Magazine article The Christian Century

Pope Warns against 'Prophetic Actions'

Magazine article The Christian Century

Pope Warns against 'Prophetic Actions'

Article excerpt

Pope Benedict XVI capped a six-day visit to the United States, his first as pontiff, with a public mass at New York's Yankee Stadium in which he declared the need for U.S. Catholics to be obedient to church authority. To more than 50,000 people, the pope praised the U.S. legacy of freedom but reminded Catholics of their church loyalties.

While the April 15-20 visit is likely to be remembered for the pope's repeated public declarations of shame about the sexual-abuse scandals that have rocked the Catholic Church, Benedict also met with a range of U.S. Christian leaders and left them wondering if he had delivered a jab at the Episcopal Church and other mainline denominations.

In a homily April 18 at a New York church, the pope voiced concern about what he described as the "splintering" of Christian churches over "so-called prophetic actions that are based on a hermeneutic not always consonant with the datum of scripture and tradition." Such actions, he said, mean that Christian "communities consequently give up the attempt to act as a unified body, choosing instead to function according to the idea of 'local options,'" thus losing ties to other Christians past and present.

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Although the term local option has been used derisively by internal critics in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America in connection with the ordination of gay and lesbian clergy in recent years, some observers thought the pope was aiming his remarks at the Episcopal Church and its approval of a gay bishop in 2003. …

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