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This morning I caught the second half of the Mass from Our Lady of Knock Chapel at St. Patrick's Cathedral. The celebrant was Cardinal Dolan, and the homily was given by Archbishop O'Brien. Until I saw Cardinal Dolan, I thought it was a late mass from Dublin.

It was a lovely service, with a hymn I'd never heard, "Those Who Love and Those Who Labour," which I'm going to have to find. And at the end of communion (which took 4 hymns to get through), Dana sang "Our Lady of Knock." Governor Cuomo was there--I didn't notice whether he took communion or not, though he went up. He may have just gone up and venerated the Host since his status as a A) divorced Catholic man, B) Catholic politician who doesn't adhere to a strict pro-life stance, and C) man living in sin with an unmarried partner would make being offered communion by the Cardinal in a nationally televised service unlikely. 

I came in in the middle of the homily. New Yorkers are weird--they applauded during the homily. More than once. When he was done there was a lot. It was a passionate, well-written and -delivered homily, about how the congregation needed to donate more to support the physical structure they were in (maintaining St. Patrick's isn't cheap), and about how "the Church is under attack, both subtle and obvious, from the government." *Sigh* No. The dissolution of the monasteries was an attack on the church. But unless the government begins requiring the church to perform same sex unions, the issue of same sex unions is not an attack on the church. Unless the government requires observant Catholics to engage in birth control, requiring that part of the church involved in secular activities to provide the same health coverage as any other entity involved in secular activities is not an attack on the church, any more than allowing someone to be Episcopalian with equal rights in this country is an attack on the church. 

The thing that got me thinking about it was the fine line O'Brien tread--more than one church has been in danger of losing its tax free status when they crossed a line between religion and politics. I think O'Brien managed to stay on the right side of it, by discussing issues, and the church's view, and calling the congregation to support that view, rather than lobbying for specific politician or referendums; still, it could easily have gone the other way.

But O'Brien isn't the only Archbishop on my mind. Yesterday Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, announced he's going to leave his position as senior prelate in the Anglican community to become the head of Magdalene College at Cambridge. The Anglican Communion has been a bitter place for the 10+ years of his tenure. I remember when he became Archbishop people talked about how he was a gentle, holy man, with rather liberal attitudes, and that he was likely to run into some problems with the more conservative elements of the Anglican community. What an understatement. He said yesterday that his successor was going to need "the constitution of an ox and the hide of a rhinoceros."

I honestly believe that the nominations panel will put forward two names more like Pope Benedict* than like Williams. Though the appointment decision is technically Her Majesty Elizabeth's to make, the Prime Minister will make the choice--no confusing of faith and politics there *snerk*. And he has to deal with what they offer him. It will be a name from the right, I am sure. Not a bishop from Africa, the most conservative region of the Communion, but one acceptable to that faction.

I am a bit disturbed that it seems as though the Christian hierarchies throughout the world are responding to the Ayatollahs and extreme perversions of Islam orthodoxy exhibited by the clerics behind the Taliban and similar organizations by embracing equally extreme versions of their own faith. And it isn't just the Christian elements--Israel is in an extreme internal struggle between the radical Orthodox factions in the rabbinate (and their followers) and the rest of the nation. It seems to me that broad swaths of the world are embracing blind obedience to doctrine and the safety of dictated conscience in every quarter--questions of faith are just the examples on my mind right now, but the push to orthodoxy in all arenas is evident. And it frightens me, because the attitude that "only our way is the right way," that you are willing to enforce at sword point, leads to nothing but death.

*For those who don't know, before he was elected pope Benedict held the senior office in the body that was originally named "Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Roman and Universal Inquisition"--yes, that Inquisition. The name has changed--the work is the same.


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 18th, 2012 10:25 am (UTC)
I think there is no comparison between radical Mohammadans and those who look to the Bible as the revelation of God's will for his church. The Church, Christians and the church of Christ are all under attack by elements that seek to reduce the influence of Christ to a quaint, old fashioned oddity of the elderly.

The African churches are growing. They are for a reason. The Anglican Church needs a leader who will be acceptable to them because he follows Christ, and not the emotion of the moment. Rowan Williams can go back to liberal academe where he belongs. Could he take Mrs. Schori with him, please. Though, I really don't care so much any more. The Episcopal Church left the faith once given a long time before her tenure.

I also disagree that the Church should pay for birth control and abortifacients. Those are things one needs to take care of for one self. (I'm not talking about medically necessary birth control pills to treat illnesses. I'm talking her for pregnancy avoidance only.) If the Church is made to pay for these things, liberals will regret it in short order.

Mar. 18th, 2012 12:37 pm (UTC)
I keep thinking that a bunch of this nationalistic religious extremism comes from the Book of Joshua. There's the story of the Israelites being punished for the transgressions of one man, who was more or less Divinely Outed. If there is a single place in the Bible where the whole "everyone has to be obedient or God will punish us all" thing appears, it's -there-.
Mar. 19th, 2012 07:03 am (UTC)
David, as king, is Israel. As the king does, so does his people. A leader can lead his people to God or away from Him, to blessing or away from blessing. Choose blessings.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )