Time for a New Council?

From Antonio Celso de Queirós, bishop emeritus of Catanduva, Sao Paulo, Brazil, via Mirada Global:

Those who lived the ecclesial atmosphere of the mid 20th century (prior to the Second Vatican Council) closely, can’t prevent feeling the current situation as similar. Then, as now, a mixture of perplexity and hope was a concern for many Christians. Only those who lived completely in another world didn’t sense that something big was about to happen. The announcement of the Ecumenical Council was received with a combination of surprise and fear. Surprise because of the announcement of something the Church wasn’t used to. Fear that an authoritarian gesture of the hierarchy could lead to the end of reflection and search. In time, the fear was overcome, all the more so facing the conciliar texts, especially the four big constitutions and the contemporary papal encyclicals: John XXIII’s Mater et Magistra and Pacem in Terris, and the subsequent election of Paul VI. The Council was greeted positively and it developed a process of reflection in Latin America, which was facilitated by the Episcopal Conferences of Medellin, Puebla, somehow less in Santo Domingo and positively once more in Aparecida.

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As from the ‘80s, the theological and pastoral thermometers started to show a decline in temperature, and the approach of an ecclesial winter was feared. Indeed, some theologians were showing some serious problems that hadn’t been addressed in depth by the Council. There are clear signs of compromise solutions in more than one document. However, few could forecast to what extent they would called upon to live and face processes. Summoning the Council did take far too long. A century and a half passed between Vatican Council I and II, a historical period of serious problems that made the Church fall out of the habit of acting according to its communitarian and synodal nature. To this we must add the fact that the Council gave the Roman Curia the responsibility of creating the roads to implement the conciliar dispositions. The Curia, as a bureaucratic institution, was not capable of rethinking the ecclesial organizations applying the innovative reflections of the Council. Any bureaucratic institution is more interested in its own survival and in increasing its own power than in reaching the objectives it was created for. This power increases tremendously when it is exerted as “pontifical secret”, and in the name of an authority that cannot be appealed and is infallible. Ecclesiastic centralism returned, leaving the bishops with very little power in their dioceses and the role of the Episcopal conferences. The power of the nuncios grew considerably and they practically became the mediator between the bishops and the pope. The concept of fidelity to the pope and to the ecclesial unity was understood within the tightness of passive submission. Prohibitions once more created mistrust; the atmosphere of pressure returned due to the silence imposed or assumed because of fear.

In Brazil, this difficult atmosphere severely affected the Episcopal Conference that had a tradition of fostering a liberating evangelization; of a struggle in favor of the poor, the indigenous people, the black population, a struggle that had even been recognized by society; of denouncing arbitrary arrests and tortures carried out by the military dictatorship. An important demonstration of that difficult atmosphere is the clear preference of the Curia for the spiritualist even fundamentalist movements. The new bishops were mostly chosen among those ranks, to the detriment of a complete generation of bishops who had proved their capacities, and were dedicated to overall pastoral programme. The participants –even lay ones- to international ecclesial events were picked from these movements. While there is conciliar opening, there are clear signs of regression in the liturgy, in a return to clericalism, in looking towards the inside of the ecclesial structure instead of the primacy of the announcement of the Kingdom.

 The Church nowadays is living problems that were not addressed during the Council, or weren’t so clear, such as:

- Christians have abandoned the practice of faith and don’t refer to it in their lives;

- the permanent growth of new Christian religious faiths; the absence or scarce number of young people in ecclesial communities;

- the need for the practical recognition of the mission of the particular churches in the inculturation of faith and in the ecclesial organization and the evangelization of large urban populations;

- the decrease in the number of applicants for priesthood and religious life in countries that had a long-standing Catholic tradition as well as in other countries, and the concomitant population increase;

- the need to redefine the ministries and their fields; the widening of the field of the ministry of permanent deaconship; the opening of ministries to priests that have abandoned ordained ministry;

- the reality of ecclesial communities that lack Eucharist because of the shortage of ordained ministers;

- the issue of a new kind of priests who are not necessarily celibate, alongside others that assume celibacy;

- feminine priesthood;

- the relativization, or the simple practical ignorance of certain rules of the teachings (Sunday mass, keeping Sunday as a day of worship, abstinence and fast…, individual and numerical confession of one’s sins as the only form of the sacrament of penance);

- the “quiet” disagreement of married couples that participate in the Church of the orientations of its teachings in relation to certain rules regarding conjugal morale, second marriages, responsible paternity, the use of condoms as a means of preventing AIDS.

Also available in Spanish.

Tim Reidy

 

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Crystal Watson
6 years 1 month ago
Time for Vatican III  :)
Jim McCrea
6 years 1 month ago
A new Council?  Si. 

One without full and active participation of religious women and non-vowed laity of both genders?  Don't waste anyone's time.

And no upping of expected bribes when bishops visit the Vatican to fund the first version, either.   Asking the people to fund any kind of major ecclesiastical events that involve them but does not include them is sheer and utter nonsense and must not be tolerated any more.

There are way too many highly educated laity whose knowledge and intelligence are equal to if not better than a significant portion of bishops to be excluded from the decision-making processes.  (But don't tell the bishops that; their feelings might be hurt!)
ed gleason
6 years 1 month ago
Joe, Zenit was started and funded/run  by the Legionaries .. basta.
Brendan McGrath
6 years 1 month ago
Naturally there will be disagreements among Catholics as to what a proposed council will do.  For example, I'd really like to see women's ordination, but of course many Catholics here would disagree with that.  However, are there certain things that Catholics from all areas of the theological/political/liturgical map could agree on?  I'd appreciate it if those here who are more conservative could consider the following list of suggestions I'd have for a hypothetical council:

1) Changing canon law to allow for lay people, and specifically women, to be made cardinals.  In the past, canon law did allow for lay people to be made cardinals, though I think I've heard they were usually ordained as deacons first.  But anyway, the college of cardinals is not divinely established as are the papacy, episcopacy, and priesthood.  There is no reason that women could not be among those chosen to elect the pope.

2)  Could we find some way to give lay people, religious, and "lower" clergy a say in various administrative decisions of a diocese?  In particular, could lay people have more of a say in whether Catholic schools and parishes are closed?  Could control be given to parishes and schools themselves?  I.e., if a diocese no longer wants to support a school financially, that's fine, but why not allow it to try to exist on its own as a private Catholic school - or if not private, at least a diocesan school that funds itself? 

