Monday, March 11, 2013

Lutherans warn Vatican--Do not create a "Lutheran Ordinariate"

The creation of the Anglican Ordinariate by the now, former Pope of Rome, Benedict XVI allowed the Roman Church to extend an olive branch to conservative Anglo-Catholics in England and beyond who were discontent with the hierarchy's loosening standards on women's ordination, ordination of homosexuals, homosexual weddings, etc.  Those Anglicans who were received into this ordinariate were allowed to retain their liturgical customs and praxis.  I'm not sure if they were forced/invited to recognize the headship of the Pope in spiritual matters, but there were definitely those who took the offer and didn't look back.

Now there are rumours that the Vatican may attempt to entice conservative Lutherans in the same way, by creating an ordinariate for them.  This prompted a slew of accusations and polemic from primarily liberal Lutheran groups (mainly in Europe) who said that such a move would "send wrong signals" (whatever that means) and would be a damaging blow to ecumenical relations.  You can read more of the reaction here.

First of all, I think the liberal Lutherans should calm down.  Conservative Lutherans are those who adhere to a quia subscription of the Confessions which means they would never enter into any kind of arrangement which would  require them to acknowledge the headship of the pope.  Any Lutherans who would do that are probably more Catholic than Lutheran anyway and would probably convert and swim the Tiber entirely rather than just take a dip in the kiddy pool version.

Secondly, what does this say about ecumenism?  I've been long of the opinion that ecumenism, as it exists now, simply seeks to unify churches administratively without regard for what the true faith is.  They call it diversity and that strengthens the church rather than hinders it (I'm sure that the confessors of the faith who died for the orthodox doctrine would disagree, but I digress).  True and good ecumenism is not about uniting the churches, but having these disparate confessions unified to the Una Sancta which already exists.  There's no harm in talking to people, but you must wonder why we continue to talk to people who have so consistently and unapologetically discarded the traditions of the faith.  And you must also wonder why we continue to talk with them who insist that diametrically opposed points of doctrine are somehow both valid.

This reaction by this group of Lutherans simply betrays that the ecumenism practiced today by the mainline Protestants is NOT about a true unity of the faith, but a unity of agreeing to disagree so let's all commune at the same altar.  And the Church has never tolerated heresy and schism in its midst for a great long time before it was able to throw it out.  At the same time, their reaction underscores that, even for liberal Lutherans, beliefs do matter, even if they officially continue to taut their preference for "diversity of beliefs" within a church.

The liberal Lutherans want so much for their perverted doctrines to be recognized, particularly by Rome.  But Rome won't budge. That's what they mean by this action being a damage to ecumenical relations: Rome insists that the Lutherans are deficient in many doctrines and practices and will insist on its faith as the norm and standard from which unity is born.  How dare they continue to be Catholics!  Of course, if the situation were reversed and the Lutherans announced a "Catholic Ordinariate" (not going to happen), there would be no hypocrisy on their part.

Ecumenism, as it is practiced now, is dangerous for precisely this reason.  The Orthodox are best to withdraw themselves from these frivolous dialogues and wastes of time. 


  1. Hey Chris,

    The language of the document that created the Anglican ordinariate is pretty unequivocal about the authority of the Roman Pontiff, but nothing seems forceful or punitive to me. I'd assume that any Anglican interested in converting wouldn't need to be forced to adhere to any of its terms and could probably teach the Catholics a thing or two about Church tradition. RE: enticement: I envision a large, nondescript van and a man in the back plying the Anglican with a bottle of gin and a dusty hymnal. mwahaha Anyway, here's a link from the Vatican website. Enjoy :)

    RE: ecumenism. Unity is much easier than we make it. Just love each other as Christ has loved us. Boom.

    We're all in some respects victims of history in that we have been raised in religions (sometimes irreligion) not of our own choosing, all told by parents we trust that ours is the one, true faith. There's that great line from Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead: "We only know what we're told, and that's little enough. And for all we know, it isn't even true." So, we've got to cut each other some slack. Ignorance is not obstinance; heterodoxy is not heresy.

    I propose to you that interfaith dialogue (if not is still a worthy pursuit if only because a) it's good for you to exercise charity in spite of disagreement, b) they are of the human race, and c) they may actually be right and you don't want to miss that.

