Candid Candido

This contribution, and the two comments which follow immediately, have been copied from “The culture of community”. The comprehensiveness of John Candido’s contribution suggests that it should be posted separately to allow for the points made to be explored.

John Candido on 27 Apr 2010 at 12:49 pm

The Catholic Church in parts is a thoroughly disgusting institution. The Vatican is insensitive to outside opinion because it is so wrapped up in its own collective ego and position of power. Nobody elects them except themselves. The laity have no say as to who will be a Bishop, or any other high-ranking prelate within our dioceses or within the Vatican. Ask yourself, do they talk to anybody outside their inner circle? No, they do not. Why not? Because nobody has any power to remove anybody within the Vatican except the Pope, who can only go by resignation or death. What is so obvious about the Vatican is that as an institution, it is self-perpetuating, unelectable, and therefore moribund as a consequence. This is the essence of the Vatican.

Parts of the Vatican are tainted by a disgusting group of celibate paedophile protectors, who have the gall and arrogance to defend clergy who have commited crimes against children. In addition, the Pope’s capacity to govern the church is now under question because of decisions he took while he was Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and for former decisions he made while he was an Archbishop in his native Germany. His suitability to govern is also under question because of decisions he has taken while holding the office of Pope. Vis-a-vis, the apointment of Holocaust denier Bishop Richard Williamson as a catholic bishop, his risable comment about condom use in Africa, for his poor handling of ecumenical relations with the Anglican Church in England, and for inadvertently insulting the people of the Islamic faith through a speech he gave at a German university. Sadly, it looks increasingly the case that the Pope should resign his office.

Please pause for a moment and contemplate what has happend to thousands of vulnerable children around the world. What parts of the Vatican and other diocesan bishops have done by protecting priests who have committed serious crimes is to spit into the faces of children, spit into the faces of women who have been abused, and spit upon the very face of Christ himself! And in tandem with their own bankrupt policies of clergy management, they have also treated the law with total contempt. There is no question that the modern world is aghast by this and will not acknowledge the church as having any credibility or integrity.

The Vatican as an institution lacks the virtues of courage and humility, and a governing culture bounded by transparency and accountability. These virtues and values of governance are linked, because you need courage in order to be humble and you need both courage and humility in order to accomodate transparency and accountability. To wit, the church needs to humbly admit its searing errors regarding child abusers and summon the courage to reform its structures, processes, disciplines, policies, and doctrines. In addition, it needs a thorough updating through doctrinal reform by looking at the knowledge gained through the research of universities into the human condition. It must incorporate into its doctrines a modern understanding of psychology, psychiatry, genetics, sexology, sociology, and anthropology. To fail to reform their thoroughly mediaeval doctrinal positions on sex, sexuality, and birth control, is utterly non-catholic because it is not consistent with the truth of modern knowledge as the world knows it. To remain ignorant of a modern understanding of human beings in order to maintain the status quo on all her teachings, is to truely lack courage and humility. In consequence, the Vatican is a poorly led coward’s paradise populated by paedophile protectors and law breakers.

One essential starting point that the church cannot compromise on is the notion that every human being, believer and non-believer alike, is absolutely entitled to their own conscience. The primacy of the individual conscience is an unasailable reality that cannot be diluted by any individual or power structure. It will take some courage and humility for the Vatican, their apologists, as well as the multitude of sycophants and conservative ratbags around the world, to accept this unconditionally. Any attempts to dilute this teaching on conscience while the modern secular world is watching will be fatal for the church’s mission to spread the Gospel. Not only will she be exposed for the antediluvian fossil that she is, but the modern world will declare her a risible farce.

How do we resist a power structure that is dysfunctional, vainglorious, self-perpetuating, and unassailable? What I have done over the last decade is to stop going to mass for good and to take up Christian Meditation, as rediscovered and taught by the late Fr. John Main OSB and currently led by Fr. Lawrence Freeman OSB. I will never return to this dark and forbidding institution, which claims an affinity with Jesus Christ, until it is thoroughly reformed and reconstructed. The Vatican is a pox on the Gospel, but she will never see this in a millenia. In addition, don’t send your children to mass or to a catholic school and stop giving any money to their charities and schools. Children can still be taught about the Gospel through personal instruction and the example of their families. Use the internet and the mass media to highlight your disatisfaction, and wherever possible litigate against any church employed individual or structure, that you have reasonable grounds to believe has committed crimes or assisted criminals.

The modern, civilised, and cosmopolitan world that we have grown up in demands that we take whatever civilised and legal action that is within our means, in order to rectify error in our church. The Catholic Church is currently in a very poor state and it needs our activism and our prayers. She must rediscover humility and courage, together with modern values of governance, such as transparency and accountability. We the laity and whoever is with us, must seek to change what is a structurely moribund institution, by confidently exposing lies, obfuscation, criminality, and ecclesiastical dysfunctionality.

claret on 27 Apr 2010 at 9:35 pm

I know that this is the most serious of subjects but I can’t help wondering what made John stop when he had just got started?!

It would seem that his views on the ‘primary of conscience’ are a ‘get out of jail free’ card that we should all have. Taken to a logical degree it might even be a matter of consience for a priest deprived of a natural outlet for his sexual desires through marriage, as demanded by the Church, to successfully reason with his consience ( as some have done,) that the objects of their sexual perversions enjoyed what was happening to them

(as some would have at the time,)and so it was sinless.

That aside i wonder what posters thought about the letter from the Bishops of England and Wales that was read out at Mass last weekend. (John is excused this as he does not attend Mass any more. Incidentally does Fr. Freeman?)

For me it fell short as it did not address the harm done to those lay Catholics who have loyally kept the faith. It did not say a word about what would happen to any member of the clergy convicted of criminal offences in the future. It said nothing about reform. As John rightly points out this is a letter from unaccountable Bishops who would seem to have taken no account of what any lay Catholic has to say. A corrupt power system sustained by corrupt power.

st.joseph on 28 Apr 2010 at 8:45 am

The Gospel reading for todays Mass is taken from St Johns Gospel.12;44-50. It is worth a look.

When the Body of Christ is suffering we who belong to His Body suffers too.

But however the Gospel reading today ought to give us consolation and to hang in there,The Eucharist gives us Life.

And He has said it.

We are so Blessed to be able to receive Our Lord in the Mass.

Jesus did not deny His Body and Blood to Judas, so why should we deny it to ourselves! No one can say we are worthy of such a Gift.

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About Quentin

Science Editor, Catholic Herald. Portrait © Jacqueline Alma
This entry was posted in Church and Society, Moral judgment, Spirituality. Bookmark the permalink.

51 Responses to Candid Candido

  1. peterdwilson says:

    I see no need to worry for the Church’s sake (though perhaps we should for his) about John Candido’s rant, evidently written in a state of ill-temper. The apology for child abuse has already been given fulsomely, as was necessary, and despite some prelates who seem to see no need for it.

    Granted that the governance of the Church is essentially top-down, there is at least one very good reason for that: very few of the laity are in a position to judge who among those available would make a good bishop or other functionary. There is nothing sacred about democracy, and as we know to our cost, elected governments can behave pretty disastrously.

    As for a “mediaeval” position on sexuality etc., it is infinitely preferable to the currently prevalent licentiousness that brings untold misery in its wake. There may be scope for damage limitation when self-control is inadequate, but that is already recognised as a matter of conscience.

  2. Stair Sainty says:

    Candido is so thoroughly inebriated by his own verbosity that, should he read this blog, any debate with him would likely be a waste of time. His hostile opinions are evidently set in concrete while his portrayal of the Church and the Vatican bears no relationship to reality.

    The idea that the Pope, the Vatican and the Bishops are the enemies of the self-proclaimed “true” Catholic Church merely echoes the protests of disaffected Protestantism since the Reformation. Candido’s bilious arguments offer nothing – indeed they are thoroughly dishonest, misrepresenting the attitude of the Church to the crime of paedophilia, the way the problem has been dealt with and, in particular, the role of Pope Benedict XVI both before and after his election to the Papacy.

