"You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you odd." ~Flannery O'Connor

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

The schism has come....at last

I couldn't resist this one.

As Diogenes points out, the new schism is not about abortion, gay marriage, women's ordination, or even the Real Presence. Nope, it's worse than that: it's about kneeling after the Agnus Dei. That's right. A group of parishioners at a California Catholic parish have been kicked out of the parish and the diocese for doing something at Mass that is specifically allowed by the Vatican: kneeling after everybody says "Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world: grant us peace."

This is yet another actual, factual vignette from contemporary Church life that my talents as a parodist can't begin to match. Already the Church in the developed world lives in a state of internal schism with Rome about many things, the original and most important of which is contraception. As a result of the "Truce of 1968," in which Pope Paul VI made it known that nobody would be disciplined for rejecting his teaching that contraception is gravely immoral, many Catholics have acted as though that teaching and many others can be ignored with spiritual impunity. It's got to the point that a great many educated Catholics simply don't care what the Vatican says if it taking it to heart would seriously affect their lives. They take the duty to obey conscience to entail the right to believe and act as they like and still call themselves Catholics, which it doesn't and logically couldn't. And while people can still be excommunicated informally in some parishes for remarrying without annulment while their exes still live, the fact is that nobody is excommunicated for heresy anymore. For at least the past forty years in the Church—at least for the average Jane and Joe in the pews—it seems not to have mattered what one believes, as long as one doesn't marry without the blessing of the Church. Until now. Yup, they've really drawn the line in the sand on this kneeling business.

Paradoxically, of course, all that this stupidity on the bishop's part shows is that he no longer knows or cares what's really important. I have said the same about a few other bishops before—though admittedly the occasions were, unlike this one, objectively important. Yet this is just an extreme manifestation of the same sort of thing. One wonders what world these guys live in. Whatever it is, it contains too many liturgical fusspots. And we all know that, unlike with terrorists, you can't negotiate with liturgists. You just toe the line or you're excommunicated.

At least somebody has some backbone. Now if only it were put in the right places.
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