    For my own part, I have no choice but to trust the Truth to speak on its own behalf because I'm not its best spokesperson (I may at times serve as an ideal cautionary tale however). I have one heck of a time refraining from sin and generally living up to the standards of my own religion, and I'm no theologian either. I've barely scratched the surface. But, part of growing up is deciding not to take this as a cop out but to educate yourself and be continually convicted.

    I know that I am very curious about Orthodoxy (as a Catholic, the itch of this mysterious alternate Christian reality in the East is too irresistible not to scratch, amirite?), and I'd love the opportunity to ask you more about it.

    Good luck with Great Lent and with life. Long time, no see! :)


    1. Unity is found by confessing the same faith in Christ. Sure,a Baptist, Methodist and Catholic may all love Christ (whatever that means for them individually) but loving Christ also means being bound to Him through the Church. I know Baptists and Methodists would cringe at that.

    2. I see what you're saying. In other words, ecumenical unity is possible if you go by the loosest definitions of what is a church ("Wherever two or three are gathered in my name..."), and fellowship is totally legit. But, when we get down to doctrinal brass tacks, some ideas are irreconcilable. Either the sacraments and the creeds and the apostolic succession matter or they don't, and you can't receive or profess them on Sunday and discount them on Monday. Right?

      In that case, full communion would still be possible through mass conversion or perhaps a series of synods. I think that has been going on for some time (as in Entish pace) between the Vatican and the Orthodox Patriarchs. What do you want to see happen with that process, and what do you hope Pope Francis does?

    3. I don't really care to see anything except for Orthodox prelates guarding the faith against heretics. I don't see much room for Pope Francis because he does not have the same reverence for traditional Tridentine liturgy as Benedict, which endeared him to many Orthodox. I see five steps backwards at least.

    4. This might be a stupid question, but why do Orthodox Christians like the Tridentine liturgy? Of course keeping in mind that celebrating the Eucharist has the same ancient roots in both our rites, isn't 1570 pretty recent compared to, say, the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom? Is it just because it's not the novus Ordo Missae?

      One thing I've been curious about is how our Catholic Mass seems to somebody like you who is accustomed to Orthodox Divine Liturgy. If you ever wanted to do a compare and contrast of the Missa cantata at Immaculate Conception, I'd totally love to go with you. I've still never been. :)

    5. I don't think that Orthodox necessarily like the Tridentine Liturgy. There are many errors in it (specifically in the Canon) which Orthodox would take umbrage at. However, I think that the Orthodox in general like the Tridentine Rite not for what it is but for the fact that it is traditional. I think what endeared Benedict XVI to many Orthodox hierarchs was his staunch defense of the Tridentine Rite. To the Orthodox, that signaled that the Roman pontiff was not some "fast and loose guy" with the inherited tradition of the Roman Church but someone who would defend it. And that was seen as a necessary component for any future dialogue. What would be the point of Orthodox in dialoguing with a church that regards its ancient tradition as something disposable?

  2. Liberals who promote diversity of opinion are really only trying to make a place for their own. Once their is well accepted, your opinion becomes "intolerant" or "hateful" and then comes the push to abolish what you think.

    1. Exactly. Once, they're in, they then try to push their belief as the norm rather than the exception. I remember once that the President of the World Council of Churches claimed that the Orthodox were absolutely needed for the ecumenical movement because it keeps them (i.e. the liberal Protestants) faithful. They know that if the Orthodox bolt, there goes any kind of claim the ecumenists have for a traditional confession in their wings.

    2. There are zealots of all stripes. It isn't an exclusively left or right thing. I know some nice, decent liberals who are not as you describe (This is the difference between 2nd Unitarian in Omaha and 1st Unitarian.). A lot of that intolerance is just the cognitive dissonance as they discover the limitations of their attempt at open-mindedness, and everyone has a limit whether they like it or not.

    3. Trish, yes there are exceptions to every rule, but, as a rule, the liberals know that they are the innovators and so they have to use subterfuge and deceit to get their foot in the door because if they come out and say what they really think, they will be shunned. And by liberals, I do not mean left wing, necessarily. I'm talking about people in the Christian tradition who continually innovate the doctrine of faith left once and for all to the saints.