Head of the CDF Urges Catholics to Welcome Ordinariate Converts

In the Catholic Herald:

Catholics in England and Wales should welcome members of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, the new prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) has said.

In an interview with The Catholic Herald, Archbishop Gerhard Müller said: “Many of those who have entered into full communion through the ordinariates have sacrificed a great deal in order to be true to their consciences. They should be welcomed wholeheartedly by the Catholic community – not as prodigals but as brothers and sisters in Christ who bring with them into the Church a worthy patrimony of worship and spirituality.”

Archbishop Müller, who was appointed prefect in July this year, oversees reconciliation talks with the Society of St Pius X (SSPX) in his new role. He told the Herald that “the SSPX must accept the fullness of the Catholic faith and its practice” as “disunity always damages the proclamation of the Gospel by darkening the testimony of Jesus Christ”.

He said: “The SSPX need to distinguish between the true teaching of the Second Vatican Council and specific abuses that occurred after the Council, but which are not founded in the Council’s documents.”

He later continued: “Everyone who is Catholic must ask themselves if they are cherry-picking points from the Church’s teachings for the sake of supporting an ideology. Which is more important: an ideology or the faith? I want to say to people in extreme groups to put their ideology to one side and come to Jesus Christ.”

Archbishop Müller also said that he had been an admirer of the current Pope since he was in seminary and used to read the Pope’s book An Introduction to Christianity during his formation.  He said: “It was a new book at the time and the concentrated theological insights are ever present in my mind today.”

In his new position as prefect for the CDF he has a weekly meeting with the Pope for an hour. He said: “In private, we speak in our mother tongue, German, but in an official context we must speak in Italian.”



The Decline of Evangelical America

Speaking of Evangelicals, the New York Times:


It hasn’t been a good year for evangelicals. I should know. I’m one of them.

In 2012 we witnessed a collapse in American evangelicalism. The old religious right largely failed to affect the Republican primaries, much less the presidential election. Last month, Americans voted in favor of same-sex marriage in four states, while Florida voters rejected an amendment to restrict abortion.

Much has been said about conservative Christians and their need to retool politically. But that is a smaller story, riding on the back of a larger reality: Evangelicalism as we knew it in the 20th century is disintegrating.

In 2011 the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life polled church leaders from around the world. Evangelical ministers from the United States reported a greater loss of influence than church leaders from any other country — with some 82 percent indicating that their movement was losing ground.

I grew up hearing tales of my grandfather, a pastor, praying with President Ronald Reagan at the White House. My father, also a pastor, prayed with George W. Bush in 2000. I now minister to my own congregation, which has grown to about 500, a tenfold increase, in the last four years (by God’s favor and grace, I believe). But, like most young evangelical ministers, I am less concerned with politics than with the exodus of my generation from the church.

Studies from established evangelical polling organizations — LifeWay Research, an affiliate of the Southern Baptist Convention, and the Barna Group — have found that a majority of young people raised as evangelicals are quitting church, and often the faith, entirely.

As a contemporary of this generation (I’m 30), I embarked three years ago on a project to document the health of evangelical Christianity in the United States. I did this research not only as an insider, but also as a former investigative journalist for an alt weekly.

I found that the structural supports of evangelicalism are quivering as a result of ground-shaking changes in American culture. Strategies that served evangelicals well just 15 years ago are now self- destructive. The more that evangelicals attempt to correct course, the more they splinter their movement. In coming years we will see the old evangelicalism whimper and wane…

Another obituary prematurely written ?




It’s Trendy to be a Traditionalist in the Catholic Church

The Economist:

Since the Second Vatican Council in 1962, the Roman Catholic church has striven to adapt to the modern world. But in the West—where many hoped a contemporary message would go down best—believers have left in droves. Sunday mass attendance in England and Wales has fallen by half from the 1.8m recorded in 1960; the average age of parishioners has risen from 37 in 1980 to 52 now. In America attendance has declined by over a third since 1960. Less than 5% of French Catholics attend regularly, and only 15% in Italy. Yet as the mainstream wanes, traditionalists wax.

Take the Latin mass, dumped by the Vatican in 1962 for liturgies in vernacular languages. In its most traditional form, the priest consecrates the bread and wine in a whisper with his back to the congregation: anathema to those who think openness is the spirit of the age. But Father John Zuhlsdorf, an American priest and blogger, says it challenges worshippers, unlike the cosy liberalism of the regular services. “It is not just a school assembly,” he says.