    He suggests that the Church’s failings are due to its failure to introduce popular democracy; perhaps he would make the same criticism of Our Lord for his conferral of the keys of His Kingdom on Simon Peter, rather than offering his disciples a ballot. Or maybe he could identify a main stream Christian Church whose leaders are elected by those who identify themselves as ordinary members of the Church (people, perhaps, like John Candido)? With just a little knowledge Candido might have been aware that Catholic religious Orders are indeed “democratic” and have always elected their leaders; but one only needs to witness the present election process in the United Kingdom to appreciate that to introduce some kind of representative democracy among the members of the Church as a whole would hardly improve its functioning. Would Candido like to see Bishops standing for election on rival platforms, for or against remarrying divorced persons, allowing or prohibiting contraception, abortion, limiting Holy days of obligation, offering Ordinary or Extraordinary rite Masses, placing the Blessed Sacrament on the altar or off somewhere else in the church, etc? And what role does he propose to assign to the Holy Spirit?

    While the Church’s handling of paedophile priests has been far from praiseworthy and in pointing out that less than 2% of the English clergy of the last 50 years has been implicated in these crimes I do not seek to excuse this, but it is equally obvious that this problem is every bit as serious in other churches and faiths. This is evidence that priestly celibacy is not the reason why some priests, ministers, rabbis and imams are tempted in this way. A recent scandal in the US has demonstrated that the problem is far greater in the teaching profession and that school teachers who have been implicated have been protected by their union. Do we see worldwide outrage directed at education ministers or union leaders? Candido arrogantly believes that his interpretation of Catholicism represents the authentic Church, rejecting the Magisterium and Tradition while proclaiming his own version of Christianity as superior. This is the classic cry of the disaffected protestant – he might well find that a bit more time spent in quiet meditation and less time in congratulating himself on finding what he believes is the truth could be a rewarding way to spend his time. Perhaps then he might not be quite so pleased with himself for denouncing those who give their treasure and time to support the incredible churches, schools, hospitals, and missions which so distinguishes the Catholic Church and its commitment to fulfilling Our Lord’s commands.

  3. James H. says:

    Ho, hum. We’ve been here before, all through Easter.

    “Ask yourself, do they talk to anybody outside their inner circle?”
    I have – about the Times&Guardian in this specific context.

    “Parts of the Vatican are tainted by a disgusting group of celibate paedophile protectors”
    Yes, but BXVI isn’t one of them. This whole second paragraph is just a re-hash of the mudslinging already done ad nauseam. If Candido was at all interested in the truth, as opposed to his issues with the church, he might have found the answers to those objections in the blogs he seems to have visited. Is he really interested?

    “…the church needs to humbly admit its searing errors…”
    Which it has done, on at least two occasion to my certain knowledge.

    “…and summon the courage to reform its structures, processes, disciplines, policies, and doctrines.”
    Why is ‘doctrines’ in this list? Doctrine is a set of first principles, not something you agree on in a meeting before lunch. Which doctrines? Or is he talking about disciplines?

    “It must incorporate into its doctrines a modern understanding of psychology, psychiatry, genetics, sexology, sociology, and anthropology.”
    Which are continually in development, subject to ephemeral fashions in thinking, and hopelessly compromised by the damage they are doing, right now (not just in the past), and right here.

    “…sex, sexuality, and birth control…”
    Ah, now we come to the nub of the matter. For just one easily-accessible comment thereon, I invite everyone to go to:
    http://johncwright.livejournal.com/337756.html
    People are finally beginning to see the snake-oil the sexual revolution sold them, for what it is. The younger generation (those who have been allowed to live) has seen the wreckage, and wants to steer clear. Candido seems to think we should plough into it.

    “…absolutely entitled to their own conscience…”
    Thank you Claret for answering that so well!

    “We the laity and whoever is with us, must seek to change what is a structurely moribund institution, by confidently exposing lies, obfuscation, criminality, and ecclesiastical dysfunctionality.”
    Finally, something I can agree with!

  4. eclaire says:

    Thank you Stair Sainty for your contribution; it was a pleasure to read and, thank you, too, st. joseph for saying what my mother used to say to me: ‘never allow anyone, or anything to come between you and the Mass.’

  5. vmilner says:

    peterdwilson said:

    “There is nothing sacred about democracy, and as we know to our cost, elected governments can behave pretty disastrously.”

    Of course, the opposite statement:

    “There is nothing sacred about a lack of democracy, and as we know to our cost, unelected governments can behave pretty disastrously.”

    is also true…

  6. eclaire says:

    vmilner, you are right to point out that the opposite statement (above) can also be true, but the first statement is not often acknowledged today yet it remains equally true; peterdwilson has the courage to stand out and redress that balance.

  7. Michael Mahoney says:

    We are, it seems, almost daily, forced to contemplate horrific stories of child abuse and the cover up of them and justifications of those whose duty it was to protect the innocents, Baby Peter, James Bulger, Victoria Climbie and countless others whose sufferings lie hidden to us. And in this contemplation, we are brought face to face with two insurmountable mysteries, the mystery of God and the mystery of God’s creation, human kind. We are brought to an awareness of the fragility of our own humanity and that of others. And so we become mute in our judgements and ask of ourselves, “What, at heart, do I really know of these persons and what do I know of myself, for is it not ever the case that there, but for the grace of God, go I?”
    I see very little in the evidence you give, John Candido, to justify your sweeping condemnation of Pope Benedict, but I do share your analysis that the roots of the current scandals of cover up within the Church, lie in the lack of courage and humility of some leaders and I also believe that this is fostered by Church structures. I reflect that excessive fear makes us paranoid and alienates us from the natural community who should be our support. So some of our leaders, alone and overwhelmed with an inordinate sense of their own personal responsibility to save the good name of the Church and save the faith of the flock, make unbalanced judgements and take autocratic decisions that only succeed in bringing the whole Church into disrepute. But the truth of the matter is, of course, that no leader can save even himself, let alone anyone else, for none of us can be saved except by the grace of God.
    You say, John, that you have stopped going to church, that you have turned your back on the Church community, will not support it in any way, but will seek your own personal spirituality through meditation.
    But is not this opting out of religious community a contradiction? Has it not been revealed to us that God is not a singularity, but that God is a community of love, a triune community? And like God, we, too, are not a singularity, for alone we are nothing. We cannot exist without community. Without community there is no concept of any relationship whatever, no communication, no language, no art, no music, indeed nothing. Thank God, then, that we have been given community, however corrupt, inadequate and weak, the community of the family, the community of the neighbourhood, the community of the school, of work and, yes, of the Church.
    You must know, John, that the Vatican is not the Church and that no Pope has ever or would ever claim that he is the Church. We do not know the boundaries of the Church, only God knows. We do know, however, that the Church aspires, however inadequately, to be a community of love and that within the Church there is, despite the many sinful, scandalous failings of some of its leaders and members, a great treasure trove of that love, expressed in the sacrificial lives of saintly bishops, priests, nuns, monks and lay men and women of every race and nationality throughout the centuries. You would surely need to have the incredible tunnel vision of a Richard Dawkins or Christopher Hitchens to miss that wood for a disproportionate fixation on those distorted trees of the Church and of human life.

  8. Ion Zone says:

    The thing is that, in the right mind and circumstances, with the right words, anything can be labelled as wonderful or madness.

    Charity and forgiveness, even.

  9. John Candido says:

    On reflection, I think that I need to revise a sentence that I had written in my previous post. In my second paragraph I had written, ‘the Pope’s capacity to govern the church is now under question because of decisions he took while he was Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and for former decisions he made while he was an Archbishop in his native Germany’. This sentence needs to be more qualified.

    I don’t have irrefutable evidence that Benedict had made particularly poor decisions while he was the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith or as Archbishop of Munich. I don’t think that any journalist throughout the world currently has irrefutable evidence, that can withstand the rigours of a court of law, that he made decisions that were to the detriment of any person that was abused. What my mistake entailed was to rely on the near frenzy of media reports and other websites, both christian and secular, that suggested that some scandals could be connected to Benedict when he was the Archbishop of Munich or a Cardinal in the Vatican. We will all have to wait and see if anything substantial will arise in future, or that these stories were in fact a media beatup or were simply innacurrate.