3)  A requirement that bishops give up various luxuries.  For example, do bishops need to be driven around in limos?  Here in Philly, does the cardinal need to live in a mansion?  At the very least, could there be a requirement that not one single Catholic school be closed while a bishop still lives in a mansion?

4)  A requirement for more accountability and transparency, particularly when it comes to how money is spent.  For example, apparently here in Philly, the diocese is paying for the legal defense of Monsignor Lynn, who is charged with... I forget the exact charge, but basically shuffling around abusive priests, covering up sex abuse, etc.  We're paying for that, but we're closing Catholic schools? 

5)  A return to some kind of more democratic way in which bishops used to be chosen in the early Church, and even into the medieval period.  Couldn't there be something where the people would vote for a list which would then be given to Rome to pick from, or, could Rome provide a list that people would then choose from, or something?

6)  The return of Eucharistic doves.  (http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/05144b.htm)

7)  A consideration of married diocesan clergy in the Latin rite.  I personally prefer clerical celibacy for all sorts of reasons, but with the decline in the numbers of priests, couldn't we consider it? 

8)  Another possibility, a sort of variation on "married priests" - I'm not sure how to describe this exactly, and I'm not sure I necessarily like it, but suppose we were to ordain more men, some married, some not, but limit their faculties somehow?  This might also include the idea of changing practices such that unmarried men could be ordained, but then later marry.  What I mean is that what if not all priests spent all their time ministering to people, going to seminaries, serving as pastors, etc.?  What if, for example, a teacher at a Catholic high school could be ordained, so that he could say Mass for the school?  Maybe that would be all the faculties he'd be given - perhaps he wouldn't be allowed to hear confessions.  He also would not necessarily need to be paid by the Church, at least not in the way that most diocesan priests are today.  Think of this another way - we have lots of deacons today who don't work "full time" in the Church; what if we had more priests like that?

I realize there are all sorts of potential problems with this, and I know that Trent made lots of reforms to fix problems that came about precisely because of this sort of thing.  But anyway, this last point comes partly from my own experience.  Part of my hopes I end up a Jesuit some day - but among the things stopping me right now, it's not really the celibacy requirement (I don't think I want to get married): it's the loss of freedom and the uprooting of my life.  I'm a Theology teacher in a Catholic high school now; I like it.  I want to keep doing that.  I don't want to uproot my life.  Now, if someone offered to ordain me, I'm not sure I'd want it, but there must be lots of other guys in my situation who would be willing to be ordained, so that they could say Mass when called for.

Is this making any sense?
Liam Richardson
6 years 1 month ago
Talk of a council is grandiose and premature. 

Catholics hardly talk to one another if they are not proximate by location or ideology. Reform cannot be imposed from above via a council; it must flow from the messier work of below.

The ordination of women is an issue that can only be considered in the context of an ecumenical council involving the Orthodox and Oriental Churches; for the Roman Church to take that up unilaterally (other than to say the issue is one that requires such a larger council) would doom ecumenism with them.

However, there is nothing doctrinal involved with changing governance structures towards more locally based nomination, election and disciplining of bishops. And the insertion of chance (choice by lot) in more levels of the process, too. 
KEN LOVASIK
6 years 1 month ago
The distinction in the Eastern Church, Brendan, between celibate and married priests is not a distinction between full-time and part-time.  Most married priests in the Eastern Churches - both Orthodox and Uniate - are full-time.  There is an old tradition that only celibates can be bishops ... except the apostles and the leaders of the early Church.
Linda, you have a very valid point about a married vs. celibate clergy.  I have been on both sides - as a celibate priest and now as a married man - and the sacrificial love involved in married love far surpasses any 'sacrifice' I made as a celibate priest.  Most celibate priests live a life far removed from the challenges and sacrifices faced by most parishoners. 
Brendan McGrath
6 years 1 month ago
Ken - Yes, I knew that the distinction in the Eastern Church wasn't about full-time or part-time; I was just saying that any bishops here would only come from the "full-time" priests - and also, that perhaps only celibate priests would be able to be "full-time," if that were either a necessary compromise or something desired.

Steve - Yes, I see what you mean... it really is more of a wish-list.   By the way, you wrote that my ideas might come from "a sense that something is missing for you in today's church," but actually, that's not quite it: for me personally (I'm 29, by the way), I don't really feel that anything's missing, in the senes that I'm spiritually unfulfilled or whatever - it's more that I know something is missing for others or making others alienated, and I want to keep others from leaving the Church.  Although I suppose the issue of Catholic schools is something I care about "for myself" as much as "for others." 

To kind of explain what I mean more: when I hear a bishop say something negative about homosexuality, for example, I mean, it bothers me because it's sad, but I'm much more bothered by the fact that it's going to alienate others, particularly of my generation.  In some ways I fear it's almost cold on my part, because basically, I care more about the Church than LGBT causes.  Or rather, to put it another way, I care about LGBT causes, and I care (much more) about the Church - and I get frustrated and annoyed when either LGBT groups/people or the Church attacks the other.  This leads to odd paradoxes:  e.g., I'm eager to see more tolerance and kindness towards LGBT people, and at the same time, the growing tolerance and kindness worries me, so to speak, to the extent that it might either be the result or the cause of increasing alienation from Catholicism.

Incidentally, a similar dynamic played out for me in the 2004 election.  I voted for Kerry, but I wanted Bush to win - because if Bush won, it meant (possibly) that people were trending more to religion, to Catholic things, etc.  I'm odd.
6 years 1 month ago
Ed,

You missed the point.  You live in an age where you can read the Pope's homilies, letters, speeches, encyclicals and other writings almost within 24 hours of publication.  Zenit.org is just one site where you can access this info.  You can easily see that this call for a new council is way, way out there if you only would read the first hand writting rather than this stale stuff that America Magazine keeps recycling you.
Thomas Rooney
6 years 1 month ago
I'm on the fence as far as the idea of a new Council.

I personally think more time is needed for the Church as a whole to digest the implications of the Second Vatican Council.  Yes it's been 50 years, and with the advent of electronic media, all the documents are available to any who'd care to look; the internet is saturated with it.  The information is there...has there been enough reflection on what has occured since? 

But there are so many factions, so much disagreement, so much ill will between members of our Body; from a realistic standpoint, could anything cohesive be put together as far as an agenda of this Council?  What issues are on the table? What disciplines will be put under the microscope? 

