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Archive for December 14th, 2009

Morning Catholic must-reads

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Anglican groups taking up the Pope’s offer must be received in a “slow, cautious and prudent” manner, the Catholic bishop responsible for the process in Australia has said.

The Catholic Church was the reason the film adaptation of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy was cancelled, an actor has claimed.

Edward Pentin previews Pope Benedict’s 2010 visit to Britain.

The high court in Belfast has again ruled against Government guidance on abortion.

A record number of people have visited the shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe this year, reports Zenit.

A priest of the flagship Anglican Use parish in America weighs the impact of Anglicanorum coetibus.

Fr Dwight Longenecker explains what happens when Evangelicals find their way to the Catholic Church via Anglicanism.

Ed West notes the growth of Evangelical Christianity in Britain.

Headline Bistro wonders why Malthusian population theories never die.

David Brooks considers President Barack Obama’s debt to the Christian realism of Reinhold Niebuhr.

Ethicist Peter Singer argues that robots must have rights.

Fr Tim Finigan salutes an outstanding French bishop.

And the American Catholic focuses on a sermon by Newman on the Antichrist, delivered in Advent 1838.

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Written by Luke Coppen

December 14, 2009 at 11:44 pm

Obama’s Nobel speech was theologically dubious, says critic

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James Kushiner of Touchstone magazine finds Barack Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech theologically troubling.

In particular, he’s disturbed by the President’s claim that “we do not have to think that human nature is perfect for us to still believe that the human condition can be perfected”.

He writes:

Clever, this. Yes, no one believes human nature is perfect. But can it be perfected? He’s not saying it can be. He’s saying the general human condition can be perfected. So who’s going to do that?

The only way to do this is for some arrangement of human affairs and institutions that in the aggregate allows for a perfection of condition in which imperfect human beings can live without spoiling that condition. And the only way for such a condition to be arranged is for people who are specially gifted to make those arrangements on the behalf of the imperfect, people who see and understand the complexity of the issues, wiser men whom we can trust. Mark well: “The human condition can be perfected.” If that isn’t a utopian dream, I don’t know what is. Those who disagree are obstacles to utopia and will be treated as they have been in the past.

This is an elitism that leads not to the abolition of war by a man of peace, but to the abolition of Man, which violates the Golden Rule, to put it mildly.

Written by Luke Coppen

December 14, 2009 at 7:20 pm

The Pope’s offer to Anglicans: eccentric or inspired?

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Fr John Hunwicke SSC, a thoughtful commentator on Anglo-Catholic affairs, wonders whether the theology of Anglicanorum coetibus is in fact eccentric:

Archbishop Rowan didn’t – despite the claims of his critics – call the ecclesiology of Anglicanorum Coetibus eccentric. He suggested that there are others who might say it…

His Grace has a point. The ecclesiology of AC does diverge from the norms to which we are accustomed and which he himself has lucidly expounded: that a “local church” is not a denomination or a province but bishop-and-presbytery-and-diaconate-and laos. Perhaps his words indicate that he is going to make one last herculean effort to secure just such an uneccentric provision for us from General Synod. If he is, all power to his elbow…

Where Rowan fails is in not taking account of some aspects of the exercise of Primacy. This was well set out in The Gift of Authority (ARCIC 1999). “We envisage a primacy that will even now help to uphold the legitimate diversity of traditions, strengthening and safeguarding them in fidelity to the Gospel … This sort of primacy will already assist the Church on earth to be the authentic catholic Koinonia in which unity does not curtail diversity … Such a universal primate … will promote the common good in ways that are not constrained by sectional interests …”

It is the ministry of the Roman Church to uphold diversity. Roman Pontiffs have not always done that as robustly as they should; in North America they once were less forthright than they ought to have been in defending the patrimony of Eastern Catholic communities – or even the Poles – against local Irish and German diocesan bishops.

But this pope, as far as one can see, has got a well screwed on head.

Written by Luke Coppen

December 14, 2009 at 7:01 pm