    Let me be absolutely clear. I am not walking away from the rest of my criticisms about the catholic church. Most notably, its moribund and authoritarian governance, its mediaeval doctrinal positions on sex, sexuality, and birth control, the need to contemporise the church by incorporating modern knowledge into its doctrines, that the Vatican lacks courage and humility, the inviolate nature of human conscience, my advice to other catholics to walk away from the support and practise of the faith, and the need for vigilance and activism on the part of the laity.

    I have made a mistake in one of my sentences because of my justifiable anger about the current parlous condition of the catholic church. Whether I go to mass or not, it is still my church as it is as much as anybody elses. I believe that its decrepit and undemocratic methods of governance and its culture of clericalism are prime causal factors for these abuse scandals and there subsequent coverup. What intelligent catholics everywhere must do is to propose alternative democratic models of ecclesiatical governance, that can accomodate transparency and accountability, in place of intransigent authoritarianism.

    Therefore, I would like to revise the above quoted sentence to read, ‘the Pope’s capacity to govern the church is now under question because of decisions he reportedly took while he was Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and for former decisions he reportedly made while he was an Archbishop in his native Germany’. In the light of this revision, I unreservedly retract what I said about the need for Benedict to resign, but I do believe that he is a very poor administrator and leader because of the four reasons I subsequently made in the same paragraph. Due to these abuse scandals, the world has placed the church and Benedict on notice. Sincerely yours, John Candido.

  10. John Candido says:

    Dr. Richard Sipe is an ex-benedictine monk and priest in the United States, who subsequently became an authority on celibacy and sexuality. He is also a well known psychotherapist within the American Catholic Church, who has conducted extensive research into the hidden sexual lives of celebate priests and religious over many years. He is also an author of or has contributed chapters within several monographs on the issue of celibacy within the catholic church.

    By way of introduction, some of the titles he has written or contributed chapters to are ‘The Serpent and the Dove: Celibacy in Literature And Life’, ‘Sex, Priests & Secret Codes: The Catholic Church’s 2000 year paper trail of sexual abuse’, ‘Living the Celibate Life: A Search for Models and Ministry’, ‘Celibacy in Crisis, A Secret World Revisited’, ‘Sex, Priests and Power’, ‘Celibacy: A Way of Loving, Living, and Serving’, ‘A Secret World: Sexuality and the Search for Celibacy’, which I have read several years ago, and ‘Sin Against the Innocents’.

    I have stumbled upon some information located within Dr. Richard Sipe’s website. If you go to http://www.richardsipe.com/ and scroll down the page a little, you will come across a smallish white rectangle situated to the immediate right of centre entitled ‘New: Ratzinger Signs Off’. If you click on it, a pop-up will detail some interesting information about whether Ratzinger is connected to any sex abuse scandal while he was a Vatican Cardinal. I have copied it in its entirety as a quotation for anybody to conveniently read below.

    ‘2010-04-01 – Those of us who have worked on legal cases involving sex abuse of minors by Catholic bishops and priests have seen this signature (Ratzinger’s) on a number of documents we have had to review. Cardinal Ratzinger, notwithstanding his good intentions, has acted repeatedly according to the pattern and practice amply described in U.S. court records, victims’ testimonies, journalistic accounts beginning with Jason Berry and the National Catholic Reporter in 1985, recent Grand Jury Reports, and the church’s own files, etc. etc. etc. All these sources and more document cover up to avoid scandal and to preserve clerical image in preference to protecting children. Words have changed. The pattern and practice have not.’

    ‘Cardinal Levada who now occupies Ratzinger’s post as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith left a trail of transfers of abusive priests across the country and more. The Zero Tolerance policy much touted by the American bishops as their moral high ground is in reality a swamp of reassignments and further clerical hiding. A glaring loophole exists in the U.S. decree – it does not include abusive bishops who continue without containment until the waters public exposure and scandal rise so high even the Vatican cannot keep dry.’

    ‘Examples: Cardinal Groer of Vienna and Fr. Maciel, founder of the Legionaries of Christ were known abusers long before Rome took any action. Lesser publicized clerics i.e. Cardinal Theodore McCarrick and Bishop Robert Brom have yet to attract Vatican attention.’

    If there is any truth to these three paragraphs, in that they provide incontrovertible and verifiable evedence, that can withstand the rigours of a court of law, and which clearly and rationally substantiates that he is connected with disreputable decisions that have disadvantaged any children or women that have been abused, I will immediately call for the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI. If this information is true and verifiable as it is presented within Richard Sipe’s website, Benedict has no credibility or integrity, and he should immediately resign his office for the good of the church. Sincerely yours, John Candido.

  11. st.joseph says:

    John Candido,if you really believe that the One Holy Catholic and ‘Apostolic’ Church is ‘still your church’ as you say it is. Remembering that it also belongs to ‘Jesus Christ!’And He will be with it until the end of time.He wont ‘leave’ it-as you suggest we all do.
    Then maybe I can advise you to go into the Web site’ http://www.anf.org.
    Read it act on it and become a real apostle Then Jesus will know you are ‘really’His desciple!

  12. Superview says:

    I regret that several of the comments found it necessary to direct personal abuse towards John Candido because of his views. In the time I have participated in Second Sight that has not been the norm for the blog. In the circumstances his subsequent contributions have been notably devoid of animosity towards them, which is much to his credit.

    Not to recognise that there is considerable evidence of institutional corruption in the Roman Catholic Church, and most evidently in the Vatican, is not just naive but serves to sustain and therefore perpetuate the conditions that gave rise to it – not just decades, nor centuries, but millennia ago. I fully realise that to make such a statement is to question the belief that the Holy Spirit guides the Church. In our era, I think that what we have seen does, for those who are not afraid to seek the truth, beg the question, and we need to face up to it.

    In doing so we have to consider, I suggest, whether an authoritarian, self-perpetuating Hierarchy and the secret Vatican bureaucracy are essential components of ‘the Church’ and as such guided by the Holy Spirit. This claim is made by them and protects them and their actions from scrutiny – the kind of scrutiny that is now demanded of governments by us as citizens in democratic societies. The rules that applied to Roman Emperors and despotic Kings don’t wash anymore.

    In defending this archaic institution it is absurd to criticise democracy. It is inevitable that, when we can depose Presidents and Prime Ministers, it is felt to be deficient that we are not able to influence in any way the appointment of our bishop. ‘We’ by the way are the body of the Church, without whom the Hierarchy and the Pope would look pretty silly.

  13. I do hope to take the opportunity to comment on these responses to John Candido. Perhaps this time next week d.v. However regarding his question on the guidance of the HolY Spirit, which Superview raised in a formidable contribution, I proffer a brief passage from my book “Autonomy and Obedience in the Catholic Church”, which was published in 2002.

    “I accept that the Church is preserved by the Holy Spirit from error in infallible matters and that his general guidance supports the Church. But when he is invoked as support for specific non-infallible matters I demur. Was the Spirit there when John XXIII was elected? But how about Alexander VI? As Cardinal Ratzinger said on Bavarian television “It would be a mistake to believe that the Holy Spirit picks the pope because there are too many examples of popes the Holy Spirit would obviously not have chosen.” He said the Spirit leaves considerable room for the free exercise of human judgment, probably guaranteeing only that, in the end, the church will not be ruined. The good priests of my parish were no doubt called by the Spirit but how about the paedophile priest? Was the Spirit behind the Inquisition, and also behind the Council declaration on religious liberty? Was the Spirit behind Pope St Gregory the Great when he said that married sexual intercourse could not in practice be performed without sin or behind the Council’s statement that it must be honoured with great reverence? Since on some occasions he may be present and on others he is apparently not, and we have no way of knowing which, there is a problem. Until some good evidence can be produced of his presence in a specific matter it seems to be no more than a kind of superstitious magic to bolster a case by claiming his support. Like me the Magisterium has to go through the ordinary processes of judgment, and then observe the fruits.”

  14. John Candido says:

    I would like to thank everybody for their contributions so far. If I could nominate some contributors for being especially helpful, I would like to thank ‘Claret’, vmilner, James H., Michael Mahoney, and Superview.

