On What Can the Church Compromise?


#1

Let’s assume that in the distant future large segments of the Protestant Churches accept Papal authority and Catholic doctrine and wish to reunite as bodies with the Catholic Church. On what “non-essentials” could the Catholic Church compromise in order to ease this transition or in order to help to entice these Churches to actually cross the Tiber?

Would Rome be willing to establish a permanent Anglican Use Rite (I know that there is a very limited Anglican Use Rite in the US). What about a Lutheran Use Rite? Would Rome be willing to allow these new converts to continue to worship in the Protestant style so long as their clergy is ordained by the Church and they institute the Mass? Would Rome be willing to ordain these Churches’ clergy in large numbers? Since the prohibition on married priests is a discipline of the Latin Rite, not a doctrinal requirement, would Rome be willing to allow the Anglican Use Rite or the Lutheran Use Rite or the Presbyterian Use Rite to continue to have married priests. See what I mean? On what areas of non-essentials do you see Rome willing to compromise in order to make this work? Specific examples would be appreciated.


#2

Some Catholics would say that the Novus Ordo is compromise enough.:smiley: I would tend to agree.

Anglican Use Rite is about as far as Rome’s gonna go.


#3

In your opinion, would a possible Anglican/Roman reunification be a good thing?


#4

Schism is a sin, which is why I am interested in seeing on what specific non-essentials the Catholic Church can compromise in order to facilitate reunion. Although this is not the subject of the thread, I don’t think that reunification of the Anglican and Catholic Churches based on a complete capitulation of Anglicans to Catholic doctrine would be a good thing at this time.


#5

I’ve actually wondered about this as well. As some have said here, I’ve recently been told that the NO mass is meant to be a compromise in and of itself. I’d still like to know if that is true.

Anyway, I’ve wondered about extended Anglican right use too. I’ve heard from some (Catholics) here that they consider the Anglican use superior to the NO in terms of at leat for the english speaking world. I haven’t been to one so I don’t know. It would be interesting to hear from people here who have seen both the NO and the AU and which one they think an evangelical would feel more at home in?


#6

Let me clarify by saying that I don’t believe NO was constructed explicitly as a compromise for Protestants. But, in terms of what NO entails, it functions as a sort of compromise.


#7

The short answer is anything disciplinary, nothing doctrinal.

Within the disciplinary area, we do not know “what” the Magesterium might allow or not allow. The Eastern Rites are very different from the Latin Rite and have their own canon law, etc. Conceivably, there could be anything from full absorbtion into the Latin Rite all the way to creating some other Rite with its own canon law, etc.

We will not know until that day comes.


#8

This is a good talk on the subject.

peterkreeft.com/audio/03_ecumenism.htm


#9

Look at how long Catholics and Orthodox have been separated - I think there’s precious little on which we can or are prepared to compromise.


#10

I am not a Catholic, so as a result I know little about the various rites that you are talking about. However, I agree that once you start to compromise on the “little things” it gets easier and easier to compromise more and more. In my church we have a problem with people who don’t want to offend anyone so they accept things that they really don’t agree with, which inevitably leads to hard feelings. I would be very careful about compromise. If you believe something stand on it.


#11

Except I start from the premise that separation is sin. It was sin for the Catholics and the Orthodox to become separated. It was sin for the Catholics and the Protestants to become separated 500 years later. So, we should honestly try to bridge the gap and come closer together if not reunite.

Standing in the way of reuniting are a number of factors: (1) misunderstandings about each other, (2) serious doctrinal differences and (3) cultural differences or small “t” tradition differences. Forums such as this one help us to understand each other better. Theologians working together may, and I say may, help bridge the gap of doctrinal differences (personally I don’t think that this will happen this side of paradise, but I hope I am wrong).

