Card. Dias to Lambeth: “spiritual Alzheimer’s … ecclesial Parkinson’s”

Damian Thompson has an interesting post at Holy Smoke about the continuing Anglican Lambeth hijinx.

My emphases and comments:

Anglicans facing ‘spiritual Alzheimer’s’ says Cardinal at Lambeth

Wednesday, July 23, 2008, 07:01 AM GMT

A senior Vatican Cardinal visiting the Lambeth Conference has delivered an incredible rebuff to its 650 Anglican bishops, telling them they are heading towards "spiritual Alzheimer’s" and "ecclesial Parkinson’s".

The comments by Cardinal Ivan Dias, Prefect of the Congregation for Evangelisation, must count as one of the rudest things a Vatican prelate has said to Anglicans since the dawn of the ecumenical era.

It can mean only one thing: Rome – and therefore the Pope – has given up on the Anglican Communion. [Rather hard to argue with that, really.  When sitting Prefects say something this explosive, they mean business.] Here is the quote, from Cardinal Dias’s address to the conference yesterday evening:

"Much is spoken today of diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. By analogy, their symptoms can, at times, be found even in our own Christian communities. For example, when we live myopically in the fleeting present, oblivious of our past heritage and apostolic traditions, we could well be suffering from spiritual Alzheimer’s. And when we behave in a disorderly manner, going whimsically our own way without any co-ordination with the head or the other members of our community, it could be ecclesial Parkinson’s."  [Whew! - D'ya s'pose he got applause?]

Diaz is one of those Cardinals who favours welcoming traditionalist Anglicans into the Catholic Church. I reckon that liberals will be deeply insulted by his barbs – not least on grounds of political correctness – but that traditionalists will be nodding their heads in agreement.

One thing I’d love to know: did Cardinal Dias clear his speech with Cardinals Kasper and Murphy-O’Connor before he delivered it? Don’t bet on it.

 

You can read the whole text of Card. Diaz’s speech here.

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50 Responses to Card. Dias to Lambeth: “spiritual Alzheimer’s … ecclesial Parkinson’s”

  1. A sad commentary on our shepards: rarely do we hear such poignant words from them on a Sunday.

  2. AJP says:

    ooooh SNAP

    Sad to say, spiritual Alzheimers is not limited to the Anglicans. A good
    number of US Catholic bishops seem to have a smiliar affliction.

  3. David Wallace says:

    This reminds me of St. Jerome’s defense against Vigilantius…or should I say, Dormitantius.

  4. Cardinal Diaz is a good orthodox cardinal. God bless him. I hope other cardinaals
    learn from his example. Come on bishops be a shepherd! Come on priests, be a
    pastor. Do your job! I just wish that the USCCB would stop avoiding salvation.
    There’s only one way to be saved and that’s through Jesus Christ out Lord. The
    only way to salvation. But these days for the sake “political correctness” I’ll be caled
    a bomb terrorist, a fundamentalist or an old basket case. I’ve been called worse
    than that. The Pharisees and Scribes called Jesus the prince of demons.

  5. RJM says:

    While Cardinal Dias’ address to the Anglican bishops was certainly blunt, it seems a bit of a stretch to interpret his words as signaling that Rome has “given up on the Anglican Communion.” Obviously, Rome is being upfront about some of the dangers that it sees in the path that the AC is taking, but it must also be noted that Cardinal Dias’ message recounted some of the ecumenical progress that has been made and that it ended with a word of hope. For instance, in the conclusion to the address, Cardinal Dias said, “In communion with the Blessed Virgin Mary and all the Angels and Saints, I commend this Lambeth Conference to God Almighty, and I pray that, through it, He may shower countless blessings on the Anglican Communion all over the world.” Hardly the words of someone who has “given up” on the Anglican Communion altogether. Again, I agree with Damian Thompson that Rome is taking a hardline approach with the AC these days. Furthermore, the will of the Pope must always remain that the AC would obediently submit to the Holy See and re-enter into full communion with the Catholic Church. Still, I think it’s uncharitable to cast a gloomier picture on the situation than what actually exists.