    I must take the opportunity to graciously thank Quentin de la Bedoyere for Candid Candido. He has been very helpful and kind by creating this space, so that the issue of church governance can be freely aired and discussed within Second Sight.

    I have to say that I cannot thank Superview enough for those amazingly crisp and erudite four paragraphs. I know that I am biased, but the written contribution of Superview has been brilliant, insightful, invigourating, magnificent, and superlative. Thank you Superview very, very, very, much! Sincerely yours, John Candido.

  15. st.joseph says:

    Superview I think you are a little unkind to express your views in the way that you did to all those who like you at times speak our opinions.No one ,I felt in all the comments, were ‘not’ acknowledging, or not aware of the scandel in the church, and we are all entitled to speak our mind as you do as I have noticed in past ,and I am not criricising you for that as that is what a blog is all about .If you cant stand the heat
    get out of the kitchen ,to coin a phrase.

    Quentin says the good priests in his parish were no doubt called by the Spirit. I know plenty of those ‘Lest we forget’.
    Perhaps John Candido hasn’t found one of those in his 10 years of leaving the church.
    Our Lord said that he would send The Comfortor to us before He Ascended into Heaven.
    Perhaps if John Candido looked for one of those who would introduce him to the Eucharist again,his pain would not be so severe.
    l

  16. eclaire says:

    Thankfully, Superview, the body of the Church extends further than just ‘claret’, vmilner, James H., Michael Mahony and Quentin, himself, and I’m on my knees thanking God for that.
    Personally, I found John Candido’s tone and indirect insults quite nauseating. You talk about democracy and yet some of you adopt such dictatorial attitudes yourselves! (God help us). I am not defending evil practices within the Church, these have to be eradicated, but that ‘disgusting’ Church has also helped to bring forth many great saints and holy people (who knew/know the Church’s faults as well as you do, if not better) and yet remain(ed) with her and loved her still. That same ‘disgusting’ Church intercedes for each of us and Christ listens to what she has to say.

  17. st.joseph says:

    I would like to take it a little further and ask John Candido to retract his insults to Holy Mother Church.
    Our Lord and His Blessed Mother don’t deserve his insults.
    He ought to remember that Jesus suffered for him too!

  18. John Candido says:

    To all contributers and readers of Candid Candido.

    All societies and communities are composed of individuals who have differing views on a multiplicity of issues. This is simply a fact of life. I do have a definite view or bias about the current state of the governance of the catholic church, together with a view about the relevance of its current doctrines within the modern world. I believe that I, like everybody else, am entitled to my beliefs or views.

    I would like to repeat that I do appreciate everybody’s contribution, regardless of whether or not any contributor agreed with me or not. Everybody who has posted views that do not agree with mine are absolutely entitled to those views. It would be childish of me to only read and welcome posts that I agreed with wholeheartedly, and ignor or edit-out views I don’t agree with, because they are not consistent with and supportive of my views. I am not saying that everybody that does not agree with my views are childish.

    I believe I would be the poorer by dismissing the fullness of varied views within Candid Candido. Of course, in the real world this is easier said than done, but it is not impossible if you really worked at it, and this does include myself. In the end, you can always agree to disagree with those who have views that are the antithesis of your own. We all need to thank God daily for the blessing of living in a society where you are entitled to have an opinion that is different to that of your neighbour or the government of the day.

    I believe that the majority of people that live in a modern, cosmopolitan, and liberal democratic society, try to be tolerant, broadminded, and welcoming of views that are diametrically opposite to theirs. Maybe I am a little naive and a little too idealistic to have such a view. I know that this is not easy for anybody and that includes myself.

    This ideal does not mean that I, or anybody else, needs to alter or waterdown their views because it is opposed by others. Any person is entitled to maintain views that are opposite to my own. It would be completely unnatural and undesirable to be a society where everybody has views that are homogeneous. The challenge for everybody, including myself, is to be tolerant and broadminded.

    Everybody is free to oppose my views as I am free to oppose those who have views that are different to mine. I am very appreciative of Superview’s contribution and support, including several other correspondents who partly agreed with me or were compassionate towards me. I would have also appreciated pieces of writing that opposed my views with detailed counter arguments. Even if you opposed my views through direct argument, I am confident that it would have been a very productive and rewarding experience for all of us. Sincerely and respectfully yours, John Candido.

  19. st.joseph says:

    Whether you agree with me or not- is not relevant.
    Your audacity to make suggestion that I or my family should leave the church and your insults to the Church-which is the Body of Christ. I believe you are bordering on committing a grave sin against the Holy Spirit in what you say. So therefore I shall be as ‘presumptious ‘as you and say again you need to retract what you say against the Church of which Our Lady is the Mother.I dont think She will Bless you for your suggestios that we all leave.
    I have struggled to bring my family up in the Faith and my husband who became a catholic three years before he died and I resent very much your insults to me and my family as well as to God.

  20. May I suggest at this point that, unless anyone has new points to make, we bring this dialogue to an end. I write late on a Saturday evening, and I will remember in particular all the contributors in my prayers tomorrow. And I hope that all the contributors will do the same for us all when they read this.
    When I make my final comment, perhaps next Thursday, it will not be to attack anyone. I merely want to set out the reasons why I have remained a paid up member of the Church despite my many criticisms and why, ironically, these last few months have strengthened rather than weakened my faith.
    And for you, blessed people, who thankfully cannot resist their creative streak, remember that Secular Stilts, which heads the Blog, still needs your attention

  21. eclaire says:

    The doctrines of the Catholic Church are not and were not established to satisfy the will and fancies of the people. Christ did not seek to set up some sort of utopia on earth and neither did he ask His Church to do so, rather:
    ‘The Church’s Magisterium exercises the authority it holds from Christ to the fullest extent when it defines dogmas, that is, when it proposes truths contained in divine Revelation or having a necessary connection with them, in a form obliging the Christian people to an irrevocable adherence of faith.’ [The Catechism of the Catholic Church 88].
    ‘…OBLIGING the Christian people to an irrevocable adherence of faith’. And I’d like to add here, that those who do adhere to the faith are not unenlightened, backward, brainwashed, unscientific, irrational, ignorant, ‘conservative ratbags’, as some would love to have everyone believe; they hold a view which is LIFE-affirming instead of SELF-affirming.

  22. eclaire says:

    Sorry, Quentin, I did not see your previous note or I would not have added my last comment above. Thank you for your prayers.

  23. John Candido says:

    Thank you eclaire! This is exactly what I am after. Namely, relevant, critical, clear, and rigourous argumentation that is directly counter to my points of view but is not directed at me personally. In retrospect, my first post could have been toned down somewhat, but in the end I chose to continue with it because I wanted to give the church a wake-up call from my own perspective. I would like to respond to your points eclaire, but I need to do a little homework and need some time in order to do so. Eclaire, you have responded in such a way that I need to think about my responses in order to counter yours in a similar manner. Does anybody else have efforts that directly attacks my points of view but not me? Thank you again. Sincerely yours, John Candido.

  24. st.joseph says:

    To John Candido.
    Why not read the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
    You may then find the Enlightenment you are seeking.If you do not understand it I am sure a good holy priest will explain it to you.

    Thank you Quentin for your prayers, all will be in mine .

  25. Iona says:

    Having only just caught up with this posting and comments, may I apologise to Quentin who is trying to draw it to a close, and ask John Candido two things:

    would he feel able to respond to eclaire’s point about the Church having “helped to bring forth many great saints and holy people”, – does John Candido disaree with this point, and if not what does he make of a rotten tree (in his view) apparently producing good fruit?

    why does he feel we should stop contributing to Catholic charities? Does he think they do no good in the world?

  26. John Candido says:

    Let me say in preface, that if I try to convert anybody else with my counter arguments, no matter how clever I can present them, I will most likely fail. Humans are nothing unless they are stubborn, which of course includes myself. It is the same of any two people with opposing views, regardless of whether or not the subjects under discussion are religious, political, economic or social.

