Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Merry Christmas!

"Gerard van Honthorst - Adoration of the Shepherds (1622)" by Gerard van Honthorst

Merry Christmas! As 2015 comes to a close, I want to thank all of my faithful readers both here, and on Facebook, for following my blog. I have completed my schooling and should be able to get back to blogging a little more frequently now.

I also want to take this moment to announce a return to a more traditional style. Back when I started this blog, I called it 'Catholic in the Ozarks', and its focus was primarily on Catholic apologetics and random musings about life as a Catholic in this part of the United States. However, ever since the election of Pope Francis, and particularly after the 2014 Extraordinary Synod on the Family, my focus had shifted more on to current events within the Church. I've decided to get away from that now, and go back to what I do best, which is apologetics and random musings. Naturally, I may still touch on a current event from time to time, but this will no longer be something I put a lot of time into. There are many other Catholic bloggers who do a wonderful job at this. I'll leave it to them.

So it's back to the Ozarks for me, and what it's like to live as a Catholic here in the strange wonderland they call the 'Bible Belt'.  The name 'Fully Christian' will stay, and I've explained why I'm using that. It is essential for evangelistic and apologetic purposes. I have great hopes that 2016 will be a very eventful year for me personally, and also for the Church in general. For now, I'm off to celebrate the 12 Days of Christmas, and I do hope you all will join me in keeping the feast. Leave that Christmas tree up until the Epiphany. Keep that Christmas music playing. Visit family and friends, and most importantly, take this time to go to mass more frequently. God bless and Merry Christmas!

END.

------------------------------------------------

Shane Schaetzel is an author of Catholic books, and columnist for Christian print magazines and online publications. He is a freelance writer and the creator of 'FullyChristian.Com -- The random musings of a Catholic in the Ozarks.'

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Catholicism for Protestants

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Monday, November 16, 2015

Saving Europe -- and the World

Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, France.
Photograph by Adrian Pingstone in July 2001, Public Domain

In the wake of the horrible terrorist attack on Paris last week, we are just now beginning to see the repercussions. France has bombed ISIS targets in Syria. Nationalist protests are breaking out across Europe. Border fences are being erected in some countries. The European Union is gradually becoming defunct as nation-states move to protect their people from both the liberal immigration policies of Germany and the E.U., as well as the austerity policies of the same that are breaking the backs of small debt-laden countries like Greece. What we are witnessing is the slow death of the European Union and a return to nationalism in Europe. This is necessary, because the foundation the E.U. is built on is flawed, but it will be a painful transition to be sure. The recent terrorist attack on Paris has only accelerated this process.

Air strikes and military intervention against Islamic terrorism is only a temporary solution. It is a necessary step, but only a short-term fix. Deporting Muslim fundamentalists, and limiting Muslim immigrants slows the growth of the problem, but it is just another short-term fix. Neither address the heart of the problem. The heart of the problem is Europe, and to a lesser extent America too. Europe is essentially dead already. Oh sure, the continent still exists. It didn't fall into the sea or something ridiculous like that. The countries of Europe still exist. They didn't amalgamate into some kind of pan-European super-state. Granted, they tried with the E.U., but that is turning out to be a miserable failure. Nor did European people disappear off the face of the earth. You still have native Europeans -- sort of. No, the problem isn't these things. The problem is that Europeans have forgotten how to be Europeans! They literally do not know what Europe is any more, and because they've forgotten that, they don't know how to be Europeans. They are a people lost, without an identity, which is why for almost a century now, they have turned to fleeting ideologies like; racism, fascism, liberalism, relativism and multiculturalism. They swing from one end of the pendulum to the other, desperately trying to figure out who they are, and how to survive as a people, with no hope at finding an answer. If you think America is immune from this, think again. We are a good 10 to 20 years behind Europe in their social decline, but we are steadily on the same path.

Now this loss of identity has created a much bigger problem, that has played out as follows...

  1. Widespread acceptance of practices that would otherwise be morally reprehensible are now widely accepted, and even promoted, throughout Europe. These include; artificial contraception, abortion, euthanasia, same-sex 'marriage', prostitution, fornication, sexual promiscuity, etc. 
  2. 40+ years of abortion and artificial contraception have created a demographic bomb (baby bust) in Europe and America. 
  3. This demographic bomb (or baby bust) is a direct threat to the economies of the West as well as the social programs of the West. 
  4. To prevent endless economic recession and shore up the social safety nets, Western governments have implemented generous immigration policies to make up for the demographic bomb (baby bust). 
  5. In America the majority of those immigrants (both legal and illegal) are Catholic Latinos - thank God!
  6. In Europe the majority of those immigrants are African and Asian Muslims. This cannot end well. 

Some Muslims come to the West to admire our culture, wealth, education, opportunity and benefits. Some Muslims are here for that purpose. I know some, and they're very good people. They're Muslims, but they admire Western culture for what it is, and they have no desire to change it. They come here strictly for education, work, and to find a better way of life. These are people we can work with and they deserve our respect and hospitality. I'm not talking about them. I respect them, and you should too.

Rather, I'm talking instead about another group of Muslims, not the ones that came to admire us, but those who came to change us. They are here for one purpose only -- missionary activity. These Muslims, are here to colonise our cities, and convert our youth. Islamic terrorism is a very small, albeit very loud, manifestation of this much bigger problem -- Islamic fundamentalism. The problem primarily exists in Europe. You can find Islamic Fundamentalists in America too, but in much smaller numbers. Europe has absorbed the bulk of this population, and they in turn have made colonies inside Europe's major cities: Paris, London, Berlin and even Rome. Paris is probably the worst example of this. Already there are neighbourhoods in Paris that are 'no-go zones' for police, who try to stay out of there, and these are essentially run as mini-caliphates under Sharia Law. These Muslims did not come to France to learn how to be French. They came to change France into a Muslim nation. They have no interest in integrating. They have no interest in assimilating. They have no interest in changing whatsoever. They instead wish to change France to accommodate them. It can be said that immigration was never their intention. What they intended instead was colonisation.

This problem is compounded in France because of what I said about Europeans. Europeans have forgotten how to be Europeans, and this is especially true of the French. The French have forgotten how to be French. Their collective amnesia may possibly be the worst in all of Europe.

Now let's consider youth in Europe, particularly in France, but certainly not limited to there. We could say the same about any European country right now. We have an entire generation of young people who have no clue as to what it means to be Europeans. Their idea of being European means going to parties, discos, concerts and restaurants. The height of their entire cultural experience is pop music, which of course is really international in scope and is not in any way specific to Europe, let alone any particular European country. Interiorly, they have no European enculturation. They have not been formed as Europeans. Oh sure, they love waving the flags of their respective countries, and thank God for that! They at least have some national pride -- a fleeting vestige of the old world. Good for them! At least that's a starting point. It can't end there. Sadly all too often, it does. What happens when these young people get depressed, or find themselves in the midst of one economic recession after another? What happens when these young people can't find a job? What happens when they lose hope in the future? I'll tell you what happens. They do what all human beings do in these situations. They either turn to substance abuse, more decadence, or religion. We would hope they choose religion, because that will address the problem by building real life skills. However, what kind of religion will youth turn to? I'll tell you. Most youth will only turn to a religion that is alive, vibrant, and sure of itself. Contrary to popular opinion, this doesn't mean turning a church into a disco. If youth want a disco, they will go to a disco not a church. When youth seek religious formation, they are looking for something that is ancient, answers questions, seems to be alive, vibrant and sure of itself. One simply doesn't find this so much in European Christianity any more. One does however find it in European Islam. Already, European youth are converting to Islam in record numbers, and among those converts, it is inevitable that some will become Islamic fundamentalists. Of those a few will become home-grown terrorists. In time, within a generation or less, deportation of Islamic fundamentalists will no longer be possible, because they will be citizens of European countries and native Europeans. Islamic terrorism will soon become native to Europe in the same way it is native to the Middle East.

The good news is this. The way to permanently solve the problem of fundamental Islam in the West is simple, easy, and anyone can do it. The trick is, you just need enough people doing it.

This is how it's done. The first thing you need to do is learn what Europe is, and in order to know that, you have to understand what Europe was built on. Europe was built on Christianity, specifically, Medieval Christianity, which contrary to popular myth, was highly spiritual, moral and deeply philosophical. This was a period of Christianity before all the divisions. It was a time before the Reformation and the wars that followed. It was a time when Europe was young, vibrant, energetic, and looked to the Christian faith for answers. So Medieval Christianity became the mother of modern science and the search for scientific explanation. It also became the mother of classical art and architecture. It was a time before all the doubt and cynicism of the modern world. This is what founded Europe. Europe is Medieval Christianity and Medieval Christianity is Europe. The two are synonymous with each other. This period of medieval growth and vitality was stopped cold with the Reformation, of which, men on both sides were to blame. The wars that followed brought about centuries of doubt and scepticism, culminating in the 20th century, and has brought Europe to where it is today. Now here we are at the cusp of losing Europe forever, and there is only one way to save it.

