Monday, 10 December 2012

Why Evangelical Bible Idolatry Sucks and Why I Go to a Greek Orthodox Church Even Though It’s A Mess Too

A fascinating article by Frank Schaeffer ;

Having elevated the Bible — or at least the nicer bits that they like — to the status of a magic book evangelicals have demoted God. Their “god” is trapped in a book and kept somewhat like a tame rat inside the cage of “biblical inerrancy.”
Since the evangelical/fundamentalists worship a book rather than God they can’t admit that the Bible has flaws and is just plain crazy in places. So they spend lifetimes working to make “sense” of something nonsensical, mean and stupid.

Why Bible idolatry is a particularly evangelical/fundamentalist blind spot is that, unlike earlier Christianity—at least in the more enlightened non-retributive threads of church history, evangelical/fundamentalist Protestants have forgotten and/or banished the idea that an oral tradition coexisted with the Bible within the life of the Church.
They also have forgotten that some of the earliest Christians wrote that God is not to be defined or hedged in by Bible-derived “theology,” even by descriptions about him in the Bible. And evangelicals have subverted the teaching and life of Jesus because the idea that love trumps theology makes them nervous.
Read more here

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

50 Reasons to Boycott the Catholic Church

Hats off to Jayden Cameron for this link to an interesting post that speaks for itself !

Jayden writes : The following is an alarming summary of recent 'crimes' and negative actions perpetuated by the Roman Catholic Church. I hesitated re-posting it from Alt. Net.Org, because it is harrowing and depressing, and clearly the view of an outsider - yet this is how most non Catholics view the Church, and it makes for a salutary and very necessary shock to the system. The time for complacency is long past.