    Having said this, you are probably now wondering why are we bothering with this discussion if there is not much hope of converting each other to our own points of view? As we cannot expect the most brilliant points and counter points to convince and convert others to our points of view, the value of these debates and discussions is partly located in meeting and sharing our points of view in a context of mutual respect. Regardless of the outcome of these discussions, one basic reason in favour of debating in such a manner, is that we as opponents, sincerely expound our particular views in a civil manner, and not in an atmosphere of fear and intimidation.

    Another important reason is that as we both have a mutual understanding about the value of using words instead of fists, and an understanding to use words to attack one’s opponents’ views and not your antagonist, we are engaging each other in a civil manner that is in the public interest. Another reason in favour of these discussions is that in order to effectively counter your oponent’s views with relevant counter views, you must use your intellect in a variety of ways in order to do so. Explaining why you and I hold the particular views we have, is not only an important means of effectively opposing points of view we do not agree with, it is also a touchstone for our personal integrity and our conscience.

    One of the unintended consequences of engaging in these conflicts based within a context of mutual respect is that opponents, like cars that have been involved in accidents, are changed in some subtle ways that hopefully involve aspects of personal and communal maturity and development. And this of course is also within the public interest. If we were to individually add more effort towards extra reading, thinking, and writing on the issues that interest us, regardless of where they may take us in future, this would be of enormous personal and public value as well.

    Even though we will never convince each other of our perspectives, this does not invalidate what I wrote in all of my previous posts. As the subject matter of religion, politics, and other subjects within the arts and social sciences is not conducive to mathematical proof, there is plenty of room for people with very wide-ranging viewpoints. This why I said in a previous piece that if all of us were to oppose the views of others, within a context of mutual respect, with relevant, rational, clear and rigorous counter views, in tandem with why we hold such views, it would be both productive and rewarding to us as individuals and as a community. Now to my argument.

    Eclaire, I believe the catholic church is constituted by what is known as a hierarchy of truths. At the very pinnacle of the christian faith, the most exulted teaching of the church within the hierarchy of truths is a christian understanding of love, in its fullest expression and meaning. This is clearly explained and expounded most notably by Saint Paul in 1 Corinthians chapter 13, verses 1 to 13. We have all read the Sermon on the Mount were Jesus said, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. We have the words of Jesus that tells us that the highest law is to love God with your whole heart and to love others like yourself. There is also a passage somewhere in the Bible that states simply that God is love. Incidently, love is also the very centre of the teaching of Judaism, Islam, and other major religions.

    After love in this hierarchy of truths we have the doctrines of the church, its structures, policies, processes and disciplines. If love is the entire point of christianity, its goal and purpose of being, and it is located at its highest point in the hierarchy of truths, I believe it is love that should rule the church and all of its structures, policies, processes and disciplines. Therefore, the entire church, all of its magisterial authority and governing structure, is subservient to and at the service of love.

    The catholic church does have a teaching authority, but it is not entirely located within the Vatican or the Pope. Each bishop within his own diocese has the authority to teach the gospel to his flock. The highest teaching authority within the catholic church is an ecumenical council comprising all of the bishops gathered together in one locality to debate, discuss, propose, and vote for their alternative points of view. The most recent example of an ecumenical council is the Second Vatican Council held in the early 1960s. Other hierarchical examples of authority are national and regional councils and gatherings of bishops. It is not spoken of much within our church, but scripture points to the authority of where two or three of us are together, Jesus is present among us in a mysterious fashion.

    The point I want to make is yes the church has a particular authority on religious issues, it is localised via the ordinary of a diocese, its highest body is an ecumenical council, it is exercised in national and regional councils, and it is also located where two or three of us are together. But all of these structures and centres of authority are entirely subserviant to and have their existence, being, function, justification and purpose, soley for love.

    If this is true, all of the church’s governing structures, which includes its doctrines, policies, processes, and disciplines, must be amenable to change in the light of changing circumstances through time. If the church is to remain relevant, life affirming, invigourating, and loving, it must also be subject to changing common understandings of care, fairness, justice, mutual concern, and modern verifiable knowledge. It should also seek to include contemporary notions of governance such as democracy, accountability and transparency, in order to contemporise its governing structures, and to affirm the dignity of every member of the laity, as the point, justification and purpose of its being.

    What I and many other liberal catholics are seeking is the reformation of the church without a Reformation taking place. We love the church as any other person does and we have a point of view that has integrity and credibility. Whilst we acknowledge that those that differ to us in our beliefs are entitled to their beliefs, we beg to differ with our conservative bretheren who have the reins of the church. We are entitled to our point of view as free agents who have dignity within the modern world, and we are entitled to it due the inviolate nature of our human consciences.

    Every church historian will acknowledge that the church, including its structures, doctrines, policies, processes and disciplines, has not remained the same throughout history, but has developed and evolved due to changes within the world that it has found itself in. The church has also changed as a result of changes in its theological thinking, which is also influenced by changes within its contemporary historical settings.

    Anybody can point to a multitude of historical changes in church teaching on issues such as slavery, usory (lending practices), marriage, catholic social doctrine, the laws of war, the position of science and religion, the disgracful trial of Galileo, the burning of witches and heretics, the institution of the papacy, the change in the function and purpose of the Inquisition as it evolved to become the CDF, the growing centralisation of power within the papacy as a reaction to the Reformation, the modern respect for cultures and societies outside of western european cuture, the respect for other people who have different religions to our own, the teaching on conscience, the revision of teaching that all truth is contained within the catholic church, our modern respect and appreciation for Judaism, indulgences, the entire project of the Crusades, etc, etc.

    If the church and its structures, doctrines, theologies, policies, processes and disciplines have evolved over time due to historical and social forces, then it is an incontrovertible fact that we have a church that is not set in stone. The church has changed throughout its history and there is no reason it cannot change again for contemporaneous reasons. We as a church need to ask what is essential to the catholic church and what can be reformed or discarded. If the entire purpose and the highest teaching of the catholic church is love, then all catholics are entitled to discuss and debate contemporaneous issues that have placed the church in a difficult and precarious position. To not do so would not only be an act of negligence and irresponsibility of the highest order, we would also be acting against the direct command to love by God, and we would be acting against our human consciences.

    In the light of the sexual and physical abuse of women and children, that is plaguing the church throughout the world, what is needed is a church that is governed by democratic means. What is needed is a structure of democratic governance that accomodates transparency and accountablilty. Human nature cannot be trusted with total power and nobody can point to any governing structure in history that is both authoritarian and transparent. As the governance of the UK has altered throughout history, such as the beheading of Charles the First and the growing power of Parliament after his demise, the catholic world should be debating the merits of democratising the authority and administration of the Vatican as well as the entire church throughout the world. One important reason that the laity cannot stand idly by and not have a voice in the contemporaneous issues that affect the catholic world is that they have become far more educated than their good forbears ever were. This is an important reason for the laity to be more activist in their involvement in ecclesiatical issues.

    As it is in the pubic interest for our nation-states to be governed by democratic parliments, has an independent judiciary, its citizens have charters of human rights, and its economies are broadly run by free enterprise with legislative controls in what is known as a mixed economy, it is also in the church’s interest to accept the need for change and move to more democratic governance that can accomodate transparency and accountability. I unashamedly propose that the catholic church should seek a parliament to mediate the values and input of an eduated laity, as a means for the church to make changes in doctrine and policy in a more timely manner, to accomodate transparency and accountablity in its governance and administration, and to become a more mature, contemporaneous, tolerant, and loving church.

    If the church is to take its mission to evengelise the modern world seriously, it must contemporise itself or it will face irrelevancy and derision. It must democratise itself in order to respond to its structural problems in an acceptable and timely manner. It must be able to assert and practice that love is more important than any institution, discipline, or mode of governance. It is only after doing this will it be able to recruit more people to serve the church as priests and religious. It must become a reference point for human conscience and human rights throughout the modern world. It must become a champion of religious freedom both within itself and thoughout the modern world, in order that all catholics will hail it as a defender of human rights. It must seek to reform itself and become both the structural embodiment of God’s love and a conduit for all people seeking the Gospel.

