The Pope, living with difference, and Ruth Gledhill's commentaries

Today and yesterday in Anglican land I was struck by how good and how terrible Ruth Gledhill can be. She did a very fine write-up of the Pope's new directive concerning the Mass in Latin and in local languages. She directed the reader to an essay, and beginning translation of the document, The Motu Proprio: Benedict's Decisive Compromise. The author of that blog, Rocco Palmo, has done us even greater service by spelling out just what this document means. Towards the end of his essay he says,

"The logic of these texts speaks loudly and clearly of communion – a unity of rites, eras, of the faith and those who profess it, whatever their personal preferences. More than whatever prayers are said or whichever Missal used, that shared faith, manifested in a constant spirit of fraternal love and common accord, even amidst disagreements, is the message of this document which everyone, whether supportive of, opposed or indifferent to its specifics, is charitably reminded to heed.

Suffice it to say, that message in itself is a gift the whole church would be wise to reclaim in the sight of a world which benefits beyond measure from our ceaseless renewal and recommitment to that witness born from a faith whose pillars are joy, hope and love.

In necessariis unitas, in dubiis libertas, in omnibus caritas."

I quote this because it's spirit reflects what I wish my spirit reflected and the spirit of those who read and comment on my blog. I now we even differ on what is neccessary for union, but Anglicans in their best moments have juggled this well with that liberty in which we can all express our loving care.

Ruth followed up with a good reference piece today.

The argument that "Motu Proprio" allows back in various special liturgies that subject Jews to particular condemnation or make them targets for conversion is worrisome. Not being RC I don't know the interior workings of those liturgical forms.

I do know that our solution, namely a prayer book that allows both the substance of the 1928 book in Rite One but a theology of baptism that suplants that of the 1928 book has satisfied most but left a small fragment of the community unsatisfied. The 1979 book bombed on confirmation, but that is not its fault. The 1928 book made it and not baptism the rite of full inclusion and having found that book deficient and not having a consensus on just what confirmation was about, the 1979 muddled through. Now it is time to get confirmation re-ordered.

The Pope has taken position that respects the ancient "feeling" for the traditional Latin liturgy. This, as I understand it, will not suplant the new understanding of the mass as belonging to the people in a way radically different from that presented in the old order. Rather it acknowledges that people, willing to live with the new none the less have reverence for the beauty of the old and that in such reverence there is no shame.

Ordained under the old (1928) book I have a deep reverence for the use of the words, the flow of the service. I love the service like an old friend. But my new friends have a better understanding of the baptismal basis for our sense of being the body of Christ. The new (now so new now) prayer book assumes both are possible together.

So thanks to Ruth for pointing us to what is going on in Roman-land. There are things we can draw from there.

Having said that, I cannot for the life of me understand just why Ruth Gledhill would then turn and write what is just a sinppy piece on a priest who has been inhibited for a year and who has made some headlines and produced some sharply worded glee from those who believe The Episcopal Church is not only going to hell in a handbasked, but IS hell in a handbasket. This article added very little to the Anglican information pot, save a picture of The Rev. Dr. Ann Holmes Redding and a speculative question as to what might happen after the year's inhibition. The reference at its close to "muscopalian" is not particularly funny and beneath the best of Ruth's work.


  1. The problem with the "Novus Ordo" (modern) Mass as it has been implemented here in the U.S. is that it truly has been seen as "for the people" rather than for the glory of God. The purpose of the Catholic Mass is not to make worshippers feel good but rather to reflect on Christ's sacrifice. That can certainly be done in the vernacular, and I am hopeful that the updated translation of the N.O. Mass approved last year by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops will accomplish that.

  2. I was very disappointed to read that piece by Ruth. I've appreciated some of her previous work.

    But, at least now I know that this is yet another person who will leap into the feeding frenzy if there is an opportunity to throw mud on TEC. Personally, I cannot in good conscience commend such writing to others. Off my list.