The first thing we must do is understand that the breakup of European Christianity is five-hundred years old! To perpetuate ongoing schism in Christianity is to live in the grudges of the past. The solution is to look back in history beyond the breakup of Christianity. We need to look at the undivided Christianity that existed beforehand, the Medieval Christianity that built Europe in the first place, the Medieval Christianity that caused Europe to rise from the ashes of the Roman Empire. THAT is the Christianity that Europeans must look toward today -- before it's too late. We Americans must do the same, or we too will follow down the same path Europe took toward self-destruction.

All you need to do is fall in love with the Medieval Christian Faith, and spread that love in an infectious way. By this I mean the way Christianity was about 1,000 years ago. Look it up. Read about it. Educate yourself! It is time for a rebirth of Medieval Christianity, and by that I mean the REAL Christianity of the Middle Ages, not the phoney unreal caricature of it we see on television and the movies. Unlike that caricature, it was a highly spiritual, moral and philosophical faith, and it was this form of Christianity that took on fundamentalist Islam and won! This is the secret weapon Europe has in its basement, and it's time for Europeans to dust it off and start applying it in their own lives again. What better place to start than in France? She has one of the richest traditions in Medieval Christianity, and amazingly she has preserved a great deal of it, in spite of significant strides in modernity. It's time for the French to get back to what has worked for them in the past.

You see, youth will be attracted to a Christian faith that is active, vibrant, and sure of itself. They will be especially intrigued by its connection to the ancient past, and in particular their ancestral roots. They are looking for beauty, mystery, awe and reverence. This can be found in Medieval Christianity. The stronger, and more sure of itself this Christianity is, the more young people will flock to it. The more young people flock to it, the less will flock to Islam. Eventually, the trend of Islamic growth can be reversed in Europe entirely. Yes, this is doable. Yes, this can happen. Yes, you will need to be a part of it if you want it to happen. What we're talking about here is nothing more than a social trend. It's as simple as that. You don't need any government programs. You don't need any military forces. You don't need anything really. All you need is yourself, and a desire to learn and change. That's it. As more people change, society will bend to accommodate them, especially in Europe, because Europe was built on this. Medieval Christianity is Europe's natural state of being, and Europe inwardly longs to return to it. This is especially true in France. The same holds true for the Americas too, both North and South America, because they too were built on the European model.

You see, you have to ask yourself; is our current civilisation worth dying for? Most people will say 'no' and will opt to save their own lives rather than fight, kill and die to preserve McDonalds, Wal-Mart and Discos. This modern and materialist 'culture' is not something people get too terribly excited about, and certainly will not fight, kill and die for. You have to understand, culture is built on cult (religion), and the West has abandon its native religion -- Medieval Christianity. Therefore we have no culture to speak of.

Fundamentalist Muslims don't just hate us. They pity us, and because they pity us, they see a grand opportunity. They want to conquer and subjugate us, for what they believe is our own good. Some of them, a small minority, will kill us for what they believe to be the greater good. That greater good, in their opinion, is our subjugation to Islam.

We are pitiful to fundamentalist Muslims because they know we are weak inside. We may have military strength and money, but we have nothing else beyond that. Therefore their strategy is not what it seems. These terrorist attacks are just a distraction. Their real objective is to get us to break ourselves economically trying to fight them in an ideological war we cannot win with mere military tools. By doing that, they will throw our economies deeper into recession, causing more joblessness, and that in turn will send more of our youth into hopelessness and depression, knowing that a large percentage of them will turn to Islam as a result. It's already happening in Europe, and it will soon happen in America too. This clash of civilisations is so much more complex than what our media is telling us. Terrorism is just the flash in the pan. It's what captures our attention, but the real threat is what's going on beneath that. Secularism is a spiritual vacuum, and vacuums are made to be filled. Islam will be more than happy to accommodate so long as Europeans continue in their amnesia about Medieval Christianity and deny who they really are.

END.

------------------------------------------------

Shane Schaetzel is an author of Catholic books, and columnist for Christian print magazines and online publications. He is a freelance writer and the creator of 'FullyChristian.Com -- The random musings of a Catholic in the Ozarks.'

BOOKS BY THIS AUTHOR...
Catholicism for Protestants

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Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Pray for the Pope

Inauguration of Pope Francis, March 19, 2013
Photo by Fczarnowski, Wiki Commons

We have just reached the end of the Synod on the Family in Rome. It's been a very tense several weeks leading up to the Synod, during and now after. As I pledged several months ago, I have no intention on going into the inner workings of the Synod, nor do I intend to comment on the details of the final document produced. I'll leave that to people far more competent than myself. I will only say these general things...

  1. The African bishops, Polish bishops, and others came through. They successfully prevented a bad document from being produced.
  2. The document they did produce was vague on some points, which has allowed both sides to claim 'victory'.
  3. The document is now in the hands of the pope who will make a final decision on his own.
  4. The dynamics in the Synod really revealed nothing new, but only highlighted what was already known, namely that there is a power struggle surrounding the pope, with both orthodox and heterodox bishops vying for his ear. The synod revealed that the heterodox bishops are in the minority (a third or less), while they are very well placed in high positions, yet the orthodox bishops are in the majority (two-thirds or more).
  5. Overall, it would appear (at least for now) that the orthodox are in a much better position than they were this time last year, following the Extraordinary Synod on the Family in 2014, which produced a very confusing final document.
So here we are at the end of October 2015. The bishops of the Ordinary Synod have spoken, and what they have produced is orthodox, and consists of much greater clarity than what was produced a year ago. This is good.

Now everything rests in the hands of the pope. This is where the proverbial 'rubber meets the road' when it comes to prayer. It is time for us all to pray for the pope. I know many conservative and traditional Catholics who would rather spend this time criticising the pope, or even worse, entertaining conspiracy theories. That is a mistake and a waste of precious time. I know many liberal and modernist Catholics who would rather spend this time praising the pope. Again, that's a waste of time. What the pope needs right now is PRAYER. He needs us to pray for him daily, because he is the Holy Father, the Vicar of Christ, and he has some very difficult decisions to make in the days ahead. If you call yourself Catholic, the time for criticising or praising has not yet come. What Catholics should be doing right now is praying for the pope. So stop with blogging on the pope. Stop the social media about the pope. Stop the YouTube videos on the pope. PRAY for Pope Francis. He needs it, and it's our job as Catholics to make intercession for him.
V. Let us pray for Francis, our Pope.
R. May the Lord preserve him, and give him life, and make him blessed upon the
earth, and deliver him not up to the will of his enemies. [Psalm 40:3]
Our Father, Who art in heaven
Hallowed be Thy Name;
Thy kingdom come,
Thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil. Amen. 
Hail Mary, full of grace.
Our Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou among women,
and blessed is the fruit of thy womb,
Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
pray for us sinners,
now and at the hour of our death.
Amen.
O God, Shepherd and Ruler of all Thy faithful people, look mercifully upon Thy
servant Francis, whom Thou hast chosen as shepherd to preside over Thy Church. Grant
him, we beseech Thee, that by his word and example, he may edify those over
whom he hath charge, so that together with the flock committed to him, may he
attain everlasting life. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
END.

------------------------------------------------

Shane Schaetzel is an author of Catholic books, and columnist for Christian print magazines and online publications. He is a freelance writer and the creator of 'FullyChristian.Com -- The random musings of a Catholic in the Ozarks.'

BOOKS BY THIS AUTHOR...
Catholicism for Protestants

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Thursday, September 17, 2015

Anglicanism Collapses -- Officially

Pope Benedict XVI and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, meet in November 2010
Photo: Richard Pohle

Five years ago today, Pope Benedict XVI met with Archbishop Rowan Williams for evening prayer at Westminster Abbey in London. The meeting was more than ecumenical. Benedict was also on a pastoral mission to the Catholic bishops of the UK. He urged them, no commanded them, to accept with welcome the Anglicans entering the Catholic Church through the personal ordinariates he would soon create. Five years later, yesterday, Archbishop William's successor (Justin Welby), officially announced what is effectively the end of the worldwide Anglican Communion as we know it. Internal divisions over doctrinal matters have made any kind of cohesive religious union impossible on any kind of substantial doctrinal level. Instead, Archbishop Welby has summonsed all of the Anglican primates of the world together (whether officially united with Canterbury or not) to discuss the possibility of forming a 'new communion', based on lesser doctrinal standards. What he proposes is effectively a loose federation, or affiliation, that is united more by history than by concrete doctrinal or moral standards. In effect, what he is proposing is little more than an ecumenical umbrella, not far off from the Worldwide Council of Churches. Yet there is something much more profound in Archbishop Welby's proposal. It is a tacit admission of what many of us have known for years. Anglicanism, as we know it, is gone. It's over. The Anglican Communion has been shattered and cannot be repaired.

The Anglican Communion WAS an international association of churches consisting of the Church of England and of national and regional Anglican churches in full communion with it. Up until now, the status of 'full communion' meant that there was mutual agreement on essential doctrines, and that full participation in the sacramental life of each church was available to all Anglicans therein...


