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You couldn’t make it up.

For what it’s worth, this is one of my few articles about the Ordinariate — the extension of friendship by the Catholic Church to disaffected Anglican clergy and their congregations.

This has been an extraordinarily damp squib, as I had predicted it would be last year at this time.  It should have had firepower, yet, it is only one year on that we have five Anglican bishops and 45 priests cross the Tiber.  Zzzz.

But, Churchmouse, you might well ask, weren’t you a Catholic who became an Anglican?  You must have a dog in this hunt one way or another.

No, it’s just too uninteresting — let them do what they have to do. Anyway, onto highlights from  Jonathan Wynne-Jones’s article in the Telegraph:

Catholic bishops are holding talks in Leeds this week to discuss the most complicated issues facing the new arrangement, such as how the defecting clergy will be financially supported and whether they will be allowed to continue worshipping in their churches.

The Rt Rev Malcolm McMahon, the Catholic Bishop of Nottingham, confirmed the first priests would be received into the Catholic Church early in the new year.

“The Ordinariate could grow with time,” he said.

“It depends on the Church of England as to whether there will be more who feel they can no longer stay in it.

“It is not in the Catholic Church’s interests to break up the Church of England.”

The comments were the newsworthy point.  I hadn’t realised how much the role of Mary, the mother of Jesus, had increased since I was growing up.  This must have been a John Paul II initiative, as I would surely have known about it otherwise.  Incidentally, I left the Church during his papacy.  Enough said on that score.

Without further ado, here’s the debate on Mary v sola Scriptura. (The comments are on pages 2 and 3 — choose ‘oldest first’ option — no direct links. Emphases mine throughout):

insensitive_clod: Catholics pray to Mary, rather than God. Nowhere in the Bible is a Christian told to do this. It is idolatry.

Catholics refer to Mary as the “Queen of heaven” and “mother of God”. She is considered as more important than God himself.

How can Anglican clergy defect because women bishops have been accepted, when they are defecting to a religion that is not Bible-based and worships a woman rather than God?

If one is an Anglican, and one defects to Catholicism, it is no different than becoming a Muslim. The beliefs are similar, but completely different.

The defecting Anglicans cannot have had a sound belief in the Bible in the first place to switch religion in this way. And there are plenty of non Bible-believing Anglican clergy in this country, so I’m not surprised.

perhaps the Pope should publicly denounce any worshipping of Mary, praying to Mary, and that forgiveness can only come from asking of God, rather than confession and Hail Marys.

Until that day, I think my accusations stand firm.

Benedict Carter: We do not “worship” Mary, we venerate her as the Mother of God.

I am astonished that Protestants remain so utterly clueless about Catholicism. Still, given the useless nature of the Catholic Bishops in Britain, you have at least that excuse.

A new element has apparently been added, which surprised even me:

Lorriman: We don’t worship Mary: we pray to her that she will intercede for us: which it pleases God to act in and through his Saints. She is the chosen vessel of God’s grace (primarily in the form of Christ himself) by which God has worked our salvation.

Further forgiveness comes direct from Christ who is in a special union with the priest.

Wow — so not only does Mary dispense grace, she also forgives sins now.  She forgives first and Christ forgives afterward.  If this is a JPII innovation, I bet he’s still explaining himself in the next life, five years on.  That is heresy.

insensitive_clod: Then I suppose you will know all about Alfonsus de Liguori, who wrote the book ‘The glories of Mary’, and said that salvation is only through Mary. This man was made a saint by the Catholic church, which obviously agreed with him.

Pope Pius IX said that “Our salvation is based upon the holy virgin… so that if there is any hope and spiritual healing for us we receive it solely and uniquely from her”

How is Mary considered a mediator between God and Man, when 1 Timothy 2:5-6 says that Jesus is the mediator?

At this point, the torchpaper is lit:

lorriman: Since you have decided to make yourself our enemy you at least owe us to read what we actually believe, rather than putting words in to our mouths and them condemning us.