  3. I'm honestly confused about this. You have certainly been snippier concerning others, and so has Jake (much, much snippier, as a matter of fact). Why is Mother Redding off-limits? I would think a priest who proclaims Islam rather than Christianity while pretending there is no contradiction, or says that Jesus gets in the way of God, would be a matter of concern. I certainly would pull myself and my family out of a church where I heard that message -- and do so very quickly. After all, ideas have consequences, and a priest's teaching ministry is significant part of what he / she does. If it was just a fellow parishioner who entertained these ideas, that would be another matter altogether.

    Please help me understand why the denial of the Nicene Creed or of Christ's role as mediator is no big deal, while seeking or providing alternative episcopal leadership is an outrage. What exactly are the boundaries of snippiness?

    I'm not trying to be sarcastic (though I probably am sarcastic, for which I apologize); I just don't understand the liberal Episcopal mindset, and would like to understand.

  4. Near the end of his life, Thomas Merton said that he wanted “to become as good a Buddhist as I can” (Steindl-Rast, 1969). He wasn't renouncing Christianity; rather he was emphasizing his belief of greater dialogue between the faiths. I don't ever recall
    (But maybe there was) that there was a big fuss made about this. Then again he didn't live in the world of religious blogs where he would have been crucified. I know that he did recognize the differences in Buddhism and Christianity and never rejected his Christian beliefs, only sought to incorporate what he could that he found compatible, but I still don't think he could have survived today. Just mention another faith and you are a heretic it seems.

    He also did not feel that Vatican II went far enough to address the issue of Judaism, so I wonder how he would feel about the Pope's decision...

  5. rb...re your confusion. Redding is not off limits. Indeed she is "on limits" and the decision to inhibit her ministry is proof of that. My point was that Ruth Gledhill, who writes both good and bad stuff just as we all do, unnecessarily drags Redding's case through the publicity again, even after she has been inhibited.

    What I objected to in Ruth's article was the snotty ending.

    By the way: I believe the denial of the Nicene Creed or Christ's role as mediator is a big deal.

    You suggest that I like Redding's actions, don't like the creeds and don't like "alternative episcopal leadership."

    Actually, I don't like Redding's actions but find the question her situation raises informative, I do not deny the creeds and find them informative and say them regularly and with clear conscience, and I think alternative episcopal oversight is overblown as a solution, and is in the long run no solution at all.

    I am not, BTW, in most settings a liberal. God willing I hope I am a Christian - sometimes visionary, sometimes radical, but mostly hoping there is room on the bus and a seat at the Table for yet another washed up on the beach follower of the Lord.

  6. I am one who believes that the Redding case is instructive of the current confusion in TEC.
    As one who departed for a continuing Anglican (AMiA) congregation after my own priest was summarily inhibited, later deposed in Eastern Michigan (one of six priests so inhibited in the wake of GC2003) the lack of concern by at least one bishop in Redding's case was troubling to read.
    It was my understanding that a bishop in the diocese where she was actually (not canonically) resident thought it was simply hunky-dory that Redding play priest and submissive Muslim woman all at once. Her real bishop is the one who stepped in and inhibited her.
    Off topic briefly, it concerns me when I read of the efforts to make friends with Islam (which interestingly translates to peace, but more often than not manifests as violence) while the normally feminist leaning TEC seems to gloss over the excessively patriarchal religion of Islam.
    Wearing a burka on one day and a priet's collar on another is a tremendous contradiction.
    When I hear women TEC priests express solidarity and ecumenical desires with Islam, I can only shake my head at the dichotomy.
    Please don't give me the old saw about how "most Muslims" love peace. If they truly did, they would be more outspoken about its violence.
    Jim - from Michigan

  7. Fr. Harris,

    Why is the desire for the conversion of those who adhere to judaism worrisome? One might as well call for the deletion of Acts, chapter 2 especially, from the Canon.

  8. The muddled solution to confirmation in the 1979 BCP resulted from the failure of Episcopal bishops in the mid-1970s to accept (or even understand) the proposal of the Standing Liturgical Commission.

  9. well said Anne Kennedy. You could also say Paul would have saved himself a lot of angst in Romans 9 if Jews did not need conversion. Just not the way the Roman church tried to do it by the inquisition. But that should not detract from every Christian's responsibility to explain the gospel of Jesus Christ to our Jewish friends and neighbours, and to our Muslim neighbours as well for that matter, which necessarily rules out becoming a Muslim.

