Golden anniversary reflections

Quentin writes: this came from John Candido. I thought that it deserved a post of its own. Plenty of comment needed here!

The article in ‘The Swag’ magazine that I mentioned and gave a link to, is so good I had to copy it to here for all to read.

Reflections on an Ordination Golden Anniversary
December 2010
by Eric Hodgens, Melbourne

‘We are the Gaudium et Spes priests. We went into the seminary at the highest rate in living memory. We were ordained between 1955 and 1975 – in double the numbers our parishes required. Most of us were from the Silent Generation with a few years of Baby Boomers at the end. We took Vatican II to heart.
We changed from being priests called and consecrated by God to being presbyters called and ordained by the Church – the People of God.’

‘Ecumenism became a normal way of thinking for us. Prepared for the challenge by Cardijn’s apostolate of like to like, we were successful at educating a newly vital and active laity. We worked with the people rather than for them. We realised that clericalism was an evil, not a good, and discarded it with its style and culture. We ran highly successful and active parishes. Though ageing now, many of us are still on the job. Our presbyteral and pastoral lives have been a source of that unusual experience – joy.’

‘But not without grief. We have experienced the awakening 60s, the exciting 70s, the suspicious 80s, the depressing 90s and the imploding 00s. During the 1980s we became aware that a lot was going wrong. Ordinations suddenly dropped after 1975. We started to lose parishioners – first from Mass then from affiliation. Both of these changes had mixed social causes.’

‘Worse! Discordant decisions were coming down from the pope. Priestly celibacy, despite being highly contentious, was reasserted by Paul VI in 1967 without discussion. In 1968 Humanae Vitae was a shocking disappointment. Most of us never accepted it. Paul VI began appointing bishops opposed to the council’s ethos. This was most notable in Holland which had become a trailblazer in implementing the council. Paul killed that initiative and we are all the worse off for that. The whole trend was demoralizing.’

‘Then came John Paul II. Charismatic in front of the TV camera; brilliant at languages; but – out of touch in scripture and limited in theology, a bad listener and rock solid is his self-assessment as God’s chosen man of destiny. His whole life had been spent in the persecuted church of Poland with its fortress church mentality frozen in time.’

‘The open dialogue of the Church with the new ideas and values arising out of new knowledge in scriptural criticism, theology, psychology, sociology, anthropology stopped. New scientific discoveries in genetics were treated with suspicion and their application usually condemned. Sexual mores were promoted to the top shelf of his panorama of sin – a bit of an obsession with him.’

‘Power corrupts. The history of the papacy shows this pre-eminently. Unchecked potentates believe their own propaganda. Taken to the extreme, they claim infallibility. Pius IX bullied Vatican I into institutionalizing such a claim. Since then creeping infallibility has resulted in the pope and his theologically limited curia stealing the term “magisterium” from its real owners – the college of professional theologians. How can you conscientiously give assent of mind and heart to policies formed without theological debate, consultation, transparency or accountability? In contemporary government and business this would be judged unethical.’

‘John Paul’s lust for power showed very early and was taken to monumental proportions. Accountable to nobody, John Paul moved against any opinion other than his own and removed many exponents of alternative opinions from teaching and publishing. His most powerful enforcer was the Ratzinger-led Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF). Other Roman dicasteries joined the campaign.’

‘The CDF is the current euphemism for the Inquisition. True to its mediaeval roots, it assumes the pope to be entitled to enforce his views. It conducts its delations and proceedings in secret. In today’s secular world this is a violation of human rights.’

‘Theological censorship justifies itself as the quest for the truth and poses as truth’s champion. In fact it is the enemy of the discovery of truth because discussion is forestalled. The contemporary secular world understands this and wisely enshrines freedom of speech and debate as a central value. The Church no less than any other enterprise is at least the poorer and at worst prone to error when it rejects this value.’

‘All of us are abused by this process. The priest at the coal face is not consulted, yet is contemptuously expected to defend policies he and his people do not believe.’

‘John Paul II also enforced much of his own devotional life on the church at large. Despite Vatican II he effectively stopped the third rite of Penance, reversed a burgeoning dynamic theology of Eucharist by reverting to and re-emphasising devotion to the static Real Presence, reinforced a distorted devotion to Mary based on fundamentalist theology and introduced peculiar devotions such as Sr. Faustina’s Divine Mercy Devotion which undercuts Easter – the climax of our liturgical year.’

‘A more grievous abuse of power by John Paul II was his appointment of bishops. Appointees were to be clerical, compliant and in total agreement with his personal opinions. This has emasculated the leadership of the Church. The episcopal ranks are now low on creativity, leadership, education and even intelligence. Many are from the ranks of Opus Dei – reactionary, authoritarian and decidedly not creative. Many, often at the top of the hierarchical tree, are embarrassingly ignorant of any recent learning in scripture, theology and scientific disciplines. Many are classic company boys. Some of the more intelligent and better educated seem to have sold their souls for advancement. Can they really believe the line they channel? Ecclesiastical politics have trumped integrity. And when these men are appointed as the leaders of priests without any consultation they become a standing act of contempt.’

‘Worse still, this happened over a period when the priesthood held its biggest proportion of intelligent, educated and competent leaders. It was those very qualities which blackballed them for appointment under the blinkered but powerful regime. Our best chance has been missed. Today the ranks of the priesthood are depleted due to low recruitment over the last forty years. The pool from which future bishops must be chosen is very shallow.’

‘A newly critical laity questions policy but receives no answers. Why can’t women be leaders in the Church? Why do priests have to be celibate? What is wrong with contraception? Why alienate remarried divorcees? Why this salacious preoccupation with sexual mores? Why are scientific advances always suspected of being bad? Why can’t we recognise the reality of homosexual orientation – and the social consequences of that recognition? Have we learnt nothing from the Galileo case – or the treatment of Teilhard de Chardin? Can’t we escape the Syllabus of Errors mentality?’

‘Benedict XVI has continued the reversal of Vatican II. He is imposing a new English translation of the Sacramentary on a resisting English speaking constituency. This may very well backfire because many priests are not going to implement it. Benedict has received back bishops from the schismatic Society of St Pius X. He has encouraged the Tridentine Mass in Latin. He has reintroduced kneeling for communion on the tongue at his public Masses – all deliberate key pointers to regression from the spirit of Vatican II. To the priests who embraced Vatican II they are iconic insults.’

‘Then he has the nerve to decree a Year for Priests in 2009 with St John Vianney as patron. Like Fr. Donald Cozzens, many felt they were being played. The celebration of the importance of priests in the church is belied by the contempt with which they are treated. How can Rome call priests to repentance when it is so recalcitrant; so slow to admit any failing of its own? How can they be serious in stressing the importance of the priest as confessor when it is clear that confession has all but vanished from the life of the Church? How can they urge Holy Hours and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament when most priests have moved on from that static theology of Eucharist to a dynamic one – with Vatican II leading the way? How can they urge priests to more intense prayer when they show no evidence of a change of heart or attitude – the genuine indicator that prayer is working?’

‘We took as normal the world and the church into which we were ordained. In reality, the religious affiliation of the period was abnormally high. Mass and sacramental participation and priestly vocations were at a high water mark. The reversal which began in the late 60s was always going to happen. But with Vatican II we had the tools to handle the new situation. A large group of the priests were ready to meet the challenge. They did not get the chance. The orders from above were to withdraw to the fortress and sing the old song. Instead of embracing the new they lost the opportunity and left us high and dry – and disappointed.’

‘In the western world priests still always rate highly in job satisfaction surveys. They generally enjoy their job and do it well. That is because they are happy in their own patch. But they feel betrayed by the pope and the bishops. If you ask them what they think about the powers up top and where the official show is going you get a very different answer.’

This article touches on similar themes to my first post within ‘Candid Candido’. Only it is a far better piece of writing, more restrained, and better balanced than my own efforts.

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About Quentin

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

95 Responses to Golden anniversary reflections

  1. st.joseph says:

    Thank you John Candido and Quentin for this article.
    I can feel Satans rampage in it,his diciples must be really cheesed off.
    It proves to me that ‘God is with us,’and as the Hymn goes,
    OUR GOD RULES.!

  2. RMBlaber says:

    Well, if Satan is rampaging in this article, st joseph, I am with Satan! Or rather, I am with the true (and exasperated) voice of God, as He must despair of His Holy Church and its singularly obtuse leadership.

    I can see, and accept, that Pope Benedict XVI is a good, holy and prayerful man, and love him for it. That does not blind me to his faults, which are those of a rigid and doctrinaire conservatism, that refuses to see much, if anything, good about contemporary Western secular culture. If he wants to fight a three-way ‘kulturkampf’ with secularism and Islam, he is going to end up the loser, as will the Catholic Church and Christianity generally. I, for one, do not relish that outcome.

    ‘St Joseph’ may yell his slogans (‘OUR GOD RULES’, naturally in capital letters [a breach of internet etiquette known as SHOUTING, btw] – I think he means ‘Our God reigns’, if I have my ‘charismatic’ hymns right) as much as he likes, but that is no substitute for rational thought or calm reflection. We could do with more of that and less of the megaphone polemicism in discussions between Christians. Accusing one another of being tools of Satan is not the way of going about that.

  3. st.joseph says:

    Perhaps a little more reflection on your part would be wiser.I didnt accuse you of being a tool for Satan-but if thats how you feel -so be it!
    I dont know the rules of Capitals- what is your excuse?does ‘Our God Rule’ whether in capitals or not- upset you?
    When our Faith is disrespected -I will defend it- to which I have a right too.
    If it upsets you I make no apologises for it.In the same way that you make no apologise for your comments.
    And if you want to be with Satan as you say, the Catholic Church is not the place for you. I am giving you the same respect as you give me!!!
    How presumptious you are to put your place in front of Our Lord and His Blessed Mother.

