July August 1982
It seems as if the only thing forbidden in Catholic churches nowadays is the traditional Mass in Latin. The only people refused hospitalilty in our temples are Archbishop Lefebvre and his followers.
The tendency to allow non Catholic use of our churches for religious services is growing and growing rapidly. It has caused much confusion to the faithful.
We reported in a recent issue of Challenge on a religious service held in a cathedral in Quebec province where members of the United Church were allowed to ordain Protestant ministers, including a woman, in the presence of the Roman Catholic Archbishop of the place.
In the Wanderer for June 24,1982 there is a report that a Methodist ordination ceremony took place this year at the high altar of the principal U.S. Catholic shrine dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary in Washington, D.C.
At the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, located on the grounds of the Catholic University of America, the order of deacon was conferred on 18 Methodists and 19 other members of that church were elevated to the rank of elder in that denomination.
A young man interviewed by a reporter said: "I think it's great that the Methodists are using the Catholic church. It's really a sign of unity. But, then, again, I think it's a terrible irony that a church that takes a pro abortion stand should be having ceremonies at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception."
During the ceremony, a crowd of about 1,000 heard the ordinands affirm they will be loyal to the Methodist Church, accepting its order, doctrine and discipline.
Father Roger Roensch, director of the Shrine's Office of Development, said the Methodists usually use another church, but it was not available this year. The Church directive, he said, is "if a group can't find a place, we can open our doors." He said such use of the Shrine by nonCatholics was discussed and apparently approved by all the bishops and board members.
If there were the same even handed approach to the Lefebvre followers, at least an argument could be made in favor of church hospitality, but what possible justification can there be for refusing the Pius V Mass offered by validly ordained priests and permitting Protestant services?
But the Church is not stopping at allowing Christian Protestant services in Catholic houses of God.
From England it is reported that there is now a suggestion by the Catholic Commission for Racial Justice, under its chairperson, the auxiliary bishop of Birmingham, that Rastafarianism (from Jamaica) is a valid religious experience and its devotees should be given access to Catholic premises to worship the Emperor Haile Selassie and the late Duke of Gloucester.
There was a joint 10 religion service at St. Patrick's Cathedral, New York, August 30, 1979 when Cardinal Cooke sat beside the Buddhist Dalai Lama of Tibet as Buddhist monks stationed around the altar blew their trumpets and the Dalai Lama (with the Cardinal) would dip hands into a box of what appeared to be incense and sprinkle it towards the crowd.
We seem far away from the times when the Fourth Lateran Council of 1215 said: "We decree that those who give credence to the teachings of the heretics, as well as those who receive, defend and patronize them, are excommunicated... If from sufficient evidence it is apparent that a bishop is negligent or remiss in cleansing his diocese of the ferment of heretical wickedness, let him be deposed from the episcopal office and let another who will and can confound heretical depravity, be substituted."
We can all accept that the disciplinary decrees of one Council can be changed by another. We accept that the Ecumenical Directory (The Pope Speaks 12, n.3, 1967, 250 63) says: "If the separated brethren have no place in which to carry out their religious rites properly and with dignity, the local ordinary may allow them the use of a Catholic building, cemetery or church."
We recognize it is no longer good to shun heretics, rather we should cooperate with them in so far as it is possible to do so without injury to the faith. But is it really necessary to defend and patronize heretics and others by offering them hospitality in our churches?
Father Faraher in Homiletic and Pastoral Review for August/September 1982 notes: "Present norms would require that there be no approval or seeming approval of what the Catholic Church considers false doctrine or worship; that there be a proportionate reason for action; that scandal or wonderment of the faithful be avoided as far as possible."
1. Challenge Magazine, can be obtained from 1050 Grosvenor Avenue, Winnipeg, Manitoba, R3M ON7, Canada.
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