Friday, July 29, 2011

Ireland and the abyss that divides bishops from their priests

Amidst the cries of indignation and media furore surrounding Enda Kenny’s decision to nail his 95 Theses to door of the Dáil and lead the Irish people to the promised Republic of Laws, it is easy to overlook a small but crucial section of his speech. Careful to separate the sheep from the goats, the Taoiseach remarked:
“This Roman clericalism must be devastating for good priests, some of them old, others struggling to keep their humanity, even their sanity, as they work so hard to be the keepers of the church’s light and goodness within their parishes, communities and the human heart.”
A single sentence replete with poignant reminders of those faithful ministers of God who do indeed labour hard in their service for Him, and yet struggle to retain their humanity and sanity as they are caught in the whirlwind of fury against the paedophile priests who have tarnished the whole Catholic brand and so brought shame upon priests everywhere.

There is a powerful article in the Irish Times which tells of the sorrow, anger and paranoia of many ‘ordinary’ Roman Catholic priests who ‘feel failed and abandoned by the church hierarchy’. These ‘good priests’ are living a life in the shadows; some unable to venture out of their homes without being spat upon; others unable to minister a kind word or a gentle touch for fear of being misunderstood, falsely accused or defamed.
“Why don’t you, Mister Hoban, f**k off back to Rome with your nuncio... Piss off back to Rome, you f**ked-up celibates... Keep away from my children, you bunch of perverts.”
The article quotes such voicemails received by Fr Brendan Hoban, a 63-year-old parish priest of Ballina, Co Mayo. We read that he was reluctant to reveal their wording: ‘His hesitancy is rooted in the same terror that has sent most priests deep into their parish bunkers this week, the terror of appearing to place the anguish of their own tattered, lonely souls above the suffering of the victims of clerical abuse.’

This is the everyday reality that confronts these ‘good priests’. Yes, of course the suffering of the children must come first, but if it takes an Anglican to speak up for the suffering of the innocent priests, His Grace will do so. It is wrong, indeed, it is an irrational discrimination and an evil prejudice to tarnish an entire group of people because of the terrors, crimes and perversions of a few of their number. Only the ignorant can look at Mohamed Atta or Osama bin Laden and see all Muslims; only the foolish can listen to Peter Tatchell and hear all gays; only the undiscerning can contemplate the actions of Anders Behring Breivik and judge all Christians; and only the asinine can consider the paedophile in the confessional and condemn all priests.

Yet Fr Brendan reveals that praise for the Taoiseach is coming not only from the Protestants, secularists, atheists, humanists and agnostics; we read: ‘Enda Kenny was saying nothing that Irish priests haven’t been saying for years... he is challenging Rome as distinct from the Irish church.’ Of course, some priests don’t like it, like the absurd Fr Thomas Daly or Drogheda, Co Louth, who disseminated a tract after Mass last Sunday informing his congregation that the last European leader to issue such a blistering attack on the Pope ‘was the ruthless German dictator Adolf Hitler’. And he reminded them, parabolically, that like Hitler, the Taoiseach ‘had to face reality’, and this is ‘a cautionary tale’.

O dear.

With priests like that, no wonder there’s a little tension between them and their overseers. But while Fr Thomas speaks for no-one but himself, three angry priests appear to speak for the majority:
For them, their powerlessness has long been confirmed in the heedless appointment of bishops lacking the competence, intellect or independence of spirit to address the spiritual needs of a rapidly evolving republic; bishops such as Cloyne’s John Magee. “He never worked in a parish, so had no experience of how to run a parish, never mind a diocese. I’m not blaming him for that – it’s back to who appointed him,” says Fr Billy O’Donovan, of Conna, in the Cloyne diocese.

It was Rome that handed the power to John Magee to appoint a head of child protection. Magee chose Msgr Denis O’Callaghan, then in his late 70s. Says another priest: “Denis O’Callaghan is an absent-minded professor – and they put him in charge of child protection?”

O’Callaghan is “a man with a great heart”, says Fr Hoban, “but completely disorganised”.
One may well ask, as the Irish Times does, “But where were those angry, articulate voices when the damage was being done, when Rome was directing this republic’s affairs and their brothers in Christ were violating the young and vulnerable?”

Fr Brendan’s response?
“They were where they always were,” he says Hoban, “trying to do 1,001 things and trying to do them the best they can.”
Woefully inadequate, of course: the Lord made children his priority, to be suffered to come whenever they desired; not to become the victims of suffering. But Fr Brendan explains that dioceses are not run by bishops and priests; indeed, priests are ‘totally excluded from any say... (and are) effectively disenfranchised’. And he discloses that any who dare to ask questions, put their heads above the parapet, or challenge the status quo are ‘weeded out in the seminary’; they are all ‘at the bishop’s mercy’, and so cowed, intimidated, bullied into silence.
It demonstrates what a cold place the church can be for a dissident, says Hoban. “And we have reaped the whirlwind... If a good guy said anything , he said it to the bishop or the parish priest and felt that he’d done what was required. Guys find themselves in situations where their instinct says this doesn’t concern me. Because the message always was: go into your parish; diocesan policy is not your concern.”

In short, blinded by loyalty and conformism, priests trusted too much. Now, pole-axed by fear, they are overcompensating. Some have described their fellow clergy as “evil priests” in newspapers; one urges people to boycott the church collections.

