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toward a vibrant, inclusive faith-community

By Diogenes (articles ) | Jan 17, 2004

STATISTICIANS for the Church of England have recorded another across-the-board drop in attendance figures. Average weekly attendance at churches and cathedrals dropped by three per cent in 2002. This was on top of a five-per-cent drop from the previous year.

The above from the current Church Times. Collapse on the scale of 3 to 5 percent a year is staggering, and I had to read the story three times to be sure they didn't mean 3 to 5 percent a decade. Incredible.

But not as incredible as those Catholics who maintain that the Church needs to ordain women, permit divorce, impose inclusive language, abandon doctrinal uniformity in general and loosen up on sexual teachings in particular -- who maintain, that is, that the Catholic Church needs to follow the path of Anglicanism.

Suppose the progressives said this: "It's irrelevant whether these changes will harm or help church attendance. This is God's will; we're going ahead with it because it's God's will and the consequences be damned." In this case, in spite of their theological incoherence, we might feel a grudging admiration for the moral earnestness they displayed.

But in fact those Catholics who urge these changes nearly always do so on the grounds that they will revivify the Church. In moments of rhetorical excess, they even suggest such changes are necessary for the Church's survival.

Ecclesiology aside, to hold such opinions in 1964 was comprehensible. To hold them 2004 defies explanation. It's grim to watch a cocky pilot fly his 737 into a mountainside with loss of passengers and crew. But to stand amid the wreckage of the smoking fuselage and insist that our pilot fly exactly the same flight path can only be chalked up to lunacy or malice.

NB: the technical term for Anglican-pioneered changes is "renewal."

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