Living in the great state of Michigan has many benefits, but also some costs. One such cost is that you have to prepare for Arctic-like conditions moving in before Advent. For those of you stuck inside today, along with everyone else, I present some productive ways to use your time:
The traditional Catholic web-log Eponymous Flower has a post up stating “Pope Francis Allows Uniate Churches Worldwide the Ordination of Married Men.” The piece is actually a (somewhat poor) translation of an Italian article. It’s tone is needlessly panicked, and I must confess I have some concern that the traditional Catholic community, without due reflection, may go into an uproar. That would be unfortunate, not only because it would demonstrate a lack of respect for the Eastern churches in communion with Rome, but also because this move is unlikely to change the status quo. While their numbers are not large, there have been married Eastern clergy in the West for some time now. There is no evidence whatsoever that their presence has adversely affected the Roman Catholic priesthood or undermined the longstanding Latin practice of clerical celibacy. Moreover, given their minority presence in the West, it is unlikely — and almost inconceivable — that this decision will lead to a wave of seminarians transferring from the Roman Church to, say, the Ukrainian Church. That process is far from easy, and I would hope the proper authorities would put their foot down if the sole purpose of a rite transfer is to receive ordination while being married.
Now, whether or not this new broad permission benefits the Eastern Catholic churches remains to be seen. I, for one, hope that it does. Too long the Eastern churches in the West have had to live a hyper-ghetto existence while being largely restrained from growing their flocks. If this new move by the Pope, which is consistent with the articles of the Union of Brest and every other unification accord ever struck with Eastern Christian communities, yields more Eastern clergy to minister to the Catholic faithful of all rites, then praise be to God. Traditional Catholics should rejoice in the strengthening and expansion of the Eastern Catholic churches, not use their differences from Latin praxis as a cause for chauvinism and scandal.
Never in my life did I think I would read this in The New Yorker:
It’s a shame that there is no provision in the Constitution of the United States that would permit Pope Francis to serve as the chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. Or, for that matter, that there’s no way for him to lead the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.
I lied. In addition to the pieces on natura pura and textualism that I recommended in the previous post, I should stress — with a capital S — the importance of reading Joseph Pearce’s two recent pieces at The Imaginative Conservative: “Distributism in the Shire: The Political Kinship of Tolkien and Belloc” and “Tolkien and Belloc vs. Richards and Witt.” Pearce, who is well known for his books on Tolkien, Belloc, Chesterton, and Solzhenitsyn, takes issue with Jay Richards and Jonathan Witt’s questionable new book, The Hobbit Party. Both men are unabashed economic liberals aligned with the Acton Institute, and so it comes as no surprise that they have no shame hijacking Tolkien and his seminal creation to provide apologetic heft for their brand of free-market capitalism and limited government. Pearce, rightly, cries, “Foul!” From the second of Pearce’s articles:
In an effort to end on the cheerful note of finding something to cheer about in [The Hobbit Party], I can indeed find much that is good and insightful. The overarching problem, however, is that the authors’ ideological agenda reduces the whole book to a woeful and unconvincing effort to squeeze the square peg of Tolkien’s traditionalist genius into the round hole of the authors’ modernist ideology. It’s akin to trying to squeeze the majesty of the Church into the travesty of the factory chimney. It doesn’t work.
I had no intention to write so much on “things Eastern” at the start of this week; it just worked out that way. What I had wanted to do was write a few words on St. Josaphat, the great Ukrainian Catholic martyr whose feast day is celebrated this week by Eastern and Western Catholics who are on the Gregorian Calendar. That may be too inflammatory at the moment. While in years past I facetiously wished my Orthodox friends and readers a “Blessed feast of St. Josaphat,” the ongoing tensions in Ukraine lead me to conclude that such well-wishing would be in bad taste. After all, none of the Orthodox sent me a special greeting on August 6, the feast day of Maxim Sandovich. (If there is an objective, non-polemical, account of this Orthodox priest’s life, I’ve never seen it.)
“Does Christianity Need Metaphysics?” That’s the question Remi Brague and Jean-Luc Marion purportedly set out to answer during this talk at the Lumen Christi Institute in Chicago. I confess that on first viewing I became so lost that I was sure they were both doing metaphysics. Perhaps you, dear readers, will have an easier time with their accents than I.
The delightful and insightful Fr. John Hunwicke has posted his thoughts on Metropolitan Hilarion Alfayev’s recent paper on primary which was delivered at St. Vladimir’s Theological Seminary. There’s nothing surprising in Hilarion’s paper, which is to say that there’s nothing new in it at all. If you’ve paid even a modicum of attention to the public spat that has been going on between “Second Rome” and “Third Rome” concerning primacy then you already know where Hilarion stands. Hunwicke, not wanting to ignite a fresh round of “First Rome/Second n’ Third Rome” fisticuffs, refrains from critiquing Hilarion’s paper. Instead he draws out two points concerning local particular churches and the true meaning of synodality respectively and applies them to the present situation in the Catholic Church. Hunwicke then goes on to offer a post scriptum on the Metropolitan of Volokolamsk and his recent behavior at the “Extraordinary Synod on the Family”:
I thought I would never find myself writing this . . . but three cheers for George Weigel! His latest piece at First Things, “Ecumenism and Russian State Power,” speaks forcefully in defense of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church against the half-truths and outright lies of the Moscow Patriarchate while calling on Rome to serious rethink ecumenical ties with the present representatives of Russian Orthodoxy. From the article:
No “dialogue” is worth the appeasement of aggression abetted by falsehood. Nothing is accomplished in terms of moderating Russian Orthodoxy’s historic deference to Russian state power (be that tsarist power, communist power, or the “managed democracy” of Mr. Putin) by giving Hilarion a platform like the Synod. And despite the fantasies of some Western pro-life and pro-family activists, there is nothing to be gained for those great causes in tandem with the current leadership of Russia, or of Russian Orthodoxy.
Stemming and then reversing the tide of Western decadence cannot be done by compromises with the truth.
Although I have some reservations concerning the Western-liberal lens through which Weigel views current events in Ukraine, his other piece, “Ukraine Rising,” at National Review Online is also worth reading.