50 Reasons to Boycott the Catholic Church

The Church uses its resources to oppose social progress and positive change all over the world.
Photo Credit: AFP
Last month in Ireland, Savita Halappanavar died, and she shouldn't have. Savita was a 31-year-old married woman, four months pregnant, who went to the hospital with a miscarriage in progress that developed into a blood infection. She could easily have been saved if the already doomed fetus was aborted. Instead, her doctors did nothing, explaining that "this is a Catholic country," and left her to suffer in agony for days, only intervening once it was too late.
Savita's death is just the latest in a long line of tragedies directly attributable to the doctrines and beliefs of the Roman Catholic church. I acknowledge that there are many good, progressive Catholics, but the problem is that the church isn't a democracy, and those progressives have no voice or vote in its governance. The church is a petrified oligarchy, a dictatorship like the medieval monarchies it once existed alongside, and it's run by a small circle of conservative, rigidly ideological old men who make all the decisions and choose their own successors.
This means that, whatever individual Catholics may do, the resources of the church as an institution are bent toward opposing social progress and positive change all over the world. Every dollar you put into the church collection plate, every Sunday service you attend, every hour of time and effort you put into volunteering or working for church organizations, is inevitably a show of support for the institutional church and its abhorrent mission. When you have no voice, there's only one thing left to do: boycott. Stop supporting the church with your money and your time. For lifelong Catholics, it's a drastic step, but it's more than justified by the wealth of reasons showing that the church as an institution is beyond reform, and the only meaningful response is to part ways with it. Here are just a few of those reasons:
1. Throughout the world, Catholic bishops have engaged in a systematic, organized effort going back decades to cover up for priests who molest children, pressuring the victims to sign confidentiality agreements and quietly assigning the predators to new parishes where they could go on molesting. Tens of thousands of children have been raped and tortured as a result of this conspiracy of silence.
2. Strike one: "What did the pope know and when did he know it?" The current pope, when he was Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, was personally implicated in a case from the 1970s in which at least three sets of parents reported that a priest in his diocese had sexually abused their children. In response, Ratzinger assigned the priest to therapy, without notifying law enforcement, and washed his hands of the matter. That priest was back on duty in just a few short days and went on to molest more children.
3. Strike two: In 1981, again when the current pope was Cardinal Ratzinger, he got a letter from the diocese of Oakland asking him to defrock a priest who had acknowledged molesting two children. Ratzinger ignored this letter, and several followup letters, for four years. Finally, in 1985, he wrote back saying that more time was needed, and that they had to proceed very slowly to safeguard "the good of the Universal Church" in light of "the young age of the petitioner" -- by which he meant not the victimized children, but the pedophile priest. (By contrast, when a rogue archbishop ordained married men as priests, he was laicized six days later.)
4. Strike three: In 2001, Cardinal Ratzinger wrote a letter, De Delictis Gravioribus, to all Catholic bishops advising them how to handle accusations of sex crimes by priests. There was no recommendation to contact the police, but rather an instruction for them to report such cases only to the Vatican and tell no one else: "Cases of this kind are subject to the pontifical secret."
6. They threaten to cut off funding for immigrants' rights advocates because they sometimes work with gay-rights advocates. Preventing immigrants from getting legal and medical aid is less important than ensuring the church isn't contaminated by even indirect contact with anyone who helps gay people.
7. In a sign of how ridiculously disproportionate and unhinged the church's martyrdom complex is, the current pope has compared expanding the rights of women and gay people to the murderous anticlerical violence of the 1930s Spanish civil war.
8. They've used their official UN observer status to team up with Islamic theocracies like Iran and Libya to oppose calls for family-planning services to be made available in the world's poorest nations.
9. They've gone to desperately poor, AIDS-ravaged regions of Africa to spread the life-destroying lie that condoms don't prevent transmission of HIV.
10. In the mid-20th century, they appointed a special papal commission to study whether Catholicism should permit the use of birth control. When the commission almost unanimously recommended that they should, they ignored that recommendation and doubled down on their absolute ban on contraception.
12. They did not excommunicate the stepfather.
13. Savita Halappanavar wasn't the first: Catholic-run hospitals are willing to let women die rather than get lifesaving abortions, even when a miscarriage is already in progress and no possible procedure could save the fetus.
17. They've announced an inquisition into the Girl Scouts to get to the bottom of its association with morally suspect groups like Doctors Without Borders and Oxfam.
18. They've been one of the major forces attacking Obamacare, filing lawsuits arguing that non-church Catholic employers should be able to decide whether or not employee health insurance plans will cover contraception. This is effectively an argument that a woman's employer should be allowed to force her to pay more for medical coverage, or even place it out of her reach altogether, based on his religious beliefs.
19. In Australia, they allegedly derailed a police investigation of an accused pedophile, putting pressure on higher-ups to get an investigating officer removed from the case.
20. They demanded that Sunday school teachers sign a loyalty oath agreeing to submit "will and intellect" to the proclamations of church leaders.
21. Some top church officials, including the current pope, have advocateddenying communion to politicians who support progressive and pro-choice political ideas. Notably, although the church also opposes preemptive war and the death penalty, no conservative politician has ever been denied communion on this basis.
22. They've cracked down on American nuns for doing too much to help the poor and not enough to oppose gay marriage, condemning them for displaying a seditious "feminist spirit."
23. In Germany, where parishioners pay an officially assessed tax rate to the church, they've tried to blackmail people who don't want to pay the church tax, threatening to fire them from jobs in church institutions. In some cases, if the person opts out but later loses the paperwork, they demand on-the-spot repayment of decades of back taxes.
24. In America, bishops have compared Democratic officeholders, including President Obama, to Hitler and Stalin and have said that it jeopardizes a person's eternal salvation if they don't vote as the bishops instruct them to.
25. They fight against equal marriage rights for same-sex couples. It's not enough for the Catholic church hierarchy that they refuse to perform church weddings for gay and lesbian couples; they want to write that prohibition into the civil law and deny marriage equality to everyone who doesn't fit their religious criteria, and have invested vast amounts of money and effort into doing so. In the 2012 election cycle alone, the church spent almost $2 million in an unsuccessful fight to defeat marriage-equality initiatives in four states.
26. They've compared gay sex to pedophilia and incest and called for it to be forbidden by law, saying that "states can and must regulate behaviors, including various sexual behaviors."
27. They've shut down adoption clinics rather than consider gay people as prospective parents. The church's official position, apparently, is that it's better for children to remain orphans or in foster care than to be placed in a loving, committed same-sex household.
28. They barred an anti-LGBT bullying group, anti-teen-suicide foundation from a Catholic school ceremony, explaining that the group's mission is "contrary to the teachings of the Catholic church."
30. They have a history of dumping known pedophile priests in isolated, poor, rural communities, where they apparently assumed that local people wouldn't dare to complain or that no one would listen if they did.
31. They've given huge payouts -- as much as $20,000 in some cases -- to pedophile priests, to buy their silence and quietly ease them out of the priesthood, after specifically denying in public that they were doing this.
32. When the Connecticut legislature proposed extending statute-of-limitations laws to allow older child-abuse cases to be tried, the bishops ordered a letter to be read during Mass instructing parishioners to contact their representatives and lobby against it.
33. To fight back against and intimidate abuse-survivor groups like SNAP, the church's lawyers have filed absurdly broad subpoenas demanding the disclosure of decades' worth of documents.
35. When a Catholic official from Philadelphia, William Lynn, was charged with knowingly returning predator priests to duty, his defense was to blame those decisions on his superior, Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, thus acknowledging that the corruption reaches to the highest levels of the church.
36. When confronted with hundreds of complaints about child-raping priests spanning decades, a Dutch cardinal used the same "we knew nothing" excuse once given by Nazi soldiers. Several months later, it was reported that this same cardinal had personally arranged to move a pedophile priest to a different parish to shield him from accusations.
37. In one case, Mother Teresa successfully persuaded the church to return a suspected pedophile priest to duty because he was a friend of hers. Eight additional complaints of child abuse were later lodged against him.
40. They abducted tens of thousands of babies from unwed mothers who gave birth in Catholic-run hospitals all over the world throughout the 20th century, forcing drugged or helpless women to give their newborn children up for adoption against their will.
43. Their finances are a disorganized mess, lacking strong accounting controls and clear internal separations, which means parishioners who give to the church can have no assurance of what the money will be used for. According to an investigation by the Economist, funds meant for hospitals, cemeteries and priests' pensions have been raided to pay legal fees and settlements in several diocesan bankruptcies.
45. They've silenced priests who call for the ordination of women and other desperately needed reforms, exhorting them to instead show "the radicalism of obedience."
47. They lifted the excommunication of an anti-Semitic, Holocaust-denying bishop who also thinks women shouldn't attend college or wear pants.
48. When it comes to the question of who's financially responsible for compensating the victims of sex abuse, they argue that priests aren't employees and therefore the church bears no responsibility for anything they do.
49. They canonized Mother Teresa for doing little more than offering a squalid place for people to die. Outside observers who visited her "Home for the Dying" reported that medical care was substandard and dangerous, limited to aspirin and unsterilized needles rinsed in tap water, administered by untrained volunteers. The millions of dollars collected by Mother Teresa and her order, enough to build many advanced clinics and hospitals, remain unaccounted for.
Adam Lee is a writer and atheist activist living in New York City. Follow him

