Saturday, August 4, 2007

Catholics, Lutherans seek common ground

Tom Heinen reports in todays Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that Bishop Richard J. Sklba, auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, will be in Chicago on Friday at the national assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. He'll be there to say Hi on behalf of the U.S. Catholic bishops. The theme of the story is that the recent Vatican reiteration that the Catholic Church is the one true church puts Bishop Sklba in an uncomfortable position.
"I certainly have to address the issues we struggle with. I don't want it to be bland. I don't want it to be just fluff. I want it to be a contribution. It has to at least recognize the (Vatican's) recent statement. I have to allude to that, to offer some assurance that this is not any rejection of dialogue partners or a lessening of commitment."

He sounds uncomfortable.
"I think when people read Pope Benedict's statement, there was a sense of discouragement," said ELCA Presiding Bishop Mark S. Hanson.

"I think with people in the pew, there's an impatience with the seeming inability of we who are leaders to find a way through our significant differences so that we can experience greater unity."

Aren't we united in the belief that the Reformation was actually about something?

The story goes on,
The document says the Catholic Church is the one true church, and Sklba agrees.

Better in the fifteenth paragraph than never. One application of the issue is intercommunion.
When the National Evangelical Lutheran/Catholic Dialogue ended its 10th round of talks in Milwaukee in 2004, its report said that Catholic judgment on the authenticity of Lutheran ministry need not be all or nothing.

The report quotes a 1993 letter from Ratzinger: "I count among the most important results of the ecumenical dialogues the insight that the issue of the Eucharist cannot be narrowed to the problem of validity. Even a theology oriented to the concept of succession . . . need not in any way deny the salvation granting presence of the Lord in the Lutheran Lord's Supper."

Asked if that differs from Catholic Eucharist, Sklba said, "I think one has to ask the person who said it."

So giving a real answer to that question is part of my job as a Sunday School teacher for tenth graders, but not part of his job? A few years ago, after numerous discussions with parents, Archbishop Dolan said,
As more than one of you commented, "I send my kids to Catholic schools (or religious education classes) not to hear what the teachers 'feel' or think, but what the Church teaches."

Couldn't he get his auxiliary involved in this process of passing on what the Church teaches? Bishop Sklba wrote the Forward to Unfailing Patience and Sound Teaching: Reflections on Episcopal Ministry in Honor of Rembert G. Weakland, O.S.B.
The following essays, each written by a significant bishop or theologian of our Church, attempt to capture what it means to be a bishop implementing that council [Vatican II] at the beginning of the twenty-first century. (p. x)

The same passage from Cardinal Ratzinger is quoted in Chapter Seven, "The Roman Catholic Bishop in Ecumenical Perspective" by Michael Root (p. 129). If Bishop Sklba can endorse what's in this book but now can't or won't say what the passage means, it might leave the impression he's unsure "what it means to be a bishop implementing that council at the beginning of the twenty-first century."

Update: Here's Bishop Hanson's formal response [2 pp. pdf] to the Vatican document.
The anguished response of Christians around the world to the Vatican’s statement, however, clearly indicates that what may have been meant to clarify has caused pain.

Maybe it's just the anesthetic finally wearing off.

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Blogger Dad29 said...

Maybe Bp. Sklba intends to "leave the teaching to Abp Dolan" and forgo taking the bus, or something.

Teach, Govern, Sanctify.

Only three things to do with his entire life.

7:15 PM  
Blogger Faithful Catholic said...

Dolan is a Pope-party liner - teach what the "Church" teaches. Sklba will toe the line but show his disagreement in a way this is acceptable to Rome. Obviously, many saints have taken the stance of Sklba when it comes to Vatican "teachings" that they disagree with... not that I mean to imply that Sklba is a saint.

3:08 PM  
Blogger Terrence Berres said...

"Obviously, many saints have taken the stance of Sklba when it comes to Vatican 'teachings' that they disagree with..."

Not obvious to me, since you portray it as involving misrepresenting one's views in order to collect salary, tuition, etc..

3:46 PM  

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