The Communion was formed as a result of the British Empire, in which England's form of Protestantism (which was very catholic in appearance) was spread throughout all of the regions of the world controlled or occupied by Britain at one time or another. In this way, Anglicanism contributed greatly to the evangelism of the new world and the third world. Worldwide, the Anglican Communion boasts of a membership of approximately 80 million, but this number is disputed among those who claim that actual membership is artificially inflated in liberal provinces like the United States. Each province of the Communion is governed by an archbishop called a 'primate', and generally speaking, each province is part of this Communion by virtue of its communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury of the Church of England.

Here a footnote should be added. Legally speaking, the 'head' of the Church of England is the British monarch (today that's Queen Elizabeth II), but that being said, the Archbishop of Canterbury has always served as its spiritual director. In contrast, the monarchy has no role over the other provinces of the Anglican Communion. It is limited to the Church of England alone.

Over the years a threefold division (or rift) developed within the Anglican Communion, which eventually resulted in its fracture and now the current state of official collapse. In the developed world, the trajectory of the Communion was clearly high church Anglo-Catholic, meaning it became more Catholic in appearance and doctrine. While as in the developing world, Anglicanism took on a more Evangelical (Protestant-like) character. This division was a minor one at first, because it reflected style more than doctrine or moral practice. However, in the latter half of the 20th century, a much more serious division erupted. We could say it all began with the 1930 Lambeth Conference, in which artificial contraception was approved by the hierarchy of the Communion. However, the effects of this would not be seen for some forty years. By the late 1960s, through the 1970s, the wave of Modernism, which had been sweeping the religious world, hit the Anglican provinces in North America hard. This created a trend within the Anglican Communion throughout the developed world. The Episcopal Church in the United States led the way with innovations such as; revisions to liturgy, ordination of women to clergy, consecration of female bishops, acceptance of abortion and feminism, acceptance of homosexuality, ordination of open homosexuals as clergy, consecration of open homosexuals as bishops, acceptance of same-sex 'marriage', etc. Naturally, this caused the second rift, effectively dividing the Communion into three parts. The Evangelical Anglicans, the largest branch of Anglicanism in Africa, Asia and South America, now constituted one division. Meanwhile, traditional high church Anglicanism in the developed world was divided between Anglo-Catholics (those who held to traditional Catholic beliefs on morality) and Liberals (those who held to Modernist views on religion and morality). Liturgically speaking, there was often little to distinguish between the two. Practically speaking however, they couldn't be further apart.

The divisions became most evident by the 1998 Lambeth Conference, and many within the Anglican Communion (myself included) saw at that point the proverbial 'writing on the wall'. (By 2000 I had left The Episcopal Church USA to join the Catholic Church). By 2003, The Episcopal Church USA consecrated its first openly homosexual bishop. The action resulted in the largest exodus from The Anglican Communion since the American Revolution in 1776 - 1783. Other Anglican jurisdictions had already pealed away decades prior, but the homosexual consecration of 2003 resulted in the largest division ever. While some Anglicans converted to Catholicism, Orthodoxy or Lutheranism, a good number of them formed their own province called the Anglican Church in North America, which encompassed disaffected Episcopalians and Anglicans from the United States and Canada. The 2008 Lambeth Conference was a disaster, in which the Evangelical-style Anglicans from the developing world decided to boycott and held their own conference in Jerusalem, called the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON). With no resolution in sight, and the situation continuing to deteriorate, the 2018 Lambeth Conference was cancelled by Archbishop Welby in 2014. Yesterday, September 16, 2015, Archbishop Welby announced that a special meeting will be held in January of 2017, which will discuss the creation of a new kind of 'communion', that will be considerably less doctrinal in nature, and more historical in character. In effect, the death certificate of the Anglican Communion has just been issued. It's official now.

The demise of Anglicanism, as we know it, has been a long time coming. In a way, it's been a lot like watching a horrific train wreck in slow motion. It is however, logical.

What precipitated this was the issue of authority, or more specifically, the lack thereof. Within Anglicanism there existed no authority structure that could correct errant provinces whenever they threatened the unity of the Anglican Communion. In effect, the Anglicans lacked a pope. Former Archbishop Rowan Williams made this analysis during this term in office, and actually made the suggestion that the Anglican Communion consider adopting something like this, giving the Archbishop of Canterbury's office the authority to do just that. The idea was quietly dismissed by the rest of the Communion. What Williams was recommending was effectively an Anglican papacy, and most Anglicans had no desire to reinvent the wheel this way. Even if Williams' idea had been accepted, and implemented, it is still debatable if it would have worked. A powerful Archbishop of Canterbury might have been able to stall the eventual collapse of the Anglican Communion, but probably couldn't have prevented it. There is, after all, the whole issue of apostolic succession, which some might dispute.

Without real apostolic authority, Christianity crumbles. Many Protestant denominations have discovered this over the centuries, and many more will discover it over the remainder of this century. Evangelicals, of all stripes, boast in the Bible as their only authority. This claim tends to work for a short while, and sometimes results in phenomenal growth, but that growth is short lived, and quickly fades away in subsequent generations. Lack of apostolic authority gives rise to schisms which demolish Christian unity. The Evangelical Anglicans (GAFCON) will soon discover this for themselves, probably within about 20 years or less, unless they find a way to tap back into the Catholic notion of apostolic succession and authority.

Among those Anglicans that left the Anglican provinces of the UK, US, Canada and Australia; a small contingency understood this. They understood that Anglicanism's problems began long before the Modernist wave of the late 20th century, and long before the Lambeth Conference of 1930. They understood that Anglicanism's real problems began in the 16th century, under King Henry VIII and his daughter Queen Elizabeth I. It was the Church of England's schism with the Pope of Rome that set it up for failure. So in a very real sense, the whole Anglican Communion was built on a foundation of sinking sand. It was only a matter of time before it would collapse.

These few Anglicans in America forged out on their own, and petitioned Rome for full reunification under the apostolic authority of the pope. In 1980, Saint John Paul II granted this, creating the Anglican Use - Pastoral Provision in the United States. The Anglican Use of the Roman Rite became a prototype for the Personal Ordinariates that Pope Benedict XVI set up in 2011 and 2012, following the publication of their apostolic constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus in 2009. In this, Pope Benedict XVI created jurisdictions within the Catholic Church, allowing the Anglican Patrimony to grow and flourish indefinitely, under the doctrinal and moral protection of the papacy, that will prevent heretical or schismatic prelates from ever tearing them apart. Now with the death of the Anglican Communion having been officially pronounced, it should be apparent to anyone with eyes to see, that the future of the Anglican Patrimony lies squarely within the Roman Catholic Church.

There is nothing this proposed new Anglican affiliation can protect any more. What Archbishop Welby is putting forward is a way for Anglicans to still say they're together, sort of, but only by a common historical background. Whatever doctrinal ties this new affiliation might propose will have to be extremely limited, and really no more significant than the doctrinal ties we see in other ecumenical forums, such as the World Council of Churches. The provinces of the former Anglican Communion will never be able to agree on moral issues again. Indeed, if anything can be agreed upon at all, the end result will be Anglican provinces that overlap each other, and Anglicans can pick and choose what type of Anglican they want to be, by picking and choosing what overlapping province to affiliate with. Such competing provinces, with no doctrinal or moral unity, will create an affiliation that really doesn't mean much in a practical sense. In fact, the only affiliation that will really matter, to the average layperson, will be the affiliation one has with one's local parish and denomination. Because you see, that is exactly what Archbishop Welby has proposed -- multiple denominations under a common 'Anglican' umbrella. There is no way the Anglican Patrimony can be preserved internationally under these circumstances. Perhaps local provinces (denominations) will be able to preserve some elements of the Anglican Patrimony, on a local level, but any kind of a meaningful international Anglican ethos will be gone. In a very real sense, it already is. Distant history may very well record that the man who saved the Anglican Patrimony for future generations was none other than a Catholic pope -- Benedict XVI.

END.

------------------------------------------------

Shane Schaetzel is an author of Catholic books, and columnist for Christian print magazines and online publications. He is a freelance writer and the creator of 'FullyChristian.Com -- The random musings of a Catholic in the Ozarks.'

BOOKS BY THIS AUTHOR...
Catholicism for Protestants

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Thursday, September 03, 2015

Religious Persecution Comes to America

The Christian Martyrs' Last Prayer
by Jean-Léon Gérôme (1883). Roman Colosseum.

September 3, 2015 is a date that will live in infamy. It is the date that religious liberty died in America.

Today, Kim Davis, a county clerk in Rowan County Kentucky was jailed for refusing to issue marriage licenses after demands by homosexuals that she issue marriage licenses to them for a same-sex 'marriage'. Her lawyer stated she would not stand in the way of the county issuing marriage licenses without her name and signature on the document, however, current Kentucky law does not allow for that. Davis is an Apostolic Christian, which is a Trinitarian Pentecostal denomination, and she is a member of the Democratic Party. She was elected to the office of county clerk in 2014, defeating Republican candidate John Cox.

U.S. District Court Judge David Bunning (who was raised Roman Catholic) found Davis to be in contempt of court, and said: 'Her good-faith belief is simply not a viable defence.' According to USA Today, Bunning's mother said her son does not agree with same-sex marriage, but does believe in upholding the law.