    I actually thought 'muscopalian" was fairly witty, much more humourous than referring to the Holy Spirit as "her"; which you found to be in good humour in a previous post. Perhaps muscopalian is getting too close to the bone?

    Personally, I don't think the inhibition for only 12 months goes far enough. Is she still teaching theology to post grad students in some university? What happens after 12 months of reflection on Christian doctrine - whatever that is in ECUSA these days - is she allowed back in without any recantation of her ridiculous beliefs. And what is going to be done about her bishop who thought her heresy is "exciting"? Is he/she being sent for retraining?

  10. I am not sure, he mused, if Ms. Gledhill is displaying any agreement with radical right or merely exhibiting anti- North American prejudice in her piece. Whatever it is, it is a distinct failure of fairness and charity.

    I, like many 'liberals,' am unable to affirm the idea of a Muslim Christian clergy person. I think it simply makes no sense.

    But(!) if we look at the situation fairly (as opposed to whatever
    Ms. Gledhill did) what do we see? We see a bishop (Wolfe of Rhode Island) who reacted swiftly, appropriately, and compassionately to the news that was published. Clearly, Bp. Wolfe understands she is a defender of the faith and a pastor.

    Dr. Redding appears from her published comments in need of time to engage in discernment. It is appropriate that her bishop gave her that time, while avoiding any confusion caused by maintaining Dr. Redding as an active priest. Of course she wont get any credit from the chauvinist lobby.

    At some point in her smear, Ms. Gledhill crossed a line from columnist to partisan. I think she is clearly no longer a credible voice.


  11. The problem with Ruth Gledhill's closing comments re: Ms Redding was that they were a shallow and vindictive potshot. Journalists are supposed to have at least some semblance of balance and fairness. In this regard, Ms Gledhill failed her vocation as surely as Ms Redding failed hers.

    Fr. Harris is not a journalist. He is a blogger. He does not have the same professional obligation for balance and fairness as Ms Gledhill. Nonetheless, I find his presentation of opposing points of view to be generally fair and reasonable.

    Finally, I have grown tired of the "some Muslims are violent ergo all Muslims are violent" silliness. Given the Crusades, the Inquisition, the 30 years war . . . &c., I don't think we Christians have much of an high horse to climb up on.

    There are violent Mulsims. There have been (and are) violent Christians. Something here about motes and log, methinks.

  12. Mark,

    I know you're not posting these, but I know you're reading them. Elizabeth Kaeton has told a verified lie in her "apology". She did name Anne's blog in her original post. She also had it up for 4 hours, not the 45 minutes she claims. And she has made further disgusting claims about Rev. Kennedy.

    This needs to be stopped. It is evil. You can help.

  13. It's time to get the dialog on Rome back on track by putting this nonsense behind us about approving homosexuality.

    If you wanted to show that homosexual relationships are physically dangerous and emotionally transitory, you could discover a mountain of evidence that is Himalayan. On the other hand, if you wanted to show that homosexuality is about the same as heterosexuality in these respects, you would search the library in vain. No study exists that shows the level of disease and the level of unfaithfulness to be the least bit comparable to those of heterosexuality. Try searching and see. The whole idea of homosexuality being normal and healthy is the grandest and wildest hoax since the Mississippi Scheme or the South Sea Bubble of the 18th Century. -- JF

  14. You could also say Paul would have saved himself a lot of angst in Romans 9 if Jews did not need conversion.

    I thought Paul resolved the whole Jewish conversion issue in Romans 11:28-36 when he said that their status was a mystery best left in God's hands.

    Personally, I don't think the inhibition for only 12 months goes far enough. Is she still teaching theology to post grad students in some university?

    She's teaching theology at a Jesuit university. Whether she should or not is up to the RCC, not the TEC.

    What happens after 12 months of reflection on Christian doctrine - whatever that is in ECUSA these days - is she allowed back in without any recantation of her ridiculous beliefs.

    It seems unlikely from the language of the Pastoral Direction.

    And what is going to be done about her bishop who thought her heresy is "exciting"? Is he/she being sent for retraining?

    He's retiring, so that is unlikely.