Finally, as for the cultural or small “t” traditional differences, I assume that the Catholic Church would be willing to compromise broadly on such things if it meant reunification with their separated brethern pursuant to a Catholic understanding of doctrine. That’s the sort of compromises I am interested in discussing here. For example, if a major Anglican or Lutheran Church came into doctrinal unity with Rome and was negotiating a submission to Papal authority, shouldn’t Rome be willing to grant a dispensation (or whatever you may call it) allowing this branch of the Catholic Church to maintain and retain married clergy after reunification? If not, why not? What’s most important?


#12

Your right this is one huge sin,

separation, which is in direct disobedience to Jesus and His will.

We should be working always at unifying, and I will agree that most of the separation is based on misrepresentation and pride.

Of course some Christians have such similar beliefs they just need to be explained what Catholics believe to be Catholic, and Catholics need to learn how to speak in their language.

Of course there are some groups that are so far off that there will probably never be reconciliation, unless there is some radical changes.
Jehovah’s Witnesses, some independant house Churches, Unitarians, Universalists. Going from their strict adherence to heresy to a belief in relativism so great that truth is not necessary. These type beliefs are so difficult to resolve that reunification can only happen conversion by conversion.

Unfortunately many do not see it like you do as a sin, and some see it as a good thing, a necessity. Based upon an interpretation of the Bible which separates the various communities mentioned in the Bible as separate Churches.
So the Church in Philadelphia would believe one thing, the Church in Smyrna another, Etc…
Or that there is no truth so whatever you believe is good enough. I was talking to a Presbyterian pastor who said this and believed we would only know truth in heaven.

These type of problems stand in the way, but my personal opinion is that pride is the root of all of this, even for Catholics as we don’t reach out enough and sometimes just sit in our Churches taking credit for the Church, as if it is our creation.
The NO Mass seems like a huge compromise to make non-catholics more comfortable. I believe we can certainly take in other practices such as the great fellowship that many practice, and do that in the Parish Hall, we need to be taught that. Many things can be shared and used to spread the love of Jesus, which is just hampered if we are not united.

We just need to get past the pride on both sides.

In Christ
Scylla


#13

Finally, as for the cultural or small “t” traditional differences, I assume that the Catholic Church would be willing to compromise broadly on such things if it meant reunification with their separated brethern pursuant to a Catholic understanding of doctrine. That’s the sort of compromises I am interested in discussing here. For example, if a major Anglican or Lutheran Church came into doctrinal unity with Rome and was negotiating a submission to Papal authority, shouldn’t Rome be willing to grant a dispensation (or whatever you may call it) allowing this branch of the Catholic Church to maintain and retain married clergy after reunification? If not, why not? What’s most important?

The thing is, even the “small t” traditions can’t just be taken or left on a whim. I think allowing a married protestant clergyman to be ordained as a Catholic Priest but not allowing new converts to get married before being ordained is as far as that is ever going to go in the Latin Rite. The Church has determined that celibacy for Latin Rite priests is very important and even though its a “discipline” it is one that has a good 1000 yrs. or so of de jure observation. Since the Catholic understanding of priesthood is drastically different than most protestants, I think it would be much better to maintain the Roman use.

The Ecumenical movement today is not so much about “converting” protestants to Rome but rather a dialog. It is my understanding that this dialog is geared to first and foremost remove the many misunderstandings that the original protestants have passed down to this current time and also to admit Roman mistakes as well in order to clarify everything so that we can see each other’s side clearly. However, there is no aim to “compromise” on anything. If we unify, we unify, Deo Gratias but we do not seek any false unity based on photo-op externals.

I see the Anglican Use as about as far as Rome would be willing to go in a “compromise” of sorts, though I would have to say that the Anglican Use looks more Catholic than some of these liberal American Latin Catholic parishes. I think that these Anglican Use parishes had a pretty strong Catholic outlook even before they unified with Rome but we’d never tolerate more liberal strains of Episcopalianism or Lutheranism. I don’t think your average Episcopalian or ELCA Lutheran would be suited to Roman discipline and doctrine as things sit at the present anyway.