Monday, 26 November 2012

Peters Pence

Many Catholics feel disappointed by the way in which certain issues are being dealt with in the RC Church.  The sense of frustration that many people feel when the institutional church can;
· Laicise, dismiss or censure those who ‘DO’ call for dialogue e.g. Fr Roy Bourgeois, Fr Bill Rowe, Frs Gerry Maloney & Tony Flannery, Bishop William Morris, Fr Brian D’Arcy C.P. Fr Owen Sullivan OFM Cap, Fr Peter Kennedy (St Mary’s in Exile) and all those listed in Matthew Fox’s book ‘The Pope’s War.’
· Impose a translation of the missal without any consultation after appointing a secretive commission ‘Vox Clara’ to finish off the job.
· Put all religious sisters in the U.S. under Papal scrutiny without consultation
· Equate discussion with dissent. Looking at the past, take for example the doctrine of ‘reception’ of church teaching e.g. humane Vitae, or the principle of Vox Populi vox Dei – so important in the Arian controversy – this would now be seen as dissent ! ! !
· Replace the authority of, implementation of and interpretation of an Ecumenical Council (Vatican II) with that of the opinion of the Bishop of Rome !
· Cover up and delay dealing with child abuse crises and even a senior Cardinal (Sodano) referring to the crisis as ‘idle chatter’
Peter’s Pence generated $82.5 million dollars in 2009. Only ‘Cor Unum’ published details of their $8.6 million allocation from Peter’s Pence, approx. 10.5 per cent of the $82.5 million. The Vatican has not released figures on how it spent the rest of Peter’s Pence in 2009. (c.f. Render Unto Rome : Jason Berry pg 37).
Jesus had little time for those who put the institution before the spirit as in the 23rd chapter of Matthew’s Gospel. Did Jesus dialogue with the representatives of the institution (Pharisees) or did he simply recognise hypocrisy for what it is ? After all, the institution crucified our Saviour.
Is Saying No to Peters Pence really so out of proportion, in the light of the Vatican’s implementation of it’s ungenerous and limiting policies in the last decades?

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Utter Disgrace - what are they so afraid of ?

The Dismissal of Fr Roy Bourgeois - yet another heavy handed manouvre by a church authority becoming more insecure by the day - what are they frightened of?

I have been a Catholic priest in the Maryknoll community for 40 years. As a young man I joined Maryknoll because of its work for justice and equality in the world. To be expelled from Maryknoll and the priesthood for believing that women are also called to be priests is very difficult and painful.
The Vatican and Maryknoll can dismiss me, but they cannot dismiss the issue of gender equality in the Catholic Church. The demand for gender equality is rooted in justice and dignity and will not go away.
As Catholics, we profess that God created men and women of equal worth and dignity. As priests, we profess that the call to the priesthood comes from God, only God. Who are we, as men, to say that our call from God is authentic, but God's call to women is not? The exclusion of women from the priesthood is a grave injustice against women, our Church and our loving God who calls both men and women to be priests
When there is an injustice, silence is the voice of complicity. My conscience compelled me to break my silence and address the sin of sexism in my Church. My only regret is that it took me so long to confront the issue of male power and domination in the Catholic Church.
I have explained my position on the ordination of women, and how I came to it, in my booklet, My Journey from Silence to Solidarity. Please go to:   

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Is Bishop Big Brother Alive and Well ?

In November 2010 the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales issued ‘Guidelines’ for the Publication of Liturgical Books.” 

It aimed to “authorize . . . guidelines for the use and publication of liturgical materials.” (paragraph 2)

All seems innocent enough.  After all guidelines are a ‘principle put forward to determine a course of action.’  Paragraph 2 further reads  . . .

