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Tradition, Scripture....and experience?

This past week I enjoyed watching EWTN's The Journey Home hosted by Marcus Grodi. Each episode of this show highlights the conversion story of an individual and explores the factors that drew him or her to the Catholic Church. The episode that I watched featured Monsignor Jeffrey Steenson, Ordinary for the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter. This is the construct that allows those from the Anglican Communion who wish to enter the Catholic Church to come into full communion with Rome yet maintain some of their Anglican patrimony. As the Episcopal Church lurches farther and farther from the faith handed to the Apostles by Christ, more and more Episcopalians are choosing to swim the Tiber and come home to the Catholic Church.

I encourage you to watch the full hour with Monsignor Steenson that I have linked above. Marcus Grodi asked Monsignor Steenson how the Episcopalians justify their radical departure from traditional teachings on marriage and sexuality. His answer was enlightening. It seems that the Episcopalians (as well as dissident or progressive "catholics") place experience on par with Scripture and Tradition. He said that over and over he was told that he must listen to the experiences of those involved in homosexual relationships in order to develop his moral teaching on this topic. However, if experience is equal to or even trumps Scripture and Tradition, then the teaching of Scripture is reduced to no more than an historical opinion of an individual author. There is no eternal truth. There is only a situational code of behavior that is relevant in the context of an individual's experience.

As if to confirm this opinion, Bishop Marc Andrus of the Episcopal Diocese of California writes in the Washington Post:

For Episcopalians, tradition is a moving force that is not only dynamic but that changes quality over time, and we might liken the change to be one of more light being cast into the world... 
It can definitely be unsettling to find that some structures and beliefs are not fixed and unchanging. Add to that the fact that the Episcopal Church has no doctrine of infallibility, of anybody, and one can understand those who prefer more predictability. For me, I hope to stay open to divine surprise.
As we await the election of a new pope, there are those who are hoping that the next Vicar of Christ will proceed along the path Bishop Andrus favors--a church built on the shifting sands of popular culture. But Christ did not build His Church on sand. He built it on the Rock of Peter. The doctrinal and moral teachings of the Church, , based on Scripture and Tradition,  have persisted for 2000 years. The Church has weathered countless persecutions, the Borgias, and numerous heresies. Christ promised the Gates of Hell will not prevail against Her. She is His Bride. He will protect Her. It is the mission of the Church and therefore, of the faithful to shape the culture rather than be shaped by the culture. Our experiences must be judged against eternal truth. They do not define truth.


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