  27. The correspondence which has followed John Candido’s letter has been stimulating. Anyone who is not brain dead must have increased their understanding of the different points of view – in particular those with which they would most naturally disagree.
    I am not going to summarise. Instead I want to answer a question. Given the extent of the corruption in the Church, from the paedophile priest to the concealing bishop to the general and historical perversion of clerical power, why am I still a Catholic?
    The answer is simple and pedestrian.
    I am a cradle Catholic, and my first experience of conversion was through my wife’s eyes. She became a Catholic as a young adult. The rationale, which preceded her deep faith, was straightforwardly historical. She knew the Scriptures well from her quite demanding Protestant background. She saw that Christ offered salvation through membership of an identifiable organisation. The other Reformation denominations (three of which she knew well and admired in many ways) could not qualify because they had all started hundreds of years after Christ. Only the Catholic Church could convincingly claim that she was the same organisation which Christ had founded. The answer was as obvious to her as she made it obvious to me.
    My second reason came from the training I received from the Catholic Evidence Guild – an organisation with very high standards whose members spoke at Marble Arch, Tower Hill or Leicester Square.
    The training for the neophyte put much emphasis on the Church as a visible organisation. It had its structure with pope and bishops and it expressed itself through ritual of varying kinds. This visible Church was the necessary tangible organisation through which its supernatural element could be signified to the limited human brain.: the outward signs of its inner nature.
    I was very familiar with every aspect of the Church’s faults throughout history. Who would dare stand up before all comers without being prepared for every metaphorical brick which could be thrown? And in the 1950s people knew much more about religion than they do nowadays. Many of the hecklers were near professional in their attacks.
    My knowledge of these shameful events strengthened rather than weakened my faith. How could such a scarecrow organisation survive two thousand years? When someone pointed to the corrupt Renaissance popes I was able to say that, without the popes, there would have been no Church to reform. And my belief in this structure was fortified by the almost infinite multiplication of the Reformation Churches. A centre of unity was not optional: without it, fragmentation was inevitable.
    Given these clear beliefs it must follow that, even if every member of the Church from the pope downwards were corrupt it would still be the organisation to which Christ requires me to belong. – and in which I must actively participate. Were Christ himself to be the only true Christian I would have the duty to be the only other one. Nor would I be without the true Eucharist – the axis around which the Church turns – for I am assured that even if the celebrant has come hot from the haunches of a whore the sacrament he celebrates carries all the validity of the holiest of priests.
    I may and will criticise; I may and will demand reform; but I must do it from within this rat infested, threadbare, God-given Church because it’s the only game in town.

  28. st.joseph says:

    I like it!.

  29. Michael Mahoney says:

    Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Presbyterian, Methodist, Lutheran, LeFebrist, etc.etc., all might have had their absolutist pitches at Hyde Park Corner, all proclaiming their true lineage to the stock of Christianity.
    But what of the passer by, the proverbial man on the Clapham omnibus, what did he make of it all? Probably, the same as he made of the claims of the politicians today. “They’re all the same, in it for what they can get out of it, power and money, lies and cover ups.” By their fruits, not the length of office, you shall know them.
    It is essential to note, in respect of the claim, that the office is more important than the man, a claim that seems to fly in the face of common sense and history, that each time before Jesus conferred on Peter the commission, “Feed my lambs” and “Feed my sheep”, he prefaced it with the question, “Do you love me?” On that account we might conclude, perhaps, that the see of Peter and of countless other bishops have been vacant on many occasions, filled only by usurpers.
    The game is the Gospel, not the Roman Catholic Church.

  30. John Candido says:

    Very nicely done Michael! Beautiful! Your final sentence, ‘the game is the Gospel, not the Roman Catholic Church’, is an extremely relevant point. It aptly summarises what I have been saying in all of my posts. Terrific stuff! Sincerely yours, John Candido.

  31. st.joseph says:

    The gospel is the gospel -the spoken Word.

    The Gospel Truth is only found in all its fullness in the Roman Catholic Church. The Living Gospel.

    We are fed with the Word spoken,but in the Roman Catholic Church it is the Living Bread that comes down from Heaven,not what our fathers ate Manna in the desert!Thats what Jesus meant when He said to Peter ‘Feed my lambs -feed my sheep’
    Whether one believes it or not that is only given in the Catholic Church!That is the Truth.
    The validity of the Eucharist does not depend on the holiest of priests but the Sacrament of Holy Orders and that is only found in the ‘Catholic Church’.That is what Jesus died for-not for a Book(no disrespect to the Bible) Unless you eat My Body and drink My Blood as He said is the Living Christ.

  32. Michael Mahoney, I think a little bit of hard thinking is needed here. Again and again throughout 2000 years of history people, or groups of people, have decided that either alone, or with others of like mind, they can follow the Gospel better by a partial or complete breaking away from the Church. But the fruits of that have again and again ultimately been a total loss or distortion of the Gospel. Are you advocating the same mistake yet again?

    You must take the Gospel as a whole. We start off badly if our first decisions are to follow the Gospel in the way that we choose and not in the way that Jesus asked us to. If we love him we must follow his commandments. He made it absolutely clear that we are to be saved through the Church he founded and to whom he gave authority. The visible Church is, to use St Paul’s graphic metaphor, the mystical body of Christ – within which we are all interdependent and have different parts to play.

    Why do all of us have the initial chance to be Christians? Because the Church as a visible institution survives – warts and all. Why are we able to to receive the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist? The same answer. Why do we hold in common the fundamental truths of God’s doctrine. The same answer.

    You will not think, if you have read this blog for any length of time that I am naive or starry-eyed about the visible Church. I think I know as much as anyone, and more than most, about its shortcomings both present and historical. And I haven’t held back on my criticism. But I hope I can fairly claim that I have worked for reformation for over half a century out of love for the Church which I know will not be fully reformed until the Day of Judgment.

    I do so so bearing in mind two things. First, I see myself – in a way – a microcosm of the Church. That is, I too am in continual need of personal reformation. I am only too aware of my pathetic attempts to improve. What right do I have to call myself closer to God than his Church? Second, I know that God is faithful to his covenants. He remains faithful to his covenant with the Jews despite their many infidelities; he will remain faithful to his covenant with the Church despite her many infidelities. And I will, if God helps me as he has promised to help his Church, remain faithful to the covenant I made through my parents’ mouths at baptism.

  33. eclaire says:

    John Candido, I couldn’t agree with you more; Love is the key -a love which imitates the Love of Christ and strives above all else to assist the other heavenwards (not keep her/him earthbound), a Love that loves its enemy, a Love that does not spare the Son of God from suffering an horrific death on a cross, a Love which loved the perpetrators of that same act, a Love which preserves the sanctity of life whatever the circumstances, a Love which places life before contra life, a Love which does not express itself in vile or self congratulatory terms, a Love which does not think iself holier-than-thou, a Love which always has for its point of reference, the Father through the Son, a Love which works through the Catholic Church, a Love which serves and which is obedient, a Love which deemed that the Church would be ‘intimately united to God’s mystery of salvation through Jesus Christ,’ a Love which freely and knowingly singled out Peter and permitted him to choose his successor, a Love which is absolute, unchanging. The Ten Commandments do not change, the doctrines of the Church do not change (even if some were formulated later rather than earlier). Of course, certain things need changing, but others do not and there, I shall have to leave it for now, apart from saying finally that I think that even had certain members of the Church not brought shame on themselves and the Church, you and others would still despise the Church.

  34. eclaire says:

    The twelve poor, ignorant fishermen prescribed to the people, the ‘practice of virtues most contrary to human nature and all they could promise was the most cruel persecutions’. They never flattered the passions.

  35. Superview says:

    The central proposition from several contributors seems to be that it is necessary to be a Roman Catholic in order to be acceptable to God and get to heaven – which I conjecture is the whole point of religious observance. That is, nobody who professes any other Christian denomination, not to say any other religious faith, can get to heaven because they don’t have this or that element of truth or sacramental life which are held uniquely by Roman Catholicism.

    Have I misunderstood these contributions?

  36. st.joseph says:

    I think Superview that is a question you should be asking God!

