Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Fundamentalism - Catholic Style

Back here, I was talking about the increasingly vocal actions of religious leaders in the political dialogue of various nations.

One commenter took me somewhat to task for criticizing the Catholic Church's recent revival of the "Tridentine Mass" (Latin) because of its prayers specifically calling for the conversion of Jews.

Although I would not accuse the current Pope of being a biblical literalist, I do accuse him of being a fundamentalist (and likely highly regressive).

Where most Popes since Vatican II have been pretty careful about alienating other faiths outright, we see in Pope Benedict (aka Pope Ratz elsewhere in my writings) a man who is clearly not worried about returning the Church to a pre-Vatican II state - including the feuds with other denominations.

Roman Catholics better Christians, Vatican says:

A 16-page document, prepared by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which Pope Benedict used to head, described Christian Orthodox churches as true churches that suffer from a "wound" since they do not recognize the primacy of the Pope.

But the document said the "wound is still more profound" in the Protestant denominations – a view likely to further complicate relations with Protestants.

"Despite the fact that this teaching has created no little distress ... it is nevertheless difficult to see how the title of 'Church' could possibly be attributed to them," it said.

The Vatican text, which restates the controversial document Dominus Iesus issued by the then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger in 2000, said the church wanted to stress this point because some Catholic theologians continue to misunderstand it.

Yes, yes - I know - all of these various religions think they have some monopoly on a "higher truth", but you have to admit that it takes some nerve to flaunt it the way that this Pope is.

Perhaps that statement also reflects the Vatican's stance towards Jewish people under the current papacy as well, since the recent revival of the Latin Mass didn't call into question any of the content of the rituals. Regardless, this most recent statement is very telling about the direction of the Roman Catholic Church under the current Pope.

Church modernizers interpreted the Council as a break from the past while conservatives, such as Benedict, see it in continuity with 2,000 years of Catholic tradition.

The document said the Council's opening to other faiths recognized there were "many elements of sanctification and truth" in other Christian denominations, but stressed that only Catholicism has all the elements to be Christ's Church fully.

Even as a Cardinal, this Pope was a hard line conservative, and it seems to me that in his own way, he is a form of fundamentalist. While his fundamentalism is not the biblical literalism that we see commonly held as "fundamentalism" in North America, it is nonetheless every bit as damaging because of its rigidity.

There is little to be gained by balkanizing the world along the lines of faith - we've already been there, done that - and it wasn't a very pretty picture when faiths crossed with each other. (A little reality check - every religion tries to deal with things metaphysical to our world, and as such deal not just in the mystical, but in the ultimately unknowable - a fact which should give us pause anytime one tries to claim a monopoly on "The Truth"(tm))

Now, whilst this may seem like I'm being "critical of the faith", that's not entirely my point. I don't much care what the Catholic (or any other) Church believes - as long as they don't insist that I must believe/conduct myself as they do.

There is a definite pattern in recent years of the Catholic Church attempting to inject itself into the politics of the nation - not in a merely ecclesiastical sense, but in a very direct "exercise of power" sense. (Look, for example, at some of the rantings of Bishop Henry, which have wandered into the realm of outright public threats at times)

Not only does this Pope seem to represent a return to the Church in it's pre-Vatican II form, but his very actions suggest a desire to return the Church to the kind of influence it held when Pope Urban II triggered the first Crusade.


MAS said...

Queen Elizabeth l summed it up best (and she was staunch Protestant) "There is but one God, all the rest is an arguement over trifles".

Anonymous said...

Ah the religious zealots. They're giving Christianity a bad name.

At one point when someone claimed to be a Christian (not that many years ago) it meant something. It was a positive thing.

Today, it still means something, but that meaning has twisted into something dark and sinister. It seems now to represent that which is racist, sexist and discriminatory; that which is not willing to recognize the diversity of humanity, and that which blindly discriminates against all that it finds distasteful.

It has come to represent the closemindedness of our neighbours to the south, their inability to accept a woman's right to determination over their own bodies; their bull-headed insistance on teaching creationism rather than science (which is banned from schools and rational thought); their ideal that GBLT individuals can be 'healed'; and inability to accept same sex unions; their insistance that anyone different is heathen, and that the only right belief belongs to them.

That's the new Christian(TM), and glory be! They are coming to Canada to save our souls.