All of this is the result of the Supreme Court decision Obergefell v. Hodges, which was decided on June 26th of this year, making same-sex 'marriage' the law of the land in all 50 of the United States of America, and U.S. territories. The decision effectively nullifies dozens of state constitutional amendments and laws prohibiting the practice. The overreach by the nation's highest court has created a situation wherein American votes no longer matter, and states no longer have the right to govern themselves on such issues. When it comes to moral issues such as abortion and same-sex 'marriage', the United States Supreme Court has claimed absolute authority with accountability to no one. The result today is America's first martyr for the cause of Christian beliefs on marriage and family. More are expected to follow, perhaps dozens or hundreds more in the months and years ahead, as Davis' courageous act will undoubtedly spur other Christians to stand up for their religious beliefs across the country.

The case presents serious legal ramifications across the country. For example, under Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act, both public and private employers have a legal obligation to exempt religious employees from general work rules, so long as this doesn't create an 'undue hardship', meaning more than a modest cost on the employer. Now admittedly, elected officials are excluded from Title VII. However, Kentucky, like many other states, has a state Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) statute that requires government agencies to exempt religious objectors from general work rules, unless denying the exemption is the only way of compelling government interest. The federal government also has a RFRA, which may apply to federal court orders issued to state elected officials.

So the bizarre little twist to this story is that it may be both the federal and state governments that are in violation of the law here, not Clerk Kim Davis.

These laws explicitly deny the 'if you don't want to do the job, than you should quit' premise. That by definition is bigotry, according to the Civil Rights Act and the RFRA.

The employer is required by law to make reasonable accommodations provided it is not a burdensome cost to the employer. Providing a means for marriage licenses to be issued, without a county clerk's signature, would be no cost at all. Because all it takes is an executive order, or legislation, to change the  license process. Cost to government is $0.00. It's nothing more than a little one-time inconvenience to some lawmakers and a governor.

Now let me give my own spiritual and moral analysis of this situation. Both Clerk Kim Davis and Judge David Bunning are put into a very precarious situation, wherein thanks to the Supreme Court taking on the role of 'god on earth' when in comes to moral issues, these two public servants must now be forced to choose between whom they will serve. Will they serve the God in Heaven, or will they serve the 'god on earth'. Clerk Kim Davis, a Pentecostal, has chosen to serve the God in Heaven. While Judge David Bunning, presumably a Catholic, has chosen to serve the god on earth. Both public servants, raised Christian, are now caught in a very serious game of having to chose between the real God, and the government that wants to play god. Judge Bunning has made his decision. He has chosen to serve the man-made 'god on earth' called the United States Supreme Court. While Clerk Davis has chosen to serve the real God in Heaven. Whatever 'god' Judge Bunning claims to follow is irrelevant at this point, because his actions speak louder than words, and at this moment in time, the moment of truth for both public servants, Clerk Kim Davis (a Pentecostal) is more of a Catholic than Judge David Bunning will ever be. So I proudly call Kim Davis my sister in Christ, and martyr for the faith, in spite of her apparent character flaws and turbulent marital history. As for Judge Bunning, so long as he serves the state as his 'god', I cannot call him a Christian or a brother. Sorry Judge, there were other legal avenues you could have taken, and you didn't. You instead decided to serve the Supreme Court as your 'god'.

So there you have it in a nutshell. Today, we have just entered a new age in America's history. It is the age of Christian martyrdom. History will record Clerk Kim Davis as the first, and many more will follow. In time we will see Catholic priests and bishops locked up for their faith too, and I have no doubt that many of the judges who sentence them (like Judge David Bunning) will be those who were raised Catholic themselves. That is the truly tragic thing about all of this. It was a supposed 'Catholic' who was the swing vote in Obergefell v. Hodges, that overthrew the American democratic process and made our states into mere vassals of the federal court system. The truly sad irony in all of this, is that the American bishops' failure to catechise, and exercise ecclesiastical discipline on moral issues in this country, will soon result in their imprisonment by the very people they were supposed to correct. Their own spiritual 'children' will soon sign their jail sentences. Do you doubt it? Do you think that Judge David Bunning would have it any other way? Today, they are jailing Christian clerks for refusing to issue marriage licenses. Tomorrow, they will jail Christian ministers for refusing to sign them.

As a Catholic I am scandalised by all of this. I am ashamed of the American bishops for their laxity over the last 40 years that has brought us to this point. Not enough stood up for the faith and put down the heretics that assailed it from inside the Church. Perhaps if we had seen some actual discipline from more of them, some real leadership, and fearless zeal for the truth, things might have turned out differently. Alas, the post-conciliar generation of bishops is coming to a close now, and this is the legacy they leave behind for us. I pray that God will embolden some of our younger Catholic bishops to stand up and do the right thing, and send us more who will do the same. They can't come soon enough.

Now as an American I am disgusted by all of this, and I am so ashamed of my federal government that I cannot put down words to accurately convey my emotions. So long as Christians are jailed for simply following their religious consciences, the primary purpose of the United States of America has become null and void. The whole reason for being an American is irrelevant now. For centuries, we Americans have prided ourselves on the religious liberty we have in this country. That is no more.

I have lost all respect for this generation of leaders in Washington DC. The politicians and judges there have disgraced the military service of my father, who put his life on the line to save this miserable government they created. They have also disgraced the military service of all my ancestors who did the same. They are not deserving of my family's tears, sweat and blood. My family deserves better than the government they have created to rule over us. My father deserves better. The same goes for the families of all military veterans. They deserve better than the government they serve.

To Washington DC, all three branches of government, and especially the politicians and judges who play 'god', I say this. You don't deserve us! We deserve better than you. America is more than the tyrannical government you've created. Our states will outlive you. America will outlast you. Our families will go on, but someday this monster of a government you've created will fall. It will collapse under the weight of the tyranny you've created. When that day happens, and if I am alive to see it, I won't shed a tear for it -- not even one.

There are those who hold out hope for Washington DC, and still believe it can be saved, turned around, and redeemed from all of its iniquity. If only we can put the right people in charge, or change the system somehow. I say I hope they're right, but I'm not going to hold my breath. For now, the only political process I support is that which strips Washington DC of power. I want a Convention of States, implemented by Article V of the United States Constitution, which will take powers away from Washington DC. In elections, I will focus more on state politicians, rather than federal, and I will support those who are willing and eager to disobey Washington DC on every federal mandate that comes down from 'Olympus'. In every political project I shall undertake from now on, the peaceful and democratic dismantling of Washington DC will be my goal. So help me God.

END.

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Shane Schaetzel is an author of Catholic books, and columnist for Christian print magazines and online publications. He is a freelance writer and the creator of 'FullyChristian.Com -- The random musings of a Catholic in the Ozarks.'

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Monday, August 17, 2015

Vatican II Actually Saved Catholicism

The Second Vatican Council (Vatican II)
A.D. 1962 - 1965

I'm going to make a radical statement here, that many of my traditional Catholic friends will not like, and simultaneously, some will be thrilled with.

Many traditional Catholics blame Vatican II for all the turmoil the Catholic Church has endured for the last 50 years. Some fundamentalist Catholics outright reject Vatican II entirely. However, after studying the history of the Catholic Church in the 20th century, I am convinced that the collapse of the Catholic Church in the Western world, in the latter half of the 20th century, was inevitable and was going to happen anyway, with or without Vatican II. I'm also going to say this. In spite of its flaws (and there were some flaws of ambiguity which many have taken advantage of) the Second Vatican Council, combined with the witness of Saint John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI, are what breathed life back into the Catholic Church during that inevitable and unavoidable Western collapse in the latter half of the 20th century.

What many of my good traditional Catholic friends just don't understand is that the collapse of Christian faith in the Western world was UNIVERSAL. It didn't just affect the Catholic Church. Nearly every western Christian denomination was affected. Anglican churches were nearly obliterated. Methodist churches saw great declines. Lutheran churches struggled to survive. As a result, many of these mainline Protestants fled their traditional denominations and formed new ones, particularly in the United States, where starting new churches is easy. This was the Evangelical boom that occurred in the 1970s through 90s. One has to understand. These Evangelical churches didn't just pull in new members out of thin air. Rather, they simply captured long-established Christians who were fleeing their liberal mainline denominations, and liberal clergy in the Catholic Church. The Protestant collapse that happened in the last decades of the 20th century had nothing to do with Vatican II. I dare say, most of them couldn't care less about Vatican II, and some of them never even heard of it.

There is no way the Council could have caused the collapse of all denominations in Western Christianity, particularly those of our separated brethren in the Protestant world. Vatican II was a Catholic council, affecting only the Catholic Church. Protestants couldn't care less.