  6. Christopher Milton says:

    David: Yes! I was just about to say that it sounds like certain cardinal has been reading some St. Jerome!

    A fabulous example that goodness is not always kindness.

  7. Derik Castillo says:

    I suppose these words will be read by all Catholic Bishops all
    around the world. I pray that they will see the danger these
    diseases pose to our Church, and that they act accordingly.

    Derik

  8. Deusdonat says:

    While Cardinal Dias’ address to the Anglican bishops was certainly blunt, it seems a bit of a stretch to interpret his words as signaling that Rome has “given up on the Anglican Communion.

    I agree here. I felt like giving the Cardinal a standing ovation from my computer when I read what he wrote. These Anglicans remind me of the islanders in the Terry Jones (aka Mont Python) movie “Erik the Viking”: as the island sank into the sea, the islanders sat around convincing themselves why this couldn’t be happening until they all drowned. I don’t think rome has necessarily given up on them, but they are giving them a dose of reality that some of them sorely need. As Diaz lobbed his “holy hand-granade” (yes, another MP reference), I can only imagine his intent was to jar the traditionalists into an awakening to their own situation and plight should they not get their thumbs out and do the right thing post haste.

    Let’s see how long it takes them to react.

  9. Cornelius says:

    “Oh foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you?” Cardinal Diaz seems to be following in the footsteps of that always-forthright Apostle to the Gentiles. Bravo!

  10. Angelo says:

    It was reported in the media some time ago that Cardinal Ivan Dias burned incense to a Hindu Deity & was pictured lighting a candle to Ganesh in India.

    I don’t know if he has abjured his action in this event.

    Then, in 2006, he was chosen by Pope Benedict XVI to be Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of the Peoples.

    The incongruity of H.E.’s action as reported above & his Lambeth speech is perplexing to say the least. On one hand, we have a Cardinal pinching incense to an idol and now . . . his Lambeth speech. Really perplexing.

  11. Chironomo says:

    Derik;

    AMEN!! These words could just as easily have been addressed to the USCCB at their latest Synod, or at any gathering of Bishops and Clergy in the Catholic Church. Living ” myopically in the fleeting present, oblivious of our past heritage and apostolic traditions” is not an affliction of the Anglican Communion alone! And behaving “in a disorderly manner, going whimsically our own way without any co-ordination with the head or the other members of our community” applies to many in the Catholic episcopate as well…. perhaps this address was meant to have a wider meaning, something of a warning perhaps?

  12. TJM says:

    Wow, no truer words have been spoken. I’m frankly glad the Cardinal blew the cover off of this gathering of “bishops.” Tom

  13. Nick says:

    Cardinal Dias has apparently progressed since his days of burning incense to Ganesh: http://www.traditioninaction.org/Questions/B054_DiasHinduDeity.shtml

  14. Nick says:

    BTW, the Cardinal is placing a lighted incense stick (not a candle) before the idol.

  15. Angelo says:

    Thank you Nick – - I stand corrected.

    The Cardinal was not pinching incense, then; but placed a
    lighted candle before the idol.

    Nevertheless, a sin against the First Commandment of the
    Decalog.

  16. sanity says:

    The Cardinal wrote, “when we live myopically in the fleeting present, oblivious of our past heritage and apostolic traditions, we could well be suffering from spiritual Alzheimer’s”

    Notice that it is in the first person plural. It seems that this is only directed at those who live this way even in our communion, i.e. the RC Church. Given this it is not such a great rebuke. If it was in the 2nd person then yes.

  17. Angelo says:

    incense stick (not a candle)

  18. Augustinus says:

    Well said, your Eminence. It’s about time someone had the guts to say it as it is.