#14

This is what I don’t understand. Let’s say that there is a reorganization of American Anglicanism over the next decade (it has already started). Then, let’s say that a branch of that reorganized American Anglican Church becomes, over the decades, more and more Catholic in doctrine so that at some point its bishops and the bishops of Rome are looking at each other over the figurative Tiber and wondering why they remain separated. In that scenario --unlikely I agree but bear with me for a moment–why wouldn’t the Catholic Church accept reunion with this Anglican Church on the basis that the Anglican Church would be a separate rite within the Catholic Church, a rite that, among other small “t” differences, would provide for a married priesthood? Why not? The Catholic Church today has within itself various rites where a married priesthood is allowed. In view of the fact that, in my scenario, the Anglican Church is crossing the Tiber, placing itself into submission to Rome and abandoning 500+ years of separation, why couldn’t the Catholic Church be willing to make accomodations about matters which are not doctrinally required? If we cannot compromise on matters which are not essential, then there is truly no hope of union prior to paradise. That’s my thesis here. If the Orthodox and the Catholics unite, will it be on the basis that the Orthodox surrender their tradition allowing a married priesthood? Will Rome refuse to unite unless the Orthodox surrender that tradition? It’s the same sort of question here.


#15

RR, you ask such good questions. It is such a good question that there is nobody here who can really answer with any specificity. Any decision that would exclusively rest with the Pope and the Magisterium. Personally, I don’t think it is my place to suggest what compromises are possible. The big picture is my focus- Unification as Christ wants. Everything is the perogative of Bishops and above. I hesitate to even speculate as it somehow infers that my opinion is important.

But, it is fun to speculate. :wink:

I think one poster said it the closest: Nothing on Doctrine. The Truth is the Truth.

But there is great wisdom with regard to liturgy and discipline. The reason we have so many different Rites is that it accommodates cultural differences. While often asserted on here that any accommodation is a threat to unity, anybody who has attended Mass outside their own culture or another Rite will understand that the Church is more tolerant of liturgical differences than we imagine. This being said, with a little study one quickly realizes that while the appearance may be different, the essentials are in place regardless of culture or Rite.

And for some, a re-unification would be much easier (ie. Anglican and Lutheran and even possibly some more liturgical branches of the Wesley-tradition) as they have retained much of the liturgical practices. Similarily, a Catholic Charismatic Mass would appeal to some of our separated charismatic breathren.

The more challenging denominations are those whose congregations revolve more around the charisma of the minister. They have a leader who has never really had to submit to an earthly authority. He gets to write his script and do as he pleases.

Regarding disciplines like a married priesthood, of course this would be a discussion item. We allow married priests in other Rites and we allow it in the Latin Rite if it the conversion of an Anglican priest.

Imagine that a major denomination reunited, what are the practical challenges beyond what RR raised. Availability of Priests and Catechesis.

I think that there would be some type of transition period granted whereby we would have to educate all the new incoming Catholics on the faith in preparation of Confirmation. The laity like most on CAF would have to really step up to the plate (are we willing to do so? We talk a good game here!).

Then, when we had all these new confirmed breathren, how could we accommodate them regarding Mass without also requiring to dissolve the faith community (defeats the principle of macro reunification vs. one-by-one) and causes chaos.]

I think there may be a need for a lessening of the obligation for Mass for a generation for these new Catholics (not the rest of us). We could ordain rather quickly their Pastors as Permanent Deacons and institute some type of allowance for Communion Services on Sunday with a periodic visit of a Priest for say a monthly Mass. After the Communion Service, there may be some allowance for components of their traditional service. In fact, since they are used to hour long sermons, it could be how catechesis occurs. This is similar to how we don’t have eulogies delivered during the funeral but after it is concluded.

The challenge is huge but imagine how pleased Christ would be if we were one as He desires? Just the thought excites me!

Sidebar: I watched Journey Home Roundtable last week. Two of the panelists were former Lutheran minister who are now Catholic Priests. Anyway, one of them mentioned that his wife was Catholic when he was a Lutheran minister. It was never clarified if they were still married, had gotten a divorce, or she had died.