In any case why do you not accept our word that we do not worship Mary as God? Neither do we call her saviour. Jesus is mediator between man and God, and Mary is mediator between man and Jesus (if we choose). As the Church teaches: all grace comes from Jesus through Mary. She is the new Eve whose conception was justified by the promise of Jesus’s passion and death …

Well, I never learned that at all and, as I have said many times before, I grew up in one of the most Catholic families (both sides) I knew at the time.  I also attended Catholic school through (including) university.  Hence why I say this must be JPII, i.e. after my time.

insensitive_clod: Where is this written in the Bible?  Even though you’ve read the Catechism yourself, you don’t seem to understand the unbiblical significance it gives Mary.

lorriman: the Bible is the work of the Holy Spirit but the Spirit continues to work in His Church as a living voice. In addition the Bible does not and couldn’t possibly contain all the details of what occurred and that plenty of that knowledge has passed on via oral tradition which is just as valid, since it is guaranteed by the power of the Holy Spirit as is scripture: it is not a tradition of men. Indeed it is as if the Protestant mentality is venerating and worshipping the written word as something super-special. But for Adam and Eve’s sin there probably would not have been any need to write a thing: it is a crutch.

Jesus did not at any point restrict us to the scriptures only: rather He gave us His Holy Spirit. While the scriptures are an adequate reference they are not the only source of truth.

That’s sailing close to the heretical wind right there.  Jesus tells the scribes and Pharisees questioning Him in Mark 7 that they are making up their own rules: ‘thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And many such things you do’ (Mark 7:13). Both Old and New Testaments say not to add to or take away from Scripture (Deuteronomy 4:2, Deuteronomy 12:32, Psalms 119, Proverbs 30:5-6, 1 Corinthians 4:6, Revelation 22:18-19).

insensitive_clod: Anything that goes against the Bible is wrong. In the New Testament we are told to search the scriptures to verify what we are taught.

What you are saying is that the Catholic Church doesn’t necessarily follow the Bible, but the Holy Spirit has revealed new things that should be followed.

In that case the Catholic Church goes against the Bible, and can make up whatever it likes.

I just hope, for your sakes, that you are right. It would be awful if you were wrong and the Bible was right.

lorriman: It was the early Church that defined the Bible, by the power of the Holy Spirit. The authority of God is living and expresses itself through the Church not only a static book. That body is now divided, through the unsaintly Luther and many others, but the heart is Roman Catholic

But Mary as Mother of God is undeniably biblical. Yes, a vessel and a mother. Indeed a mother is a vessel. She lives through her Son, as we do, and He lives in her, as we do. Her immaculate conception is a logical extrapolation rather than extra-biblical. Granted however that St Thomas Aquinas disagreed with it: but he made other mistakes also.

A person can be wrong and ignorant, even in matters pertaining to sin, but if it is no fault of their own that they are ignorant then the sin is not culpable. So long as you and I do our duty by truth both of us will end up in heaven. One of us may, in the meantime, be given sufficient opportunity to switch to the other’s side but that isn’t a necessity for salvation: rather Christ’s call “I demand mercy”

If we are merciful it will go much further towards our salvation than if we are doctrinally correct.

Note the works-based sentences. And where does Jesus ‘demand mercy’?  I have looked it up and they are among His words to St Maria Faustina Kowalska, canonised in 2000.  Maybe they come from this Gospel verse instead, wherein Jesus says, ‘Go and learn what this means,”I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.” For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.’ (Matthew 9:13)?  Matthew Henry writes that this verse means:

It is not enough to be acquainted with the letter of scripture, but we must learn to understand the meaning of it. And they have best learned the meaning of the scriptures, that have learned how to apply them as a reproof to their own faults, and a rule for their own practice. This scripture which Christ quoted, served not only to vindicate him, but, [1.] To show wherein true religion consists; not in external observances: not in meats and drinks and shows of sanctity, not in little particular opinions and doubtful disputations, but in doing all the good we can to the bodies and souls of others; in righteousness and peace; in visiting the fatherless and widows. [2.] To condemn the Pharisaical hypocrisy of those who place religion in rituals, more than in morals

There’s a little coda to the debate:

insensitive_clod: What if the Holy Spirit has show us that women should be given positions of power in the church?

How can you prove that the Holy Spirit isn’t showing us this? …

I have absolutely no hatred of Mary whatsoever. She is blessed, and the Bible says that all generations shall call her blessed. They did not say that she should be given any preferential treatment over any other human being.

I believe that Mary is horrified that people have put her on a pedestal.

Me, too.

Catholics — please note that after receiving many offensive comments from some of you against the Bible, and let’s remember that Jesus knew the Old Testament by heart, I will be monitoring comments extremely carefully.  You have been highly insulting about sola Scriptura and, as this is my gaff, we’ll play by my rules.

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