  4. John Candido says:

    As I mentioned in my final post of ‘The long and slippery slope’, Fr. Eric Hodgens is a retired priest with 47 years of priesthood in the Australian Archdiocese of Melbourne. You would have to be amiss if you did not pick up his point that power has the tendency to corrupt and this has been amply demonstrated over the centuries, both within the church through various popes and in the secular world through many debased individuals. Ecclesiastical governance is a key reform of the church. Without it, the church will not be able to reform doctrine in the light of advances in scriptural and theological scholarship, or incorporate advances within the humanities and the sciences, as these shed new insights in its understanding of humanity and the physical world we all inhabit.

    One of Fr. Hodgen’s points is that free debate is an essential prerequisite in order to prevent the church from making errors. There is a lot of debate amongst scripture scholars, theologians, and scientists, on a plethora of issues germane to their expertise. Free, open, and respectful debate is akin to breathing. Completely removing Eric Hodgens’s article from cathnews.com is the childish and irresponsible act of a repressive Catholic Church. The Catholic Church’s modality of ecclesiastical governance is particularly unsuitable in the modern democratic world that we inhabit, that has a rightful focus on human rights, the rule of law, and the balance and separation of powers.

    If there is no intelligent reform within the Catholic Church, an outcome that should be generated by quality debates from a third ecumenical council, expect to see further losses in the church’s standing throughout the secular world and in our own clergy, religious, and laity.

  5. st.joseph says:

    John Candido. Do you believe that the Anglican Church is better for its debates.
    Or do you believe that the Catholic Church is the One True Church.Founded on Jesus Christ
    It is very difficult for me understand how you can speak a double language.
    The subjects in Fr Hodgens article have been discussed more than enough.
    Women have a lot to say in the Church. Just watch EWTN and you will know how much they do .
    Look around you, you have no idea, these women dont ask to be ordained priests.
    We have our own dignity for what we do as females.
    We dont want abortion. We dont want abortfaciants. We dont want divorce.
    We dont want Homosexual making a show at marches-
    We want respect for the Presence of the ‘static’ Blessed Sacrament in the Tabernacle.
    We want Divine Mercy Sunday.
    We want our devotion to Our Blessed Mother,regardless of Fr Hodgens comment
    We want Opus Dei and Latin Mass or at least my 20yr grandson does’with plenty of others.
    We wantThomas Merton and contemplative prayer-or at least my 17 yr old grandson does.Dont underestimate young peoples love of the church.Again look at EWTN.
    We want Holy Communion on the tongue- and to kneel if available-which it isn’t
    (have you a problem with that)My free will taken from me.
    We need more like St John Vianney,and we will have them. I have more trust in the future of our young people.
    I dont see many priests around me complaining about the way the church is run-perhaps you are moving in the wrong circles.
    Pride in sexual issues what Pope John Paul stood for.
    We dont want experimentation on embryos.
    We dont want I.V.F ,we have an alternative.
    Oh I could go on and on.
    Remember -you and RMBlaber and others like you are not the only voice in the Church. I say this with respect,but if you would prefer a more liberal church, the Anglican church will be there for you,where I am sure you will be very happy and content for the rest of you life.

  6. Iona says:

    If Holy Hours and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament constitute a “static” theology of the Eucharist, how would a dynamic theology of the Eucharist be demonstrated?

  7. st.joseph says:

    That is a good question, Iona. Perhaps John Candido would like to answer that
    It wasn’t my remark but Fr Hogsens. I expect you knew that, but in case you didn’t.

  8. John Candido says:

    Let’s get one thing straight. I am not on trial in the internet’s equivalent of a mediaeval star chamber. I haven’t broken any law for possessing my own religious views. As a free individual who can exercise my right to freedom of religion, I can express my views publicly as others can. As long as I don’t say anything that is libellous, there are no consequences for me. If others on this blog want to get themselves into a lather about my views or anyone else’s, it doesn’t concern me. People who oppose my views are entitled to do so. They can jump up and down as much as they like but they will not change my mind, and neither will they be able to do anything about it, either in a legal or a religious context.

    I believe that the Anglican Church is better for its debates and I also simultaneously believe that the Catholic Church can trace its origins to the first church in Jerusalem. I don’t see any problem in holding both views as they are not contradictory. If some people are tired of the subject of ecclesiastical reform, why do they keep posting their point of view as if the world will collapse if they don’t? The world will not collapse if you give yourself a break now and then dear st.joseph. As Jesus once said, Martha has chosen the better path. Or are you so hooked on the internet that you just cannot let go? Maybe Quentin should rename the blog ‘st.joseph’s SecondSight’, and then we can all go home and forget about you.

  9. st.joseph says:

    I am just as entitled to my beliefs as you are, and I am definitely not going anywhere. It seem to be bothering you,more than me.
    I have been challenged all my life. It doesn’t bother me!!!!
    You are not the only one free to express an opinion on the blog.
    There is plenty of room for others.I can see it bothers you.
    Let me get one thing straight with you and that is I have no intention of converting you, that is a gift from the Holy Spirit-with the Grace you have to be open to.,
    I am defending the Church to which I am a member-that is expected of me,and I would be failing in my duty from my Baptismal promise which my parents took for me,and my Confirmation . In case you dont know you have the same duty yourself!!
    By the way I know where my home is -you can go there too as you say that is what you would like to do. If you know where it is.

  10. st.joseph says:

    I think it was Mary that Jesus said had’ chosen the better path’ Martha was doing the cooking.Mary was listening to the Word!!!

  11. John Candido says:

    Fine. I really don’t care. It would be better for all of us who are enthralled by your comments if you were to tell us why you believe the things you believe rather than aggressively questioning those who don’t agree with you.

  12. st.joseph says:

    A little more politeness from you ,and a little less speaking for anyone else ,would be more appropriate than accusing me of aggressifness -do y0ou believe that a forum or what ever it is -is to agree with all you say .
    You must be up all night to have made a comment a 3.18. I have had a good nights sleep and I am now going to Holy Mass and will pray for you.
    Does that answer you question?

  13. John Candido says:

    Fine. I don’t care.

  14. cantueso says:

    You forget an important point: the new trends, not just in the Church, came from the rich countries. The poor countries hung back. They did not understand the novelties and they still don’t.

    I am Swiss. In Spain, where I live now, the new and the old live some 50 miles apart and have NOTHING to do with each other. It is incredible to see. We live near Madrid and I know lots of kids who don’t know anything about any saints, traditions, holy mary, etc. They celebrate even Christmas as just another carneval.

    And we have friends in a small town some 5o miles from here where people love their “Virgin” which they carry up and down the street and sing to it. And invite us to see it, not to miss such a beautiful thing as that “Virgin”, such a wonderful fiesta. Where they see their Virgin, I see only a broomstick dolled up.

    Until very recently the wealthy countries believed that the whole world would “evolve” towards their life style and that therefore their views were guidelines.

    That view is dimming.

  15. Quentin says:

    I am a little concerned at the way this conversation is going. I think we must blog on the basis that however much we may disagree with others, we must always assume that they are giving an honest and thought out opinion. Of course most of you do that already, but in one or two instances we have got close to the “courtesy” margin.

    Please help with this as I know that most contributors value particularly the opportunity for thoughtful discussion without rancour on Secondsight.

  16. st.joseph says:

    Thank you Quentin. and I apologise if I have been pressueised into discourtesy comments.
    But the subject was rather a ‘patronising ‘one in parts and I had to reply as to how I felt appropriate ..
    I also apologise to John Candido if he has been offended in what I said ,and I hope he will pray for me too!

  17. John Candido says:

    Fr. Hodgens wrote, ‘Theological censorship justifies itself as the quest for the truth and poses as truth’s champion. In fact it is the enemy of the discovery of truth because discussion is forestalled. The contemporary secular world understands this and wisely enshrines freedom of speech and debate as a central value. The Church no less than any other enterprise is at least the poorer and at worst prone to error when it rejects this value.’

    Beautifully and succinctly put, and how true! What more can anyone add to this? Not much I would dare say.

  18. st.joseph says:

    You are so right.Then why are you so worked up when ‘The Golden Anniversary Reflections’ are challemged. Or did ‘you ‘just want ‘free speech’

  19. Iona says:

    I’m still puzzling over what a “dynamic theology of the Eucharist” might be. I realise the phrase comes from Father Hogden’s article, and he is not making any contributions to this discussion, but I wondered if perhaps Mr. John Candido (via whom Father Hogden’s article was made available to us) can enlighten me.

    • John Candido says:

      Iona, I am not a theologian, but I have been doing a bit of research on the internet, trying to answer what are the differences between the static and dynamic theologies of the Eucharist. These distinctions were introduced to us in passing, by Fr. Eric Hodgens’ excellent article within ‘Golden Anniversary Reflections’ on SecondSight, which was previously banned from an official Catholic blog. I have a book review that might be of help to enquiring minds such as yours and to most of our contributors who are of a similar disposition.

      If you were to click on http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3817/is_200303/ai_n9185199/?tag=content;col1 you will find indirect references to the above two distinctions. It is a three page book review that contains this interesting paragraph, which can be located on the first page’s bottom paragraph. Please ignore the page numbers within it.

      ‘Theology is more than an “accumulation of data and the formulation of propositions” (p. 29). The aim of all theology should be to confer union with God and to bring about the transfiguration of the individual or community, who or which comes in contact with the divine (p. 29). Authentic theology is dynamic and creative; static theology is dead theology: “Static theology is unrelated to the needs and concerns of the church in a given time and place” (p. 28).’

      On another webpage I have obtained a succinct definition of what a theologian is, what theology is, and what is his/her work about, if such distinctions are of use to you and others. Go to the bottom of this page http://www.philosophy-religion.org/beliefs/anglican.htm under ’2001 Addendum: based on public comments by contemporary theologians’ and you will find an intelligent and informed description, which I have copied for you here…

      ‘The church looks to the theologian for prudent advice; his/her job is to show why the church is teaching what is being taught. Furthermore, the theologian can play an exploratory role, not to challenge church teaching deliberately but to ask questions as a way of reinterpreting the tradition for the current generation. The best kind of theologian is one who is anchored in the tradition/community of faith, but is at the same time at the church’s growing edge. When theologians ask questions, they may not only come up with wrong answers, but also with new insights. Theologians are answerable to the church, but also to the demands of the academy. Far from static, theology preserves, explores, and evolves.’