    The way I see it is what Jesus said ‘Anyone who believes in me will live, but anyone who ‘lives ‘in me will never die’. As He also said to His Apostles ‘I live in you ,and you live in me’ So you will have to meditate on that yourself.
    Remembering always that there is a Purgatory and a Hell ,and only God knows who will end up there ,and we pray always that no one will.

  37. John Candido says:

    What ‘st. joseph’ is pointing to is not the complete teaching of the catholic church. It is an example of a narrower, literalist, and past teaching of the church, which has been replaced over time with a broader and kinder understanding of who will be saved and who will not be saved, which is called soteriology, the theology of salvation. There is no doubt that theology, philosphy, and a modern exegetical exploration of scripture is behind this revision. Mind you, it is the teaching of the church that only God knows who has been saved.

    It used to be the teaching that if you wanted salvation you could only do this via the Roman Catholic Church and the exclusivity of its sacraments, namely baptism, reconciliation, and the eucharist. It unceasingly professed its exclusive authority as Christ’s church and of course it still does. This is how the church used to think in the past, wholely within exclusivist terms. Anybody that died outside of and without the faith was doomed.

    Well this is fine and good until you start to think of the billions of people who sincerely beg to differ from us and who find themselves outside the catholic church for a number of reasons. Let me ask this question: are billions of good and sincere people who are agnostics, athiests, are members of other christian churches, followers of non-christian religions, or who have lived at a time and place that they never even herd of Christ, going to hell? Are they damned because they are not full and sincere members of the catholic church? Are you damned for eternity if in being a good person you decide of your own free will that you will sincerely follow atheism or agnosticism?

    Nobody can say that Judas went to hell despite his traitorous disloyalty that directly led to Jesus’ imprisonment, trial, torture, crucifixion and death. It is an intersting paradox that even though Judas committed a heinious sin, we are not privy to his level of freedom and therefore we cannot be sure of the level of culpability he is guilty of. Only God can. Although this is not an excuse, it is doubly paradoxical that despite his act of direct disloyalty he has inadvertantly cooperated with God’s plans of salvation for everybody through the suffering and death of Christ. For our practical circumstances, we can only use our reason, conscience and commonsense to workout what we should be doing as individuals to save ourselves.

    I personally don’t like talking in metaphores of fire and brimestone. And I don’t like to scare people with talk of God’s wrath, through their non-conforming manner to my or anybody else’s essential steps to salvation. God is bigger than this. If modern soteriology is to mean anything, it would be along these following lines of thought. If anybody is good, have freely followed their conscience, and are sincere in what they are doing, they are saved. This is the case for everybody no matter what their culture, locality, historical context, level of education, or their faith or lack of faith is. If God is love, God is also totally compassionate and understanding. God never tries to catch us out through clever traps and/or integrity tests. This is not God’s nature. The Second Vatican Council developed and deepened the church’s understanding of personal and religious freedom, and in consequence, it changed its understanding of the church’s soteriology, by making it a much broader and nuanced proposition.

    Catholics have the wealth of the documents of the Second Vatican Council to draw on to help guide them to answer this question of salvation. I much prefer the documents of this ecumenical council because they are far broader than the Catechism of the Catholic Church both in style and in substance, even though it preceded the Catechism by approximately thirty years. It seems quite apparent to me that the Catechism has been written in order to discipline the church against any possible future development of progressive liberalism within catholicism that flowed from the ecumenical council.

    The Catechism is a very conservative, pithy and densely written text. This is only to be expected if you were to look at its origins. It was conceived and commissioned by Pope John Paul II in 1986, who personally chose twelve Cardinals and Bishops to bring it to fruition. This commission was chaired by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. In the church’s inevitable lurch to the right after the Second Vatican Council, this notion of soteriological exclusivity has reasserted itself through a misuse of its power. It has also selectively used some of the documents of the Second Vatican Council in order to buttress this Catechism as well as its authority.

    In ‘Dignitatis Humanae’, which is the ‘Declaration on Religious Liberty’ and promulgated on the 7th December 1965, you have a document of greater prescient depth and beauty, which is full of notions of the inviolacy of human conscience and religious freedom. It only runs for 14 pages and should be required reading for anybody interested in these issues, regardless of whether they are believers or not.

    While reasserting that the catholic church is the one true church and that there are limits to conscience and religious liberty, which of course is its perfect right to believe and assert, it prefaces this teaching with these words in section 1…

    ‘1. Contemporary man is becomming increasingly conscious of the dignity of the human person; more and more people are demanding that men should exercise fully their own judgment and a resposible freedom in their actions and should not be subject to the pressure of coercion but be inspired by a sense of duty. At the same time they are demanding constitutional limitation of the powers of government to prevent excessive restriction of the rightful freedom of individuals and associations.’

    ‘This demand for freedom in human society is concerned chiefly with man’s spiritual values, and especially with what concerns the free practice of religion in society. This Vatican Council pays careful attention to these spiritual aspirations and, with a view to declaring to what extent they are in accord with the truth and justice, searches the sacred tradition and teaching of the church, from which it draws forth new things that are always in harmony with the old.’

    The Council goes on in Chapter 1, section 2…

    ‘2. The Vatican Council declares that human person has a right to religious freedom. Freedom of this kind means that all men should be immune from coercion on the part of individuals, social groups and every human power so that, within due limits, nobody is forced to act against his convictions nor is anyone to be restrained from acting in accordance with his convictions in religious matters in private or in public, alone or in associations with others. The Council further declares that the right to religious freedom is based on the very dignity of the human person as known through the revealed word of God and by reason itself.’

    In Chapter 1, section 3, paragraphs 2 and 3…

    ‘The search for truth, however, must be carried out in a manner that is appropriate to the dignity of the human person and his social nature, namely, by free inquiry with the help of teaching or instruction, communication and dialogue. It is by these means that men share with each other the truth they have discovered, or think they have discovered, in such a way that they help one another in the search for truth. Moreover, it is by personal assent that men must adhere to the truth they have discovered.

    ‘It is through his conscience that man sees and recognizes the demands of the divine law. He is bound to follow this conscience faithfully in all his activity so that he may come to God, who is his last end. Therefore he must not be forced to act contrary to his conscience. Nor must he be prevented from acting according to his conscience, especially in religious matters.’

    In Chapter 2, Section 9, paragraph 1 you have this amazing sentence…

    ‘The Declaration of this Vatican Council on man’s right to religious freedom is based on the dignity of the person, the demands of which have become more fully known to human reason through centuries of experience.’

    This sentence touches on and indirectly verifies what I have been saying about the need for catholic doctrine to be updated and developed in the light of modern verifiable knowledge from university research from a variety of disciplines.

    In Section 11, paragraph 1, of the same chapter…

    ‘God calls men to serve him in spirit and truth. Consequently they are bound to him in conscience but not coerced. God has regard for the dignity of the human person which he himself created; the human person is to be guided by his own judgment and to enjoy freedom.’

    In the middle of Chapter 2, Section 12, paragraph 1, we have an admission that the past history of the church has been contrary to the explicit teaching of the Gospel. There is no doubt in my mind that the Council is referring to disturbing periods in history where the church was involved in the burning of witches and heretics, the immorality of the Crusades, the appalling and disgraceful trial of Galileo, its fundamentalist and literalist interpretations of scripture in its clash with evolutionists, and its blessing of the proselytism of primitive peoples away from their own religions through the agency of western imperialism. I believe it really deserved more than two sentences.

    ‘Throughout the ages she has preserved and handed on the doctrine which she has received from her Master and the apostles. Although in the life of the people of God in its pilgrimage through the vicissitudes of human history there has at times appeared a form of behaviour which was hardly in keeping with the spirit of the Gospel and was even opposed to it, it has always remained the teaching of the Church that no one is to be coerced into believing.’

    Sincerely yours, John Candido.

  38. st.joseph says:

    Actually John Candido, I was not referring to any teaching or unteaching of the Catholic Church, just a small quote from the Bible. The moral being that anyone Catholic ,Christian, or other can find salvation -and will be led to the Truth by the Grace of God ‘eventually’! Of course that went over your head in the same way that your last post did for me .God help the ‘man in the street’ reading your post he would really be put off religion!

