Roman Catholic reform?13 Oct 2006
An illustrated conversation with Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, the leader of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, exploring his penetrating insights on the Church’s role in a post modern, multicultural and secular Britain.
For broadcast on Compass: Pilgrim Cormac. Sunday 15 October at 22:15 on ABC TV, Fridays at 9.05am, 4.30pm, 7.30pm and 9.45pm on ABC2 (Digital only, IIRC)
I heard a radio promo for this last night and it sounds really interesting/bizarre. One of the things Murphy-O’Connor is reputedly arguing is that the “Parish” concept is too large/impersonal for the unchurched (they didn’t use that word, I wouldn’t normally either, but I’ve been reading
too many reformed missional blogs/websites of late and it’s starting to become a part of my vocabulary, for better or worse), postmodern-influenced, secularised British person. Accordingly, he is (apparently, again without having seen the programme) advocating a new approach/structure of fellowship centred around meeting in people’s homes/more casually. One (presumably significant) part of this is for prayer and bible study.
Which is exciting, to say the least.
Apparently there are only 4 million people who call themselves Roman Catholics that Cormac Murphy-O’Connor has the responsibility of serving (this is in England and Wales: 50- and 3-million population respectively), which has probably contributed some impetus to reform. This idea that smaller groups are better for fellowship (jargon for meeting together and talking) than larger bodies is in interesting contrast with large (chiefly Pentacostal) churches that don’t seem to have (publicly) popped up in the UK particularly lots. British cultural thing? Roman-Catholic church thing? It’s hard to tell.
Certainly it would seem that there are senses in which belonging to a larger community can be of equal value to small groups… and in which small groups prevent the potential detachment of larger ‘community’. But it’s especially interesting that a church defined by its centrality of leadership and centuries-old adherence to structure defined by Tradition (capital T as in defined by Roman church, not tradition as derived from the bible) over Scripture is apparently moving back to meeting privately, possibly (probably, given clergy shortages and so forth) consisting wholly of lay people, reading God’s word and praying together. One can only wonder what this means for tradition-bound non-Biblical practices such as confession.
Maybe I’m just thinking wishfully. It’s been a week of Roman Catholic outreach-ish stuff at Uni and there are some really bizarre things that keep cropping up. The ‘problem’ (it is a problem, I’m just hesitant to call it that because I know people are going to be offended… as though the rest of this post were completely innocuous) of Roman Catholicism isn’t going away any more than liberal Christianity and false teachers.
But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction.
–2 Peter 2:1