      The previous link is from http://www.philosophy-religion.org which is the home page of an American Episcopalian, Professor Richard Thomas Nolan, who seems to be quite a learned fellow going by his C.V. Although I have not explored his website in detail, it could be a good resource for enquiring minds. His expertise seems to be around philosophy, Latin, and mathematics. I have emailed him a question about the distinction between the static and dynamic theologies of the Eucharist, but he may not answer me due to his warning to all that he is a very busy individual.

      The following four paragraphs are quoted from the website of a generally unknown Christian denomination called ‘Grace Communion International’ who’s website is http://www.gci.org/God/theology . If you were to scroll towards the bottom of the website, you come across a subheading called ‘Ignored’, where you will find this brilliant gem…

      ‘The great Reformation principle of ongoing reformation should free us from old worldviews and behavior-based theologies that inhibit growth, promote stagnation and prevent ecumenical cooperation within the Body of Christ. Yet today doesn’t the church often find itself robbed of the joy of grace as it shadowboxes with all its various forms of legalism? For this reason the church is not uncommonly characterized as a bastion of judgmentalism and exclusivism rather than as a testament to grace.’

      ‘We all have a theology—a way that we think about and understand God—whether we know it or not. And our theology affects how we think about and understand God’s grace and salvation.’

      ‘If our theology is dynamic and relational, we will be open to hear God’s ever-present word of salvation, which he freely gives us by his grace though Jesus Christ alone. On the other hand, if our theology is static, we will shrivel into a religion of legalism, judgmentalism and spiritual stagnation.’

      ‘Instead of knowing Jesus as he is in a way that seasons all our relationships with mercy, patience, kindness and peace, we will know judgment, exclusivity and condemnation of those who fail to meet our carefully defined standards of godliness.’

      It would seem that the distinctions between ‘static theology’ and ‘dynamic theology’ are quite readily understandable and useful to know. All of the debates that what we are engaged within the SecondSight community, is a process of mutually respectful dialogue that is entirely consistent with the notion of dynamic theology. Therefore, a static as opposed to a dynamic theology of the Eucharist, is one that relies on past, and to some extent, present descriptions of its theology. The dynamic theology of the Eucharist is one that is open to and develops from contemporary theological discussion, dialogue, and debate on the Eucharist. As such, it is naturally in tension with its static relation, and depending on its content, it could be in tension with the magisterium of the church as a consequence.

      • st.joseph says:

        Iona, I have also made a comment on the static and dynamic Eucharist, on Feb 15th, Looking at prayer.In case you have not seen it yet.

  20. John Candido says:

    I am sorry but I cannot enlighten you as I am not a trained theologion. My only qualification is a Bachelor of Arts that I obtained as a mature-age student. The ‘dynamic’ as opposed to the ‘static’ theology of the Eucharist is as mysterious to me as they are to you. Maybe someone else can tell us?

  21. Ascylto says:

    I cannot but reflect upon the posts so far.

    John Candido has done a remarkable job in putting forward a view of some priests and his own comments upon them. st.joseph has, in my opinion, put forward the unthinking and rejecting reply … he or she is one of the reasons why the church is shrinking in both number and thought. Perhaps st.joseph is in compliance with Benedict XVI who appears to want the rump of a church only to remain, ridding itself of the ‘clingers-on’. I regarded myself as a ‘clinger-on’ (with fingernails, as one Bishop said) but, being homosexual, have now let go as I got fed up being described as ‘Intrinsically disordered but deeply respected’.

    stjoseph would do well firstly to observe internet rules regarding capital letters and, more importantly, Newman on the primacy of conscience.

    Still, sj.joseph must surely earn a pat on the back as the church is well rid of me … though you may wish to consider substituting ‘I’ for ‘We’ in your post of January 5, 2011 at 10:25 pm.

    I apologise to Quentin and other posters if my contributions seem unfriendly … they are not meant to be but some do tend to bring out the ire in others.

    • John Nolan says:

      I was around in the “awakening 60s” and “exciting 70s” and don’t doubt that many priests shared Fr Hodgens’s views, although they would have been more circumspect in expressing them. Not a few of them left the clerical state when it became clear that the Church was simply not going to conform to their vision of it. The remainder are fast approaching retirement age and like all superannuated revolutionaries are dismayed by the orthodoxy of succeeding generations.
      The first paragraph of Fr Hodgens’s article is an extended solipsism and everything else he has to say is a development of that. At one point I had to laugh out loud. Hans Kung is not best known for his modesty, but I don’t think he would see himself and his colleagues as the Magisterium!
      I wish Eric Hodgens a long and happy retirement and hope he enjoyed the Ashes series as much as I did. (Schadenfreude, mea culpa.)

    • st.joseph says:

      Ascylto,I am so pleased that you are taking Blessed John Henry Newman’s As advice and following your conscience.

      The church which you say is ‘shrinking in numbers’, it isn’t .but the quality will always remains the same.
      We profess our faith in the Creed-by saying ‘We’
      I don’t stand alone -as our Creed states, this includes all the living and the ‘dead’ who are hopefully now with the Lord.
      Thank you for your comment.

      • Ascylto says:

        “We profess our faith in the Creed-by saying ‘We’”

        “We want Opus Dei and Latin Mass …” is not in the Creed.

        Perhaps I should have said ‘Some of us’ as a substitute!

      • Ascylto says:

        “The church which you say is ‘shrinking in numbers’, it isn’t .but the quality will always remains the same.”

        You are quite right. I should have said that the Church is shrinking in the UK. I’m afraid it is … ask Parish Priests and Bishops, look at statistics. I’m not sure what you mean with your qualifier about quality.

  22. Mr Rubio says:

    St Joseph offered an explanation for his use of capital letters. He has also posted an apology to JC and asked for his prayers.

  23. claret says:

    I rather enjoyed reading the ‘reflections’ of Fr. Hodgens and they certainly provided me with food for thought but I could not help but try to mentally identify any clergy I know of personally that would fit the descriptions given. I strugggled but one or two came to mind and my brief analysis is that they were much admired, by clergy and laity, but not copied by the former.
    It is something of a paradox that when you read the ‘letters page’ of Catholic newspapers in this country there are regular contributions from many that lay the lack of vocations and ’empty churches’ as the direct fault consequence of Vatican Two and that a return to the 1950’s ‘style’ would solve these problems. Yet here we have a writer roundly proclaiming it as being the other way round.
    The problems we face as a Church are immense but I am uneasy with the wholesale attacks on the Popes who have a difficult path to walk.
    There is a great danger in giving ‘half a freedom’ no matter how compassionate the motive. Certain things have to be immovable.
    Lastly I read with real concern and sadness the interchanges that have occurred in this ‘blog’ subject. Strong views can still be courteously expressed. A reminder that I too need to practice what I preach!

  24. John Candido says:

    Fr. Hodgens wrote, ‘Then came John Paul II. Charismatic in front of the TV camera; brilliant at languages; but – out of touch in scripture and limited in theology, a bad listener and rock solid is his self-assessment as God’s chosen man of destiny. His whole life had been spent in the persecuted church of Poland with its fortress church mentality frozen in time.’

    ‘The open dialogue of the Church with the new ideas and values arising out of new knowledge in scriptural criticism, theology, psychology, sociology, anthropology stopped. New scientific discoveries in genetics were treated with suspicion and their application usually condemned. Sexual mores were promoted to the top shelf of his panorama of sin – a bit of an obsession with him.’

    This is clearly an example of a charismatic and brilliant man who lacked the perception needed to accommodate modernity, and to moderate his unhealthy obsession with ‘sinful’ sexuality. How can you accommodate anyone or anything when you have all of the power? For the vast majority of popes it is just impossible. John Paul II was a media superstar but his conservative agenda eventually made itself manifest within Vatican walls and in the wider Catholic world.

    It is rather silly in the modern, democratic, pluralistic, and cosmopolitan world that we inhabit, where the vast majority of its citizens are quite highly educated, to have a titular leader, such as a pope, greedily possessing all ecclesiastical power. It is quite hideously inappropriate and embarrassing for all Catholics with a contemporary disposition, to have as a central part of their church an office that firstly, must only be filled by a man, and secondly, who needn’t answer to any other person or body within the church.

    The papacy is quite a potent mixture of unbridled power that surely must affect some office holders in deleterious ways. What I mean is heaven help their egos! Men that become popes who have a proclivity for status and power, will have a hard time trying to control their rampaging egos. What this office has to do with the child Jesus born in Bethlehem is beyond me and modern sensibilities. It just doesn’t add up.

    England has most appropriately banished the absolute power that monarchs used to have. Such power has now been transferred to the prime minister and his or her cabinet, and the parliament. The prime minister and cabinet of the day are ultimately accountable to the electorate through free and fair elections. They are also accountable to the parliament, with its checks and balances within various committees and sub-committees, together with the office of Speaker and parliament, with its potential threat of no confidence motions. The government of the day is also subjected to the constant analysis and enquiries of the fourth estate.

    It is high time for Catholicism to devolve power from the papacy to an ecclesiastical parliament, and for all office holders within the Vatican to run for office. This will civilize the power of the papacy and bring a much needed boost to doctrinal reform. More of the same fare of distant centuries will be most unfortunate for our church. Vocations to the priesthood and religious life will eventually grind to a sickening halt. Parishes will slowly die. It is highly unlikely that modernity and contemporaneity will find its way to our church without the key reform of ecclesiastical governance.

  25. Vincent says:

    I fundamentally disagree with John Candido.
    I do not disagree about the poor quality and even corruption amongst past popes. But I believe the papacy is an essential factor in preserving the unity of the Church over the centuries. And Christ seems to have thought so too, because Peter was the rock on which he built his Church.
    There is in fact a ready made ecclesiastical parliament. It’s called the Lambeth Conference.