Others share his enthusiasm. The Latin Mass Society of England and Wales, started in 1965, now has over 5,000 members. The weekly number of Latin masses is up from 26 in 2007 to 157 now. In America it is up from 60 in 1991 to 420. At Brompton Oratory, a hotspot of London traditionalism, 440 flock to the main Sunday Latin mass. That is twice the figure for the main English one. Women sport mantillas (lace headscarves). Men wear tweeds.

But it is not a fogeys’ hangout: the congregation is young and international. Like evangelical Christianity, traditional Catholicism is attracting people who were not even born when the Second Vatican Council tried to rejuvenate the church. Traditionalist groups have members in 34 countries, including Hong Kong, South Africa and Belarus. Juventutem, a movement for young Catholics who like the old ways, boasts scores of activists in a dozen countries. Traditionalists use blogs, websites and social media to spread the word—and to highlight recalcitrant liberal dioceses and church administrators, who have long seen the Latinists as a self-indulgent, anachronistic and affected minority. In Colombia 500 people wanting a traditional mass had to use a community hall (they later found a church).

A big shift came in 2007 when Pope Benedict XVI formally endorsed the use of the old-rite Latin mass. Until that point, fondness for the traditional liturgy could blight a priest’s career. The cause has also received new vim from the Ordinariate, a Vatican-sponsored grouping for ex-Anglicans. Dozens of Anglican priests have “crossed the Tiber” from the heavily ritualistic “smells and bells” high-church wing; they find a ready welcome among traditionalist Roman Catholics.

The return of the old rite causes quiet consternation among more modernist Catholics. Timothy Radcliffe, once head of Britain’s Dominicans, sees in it “a sort of ‘Brideshead Revisited’ nostalgia”. The traditionalist revival, he thinks, is a reaction against the “trendy liberalism” of his generation. Some swings of pendulums may be inevitable. But for a church hierarchy in Western countries beset by scandal and decline, the rise of a traditionalist avant-garde is unsettling. Is it merely an outcrop of eccentricity, or a sign that the church took a wrong turn 50 years ago?



Sydney Ordinariate Ordination: Fr. Warren Wade

The Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross:

On Wednesday 12 December 2012, the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Warren Wade was ordained to the priesthood to serve the Ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross by Bishop David Walker, bishop of Broken Bay Diocese.  It was a wonderful occasion in which Warren was supported by his parishioners, members of the Cathedral parish and fellow priests from the Diocese.

We was formerly an ACCA Priest.




Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis to be Next UK Chief Rabbi

And he is South African born.

Britain’s chief rabbi-designate is to be Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis of Finchley Synagogue, the United Synagogue has announced.

He will be Anglo-Jewry’s 11th chief rabbi. And, like most of his predecessors, Rabbi Mirvis is not British-born.

But the 56-year-old South African-born rabbi, the son and grandson of religious leaders, has spent a large part of his career serving Anglo-Saxon communities.

This, of course, is not his first chief rabbinate. He was Chief Rabbi of Ireland from 1985 to 1992, and for three years before that was minister of Dublin’s Adelaide Road Synagogue.

Rabbi Mirvis comes from a family of rabbis and teachers. His grandfather, Rev Lazar Mirvis, was a minister in Johannesburg, while his father, Rabbi Dr Lionel Mirvis, led the Claremont Synagogue and also the Wynberg Hebrew Congregation in Cape Town.

His mother, Freida, was principal of the Athlone Teachers Training College, which, during the apartheid years, was the only college for black teachers of pre-school instruction in South Africa.

After leaving Cape Town for Israel, where he attended a number of yeshivot and obtained his semicha (rabbinical qualification), Rabbi Mirvis married Zimbabwe-born Valerie Kaplan, a former senior social worker with Jewish Care, who now works for a local authority in the same capacity. The couple have four sons.

Along the way Rabbi Mirvis qualified as a shochet, mohel and chazan. Between 1992 and 1996 he was the rabbi of Marble Arch Synagogue. Since 1996 he has become synonymous with the ever-growing Finchley Synagogue, one of the biggest congregations in London.

A member of his congregation said on Monday night: “The congregation is torn. They know he is the best candidate to be chief rabbi. But they will miss him desperately. They think he is irreplaceable.”

It is more than two years since Lord Sacks’ retirement date was announced.

His departure was announced at a United Synagogue council meeting on December 13, 2010.

Then US President Simon Hochhauser made clear that there would be a successor and said focus groups would be used during the recruitment process.

Rabbi Mirvis was the long-time frontrunner for the role, but the US selection procedure nonetheless took months longer than expected. It was first intended to name the new chief by Rosh Hashanah 2012.