Rather, it seems to me, that what really happened was this. Western Christianity was on the precipice of implosion in the 1950s, after the Second World War. The emerging new Western 'religion' of the 1950s was psychology and relativism. The plans to throw out tradition, and 'modernise' the Catholic Church were already in the works during the 1950s, as well as in the Protestant churches. The movement was gaining steam in the entire Western World. Then in the early 1960s, Vatican II happened, and it happened while Western Christianity was already imploding all around it. Had Vatican II never happened at all, the implosion of Western Catholicism would have been worse not better. I say this because, prior to the Council, most Catholics generally ignored the Scriptures, and saw Catholicism as a list of rules and traditions, not a living and breathing Church organism.  As we have seen in recent decades, Catholics with this mindset cannot withstand the onslaught of Modernism on one hand (which tells them that tradition is obsolete), and Protestant Fundamentalism on the other hand (which tells them that Catholicism contradicts Scripture). On a personal note; as a former Protestant fundamentalist, I can attest that these are the easiest Catholics to convert. They have no concept of what Scripture teaches. They simply follow the rules of the Church. Once you break through that edifice, and show them that what they're doing 'appears' to contradict Scripture, the whole Catholic edifice comes crumbling down rather quickly. I converted plenty of 'good old fashioned' Catholics in my day, some who went to the Latin mass and considered themselves 'traditional'. It was easy pickings. Catholics need to have at least a cursory understanding of Biblical hermeneutics to survive both the onslaught of Modernists and Protestant Fundamentalists. Vatican II put an emphasis on this, and reoriented the Church accordingly.

Some liberal Modernists took advantage of ambiguities within Vatican II, to introduce those innovations and renovations they had been planning since the 1950s. It is interesting to note however, that these are the very same people who opposed the proper implementation of Vatican II as taught by Saint John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI. When Vatican II was implemented properly, by these two great popes, what we saw was a PRESERVATION not a destruction of the Church.

I cannot stress this enough. As a former Protestant, I know. The errors of Modernism, that my traditional Catholic friends rightly oppose, are not native to the Catholic Church, and they certainly had nothing to do with Vatican II. If they did, than I must ask my traditional Catholic friends this...

My family had been Lutheran for nearly 500 years. Yes, our Lutheran tradition was ruined by Modernism in the 1970s and 80s. How did Vatican II do that? During my years as an American Baptist, I watched our denomination slip into the errors of Modernism. How did Vatican II accomplish that? While I was an Evangelical as a young adult, I watched our congregations split, and gradually accept some Modernist ideas. How did Vatican II pull that off? When I was an Anglican, I watched The Episcopal Church commit ecclesiastical suicide by ordaining women and open homosexuals, and embracing divorce, abortion and same-sex 'marriage'. How did Vatican II get the Anglicans to do that?

The answer to all of this is that Vatican II has nothing to do with any of this. These denominations did it all by themselves, without any help from Rome, and zero help from the conciliar fathers at Vatican II. Modernism swept over Western Christianity like a tsunami, and it all started in the 1950s, right after World War II. As for Vatican II, it couldn't have changed this. The council was both used and abused, by those in the Church who had their own agendas. However, when Vatican II was used properly, it became an instrument of preservation, that slowed the decline of Catholicism in comparison to what was happening in mainline Protestant denominations.

To illustrate, let's have a look at some graphs. I'm a visual person, so this sort of stuff helps me get the big picture. Maybe it will help my readers too. To the left you should see a chart showing the decline of the top American churches during and following Vatican II. If you click on them, you should get a larger view. The charts are based on data from the Association of Religion Data Archives, and is indexed to the general population. Now let's look at the numbers. As you can see, only the Roman Catholics and the Assemblies of God (America's largest Pentecostal denomination) can boast of having survived the ravages of Modernism in the latter half of the 20th century. Even the Southern Baptists have been hit hard, with no end in sight for them. Obviously, Vatican II had nothing to do with this. Whatever hit Western Christianity in the late 20th century, it was a lot bigger than an ecumenical council within the Catholic Church. What my traditional Catholic friends sometimes seem to forget is that Modernism comes from Hell, not from an ecumenical council of the Church. They also seem to forget that the roots of Modernism began in the late 19th century, and sprouted in Russia and eastern Europe first, in the early 20th century, long before Vatican II. Our Lady of Fatima warned us about all of this in advance. How a Christian Empire, like Russia, could become a godless monstrosity like the U.S.S.R., is the greatest testament to Modernism that ever existed, and it all happened decades before Vatican II. When we speak of Modernism, we have to understand that we're speaking of something so much bigger than the goofy liberal innovations in the Western Catholic Church over the last five decades. We're talking about a prevailing mindset, a great delusion, that knows no bounds and does not limit itself to any particular religion. Some of my traditional Catholic friends will object and say that Vatican II let that delusion into the Catholic Church. I disagree. I say the delusion was already there. It was already making inroads, and it would have burst forth anyway. Except without Vatican II, the damage would have been so much worse. The faithful would not have been reoriented toward the study of Scripture, and the faithful would still see the Church in a very mechanical way. The end result would have been corrupted translations of the old Latin mass, instead of the new vernacular mass, a slower (more complete) infiltration of Modernist ideas into the Catholic Church, resulting in a much bigger and more damaging collapse that would have happened later, and the Church would have less tools at hand to deal with it.

One of the problems we here in Europe and North America have is our tendency to see the whole Church through our local eyes. Christianity in Europe and North America, and to a lesser extent Latin America and Oceania, has been ravaged by the last decades of the 20th century. Yet Christianity in Africa and Asia has not only flourished, it has actually exploded with life! This especially includes the Catholic Church in these places. What happened? How could the decades since Vatican II be so bad for us and so good for them? I think it's simple really. The Africans and Asians just don't have time for all this liberal Modernist nonsense. They take Vatican II at face value, and don't try to read anything into it. For them, the letter of Vatican II is the spirit of Vatican II, which is the letter of Vatican II. There is no difference to them between the spirit and the letter of the Council. They simply implement what the Council said, with no more and no less. They understand it in a pastoral way, not a doctrinal way, and that's that. In other words, they're implementing Vatican II correctly, within a hermeneutic of continuity. Where the letter of Vatican II seems to break with established doctrine, they just ignore Vatican II, or at least relegate it to a lesser place, because nothing in Vatican II was given a note of infallibility anyway. That's what a hermeneutic of continuity is all about. European and American Catholics can't project our problems on to African and Asian Catholics. If Vatican II was all bad, as some of my traditional Catholic friends insist, than the African and Asian models shouldn't exist.

Apparently Vatican II (for all of its flaws) isn't really the problem. Apparently the problem is us! It's our Western culture. It's our Western decadence. It's our willingness to submit our minds to the lies of Modernism, and it's universal. It goes across all denominational lines, both inside the Catholic Church and among the separated brethren of the Protestant world. We can't blame Vatican II for the decline of mainline Protestant denominations -- a decline which is far more dramatic than ours. Traditionalist Catholics make the exact same error as Modernist Catholics on this. They both assume Vatican II changed doctrine. The only difference is; the Traditionalist laments this false assumption, while the Modernist celebrates it.

The popes have told us that Vatican II still has not been fully implemented. Traditional Catholics shutter when they hear these words, because all they can think of is the Modernist abuses of Vatican II that have occurred over the last 50 years. However, they must understand that when the popes said this, what they meant was that the Modernist abuses of Vatican II were never part of Vatican II, and what is needed is a hermeneutic of continuity in implementing the conciliar reforms. We've only seen a little of this in the Western world over the last 50 years, but every time we saw it, the Church was preserved, souls were saved, and the decline of Catholicism was reversed.

------------------------------------------------
Shane Schaetzel is an author of Catholic books, and columnist for Christian print magazines and online publications. He is a freelance writer and the creator of 'CatholicInTheOzarks.com -- Apologetics and random musings from a Catholic in the Bible Belt.'

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Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Where Do Episcopalians Go From Here?

An Anglican Use liturgy celebrated at Our Lady of the Atonement Catholic Church in San Antonio Texas.

When I tell other Catholics that I am part of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter, I get some inquisitive looks. When I explain that it is a provision within the Roman Rite that allows Anglican converts to govern ourselves, using our own liturgy and customs, that inquisitive look turns confused. It's to be expected really. Most Roman Catholics are still unfamiliar with the Anglican Patrimony within the Roman Catholic Church, and so when you present it to them, it often results in confusion.

Lately, I've tried a slightly different method of explaining this. Instead of using the word Anglican up front, I'll throw out the word English, and for some reason, this seems to get through a little better. I'll tell them I'm part of a special jurisdiction within the Roman Catholic Church that puts an emphasis on traditional English Catholic heritage.

POW! That nails it!

All of a sudden they get it, and that inquisitive look turns into curiosity. I then go on by telling them to imagine a combination between the old Latin mass, and the new vernacular mass. 'Mash them together, to get the best of both worlds, and put the whole thing into sacral English', I say. Sometimes they'll ask what sacral English is. I'll simply tell them it's an older form of high English that is reserved specifically for God, and they use it all the time. Every time they say the 'Our Father' or the 'Hail Mary' they are likely using sacral English. That's where the 'thee' and 'thou' comes from. Then I tell them to imagine a whole mass like that. Suddenly that curious look turns into an epiphany, and they get it! More than that, they usually like the idea, often requesting where they can visit such a liturgy. Once that is all done, I'll explain to them that the word Anglican is just an older way of saying English Christian, and even though the word is commonly used to describe a Protestant church, it is also used in a Catholic context to describe Roman Catholics (usually converts but not always) who prefer the sacral English method of worship. I've had a lot of luck explaining things this way to regular Roman Catholics.

