Monday 13 September 2010

The Pope's British Divisions

I've just been listening to The Pope's British Divisions - which Catholic Voices rated as superb, though my view is somewhat different.


There are countless idiocies in the programme.

For example, a young person saying that the Pope's 'views are still quite out of date' on issues like abortion and same-sex marriage, and another saying the great thing about Catholicism is that you can pick and choose what you believe.

More alarmingly, the Director of Youth Services of Nottingham Diocese, Fr Joe Wheat, thinks it is 'Brilliant' and 'Fantastic' that if you ask 50 young people what Catholicism means, you will get 50 different answers; and that if young people are 'grappling and struggling' with some aspects of Church teaching, the worst thing you can do is tell them that some beliefs are required if one is to consider oneself Catholic. The particular idiocy here is that the young people are not 'grappling and struggling' with Church teaching: they have simply swallowed the secular view hook line and sinker and rejected the Truth (which has almost certainly never been explained to them by Fr Wheat or anyone else - because he doesn't want to 'make value judgements about people's Catholicism').

Another idiocy is perpetrated by Sir Stephen Wall. He recalls how when he worked for +Murphy O'Conner, Cardinal Sodano would ask + MO'C to get the Tablet to correct some of its errors. He likens that to Mobutu or some other dictator asking the British Government to censor the BBC. This is a seriously idiotic analogy. The Tablet describes itself as a Catholic paper, and it is one of the responsibilities of the hierarchy to control who uses that label and how they use it, to protect the Faithful and the Faith. Failure in this area is a continuing source of scandal.

Communion Not a Time of Judgement
At one stage they are discussing the Soho Gay and Lesbian Masses (of particular interest, perhaps, to the reporter, Mark Dowd).

Here is what Archbishop Nicholls had to say when asked if he expected those who come to Holy Communion at the Mass to live in chastity:

No priest makes the moment of Communion a moment of judgement. I trust in people as they come forward, that they do so with a good conscience, and they do so knowing that this public gesture by which they receive the Body and Blood of Christ is reflected in their heart, in their desire to live in union with Him. So that is never a point for judgement, and anybody from the outside who is trying to cast a judgement on the people who come forward to communion really ought to learn to hold their tongue.

It seems to me that there are several problems with this.

Holy Communion is a moment of judgement: St Paul is quite clear about this. That is not to say that we should judge people coming forward for communion, but it does mean that the Archbishop should ensure that the 'good conscience' in which he 'trusts people to come forward' is a conscience correctly formed in accordance with the Truth.

And where that is manifestly not the case - as the interviews with the attendees at the Mass make clear (even the Priest in charge says 'we're not here to campaign for Church teaching' - which presumably means he's not there to proclaim the Truth...) - I believe he has a responsibility to do something about it.

So he misunderstands us when we question the grave scandal caused by those openly dissenting having their own Mass. We are not judging them - they are proclaiming their dissent quite openly; no, our 'judging' if such it be, is aimed at the decision to sanction such a thing, as we fear it emperils the souls of those who take part, as they are denied proper pastoral care, and it also does great harm to others, as it risks teaching a falsehood, viz that the Church accepts practicing homosexuality as a valid lifestyle choice.


Susan Reynolds' 'heart was broken' by the introduction of one Latin Mass (out of 4 at the weekend) at Blackfen. My heart bleeds for her... Why do we never hear of the heartbreak caused to so many when at the drop of a hat ALL Latin Masses were outlawed and replaced by an infantilised and banal English liturgy?

Fr Finigan put his case well, though I would have put it differently, I think, and the indomitable Mac managed to get the Holy Father's point that Truth is not subject to a majority vote onto the radio.

And so it went on.

It seemed balanced, in some ways - a bit of tradition, a bit of liberalism and so on. But I was left feeling dissatisfied with it as a programme and I'm not sure why. Perhaps because although two sides of a faultline were given a reasonable airing, neither was really examined or interrogated in depth.

There is much more that could be said about this, but I really ought to get on with my work. However, there is a good review at The Sensible Bond should you wish to read more.

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