“The Conference, through these bodies, (the Catholic Trust for England and Wales, Colloquium and the Liturgy Office of the Department for Christian Life and Worship) wishes to cooperate as fully as possible with all publishers, editors, writers, and composers.” 

This too seems nice and friendly . . . a mutually supportive body you might think.

The waters begin to get muddy by Paragraph 3.

“As regards the publication of liturgical books translated into the vernacular which are the property of a given Conference of Bishops, the right of publication is reserved to those editors to whom the Conference of Bishops shall have given this right by contract, with due regard for the requirements both of civil law and juridical custom prevailing in each country for the publication of books. (LA 115)”

If the “publication of liturgical books translated into the vernacular . .  are the property of a given Conference of Bishops,” then what authority, if any, does the ‘given Conference of Bishops’ have to counter any opposition towards the new translation of the Roman Missal which many people find unacceptable?

Having had the translation imposed, it appears that Bishops and clergy have to implement it without question and that the Bishops Conference of England and Wales (BCOEW) does not have any ownership of the translation as implied in paragraph 3.  Those that do speak out are ‘dealt with’ as in the case of  Rev. William Rowe. 

There is an acceptance that nothing can be done to counter the imposition of the new Missal so any opposition raised by clergy or lay people is simply ignored or smothered by platitudes.

In the next paragraph a rather Orwellian statement changes the tone somewhat.

“The purpose of this national episcopal responsibility – and of the present  guidelines – is not only to assert authoritative control but to encourage, and collaborate in, the production and publication of the most effective and excellent liturgical books and other materials.” (Paragraph 4)

We have already heard that the Bishops want to work and collaborate in the production of excellent materials in paragraph 2.  In Paragraph 4 the document ‘slips in’ what I feel is it’s real aim in such a way that it almost doesn’t want you to notice – to assert authoritative control !

Liturgists, Composers and Music groups up and down the country have been working with Bishops and clergy for years.  National organisations such as the Society of St Gregory  encourage excellence.  Local Diocesan based groups have run courses for Liturgical excellence and many Diocese have a liturgy commission.  If ‘authoritative control’ was not the aim of the document then I wonder why the following developments have occurred since the publication of “Guidelines’ for the Publication of Liturgical Books.” 

Decani Music have published a new version of their hymn book “Laudate.”  Their advertising states that;

“With the Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur, this is the first officially authorised hymnbook since the introduction of the new translation.” 

Decani music also published a supplement to Laudate emphasising ;

“Certain hymns had to have verbal changes in order to obtain the Nihil Obstat (85, 148, 475, 643, 957), and three have been removed (470, 649 and 650).”

I did wonder if this was a ploy to make the hymnbook more saleable in the present climate, though submitting their hymn book to editorial control outside of their company and having to rewrite the words of some hymns in order to obtain the Nihil Obstat almost reads as an act of censure.

If this were an isolated case I could dismiss my concerns about “authoritative control” and be grateful that the BCOEW are keen to support liturgical excellence.

McCrimmons are publishing a revised edition of “Celebration Hymnal For Everyone.”  The announcement on their homepage reads,

The revision of the hymnal has been submitted to the Bishops’ Conference of Eng & Wales for approval. It will incorporate Mass settings in accordance with the 2010 revision of the Roman Missal.”

Is this authoritative control or an expression of the conferences “wishes to cooperate as fully as possible with all publishers, editors, writers, and composers” ? (paragraph 2).

Is the editorial control exercised by the BCOEW restricted to hymn books ? 

Many parishes use “Sunday Bulletin” published by Redemptorist Publications as the basis of a weekly parish newsletter. Sometime since Advent 2011, they now include an imprimatur by +Kieran Conry.

Why on earth has this sort of editorial control found it’s way into the running of the ‘local’ catholic church? I know what I think, but I feel Bishops Conference and clergy can’t let us know what they really think for fear of being ‘dealt with.’

Cardinal Martini was right when he said in his last interview, “the Church’s bureaucratic apparatus is growing,” and that the church is “fearful instead of courageous”. All the above is evidence of this growing bureaucracy which no Bishops Conference speaks out about, choosing to be “fearful instead of courageous.”

It has become commonplace for new Parish priests to state an oath of allegiance on induction in a new parish where they;

“submit their will and intellect to the teachings which either the Roman pontiff or the College of Bishops enunciate when they exercise their authentic Magisterium, even if they do not intend to proclaim these teachings by a definitive act.” 

This translates in my mind to “I must do as I’m told.”  Little wonder with the growth of this sort of oath of fidelity no-one dares to speaks out. 

For years the church has wanted an educated laity.  It was Cardinal Newman’s great desire.  Nowadays education seems to come second place to intellectual servility. If priests, who are supposed to be educated can “submit their will and intellect,” in the service of the magisterium then I think Newman would be appalled at such Ultra Montanism.

