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Station XV: Episode 48 — Name and shame, wine and dine

The 15th Station podcast

In this week’s episode of The 15th Station, the panel spans the Tasman Sea — and so do the stories up for discussion. In Australia, a senator has used parliamentary privilege to name a priest accused of rape 50 years ago. In New Zealand, Rugby World Cup fever seems to have carried over into the Church. We also talk about eating with the Pope, and changing the way we record the date. All in our inaugural international episode.

  • I’ve been reading a lot of Archbishop Fulton Sheen’s writings lately, and from the book Those Mysterious Priests, he makes this observation about the focus on social justice:

    “The basic reason for the confusion in the ministry of Christ in the last few decades has been: the identification of the priesthood with liturgy and ceremony instead of with holiness; and the identification of victimhood with social action with rather than with human guilt. The priest was linked with the altar; the victim with poverty exclusively, rather than with human frailty and ignorance and suffering. Once the priesthood no longer meant a vertical relation to the Holiness of God,
    and victimhood no longer a horizontal relation to all men who have come short of the glory of God, then the priest was chained to the sanctuary and the victim to the inner city. Not only were they divorced from their original intent of sanctity and oneness with aggrieved humanity, but they began to quarrel with one another, each blaming the other for failing his vocation …”

    He mentions social justice a few more times in the book, each time as a veering off track from it’s original intent – that is the saving of sinners.  He talks about Christ not being a political priest.  This social justice movement taking in the Church must have been already quite strong when he wrote the book in 1974, for he says:

    The gravest danger facing the Church in the future is the politicalization or the turning of theology into politics, seminaries into schools of social service and the preaching of the Word of God into the vague notion of “presence”.  An intellectual amnesia makes some in the Church forget the demonic power that is hidden behind the exousiai or the powers of the world (1 Corinthians 15:24).  Forgotten, too, is the fact that prayer is the most important political action the Christian can possibly take.  Prayer-life is far more important that all the protests, burnings, demonstrations, praying on Fifth Avenue for TV cameras and fasting on City Hall steps to the utter oblivion of: “When you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites.  They make their faces unsightly so that other people (NBC, ABC, and CBS) may see they are fasting” (Matthew 6:16).  In almost every instance where  priests and religious have divorced the Christ Who is Offerer and Offered, it has resulted in a decline of prayer, a betrayal of revealed truth or apostasy.  What is actually going on is a sacerdotal vulgarisation of political extremism.  Because the Church has sometimes been behind in implementing social justice, some clerics soaring from ignorance to rapture, turn pulpits into secondhand revolutionary verbiage and vacuous sociological rock and roll.  They become the tails of kites, and homiletic spray guns.  When the Anti-Christ appears he will be, as St Thomas Aquinas warns, a Potestas Politica, a Political Power.

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