Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Church vs. Jews And Women

Pope Benedict XVI's reinstatement of British bishop Richard Williamson has understandably drawn attention to the bishop's lunatic views about the Holocaust, in which he says only a few hundreds thousand Jews died, and the Sept. 11 attacks, which he says were orchestrated by the U.S. government. But Williamson's malignant view of history is only part of the story.

The pope lifted the excommunication of Williamson and three other bishops who are members of the Saint Pius X Society, whose priests conduct masses that look like this:

A Roman Catholic Mass was held Sunday in Midtown Manhattan that seemed to be from another time. The women covered their heads with delicate lace veils and the priest said the Mass in Latin with his back to the congregation.

Their missals, or booklets, were dated 1962, the year that the Second Vatican Council began ushering modernization and openness into the Catholic Church, changes that the worshipers at Sunday’s Mass reject.
Benedict yesterday affirmed his aversion to anti-Semitism. But as the National Catholic Reporter's John L. Allen suggests, suspicion of Jews and the liturgical traditionalism practiced by the four bishops are linked:
The historical association between some strains of traditionalist Catholicism and anti-Semitism run deep, intertwined with royalist reaction to the French Revolution in the 18th century and, later, the Boulanger and Dreyfus Affairs in France (1886-1889 and 1894-1899). In populist European conservatism, the defense of Christian tradition has often been linked to a suspicion of “contamination” — originally by Jews, and more recently, by Europe’s rising Muslim presence.

Observers of the traditionalist landscape caution people not to paint with too broad a brush, as if every Catholic attracted to the older Latin Mass or to traditional views on doctrinal matters is somehow tainted by anti-Semitism. Similarly, experts also warn that critics of Catholic traditionalism can sometimes be quick to label as “anti-Semitic” attitudes that may be controversial theologically or politically, but that don’t in themselves reflect real prejudice.
And yet what about the words in the mass itself, as preferred by Bishop Williamson? As the Anti-Defamation League wrote in 2007:
A papal order allowing the use of the 16th Century Tridentine Mass (Latin Mass) includes the prayer used in the Good Friday liturgy from the 1962 Missal, "For the conversion of the Jews. Let us pray also for the Jews that the Lord our God may take the veil from their hearts and that they also may acknowledge our Lord Jesus Christ. Let us pray: Almighty and everlasting God, You do not refuse Your mercy even to the Jews; hear the prayers which we offer for the blindness of that people so that they may acknowledge the light of Your truth, which is Christ, and be delivered from their darkness."
In response, as the London Times wrote in February 2008:
The Pope has rewritten the Good Friday prayer for the "conversion" of the Jewish people in the old Latin rite in an attempt to avoid accusations of anti-Semitism.

But the new version of the prayer still contains a plea for the "salvation" of Israel and asks God to "enlighten" the hearts of Jewish people so that they acknowledge Jesus Christ as saviour.
That's why it's hard to accept, as one cardinal said, that "removing the excommunication against the British bishop and the bishop's comments were two completely separate issues." As Episcopalians and Anglicans realize just as well as Roman Catholics, liturgy is supposed to be alive in God's love, the spirit, and Christ. Given the inspiration that many denominations took from the Vatican II liturgical reforms that the Saint Pius X Society finds so abominable, the pope's slow but determined progress in the wrong direction is dispiriting -- as are the images of women with their heads covered in church. Quaintly, benignly traditional? Not by my lights. Why aren't men's heads covered? It's more evidence that Christ's church is still mired in misogyny.

Watch someone say that conservative Catholic women choose freely to cover their heads. That's what the second-class citizens in Saudi Arabia sometimes say, too.


Anonymous said...

If you have any knowledge of the scriptural views about women, both in the Old and New Testaments... I can't help but to think your intentions are to subordinate the Church to progressivism and modernity--which are almost totally alien to Christianity.

According to you, the actual faith of Christianity is misogynist, and you are out to change it for "the better." How do you reconcile this?

Oh, by the way, If you've been reading the news... In light of all this, TAC bishops are going to unanimously sign the Catholic Catechism and become a members of Christ's Church! So we won't be seeing women and gays ordained any time soon in the other Anglican Rite.

Fr. John said...

I've studied the Bible up, down, and sideways, Eusebius (I've also read Eusebius), and you'll never get me to agree that God intends a hierarchy between men and women. Jesus shattered the one that existed. The church of man put it back after his death and Rising, according to the prevailing practices of the Greco-Roman world. I'd appreciate your not trying to enforce first-century mores in my daughters' church, because I want them to have a safe and equal place in it.

And to be honest, when someone doesn't just take what I say and respond on its merits (for wrong I may well be, being a sinner, and always open to persuasion, being a follower of the Way), and instead questions my motives and accuses me of participating in something "alien to Christianity," I don't experience it as a particularly Godly comment.

Blessings to you.

Anonymous said...

I'm not trying to enforce anything on your daughters, you are the one doing that. It's the false ideas people such as yourself propagate that need to be forced; the truth comes naturally. It took a hundred years of revolution and violence for the crass and artificial egalitarianism to begin its campaign to corrode Western Civilization. That hundred years came a long time after Christ's resurrection--about 1800 years.

The reconciliation of God and Man and the final sacrifice for Man's atonement annulled Moses' law, it didn't alter the fallen nature of men and women. Yet Man is still made in the image of God and Woman is still made in the image of Man. Just as Man is still subordinate to God, so Woman is still subordinate to Man...

"To the woman also he said: I will multiply thy sorrows, and thy conceptions: in sorrow shalt thou bring forth children, and thou shalt be under thy husband's power, and he shall have dominion over thee." -Genesis 3:16

Did women stop feeling sorrow in bringing forth children after this hierarchy Jesus "shattered." When he rose from the dead, did he bring epidural up with him? I don't remember that part.

But anyway, if you have a problem with the veils, take it up with St. Paul,

"But I would have you know that the head of every man is Christ: and the head of the woman is the man: and the head of Christ is God. 4 Every man praying or prophesying with his head covered disgraceth his head. 5 But every woman praying or prophesying with her head not covered disgraceth her head: for it is all one as if she were shaven." -1 Corinthians 11:3-5

...And I'm sure you didn't pick up your egalitarian principles from reading Eusebius or any of the other Fathers either.

So, I think we can all agree that the head of woman was still considered to be man up until the notion was challenged during the late 19th century.

I only questioned your motives because you are a preacher and I assumed you knew all of these things, but decided to change the Christian teaching on males and females to further the cause of progressivism--the very progressivism that is taring your Anglican Communion apart.

Face it, progressivism is failing in the face of tradition my friend.