The priests’ fear is no longer of the bishops; it’s of the head-spinning no-man’s-land where they now find themselves. Ageing and isolated, they are operating in hostile territory where their Rome-appointed shepherds are themselves in a state of confused terror – “running around like 27 headless chickens”, according to Fr Tony Flannery – and where the Irish church’s straight-talking totem, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, has effectively alienated them all. The isolation and exclusion, compounded by this alienation from their bishops, explains much of the sense of abandonment and fear felt by many priests.
And natural justice seems to fly out of the window. For any priest accused of a sexual offence, there is an automatic presumption of guilt, and it is they who have prove their innocence. They are instantly suspended (very publicly) by their bishops, and their lives and ministries ruined before any formal investigation begun or a word uttered in a court of law. In this matter, suspension cannot be a neutral act. And even those who are found to have been falsely accused have to endure such headlines as ‘Slur Fr returns to pulpit’. And so we read of ‘the abyss that now divides many bishops from their priests’, and that ‘(t)here is no trust of any kind’:
“We have the feeling that a facade is being created, such as in the Eucharistic Congress and the new texts, a pretence that all the troubles are now being dealt with and that, from here on, the church will flourish,” says Hoban. “We are not encouraging people to join us. We know it’s not going to solve any problems. In this diocese there will be eight priests left from an original 34 in 20 years’ time. There is no planning... The whole thing is imploding with no recognition of this.”
And then we get the exhortation to implement the provisions of Vatican II; the vision of ‘a church of the laity, with parish councils at the core’. Then, says Fr Brendan, allegations of abuse could have been dealt with by mothers and fathers instead of the clergy. This is interesting, because elsewhere Vatican II is often blamed for the paedophile scandal: its trendy, liberalising agenda having distorted the understanding of priesthood and corrupted the traditional order, as though paedophilia only entered the Roman Catholic Church in the 1960s. The tension and division between Rome’s liberals and conservatives is palpable:
Now the last of the so-called Vatican II priests are disappearing, and the few young men who are replacing them are universally perceived as fiercely traditional and conservative. Over and over, my conversations with priests return to the calibre of church leaders. This is why O’Donovan, even during Cloyne’s traumatic week, believes that there is a “far more important week ahead”, meaning the appointment of a new bishop.

“Names being mentioned or guessed at are all right wing, conservative and with a Rome background,” he says. “We’ve been there before... My biggest fear – and it is a real fear – is that someone would be appointed that priests and people will find unacceptable, and that many, priests and people, will walk in that event. We’ve taken enough. We want someone who will talk to us and listen to us”

Would Irish priests support a breakaway from Rome? “No,” says Hoban. “What you’re talking about here is the nature of the church. We are deeply unhappy with the competency of the leadership and the drift of Rome. The consultation and transparency we talk about, well, it’s not going to happen in our lifetime. But, to live with yourself, you have to keep saying the things you’re saying.”
And he genuinely grieves over the consequences of ‘celibacy, formation and the loneliness of the ministry’. As the faithful abandon the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland and it sinks into the morass, mired in systematic collusion and corruption, stained with the torture and rape of its own children, Enda Kenny has called for reformation. It remains to be seen whether or not Fr Brendan Hoban will find the courage and conviction of Martin Luther. For the truly ‘good priests’, there is no alternative. But they are there. Thank God, they are there.


Anonymous Michael M. said...

Before swallowing Fr Hoban's line with hook and sinker entire, one might first consider the Thirsty Gargoyle's points 33-37 here and Fr Sean Finnegan here (post part of an interesting sequence).

In effect, he is challenging Rome as distinct from the Irish church.

Bishop Magee was not in Rome, he was in Cloyne, as was O'Callaghan who ignored what Rome told him to do (observe canon law, don't obstruct civil justice), what the Irish bishops told him to do (report), and what the State of Ireland, err, didn't actually get around to telling him to do until 2006. The priests who raped children were not in Rome.

As for shoehorning in the missal row in the Irish Times article...

29 July 2011 at 11:01  
Anonymous Shacklefree said...

Thank you and thank you again from myself as a catholic and the vast majority who have deplored this whole sorry business. Many of us have observed the virtue of obedience for too long and now some of us are beginning to ask questions not about the teaching of the Church but about its leadership. To give one example, 3 young (7, 8 and 10 years old) children in 1917 predicted the Russian revolution and the spreading of the errors of communism. They also predicted the second World War if “men to not amend their lives”. These predictions were given to them by Our Lady at Fatima, Portugal and they were confirmed by the stupendous miracle of the Sun predicted in St John’s book of Revelation chapter 12 (The woman adorned with the sun). One secret was to be revealed in 1960. The Vatican refused to reveal the secret and some speculate it was because it may have criticised the upcoming Vatican II council which brought the “smoke of Satan” into the Church (according to Pope Paul VI) and turned the holy sacrifice prophesied in the Old Testament (Malachi, Chapter 1: 11) into a nothing much more than a social gathering. The third secret was revealed by the Vatican in 2000 but they did not reveal the words of our Lady explaining the meaning. In addition, Our Lady also asked one of the seers in 1929 to ask the Pope, in union with all the bishops of the world to consecrate Russia to her immaculate heart in order to bring peace to the world. According to the Fatima messages, wars are the result of the sinfulness of mankind.
I’m sure many of your readers will think this to be arrant nonsense but the point I am making is that a specific request was made about consecrating Russia and the Vatican has consistently refused to honour it. The latest argument apparently is that it might offend our Orthodox brethren. We have see the complicity in covering up sex scandals so it is clear to many catholic like myself that the leadership is flawed. It is also interesting to note in this context that there is a substantial amount of evidence to indicate that the Pope who was elected in 1958 was not allowed to take office. On the day of the election white smoke was observed for fully 5 minutes indicating a successful election and then black smoke. The newspapers reported that a pope had been elected but then this was all denied by Vatican officials and a new election took place at which John XXIII was elected. If true he was an anti-pope and he was the pope who promulgated the Second Vatican Council. There are many causes for concern about the leadership of today’s church and a lot of confusion and speculation but what is very clear is that they continue to ignore Our Lady’s request to consecrate Russia and the longer that goes on the worse it will be for everyone because peace is only possible by following the prince of peace Our Lord Jesus Christ, true God and true man.

29 July 2011 at 11:34  
Blogger Dodo the Dude said...

"It is wrong, indeed, it is an irrational discrimination and an evil prejudice to tarnish an entire group of people because of the terrors, crimes and perversions of a few of their number."

Well said!

"As the faithful abandon the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland and it sinks into the morass, mired in systematic collusion and corruption, stained with the torture and rape of its own children, Enda Kenny has called for reformation. It remains to be seen whether or not Fr Brendan Hoban will find the courage and conviction of Martin Luther. For the truly ‘good priests’, there is no alternative. But they are there. Thank God, they are there."