    I will ask you one question and I would like you to answer it honestley. I know you are not too keen to answer questions asked But please answer this if you are brave enough. Do you believe in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament in the Tabernacle.
    Yes or No.The answer that Jesus asked us to give. Yes or No!

  39. Superview says:

    It is unjust for st.joseph to accuse John Candido of not answering the question. He has gone to great lengths in his responses to his critics and to explain his position. What is it about conviction Catholics that leads them so readily to use abuse in debate? It is an unattractive characteristic.

    On the real presence question, I was surprised to find that the Eastern Orthodox Church, which has full Apostolic succession, and whose sacraments etc are equally as valid as the Roman Catholic, regards the Eucharist as a mystical presence of Christ. In one authoritative source, which developed the differences between the Eastern Church and the ‘Latin Church’ , the doctrine of the real presence was described as ‘repugnant’. In these circumstances, can a belief in the real presence be described as essential to a Christian faith?

  40. st.joseph says:

    Superview,Did I accuse John Candido of not answering ‘my’ question. I dont think so!

    I wasnt’ aware that the Eastern Church described the Doctrine of the Real Presence as repugnant ,as you say.

    Anyway that is besides the point. What we profess as Catholics is our Faith.

    I ‘ask’you to refer to my abuse that you say I used in my debate to John Candido or anyone else.
    I agree it is an unatractive charateristic – that is what I found in his posts. Not to me but to the Church which is the Body of Christ !
    I would prefer if he spoke for himself when avoiding questions he is asked -and not use you as his ‘buffer’!

  41. eclaire says:

    I have often wondered, Superview, why it is that those who do not believe in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist settle just for a plain biscuit instead of a slap up meal; that would be far more enjoyable. (Please don’t tell me that they didn’t do slap-up meals in Christ’s time).
    As for your comments regarding the Eastern Church (I notice you don’t mention your authoritative source) I would have to do my own research on that matter and put it all in context.

  42. eclaire says:

    …oh and Superview, the point of the Catholic religion is that God’s will be done, not ours.

  43. claret says:

    I always cringe when i read that someone who poses a question to a specific person (as St. Joseph does of John Candido,) challenges the answerer to do so ‘honestly’ and ‘bravely.’ It suggests that the person to whom the question is posed is not normally honest or brave! and that any answer that does not satisfy the questioner must be inherently dishonest and cowardly.
    As for the Catechism I cannot think of any other faith that produces anything like it. or to even attempt it and the sheer scale and size of it makes it relatively easy to extract bits from it to prove a specific point of view( as with the Scriptures too.)
    and even add ones own interpretation of what is intended.

  44. st.joseph says:

    Claret with all due respect to your position as a Catholic priest, do you cringe when every Easter we profess our Faith when asked the questions. When a person like John Candido professes he is a member of the Catholic Church and to quote him as saying it is ‘his’ church then I expect him or any priest for that matter to put (to coin a phrase) his money where his mouth is!And that goes for any catholic who is not brave enough to say Jesus is really and truly present in the Blessed Sacrament.
    Coming up to Pentecost now and the readings or maybe I am taking them out of context as you say ‘to prove a point’,we are told that we are baptised not with Holy Water now that John the Baptist did,but with the Holy Spirit. Or do you maybe pick and choose too!The Holy Spirit came as tongues of fire and if we were to profess our Faith as we ought,then we would set fire to the earth.
    That is why we have as Quentin said a ‘rat infested church’ with those who deny Our Lords Presence and are not brave enough to leave (physically).

  45. claret says:

    St. Joseph,
    You are not in any authority to tell a person that they are only honest and brave if they answer a question a certain way. That is the only point I am making.
    Ask the question by all means but do not presume to judge a person’s honesty and bravery on the basis of how they answer it.
    Incidentally my reference to ‘proving a point’ was not aimed at you. It was aimed at those who seek to interpret the scriptures and the Cathechism of the Catholic Church so as to suit their own misguided or mischevious ends and not those of the Church.
    May God Bless you and keep you.

  46. st.joseph says:

    Thank you Claret for clearing up my misunderstanding of your comments. It shows your humility.
    If you will forgive me for saying but I dont know where I need the authority to ask a simple question.
    I think John Candido has less authority to say the things he has said.It is a pity he doesn’t take a leaf out of your book and show that he has a humble heart too.

  47. eclaire says:

    I understand what st. joseph meant when she asked his/her question to John Candido in the way he/she did; it is pure pedantry to pick him/her up on it and in such haughty terms, too.

  48. st.joseph says:

    Thank you eclair.

    To clear up a small point to John Candido.

    Claret said that I was not to presume to judge a persons honesty or bravery on the way they answered a question. I said….
    The honesty came into it -in what you said when you did answer it- The bravery came into- and that is – answer it if you are brave enough .

    The important thing is that Our Lord knows the answer to that!
    He knows what is in all our hearts.And I would like to believe that you being a ‘Roman catholic’ would love the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ that suffered and died for you too. He would dearly love you to receive Him in Holy Communion and we all would That we will all be one with the Father etc.His prayer to His Father before He ascended into Heaven.
    Now you place yourself to be challenged- so dont object when you are.

    (sorry Claret for quoting scripture again!)

  49. Few of us are such masters of English prose that we write exactly what we mean. Or telepathic in our knowledge of how a nuance in our comment may be received. However I am not aware of any blog contributor who wishes to hurt in any way – despite differences of opinion and differences of personality. The occasions on which I have needed to excise or edit a contribution have been so few that my job in this respect is very easy.

    It seems to me that we have too many important things to discuss to spend time on the niceties of motivation. Can we just assume that everyone writes in good faith, unless it is obviously not so?

    On a lighter note I had an altercation with another driver on the weekend. Naturally I received the usual obscene insults, but to them were added “You’re a filthy paedo!” Since it must have been difficult to ascertain my sexual habits from my appearance, I assume the term has joined the general, undifferentiated vocabulary of road rage.

  50. Michael Mahoney says:

    Dear Quentin, I do know that gospel texts cannot be understood outside of the context of the whole gospel. And, I also appreciate that, in coming to an understanding of the gospel, we have to take careful account of the teaching of the Church and of the work of biblical scholarship.
    I have never had a wish to leave the community of the Roman Catholic Church, either to row my own boat or to join some other “distorted” group – presumably a reference to our separated brethren!
    I believe that the Mystical Body of Christ encompasses not only the Roman Catholic Church, but all the countless faithful of other Christian denominations and of none, whose witness to the gospel in their lives and in their teachings have been and continue to be an affirmation of the work of the Holy Spirit in the world, a world that God so loved that he sent his only beloved Son to redeem it.

  51. John Candido says:

    Despite my criticisms of the Roman Catholic Church, I consider it to be the only church that can trace its historical origins within the first century CE. Consequently, despite my decade long leave of absence, I have never had any plans to join any other christian church or any other non-christian religion. I consider the catholic church to be my church. This is despite its considerable failings and its precarious position, vis a vis its ecclesiastical governance, structural inadequacies, and its plague of world-wide abuse scandals. I am not leaving it even though it is paradoxical that I don’t attend any masses in quiet protest against it.

    My earnest hope is that a liberal bishop will be elevated to the papacy, much like the elevation of Angelo Roncalli. He became Pope John XXIII. Such a pope would have to be a real leader and both courageous and humble, in order to thoroughly reform the Catholic Church through a call for a third ecumenical council. My dream is that the church will be governed by democratic means with the introduction of a catholic parliament. I have to admit that this is a long-shot, but there is always a chance that we all could be surprised by circumstance.

    I totally endorse Michael Mahoney’s considerations of the Mystical Body of Christ in his most recent post. The Mystical Body of Christ is indeed an eclectic group of believers. The incredible importance and blessing of ecumenism in our modern world is an action of the Holy Spirit, which buttresses and dignifies the same Mystical Body of Christ. It is precisley because Jesus said that the world may believe in him, because of our love for one another, that the entire Mystical Body is to be respected and cherished.

    Sincerely yours, John Candido.

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