Thursday, June 28, 2007
Rue du Bac
Pilgrimage completed to the Shrine of the Miraculous Medal. Eurostar whisked us smoothly across the Channel for a pre-lunch visit to the Shrine. It certainly is a pilgrimage site, not a tourist spot, with a nice group of French schoolchildren celebrating Mass, and the Church filled with many of the immigrant Catholics from the French diaspora. My two new parishes have been put into Our Lady's hands - so She's the boss! Then we met my French godfather and his family for a delightful lunch at La Coupole, one of the most famous restaurants in Paris, where Picasso and Hemingway used to eat. For those interested: Pate, followed by a seafood risotto, washed down with some refreshing red. Tomorrow the 'pilgrimage' theme of my holiday at home continues, with a little visit to Rochester. We will go to the Cathedral (St. John Fisher's, of course) and then check out some of the second-hand book shops, so I can return to the Colonies with even more books. However, as my namesake, Big Ben, has a personal library of 20,000 volumes, I feel no guilt! Found this great quote on Zenit from Cardinal George, easily the most intellectually able of the US bishops: "Ideological conflict in the Church destroys the unity necessary for mission. We can't live and act together if we are divided on essentials of faith and morals, or if some decide they don't have to obey the bishops unless they govern the Church according to their particular expectations. Some groups operate as a kind of fifth column in the Church, convinced of their own righteousness and willing to weaken or destroy the Church if She doesn't change to suit them." Apart from being absolutely spot-on regarding our own situation, it indirectly addresses a question that I have been pondering for some time: if we can't "act together if we are divided on essentials of faith and morals," can a Catholic priest legitimately turn up at all these ecumenical 'gatherings' that are part of parish life - especially with the Episcopalians? We are truly divided on the essentials of faith and morals and so, I would argue, isn't it more than disingenuous, perhaps even the cause of scandal, to 'stand together' in one another's churches, pretending that all is well? I know the Russian Orthodox pulled out of all ecumenical contact with the Episcopalians after the whole Gene Robinson fiasco - is that the honest thing to do, in a spirit of charity? Thoughts/observations welcome!