I simply can't fathom that any of the current "hard-liners" from either wing...the Latin Mass, celibate male-clergy only traditionalists vs. the celibate optional both-gender clergy progressives...daring to even contemplate conceding or comprimising any of their positions. 

So my quesiton is this:  What really is there to talk about, what would the subjects be, and who'd be doing the talking...from a realistic point of view?
Anne Chapman
6 years 1 month ago
Thomas has pinpointed the problem. What would a new Council actually be able to do?  And what are the odds of the current pope even calling one?  After all, the promise of Vatican II, especially the validation of the sensus fidelium and a return to more collegiality, were gutted by the last two popes, and even by Paul VI (Humanae Vitae).  A new council, packed with conservative bishops and cardinals appointed during the last 30+ years by John Paul II and Benedict would have neither the vision nor the will to change the status quo that so benefits them personally in terms of some worldly attractions - the power, prestige and possessions they all enjoy.  With the exception of O'Malley in Boston, as someone noted somewhere, there is no rush to have bishops give up their perqs - the limousines, fine wine cellars, etc nor to sell off bishops' mansions, filled with valuable antiques, persian rugs, and original art, in order to avoid closing an inner city Catholic school. The hierarchy comes first - and, it sometimes seems that the gospels come last. 

John Paul II worked very hard to consolidate power in the papacy (perhaps explaining the otherwise unexplainable admiration he had for Pius IX - they shared a belief that the pope is the church (Pius IX)), and Benedict has no interest in changing this either, it seems.  The sex abuse scandal is ample evidence that the bishops knew where their bread was buttered - in absolute, unquestioning loyalty to the papacy -  both of these popes seemed to feel that THE church resides in the clergy, especially the hierarchy (maybe harkening back to Ignatius of Antioch, who literally said that there is no church without the bishop - one of the many dangers of relying excessively on the views of the ancients.)  It seems that THE church, in their minds, does not include the 1.1 billion or so nominal lay Catholics (often called the ''simple faithful'' by these men who do not even grasp that this is an insult). And so the bishops dutifully kept silent about the criminal priests in their ranks; they allowed tens of thousands of children and young teens to be molested in the most sick ways by their priests - apparently believing that in doing so they were meeting the expectation of their boss in Rome that the institution would always come first in their minds.

No, a new council would probably be a waste of time and money and energy given the reality of the state of the hierarchy and papacy in the current era.  They are rushing back as fast as they can to the midaevil church - ''reforming the reform'' of Vatican II before it even barely got started.  This good bishop emeritus knows what the church needs, but I'm sure he also knows that it is not going to happen any time soon. Interesting how so few of the bishops speak out until after they have retired. - Given what happened to the bishop in Australia, their fears of punishment for speaking out are obviously justified. Although the pope not only does not remove bishops who hid the crimes of their priests and stonewalled the civil judicial system and parents (at times lying, calling it ''mental reservation''), in fact, often rewarding them in Rome when their domestic pots start boiling a bit too hard (as in Boston), he wastes no time at all getting rid of a bishop who said that it's time to talk about some of the things this Brazilian bishops mentions   No, the rape of kids by priests is of little concern to the pope - but the mere mention of optional celibacy, and worse - the extending of a sacrament to women - is enough for a bishop to be forced to resign. 
Jim McCrea
6 years 1 month ago
 Brendan's #8 says:  " -a sort of variation on "married priests"

How about simply truly becoming a universal church that we crow that we are rather than a eurocentric church?  We already have many rites (and now the Orneryariate is a'comin') with married priests.  Maybe the Latin rite could actually learn (yes, I know THAT is a shocking idea!) something from them.

What is so insecure about Latin rites males that they can't walk and chew gum at the same time?  
Jim McCrea
6 years 1 month ago
"I simply can't fathom that any of the current "hard-liners" from either wing...the Latin Mass, celibate male-clergy only traditionalists vs. the celibate optional both-gender clergy progressives...daring to even contemplate conceding or comprimising any of their positions."

Then let's acknowledge reality rathan than the myth that uniformity = unity and establish 2 rites within the Latin church.

The sign of intelligence is to see what is rather than what you want it to be.
ed gleason
6 years 1 month ago
For me at least, Anne Chapman, aptly summarizes the present and near future of the Church we live with. Hope for change seems distant even with a new conclave, and as Anne says, the 'voters' have already been named and their positions are hard wired. .  So, how than do we as laity live a sacramental life with integrity within this flawed structure? I have chosen the Church of The Margins. A sacramental life that distances as much as possible from the hierarchal structure . I find that order parishes [non-diocesan] with Vatican II pastors  have already taken steps backward from diocesan structures/control/stance. These and Newman centers, monasteries , convent masses etc are survival islands. America, Commonweal NCR etc. are also links to survival. I am trying to make up my mind on seeing the real purpose behind  the constant barrage of negative blog comments by the usual trolls in the above publications. Even  the more conservative blogs, e.g. Deacons Bench, the Anchoress have suspended comments because of negative Trad. comments.   Are these assaults on life lines and survival islands a 'purification' strategy for a small/purer church?  Is there a hidden purpose or just the usual blurting out?. Haven't yet made up my mind on this even though this tactic is more apparent in the activism of the Tea Party political strategy. Marginaize/eliminate even your allies who are seen as too weak. .   
6 years 1 month ago
The usual divide with the usual voices in a divided Church (probably badly in need of a Council) as numbers slip away.
I must say that speaking of John allen as a"prophetic voice" struck me as laugha
Anne Chapman
6 years 1 month ago
John Allen a prophetic voice? LOL! John Allen seems more a cheerleader for Rome than an objective journalist - perhaps they should simply put him on the payroll to do public realtions. I don't know why NCR keeps him, but, perhaps in the interests of keeping readers informed of the amazing twists and turns that defy logical thinking that characterize the minds of too many in Rome, they let him stay on.