    I can only imagine the fury at Eccleston Square (the control tower of the England and Wales (Catholic) bishops’ conference. And the Bitter Pill will, no doubt, have a field day in its’ next edition.

  19. Deusdonat says:

    I’m not sure if placing a lit incense stick equals bowing down before idols or worshiping anyone other than God. It would certainly depend on the context. I remember being at a friend’s house once (also Christian) but who had an ornamental incence holder in the shape of a fat sitting buddha. I remember thinking it was pretty amusing and thought it would have been probably seen as sacriligeous to any real Buddhists, having lit incense springing from the loins of r a seated Buddha. Regardless, I certainly don’t think my friend was violating any commandments (other than good taste). So, when Cardinal Dias placed the incense on the stand near the statue, unless he postrated, bowed, or showed any other signs of reverence to that statue, I think it falls under the nebulous region between breakng a commandment and bad taste.

  20. CarpeNoctem says:

    Ooh… there’s is going to be Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s advocacy groups who take offense to these words, I fear… but isn’t that always the case nowadays?

    I think the metaphor is a little shaky also… yes, I think I understand the intent of the Cardinal from the context, but one could say that as a disease, Alzheimers and Parkinson’s bear no personal responsibility of those afflicted. My guess is that this applies in 99+% of all Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s patients, and while I suppose that for those Anglicans unenlightened to the finer theological points of this argument, this may be true. But for those present at the Lambeth Conference, they ARE complicit in the fracture which exists between the Catholic Church and the “Anglican Communion”. It seems that they are responsible for the diseased state of the Anglican Communion… not in an impersonal way as one who has these dreadful neurological disorders, but instead as smokers who get lung cancer and wonder why.

  21. Deusdonat says:

    Ooh… there’s is going to be Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s advocacy groups who take offense to these words, I fear… but isn’t that always the case nowadays?

    LOL, Carpenoctem : ) Not to mention the fact that the Cardinal most likely did not express his feelings in international sign language or at least esperanto.

  22. Susan Peterson says:

    I think all Christians in Rome were asked to do to avoid being martyred was to burn a pinch of incense to a statue or picture of the emperor. This action was taken as acknowledging his divinity. While it is true that the meaning of an act depends on context, I think we ought to shrink from any actions whichy even seem to acknowledge another “divinity” than the Holy Trinity.

    Nevertheless, the cardinal may have done so as merely a friendly and irenic gesture, thinkin g that it meant nothing. He may have thought better of it by now. His speech was certainly incisive and noncompromising. Reading it next to all the Episcopalian blather made me wonder how on earth those true Christians at Lambeth could hear it without thinking…”There is The Church”/.

    Susan Peterson

  23. Mark says:

    It is nice to be reminded sometimes that “Romanitas” is not just a neutered way of conducting diplomacy.

  24. Deusdonat says:

    Susan – While it is true that the meaning of an act depends on context, I think we ought to shrink from any actions whichy even seem to acknowledge another “divinity” than the Holy Trinity.

    Agreed. Absolutely.

    Nevertheless, the cardinal may have done so as merely a friendly and irenic gesture, thinkin g that it meant nothing.

    I have a read hard time believing that the then Bishop Dias meant to pay tribute to a deity in a Hindu pantheon. So, this is probably correct. Still, our previous comments regarding “good taste” and “refraining from such actions” stand, don’t they?

    Reading it next to all the Episcopalian blather made me wonder how on earth those true Christians at Lambeth could hear it without thinking…”There is The Church”/.

    That’s what I thought too. Like I said, he may have been calling out to the real Christians there at Lambeth and saying, “Wake up ya sorry lot! Stop slaggin’ off, and git in the right queue!” Go on then!” And hopefully they will finally be shaken enough to get the hint.

  25. RBrown says:

    It can mean only one thing: Rome – and therefore the Pope – has given up on the Anglican Communion.

    Why did it take so long? The show was over after the Anglicans decided to have women clergy.