  26. michael horsnall says:

    Much of the foregoing seems to be simply a dull slanging match with no one even bothering to lay out any turf or establish any common debate.. we should be able to do better than this kids!. I was an Anglican for 10 years or so before converting and from where I stand it seems fairly clear that the Anglican church in England at least has -through internicine conflict- become a raddled drifting and almost directionless hulk swaying more to the drift of political argument than anything else. This is extremely sad and one hopes that the church will come through it. The big difficulty with the free rein of argument is that-like the scratching match above-it becomes a pointless tirade of,,wait for it..schadenfreude!! Argument and dissent easily become habitual stances -particularly so in parish Churches which are to a degree self governing-disputes become ruinous for the local as well as the overarching church -to the degree that they cloud genuine devotion and serve only to divide-do not envy the Church of England in its current woes my friends- believe me do not!

    • John Candido says:

      How conflict is mediated between individuals and groups, is a vitally important subject for all societies, communities, and organisations. I know next to nothing about the Anglican Church or Lambeth Conferences for that matter. However, it would be extremely interesting to ask, how they have mediated conflicts over particularly divisive issues amongst their members over time? Has this led to institutional paralysis, schisms, or threats of schism, a pause in conflicts, compromise, and their eventual resolution?

      The Anglican Church is comprised of members who have their own perspectives on a range of issues. Like any other church or collection of people it would broadly consist of conservatives, moderates, and liberals. As Anglicans don’t have a Pope, or a higher ruling authority that can intervene decisively through the issuance of Bulls and encyclicals, they have cleverly resorted to the democratic dispersion of power.

      However bumpy, divisive, and raucous democratic processes are at times, there simply are no other sane, rational, and mature alternatives to it. I would boldly suggest that the Catholic Church has a great example in Lambeth Conferences in what they can do to devolve and disperse centralised power, and mediate conflict over time. If I may end with a quote that is ascribed to one of England’s greatest Prime Ministers in Sir Winston Churchill, ‘It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried’. Thank you for your reply.

      • michael horsnall says:

        The thing is with all this John is that it simply DOES NOT work at all. I have seen relatively simple interpersonal disputes escalate out of hand to the degree that diocesan officials have to be called in ton bang heads together as best they can. Unfortunately the banging of heads rarely is of sufficient velocity to make any impact on the size of ego’s involved! What this means in practice is that each runs after his or her own without consideration of the simple disciplines of disciple ship. It is the mark of discipleship that involves the laying down of personal ambitions spites and dearly held opinions as prerequisite for the taking up of ones cross. Remember that democracy as you seem to favour it-in the British state as others – comes from a perspective of ultimate force in the shape of the judiciary, the police and the military; the church has no such luxuries and so -in the Anglican communion we see havoc-endearing havoc to a degree and depending on mindset-but havoc nonetheless.

  27. John Nolan says:

    Those who elect of their own free will to be received into the full communion of the Catholic Church, after the Nicene Creed profess the following:
    “With firm faith, I also believe everything contained in the Word of God, whether written or handed down in Tradition, which the Church, either by a solemn judgement or by the ordinary and universal Magisterium, sets forth to be believed as divinely revealed. I also firmly accept and hold each and everything definitively proposed by the Church regarding teaching on faith and morals. Moreover, I adhere with religious submission of will and intellect to the teachings which either the Roman Pontiff or the College of Bishops enunciate when they exercise their authentic Magisterium, even if they do not intend to proclaim these teachings by a definitive act.”
    That’s it. No ifs, no buts, no caveats. Would John Candido assent to the above coram publico? I look forward to his answer. I would also like to know from where he and his fellow “liberalizers” derive their mandate .

  28. Iona says:

    Unlike a Prime Minister, the Pope doesn’t have to be answerable to an electorate; but he does have to be answerable to God.

    The present Pope (and, I think, the last one) goes to Confession at least once a week; so presumably his Confessor will cut him down to size if he feels that his ego is getting out of hand. In any case, it is so obvious that the position of Pope carries temptations related to power, that Popes must surely be on their guard against it.

    The reason I asked about a “dynamic theology of the Eucharist” (as opposed to the “passive” theology evident in Holy Hours, according to Fr. Hodgens) is that I suspect this phrase has not been thought out, and that there is not and could not be a “dynamic” theology of the Eucharist. What, after all, is the appropriate response of a man, woman or child knowing that s/he is in the presence of Almighty God? – Silent adoration, presumably. I read somewhere about a Moslem, in discussion with a (Catholic) Christian, who, on having the doctrine of the Real Presence explained to him, was astonished that Christians behave so casually in church. “If I believed that God was actually there, in front of me, I’d be on my face”. (Or words to that effect).

    • John Candido says:

      Apart from the discussion about the differences between the static and dynamic theologies of the Eucharist, it is worth considering if the Catholic Church should exempt itself from modern considerations of ecclesiastical government. Why should the church consider itself an exception when it comes to modes of government? The Catholic Church has been around for a very long time, and this should invite us to question how it was governed throughout its 2,000 year history, and how and why it has evolved to its present state of governance. This last question would be an eye-opener if it was thoroughly researched.

      I think that there is an excellent case for the church to reform its mode of governance, so that it can be more democratic, tolerant, accountable, and transparent. If it were to do so, expect growth in the number of laity, priests, and religious. Expect increased respect from the secular world. Expect the timely and ongoing review and revision of its doctrines and protocols.

    • st.joseph says:

      Iona.
      I heard a homily this morning ,whereby the priest was speaking about Jesus’Presence on earth and why He didn’t stay in Heaven.
      So it made me think of your question on the ‘passive’ and ‘dynamic’Eucharist.
      Your comment is so accurate and also made me think of something my late husband used to say, ‘If catholics really believed in the Real Presence we would crawl on our stomach to receive Him.’
      I being a cradle catholic knew that Our Lord would not wan’t us to do that-but would like us to show respect to Him and devotion to Him in the Tabernacle.
      When one has grown up with the Blessed Sacrament, non-catholics looking on could may well think familiarity ‘breeds contempt’. Not so!.
      He becomes more of a friend , like Jesus said ‘I call you friends’ He will be with us till the end of time. In His Church-in the Eucharist-in the Tabernacle-in us
      in One Body of Christ,
      He is food for our journey-and the way I think is, that from the fruits of the Eucharist ,is the ‘dynamic ‘way in which He works through us from the Tabernacle by the power of the Holy Spirit.
      We take Him into the world and also show our love for Him in the Real Presence by Corpus Christi Processions , Benediction, and as you said’ Holy Hours ‘etc;
      The CCC tells us a very beautiful description of all this in the Sacrament,beginning on p,297, I know you will know this, but for those who do not ,it is worth a read.

  29. John Nolan says:

    John, you asked for the source of my quotation. On 11 December last year a friend from University days was received into the Church, together with his wife, at a Mass in the crypt chapel of Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral. The Rite of Reception precedes the Offertory and consists of the Invitation, the Profession of Faith (from which I quoted), the Act of Reception, and Confirmation. My friend chose to profess in Latin, his wife in English. The rite was printed in full in the Order of Service.

    • John Candido says:

      Thank you very much for that John. I am trying to write a reply to your original question and I hope to have it for you as soon as I can.

  30. Vincent says:

    When I said that I ‘fundamentally’ disagreed with John Candido, I meant ‘fundamentally’. That is: if you come from his starting point, you no doubt end up with his conclusions. But if you start from Christ’s starting point, you don’t.

    He appears to start from the idea that the Church is basically a man-made operation in which the community is continually searching through its own lights to find the way to God. Under such circumstances a strictly democratic approach might well be best.

    Christ’s approach was to found a Church and to give it authority to teach etc. In other words the Church is a channel through which God’s revelation is transmitted. Of course the teaching Church has often abused its authority, or simply handled it very badly. This was more understandable in medieval times when only the clergy were likely to be educated. Today the teaching Church should certainly be listening to the understanding and experience of the laity just as the laity should be listening to the authority of the teaching Church.

    So there is much to be done. But the one thing not to be done is to second-guess God. That is what the Protestants decided to do (and they had, like John Candido, provocation) but the result has been fragmentation, and fragmentation of fragmentation.

    • John Candido says:

      Vincent, it would be interesting to ask, what is Christ’s starting point? In other words, what is the mind of Christ on any issue, and how can we determine the mind of Christ? I suppose if we are going to talk about God and his mindset, we might need to revisit our human and limited understanding of God.

      We all should see that God is the highest being in the universe possessing the highest attributes of any being. God has all of the knowledge, skill, understanding, tolerance, compassion, empathy, love, insight, authority, humility, and power in the universe. God embodies every ideal that humans know of to an unmeasurable degree. We are talking here about the Ultimate Person. God is unfathomable, incalculable, inscrutable, and unalterable. This is God and more.

      If we agree that God is the Supreme Being, we also know that God can be fully and unfathomably present in every locality simultaneously. God can intimately understand, empathise, and unconditionally love every person that has ever been born and who will ever be born simultaneously. While God can do this instantaneously and effortlessly, we cannot imagine how God can do this and never will.

      God is also the author and creator of time. As its author, God can perfectly see any past moment of time, the stillness, and movement of the ever-changing present moment, and all future time, to its eventual finality. In spite of God’s overwhelmingly total knowledge and total power, we have been given the freedom to live our lives as we see fit, either sinfully, carelessly, seriously, and/or to varying degrees of virtuosity.

      As we can live our lives as we see fit, this of course does mean that we also have the freedom of our beliefs and perspectives. God has also given us our inviolate human consciences. The human conscience is not only inviolate; it is the final and ultimate core of our humanity. All of our freedoms have their origin and authority from God. Although it is ultimately an unfathomable mystery, I suggest that the mindset of God can be known and derived from the above considerations.

      As people with distinct and individual personalities, together with the universal possession of a free and inviolate human conscience, we are all perfectly entitled to our religious, social, and political viewpoints. Regardless of whether or not our points of view are conservative, moderate, or liberal, we are absolutely entitled to them. They are utterly non-negotiable.

