While Jason is knee-deep in Eucharist studies and Bryan is trying to wrap his mind around Vatican II, officials in Rome are engaged in various competitions. First, a story about cricket as the new evangelism:
The Holy See has plans to finally beat the Church of England at its own game: not in a theological debate, but on the cricket field. The Vatican has a new cricket club that aims to encourage dialogue between cultures, as well as growing virtue among the athletes, both on and off the field.
“The idea was if we start a cricket club, cricket being so popular in the whole of the East, especially in the Indian subcontinent, we could start a dialogue through cricket,” said Father Theodore Mascarenas.
Father Mascarenas is a member of the Pontifical Council for Culture, overseeing the departments for Asia, Africa and Ushuaia (capital city of Tierra del Fuego, Argentina). He is also the new chairman for the Vatican cricket team, called St. Peter’s Cricket Club.
St. Peter’s Cricket Club currently has several different objectives. The first is to organize a tournament among the various colleges in Rome, which, according to a survey done earlier this year, will be able to count on roughly 300 players and supporters from the city.
Eventually, the club hopes to challenge the Church of England to a match and aims in the future to play teams from Muslim, Hindu, Sikh and Buddhist educational institutions in order to fortify relationships and dialogue with various cultural communities.
Of course, no one would really see much of a contest in theological debates with the Anglicans. What is of interest is the emerging debate between Pope Francis and Archbishop Gerhard Muller, head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith:
Given that Pope Francis has himself spoken of the need to take a new look at the situation of divorced and remarried, and has convened a Synod of Bishops for 2014 to discuss this and other issues, it’s legitimate to wonder where the church is really headed: substantial change or another dead-end debate.
The archbishop makes several important points:
– He underlines that, in his view, this is not simply a pastoral question but a doctrinal issue that involves the church’s theological understanding of the sacrament of marriage. He states categorically that the Orthodox practice of allowing second or third marriages under certain circumstances “cannot be reconciled with God’s will” – which is interesting, considering that Pope Francis himself has referred to the Orthodox practice without explicitly repudiating or endorsing it.
– Muller pointedly rejects the argument that the individual conscience can be the final arbiter on whether a divorced and civilly remarried Catholic can receive Communion. Again, there seems to be a contrast in tone with Pope Francis’ own recent remarks on the duty to follow one’s conscience.
– In what appears to be a remarkably direct response to Pope Francis’ call for “mercy” as the framework for dealing with divorced and remarried Catholics, Archbishop Muller says that “an objectively false appeal to mercy also runs the risk of trivializing the image of God, by implying that God cannot do other than forgive.”
Do Jason and the Callers have an opinion about any of this? Would any of this matter to their projection of Rome as savior from error? Perhaps they are playing a different game.