  26. Larry says:

    I believe that the Marshall Plan was for rebuilding. This sounds a whole lot more like the Manhattan Project. There may not be a crater at the Conference but there are sure to be some charred egos. Maybe they will wake up like our adversaries did.
    Let’s hope and PRAY!

  27. It can mean only one thing: Rome – and therefore the Pope – has given up on the Anglican Communion

    None Too Soon!

    I have said for years that continued talks with the AC is nothing but a waste of money and time. Every minute spent in meetings with these folks is a minute wasted… It is time that could have been spent offering Masses for the conversion of the Anglicans.

    Anymore, it only gives them legitimacy when they have photo-ops with REAL clergy.

  28. Brian Day says:

    Since someone mentioned the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch :-)

    SECOND BROTHER: And Saint Attila raised the hand grenade up on high, saying,’O Lord, bless this thy hand grenade that with it thou mayest blow thine enemies to tiny bits, in thy mercy.’ And the Lord did grin, and the people did feast upon the lambs and sloths and carp and anchovies and orangutans and breakfast cereals and fruit bats and large chu—

    MAYNARD: Skip a bit, Brother.

    SECOND BROTHER: And the Lord spake, saying, ‘First shalt thou take out the Holy Pin. Then, shalt thou count to three, no more, no less. Three shalt be the number thou shalt count, and the number of the counting shall be three. Four shalt thou not count, nor either count thou two, excepting that thou then proceed to three. Five is right out. Once the number three, being the third number, be reached, then lobbest thou thy Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch towards thy foe, who, being naughty in my sight, shall snuff it.’

    Make sure you read it with a British accent!

  29. David Deavel says:

    “a fabulous example that goodness is not always kindness.”

    Rather, goodness is not always NICENESS.

  30. Kim Poletto says:

    Had to read it twice. At first I thought he was talking about the USCCB and its precursor, NCCB . . . On second thought, maybe he was.

  31. Romulus says:

    I have a read hard time believing that the then Bishop Dias meant to pay tribute to a deity in a Hindu pantheon.

    The Cardinal’s act would seem to fall in the category of Human Respect — the desire to be a good fellow and not rock the boat. That’s more in the Anglican line.

  32. “When we start to sin we lose our memory”

    St. Alphonsus Liguori

  33. cathguy says:

    Clarity… wonderful, clear, forthright, clarity.

    How rare.

    Bravo Your Eminence!

  34. By the way, it is my understanding that Cardinal Dias is charismatic. I am not surprised.

  35. Michael says:

    Augustinus, …Eccleston Square (the control tower of the England and Wales (Catholic) bishops’ conference. And the Bitter Pill will, no doubt, have a field day in its’ next edition.

    It won’t: they will pass over it in silence.

  36. LCB says:

    Well, if anyone doubted the direction being considered for the next Archbishop of Westminster, this should certainly clear the air.

  37. DelRayVA says:

    “Not to mention the fact that the Cardinal most likely did not express
    his feelings in international sign language or at least esperanto.”
    - Deusdonat

    Hodiaux, oni ofte parolas pri malsanoj, kiel Alzhajmera aux Parkinsona.
    Per analogio, tioj simptomoj iame troveblas ecx meze de niaj propraj
    socioj Kristanaj.

  38. Mike says:

    I read on an Episcopalian website that Cardinal Dias got plenty of applause throughout his speech. Clearly something resonated with his listeners.

  39. Dob says:

    I would really like to know why Anglican clergy seem to avoid tidying up their hair and beards. Why do so many go in for the scraggy look?

  40. Atlanta says:

    Wow. Neither the Catholic church nor the Orthodox church recognizes the validity of Anglican ordinations.

  41. Monica says:

    I’m sure the poor and vulnerable of society (i.e. the unborn)would find great comfort in the elite Anglican bishops’ enthusiasm to address such important issues like the ordination of women as priests and bishops. These issues are so indicative of a rich and holy spirituality. NOT!
    To be honest, the Anglican bishops will do whatever they want; I’m concerned with what appears to be a certain elitism in the USCCB. I hope the USCCB doesn’t see the Lambeth Conference as a model for the USCCB to follow.