Now, explaining the matter to non-Catholics, especially Anglicans/Episcopalians in America, is a completely different matter, and that is the subject of this essay.

Since the late 1970s, The Episcopal Church (TEC) in the United States (American Anglicanism) has been going through tumultuous changes. The 1970s were a difficult time for Western Christianity in general. The Catholic Church was affected by this too. However, it could be said that if the 1970s gave the Catholic Church a nasty cold, than it could also be said that same decade gave The Episcopal Church a fatal case of pneumonia.

While Rome gave the Catholic Church a new liturgy, and American Catholics were busy fooling around with all sorts of wacky innovations (many of which are slowly being abandoned today), The Episcopal Church was sowing the seeds of its own complete collapse. Following the Vatican's liturgical update, The Episcopal Church completely changed the American Book of Common Prayer, creating two completely separate rites, one traditional and the other modern, but unlike Rome, it didn't stop there. Along with this radical liturgical change came a massive sacramental change too. The sacrament of holy orders was altered to include women, and that was the beginning of the end for The Episcopal Church.

Quickly, Episcopalians moved into two camps, which in many ways mirrored the division that was happening in Catholicism. The two camps centred around the publication dates of prayerbooks. There was the 1928 Book of Common Prayer camp, which rejected all of the modernisations of the revised 1979 Book of Common Prayer. The 1928 Prayerbook Episcopalians had many things in common with the traditionalists in the Roman Catholic Church who preferred the old Latin 1962 Missal. In fact, many of them identified not only as traditional Anglicans, but also as Anglo-Catholics, putting a great emphasis on the ecumenical move Anglicanism took during the 19th century, moving toward Roman Catholicism. Some of these traditionalists set out to start their own movements, independent of the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion. These included, but were not limited to, the Anglican Church in America (ACA) and the Anglican Catholic Church (ACC). However, these organisations remained relatively small throughout the years, and most traditional Anglicans chose to stay within The Episcopal Church, at least until something a little larger came along.

Meanwhile, the 1979 prayerbook camp did retain a lot of Catholic forms, but also included modern liturgy, female priests and a general move toward embracing what the Catholic Church condemned as 'modernism'. Now this move toward modernism was not universal nor monolithic. It ranged in degrees, and depended on various priests and bishops.

As I said, much of the struggle that has happened in the Episcopal Church over the last 30 years mirrors what had been going on in the Catholic Church over the last 40 years. However, there is one major difference. In the Catholic Church, the errors of modernism ramped up into the 1980s and then began to taper off in the 1990s and turn of the century. Since the year 2000, and especially after the pontificate of Benedict XVI (2005 - 2013), the shift in the Catholic Church has been unmistakeably traditional. Nearly all of the new priests, coming out of seminary, are hard-core traditional in their liturgy and theology. Virtually everything that remains of modernised Catholicism now is a remnant. It's dying, and it's gradually being replaced by younger priests, who are unmistakeably more traditional in character. In time, the biological solution will run its course. Older modernised priests will slip away into retirement, while younger traditional priests will take the reigns of parishes, and in time entire dioceses as a new crop of bishops take over. While the older (more modernist) generation still remains, we will still see modernist innovations and preaching in the Catholic Church. Their days are numbered however. What's following them in years to come is more 'old school' and traditional.

This is where the mirror image, between American Catholicism and The Episcopal Church, comes to an end. Because you see, the difference in the future direction of Rome and New York could not be more mirror opposite. Rome is gradually moving in a more traditional direction. While as New York (the headquarters of The Episcopal Church) is moving rather rapidly in a more modernist direction.

Membership numbers could not be more mirror opposite as well. In the United States, the number of Catholics has gone up from 47 million in 1968 to 66 million in 2013. In contrast, the number of Episcopalians has gone down from 3.5 million in 1968 to 1.5 million in 2013. While the Catholic Church has been growing consistently with the population, the Episcopal Church has literally imploded, losing nearly 2/3 of its membership over the last 47 years.

In comparison, The Episcopal Church hasn't been larger than the Catholic Church in America since the early 19th century, and of course, the Catholic Church now dwarfs The Episcopal Church in size, but then, a lot has changed since the early 19th century. Baptist and Methodists dwarf Episcopalians too. Nevertheless, a membership of 3.5 million in 1968 wasn't bad, and it did make for a sizeable church. How could a denomination lose almost 2/3 of its members in just one generation? From what I read in the statistics, the situation is getting no better. The Episcopal Church has continued to see a loss in numbers over the last ten years, and most experts are predicting another sizeable exodus in the very near future.

Why is this happening? The answer is simple, and I can explain it in just two words. Modernism kills. Most people want modernity in their automobiles and shopping malls, not in their religion.

In the late 1960s, and throughout the 1970s, into the early 1980s; American Christianity experimented with modernism. It wasn't limited to America of course. Canada fooled around with it too, and so did Australia. Europe when headlong into it. Nowhere is this more evident than in the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion. In America, the effects of this experiment have never seen more dramatic results. The Episcopal Church in the United States turned out to be the most progressive in modernism of all the Anglican provinces throughout the world. This progressive dive into modernism caused many Episcopalians (nearly two-thirds) to bail out of the denomination over 47 years. The Episcopal Church's experimentation into modernism has cost about 58% of its members! Can you imagine if the same statistic were applied to the Catholic Church?

If we started at 1968, with 47 million members in the Catholic Church, and the Church lost 58% of it's members over 47 years, the current membership in the U.S. Catholic Church would be at 27 million today. Think about that for a moment. This would not only eliminate 58% of Catholics from 1968, but it would also evaporate all the growth the Catholic Church has seen since. Today, the Catholic Church's actual membership is at 66 million souls, but if the Catholic Church followed The Episcopal Church's example, she would be short 39 million people today! The number is staggering when plugged into a Church the size of the Catholic Church, but it's even more damaging when plugged into a small denomination like The Episcopal Church, simply because The Episcopal Church never had a whole lot of members to begin with.

While the Catholic Church gradually moves back in a more traditional direction, The Episcopal Church rapidly moves in a more modernist direction. Last week, The Episcopal Church voted to allow same-sex 'marriage' within that denomination. It will become effective November 1, 2015. Experts are expecting a backlash in the form of yet another exodus. My experience tells me the exodus will not be rapid. Episcopalians never run from their church. It's more of a casual stroll. They seem to trickle out gradually, one family at a time, and sometimes one parish at a time. They will leave though. Within a few years from now, the only Episcopalians that will be left in The Episcopal Church will be those who approve of female clergy and same-sex 'marriage'. The rest will be gone. As a personal prediction, I don't expect the overall membership of The Episcopal Church to ever rise above 1.5 million again. In the years ahead, as members age, and fewer young people are around to replace them, The Episcopal Church will be forced to sell off properties just to stay afloat. Some Episcopal dioceses are already doing that.

So where will they go?

Some Episcopalians have been so poorly catechised and sacramentalised over the last generation that a good number of them will be moving over to Evangelical churches. I personally know some Episcopalian families who are doing just that. Here in Springfield Missouri, I happen to know some Episcopalians who have made (or are in the process of making) the journey from Saint James Episcopal Church, and Christ Episcopal Church over to James River Church -- an Evangelical/Pentecostal church that is part of the Assemblies of God denomination. Just a brief overview of each church's website will reveal a dramatic change! These people are going from a very 'catholic' style of worship and life, over to a totally Evangelical experience. They are going from small churches, where they were once integral members of a parish family, into a mega-church where they will just be drops in a bucket. Think about that. It's a radical change. I personally don't think it will stick, but you never know. I could be wrong. Disappearing into a crowd may be exactly what they want. Maybe they're not interested in regular communion any more. Because they'll be lucky to get anything close to resembling it just once a month now. As for liturgy, they can forget that! It's gone in Evangelicalism. Maybe however, that's what they want. I spent the early years of my adulthood in that environment, and let me tell you, it gets old fast. Liturgy and sacraments added such a deep spiritual dimension to my life that I couldn't possibly imagine ever giving them up.