Not so sure about this bit though. The problems besetting the Church are no theological ones as in Luther's time. Nor are they of the Church hierarchy exploiting the population for financial gain. They are about adapting to new ways of leadership to confront modern challenges.

The Roman Catholic is a world wide organisation, one of the oldest and largest bureaucracies in existance. The principle of 'subsidiarity', a Catholic principle, may need a more modern application. Also, in addition to appointing Bishops for spiritual worth, closer attention may be needed to be given to their managerial and leadership qualities. Competence, for example, in child protection, requires forensic study and training.

The Roman Catholic Church will emerge from this crisis and will learn the lessons from it. As 'cultural catholicism' wanes in Ireland, as it has in England, active membership in the Church may fall.

Meantime, may God Bless and protect all those loyal and dutiful servants who toil in the vineyard.

29 July 2011 at 11:43  
Anonymous The Minister for Public Enlightenment said...

Dear Dr Cranmer,

Thank you for your comprehensive and revealing post.

Somehow, as in the pre-Reformation distant past, there have always been faithful Christian pilgrims bearing witness despite being chained to the apron strings of the “Whore of Babylon.”

In my Evangelical Protestant opinion, the Roman Church continues to nullify the word of God by propagating fictitious doctrines, and interpretations for the sake of its tradition, enrichment, and self-perpetuation. An unaccountable elite slams the door of the kingdom of heaven in people's faces, imprisoning those within its walls and anathematising those outside. The supremo of this religious Ponzi scheme has the barefaced cheek to usurp the position of Almighty God by accepting titles like “Holy Father” (John 17:11) and “Vicar of Christ” which is the office of the Holy Spirit. (John 16:13-15) That any faith survives at all in this environment is nothing short of a miracle that can only be explained in terms of the gates of hell being unable to prevail.

Yours sincerely,

A. Wissel – Blower
Minister for Public Enlightenment

29 July 2011 at 12:31  
Blogger Dodo the Dude said...

I see the Roman Catholic 'Traditionalists', oppossed to Vatican II with their peculiar conspiracy theories, and the sects of Protestants who see all things Roman as representing the 'Whore of Babylon, have started already.

Happy days!

29 July 2011 at 12:37  
Anonymous DanJ0 said...

Poor Mr Tatchell. Mohamed Atta, Osama bin Laden, Anders Behring Breivik, ... and Peter Tatchell.

29 July 2011 at 12:58  
Anonymous Tony B said...

Yes, that does seem a bit harsh; however abrasive Mr Tatchell is, ranking him with mass murderers is a bit ott.

29 July 2011 at 13:01  
Anonymous Shacklefree said...

I'd like the Minister for Public Enlightenment to enlighten us about the fictitious doctrines. I'd also like to know when in history the term "Whore of Babylon" could be applied to the Catholic church. The prophet Daniel spoke about the disastrous abomination being set up in the holy place. Does our minister intepret that to mean the Church throughout the ages up to the present time or some time in the future? Remember Our Lord said that if the time of great tribulation were not shortened, no-one would survive. If the "Whore of Babylon" i.e. the disastrous abomination existed for 2000 years it could hardly be described as a short time.

29 July 2011 at 13:02  
Anonymous carl jacobs said...

“Names being mentioned or guessed at are all right wing, conservative and with a Rome background,”

I return again and again to this statement. Only the voice of a liberal priest would use such language. It makes me wonder of the subtext of this article isn't "Good liberal priest, bad conservative priest." It's the only hint of theology in the article, but it's enough for those with eyes to see.

I also wonder if the "good priest" qualification is really just a back-door way of reaching out to RC laity. There is a distinctly Jacobian spirit afoot. Enda Kenny's address didn't carry with it the penumbra of Luther so much as Robespierre. The whole thing could easily be perceived as "We are going to protect the RC laity by destroying the RCC." By speaking of 'good priests' he indirectly communicates some measure of respect to the people whose church he just attacked.

The laity after all are the victims in all this. People rush to the fore to provide justice for the wrongs done, but one suspects the victims are not foremost in the mind of the avengers. It would be unseemly to be seen using this scandal as a opportunity to remove the influence of a 'reactionary' institution from public life. Only a cynic would suspect such a motivation. Then again, I am pretty cynical.

And yet I return again and again to this line ... “Names being mentioned or guessed at are all right wing, conservative and with a Rome background” ... and wonder. If only the Roman Church was more agreeable to the modern world and the modern mind, would it be treated differently by the reforming politicians?


29 July 2011 at 13:19  
Blogger Fr Levi said...

Thank you your Grace. Nice to see someone trying to bring some balance to this whole sorry mess.

29 July 2011 at 13:22  
Anonymous carl jacobs said...

"enlighten us about the fictitious doctrines."

1. Papal and Magisterial Infallibility
2. Sacred Tradition
3. The Marian Dogmas
4. Trans-substantiation
5. Indulgences
6. Purgatory
7. Confession
8. The Doctrine of the Mass.
9. Sacramental Priesthood.
10. Baptismal Regeneration.
11. The Canons on Justification from the Council of Trent.
12. Saints.
13. Relics.
14. EENS
15. The Apocrypha

To name a few. That should provide a good start for the list.


29 July 2011 at 13:32  
Blogger English Viking said...

If Brendan Hoban (I refuse to call him 'father' as Christ forbade such nonsenses) chooses to lie down with dogs, well, he can't complain when he gets fleas, can he?

If he was half decent, he'd leave that wicked establishment.

O, but what about his pension? His home? His wages?

Perhaps he'd rather trust Rome to supply all his needs, instead of Jehovah Jireh?

29 July 2011 at 13:32  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hate to minimize the point of this posting which is to highlight the pain of good men in a bad situation. But whenever I read this, I just thank God for the Anglican Church.

Sure, we have our own share of painful problems. There have been wolves among the sheep. All churches have this problem since no good institution is immune from the depradations of evil.