How on earth can the BCOEW police their authoritative control ?   As a parish organist and choirmaster I compose psalm settings and mass settings for use in Sunday Worship.  I can’t imagine I’m the only pastoral musician in the country to do this.  Where would we have time to submit our work to the BCOEW as   we compose week by week?  Even if we could, should we? 

Apart from those with a vested interest in obtaining a Nihil Obstat for their publications, who will really notice if big brother is watching ? Perhaps it’s just a case of the Magisterium saying “Jump” and the BCOEW asking ‘how high?’  or is the church that just wants us to pray, pay and obey back ?

Monday, 12 November 2012

US Catholic’s Readers on the New Missal Translation

An interesting Post from Pray Tell Blog on reaction to the new translation, one year on . . . .
The December U.S. Catholic (print edition, not yet online) looks at the new missal’s first year in “Words Fail Us.” It’s a rather devastating critique of the whole thing. Their online survey was completed by 1,231 priests and 1,208 laypeople. I know, I know, it’s probably a self-selecting audience that goes to USCath, as is the case with the commbox at Fr. Z’s WDTPRS or anywhere else. But still, this is pretty serious stuff, the reactions of the USCath crowd.

58% of the priests checked “I dislike the new translations and still can’t believe I’ll have to use them for the foreseeable future.” Only 4% say “I was unsure about it at first, but I’ve grown accustomed to the new translations.” Only 9% say “I personally enjoy the new translations as much as, if not more than, the old version.” If given the option, 76% of priests would go back to the old translation. Over three fourths! Only 16% of priests say that the new translations have had a positive effect on their prayerfulness during Mass – 75% disagree. 10% of the priests have heard parishioners tell them that they were leaving to worship in other churches over the language changes in the Mass.

Asked to comment on the most difficult part about making the transition, the priest respondents gave an earful. “Acting like I appreciate the new texts when I find them to be terrible,” said Fr. James Sauer in Evansville IN. “Handling the disappointment of the people and realizing their complaints are well founded,” from Fr. Patrick Connor in Nashville, TN. “Mastering the art of speaking like Yoda,” said Fr. Brian Fischer in Chicago.

Asked what as a presider the new text has made them, Fr. Francis Gignac SJ replied “Annoyed.” “Enjoy saying Mass far less,” said Fr. Stanley Robert Azaro, OP. “Feel like a robot with no heart or soul,” said Fr. John Francis Samsa of Apleton, WI. “Resentful. It was a poor process and a poor translation, period,” said Fr. Jack Conley, CP.

But not all is a loss. Asked to comment on positive effects, Fr. Alan Phillip of Sierra Madre, CA said “At times we have had a few good laughs because of the convoluted language.”
Priests were given an opportunity to make suggestions to improve the translation. All the expected answers came in: get rid of “And with your spirit,” “chalice,” “Consubstantial,” “I” in the creed, and so forth. And this: “Throw it all out and start over,” from Fr. Paul Freemesser in Rochester, NY.
49% of the laity still dislike the new translation but will put up with it; 17% don’t like the new translations much but don’t think it’s a big deal; 17% like the new translations as much as or more than the old one, and 6% were unsure at first but have grown accustomed to the new translations. Not exactly a happy acceptance.

Only 21% of laity agree that the new translation has had a positive effect on their prayer and participation – 70% of laity disagree. 25% of laity know people who have left to worship elsewhere because of the missal change. 54% of laity wish we could go back to the old translation – only 29% disagree.

So now what? What do bishops do with sentiments like this among their flock?
I know, I know, this isn’t a scientific survey. But it’s not nothing, either.
I expect bishops would want to do a lot more to find out how widespread the views in the survey are. Wouldn’t you think?

UPDATE Monday morning: I see that USCath posted part of the issue right after I posted. I see a causal connection and am amazed at the power of this blog – makes me wish I had posted sooner so USCath had too. It’s here.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Catholic Internet Television network

What a fantastic resource this is.  This website is possibly just what you've been looking for.
A wonderful range of talks and programmes are available by many contemporary academics -  ! What are you waiting for? just click here !

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Irish Bishops refuse to meet the ACP

I reproduce an article written by tschmidt | November 6, 2012 (from his blog, Theology in the Vineyard)

In the UK’s Independent (4 Nov., 2012) there is an extraordinary telling article regarding the absolute dysfunction of the Roman Catholic church in that part of Europe. It is written by a teacher at the Dublin City University, Colum Kenny. It could have been written in any English-speaking jurisdiction including Canada. Basically it deals with the stunning arrogance of papal-appointed bishops so convinced of their rectitude and episcopal power that they do not have to listen to the people they are sworn to serve. One hardly knows where to start with such appalling behaviour. It would appear they are deeply enmeshed in ‘System think’. They appear totally enmeshed organisational molasses far from being a community of believers in the same church. They seem tone deaf to the voice of fellow Christians in an organic body. Here in brief is the story.

