Catch And Release Christianity


A mini-potpourri of popery for the Feast of All Saints:

Hans Kung has "accused" Pope Benedict XVI of fishing for souls with his opening to Anglicans. I thought being fishers of men was the whole point: to have such an experience of peace and joy in the presence of the Lord that you want to make the introduction to everyone so they can be happy too.

Apparently Kungianity is catch and release Christianity -- we catch 'em with Baptism and then throw the souls right back out by being utterly uninteresting thereafter. Or perhaps it's the form of fishing in which one doesn't care to catch anything so long as one gets to bask in the sun and drink cold beer. Fishing like you mean it he finds offensive:
The pope’s basic message is: “Traditionalists of all churches, unite under the dome of St. Peter’s!” Father Kung wrote in an editorial Oct. 28 in the Rome daily La Repubblica.
Um... yes. As the Pope told young German visitors at the start of his pontificate,
Christ did not promise an easy life. Those who desire comforts have dialed the wrong number. Rather, he shows us the way to great things, the good, towards an authentic human life.
He is offering a home to anyone feeling abandoned by his own church's race to abandon normative heterosexuality, worship sex and seek praise in the pages of the Formerly Gray Lady or national equivalent thereof. Let those who seek to define truth for themselves be, but for those who would prefer to be disciples, Benedict is inviting them home. In this he follows his Master, who famously said, "Come, all you who labor and are heavy-burdened, and I will give you rest."

Kung's having none of it, but how are the actual people being invited home responding? Don't know if you caught this post in Pass the Biscuits a couple of weeks ago, but look. There are Anglican bishops so eager to come home they're willing to leave their salaries and pensions behind. Priests are grateful:

Fr Ed Tomlinson, vicar of St Barnabas, Tunbridge Wells, said that he would be following the lead of Bishop Hind.

"The ship of Anglicanism seems to be going down," he said. "We should be grateful that a lifeboat has been sent."

There's been talk of more than 1000 priests Poping. And of the geopolitical significance thereof. (Incidentally, here's a clarification on the married priest dimension of the matter. Have to laugh at Cardinal Levada's comment about speculation in the press:

Had I been asked I would happily have clarified any doubt about my remarks at the press conference.
Ah, but reporters don't ask questions anymore.)

Even more incredible than the coming Anglican influx is the potential reunion with the Russian Orthodox.

Already there are stories circulating that the Patriarch of Moscow has urged his ecumenical negotiators in the Vatican to hurry in order that the Anglicans do not get too far ahead. They're probably apocryphal, but we do know that the Russian Orthodox Church is very close to achieving unity with Rome. It is the largest of the Orthodox churches of the East. We also know that the Orthodox are watching the Anglican process very closely to try to assess the extent to which Rome is serious about tolerating many different traditions of Christianity within the scope of the Catholic Church. I have had conversations with members of the Greek Orthodox Church and the Coptic Church about the parallels between their conversations with Rome and ours. Christian unity throughout the world is at a very similar moment. Conversation and co-operation are beginning to evolve into forms of organic unity that still protect diverse Christian traditions of worship and spirituality.

That, to my mind, also shows how faithful the pope is to the hope embodied by today's feast, which he described last year thus:

With great joy, we celebrate today the feast of All Saints. Visiting a nursery garden, one remains taken aback at the variety of plants and flowers, and spontaneously begins to think of the Creator's fantasy that made the earth a marvelous garden. These same sentiments come to us when we consider the spectacle of holiness: the world appears to us as a "garden," where the Spirit of God has sustained with remarkable wonder a multitude of saints, male and female, from every age and social condition, of every tongue, people and culture. Each is different from the others, with the uniqueness of their own personality and their own spiritual charism. All, however, were marked by the "seal" of Jesus, the imprint of his love, witnessed upon the Cross. All now are at joy, in a feast without end as, like Jesus, they reached this goal across toil and trial, each one encountering their share of sacrifice to participate in the glory of the resurrection.
Is Hans Kung, who ostensibly has dedicated his entire life to ecumenism, not capable of seeing that Christian unity is being effected, dramatically, in front of his very eyes in ways unthinkable 20 years ago? Why can he not recognize generosity and fellow-feeling when he sees it, even if it is not --or not yet-- for him?

In other Christian unity news, read "Do Whatever He Tells You," the statement of Evangelicals & Catholics Together on Mary.