Meanwhile, some Episcopalians will take the seemingly easy option, and just switch over to the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), which is where many traditional and conservative Episcopalians have gone. The ACNA is the most recent splinter group off The Episcopal Church created in 2009. It is also the largest. Here in Springfield Missouri, that option exists with All Saints Anglican Church. Basically, the ACNA is a jurisdiction of Anglicanism that was created after a number of Episcopal groups broke away from The Episcopal Church in 2009 after decades of trying to work for traditional reform within The Episcopal Church. However, the Archbishop of Canterbury refused to recognise them. So they maintain their communion with Canterbury indirectly and unofficially by their connection with Anglican primates in Africa. It's an unusual situation to be sure, but it seems to work for those who are involved in it. As for the situation of modernism in the ACNA, it hasn't been fully resolved. The ACNA permits the use of the 1979 Book of Common Prayer, which includes the modernist liturgy that drove away the first wave of Episcopalians. Currently, the constitution and canons of the ACNA do allow for ordination of women to the priesthood. This is left up to the local bishop. However, as for the episcopate, the current canons require that bishops be selected from male priests. Essentially, what the ACNA has done is reset the clock back to 1979. Beyond that, it hasn't done much to address the core problems that plagued American Anglicanism back then. In my opinion, and the opinion of many others far more educated than I, the ACNA is in a vulnerable position which could see a gradual repeat of what happened to The Episcopal Church over the next 47 years. Episcopalians who flee to the ACNA will find a reprieve from the trials they experienced in The Episcopal Church, but there is no guarantee how long that reprieve will last. While older Episcopalians may believe this to be a viable option, younger Episcopalians with children may want to seriously reconsider. The ACNA appears to be a safe environment to pass on the Anglican Patrimony -- for now -- but that may change in just one generation. Today's parents may be able to raise their children in the Anglican Patrimony, but there is no guarantee this same environment will exist for their grandchildren and future posterity.

Is there a better way?

Some Episcopalians will do what others have done. They will fulfil the vision of the Oxford Movement and live out the Anglican Patrimony within the Roman Catholic Church. The Anglican Patrimony was brought into the Catholic Church back in the early 1980s, when Saint John Paul II opened the door for American Episcopalians to come into the Catholic Church, ordaining their Episcopal priests as Catholic priests, and continue with their same liturgy and customs as Anglicans within the Roman Catholic Church and under the protection of the Vicar of Christ -- the Pope of Rome. These Episcopalians traded in their communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury for full communion with the Pope of Rome. As a result, they were given the Anglican Use of the Roman Rite. This allowed them to celebrate the liturgy taken from the Book of Common Prayer and approved for use in the Catholic Church as the Book of Divine Worship. In essence, Rome simply adopted the Anglican Patrimony, allowing it to be united but not absorbed. Anglicans who enter the Catholic Church this way become Catholics in doctrine and canon law, but they remain Anglican in custom and practice.

Under the protection of the Bishop of Rome, the issue of female ordination is forever settled. For Saint John Paul II infallibly declared that the Catholic Church (even the pope himself) does not have the authority to ordain women to the priesthood. Because of this doctrinal and sacramental protection, the Anglican Patrimony has grown and flourished within the Catholic Church for over 30 years! The prime example of this flourishing can be seen in Our Lady of the Atonement Catholic Church in San Antonio Texas.

In 2009, Pope Benedict XVI created Anglicanorum Coetibus, which is an apostolic constitution that guarantees the position of the Anglican Patrimony within the Roman Catholic Church forever, and also provides jurisdictions for former Anglican to govern themselves within the Catholic Church. These jurisdictions are called ordinariates, and they function similar to national provinces within the Anglican Communion. The man who governs each ordinariate is called an Ordinary, and he can either be a bishop or a priest. If he's a bishop, than the ordinariate operates just like a Roman Catholic diocese. If he is a priest, than he has all the powers of a mitred abbot, functioning as a bishop in every way (even dressing as one), and coordinating with bishops of various dioceses to handle sacramental functions reserved specifically for bishops (such as confirmations and ordinations). The Ordinary has a seat at the national conference of Catholic bishops as well, and participates just as any other bishop would. The ordinariate is a real jurisdiction, that makes its own rules, and functions according to most Anglican customs. That means other Catholic bishops cannot tell the Ordinary how to run his ordinariate. Within the parishes of that ordinariate, he is the boss. In other words; former Anglicans are allowed to worship as Anglicans, function as Anglicans, sing as Anglicans, pray as Anglicans, etc. Nobody can tell them otherwise. Doctrinally and sacramentally they are Catholics. Traditionally and customarily, they remain Anglican. This jurisdiction for North America is called the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter, and our own community in Springfield Missouri is called Saint George Catholic Church. (You'll notice me in a couple of the pictures on that website.)

It's a pretty sweet deal, if you ask me, and it's one that comes with some guarantees. I know that not only will I be able to pray, sing and live out my life within the Anglican Patrimony, but I also know that my children will have access to that same Patrimony as well, and their children, and their children, and so on. The Episcopal Church may collapse into a cesspool of modernism. The ACNA may eventually follow the same route as The Episcopal Church. The entire Anglican Communion may fracture, scatter and eventually dissolve. Yet the Anglican Patrimony will now go on and live in the Catholic Church forever.

That's what Rome does. She seeks to create unity not uniformity. She seeks to unite but not absorb. The Roman Catholic Church is not a monolith. It is one Church, united in doctrine, but it is also a communion of many churches, of which the Roman Church is simply the largest. Within this Roman Catholic Communion there exists many smaller churches, sometimes referred to as 'rites', but in every sense they are unique churches. These include the many Eastern churches, such as the Byzantines and Maronites for example. What Rome has done for Anglicans is similar, but not identical. Instead of creating a whole new rite or 'church' for Anglicans, the Catholic Church has instead created a subset of the Roman Rite, called the Anglican Use of the Roman Rite, and ordinariates for self governance. A space has been made for Anglicans to grow and flourish once again, without having to worry about the modernist relativism that plagues The Episcopal Church. Once more, we can focus on the gospel and evangelism again, without having to worry about the next battle to maintain orthodoxy. Within the ordinariates, Anglicans are free again! We are free to be Anglican and Catholic, fully in both ways, and at the same time get back to what's important about being Christian.

In the weeks and months ahead, those few Episcopalians, who remain true to Biblical orthodoxy, are going to have some real soul searching to do. While some dioceses within The Episcopal Church may currently opt out of same-sex 'marriage' for now, do Episcopalians really believe it's going to stay that way indefinitely? I think most know better than that. For those who live in dioceses where same-sex 'marriage' is still not permitted by the local bishop, they should understand that it's just a matter of time now. Eventually, they will get a new bishop, and when that happens, anything goes. So for those Episcopalians who seek Biblical orthodoxy, remaining within The Episcopal Church is no longer a sustainable option. They will have to soon choose one of three paths...
  1. Will they go Evangelical, and just completely give up the liturgical and sacramental life they've always known?
  2. Will they go with the ACNA, resetting the clock back to 1979, and hope it works out better in this generation than it did in the last? 
  3. Will they fulfil the ecumenical vision of Anglicanism, and the Oxford Movement, by going into full-communion with Rome through the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter, thus guaranteeing their family's future within the Anglican Patrimony for generations to come?
Only Episcopalians can answer these questions. I know what my answer was. I picked option #3, and I'm glad I did it! To those who are hesitating, I say come on in, the water is fine! Not only do we have the Bishop of Rome to protect us, but they love us here! A lot of English-speaking Roman Catholics really like the Anglican liturgy, and Pope Francis has even expanded our evangelical mission to reach out to fallen away Catholics. It's easy enough too. If there isn't an ordinariate parish or community nearby, than Episcopalians/Anglicans can still join the ordinariate through any regular Roman Catholic parish. All one need do is visit the website of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter, read the instructions and download an application. One can be part of the ordinariate after joining any Roman Catholic parish, until such time as an ordinariate community is made available nearby. It's not far-fetched really. In 2012 there were no more than five Anglican Use parishes and communities in the United States. Now the U.S. ordinariate can boast of nearly forty! That's nearly 700% growth is in just three years!

As an Anglican, it's a refreshing way to go. Many of us have been caught up in the culture wars within The Episcopal Church for so long, that we've forgotten what Christian evangelism is all about. It's time to drop the siege mentality, and get on with our lives. It's refreshing to be in a winning position for a change. The culture wars haven't disappeared in the Catholic Church, but tradition has the clear upper hand. We have all the youth on our side, as well as the Holy Spirit and the Vicar of Christ. When was the last time an Episcopalian could ever say that? Today I am a Roman Catholic, but I am also Anglican in liturgy and custom. I am both, and nobody can take that away from me. Some people have tried to make up a new term, such as 'Anglican Catholic' or 'Catholic Anglican'. Some have referred back to the old term of 'Anglo-Catholic'. I say forget it all. I am a Christian, and if you want to be specific about it, I am a Catholic Christian who worships according to the Anglican Patrimony. My goal is to live and preach the gospel, making disciples of Christ wherever I go. All the while I get to worship in sacral English, promoting the zenith of English Christian civilisation. It's the most counter-cultural thing anyone could ever do these days, and guess what? It's fun! Maybe it's time for some of my fellow Episcopalians to join me. 

END.

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Shane Schaetzel is an author of Catholic books, and columnist for Christian print magazines and online publications. He is a freelance writer and the creator of 'FullyChristian.Com -- The random musings of a Catholic in the Ozarks.'

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Monday, June 29, 2015

Will The Protestant House of Cards Come Tumbling Down?