The problem is, Brett, is that many of these changes are not positive changes - for the church in the long run, or for society now. You are asking people like me to embrace change that symbolizes a continuance of structures that support immorality and injustice.  The world could use a strong moral voice - unfortunately, the Catholic church's accelerating backward-looking stance simply makes it less and less relevant to the vast majority of those who live in the real world.  In country after country - countries that are traditionally Catholic - the church's voice is being ignored.  People tune out those who are living in a different reality - a different world and a different century. It seems that these men who so savor living in the last absolute monarchy in the world have little to offer those who understand that this is the 21st century, not the 16th. So even when maybe it does have a message that is worth listening to, most people have learned not to pay attention to what Rome or the bishops have to say.  Their little world is as relevant as is the world of the British royals - good for a great spectacle, but otherwise, of little interest. The church is reaching the point where it may soon be talking only to itself and to those relatively few eager young people who idealize and romanticize a church and a past they never knew, so eager to turn over their minds and consciences to others to form so that they can simply obey without having to question, and enjoy the excitement of a rock concert combinged with the lovely theatre of the church's traditions and rituals. Sure, lots of people will still go to mass on Sunday, have their kids baptized etc, but they will also continue to tune out Rome and the chanceries - their Catholic world is their parish and they are cultural Catholics who pay little attention to the church beyond their neighborhood and family.

 You ask us to embrace something you call ''change''. I could no more embrace these changes than I could embrace a return to the world of the Dred Scott decision, the America that existed before the 19th amendment to the constitution and Brown v. Board of Education. But, America keeps learning as a nation, often through its errors. Those in Rome do not want to learn - they simply want to hold on tight to the past, never learning, never moving forward.
ed gleason
6 years 1 month ago
Maria, would not the vast majority of Catholic Christians in ages past,  from 1900 back have very little knowledge or care about the Vicar, whether he was dead or alive, what he said or what he looked like.?  ultramontane and ultra mare was the ages past deal.
The real deal is the Gospel, sacramental life and communio with those with you in life.
6 years 1 month ago
Ed: Christ and His Church cannot be separated from the Bishop of Rome. Sorry :)
ed gleason
6 years 1 month ago
Maria Some of the Vicars condemned democratic government rule and I bet you're still here. sorry (-:
Juan Lino
6 years 1 month ago
Mary (#21) - I’d like to know what you mean by the phrase “Cafeteria Catholic” because I don’t want to presume that we understand that phrase in the same way.  I wrote a reply to you but then thought that I’d better ask before posting it.
 
Anne (#40) - I agree that we, the entire Body of Christ, are followers of Christ, first and foremost!  
 
But you then wrote: “The litmus test for all followers of Christ is their loyalty to God and the gospel of Jesus...”  Why did you phrase it that way?  
 
I am asking for several reasons: 1) Isn’t loyalty to Christ the same as loyalty to God?  2) I am not loyal to the “gospel” of Jesus, I am loyal to the “person” of Jesus - the living resurrected person of Jesus - and that’s who I follow.  The question is, where is He?
 
Yes, some canonized saints were considered “dissenters” in their day - no argument there.  But, I am not sure they dissented on doctrine or dogma, although I can’t affirm that with certainty because I have not read the life of every canonized saint. ; )
 
Ed (#41) - I believe that “clericalism” (a defined in the book 'To Hunt, to Shoot, To Entertain" by Russell Shaw) is bad but I do not believe that is the case with being an Ultramontane (and I am using the word as it was used before the Reformation) is necessarily bad. 
Anne Chapman
6 years 1 month ago
Maria, you can of course choose to give your highest loyalty and absolute obedience to whomever you wish, including a human being.  I choose to give mine to God first, and judge the words and actions of men who claim to teach us ''Truth''  by how well they seem to reflect what Jesus taught as told to us in the gospels.  Many popes in Catholic history have failed miserably on that score, unfortunately, so to give any human being who happens to be pope absolute and unquestioning loyalty and obedience could actually put one's soul in danger.

Juan, to clarify - loyalty to Jesus is loyalty to God and also means ''loyalty'' to what Jesus taught as recorded in the gospels. I'm not quite clear on what you're trying to say in differentiating between loyalty to Jesus/God and loyalty to the person of Jesus. ?? Are you a born-again Christian? Jesus taught with words, and of course Jesus taught without words. I suppose you could say loyalty to God/Jesus, expressed by trying to live as closely as possible (for we weak and sinful human beings) to what he taught as recorded in the gospels, instead of ''loyalty to the gospels.'  Otherwise loyalty to the person of God/Jesus has little meaning. But, in thinking about your comment, I guess I actually prefer to say that my loyalty is to God rather than to ''the person of Jesus'' because that describes the more all-encompassing reality. 

Determining whether historic dissenters and heretics violated doctrine or dogma is a somewhat complex, and perhaps impossible, task.  Despite what the church likes to say, doctrine has changed many times throughout the centuries, as has dogma. I realized some years ago that trying to pin down the ''must believe to be Catholic'' doctrines and dogmas is a tricky task. I have asked many priests, including some whose job is supposed to be teaching Catholics about the Catholic faith.  I have asked priests who are college professors. I have asked ordinary parish priests. I have read lots of books.  And the almost universal answer is that it's not really possible to define a list of ''must believes'' beyond the statements of the creed, and even those are subject to intepretation in the light of an additional 1600 years of human history. There was no dogma about the trinity in the early church, for example, nor one on Christ's divine nature. The church did not have seven sacraments for most of its history. The idea of transubstantiation came along quite late, not even mentioned according to some histories until the 12th century, and eally defined much later. Then it became ''dogma''. Etc. So much dogma was fought over endlessly for centuries and then settled, ironically, by a variation of a basic democratic tool - a vote!  (Yet democracy was condemned by some popes of not too long ago who found it was seriously cutting into their temporal power - so that particcular notion of an angry pope became ''doctrine''!)  And even though basic dogma (the creed) was more or less decided by the end of the 4th century (if we overlook some disputes that continued to divide, such as the yet unsettled disagreements on the filioque clause), doctrine is really hard to pin down. At one time it was doctrine that slavery was moral and ''in accord with natural law.''  At one time it was doctrine that democracy was evil, as mentioned earlier.  Bishops in the USA condemned co-education in public schools as being seriously sinful (until they started having coeducation in their own schools, of course! Then they prayed for enough time to pass that people would forget that particular bit of hierarachical lunacy) You get the idea. 