#16

This is what I don’t understand. Let’s say that there is a reorganization of American Anglicanism over the next decade (it has already started). Then, let’s say that a branch of that reorganized American Anglican Church becomes, over the decades, more and more Catholic in doctrine so that at some point its bishops and the bishops of Rome are looking at each other over the figurative Tiber and wondering why they remain separated.

That’s one of the problems, your situation is a real big “if”. If American Anglicanism (I assume you mean Episcopalian too) is willing to get rid of women’s “ordination” and other things like that, then I think there could be some more fervent ecumenical thought and, quite frankly, I don’t know what Rome would do if it could possibly have a million or so people back into the Fold. It could definately be possible if such an event presented itself.

What I think is sad today is that some Anglican parishes have not been allowed to come over into union with Rome by the local Ordinary. Why would we want to bar such people from returning to unity on their own free accord?

In that scenario --unlikely I agree but bear with me for a moment–why wouldn’t the Catholic Church accept reunion with this Anglican Church on the basis that the Anglican Church would be a separate rite within the Catholic Church, a rite that, among other small “t” differences, would provide for a married priesthood? Why not?

I don’t know if there would actually be enough people to make a new “Rite”. Anglicans were once part of the Latin Rite, but I suppose there could be a resurrected Sarum Rite (which I don’t think ever had the canonical status of the other legally recognized Rites of the Church).

The Catholic Church today has within itself various rites where a married priesthood is allowed. In view of the fact that, in my scenario, the Anglican Church is crossing the Tiber, placing itself into submission to Rome and abandoning 500+ years of separation, why couldn’t the Catholic Church be willing to make accomodations about matters which are not doctrinally required? If we cannot compromise on matters which are not essential, then there is truly no hope of union prior to paradise. That’s my thesis here. If the Orthodox and the Catholics unite, will it be on the basis that the Orthodox surrender their tradition allowing a married priesthood? Will Rome refuse to unite unless the Orthodox surrender that tradition? It’s the same sort of question here.

No, because the Orthodox (and Eastern Catholic Rites) have the tradition of some married priests that extends back 2000 yrs. or so. Also, I don’t think that we are looking to create a new Rite because I don’t really think that we could justify it. Rites have to have apostolic origin, the Anglican Use doesn’t have this.

I think that the married priest thing isn’t that big of a deal. If Anglicans are willing to come to terms with Rome on the really big issues, I think they’d be willing to adopt the prevailing custom of the Latin Rites of the Church concerning marriage and priesthood.

As the Vatican has reaffirmed again and again and again, the celibacy issue is very important. Even though it isn’t irreformable dogma, I think it is an important part of priesthood in the West and even in the East celibacy is important though the discipline is different.


#17

Here in our diocese there is a married (with chidren) convert to the Catholic faith who was a Lutheran pastor, and he has been ordained to the priesthood. His wife is still living. This happened a few years ago and according to our diocesan newspaper his love of the Eucharist was so great that the Bishop decided it was right to ordain him, and so received permission to do so from Rome. I believe that the only thing the Bishop has said this priest cannot do is to pastor a church. He is assigned as an associate pastor in a very large church (over 3,000 families) in the diocese.

I recently spoke with another convert who was a Lutheran pastor for many years. He too is married with children. He said he thought about asking to be ordained a priest, but felt it would not be fair to his wife. He currently works for the diocese as a parish family life administrator for a church that does not have a full-time priest but is staffed with a sacramental priests.

So it would seem that although the Latin Rite small “t” tradition of an unmarried priesthood holds firm for those men who are Catholic and feel a call to ordained service, the tradition is already changing for at least some of those men who have been called by God to pastor a protestant church, but have found their way home to Rome.


#18

Has this ever happened? I know that some elements of the Eastern Churches have reunited…how large were they?


#19

What do you mean by this? I don’t understand.


#20

That could be. Still, if you are talking about a major denomination other than the Orthodox crossing the Tiber, you are almost certainly talking about the Anglicans or the Lutherans. Both of which have a married priesthood.


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