Martin Luther burns the Papal bull in the square of Wittenberg in the year 1520.
Oil Painting on Canvas by Karl Aspelin 1857-1922

By now we should all know what happened last week on June 26, 2015, a date that will live in infamy. Five Supreme Court justices violated their oath of office and invented a 'right' out of thin air, overturning constitutional amendments in various states, which were voted on by the people with overwhelming majorities, imposing upon every state and all Americans, same-sex 'marriage' as the law of the land. The implications of this are staggering.

The minority opinions written by the dissenting justices were no less historic. They heralded the end of American democracy and the rise of persecution for Christians who oppose this judicial fiat. The news media and Internet are filled with commentary on this decision, so I will not go into it in detail here. I will say only this. This third branch of government, headed by the United States Supreme Court, has historically been the most tyrannical branch of government in the failed American political system. It was this branch of government that gave us Dred Scott; a horribly bad decision that contributed greatly to the first fall of the American Republic in what is commonly called the Civil War. It was this branch of government that also gave us Engel v. Vitale, and Abington School District v. Schempp, which made prayer and reading the Bible in public schools illegal. It was this branch of government that gave us Roe v. Wade, which usurped state laws and constitutions, making the wholesale slaughter of unborn babies a 'protected legal right'. Fifty-seven million dead babies later, the Supreme Court of the United States gives us this.

In Obergefell v. Hodges, the Supreme Court proved once again that there are no limits to the tyranny of moral relativism it can impose on the American people. In regards to the failed American political system I will say only this. King George III in all of his imperial majesty could have never imagined a tyranny like this. What Americans have created by their own hands is a thousand times worse than any tyranny England ever dished out on the original thirteen colonies. Our state constitutions have just been nullified. Our state laws have just been obliterated. The Supreme Court of the United States has just demonstrated, yet once again, that it will erase any law, overturn any vote, nullify any democratic process, and thwart the will of any people that five of their nine justices don't particularly like. King George III was a gentle and kind ruler compared to this. That however, is not what this essay is about. I will leave the failed American political system to my fellow countrymen. If they wish to try to save it with another constitutional convention (Convention of States), than let them rise up and do it. I will support them. If they wish to let it crumble into the ash heap of history's failed ideas, that too is their choice. I will not stop them. For this essay, however, I have something much more significant to address.

As a former Evangelical Protestant, I can attest that there are certain Protestant individuals who will never cave in to the homosexualist agenda. I can think of my parents and sisters as examples of this. They will never cave in. I have many Evangelical friends who will never cave in either. My question is; where will they go however, when there are no Evangelical churches left to support them in this? For now, most of them are safe, but not for much longer.
(Reuters) -- Evangelicals are starting to change their minds about gay marriage. In recent months, three large evangelical churches — EastLakeCommunity Church in Seattle, Washington, GracePointe Church in Nashville, Tennessee, and City Church in San Francisco, California — have announced that they no longer believe all same-sex relationships are sinful. Leading evangelical ethicist David Gushee changed his position on the issue in a landmark speech last fall, and celebrated pastor Campolo did the same in a statement on his website earlier this month. 
This new pro-gay movement among evangelicals is still a minority, and staunch conservatives have been pushing back. But bit by bit, the number of American evangelicals who support marriage equality continues to rise... read more
You see, Protestantism (for the most part) has had it pretty good for the last five-hundred years since its birth in the sixteenth century. Granted it had a few bouts with the Catholic Church in those early years, but even then, it was supported by a number of governments in Northern Europe. In the English colonies of America, Protestantism enjoyed the support of the state. By the time the United States was founded, Protestantism enjoyed primacy among all religions in North America. The freedoms Protestants have enjoyed under the American political system have allowed for them a great deal of luxury. Schism into multiple sects has always been the primary way Protestants dealt with differences over doctrine and practise. In America, such schisms were so easily accomplished, without state intervention, that literally thousands of denominations and sects have arisen on the North American continent. In all of this however, Protestantism has never encountered a real and serious heresy. Oh sure, there have been little heresies that have arisen here and there, but Protestants mainly deal with this through schism. Some groups have even broken away from Protestantism entirely, but still nothing in the way of real and serious heresy -- until now. When I say real and serious heresy, I'm talking about a cultural heresy that is backed by the full weight and authority of the state, resulting in forms of persecution (mild to severe) of those who do not comply. The United States of America, through the third branch of its failed government (the Supreme Court) has created the legal precedence necessary for such a serious heresy to result in the persecution of those who refuse to comply. The heresy is same-sex 'marriage' and those who refuse to go along with the lie will soon find themselves at the mercy of the state. The heresy has become a popular one in society too, so Christians, who refuse to comply with it, will find no sympathy from the general public. As a result, some Evangelical churches are beginning to cave in. We've seen this among mainline Protestant churches for a long time. They caved into the homosexualist agenda long ago, before there was any public pressure to do so. Many Catholics assumed, perhaps falsely, that no matter what, the Evangelicals will stand with us against the homosexualist agenda. It now appears that we were wrong. The Evangelical mega-churches are falling very quickly now, and I suspect we may see this increase at an exponential rate as persecution ramps up in the months and years ahead.

I am now witnessing this even in conservative Greene County Missouri, as small pockets of Evangelicals are starting to come out in favour of same-sex marriage. Granted, there will always be individual Evangelicals who will never sign on to this, just as there have always been individual mainline Protestants who have refused to cave in. In years past, we saw how these individual mainline Protestants were able to hang together, by breaking with their mainline Protestant denominations, and starting their own offshoots. The Anglican Church in North America serves as one excellent example of this. By breaking with The Episcopal Church of the United States, and the Anglican Church of Canada, individual Anglicans were able to resist the homosexualist agenda, break with their former denominations (schism), and regroup under a new denomination of their own making. This has worked well for them, for now, but I should point out here that Anglicans are a little different than Evangelicals. Anglicans are steeped in liturgical tradition and heritage. It is something that binds them together naturally and organically. This gives them an extra layer of something they hold in common, allowing them to easily unify not just around doctrine, but around tradition as well. For the most part, Evangelicals just don't have this.

Evangelicalism is built primarily around doctrine alone. Its traditions are fluid and relatively new. In many ways, its worship services are often indistinguishable from a Christian music concert, which one can see in any auditorium. When the government comes to take Evangelical church buildings away unless they comply, and it will, what will they do? This will be the first time Protestantism has ever faced any real persecution in North America. Indeed, aside from its bouts with Catholicism it had early on in Europe, this is the first time Protestantism has had to face any kind of real persecution -- ever! Many of these Evangelical mega-churches will cave in. Many Evangelicals will be forced to go underground, and worship as small groups in their homes. What will happen to Evangelicalism then? Without one mega-church pastor to hold them together doctrinally, and without any kind of liturgy or sacraments to bind them together traditionally, what will become of Evangelicalism? Can we expect them to deviate even further on doctrinal issues? Will each small-group become a denomination unto itself? Will Evangelicalism just devolve into some kind of Christianised Individualism? I really don't know the answer to these questions.

What I do know is this. Catholic Christianity will survive this, because we have survived many persecutions before, far worse than this one. We've endured the wrath of Pagan Rome, the Arians, the Muslim Jihadists, Protestant kings and queens, the Communists, the Nazis and now this. They may reduce our numbers. They may cause many apostasies. (Lord knows there are many Catholics more than willing to go, and have already left in heart.) They may take our properties. They may even put us into prison. We, however, have seen all this before. We will outlive them. We will bury their failed system like we buried the once great Roman Empire. Catholic Christianity will not only survive, but it will once again be victorious. Just as it always has throughout history. The Rock of Saint Peter is littered with the hulls of many vessels that have shipwrecked on it. Each had its own captain; Caesar, Arius, Mohammed, Napoleon, Stalin, Hitler, etc. They're all gone now, but the Catholic Church still remains, the Rock of Saint Peter stands tall.

My own decision to leave Protestantism and become Catholic was based on what all of Protestantism is about to undergo. My primary reason for becoming Catholic was over the issue of authority. As I studied to become an Evangelical pastor, it occurred to me that Protestantism has no real authority structure other than what Protestants create by their own hands. They cannot agree with each other, so they literally have hundreds of various authority structures. This should be as no surprise to us. For Protestantism itself was founded in the sixteenth century on a 'personal interpretation of Scripture' (Sola Scriptura) that allowed them to reject the historically established authority of the pope and the hierarchy of the Catholic Church. This in turn led to many reinterpretations over the centuries, resulting in literally thousands of Protestant denominations, affiliations and individual sects. Without any real absolute authority to firmly established doctrine and interpretation of Scripture, what will become of Protestantism in the face of real heresy and real persecution for not following that heresy? Only history will be able to answer that question. For now, however, we are beginning to see the Evangelical mega-churches fall like dominoes. How it ends nobody knows. One thing is certain though. We shall all find out within our lifetimes -- in the very near future.

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Shane Schaetzel is an author of Catholic books, and columnist for Christian print magazines and online publications. He is a freelance writer and the creator of 'CatholicInTheOzarks.com -- Apologetics and random musings from a Catholic in the Bible Belt.'

BOOKS BY THIS BLOGGER...
A Catholic Guide
to the Last Days
Catholicism for
Protestants