Newman's writings caused him to be fired from his job as editor of England's leading official Catholic journal (The Rambler) by the English bishops (much as Reese was forced out as editor of America by Benedict's edict, actually.), and investigated by Rome for years and years because his ideas contradicted then-current doctrine - in particular his essay ''''On Consulting the Faithful on Matters of Doctrine'' and his insistence that the Holy Spirit speaks throug the whole church - the sensus fidelium. I suppose that the bishop's assistant who was recently in the news would have included Newman in his categorical judgment of theologians being a ''curse.''  For some in the church, independent thinking/thinkers are indeed a curse - they don't actually like the ''simple faithful'' to use their God-given minds and consciences.
Anne Chapman
6 years 1 month ago
Brett, you have every right to hold your own opinion, but I have an equal right to mine. My statement about the church's injustices to women is not hyperbole - that is your opinion, it is not fact. You may think my opinion is not fact. That's fine, but to automatically assume that the statement is hyperbole shows a lack of thought and reflection. This forum is not the place for me to explain how I came to my conclusions - it would take pages and pages.  However, to me it is every bit as unjust to deny a sacrament to women based on physical makeup as it was to deny the vote and to deny equal education and to deny equal employment opportunities and to deny equal housing opportunities to black Americans based on their specific physical attributes.  ''Separate but equal'' was not equal - it was a dodge, a lie. The clever little dodge, ''theological impossibility'' is the same thing.

Calling this a ''theological impossibility'' indicates that you are actually not really familiar with what theologians have said about this - including the theological commission that the Vatican set up 40 or so years ago that concluded that there is no theological reason to deny a sacrament to women. That particular conclusion was shelved because it did not support what the men who commissioned the study wanted. They did not request the study in an honest search for truth - they simply wanted an ''outside'' theological opinion that they were ''right.''  But the theologians did not come up with this conclusion and so the men in Rome ignored them, just as they ignored the overwhelming recommendation of the birth control commission because it did not support the status quo. The men in the Curia and the pope were looking for a piece of paper to justify their decisions. When honest theologians and bishops came up with different conclusions, these studies and reports were simply tossed. Trying to blame Jesus/God for the unjust actions of men is called ''passing the buck.''  God is just. Human beings very often are not.
6 years 1 month ago
Despite what the church likes to say, doctrine has changed many times throughout the centuries, as has dogma.

Anne: Dogma, as in divine revelation, for e.g,, the Incarnation and the Assumption are revealed truths. These truths do not change over time.
6 years 1 month ago
Anne: The Holy Trinity is, again, divine revelation, and Christ HIMSELF revealed this mystery. He told us He was sent from the Father. HE told us HE would send the Holy Spriit to us. We believe these things, in faith.
KEN LOVASIK
6 years 1 month ago
Brett,
When I was a kid, my mother used to say, tongue in cheek, to my brother and me, "I may not always be right, but I am never wrong!"  When I read your posts - on this topic and previous ones - I think of that saying.  You may not always be right, Brett, but you are never wrong!  Only those who dare to hold a different opinion than you do are wrong.  And you let them know it no uncertain terms. You certainly have every right to have your opinions and to express them, but so do others.  Do you think you might be able to disagree amicably?  You come across, when you disagree, as putting down those with whom you disagree ... and then expressing your opinion as the 'last word' on the topic.  When you do that you are being offensive to others.  Please show a little more 'tolerance' to those of us who don't know as much as you.
Anne Chapman
6 years 1 month ago
Brett, you continue to read into my posts things that are not there. You make assumptions without understanding what others are saying and then you proceed to judge them on the false assumptions that you have made. You confuse ideas. And really, perhaps it's generational. but the phrase "loyalty to the person of Jesus" sounds like "youth-speak." There is nothing wrong with Juan using that phrase, but I'm not totally clear on exactly what he means by it. How does "loyalty to the person of Jesus" differ from loyalty to God? Can one be loyal "to the person of Jesus" without being loyal to God? 

And so I am puzzled by your objection to my statement that I prefer to say that I give my loyalty to God - after all, do you not believe that Jesus the Christ is God and is part of the Trinity?  I use the term God because some people might jump to wrong conclusions that if I give my first loyalty to "the person of Jesus" that I am denying God the Father and the God the Holy Spirit. Using the word "God" encompasses the whole Trinity and is not limited to one person of the Trinity. And yet you object?  Why?

As I said earlier, discussion between us is not possible and is not particularly edifying for other posters and readers here. Even though we both speak American English, we speak different languages. 
Stephen SCHEWE
6 years 1 month ago
I've suggested to the editor he add a version of Godwin's Law to the comments policy; when you accuse someone of heresy, the argument is over, and you lose.
Juan Lino
6 years 1 month ago
Oops - my sentence should read: Regarding what you said about theologians…well, the only thing I will say is that I do see that some people seem to believe that "theologian's assertions" carry the same weight as "the Magisterium".

Bad proofreading leads to corrections!
Anne Chapman
6 years 1 month ago
Brett, you can conclude anything you want to conclude.  As I said in another post, this forum is not suited to lengthy, in-depth discussions of why each of us has embraced our personal beliefs. Mine have changed, evolved throughout my life.  I do not believe as I believed when I was a child. I do not believe as I believed when I was a  young adult. I do not believe as I believed when I was 45.  I am now in my early 60s. I would be surprised to look back in 20 years (if I'm still here!) and believe exactly as I believe now. I hope not anyway. If I do, it might  indicate that I am dead - at least spiritually and intellectually. 
6 years 1 month ago
Another Council? Why? Look at what the revisionist spirit of fear is doing to Vatican II. “dismantling it” according to Kevin Dowling, C.Ss.R, Catholic Bishop of Rostenburg, South Africa. The gentle coo of the Spirit Dove in the ear of Good Pope John XXIII, has become the discordant moan of the mortally wounded promise of “aggiornamento” heralded by Good Pope John.  Now it seems to me that the arm of the Church is no longer lifted in universal outreach, getting weighed down instead by the maniple mentality of Latin structures and Tridentine rigidity with its smells, bells and praying in a foreign tongue to an unknown God!
Certainly mistakes in implementation relative to the reforms of Vatican II were made, but surely, one does not have to “undo” the whole  Council so as to “redo” its flaws, threatening the   integrity of the  presence of the Holy Spirit therein, which I was led to believe guided the Council’s Fathers. Now the Council’s Fathers are being made to look like a group of ecclesiastical  know-nothings! And so much more.
Authentic Christianity best discovered in the Creedal proclamations of the Catholic Church and its Catechism (not to be confused with ambition-driven Vatican bureaucracy et al) is counter-cultural and must ever be so The spirit of Christ has nothing in common with the spirit of the world. The Decrees of Vatican II laboriously said this valiantly preserving the integrity of Catholic teaching and Faith. Could, or would another Council do any better? I don’t see how!
With a dammed if you do and dammed if you don’t trick question, the Prosecutor at the trial of St. Joan of Arc asked her, “Joan, are you in the State of Grace?” No one knows for sure if they are - only God knows. Joan answered, “If I am may God keep me there and if I am not, may God put me there!”  I use similar logic to say regarding my expressed opinions, “If I am correct may God keep me there and if I am not correct, may God put me there.” I am torn! The Church is convulsed enough - I have no taste to increase its “spiritual acid reflux” by rebellious behavior! May Solomon’s request for Wisdom be the Church’s trusted route!
  
