuse.
The Catholic Church is to become more localized and synodical? Good luck with that.
Then notice the drip, drip, drip type of change going on in the Catholic Church today.
Amoris Letitia began with ambiguities. Nothing was being changed they said. It was simply a matter of emphasis. It was a matter of interpretation.
Modernists always do this. They don’t change the plain words of Scripture or the creed. They simply “re-interpret”. So the modernist happily recites the creed and says the Christ was “born of the Virgin Mary” and then (when pressed) says, “Yes, but it is an interesting question isn’t it what exactly we mean by the word ‘virgin’.” You get the idea.
So Amoris Letitia had enough ambiguity that it could be interpreted various ways, and so it was. The Archbishop of Philadelphia said “PoTAYto and the Bishops of Malta said “PoTAHto” and some bishops of Argentina said PoTAHto and another bishop of Argentina said PoTAYto”
Now we have some interesting developments and they are exactly what we should expect by understanding the modernist game plan in the Anglican Church.
First the rules are changed or the authorities are swapped around. So the statutes of the Pontifical Academy for Life were re-written in 2016 and last year new members were appointed. These folks will now make the talk talk about marriage and family matters.
And so they are doing. Edward Pentin reports here that one newly appointed member has suggested that Amoris Letitia justifies the use of artificial contraception.
As predicted last year, moves are underway to push the idea that what some see as a “new moral paradigm” in Amoris Laetitia — to give Holy Communion to some living in irregular unions — could be applied to Humanae Vitae to allow contraception in certain cases.
The latest example of this comes from a newly appointed member of the Pontifical Academy for Life, Professor Maurizio Chiodi, who delivered a lecture last month saying there are “circumstances — I refer to Amoris Laetitia, Chapter 8 — that precisely for the sake of responsibility, require contraception.”
The lecture, entitled “Re-reading Humanae Vitae (1968) in light of Amoris Laetitia (2016),” was the latest in a series of talks at the Pontifical Gregorian University to mark the 50th anniversary of Blessed Paul VI’s landmark encyclical, which upheld the Church’s ban on use of artificial contraception.
Drip, drip, drip.
And if you protest or point it out people will smile and say, “Come now. Be reasonable. You’re being a bit paranoid aren’t you? Don’t be harsh. Its not all black and white. We need to dialogue more. You need to listen more in a gentle way in a safe, sacred space….”
And another drip today: The Pope’s right hand man, Secretary of State Cardinal Parolin suggests that chapter eight of Amoris Letitia introduces us to a “paradigm shift” that the pope desires for the church.
John Allen reports on it here.
According to the pope’s top aide, the sometimes-tumultuous debates unleashed in Catholicism by Pope Francis’s 2016 document on the family, Amoris Laetitia, aren’t primarily due to “certain aspects of its content,” but rather the “paradigm shift” for the Church the document represents.
“At the end of the day, what resulted from Amoris Laetitia is a new paradigm that Pope Francis is carrying forward with wisdom, with prudence, and also with patience,” said Italian Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican’s Secretary of State and effectively the most senior figure in the Church after the pope himself.
“Probably, the difficulties that came up [around the document] and that still exist in the Church, beyond certain aspects of its content, are due precisely to this change of attitude that the pope is asking of us,” Parolin said.
“It’s a paradigm change, and the text itself insists on this, that’s what is asked of us – this new spirit, this new approach! … Every change always brings difficulties, but these difficulties have to be dealt with and faced with commitment,” Parolin said.
So chapter eight of Amoris Letitia was not about something new. It was business as usual. No major change was proposed. It was all just fine. Don’t worry about the ambiguity. Take a deep breath. It will be just fine. Nothing is changed.
Whoops. Now the same chapter requires a huge paradigm shift and a change of attitude.
You see how sneaky and snaky it is.