Apr 28, 2010

THEN AND NOW: John McNeill and Joachim of Fiore

Contrast the two following statements: The first is a report of Pope Benedict's address on March 10th of this year.

The Pope’s address to the weekly audience continued the reflections on St. Bonaventure that he had begun the previous Wednesday. In this second talk, the Holy Father concentrated on St. Bonaventure’s response to Joachim of Fiore and the “spiritual” Franciscans, who had taught that a new phase of history was beginning, in which the Church hierarchy would disappear and the enlightened faithful would be guided only by the Holy Spirit.

“St. Bonaventure opposed that error, the Pope observed, and in rebutting it he upheld the true teaching of St. Francis of Assisi. The faithful should not follow radical new teachings, but should recognize that “there is no other Gospel, no other Church to be awaited.” The Franciscans, St. Bonaventure insisted, should work within the structure of the hierarchical Church.

The second reading is from John McNeill's recent posting, Theology of Fallibility Part IV

There is no doubt in my mind that we are at present in a new stage of the collapsing Temple and the emergence of a new form of shepherding. Joachim of Flores in the 13th century saw three stages in the development of God's church. The first was the Church of obedience to the Father, the Church of Israel; the second was the Church of the Son, Jesus, which he identified with the hierarchical Catholic church. He prophesied that there would come the day when the hierarchical church, becoming superfluous, would in time dissolve and in its place would emerge the Church of the Holy Spirit. I believe that time is now.

Ministry in the Church of the Holy Spirit will come from a direct call of the Holy Spirit to any baptized person from within their spiritual self-awareness. The task of authority will be to listen prayerfully to what the Holy Spirit is saying through the people of God. All authority will proceed from the bottom up and not from the top down. Every community should prayerfully discern spirits to select among their members the one whom God is calling to leadership. That individual could be a man or woman, married or single, gay or straight! The Church of the Holy Spirit must become a totally democratic church with no caste system, no higher or lower, totally equal, women with men, gays with straights; everyone possessing the Holy Spirit within them; everyone an authority.


TheraP said...


As more and more comes out about the hierarchy, what else is left?

Thank God-Trinity for the Holy Spirit!

Jayden Cameron said...

Thank God indeed, Thera...she's working overtime at the moment!

FDeF said...

I can't help but think McNeil is naive in his prediction. There are likely millennia of ignorance yet ahead of us. And this "church of the spirit" seems a mere fantasy to help us hold tight for "the best is yet to come" Am I a cynic?

Jayden Cameron said...

It does seem very utopian, FD, but something monumental is happening at the moment, and happening so fast we can't keep up with it. Let's see where it all leads. McNeill may be more right than we can presently hope.