Juan Lino
6 years 1 month ago
Liam Richardson
6 years 1 month ago
Just remember ever-present congnitive blindspots like confirmation bias: if you are focused on fearing and finding error, you will tend to find error. The more homespun way to say this neurological observation is that, if you are a hammer, everything will tend to look like a nail.
Bill Taylor
6 years 1 month ago
Two comments.  First, I was in a prayer-group with Protestant ministers for years.  As a priest, I could not in honesty say I worked harder than they did...and as a celibate priest, I cannot say I was any holier than they were.   One of the problems we have as Catholics is we look for answers only with, in, and among ourselves.    Can anybody describe, in detail, how other churches are facing and resolving the problems that have us agains the wall?

Second, people say that Vatican II "caused" so many problems.  Right now, I am doing some research reading that shows that many of those problems were caused by movements in the larger world.  For instance, our agony about family.  Nothing, nobody, anywhere did as much to family as the capitalist system itself.   It took people away from the farm, where the traditional values were, and into the anonymous cities.  It forced families to move back and forth for work... forced both husband and wife to work longer and longer hours...and now, it is forcing more and more families into poverty.   This was not the work of liberals.    
 
I truly look forward to another Council.  The current crop of conservatives, having triumphantly carried us back into the fifties, would never think of such a thing,  but the Holy Spirit might have another Good Pope John up her sleeve. 
Anne Chapman
6 years 1 month ago
Maria, do you believe that the Holy Spirit acts and speaks through the laity? 
Juan Lino
6 years 1 month ago
Anne – have you read the late Cardinal Avery Dulles’ book “Magisterium”?  I highly recommend it.  It’s available through Ignatius Press.
 
Michael (#69) – You wrote: “There are legitimate philosophical and theological reasons, consistent with the Catholic religion, to disagree with some teachings, and remain a faithful Catholic.”  On the surface, it would seem that you are asserting something that I could agree with, but, I can’t say that at this point because I need to understand how you define the words “legitimate”, “consistent”, and “faithful.” 
 
The problem, it seems to me, is what is the criterion one uses for judgment.  So, while it is vital to define how we are each using the words we are using, let me give you a concrete personal example regarding pelvic acts because you bring up pelvic acts in your third paragraph. 
 
I am a man and I am attracted to men.  I claim to follow Christ and I use my freedom to adhere to what He has revealed to us though His Church.  And His Church teaches that it would be a sin for me (or anyone else) to engage in homosexual acts.  Now some friends I know argue, from a variety of what they consider legitimate philosophical and theological reasons, that the Church is wrong and that I should disregard that teaching.  Well, should I?
 
Now some answer, “follow your conscience” (in the confessional and out) as if conscience was an infallible “oracle” that one can use to erase the teachings of Christ.  Others answer, “well everyone has a Cross and they must pick it up every day and follow Christ”.  I ask, “which response takes into account, as a criterion of judgment, the totality of what Christ has revealed to us through His body.” 
 
In one of my earlier comments I asked: “I do want to posit a question though – not to start another battle – but out of a sincere desire to know.  I see the Catechism (and the Compendium and YouCat) as wonderful gifts from the Holy Spirit to clear up the confusion in which we find ourselves but few seem to see those gifts as a point of unity (i.e., a possible solution) that all Catholic Christians can rally around. I’d like to know why that is?”
 
I guess that’s a question that my fellow bloggers are not interested in answering, and I can’t understand why.  Yes, arguing about styles of thought is fun but we seem to disregard the importance of the virtue of obedience (and I am using it in the Benedictine sense).
 
I’ll end with a quote from an early article - Loyalty and Dissent: After Vatican II - that the Late Cardinal Dulles wrote: On the other hand, there are limits to the amount of dissent that the church, consistently with its nature, can admit. Innovators will have to make it clear— as not all of them do — that they are profoundly committed to the church they wish to reform. Their dissent must be modest, loyal, kind and constructive; otherwise it would not even be Christian. The dissenter must admit his own fallibility and the overriding claims of God’s revelation as it comes to expression, in a variety of styles, within the whole body of the church.
 
Juan Lino
6 years 1 month ago
If I am reading what you wrote correctly in #74 Anne, you are asserting that the CCC is NOT the work of the Holy Spirit because the “men” (i.e., the bishops and their advisors in the world that reviewed the document thoughout the many years it took to compile) who put it together are trying to return the Church to a pre-Vatican II mindset – is that right?
 
Well, can’t I equally assert that the Holy Spirit is NOT with those “men” (whether laity or not) and “women” (whether laity or not) that believe in a “hermeneutic of rupture” - which I am defining as “the broad principle of interpretation which dismisses tradition and opts instead for the latest ideas, as if by the very fact of coming later in time, these ideas must be superior.”  
 
And I assert what I assert based on my experience. 
 
That therefore leads to the question, how does one determine that the Holy Spirit is present in the Church?  Is His presence (the one Christ promised) an objective fact promised by an Other or is it a subjective determination that you and I make based on whatever criterion we favor at the moment?
Anne Chapman
6 years 1 month ago
Maria, thank you for your kind thoughts. However, your concerns about my ''problems'' are misplaced, so don't overworry it. We do agree on one thing, and that is the importance of the heart in our relationship with God - as the fox told the little prince - it is only with the heart that one can see rightly - what is essential is invisible to the eye!