But the key difference that I thank God for is that the Anglican church is governed from the ground up. It is hard for me to imagine a vestry with its due powers, putting up with any of this if they knew. I thank God that vestries have both the power to call a shepherd and the power to fire him if it becomes necessary(within procedural limits of course) and that this is true all the way up to the office of bishop and even archbishop. The people don't just have recourse in the Anglican church, they have powers and rights. A bad priest isn't just appointed to another parish. If he is removed, he is done. What Anglican church would willing call a man who had been fired for child abuse from another parish?

I truly feel for Roman Catholics and acknowledge that there is much good in that Church. But I feel blessed to be an Anglican at times like these. I hope that maybe at some time, Rome will learn the lesson. Hopefully before it is too late.


29 July 2011 at 14:30  
Anonymous Shacklefree said...

Thanks Carl, A good list of “fictitious doctrines”. I’ll take two.
1) Papal infallibility – Yes it is a difficult one but I refer you to Matthew 16: 18-19. Compare this with Isa 22: 20-22 and you see a similar conferring of authority so there is a tradition behind it. Secondly it doesn’t mean that the Pope cannot err and that all his pronouncements are automatically right. This is a common Protestant misinterpretation and I think in some cases a deliberate misinterpretation. There are specific circumstances when it applies and throughout history there have been very few occasions when it was invoked. It links in with the words of Jesus saying that the Holy Spirit would guide his church. We do not see the Pope as someone who cannot do wrong or who cannot make mistakes. However I do believe that the Catholic Church is guided by the Holy Spirit.
2) Transubstantiation - Transubstantiation is challenged by Protestants but it is the teaching of both the Orthodox and Catholic churches from the time of Christ to the present so it was orthodox Christian belief for 1500 years. Refer to John 6: 48-56 and Matthew 26: 26-28. We will probably disagree about the interpretation of the words of Jesus but I think we will agree that the Catholic interpretation is the more literal, plus it has the authority of the Church established by Christ behind it unless you argue that the Church Christ founded, fell away from the true faith almost immediately (because that was the teaching from the beginning) and if so that makes Jesus even more incompetent than the Irish bishops.
Now I would like to ask about the specifically Protestant doctrine of Predestination articulated in the Westminster Confession of Faith and which was enunciated by Martin Luther that people are predestined for Heaven or Hell even before they are born and that nothing you can do in this life will alter the destiny God has planned out for you. This doctrine has been a very successful ploy of satan because our atheistic brethren can legitimately say that if that is the type of God you believe in, he is not very just. Essentially it calls into question God’s goodness. This is a doctrine which has a long history beginning with the Gnostics in the first century and then resurrected by Mohammed in the 7th and Protestantism in the 16th. We can look back into the Old Testament and see hundred of Prophecies about the coming of Jesus. The miracles of Jesus and the modern miracles such as the miracles of Fatima testify to the power of God within Catholicism. Where are the prophecies and miracles associated with the founding of Protestantism? If we are going to accept the Protestant doctrines we would expect to see the same power to legitimize their new doctrine but instead the main thing we have seen is continual division with the current division within Anglicanism being a case in point.
I can’t in this space deal with all your instances but I think there are good reason both scripturally and from reason to accept the authority of the Catholic doctrines even if we have reservations about the competence of its leaders.

29 July 2011 at 14:45  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just wanted to clarify some things that might not have been clear in the post above. Should have read it over before posting.

The Anglican church's problems are not with child abusing priests as much as with other things for which we are routinely mocked by those in certain quarters. But that is just my point. We don't have a systemic problem with child abuse because the sunlight of democracy at parish level keeps the predators away (although surely this is not foolproof). On the other hand it is the top-down secretive bueracracy of the Roman church which is likely the culprit for making the shadows that abusive priests have used to hide themselves.

The problem is governance. No one, but no one, has yet invented a better system for protecting the little people from concentrated power than democracy. Some may accuse the Anglican church of too much democracy. Many of our most painful issues could be said to stem from too much democracy. But I will take our problems over the problems that Rome's bueracracy has created any day.


29 July 2011 at 15:08  
Blogger Owl said...

YG, a thought provoking article.

I do hope that your communicants checked Michael M.'s link to the Thirsty Gargoyle's excellent article.

I am a little surprised at one thing you said: "Enda Kenny’s decision to nail his 95 Theses to door of the Dáil and lead the Irish people to the promised Republic of Laws"

Enda Keeny has already shown that he is as dishonest as any Irish politician of bygone days and there is a lot of competition in that area.

Having gone back on his and his party's promise not to close the emergency facilities at Roscommon county hospital, he and his party will have difficulty in getting a vote anywhere west of Mullingar for the next 50 years.

This seems very much an attempt to distract the population from their economic woes and prepare them for giving up more to the EU which will somehow put a stop to child abuse without having to admit that the biggest failures were the Irish politicians themselves. The most abuse was in State institutions and State run schools. The Christian Brothers' may come a close second but why is the State not also being held up for inspection?

Because Enda (blood brother to "Cast Iron" and Blair) is part of it.

29 July 2011 at 15:26  
Blogger The Minister for Public Enlightenment said...

Shacklefree @13:02

Carl J @ 13:32 has kindly listed the main objections to Roman Catholic doctrine and they are more than enough to make the point that Catholicism is in serious error from which it shows no inclination to set itself or its followers free. I do not know who or what the Abomination of Desolation is but tend to the view that it may be either the desolation and desecration of the Jewish Temple by the Roman Army in AD70 or a future rampage by the Antichrist. Possibly it refers to both events. Regarding the “Whore of Babylon” I think she represents all religions and ideologies that are against Christ. This includes but is not limited to Roman Catholicism. The woman rides a beast (Satan) and that beast has seven heads that represent world empires, past, present and future. The Whore has existed, does exist, and will exist until Christ's return.
Catholicism with its reliance on a co-redemptrix and saintly intermediaries denies that there is one mediator between God and man; Christ Jesus alone. Your penances, purgatory and indulgences deny that a person can be saved by Grace through faith and not of themselves but by the gift of God. For such reasons Catholicism that claims to be on the side of Christ is really against him.