      Christ did establish his church. He not only gave it authority to spread the gospel and teach all of its members, he also insisted that we be the salt of the earth, i.e. extraordinarily well behaved towards each other. In the light of God’s nature and God’s gift of the inviolacy of our human consciences, what does it mean when we say that the church has Christ’s authority? If the church’s authority means anything, it should be bounded by and a servant of the inviolacy of peoples’ consciences.

      The church’s authority does not mean it has a right to be intolerant, authoritarian, power-hungry, undemocratic, non-inclusive, non-transparent, insensitive, and unaccountable towards other Christians that it does not see eye-to-eye, for this is the antithesis of God. Allied to the problem of the meaning of the church’s authority, is an understanding and an appreciation of the notion that the church is not the sole conduit of God’s revelation. I believe that the secular world is also a channel of God’s authority. Regardless of the religious or philosophical beliefs of mathematicians, scientists, and other academics within the humanities, they are clearly doing God’s work by illuminating and guiding the rest of the world to a greater and ever expanding knowledge of ourselves and the world that we live in.

      When the laity is highly educated, is it acceptable for the church to dismiss them as having little knowledge of theological and spiritual matters, when they sincerely question both doctrinal positions and the church’s present-day mode of governance? As the laity is cognisant of God’s gift to them of their freedom and the inviolacy of their human consciences, they, as educated people, are entitled to accept or reject any official position of the church.

      If the church cannot accept the inalienable and God given freedom of all people, it is their duty to reconnect with God’s essential nature, re-establish a proper respect for all of our freedom, and establish a vigorous and independent study, by an eminent group of international scholars, of the historical evolution of ecclesiastical governance of the Roman Catholic Church. This study can ideally be undertaken in a lead-up to a third ecumenical council. Anything less, is an abrogation of their duty and an insult to the intelligence of the laity.

      • Iona says:

        What is implied in saying that a person’s conscience is “inviolate”?

        Each individual has a duty to inform his or her conscience, to question it, maybe to be suspicious of what it seems to be saying especially if it appears to be giving him/her permission to go ahead with a course of action which other aspects of his/her human nature are craving. Is there a point at which informing or questioning conscience threatens to violate it? Indeed, is there a point at which NOT informing/questioning conscience threatens to violate it?

      • Superview says:

        I salute John Candido’s open and generous response to his critics. As we have seen, not all contributors find it comes as naturally.
        For my part, Fr. Hodgen’s article contains many themes that have been of interest, and the fact of the article’s appearance in its context makes it remarkable and powerful. But I am sorry it is a cause of consternation to others, including a dear friend to whom I sent it, whereas I perceive the various elements that the author discusses as valid concerns in the Church and needful of transparency. For example, the description of the legacy and pre-occupations of JPII is, to me, accurate and easily evidenced. It also seems to me to be obvious from history, if not reason, that popes are not special human beings without fault or weakness, and when put in positions of such absolute power it is inevitable that the consequences perceived elsewhere in human society in these circumstances are, at the very least, a grave risk.
        The Vatican view of Papal authority is for many people a corruption of what it means to be the head of the Church – Pope Pius XII claimed in 1943 in his encyclical ‘The Mystical Body of Jesus Christ’ that God “.. divinely endows Pastors and Teachers, and especially his Vicar on earth, with supernatural gifts of knowledge, understanding and wisdom” – an extraordinary notion that is surely a prescription for self-delusion? In these circumstances isn’t it perfectly reasonable to suggest that Papal authority needs checking by other mechanisms?
        From this standpoint, the Church is self-evidently an imperfect human institution, whatever one may wish to believe about the work of the Holy Spirit – and I’ve sought assiduously and fruitlessly on the Second Sight blog for a respectable account of how the work of the Spirit it is to be described, especially when set against the Church’s history in human society, other than through the leaven provided by the lives of innumerable good, holy and selfless members of the Church – few of whom were ‘possessed of the sacred power and to be considered the primary and principal members’ (Pius XII again).
        The important thing is to try to achieve a balanced, proportionate and charitable judgement (as in so many other fields), yet I confess that I luxuriate in the freedom that the modern age gives me to voice opinions and to criticise ‘the primary and principal members’ that is, the Hierarchy, without getting tortured and burnt at the stake – as happened to their critics in the not so recent past.
        As before, I am indebted to Tom Nolan for surfacing new and important information – in this instance the oath of allegiance for converts. It does beg the question of where is the room for primacy of conscience subsequent to conversion, with or without it resulting in dissent (Benedict XVI in his address to the English Bishops: “We should recognise dissent for what it is!”). The oath looks remarkable similar to that employed by totalitarian regimes, and how many million miles is it from the Gospels? If I was asked to put a label on it, it would be Stalinist. I wonder which pope penned it?

  31. John Nolan says:

    The idea of the CofE as a broad church, happily embracing diverse opinions thanks to its “democratic” structures, is a comparatively recent concept. In a famous essay of 1840 the great Whig historian TB Macaulay (who believed the Church of Rome to be steeped in error and superstition) wrote: ” The ignorant enthusiast whom the Anglican Church makes an enemy…the Catholic Church makes a champion. Even for female agency there is a place in her system. To devout women she assigns spiritual functions, dignities and magistracies. Place Ignatius Loyola at Oxford. He is certain to become the head of a formidable secession. Place John Wesley at Rome. He is certain to become the the first General of a new society devoted to the interests and honour of the Church.”

  32. michael horsnall says:

    Iona,
    I’ve read the ‘on my face’ bit in several discussions-ascribed both to islam and to atheism..the thing is its a saying based in ignorance -one cannot live ‘one ones face’ and nor are we invited to . It is important to remember we are called as friends, sons and daughters of our inheritance and not slaves. It is slaves who prostate themselves in fear. Probably true that, living in a developed capitalism, we tend to take things for granted a little-but that is because they are there.

  33. Quentin says:

    Since the question of conscience and authority has arisen in some recent posts, you may be interested to read Holding out for a Hero published on this blog on 28 Aug 2008. This also contains a link to the original address, in which can be read the Pope’s awareness of Newman’s views. (I find a search for anamnesis finds it quickly)

  34. John Candido says:

    Superview’s reply is a brilliant and educated summary filled with balance and historical insight.

  35. st.joseph says:

    We will never advance in holiness if we keep looking at history.
    History has gone. The church is now.
    Catholic couples who use contraception-and the church call that ‘intrinsically evil’
    If they were to leave -the church would be empty, practically.
    That doesn’t say that the church doesn’t want them to be part of it.
    I don’t see those couples proclaiming their ‘rights’ in public.
    Walking humbly with the Lord-is something for us all-including myself.
    We do have the Sacrament of Confession to strenghten our weak will.,and thank God that we do have a church thats alive and well, as the Holy Fathers visit proved. A few voices have shown contempt for my belief in the church.I have wondered if my user name has disturbed some consciences as St Joseph is head of the Holy Family.
    None of us can be perfect!
    It is sad that there has been no mention of prayer in the comments.

    • John Candido says:

      st.joseph, we can all walk and chew gum at the same time. Therefore we can advance in virtue while studying other issues related to the church, in tandem. You say that history has gone, and the church is now. Without a general working knowledge of history, a community cannot improve itself, or make progress. There is a saying, a fool trips over the same stone twice. Similarly, we avoid repeating serious error, by noting what history has recorded.

      Walking humbly with the Lord, prayer, and critiquing the church, can be done at the same time. In fact, I believe that the Lord wants the laity to be alive to the many issues that the church confronts today. Regardless of their personal starting points as conservatives or liberals, all church members can make a sincere contribution towards contemporaneous debate. The church is as much the possession of the laity, as it is of the hierarchy. You are entitled to your view of the church. I and some others don’t agree with it, but we are not contemptuous of you for holding your view.

      You say that, ‘it is sad that there has been no mention of prayer in the comments’. We are not discussing prayer in these comments. What we are discussing is the ecclesiology of the church. Ecclesiology is the application of theology to the study of the nature and structure of the church, to use ‘The Oxford Concise English Dictionary’.

      You and I come from different ecclesiological starting points, which is why we disagree with each other a lot. A community will disagree with each other on a multitude of issues from time to time, regardless of them being spiritual or secular. This is not apostasy but a natural state of affairs. God wants us to discuss and debate all issues that concern us as a Christian community. It is through productive and civil discussions and debates, that the world will make progress towards improvement and future development. Quality journalism that contemporarily examines secular or religious issues, have a vital role to play in liberal democratic nation-states, and in ecclesial matters.

  36. claret says:

    I note that today that the late Pope John Paul 2 is well on his way to becoming a saint and that a miracle has been attributed to him. One idly wonders, having read the posts on here, if this is some kind of mis-match or papal power being re-asserted , just in case anyone is not sure about it. There does remain a remote possibility that due processes have been met.

  37. st.joseph says:

    John, Fr Hodgens reflections and criticisms were also on the prayer life and Sacramental position of the church . But of course you would have missed all that,and it is obvious to all that you have no interest in that part of the church.
    Please John for your own sake( as you have been advising me) remember that the church is the Spiritual home for us all when we end our life here on earth. I would not like you to be in shock when you find that Life in Heaven.
    Forgive me for saying this,but as you have given me a taste of you tongue-‘Your Batchelor of Arts won’t get you in.’
    Yes as you say ‘we can walk and chew gum at the same time’

  38. st.joseph says:

    P.S.Not everyone on the blog agrees with you either.
    But it seems that ‘St Joseph ‘is a soft touch for you.

    • st.joseph says:

      My son and my daughter both have a BA. they got theirs at 24 and went on to do further degrees.
      Mine is on motherhood and grandmotherhood, one does not get a degree for that.
      That is the heritage I leave for my children,childrens children, our faith, and I am pleased to say they all have it.
      They do say women can multi-task.
      I thought you would have picked up on my spelling ‘mistake’ before now!.
      Just to let you know I can spell ‘Bachelor’

      Just to make you smile!!