Michael, I would also like to read your paper - could you also send it to me? I haven't checked email for a couple of weeks because I actually have a lot to do right now (family and work obligations) and have spent so much time on America the last few days that I am getting nothing else done. But, this weekend I will read (and I know there is email from you too, Juan)

Steve, thank you for sharing your exerience and insights. You are familiar with a number of situations that I am not (Vox Clara for example).  One thing that has intriqued me about the ''decline'' of the church after Vatican II is that is was pretty mild (in terms of # of seminarians, # of Catholics who regularly go to mass etc), but accelerated dramatically after John Paul II took over.  It seems that if the backward stance he and Ratzinger initiated was really the ''right'' direction, the ''decline'' would not have grown to the level we see now, 33 years later. You mentioned looking at the fruits - it seems that the fruits produced by the restorationists over the last 3+ decades have not produced a very good harvest. Tens of millions left the church during that same time period. Catholicism is virtually moribund in many European countries (such as France), and in very bad shape in several others, including Spain and especially Ireland. 

The data on the CARA web site tell quite an interesting story.
Thomas Piatak
6 years 1 month ago
Brett,

You are right:  Catholic losses are always discussed in a vacuum.  I inserted a pertinent link in my comment number 22.

Here is another link with a similar story, from just a few days ago:  http://www.ewtn.com/vnews/getstory.asp?number=115065

The bottom line is that liberal Protestant denominations that have democratic (or more democratic) governance, no curia in Rome, married, women, and active homosexual clergy, and no prohibitions on contraception and divorce are losing members more rapidly than the Catholic Church in developed countries and are not growing as fast as the Catholic Church is in the developing world. 
6 years 1 month ago
I am getting tired of reading these old, worn-out views.
ed gleason
6 years 1 month ago
David & Joe , You guys ought to help us get to your positions of everthing in the Church is just ducky.. a positive contribution please..
6 years 1 month ago
Ah so a new council will inevitably allow the Church to adopt radically secular understandings of sexual morality, governance, socio-economic favored positions and an overthrow of those currently "in power" to rise up those currently "not in power" will it? Just because, of course.

Funny, but I always thought the point of Catholicism was holiness of life that is defined by individual believers leaving their sinful ways and habits and taking on the mind and habit of Christ, in communio with all believers who came before rather than jettisoning all those who came before while adopting whatever passes for wisdom and convenience in our current pop culture. Silly me, caring about communio with Christ and Christians of all times rather than popularity and convenience only in my time!

Here's the thing though.... none of the laundry list of hoped for "reforms" show the slightest bit of signs or evidence of helping non-Catholic Christians advance in holiness of life or booming congregations or dramatic improvements in the lot of the poor, marginalized, etc. the world over. Liberation theology has not helped the urban or rural poor escape poverty into the middle class. It has not fundamentally improved their chances of escaping tyranny. Or helped them grow in holiness of life.
Liberal theology justifying secular sexual mores in religious life and lay practice has not produced a flowering of Episcopalians or contracepting Anglicans. Female priestesses have not led to a boom of evangelization to Christianity anywhere but has led many out of Christianity. So if your "reforms" have zero evidence in the real world of doing what the Church exists to do... why place hope in a council of bishops assembling at the call of a Pope to advance such ideas overnight?

Or do you think there's no difference between any spirit and the Holy Spirit and hence no discernment required (or prudent) between any idea and the right idea?
6 years 1 month ago
One other comment on the reason for the trends of decline of faith etc.

The author assumes that it is orthodox Catholicism in the liturgy and sexual ethics that accounts for a dearth in religious vocations (as though the orders themselves have nothing to do with it?) or a high Catholic laity involvement in some sexual sin is justification enough to change the teaching (as though adultery or serial sex abuse would, if sufficiently practiced by the "unfaithful" necessarily lead the Church to do a 180 and say "oh yeah, it's OK now, go for it"??

Please explain why the Church or any group ought to radically alter their self-understanding and rules on these premises.

More than half the citizens in most US states don't vote. Does this mean the very system of electing representatives ought to be dropped....or does it mean we ought to do a better job getting out the vote?

Take the widespread evil (I'm told) of "patriarchy" whereby untold hundreds of millions of men regularly repress and oppress women. If contraception on the part of Catholic women is taken as evidence of "the Holy Spirit guiding the Church in truth" then why isn't the widespread practice of patriarchy not a similar "obvious" sign of the times and eternal command of God?

In other words, if democracy or sheer numbers of adherants' doing something at odds with any official teaching is reason enough for any group to change the teaching.... why doesn't this work both ways?

I'd hazard a guess that it's because most people agree that some things ought not be left to majority opinion or vote because some times or most of the times the mob or majority can't be trusted to get it right. But how do we know unless there is some authority that exists apart from democracy on which we can judge the demos?
And that gets us back to the Catholic understanding of authority vested in the Magisterium of the Pope and bishops in union with him and not in whatever happens to be popular or common among any given population.


6 years 1 month ago
Ed,

I would suggest that you check out www.zenit.org to read what the Pope is saying daily.  If you follow him you will quickly see that there won't be a Vatican III anytime soon.

"If today you hear His voice, harden not your hearts"
Jim Brunner
6 years 1 month ago
I agree that it's probably time for another council. I do notice that the article mentions that it's been a century and a half since the last council. It's been 48 years, since Vatican II and it was roughly 73 years between Vatican I and Vatican II.
Brendan McGrath
6 years 1 month ago
To add a bit more to my previous post - I know that what I was suggesting in number 8 on my list is not ideal.  It goes against the idea that a person gives up his (her?) life to become a priest; it's a calling that radically changes everything; etc.  But does it necessarily have to be that way?  Could there be two categories made (I'm not sure what the terms woud be), perhaps something like the different "grades" or whatever of exorcist, acolyte, whatever - i.e., priests who are "full-time ministers" (but let's find a more ancient-sounding name than that) and priests who are "part-time ministers" (again, find a more ancient-sounding name)?

We don't require deacons to sacrifice everything - would it be possible to have a category of priests who aren't called to sacrifice everything either?  But like the East, we would only draw bishops from those who are celibate, who are "full-time" (oh someone please find some Greek- or Latin-derived term for that quickly), etc.?

