Friday 23rd June, 2000

Today I shared the above entry with P. We are both very encouraged. This gives us a way forward. In fact, it gives us a way forward together. I think that P. was somewhat alienated by my personal decision to swim the Tiber. He was not ready to make that decision. But I think that he was in fact working towards the situation we are now in. He and I are as one with regard to the truths of the Catholic Church. We are also as one with regard to the difficulties that one must have if one is trying to defend the Lutheran Church as a catholic church. He was searching for a way to follow his conscience that would do justice to all his ethical responsibilities: to himself, to the LCA, to his parish, to our President, to his family and friends, and to this remarkable realisation to which we have both come. Simply becoming a Catholic would only have done justice to the first and the last in that list, and not the bits in between. [Reading this now in 2006, I find it remarkably prescient, for in the end, our final duty is to be true to ourselves and to follow the truth in so far as we have come to know it. No other “duty” compares to this, as both St Thomas More and Vatican II made clear – Schütz.]

This way forward, the way of “in statu confessionis”, supported by our District President, would provide a churchly way of following our consciences, even if we must take a necessarily “long view” of that journey.  I must say that it also addresses for me one of the questions that my spiritual director raised for me: Was I just being selfish when I decided to become a Roman Catholic? In fact, I think the answer was yes. But there was also that other side of the equation that both Fr D. and G.—and my spiritual director—acknowledged: the “noble” side, the side of integrity, the side of courage and conviction. If I just resigned myself to remaining in the LCA, it would be to abandon this “noble” road, in order to be “unselfish”. The District President has shown a way for both P. and I to move forward in complete integrity.

I am also comforted by the thought that I am not acting alone any more. At least P. and Peter Holmes is there too. Probably there are others who would take the journey. P. and I acknowledged that we now have to seek out these people and band together.

In the mean time, I now must address some theological issues, because I am going to attempt to continue in the Lutheran Church as a convicted Roman Catholic, if not a professed one. So I am going to have to dialogue with the confessions and the church to show that my—our—position is true. [In 2006, I do have to say at this point to avoid any confusion, that in fact the District President had completely misunderstood where I was at. I don’t think he understood that I considered myself at this point a “convicted Roman Catholic”. I think he thought I was in someway simply a frustrated conservative Lutheran…His advice was therefore quite invalid. There really is no way a “convicted Roman Catholic” could continue in Lutheran ministry! – Schütz]

I began this by reading through last night the “Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope” in the Book of Concord. I found this a very dissatisfying document—not the least because it does not accurately represent the papacy or the Roman church as it currently exists, and hence, in hindsight, the Catholic Church of history. Many of Melanchthon’s views were ill informed, or there simply was not yet the evidence of the centuries to show otherwise, eg. his claim that the pope abrogates the power of the bishops. Vat II shows that it is in fact the other way around. Communion with the pope empowers the bishops in their teaching authority.

But one of the major issues that I believe must be addressed is the issue of whether the pope’s authority is “de iure humano” or “de iure divino”. This language is a favourite with Melanchthon, as he said at the end of the Smalcald Articles that he would accept the pope’s authority by human right. He goes further in the Treatise, but it still begs the question. First of all, what sort of authority is this “human” right? I would argue that it would be no authority at all, because anyone would be free to disagree with the pope everytime at any time they thought they knew better. On the other hand, I wonder if it is in fact a false distinction? Jesus said “All authority in heaven and earth is given to me”. Luther, in his interpretation of the 4th Commandment, says that all legitimate authority is from God—whether of parents, magistrates, or pastors. Surely then, all authority in the church, lawfully ordained, is authority from God. Assuredly this authority can be abused, but it is still “de iure divino”, for want of a better way of saying it. This is an area that needs more investigation.

P. and I also read together the CTICR’s statement “Is the Pope Anti-Christ?”, which has some very positive things to say about the papacy, and also gives some direction as to how modern Lutherans can regard past pronouncements of the church.