  39. John Candido says:

    What is meant when someone says a person’s conscience is inviolate? The noun inviolacy, according to ‘The Concise Oxford Dictionary’, means the state of being free from injury or violation. In other words something that is inviolate is in a sense superior to some other entity. Ideally, it cannot be subverted, lessened, subordinated, circumvented, proscribed, imposed on, sullied, commandeered, or perverted by others.

    We all have to anchor our thinking and enquiries fully within our sense of integrity and sincerity or else the act of using one’s conscience will be compromised. This is an absolute prerequisite. Every Catholic that faces a moral dilemma has of course to inform themselves of the official teachings of the church, or obtain counselling from some church related or secular expert in the area. However, this does not mean that ipso facto that one’s conscience must in the finality of enquiry be subservient to the church’s magisterium or the advice of experts.

    Iona, you say ‘is there a point at which informing or questioning conscience, threatens to violate it?’ And you go on to say, ‘indeed, is there a point at which not informing conscience threatens to violate it?’ To answer your first question, informing, questioning, or having doubts about your issues, does not mean that one’s conscience is violated. Questions, doubts, and obtaining information to help you make important moral decisions, simply are the natural processes of conscientiously informing your conscience, so that you can try to make the best decision for your particular circumstances. Your second question seems more apt in that failing to inform your conscience does threaten to lower the efficacy or vibrancy of the human conscience rather than violate it. The inviolacy of the conscience is never subverted even if it is uninformed. The freedom and inviolacy of the human conscience is perennial.

    Our catechism has some very pertinent things to say about conscience. If you where to go to Part Three: Life in Christ, Article Six: Moral Conscience, Paragraphs 1776 to 1751, you will find what the official church has to say on this subject.

    I would now like to address myself to John Nolan’s post. Superview is correct to ask the question in relation to the Oath of Allegiance or Profession of Faith for Converts, which was provided by John Nolan. ‘Where is the room for primacy of conscience subsequent to conversion?’ Apparently none at all, because whoever wrote this totalitarian formula, didn’t have the decency to make any reference to it.

    Every now and then I enjoy putting on my Christopher Hitchens hat. I haven’t the slightest hesitation in saying that I am quite sickened reading this thundering and almighty Profession of Faith. Written in quite formal English; it is full of fear and perdition. It uses the language of absolutism and power. It seems to delight in its absolute power, and its assumed right to tower over the entire laity in unembarrassed vanity. It’s as if the doors of heaven are forever shut to anybody who dares question it, for such is the church’s alleged power and authority.

    Living as I do in the 21st century, I would make it my absolute duty to question its authority, question its author, and to reject it as utterly inconsistent with my understanding of the faith. My mandate, freedom, and authority come directly from God, who has seen fit to give everybody a brain, a soul, their freedom, and a human conscience. Thank you for your reply.

  40. John Candido says:

    My apologies. One of the paragraph references that I gave in my last post is incorrect. If you go to Part Three: Life in Christ, Article Six: Moral Conscience, Paragraphs 1776 to 1794 (not 1751), you will find what the official church has to say on this subject.

    P.S. The writings of John Henry Cardinal Newman have a lot to say about the human conscience as well. His writings have been acknowledged to form the philosophical and theological backdrop of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965). As he is now declared Blessed by the church for a verified miracle that occurred in the United States of America, some of his writtings might be a good subject to look at as a future topic of discussion within SecondSight.

  41. michael horsnall says:

    RE: Superview and the Holy Spirit- sounds like a cartoon title doesn’t it!

    Its a very interesting and pertinent point isnt it? I would like to know Superview (Can’t we just call you Steve or something?) what you would expect to find on a blog like this about the way in which the Holy Spirit is meant to work-what was it you were looking for and why?
    As far as I can see the Holy Spirit is liable to guide us into wisdom and truth, act upon us in such away as to increase our kindness, compassion and love for one another-also to instill us with care for the needy and the poor. Probably its better defined in the catechism John but here I am in full flow (with para 1776 open at my side!)

    The point is germane because , notwithstanding human frailty,sin and clericalism, we have to assume the church is the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit and we do in fact dance to a different drum though it may often not feel that way. Without the Holy spirit acting within our lives we may as well all just do our best and stay at home on sundays to clean the car because we have nothing extra to offer than the usual obligations of civil society.
    I make this point fairly insistently because it seems to me that the earlier wranglings regarding political form miss the fundamental point that though the church -because of its belief and the source of its power- will tend towards democratic forms it is not of itself subject to any political form. Certainly the church cannot be totalitarian and certainly it should be searchable by the institutions of just government from which it should have no fear-but the church in itself though it acts in the political world of power is not dependent on any particular political form save that kind of organisation
    which does not grieve the Holy Spirit. I worked with the underground church in China for 5 years around the time of Tianmen square in my pre-catholic days- and found that under political pressure froma hostile state the basic form of the church did not change that much -except for the fact that 60% of its local leaders were women!
    As to the catechism view on dignity and conscience -it is as ever beautiful and makes the point that no one has to be a catholic if their conscience dictates otherwise. But the rule about obedience to teaching is I suspect more to do with personal interior discipline than anything else. There are many issue that perplex me about Catholicism but I have found over the past four or five years that it saves a huge headache and lots and lots of argy bargy if I accept the overall package and question my own intellect and desires first before leaping to the barricades of others!

    To conclude -the understanding of the Holy spirit and the formation of conscience are fundamental and crucial (catechism1779) These concepts-in the lived life- are very straightforward yet infinitely mysterious hence the spectacle of us all here arguing like ferrets in a sack!

    • st.joseph says:

      A priest told me once that when teaching the faith,he found women asked more questions than men.
      Men just said ‘ Tell me Father what I need to know and I will believe it’!

  42. michael horsnall says:

    PS I’d like to talk about -and get some references for-Cardinal Newman too! What should I read of his first?

    • st.joseph says:

      Michael.
      I have fond memories of Blessed John Henry Newman.
      Perhaps his Development of Christian Doctrine. If it would interest you.It can be found on Amazon.
      My late husband and I would go to Littlemore in Oxford, to visit some students, with a priest ,some of the students are now ordained priests a few years ago ,Littlemore is very interesting ,and to see where Blessed John Henry Newman stayed. Where he celebrated Holy Mass in the small chapel,which my husband and I attended Mass there.
      Blessed Dominic who brought him into the church, has a close link with Woodchester Priory Glos.
      Blessed Dominic, he brought the devotion for Corpus Christi Processions back.
      His cottage where he stayed, in Nympsfield, is named after him. He was stoned ,I believe outside the Public House-shook the dust off his feet,then went on to Birmingham I think.
      Corpus Christi Processions have been through the village for 20 odd years,this helped my husbands conversion, as he loved carrying the Canopy over Our Lord..Sometimes the Anglican Vicar came, and held one of the corners ‘wonderful ecumenism.
      I think Blessed Dominic said the first Mass at Woodchester Priory, where my husband is buried.
      Corpus Christi Processions were through the village for 20 or so years,until the priest moved, and then it stopped. It was always very well attended, people came from all over.
      To see Blessed John Henry Newmans, spectacles, and various items of his.all laid out, is lovely to see.Well worth a visit.

      • st.joseph says:

        Michael, I have just looked up some more info, but on Blessed Dominic Barberi.
        It was in fact Blessed Dominic who was, in 1846,the first priest to say Mass after the Reformation in the parish of Nympsfield,so it was appropriate as he revived the processions to be there, (Incidentally that is the school my 3 grandsons attended, one is still there.
        I am telling you this as maybe through Blessed Dominic’s books or papers, you may find out more about Blessed John Henry Newman.

      • michael horsnall says:

        Thanks ma’m I’ll get on to Amazon!

    • Quentin says:

      I am far from being a Newman scholar, and his output was considerable. You will find a list of his works at http://www.newmanreader.org/works/index.html.

      A good place to start might be his Apologia: this is an autobiographical tour de force. On the subject of conscience his letter to the Duke of Norfolk applies. On Consulting the Faithful gives a good picture of the witness of the laity. An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine is extremely interesting, and give a good picture of Newman as an historian and apologist. You should be able to find all these on the internet – if you can bear reading from a screen.
      That should keep you going for a bit! But there’s plenty more.

      • michael horsnall says:

        Thanks Quentin, I hate reading from a screen as it happens!! Its ok for browsing and trawling which I have to do quite a bit of anyway- but if you have a book you have to get to grips with then its all dog ears and pencil marks as far as I’m concerned…I’ve been working my way through Thomas Green’s .. ‘When the well runs dry’… recently and I’m not sure who has won-me or the book!

    • John Candido says:

      There is a book called ‘John Henry Newman’ by Brian Martin PhD. This was published in London by Continuum in 2000. ISBN 0-8264-4993-X.

      Here are some internet resources that you might find interesting as well.

      http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/j/john_henry_newman.html

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Henry_Newman

      http://www.vatican2voice.org/3butlerwrites/newman.htm

      I have also found this prayer attributed to Blessed John Newman.

      A Prayer of John Henry Cardinal Newman

      God created me
      to do him some definite service;
      he has committed some work to me
      which he has not committed to another.

      I have my mission –
      I may never know it in this life,
      but I shall be told it in the next…
      Therefore, I will trust him…
      If I am in sickness,
      my sickness may serve him;
      in perplexity,
      my perplexity may serve him;
      if I am in sorrow,
      my sorrow may serve him…
      He does nothing in vain;
      he may prolong my life,
      he may shorten it,
      he knows what he is about.

  43. st.joseph says:

    John Candido.
    You made a statement in one of your replies above, where you state ‘you and I come from different ecclesiogical starting points, that is why we disagree with each other.

    You also ask another question. ‘What is Christ’s starting point?What is the mind of Christ?on any issue,and you also asked ‘how can we determine the mind of Christ.You also say ‘I suppose if we are going to talk about God and His mindset, we need to revisit our human and limited understanding of God.
    I am going to explain something to you, which may help you to understand a little more.You did say in another comment that you did not have any theological knowledge of the Blessed Sacrament,so I thought this might interest you.,and may give you a better understanding as to why I mentioned the prayer life of the church and how sad it was that Fr Hodgens reflection went unoticed without any further comments Below is a letter from St Francis to the Entire Order.