Stephen SCHEWE
6 years 1 month ago
Brendan, you have interesting ideas that must grow from a sense that something is missing for you in today's church.  I'm not all that familiar with conciliar history, but at least for Vatican II there was a development of liturgical reform and doctrine that started in the 1930s (with people like Virgil Michel) to address the sense that changes were needed; Vatican II didn't jump into being from nothing.  Other councils have reacted to the times (e.g., Trent) by reasserting tradition, but is a council really necessary to do that?  The conservatives are firmly in control and are implementing their program; the only reason for them to convene a council would be to get their approach endorsed by a higher level of teaching authority, and I'm not sure that would address the concerns of those disaffected with or leaving the church.  The current Pope would never convene a council under anything like Jim McCrea's inclusive framework.  So despite the growing pressures and conflicts, it's hard for me to imagine anything happening for at least 50 years. It's significant to me that the cri de coeur above was written by a retired bishop; when there's a groundswell of active bishops around the world saying they can't teach and govern because of the church's internal contradictions, perhaps then.  In the meantime, we can pray for another John XXIII to come along.
Livia Fiordelisi
6 years 1 month ago
Brendan, I like your ideas but question your premise that ordained priests are called to a greater sacrifice. I firmly believe that being a faithful spouse and responsible parent is also a total sacrifice in its own way, and can be a greater sacrifice depending on how the commitment is lived out. Celibacy and obedience can degenerate into selfishness and unhealthy dependency.
Thomas Piatak
6 years 1 month ago
Here is what happens to a church that enacts all the liberal reforms-democratic governance, no curia in Rome, women priests, active homosexual priests, approval of contraception and divorce:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/8626410/Church-of-England-faces-being-wiped-out-report-warns.html

Leaving aside the debate over what has happened in the Catholic Church since Vatican II, don't Catholic progressives realize that liberal Protestantism is in decline everywhere?  (And that the forms of Christianity that are growing in the Third World tend to take the Bible literally and focus on individual salvation, not social justice?)  Why would they want to make the Church more like the liberal Protestant denominations that are dwindling?
KEN LOVASIK
6 years 1 month ago
Amen, Anne, Amen!
Michael Barberi
6 years 1 month ago
I am not naive or idealogically minded to believe that an ephiphany will happen ipso facto if  another Council is convened, but I would like to offer some postive reflections.

1. We all know how divided the Church is today over many issues ranging form negative injunctions concerning conjugal love to an outdated and dysfunctional ecclesiology. However, there are many traditionalist and revisionist theologians that have offered solutions. If we give up on the Spirit of God to lead us to the truth, because of entrenched positions, a centralization of power and authority that only listens to itself, then we may as well start a new Church or join another one. I am not ready to give up and think many of you feel the same way. Instead of offering up all the barriers to reform, why not work and support all appropriate efforts for reform. Consider the following.

Many of us believe that there are two camps within the Church, Rome and those that support Rome, and everyone else. Each side remains intransigent. There is some truth in this statement, however, many prominent theologians and bishops have offered solutions but they need a big push my the laity.

> In an essay written in 1986 entitled "How To Deal with Theological Dissent", Germain Grisez, a most orthodox traditionalist, suggested a new Magisterial Process in order to achieve solidarity. Grisez recommended that a special Synod of Bishops be convened with defined objectives and effective procedures including a plenary session that the pope would convene if one judgment is not reached in discerning the truth. I encourage all to read Grisez's article. What I would add to Grisez's suggestions is that the laity be involved in such a Synod of Bishops and some additionals procedures concering debate. Nothing ever came of these suggestions, because there was no process for the faithful to be involved, nor was there enough theologians and bishops behing this suggestion. I fault JP2 of that.  Nevertheless, we must not give up because the voices of reform are more powerful and determined today than ever before. Read on.

> In 2006, James Keenan, S.J. of Boston College, started a cross-cultural conference of Roman Catholic Ethicists to help bridge the divide within the theological community over our most pressing issues inclusive of Church teachings. This World-wide Congress of R.C. Ethicists meets every 4 years, and has met twice in 2006 and 2010. A few Cardinals and influencial Bishops are always invited. Some have complained that this effort is too timid and not critical enough. However, all believe the direction is positive and will bear fruit.

If we are to expect reform, we need dialog and debate involving an appropriate cross-section of the laity, theologians, bishops, the pope and the Roman Curia. If a special Council or Snod of Bishops are convened, it must have clear and agree-upon objectives, a process that is rigorous, open and inclusive, and where poliitical agendas are realistically minimized. This may not happen in our lifetime. However, the article by Tim Reidy points us in the right direction.

I don't have an answer to these issues, but giving up is not an option, nor is repeative rhetoric without collective action. Our backs are to the wall with only one way out. Perhaps that is what we need. What we need is positive ideas and solutions, not more complaints.
Anne Chapman
6 years 1 month ago
Oh, Brett. LOL! Again you misunderstand me, attribute to me statements I did not actually make, and then judge me on those statements that I didn't actually make. You did not ask what I mean by my use of the words''injustice and immorality'' today, right? I was not talking about a return to the church's tradition-based support of slavery as being ''moral and in accord with natural law.'' I think even those currently defining teachings in the church would have more sense than to try to revive that particular ''traditional'' teaching of the church. They kept that one up for almost 2000 years,  though, so I guess it's not reasonable to hope that they will give up their ''tradition'' of injustice towards women without a fight to the death. Perhaps your assumptions are simply a matter of, hmmm, hyperbole? You assume things about what I write, and then you assume things about me based on when I was born. But really, what you are doing is simply using my post as a launching pad for you to restate your views, including your apparently visceral dislike of Vatican II and the ''Vatican II generation.'' Since you have made your blanket judgments already, and have assured us most sincerely that your generation has all the answers, there is really no need to continue to even try to talk, is there?  Peace!


Michael B, while all that you say is valid and of great interest to laity, and perhaps to many priests at the lower levels of the church's career ladder (and to theologians - that much maligned class in the church these days) it is doubtful that these proposals would be of any interest to the men in charge. How is it to happen in the real world of this particular church in this particular time in history? Those in the hierarchy who make all the rules and define all the teachings in the absence of the sensus fidelium, have clearly shown that they have no interest whatsoever in learning from the insights and spiritual understanding of the laity - no matter how many positive ideas or solutions might be found there.  They honor Newman, but only because they like trumpeting the fact that this famous Anglican priest became a Roman Catholic priest - but they ignore the wisdom found in his ideas and writings, especially on the sensus fidelium and conscience.

Openness and inclusiveness are not hallmarks of the Roman church.  John XXIII tried at least a bit to do this - but after his death, the church simply retreated to its old ways.  Many commentators have observed that it is unlikely that the Curia will ever again let a Roncalli assume the papacy - they made a mistake once and they will redouble efforts in future conclaves to make sure it doesn't happen again.

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