  15. Jim: Geralyn Wolfe got a lot of credit from the chauvinist lobby, so you're wrong.

    malcom+: interesting question, but I'm not sure Ms. Gledhill's responsibilities are identical in her capacity as a journalist for the Times - i.e., when her byline appears on a story in the paper - and as a blogger. I think the argument could be made either way.

  16. The problem with the old Orationes Solemnes on Good Friday is not so much that they call for the conversion of the Jews (which is bad enough) as that the Jews are termed "perfidious" (IIRC the original goes something like "Oremus et pro perfidos Judaeos. . .").

  17. transjourdan, that is not at all what Romans 11 says. Romans 11 says nothing whatsoever about whether people who adhere to judaism ought to be evangelised. Romans 10 does as does Matthew 28 and the entire book of Acts but Romans 11 doesn't address the issue of "whether" the gospel is to be preached to those who do not accept Christ Jesus as Lord.

  18. Mark,

    If you like, you may remove my comment. Although she hasn't, really apologized for her first posting or her second, Elizabeth Kaeton has again edited it so that my original post no longer applies... although she's still making herself out to be the victim in all this.

  19. Toujorsdan - thankyou for your response on Israel's salvation. yes - i agree, Paul resolves his angst over Israel's salvation in Rom 11 , but it is only resolved when he lays out the purpose of Israel's rejection of Christ - their disobedience - is to enable the gospel to go out first into the Gentile world, in order for Gentiles to receive the mercy of God, so that then finally, Jews will also receive mercy from God and become obedient to the gospel of Jesus Christ. This is confirmed by his argument in Rom 10:12-15 - that there is no distinction between Jews and Gentiles - all will be saved by the same Lord Jesus, (vv12-13), whom they must call upon as Lord (and Saviour) for their salvation - and how can they do that unless the gospel of Jesus Christ is proclaimed to them (vv14-15) - thus showing the necessity of proclaiming the gospel to Jews as well as the rest of the world.

    The mystery in Rom 11 is not how the Jews will be saved, but that their apparent rejection of Christ now (in Paul's times) is for God's purpose to save the Gentiles - there is nothing more mysterious about this than that, since he wants us to be able to understand this mystery (11:25).

    Therefore my point stands - the gospel must be proclaimed to Jews as well as any other non Christian. The matter of their reception of the gospel and their response is what we leave up to God to do.

  20. "It's time to get the dialog on Rome back on track by putting this nonsense behind us about approving homosexuality.

    "If you wanted to show that homosexual relationships are physically dangerous and emotionally transitory, you could discover a mountain of evidence that is Himalayan..."

    Thank you, "anonymous" for that wholly gratuitous dose of bigotry. The first verification word for this comment was "genngh" which is a good approximation of the noise I made when I read your comment. I could point out that Rome has problems with the ordination of women as well - would you like us to put that behind us too? - and many of us have a slight problem with the authority of the Pope. (Today's breaking news - the Vatican informs us that those of us who don't accept the primacy of the Pope can hardly be considered "Church".) I could point several thousand other things out, but what would be the point.

  21. Indeed, why would I want to be "on track" with the bishop of Rome or so-called "orthodox" christianity, which has had little success in bringing about anything approximating The Kingdom?

  22. JF, why do you assume that everyone shares your desire for reunification with Rome?

    Believe it or not, most Anglicans value our heritage of being both catholic and reformed.

    Interestingly enough, our present conflicts are steered mainly by those who reject one or the other half of the equation, the "more Catholic than the pope" crowd on the one hand and the "more Calvinist than Calvin" crowd on the other.

    If your heart is pulling you toward Rome, then there's nothing stopping you from making the jump. Just don't assume that you can drag the rest of us there with you.

  23. If one reads the modo proprio about the authorization of the Pian use, one will see that it is not permitted for the Triduum, so the entire issue of the language used about the Jews in the Good Friday liturgy is irrelevant -- its use is not permitted.

    If people would try to check their facts prior their hysteria, the world would be a different place.


OK... Comments, gripes, etc welcomed, but with some cautions and one rule:
Cautions: Calling people fools, idiots, etc, will be reason to bounce your comment. Keeping in mind that in the struggles it is difficult enough to try to respect opponents, we should at least try.