The exhortation of Revelation 18:4-5 remains a clarion call to those pilgrims entangled in false doctrine. “Come out of her, my people,’ so that you will not share in her sins, so that you will not receive any of her plagues; for her sins are piled up to heaven and God has remembered her crimes.”

29 July 2011 at 15:27  
Anonymous Shacklefree said...

Anonymous, I think your comments about top down security are valid. My earlier comments rather agreed with this because as I said the Church has not performed the consecration of Russia asked for in 1929. We all know the evils that communism brought into the world and I think that if the leadership of the Church had responded correctly things would have worked out better. I remain hopeful that they will do the consecration soon. Actually all these troubles make me wonder if perhaps the second coming is imminent. We have pornogaphy even in national newpapers and on the TV; we have a banking crisis that threatens to collapse; we promote homosexuality as a normal and healthy lifestyle but to be honest it is easy to see these things as the result of the laws we have enacted. For example, we have legalized diverce so faithfulness had been rejected by our society; we have promoted artificial birthcontrol making promiscuity and sexually transmitted diseases more likely; we have started experimenting with genetic manipulation on the basis that we can do a better job than God even to the extent of allowing the creation of human/animal hybrids. Of course they tell us it is all for a benign purpose. Getting back to your point I am not convinced that democracy is the best way to preserve true doctrine and these tendencies in society suggest that we are too ready to bend with the spirit of the times.

29 July 2011 at 15:27  
Anonymous Shacklefree said...

The Minister for Public enlightenment say that "penances, purgatory and indulgences deny that a person can be saved by Grace". Sorry that is simply not true. We need the grace of Christ but to say that we should not undertake acts of penance in our lives is not the message Jesus taught and not the way the early Chritians lived. None of us are perfect and with regard to Purgatory, I think it eminently reasonable that before being received into the joys of heaven we have to undergo purification first. In any case this is another doctrine that was shared by the Orthodox and Catholics for 1500 years. It is right to say that wrong things were happening in the Church but that is the point Jesus made when he came. He didn't set up a new Church with new doctrines - he took us back to the original doctrines and corrected the deviations such as an eye for an eye. That's what should have happened at the Reformation. Henry invented a new rule for himself about divorce and Martin Luther added the word "alone" to scripture so that he could convice himself that because he had faith that faith alone was sufficient to save him. Unfortunately the word "alone" is not in the original. It is not right to tamper with scripture.

29 July 2011 at 15:40  
Anonymous Shacklefree said...

I would suggest that the minister for public enlightenment look again at Revelation 18 and substitute stock market for 'Babylon the great' and for the 'great city'. The admonition to "Come out of her my people" could be an adminition not to gamble your savings on a financial system which is doomed to fail. When it does collapse we will indeed see all the traders of the Earth mourning and weeping for the great city doomed as she is in a single hour.

29 July 2011 at 16:40  
Blogger Dodo the Dude said...


I may have misjudged you earlier as a sedevacantist given your suggestion about Pope John XXIII and the accussation that the Church has ignored the requests of Mary at Fatima.

You defence of Roman Catholicism is welcome in the face of the hostility towards it by some on this blog.

The list of 'errors' posted by carl jacobs are based, in the main, on misrepresentations or misunderstandings of Catholic doctrine. You are correct too about Martin Luther - actually, those who know his biography will understand his rebellion against Rome sprung, in part, from a disturbed mind and abusive childhood. As for the 'Minister for Public Enlightenment', there's a misnomer if ever there was one, I suspect he is without Anglicanism too as many of his attacks on Catholicism also apply to Canterbury.

29 July 2011 at 16:54  
Blogger Archbishop Cranmer said...

"You are correct too about Martin Luther - actually, those who know his biography will understand his rebellion against Rome sprung, in part, from a disturbed mind and abusive childhood"

O dear.

His biography? So, there is only one? Or one authoritative one with which you happen to agree? So the entire Reformation is constructed upon a 'disturbed mind'. Good grief.

By this reasoning, you must also agree with Katharine Birbalsingh, who puts the Breivik's slaughter of around 80 children down 'in part' to an absent father.

There is no end to the projective apportioning of blame: "The serpent beguiled me..."

29 July 2011 at 17:09  
Anonymous Shacklefree said...

Thank you Dodo, It is only recently that I came across references to a possible false papal election in 1958. I reserve judgement but newspaper reports definitely said that a pope was elected and it appears to have been Cardinal Siri. However the reporst were quashed and later another election held. Other reports suggest that Pope Paul VI was himself an active homosexual and promoted into high positions other homosexuals. If true it is horrendous and makes me want to weep but it might also explain some of the later events. These are indeed awful times. I do not know what to think but I do like reading Pope Benedict's writings - I am not a theologian but he seems to get it right. Come Lord Jesus.

29 July 2011 at 17:17  
Blogger Dodo the Dude said...

Archbishop Cranmer

You do seem particularly interested in picking me up on matters. Why is that?

Admittedly I'm not as well read as you good sir, but you will agree Luther had a severely abusive childhood and was mentally traumatised by this. He carried into his early church career an attempt to win the favour and approval of God. Later he admitted to a belief that God was angry with him and identified the source of this as Catholic Church doctrine. He was known to suffer from severe scruples too - an awful state of mind.

And he did add the word "alone" to scripture. I would say as a way to free himself from his misperceptions about Catholic doctrine.

Now, all the above does not necessarily invalidate the Reformation. God choses whom He will. This was surely based on more than Martin Luther's inner turmoils.

By the way there is a difference between trying to understand someone's actions and justifying and condoning them. Eve was bequiled by the serpent - Adam should have resisted.