The Irish Bishops Conference has refused to meet with the Association of Catholic Priests, 1,000 strong in this small Catholic country. The reason of course is they fear what the front-line providers are going to say to them. Vatican ll insisted that bishops are not branch plant managers, sent from headquarters to enforce the Roman line. Lumen Gentium (27) stated that they are not to be regarded as “vicars of the Roman pontiff.” Vatican ll insisted that the bishops were there, ‘teaching sanctifying and governing’. One verb is missing: Listening.

It was the martyred Lutheran Dietrich Bonhoeffer who put his finger on this refusal to listen deeply:

“The first service that one owes to others in community consists in listening to them. Just as love for God begins with listening to His Word, so the beginning of love for the brethren is learning to listen to them. It is God’s love for us that He not only gives His Word but also lends us His ear … Many people are looking for an ear that will listen. They do not find it among Christians because these Christians are talking where they should be listening. But he who can no longer listen to his brother will soon be no longer listening to God either; he will be doing nothing but prattle in the presence of God. This is the beginning of the death of the spiritual life, and, in the end, there is nothing left but spiritual chatter and clerical condescension arrayed in pious words”.

Fifty years after the Council’s inception, there has been much movement in this regard, in hearing the lived experience of the baptized and integrating in ecclesial life.

The great Anglican convert John Henry Newman inspired much of the thinking that it is the entire People of God which is the bearer of the Spirit. As an Anglican he never bought the cult of the papacy, “a church with a church” he called it. By the time of the Council this ultramontane view had become rigid in the Roman Church. The pope was infallible (by himself), his bishops too at the local level and the priest was the voice of God in the parish. Infallibility previously had been exercised in many ways —councils, papal pronouncements and the witness of the entire people. By 1962 there had been was a massive delegitimizing of the lay voice. Pius Xl phrased it well in 1939, saying the Roman church had become a monstrosity, is head is way out of proportion to its body. Cardinal Newman had been saying all of this in his own way.The papal magisterium can never be the sole locus of truth. The voice of great theologians those who advanced the understanding of the great Mystery must be taken into considration.

Vatican ll (1962-65) began the massive corrective. The vast majority of the baptized must be heard.

The Anglican Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) states this quite nicely:

“Those who exercise episcope in the Body of Christ must not be separated from the ‘symphony’ of the whole people of God in which they have their part to play. They need to be alert to the sensus fidelium, in which they share, if they are to be made aware when something is needed for the well-being and mission of the community, or when some element of the Tradition needs to be received in a fresh way”. (#30)

As the Irish would say, who do these bishops think they are? It’s not as if they are riding high in the polls after shocking scandal after scandal has emptied churches in this almost totally Catholic country, they are acting like fossilised bureaucrats in a church which has privileged communio. They have not grasped that the day is long gone when diktats from the centre carry much weight. The Church as politburo is a non-starter.

If these silly men will not meet with their priests, what are lay people to think? One Catholic layman Geoffrey Chaucer phrased it well in the 14th century, ‘If gold ruste what shall iron do?’

Thursday, 1 November 2012

They would say that though . . . .

Interesting article from the "Vatican Insider" website., reproduced below. . . . . .

On Wednesday Mgr. Dal Covolo will deliver the position paper for the late Pope’s beatification, just 33 days ahead of his election

 “Some interesting new facts have come to light regarding Pope Luciani’s state of health, thanks to the testimonies (167 people have been heard) and medical documents collected. These sources definitively confirm that he was not killed.” This is according to Mgr. Enrico Dal Covolo, Rector of the Pontifical Lateran University and Postulator of John Paul I’s sainthood cause, who spoke to Italian news channel Tgcom24 in an interview on Pope Luciani who passed away after just 33 on the papal throne. In two days, on 17 October, it will be his 100th birthday.

On Wednesday Mgr. Dal Covolo will deliver the first part of the Positio - the documentation on John Paul I’s heroic virtues, on his life and on the miracle he is believed to have performed – to the Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, Cardinal Angelo Amato.

“We will deliver the Positio on 17 October - the postulator said – and the process for determining the Pope’s miracle will continue. I am certain that the Pope will soon be proclaimed a saint, though we still do not know exactly when. The cause is hanging by a very thin thread and we need to be careful!”

“I met with Pope Benedict XVI about a week ago – Mgr. Dal Covolo added – and he confirmed he was very glad about this step forward in the late Pope’s beatification process, advising me to be cautious. He strongly supports this cause, with great affection and interest. He gave a special blessing.”

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

The Turbulent Priest on BBC NI i-player

There are five days left to watch "The Turbulent Priest"  on the BBC i-player.  Find the file at

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Fr Brian D'Arcy BBC NI

Earlier this year Father Brian D’Arcy revealed that he’s been censured by the Vatican after challenging some of the Catholic Church’s core teachings. In this frank and personal documentary, filmmaker, Natalie Maynes follows Brian on a journey across Europe as he confronts the biggest dilemma of his life – can he continue as a priest?

