UN panel tells Church to change its teachings

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child has issued a statement directing the Roman Catholic Church to change its teachings on abortion and sexuality.  The document, which you can read here, begins by addressing the pedophile scandal–which certainly needs to be addressed–but then it calls for canon law to be changed to allow for abortion, to accept homosexuality, to promote “gender equality,” and to stop teaching that adolescents shouldn’t have sex.

That last point is in glaring opposition to the first part of the report–I would think the Church should come down even harder on underaged sex!  And what supporting abortion has to do with the rights of the child is beyond me.  Still, we may be seeing more governmental and quasi-governmental groups telling Christians what they must believe. [Read more...]

Conservative Lutherans start dialogue with Catholics

Roman Catholics and the Lutheran World Federation made a splash a few years ago when they came to some agreements about Justification by Faith.  But the much-hyped talk of the two parties getting together has floundered, since many of the liberal Lutherans of the LWF have jumped off the deep end, as far as Catholics are concerned, when it comes to issues of sexuality. Another limiting factor is women’s ordination, practiced by most LWF church bodies, but ruled out by Roman Catholics.

But now, the world organization of conservative Lutherans, the International Lutheran Council (ILC)–whose churches do not ordain women and continue to uphold traditional teachings about sexual morality–is starting talks with Rome.  The goal is surely not union, nor papered-over agreements on justification and other important doctrines, but we’ll see what comes of it.  (Any ideas of what might be some legitimate areas of agreement and co-operation?)

Mathew Block (yes, one “t” is correct), the communications director of the Lutheran Church-Canada, tells about it, including who is involved (including someone from the LCMS)  after the jump. [Read more...]

Pope Francis

A new pope has been elected:  Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, archbishop of Buenos Aires in Argentina.  He is the first non-European elected to that office in over 1000 years.  He will be the 266th person to hold that office.  He is taking the name of Francis (the proper form being Francis, not Francis I, as I posted earlier, since the first of that name is not given a number until there are others that need to be distinguished from each other).

I can’t believe that there has been no other pope named Francis, St. Francis being such a notable saint.  (See this for the possible significance of the name.)  At any rate, the election of this first South American pontiff is surely something of a surprise.   The top prospect lists of prospective popes that I saw earlier didn’t mention him.  I did find one that did, which I’ll quote after the jump, along with a video of Pope Francis. [Read more...]

The mother of all lock-ins

They aren’t a youth group, but what the cardinals meeting to elect a new pope are having is a lock-in.  So explains the BBC, with other little-known facts about what is going on in the Sistine Chapel:

1. It’s a lock-in. Conclave comes from the Latin “cum-clave” meaning literally “with key” – the cardinal-electors will be locked in the Sistine Chapel each day until Benedict XVI’s successor is chosen. The tradition dates back to 1268, when after nearly three years of deliberation the cardinals had still not agreed on a new pope, prompting the people of Rome to hurry things up by locking them up and cutting their rations. Duly elected, the new pope, Gregory X, ruled that in future cardinals should be sequestered from the start of the conclave.

2. Spying is tricky. During the conclave they are allowed no contact with the outside the world – no papers, no TV, no phones, no Twitter. And the world is allowed no contact with them. The threat of excommunication hangs over any cardinal who breaks the rules. [Read more...]

Who will get elected pope?

The conclave of 115 cardinals who will elect the pope convenes on Tuesday.  They will keep casting ballots until someone gets two-thirds of the vote.  Those of us who decry the office can still be interested in the outcome.  I think it would be good for worldwide Christianity if the cardinals would elect a non-European, such as Peter Turkson of Ghana.  Or maybe an Asian, such as Malcolm Ranjith of Sri Lanka or Luis Antonio Tagle of the Philippines.  Interestingly, liberal Catholics oppose the election of a pope from the developing world, since those societies are extremely conservative when it comes to “women’s issues” and, especially, homosexuality.

But I would love it if New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan were to be chosen. That’s because I’ve met him!  When he was Archbishop of Milwaukee, he was involved with a Catholic school where my wife taught.  Lutheran though I am, I think it would be cool to be able to say that I’ve met the pope. [Read more...]

New pope must pledge to serve until death?

The cardinals don’t seem to approve of Pope Benedict’s resignation and reportedly will ask the next pope to promise not to pull that again. British journalist John Follain reports:

CARDINALS plan to ask the next pope to pledge in his inaugural address that he will serve until his death, unlike Benedict XVI, whose resignation, they believe, has destabilised the Catholic Church.

Doubts have emerged about the impact of Benedict’s decision as the cardinals begin a series of meetings, known as general congregations, to discuss the church’s future.

Italian reports suggest some church leaders believe Benedict’s departure has undermined the sacredness of the office. An unnamed cardinal told the Corriere della Sera newspaper it was impossible to abolish the rule that a pope had the right to resign of his own freewill. “But for the future we need to safeguard the freedom of the church from external influences,” he said, amid fears that a pope could be pressured into stepping down. [Read more...]

Pope resigned to purge “the filth”?

John Cornwell, a recognized Catholic journalist, says that the real reason the pope is resigning is because in doing so the whole Curia–the Vatican bureaucracy that is reportedly rife with financial and sexual corruption–must step down when he does.  Thus, the pope is sacrificing himself to clean up the Vatican. [Read more...]

There is no pope

Pope Benedict’s resignation goes into effect today.  So, until the cardinals get together to elect a new one, there is no pope in office.  Canon law used to require a conclave to meet within 20 days of a pope’s resignation, but the outgoing pope changed that so that the cardinals can set the date whenever they want, and no date has been set yet.  So if the church of Rome can exist without a pope for 20 days and even longer, with the bishops and priests still doing what they do, I’m curious in what sense the office of the papacy is considered to be necessary. [Read more...]

The pope resigns

The pope has surprised the world by announcing his resignation.  From BBC:

Pope Benedict XVI is to resign at the end of this month after nearly eight years as the head of the Catholic Church, saying he is too old to continue at the age of 85.

The unexpected development – the first papal resignation in nearly 600 years – surprised governments, Vatican-watchers and even his closest aides.

The Vatican says it expects a new Pope to be elected before Easter. [Read more...]

Married priests must still be celibate?

Rome has allowed for some married priests, particularly Anglicans who have gone over to Catholicism.  Some Lutherans have been clamoring for the same privilege.  What is not generally realized, though, is that, according to Canon Law, married priests must still be celibate.  So says Mark Henderson:

According to a respected Roman canon lawyer, Rome absolutely requires “sexual continence” of married clergy in the Western church (Canon 277 excerpted below). Yes, you read that right, the canon law of the Papacy requires that in the Western church even married priests and deacons abstain from sexual relations with their wives (in the Eastern Catholic Churches observance of this rule is a somewhat patchwork affair but the long-term trend has been towards celibacy; but since that is the Eastern church, where different rules apply, it does not immediately concern us here). This matter has apparently been the subject of much intra-Roman debate recently, particularly in light of the small but significant number of ex-Anglican married priests who have gone over to Rome, most recently in connection with the Anglican Ordinariate. Rome is expected to make a definitive ruling at some time in the future. . . .

Code of Canon Law, Canon 277:
§1 Clerics are obliged to observe perfect and perpetual continence for the sake of the Kingdom of heaven, and are therefore bound to celibacy. Celibacy is a special gift of God by which sacred ministers can more easily remain close to Christ with an undivided heart, and can dedicate themselves more freely to the service of God and their neighbour.

via Glosses From An Old Manse: End of the Fantasy of “Lutheran-Rite Romanism”?.

Can this be true?  If so, that would be a serious distortion of what marriage is.