29 July 2011 at 17:36  
Blogger Bred in the bone said...

"If you're ridin' ahead of the herd, take a look back every now and then to make sure it's still there"-Will Rogers

29 July 2011 at 17:47  
Blogger len said...

The Church is at a crossroads, this being whether it is Catholic or Anglican.
I cannot but feel sorry for the good people in the Catholic Church who have been dragged through the mire by the few without scruples or restraint who have used their position to abuse children.
However how can any person of honour remain in an organisation which is treated with contempt and anger by so many of the public?.
A reformation is needed in the Catholic Church to bring it into line with Biblical principles, this would be a major upheaval for many but what is the alternative?.

29 July 2011 at 17:50  
Anonymous carl jacobs said...


The list of 'errors' posted by carl jacobs are based, in the main, on misrepresentations or misunderstandings of Catholic doctrine.

Since I in fact understand every one of those doctrines (although I am not sure if the canonization of the Apocrypha is tecnically a doctrine, or just the magisterial bleating of Trent) I suspect you mean that I have misrepresented or misunderstood their foundation in Scripture. Which translated means "If only you would read Scripture the way Rome tells you to read Scripture, then you wouldn't have a problem." Alas, I refuse to subject the Scripture to Rome, and instead demand that Rome be subjected to Scripture. According to that standard, all of the items on my list are significant and grevious errors.

And I thought of a couple additions to my list:

16. Eucharistic Adoration
17. The Mortal/Venial Sin differentiation
18. The latria/dulia differentiation
19. Hyperdulia offered to Mary.
20. Dulia offered to the saints.

I will keep thinking.


29 July 2011 at 18:01  
Anonymous Shacklefree said...

Dodo, There are some anti-catholic comments but I think overall they are pretty fair and raise genuine issues. I think this is a pretty fair blog and I have appreciated the responses. People do listen to argument and put forward their own points in a genuine way. There remains a lot of misunderstanding. Years ago my son went on a school exchange trip to Northern Ireland and had a great time but at one stage the kids there told him the Pope considered himself to be the equal of Jesus Christ. Wow. That's what we are up against in some cases but here I think I have enjoyed the debate and I say thank you to our debating opponents for keeping this blog courteous.

Your Grace, I notice you didn't pick up on the point that Martin Luther had added the word "alone" to scripture thus significantly changing its meaning.

29 July 2011 at 18:01  
Blogger Dodo the Dude said...

len said ...
"However how can any person of honour remain in an organisation which is treated with contempt and anger by so many of the public?"

How could any person of honour 2000years ago believe a man hung on a cross and scorned follow him as the Son of God? The Catholic Church is based on biblical principles!

Do be careful about what you read on the internet. Man didn't walk on the moon; Kennedy was assinated by the CIA; 9/11 was instigated by the CIA.

Pope Benedict's personal writings are just that, his private opinions. Some theologians question his understandings of transubstantiation and the physical resurrection. Me, I find his more complex treatises somewhat ambiquous.

That said, he has brought a sense of stronger direction to the Church and, despite lens comments, is responding to the scandal of child abuse. For example, any applicant to the priesthood with a tendency towards homosexuality is not to be admitted. Hard line or appropriate? He has also closed the debate about the possibility of women priests.

29 July 2011 at 18:08  
Anonymous Shacklefree said...

Carl, you are bring up some great points. I’ve had to do a bit of research to find out what some of the terms mean but in brief, if the Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation is correct then Eucharist adoration is perfectly understandable. Secondly I do think there is a different between murder and stealing from the corner shop so I think the mortal/venial sin differentiation is reasonable. The honour offered to saints who are with the Lord is no different in my mind from the honour I offer to people who are alive today and working unselfishly for the Lord and I would have no hesitation asking you as a fellow Christian to pray to pray for my son or daughter if they were in hospital in a critical state. If you can intercede for me with your prayers why can't they? The veneration to Mary is the same thing but a little more special considering she was the mother of Jesus but also because it is clear from the miracles of Fatima and Lourdes etc. that God has chosen her as his instrument in these modern times. These miracles are testified to by very strong evidence. Sorry, I'm hogging the blog. I'll stop.

29 July 2011 at 18:18  
Blogger len said...

Paedophiles are notoriously devious.They wheedle themselves into positions where they can exploit those in their care.The Church must be a prime target for them.
How exactly does the Catholic church define those with abusive tendencies ,and what will it do when it finds them?
And how many are yet to be discovered?
These are all questions which people want answered before /or if ever/ they place their children in the Catholic churches care?.

29 July 2011 at 18:30  
Blogger Dodo the Dude said...


The same concerns are applicaple to all organistaions caring for vulnerable people, old and young.

There is no 'magic bullet' that will identify those who might abuse children. The approach in civic society is to empower children to speak out, to listen to them when they do and to investigate suspicions and allegations thoroughly. This is probably the greatest safeguard.

You should also keep this in perspective. We are dealing with a very small minority of priests. The days of large scale institutional care where children were isolated from local communities, are also long gone.

29 July 2011 at 19:05  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

carl jacobs
The Hail Mary
"Catechism of the Council of Trent" says that to the first part of the Hail Mary, by which "we render to God the highest praise and return Him most gracious thanks, because He has bestowed all His heavenly gifts on the most holy Virgin ... the Church of God has wisely added prayers and an invocation addressed to the most holy Mother of God ... we should earnestly implore her help and assistance; for that she possesses exalted merits with God, and that she is most desirous to assist us by her prayers, no one can doubt without impiety and wickedness."

Not worship of Mary but recognition of her special position.

Roman Catholics are not required to accept Fatima or Lourdes, or any of the other appearances of Our Lady, as a matter of faith. The Church has formally commended both as worthy of attention.

29 July 2011 at 19:17  
Blogger The Minister for Public Enlightenment said...

Shacklefree @ 15:40 and 16:40

I think I can see where you are coming from regarding acts of penance but in my view the proper response to all our sins and failures is to repent and believe that having confessed to God who is willing to forgive our sins we are indeed forgiven and clean. Penance is therefore unnecessary and it is gratitude to God that should motivate us to behave better in future. (Salvation by grace does not provide license to behave in any way we like. The apostle Paul made that quite clear.)