In The Turbulent Priest, Natalie goes behind-the-scenes with Brian as the news of this censure is leaked to the world’s press and stays with him as he confronts his dilemma. Brian asked: “Is the price of being a priest that you stay quiet, that you don’t be a whistle blower, and that the price of dying a priest is that you don’t speak the truth?”

The documentary follows Brian as he reveals his struggle with the core teachings of the church including celibacy; “I would have been a much better priest had I married. I think it would have been the whole thing of sharing your life with somebody else and the whole thing of making sacrifices for somebody else and also that idea of a companion, a closeness, a friend, someone to call home.“

Watch the programme on BBC Northern ireland on Monday 29th October @ 22.35.  Watch a clip of the programme here.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Society of Pope Paul VI

I said in my previous post I have been lucky enough to have time to catch up on churchy Blogs.  I couldn’t believe my eyes when I read the following post about the Society of PopePaul VI !    Hats off to Bro Paul OFM Cap for the suggestion.  Taken me so long to find this.  I too wish there was a bishop brave enough to take up his suggestion and further the implementation of the second Vatican Council, rather than dismantle it with their 'retrieval theology!" - A term I first heard coined by the great late Cassian Reel OFM Cap.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Authority in the Church

I've been lucky enough to have time to catch up on churchy issues on the web.  I've found a few gems. Take a look at the website "Authority in the Church."  They present a blueprint of how authority could & should function in the RC Church.
This new system of authority, based on Gospel teaching and genuine co-responsibility as demanded by Vatican II, will affect all circles in the Church: Pope, Bishops, Bishops Conferences, Priests and Laity.  Click here to visit them !

Monday, 22 October 2012

Vatican II then and Now

Just been introduced to a fascinating website - A Call to Action.  There's an excellent article by Gerry J HughesSJ called "Vatican II then and now."  I reproduce it below but it can also be read by clicking here.

Vatican II, then and now

Gerry J Hughes SJ

I have been asked to do three things, very briefly: to say what it was at the time of the Council with really caught my attention and inspired me: to explain that I think we are not doing all we can, today, to live up to those expectations; and to make some practical suggestions. All in ten minutes! Briefly, then:

What really caught my imagination was the teaching that the Church was not in the first instance an institution but a group of people each responding to his or her call from God, each trying their best to respond to the particular charisms which the Spirit gives them. Everyone has something special and personal to contribute. This tied in with the respected tradition of Catholic Social teaching, the ideal of subsidiarity.

Decisions should be taken at the lowest possible level at which they can be implemented. As a Church we grow from the bottom up, as it were. And the first thing which people –parishoners, priests, bishops and the Pope – all need to do is to try to find out and share in what the Spirit is saying to the people. As John Henry Newman said, to consult the faithful is an essential preliminary to formulating what is the teaching of the Church.

I think this whole drive on the part of the Council has stuttered, and, in a strange way, I think the explanation has to do with fear. At every level of the Church, communication is stifled by fear. Ordinary Catholics are hesitant, to say the least, or find themselves totally unable to tell priests what they really think about this or that issue, what they really need to help them live and work and pray as committed Christians. Priests are often afraid to tell others – their parishoners, or their Bishops – what they really believe, for fear of incurring rebuke or disapproval, or even of being denounced to, sometimes sacked by, higher authorities.

It is especially hard for Bishops to share their own personal views, or to listen eagerly to the insights of their priests and people. They are locked into a structure which is authoritarian – even bishops have been removed from office simply for inquiring what the people in their dioceses think about this or that. This climate of fear would be damaging to any institution; it is even more damaging to the People of God. And, as is always the case, the first casualty in an authoritarian system is Truth, because the very mechanisms for us humans to seek for truth, to try to discern where God’s Spirit might be leading us, depend upon a respect for scholarship, theological and secular, and on a climate of respectful and free interchange of ideas.

In my own experience, ideas are not freely exchanged except in a situation in which honesty, confidentiality where necessary, mutual respect and a willingness to listen and learn, set the entire climate. I can recall one meeting I was at, many years ago, when the Bishops of England and Wales asked to meet with a group of moral theologians to talk through some pastoral issues. Everyone listened to people who at first shot would hold a different opinion from their own: there was a total equality in the contributions sought from Bishops and theologians. Cardinal Hume had the great quality of enabling and encouraging that quality of sharing without fear, and a willingness to go where it led.

I also remember a discussion on various aspects of sexual ethics with a group of ‘ordinary’ Catholics, who had never ever heard themselves tell one another what they really did think about various issues. They did not all agree with one another, but they listened, learnt, and enjoyed the experience. The only priest present other than myself said to me afterwards, ‘I shall never speak of the ‘simple’ faithful again.’ It takes a little work and a lot of encouragement to create an atmosphere which makes that possible.