    It is a great misery and a miserable weakness to have the Lord present with us in this Sacrament and to be distracted by anything else in the whole world.If it is right to honour the Blessed Virgin Mary because She bore Him in Her most Holy womb; If St John the Baptist trembled and was afraid even to touch Christ’s Sacred Head; if the tomb where He lay for only a short time is venerated; how much more should we love, revere and honour Him in this mystery on which the angels long to gaze.

    Our whole being should be struck with fear,the whole world should tremble and heaven rejoice when Christ the Son of the living God is present on the altar in the hands of a priest.O wonderful Majesty and stupentous dignity! O sublime humility!O humble humility! That the Lord of the universe, God and the Son of God,should humble Himself like this and hide under the little form of Bread for our salvation!
    Brothers and sisters,think of the humility of God,and ready yourselves to pour out your hearts before Him (Psalm 62;9) Humble yourselves that you may be exalted by Him.(Peter 5;6; James 4;10.) Hold back nothing of yourselves, for yourselves, that He who gave Himself totally to you ,may receive you totally.

    And may the peace of God, which passes all understanding,keep your hearts and minds in the unity of the Spirit with Jesus Christ our Lord Amen. End.

    John, this is for us to be able to find God in Jesus,not as someone up in the clouds,as in the old Testament, but in the New .
    When Fr Hodgens in his criticism of Pope John Paul and Pope Benedict, who brought the devotion back into the church, which had really been neglected since Vat 2,and I know this I was around then” And I am not saying Vat 2 was a bad thing, but these devotions were set on one side, and the Blessed Sacrament was very often moved out of the way.
    In reading Fr Hodgens reflections I could see his thoughts on the ‘error ‘of the church,
    and I could see Our Lords happiness that they were being introduced again.Hence my comment which upset you and RMBlaber so much. The devil sets war on the Eucharist, and I could see his anger.
    The starting point which we as catholics should should not differ on is the Eucharist.
    Quire honestly I am not too bothered about the eccelesiogical of the church, and I agree with you I dont know that much about it. But we all ought to know about the prayer life and Sacramental life. We are taught this from our mothers lap,and teach ours also.
    So I will finish by saying that if you believe that the church is full of people like me. a runt of Pope Benedict, so be it.

    • Ascylto says:

      st.joseph

      As you mentioned a letter from St Francis, may I recommend to you a DVD which I have recently viewed. Unfortunately, it is not available in Region 2 so you would need a multi-region player to view it or your computer may allow a view (mine restricts me to 5 changes). It is available on Amazon …

      Saint of 9/11 [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]. £5.48.

      It concerns Fr Mychal Judge, a Franciscan priest who was also Chaplain to the New York Fire Department.

      PS. I’m glad you decided against retiring yourself from the blog!

  44. John Nolan says:

    John Candido,

    Thank you for answering the questions I put in an earlier post. When you get round to studying what Newman actually wrote you might realize what “religious submission of will and intellect” means, and bear in mind that Blessed John Henry was one of the greatest intellectuals of his age. In The Dream of Gerontius he wrote:
    And I hold in veneration
    For the love of him alone,
    Holy Church as his creation,
    And her teachings as his own.
    The notion that any of his views could be used by 21st century liberal-relativists as ammunition to attack the Petrine office and the Magisterium would have appalled him.

    • John Candido says:

      John, it is all a question of degree. It might have appalled him, it might not have. Who is to know? If he saw and read newspapers today, he might have a different view of ecclesiastical governance and its mode of leadership. And again, it would probably be a question of degree on any one issue. I am not attacking the Petrine office and the Magisterium as much as seeking reasonable reforms consistent with a modern understanding of leadership, the use of power, and standards of governance. I am not a revolutionary. I am not seeking an end to the office of the papacy or to destroy the church. I am seeking to make them more contemporary, and consistent with my understanding of christianity. Thank you for your reply.

      • st.joseph says:

        John,
        The Rosary is a wonderful weapon, it has stopped wars in the past.
        Our Lady has ‘repeatedly” asked for it to be said every day,for peace in the world’ on nearly all Her apparitions.If we were to have peace in our hearts as well,maybe there would be more peace in the world.
        And then if it is what the Lord wants for His Church-it will happen,but we must pray about it.
        Her heel will crush the head of Satan.
        The prayer to St Michael,which used to be prayed after Mass,and stopped like many many more devotoions, that doesn’t stop one from saying it oneself.

      • John Nolan says:

        John, I can only go by what you write. The profession of faith which you so vehemently object to is obviously post-Vatican II; the reference to the “college of bishops” is taken from Lumen Gentium. Your ad hominem attacks on Paul VI, John Paul II and Benedict XVI would make Ian Paisley blush. Regarding conscience consider the following. I believe in the divinity of Christ because the Church tells me so. I know intelligent Jehovah’s Witnesses, who know the Scriptures far better than I do, and they would in all conscience deny that Christ was God. We can’t both be right, unless we concur with the archetypal relativist Pontius Pilate who asked “Quid est veritas?”

  45. John Candido says:

    st.joseph,

    The Rosary is a valid form of prayer. As I mentioned in a previous topic within SecondSight called ‘The Science of Meditation’ (20th May 2010), I prefer my daily practice of Christian Meditation that was rediscovered by the late Fr. John Main OSB and as taught by Fr. Laurance Freeman OSB. The world cannot stop praying for peace, can it? Thank you for your suggestion anyway st.joseph. Should anybody be interested in Christian Meditation you can go to http://www.wccm.org/ to find out more about it.

  46. st.joseph says:

    Thank you John for your reply.
    Our Blessed Mother is the closest person to Her Son.
    Her intercessions are very powerful.
    One can do both-if one wishs.

  47. st.joseph says:

    John, I would like to add to my above comment,if you do not mind’
    The Rosary as you say is a valid form of prayer we know,but however it is based on the Gospel 0f Jesus’ Life.
    Each Mystery is for us to meditate on. It is not only 1 Our Father,10 Hail Mary’s,
    1 Glory be to the Father- 5 times It is a meditation on Jesus’ life
    People say it how they like and I dont think Our Lady really minds,if one has no time,but however it is mostly for meditation. Just in case you didn’t know.

  48. John Nolan says:

    “I am seeking to make them [church and papacy]…consistent with my understanding of christianity”. Have you any idea how arrogant and solipsistic this sounds?

    • Superview says:

      It is not clear at all whether those who are critical of Fr Hodgens’ article reject everything that he says about the changes he has seen during the decades of his priesthood, the description he gives of JPII’s preoccupations and legacy, the agenda of Benedict XVI and his politics, and so on. Does power corrupt and has it corrupted Popes? Is this age immune from this risk, if so why? I don’t detect anything but bluster and evasion – at least disputing the facts would enable us to get closer to the truth?
      Cardinal Newman was a great figure in the Church during his lifetime, and for all sorts of reasons, but when it comes to his remarks on conscience it always seems that those who want to claim him for papal authority over conscience protest too much.

    • John Candido says:

      In one of your most recent posts, you state, and I quote, ‘The first paragraph of Fr Hodgens’s article is an extended solipsism and everything else he has to say is a development of that. At one point I had to laugh out loud. Hans Kung is not best known for his modesty, but I don’t think he would see himself and his colleagues as the Magisterium!’ Where is your evidence that Fr. Hans Kung is immodest? Please explain.

      You also have a limited understanding for the meaning of the word magisterium. The magisterium is a teaching authority and not a commanding authority. Initially, every Catholic should assent to the ordinary magisterium, by which I mean the teaching authority of the church. But this does not mean that any individual cannot take issue with something that is taught by the church from time to time, and sincerely review their attitude to such teaching.

      It is a teaching magisterium and not a commanding magisterium partly because everybody is in the final scenario free to accept or reject any teaching, due to our inalienable right to freedom of religion and because of the Catholic Church’s own teaching about the primacy of conscience. As I have mentioned previously in a former post, paragraphs 1776 to 1794 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church are a good starting point on the subject of the human conscience.

      You said that at one point in reading Fr. Hodgen’s article that you ‘had to laugh out loud…I don’t think he would see himself and his colleagues as the Magisterium (your emphasis)’. Oh really? Kung has been trained as a theologian at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome and has also studied at the Sorbonne in Paris; he was appointed a Peritus by Pope John XXIII for the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965).

      He is an author of many books and articles, speaks several languages, and he is a university professor. His licence to teach in any Catholic teaching institution has been stupidly revoked by the church’s mistaken and intolerant hand. It can be safely declared, as with thousands of similarly qualified individuals, that Kung is a teacher. As a teacher he, and many similarily qualified individuals, also form the magisterium of the church.

  49. John Candido says:

    ‘John, should we shut our minds to current affairs relating to the church? Can I question how ecclesiastical authority is construed, including questions about papal infallibility, and why some of the doctrines of the church are of another era? It is quite fatuous to say that I am arrogant for simply expressing my point of view. Should I leave everything to Rome or can I have an infinitesimal impact by voicing my opinion?

    Am I without any rights at all? Am I not a Christian and a Catholic who is both entitled and required out of a sense of responsibility, to contribute to debate on any issue relating to our church, as I see fit? I either have human rights and exercise them as I see fit or I do not. It would be a strange set of affairs if everybody had rights but never exercised them. This is a context of either/or, there is no middle ground with this question.

    I am entitled to my point of view as you are yours, or should we all cower in a corner? Have you ever asked yourself why thousands of Catholic priests have left the priesthood, why mass attendance by adults isn’t exactly robust, why the youth are never going to step inside a church, and why vocations to the priesthood and religious life have all but dried up? In the light of these facts, am I still ‘solipsistic’?

    Have you ever wondered why we are having the paedophilia crisis? Do you think that a combination of clericalism and respectful deference to authority have anything at all to do with this state of affairs? Or in the end all will be well. All we need do is pray harder and longer? Fatuous nonsense!