Regarding purgatory and the reasonableness of having to undergo purification before entering heaven I can only say no, no, a thousand times no. The blood of Christ cleanses us from all sin. Those who put their faith in Christ are not perfect but they are justified. Christ himself has paid their penalty. Those that are justified will be glorified. (Romans 8:30) Its done and dusted. Your comments regarding purgatory lead me to fear that you have no assurance of salvation.

Capitalism and Corporatism are ideologies that do not sit comfortably with the teachings of Christ. I would agree they are part of “Babylon the Great” but only part. However if the stock market is part of the “Great City” that is to fall then we are all in something of a pickle. Our occupational pensions, endowment policies and savings right down to the last penny are all locked into the world financial system whether we like it or not. In the current financial climate Babylon does indeed appear to be tottering a bit. Coming out of it entirely might be a trifle difficult.

29 July 2011 at 19:22  
Blogger Er said...

We, members of the Church feel that pain. We are humbled before the Lord for the sins of some of our leaders so we ask forgiveness and pray for our good priests, and for those who sinned to repent.

29 July 2011 at 20:15  
Anonymous Shacklefree said...

OK just one more response. Minister for Public Enlightenment, Thank you for a very nice reply. We are not that far apart. I agree that when we confess to God who is willing to forgive our sins we are indeed forgiven” completely. However, I think we are not yet clean enough to enter the heavenly portal which is the reason for Purgatory.

I agree entirely that “it is gratitude to God that should motivate us to behave better in future”.

With regard to assurance of salvation, that was the reason Luther altered the words of scripture so that he could convince himself before death that he was saved. He wasn’t prepared to trust in God’s mercy – he wanted the psychological feeling of assurance.

29 July 2011 at 20:17  
Anonymous bluedog said...

Mr Dodo @ 11.43 said, 'The principle of 'subsidiarity', a Catholic principle'.

And of course the concept of subsidiarity is deeply woven into the comstitution of the EU. It has always amazed this communicant that such a profoundly independent nation as the Irish could have allowed themselves to become as enthralled to the Roman Catholic Church as they have. The Irish don't really do pomposity, pretension and suffocating ritual, its just not in their good humoured DNA. Now through some national Epiphany they are seeing things differently. It's impossible to imagine the Irish abandoning Christianity, but the form the Church takes in Ireland seems to be evolving rapidly.

Will this rejection of external control finally manifest itself in revolt against the EU itself? Let us pray that it may be so. May the Irish become 'protestants' in terms of their feelings towards Brussels.

29 July 2011 at 21:37  
Blogger Dodo the Dude said...


If you know the historyof the Irish you'll know they are a nation that has suffered much down the centuries.

The people have a deep and abiding faith in Christ. In truth, sometimes it borders on the superstitious. Listen to their phrases and you'll hear them talk of God's goodness, of His mercy and love.

Roman Catholicism is Christianity for Irish Catholics. They have respected the institution of the Church without question. They have shown nothing but respect for priests seeing them as Christ's representative on earth. To him they turned in times of joy, sadness and confusion.

The generations change and 'modern' Ireland and the younger generations were already questioning the Catholic faith. Add this scandal and the Cathoilic Church in Ireland faces a critical few decades. How will it fair? As my Irish mother would say, "God only knows, we must trust in His Goodness and Mercy."

29 July 2011 at 23:27  
Blogger Owl said...


At the age of ten or eleven I once asked my Irish Aunt why the priests had so much power and respect (I grew up in London and hadn't seen this before). She answered me that for many centuries the Irish were allowed no other leaders and that it takes time for new leaders to emerge. A wise woman.

BTW, the Bishops, Cardinals and the Pope himself were not as important as the Parish priest who often settled arguments as well as saying Mass. His word was final.

The importance of Rome in Ireland is often overstated, especially by the likes of Enda Kenny who is just playing politics to his own ends.

30 July 2011 at 00:16  
Blogger Dodo the Dude said...

Qwl said ...
" ... for many centuries the Irish were allowed no other leaders and that it takes time for new leaders to emerge."

It has only been in the last 90 years or so that Irish people have had a political system of their own. The Church was there for centuries as the only solace to a subjucated people. It was an act of independance to be Catholic in the face of a Protestant occupation.

Times change and the Church and State in Ireland have to accept and operate within their proper spheres.

30 July 2011 at 00:42  
Blogger English Viking said...


If you think anyone in the UK has been allowed a political system of their own within the last 90 years, let alone the Oirish, you are even more of a tit than you appear.

30 July 2011 at 02:19  
Blogger len said...

Dodo, 'Roman Catholicism is Christianity for Irish Catholics.'

What a depressing statement! Roman Catholicism is 'christianity 'for a lot more people other than the Irish.

Jesus Christ is Christianity! If we had stuck with this we could have changed the World ,instead we have a poor excuse for a religion which distorts and misrepresents Christ so He is held in contempt by the people.Such was satan`s plan.

30 July 2011 at 07:42  
Blogger Dodo the Dude said...

English Viking

You're the 'tit'! Do read the context for my comment. I might agree the political system offers an illusion of democratic choice but even this was denied the Irish prior to 1922.


Do stop banging the same old drum! Of course Jesus Christ is Christianity and His Church is His representative on earth until He returns.

In my opinion, it is people like you who damage Christianity by attacking its institutions and its theology - Roman Catholic and Anglican alike.

30 July 2011 at 11:19  
Blogger len said...

Bang, Bang , Bang!.

Sorry Y G, but this bird is like an old broken down record.Squawking and flapping around like some sort of demented banshee.

30 July 2011 at 14:20  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Disillusioned RC clergy in Ireland could always join the Church of Ireland. No re-ordination required just a solemn renunciation of Romish errors and a sincere commitment to the reformed catholic faith of St Patrick and the undivided church. (Read St Paddy's Confessions and you will find a pure evangelical doctrine!).

The benefits of joining the C of I? Government by synod of Irish clergy, laity and bishops not by the Panzer pontiff in Rome and his morally-compromised minions; a pastoral ministry of Word and Sacrament with and on behalf of laity rather than a sacerdotal hierarchy which lords it over laity; a liturgy both scriptural and traditional adapted to the Irish people not the one size fits all Roman liturgy with its new mock-Tridentine overtones; the freedom to marry and raise a family; and the rejection of Roman legalism and constraint.