On a day like today, it is no doubt wonderful to share the highest ideals we have. But they cannot be even seriously discussed, modified, enhanced and realised, in a climate of fear. In practice, then, I think we need to start comparatively locally say in a parish, or a deanery, or a diocese, and try to recover the art of listening to, encouraging and learning from one another, ‘giving permission’ to each other to speak from our hearts without fear. We need to realise how hard it is for Bishops, priests and everyone to feel able to say what they most personally believe, and to try to make that easier for one another.

I was asked to suggest two questions which we might discuss in groups. Here are mine:
1) Do you agree with me that the root cause of much of our malaise is a deep-seated fear of being disapproved of, denounced, or even dismissed from our jobs?
2) Do you agree that we need local meetings, small enough to encourage trust and openness, between people and priests, people and Bishops, priests and Bishops: and that it might be easier to start with topics which are not matters of doctrine: for instance, how to train people to run liturgies where there is a shortage of priests; our response to the new translation of the Mass; penance services; how to get the best out of parish councils?
Humble beginnings, indeed: but if the sower never even dares to go outside, the prospects of a great harvest are nil.

Friday, 5 October 2012

Former Anglican minister becomes first Liverpool Catholic priest to be ordained with a wife and young family

Article by Peter Guy of the Liverpool Echo :

A FORMER Anglican minister with a wife and young family is the first in Liverpool to be ordained a Catholic priest.
Father Jonathan Brown needed special permission - known as a “dispensation” - from Pope Benedict XVI to be exempted from the traditional vow of celibacy.
And there is nothing to stop him from having more children if he wishes. Only if Fr Jonathan outlives his wife will he have to follow the strict rule of celibacy to which all Catholic priests are bound.
Although it is not unusual for former Anglican ministers to convert to Catholicism and become ordained priests only a handful in the whole country are married and with a young family.
Fr Jonathan was ordained by the Archbishop of Liverpool, the Most Rev Patrick Kelly, at Christ the King Church, Wavertree.
The ceremony was witnessed by Fr Jonathan’s parents, his wife Kara and their two children, Rosey and Matthias.
Fr Jonathan said: “Being the first married priest in Liverpool is special because I’m first but it’s pure historical coincidence.
“My clerical celibacy is deferred as I’m a happily married man. But I can’t re-marry in the event of my wife’s death. Until that point my life remains as normal. We will live as a Catholic family and theoretically I can have more children.”

He admitted his conversion had proved “very difficult” for many of his former colleagues and for his parents who remain staunch Anglicans.
"He said: “I know it has not been easy for them. I’ve turned my back on a stable life with a good income and a nice house, and given all that up.”
His first role as a newly-ordained priest will be working as a chaplain at Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen Hospitals NHS Trust.
He could go on to be a parish priest although – because of his status as a married man with children – he would be known as a “parish administrator”. In practice however he can carry out all the functions of a Catholic priest.
He said: “The Catholic church doesn’t recognise my Anglican ordination so I had to be ordained again as a Catholic priest. But it’s not simply a rubber-stamping exercise. This is far more momentous and far more of a life changing moment.”

Read More clicking here

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Optional Celibacy ?

Hats off to the Archbishop of Teresina, Don Jacinto Furtado de Brito Sobrinho.  He calls for optional celibacy for Priests.  He calls to question the scope of Papal infallibility and calls for  a renewal of ideas.  have a look at the article that appeared in Folha De S.Paulo

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Did Jesus have a wife ?

A fascinating article from the BBC begins . . . . .
An ancient scrap of papyrus makes explicit reference to Jesus having a wife, according to a renowned expert in Christian history.

Harvard divinity professor Karen King unveiled the 4th-Century Coptic script at a conference in Rome. She said researchers had identified the words "Jesus said to them, 'my wife'", which might refer to Mary Magdalene.

Christian tradition holds that Jesus did not marry - but Ms King said in early years it was subject to debate. The provocative find could spark debate over celibacy and the role of women within Christianity, she added.  But the announcement sparked scepticism from some theologians.
Read more by clicking here

Monday, 17 September 2012

Have Your Say . . . . The new Translation

There's a survey on the US Catholic website asking comments about the new translation of the Missal one year on.  Why not let them know what you think ? Take a look . . .
lay people click here
clergy click here

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Franciscan Friary Lichfield

The Franciscan Friary was once a large estate located on the west side of Lichfield city centre in Staffordshire. The estate was built and inhabited by the Franciscan Friars from 1237.   At one time the estate consisted of a large church, a cloister, dormitory lodge and a refectory building as well as many other domestic dwellings.

Henry VIII ordered the dissolution of the Friary in 1538 and the majority of the buildings on the estate were demolished.
Today the site of the Friary is a Scheduled Ancient Monument and the excavated ruins of some of the original buildings are visible in the specially designated site. The only original buildings still standing are present at the south west end of Lichfield Library.