  42. Ioannes Andreades says:

    “One thing I’d love to know: did Cardinal Dias clear his speech with Cardinals Kasper and Murphy-O’Connor before he delivered it? Don’t bet on it.”

    I can’t imagine the cardinals don’t have some sort of coordinated approach to their dealing with the Anglicans. If the cardinals don’t have one, they may as well not even be there. I’m going to assume that Diaz was chosen to echo a line of argument appealing to bishops from other underdeveloped countries, who are generally the conservative ones.

  43. Nick says:

    Correct me if I am mistaken but isn’t Cardinal Dias an Indian and knows what puja before Ganesh is as the Hindus around him certainly did? This did not occur in a restaurant. Think of all the martyrs who could have avoided death by simply rationalizing away burning incense to the genius of the emperor as being courteous to the authorities.

  44. Ioannes Andreades says:

    Nick,

    The only time I’ve ever been to a Hindu temple, one of the aspects that really struck me was how simple it is to worship Hindu gods in that setting. Just passing your hand over a flame is meant as a sign of devotion. It really made me think of the early martyrs’ refusing even to offer a pinch of incense at a shrine. It would have been so easy, and yet they chose martyrdom instead!

    It also made me wonder if our worship has begun to grow too easy, too simple.

  45. A Random Friar says:

    I don’t know if the Cardinal has the same kind of Latin blood I do, but people who travel to such “Latin” countries (Italy, Spain, Portugal, Latin America) are often surprised when friends there say what are can be taken to be some pretty up-front comments (e.g., I have NEVER needed to step on a scale, because my fellow friars would point out if I had put on weight, in a _seemingly_ blunt manner). It’s actually a point of trust. “Look, we’re friends here, we talk plainly” is understood. If someone is being obsequious or overly polite… watch out, don’t trust them.

    This is not universally true, but goes for a good chunk of Latin areas. And of course, I’m sure the Cardinal is every bit a good politician as a cardinal needs to be, but in true charity, sometimes you need to put that down and be blunt, man to man. (NOT “mano a mano” — that means “hand to hand.” You CAN’T talk “mano a mano” unless you’re doing sign language.)

  46. Daniel Hill says:

    CAN WE GAVE OUR CATHEDRALS BACK?

  47. John says:

    Can one imagine any high level gathering of Roman Catholics to which an Anglican bishop would be invited to publicly say such things? I give the Lambeth Conference high credit for being open to such a presentation. It simply is never reciprocated in any way that I have heard of. I suggest that there be less mockery of this ecclesial community which is struggling to find God’s will and way. Those within it have the right to criticize themselves. Others might consider the way of charity and prayer. If the end result for some is a call to full reconciliation with Rome, then they should receive a gracious but truthful welcome. Mockery of Anglicans does not encourage such reconciliation, but rather inhibits it.

  48. JPG says:

    Think of Cardinal Dias as being a prophet. He is not telling them the future but reminding them of the past and of Revealed Truth.
    This may be with little effect on the listeners. It may goad the forward in Faith types to head for the fire-escapes and God willing the barque of Peter.
    JPG

  49. Hidden One says:

    Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s are both diseases predominantly contracted with age, fatal, and cause strange actions in the body.

    A toast to Cardinal Diaz, anyone?

  50. The Cellarer says:

    Evan Davies has just interviewed Rowan Williams on Radio 4 and asked him what he thought of Cardinal Diaz’s comments. Firstly Evan contended that Cardinal Diaz was referring to ‘western Church’s’ – typical BBC dig – rather than the AC. True the Cardinal\’s comments refer to ‘we’ but I think it’s quite clear where they are aimed.

    ‘Affirming but challenging’ was Rowan’s view on the talk!