Those who find HG's communicants a tad anti-Roman should reflect on almost 500 years of vilification, excommunication and persecution of other 'ecclesial communities' by Rome. We are only speaking the truth in tough love as the Apostle might say in today's parlance.

As the 39 Articles declare: "The Church of Rome hath erred" and error is at its core so it is no surprise that gross perversions and cover-ups occur. And these are only the ones we know about as secrecy and silence is one the traits of the RC system.

Rome's fulminations are fortunately nowadays in vain and its attempts to invalidate those who protest only reminds those of the reformed tradition how entrenched Rome is in its error and how valid the protest of the 16th century was.

PS: Carl - the Syllabus of Errors is my personal favourite. An example of a papal tantrum after Europe wisely started to ignore the unending stream of papal bull. Talk about spitting the pontifical dummy! Is it classified nowadays as infallible along with Humanae vitae and Apostolicae Curae? It would be laughable if it wasn't all such a complete mockery of the Gospel.

30 July 2011 at 14:41  
Anonymous carl jacobs said...

Anonymous @ 14:41

Thank you for that reference. I have never heard of this document before, but a brief Google search shows that it does look interesting. As for its infallibility, I fear we shall never know. There exists no official list of infallible teachings. The RCC declares that it teaches infallibly, and demands adherence as if its teachings are infallible, but it never actually says "These are the infallible teachings." That which isn't identified can't be falsified. Great work if you can get it.


30 July 2011 at 15:59  
Blogger Dodo the Dude said...


Have you read and studied the 'Syllabus of Errors'? It has protected the Catholic from liberalism, humanism, secularism and a host of other modern ills.

As John Newman said:
"The Syllabus then has no dogmatic force; it addresses us, not in its separate portions, but as a whole, and is to be received from the Pope by an act of obedience, not of faith, that obedience being shown by having recourse to the original and authoritative documents, (Allocutions and the like,) to which the Syllabus pointedly refers. Moreover, when we turn to those documents, which are authoritative, we find the Syllabus cannot even be called an echo of the Apostolic Voice; for, in matters in which wording is so important, it is not an exact transcript of the words of the Pope, in its account of the errors condemned, just as would be natural in what is an index for reference."

Humanae Vitae, in my opinion, stands as one of the great encyclicals. In 2008, Pope Benedict XVI called the subject of artificial birth control "so controversial, yet so crucial for humanity's future". Humanae Vitae became "a sign of contradiction but also of continuity of the Church's doctrine and tradition... What was true yesterday is true also today."

Seperate the expressio of human physical love from the possibility of human life and what is it? Look at what has happened to our sex obsessed society since the 1960's and the advent of the pill.

30 July 2011 at 16:09  
Blogger Dodo the Dude said...

len said...
"Bang, Bang , Bang!.
Sorry Y G, but this bird is like an old broken down record.Squawking and flapping around like some sort of demented banshee."

This from a man who considers the writings of Paul as having been inspired by Satan and, seemingly, denies the doctrine of the Trinity!

By the way, try toavoid mixing your metaphors, there's a good little boy.

Squawk, squawk, squawwwkkkk ....

30 July 2011 at 16:12  
Anonymous carl jacobs said...

I read through the Syllabus of Errors and found it to be quite a mixed bag. It seems a consistent presentation of Roman Catholicism, but not too compatible with the ideas of the modern RCC. Certainly there was none of that 'separated brother' stuff when it comes to Protestants. The document presents the long-established view of EENS that the RCC is the Church and outside of Rome there is no other.

I only know one consistent RC. He tells me I am going to Hell. He tells me that because the RCC taught it for centuries - until about ... oh ... Vatican II. He has fits with the present RCC because he knows what was once infallibly taught, and he knows what is currently taught, and he can't reconcile the difference. It's that 'definition of infallibility' that sticks in his throat. How can the RCC infallibly teach 'X' in 1500, teach 'not X' in 2000, and claim that there is no inconsistency between the two teachings such that infallibility is called into question? I keep hoping he will draw the obvious conclusion.


31 July 2011 at 04:04  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Carl: "He tells me I am going to Hell."

*pats seat next to me*

I'll reserve a seat for you in hell if you like. I'm thinking gay atheists will get better treatment than wrongly-Christian Christians and you might be able to sneak in to our room with us.

31 July 2011 at 07:58  
Blogger len said...

Dodo, God bless you, for you keep me amused,and there is not much to amuse one nowadays.

Now where`s that drum?

31 July 2011 at 11:01  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Mr Dodo Dude: do you really claim the RC church has remained immune from errors of contemporary society by means of the Syllabus of 'Errors'?

Wake up and smell the incense!

Do you really reject the separation of church and state, the freedom of the individual to choose her religion and the right of the individual to practise his faith?

As for Humanae Vitae: only a celibate could condemn artifical birth control; someone who knew nothing of the strain of repeated pregnancies on relationships in an already overpopulated world.

Strange how churches with married clergy are compassionate on the issue of birth control.

I'm surprised you did not mention that study in revisionism and invalidation: Apostolicae Curae. Funny how Rome required the C of E to adopt rites and ceremonies in her 16th century ordination service which were unknown to the entire church before the 12th century! If our orders are invalid, Rome has invalidated her own and Orthodoxy's as well.

Even if the orders of a church are in doubt, the God of the Gospel would not deny his children sacramental grace because of some historic hiccough in the line of succession. To think otherwise is to reject the simple faith in Jesus which brings salvation.

31 July 2011 at 15:02  
Blogger English Viking said...


It was a simile, not a metaphor.

31 July 2011 at 17:49  
Blogger Dodo the Dude said...

Enlish Viking

True - thank you.

Len, please try to avoid mixing your similes, there's a good soldier.

31 July 2011 at 20:14  
Blogger Dodo the Dude said...

That's English Viking.

31 July 2011 at 20:15  

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