Wednesday, October 03, 2007

A new way of being Church

In the Netherlands, the Dutch Dominicans have published and distributed over 2500 copies of a book that codifies practices that are apparently somewhat common:

Masses concelebrated by Protestant and Catholics, the words of the liturgy revised by local congregations, presided by laymen or women (homo-, heterosexual, divorce,d married, it doesn't matter) selected from the congregation. This, according to them, is what Vatican II envisioned (because the chapter on the "People of God" preceded the chapter on the hierarchical organization of the church in Lumen Gentium, and thus, apparently, obviated the need for a hierarchy).

The Dutch Bishops haven't said anything yet. The Dominican Headquarters in Rome have issued a rather feeble protest, that says that these practices "appear to be" contrary to Catholic practice and doctrine (appear to be?) but calls for more "dialogue" on the issue.

Sandro Magister has the details in this rather eye-popping account.

As shocking as this might seem, does this not reflect the vision, and yearning of a certain wing of the American church? Conversations about declining vocations to the priesthood and religious life are often tinged with this yearning for a day when priests are superfluous, when the evils of hierarchy are overcome, when the laity are truly free. In the meantime, everything is done to make priests superfluous, and the laity supposedly free from their oppressions.

So, in that sense, what the Dutch Dominicans seem to be doing is simply authorizing and legitimizing this vision of church. It could also be called open, defiant rebellion.

From another perspective, they're just nailing their own coffins, and are on the way to a congregationalist and Protestant conception of church. In the face of secularism, it would seem, their answer is to become more secular.

If this is not something that calls for intervention from Peter, I'm not sure what is!

(John Allen covered this story a few days ago. Here's a relevant quote:
Wim Houtman, religion editor for Nederlands Dagblad, a major Dutch newspaper, told NCR that the booklet reflects the views of an aging generation in Holland, many of whom are active in their local parishes, and disappointed by what they see as a conservative turn under Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI.
I wonder too what St. Dominic would make of all this? :))

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