    Please wake up John and start contributing to the debate by explaining in rational terms why you disagree with me. Calling me ‘arrogant and solipsistic’ is not only an irrelevant point; it fails to properly provide an adequate defence of your point of view. Nobody needs a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Theology for that matter, in order to responsibly contribute to these debates. Anyone can and should be able to have a go.

  50. John Nolan says:

    John, it is not my opinion, or yours, that is at issue here. All I have tried to do is to get you to pause mid-rant and try to look at things from a different angle. I do not call you arrogant, although your choice of words might well invite such an inference. I certainly would not use terms like “stupid ” and “intolerant” – words that you have no compunction in using when criticizing the Church to which you purport to belong.

    Nobody is denying your right to express your opinion, and if you seriously believe it is inspired by God, by all means say so. I am generally regarded as opinionated but do not hold mine in such high regard. As for explaining in rational terms why I disagree with you, I would rather refer you to GK Chesterton:

    For your God, or dream, or devil,
    You must answer – not to me.

    This is my last post on this topic. A word of advice – if you want to be taken seriously, address your anger issues and use less intemperate language.

  51. st.joseph says:

    Superview,why don’t just you sit down, and instead of just picking and choosing from the CCC, Study it.
    Then you might understand what it means by the formation of concience.Informed in other words .I think you will realise then ,that is what Blessed John Henry Newman meant!

  52. st.joseph says:

    That was also meant for John Candido too|

  53. Superview says:

    What a pity that John Nolan has left this blog without sharing with us his reasons for disagreeing with John Candido and by association Fr Hodgens. What a shame also that he could not find more charitable parting words, when John Candido has gone to such lengths to explain his reasoning and values, and as far as I can see with only an occasional rhetorical flourish.

  54. John Candido says:

    John, it is a real pity that you will not continue to engage and debate me and others with whom you disagree with. I really mean this. We will never agree with each other, but we can debate and discuss all sorts of issues and try to do it in a mutually respectful manner. It is difficult to do this at times, and I include myself in this as well. SecondSight is designed for this very purpose. We are both adults and we are both capable of doing this. Of course if you do not want to debate others, it is your perfect right to discontinue your posting within ‘Golden Anniversay Reflections’. However, please do not say goodbye to SecondSight. If SecondSight is to flourish, it needs the sincere and respectful input of a variety of people with their individual perspectives. John Candido.

  55. John Candido says:

    I have a video produced in 2008 of an interview between the immediate past Anglican Bishop of Oxford, Owen Harries, and well known biologist and atheist Mr. Richard Dawkins. Bishop Harries is a well known liberal within the anglican church. It is a wide ranging discussion on liberalism, biblical criticism, euthanasia, and children’s religious education. I hope that you all find it of interest. http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=2367986806557811071#

  56. John Nolan says:

    Don’t worry, Superview, I haven’t finished with you yet. The reason I post on this blog is that I find Quentin’s column in the Catholic Herald one of the best examples of modern journalism. It is well-researched, informative and thought-provoking. It is decidedly non-polemic and invites civilized discussion. To refute John Candido point by point would require a minor dissertation and he would still come back with more of the same. The definition of a liberal is someone who will fight to the death for your right to agree with him. As for more charitable parting words, how about this from Hilaire Belloc:

    Heretics all, where e’er you be,
    In Tarbes or Nimes, or over the sea,
    You never will have good words from me;
    Caritas non conturbat me.

  57. Superview says:

    Well, John Nolan must be convinced that resorting to a dead language has to be one of the surest ways of winning an argument. Could he be mistaken? What’s wrong with English?
    I hope when he returns to the fray we might enjoy his rebuttal of false statements or erroneous facts, because much as I am intrigued by his more discursive contributions, the blog surely relies on argument and counter-argument for its vitality? John Candido is certainly generous to his adversaries in the way he responds to their critique of his ideas, and on the Second Sight blog the least one could hope for in response is more than superciliousness, no matter how artfully crafted.

  58. Quentin says:

    Superview, I rather think that Belloc was making a play on Dunbar’s poem.
    At that date he would have assumed that everyone would have been familiar with it – and thus would need no translation. Having said that I would have preferred John Nolan to have imputed heretical views (if so they be) to John Candido, rather than suggesting. if obliquely, that he is a heretic. That is not a judgment for us to make.

    Of course I may be partial but I notice that the post that JC provided has so far attracted over 80 responses. And several of us. whether in agreement or not, have been obliged to do some hard thinking. Can’t be bad!

    But I do thank JN for his kind remarks about my column. We all need encouragement from time to time. I certainly do.

  59. John Candido says:

    The Roman Catholic Church’s governance, as it has evolved through 2,000 years of history, has taken on forms that the church, in hindsight, should not have adopted. I suggest that the contact and influence of Emperor Constantine had on the church, should be slowly undone. By making the church an official religion of Rome, he imposed his office and authority over the church in order to ‘reform’ it in a manner of his liking.

    His influence has seen the Romanisation of the Catholic Church, which comprised the exultation of the Bishop of Rome over all other bishops, the further exultation of bishops over priests, and priests over laity. This hierarchical structure was far more loosely and collegially present before the meddling of Constantine. The bishop of Rome eventually reflected the authority and power of the secular office of Emperor.

    This was most prominently the case after the 1st Vatican council (1869-1870), which was convoked by Pope Pius IX in 1868. Pope Pius IX dictatorially enforced his authority on this council by insisting that it theologically define and promulgate the doctrine of papal infallibility for himself and his successors. The centrality of the power of Rome and the papacy has grown from Emperor Constantine to the First Vatican Council and to the present day. These historical developments of governance need to be reviewed in the light of the magisterium of contemporary theologians, exegetes, ecclesiastical historians, and philosophers.

    The human conscience has been written about by Saints Thomas Aquinas, Augustine, Blessed John Newman, countless theologians, scripture scholars, philosophers, various popes, and councils of bishops. The primacy of the human conscience was most notably given a special place by the document called Dignitatis Humanae (DH), which is known in English as the ‘Declaration on Religious Freedom’. This was one of the sixteen major documents of the Second Vatican Council and it was promulgated on the 7th December 1965 by Pope Paul VI.

    The Catechism of the Catholic Church has also referred to the inviolacy of the human conscience within Part Three: Life in Christ, Article Six: Moral Conscience: Paragraphs 1776 to 1794, and Paragraphs 1795 to 1802 if you were to include the brief summary. It has correctly specified that it is important to approach decisions with integrity, carefully, rationally, sincerely, in full awareness of human weakness and passion, for the need to inform oneself of knowledge of the church’s teaching in order to be guided by it, to seek the counsel of all manner of experts in the area concerned, out of faith and love, and to be cognisant of the fact that a human conscience can make sincere errors at times.

    In the light of perennial forces of secular modernity, which shine a light into modes of governance, to wit, democracy, accountability, and transparency, and in light of advances in the sciences and humanities, it would be most opportune if the church were to undergo serious restructuring. The reform of its governance, doctrines and protocols, can only occur through the convoking of a third Vatican council. A third Vatican council would make it the twenty-second ecumenical council in the church’s history.

    As a liberal, my own personal wish-list of reforms would be quite a long one. I cannot help but desire the immediate abolition of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, previously known as the Holy Office, and originally known as the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Roman and Universal Inquisition. The introduction of democratic elections for all office holders within the Vatican is a key reform that will lead to the decentralization of power, accountability, and transparency. This will also initiate de-clericalism of the priesthood as a way of stymying attendant dangers to children and women. Concomitant to this reform and in the promotion of the human rights of all priests must be the abolition of celibacy, and the introduction of women to the priesthood.

    The permanent introduction of more regular ecumenical councils, that could be convoked every ten or so years, much like the Anglican Church’s Lambeth Conferences, would assist in the mediation of conflict and the timely review of doctrines and protocols. The primacy and inviolacy of the human conscience must be upheld and reinvigorated as central to all teachings of the Catholic Church, and a sign of the absolute respect for all of the church’s members and their inalienable human rights.

    The church must be a fervent protagonist for the human races’ inalienable, inherent, and complete set of human rights, as espoused in all of the rights documents of the United Nations. As a champion of human values, it must also be an unerring supporter of all of the modern provisions of the laws of war, as specified by any document of the United Nations, and all Geneva, Hague, and Nuremberg Conventions.

    As part of this concern for human rights and in hand with our teaching on the primacy of human conscience, the entire church must highlight the absolute and irreducible right to freedom of religion. An essential and logical part of the right to freedom of religion must be the right of freedom within any religion. This right is a safeguard for the primacy of the human conscience and should be recognized as part of the general right of religious freedom.

    • John Nolan says:

      I rest my case.

      • John Candido says:

        John, with the greatest respect, you haven’t made a case to rest for. You should have countered or rebutted each point that I made within the last post. I should give you credit for one of your posts that did offer some counter points to my contributions. You state in one post-dated the 17th January 2011 that,

        ‘John, I can only go by what you write. The profession of faith which you so vehemently object to is obviously post-Vatican II; the reference to the “college of bishops” is taken from Lumen Gentium. Your ad hominem attacks on Paul VI, John Paul II and Benedict XVI would make Ian Paisley blush. Regarding conscience consider the following. I believe in the divinity of Christ because the Church tells me so. I know intelligent Jehovah’s Witnesses, who know the Scriptures far better than I do, and they would in all conscience deny that Christ was God. We can’t both be right, unless we concur with the archetypal relativist Pontius Pilate who asked “Quid est. veritas?”’

        Even if the profession of faith were written after the Second Vatican Council, the church has been reversed to a pre-Vatican II ecclesiology, thanks to popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI . There is no debate on hardly any issue; theologians are hauled up to the CDF to defend their positions, the appointment of bishops is a silly exercise of appointing the conservative, and power has been re-centralised.

        You say that the reference to the college of bishops is taken from the Vatican II document called Lumen Gentium. I am not disputing this fact but where in Lumen Gentium? Even if it is taken from Lumen Gentium, does not mean that it is read correctly or that I would necessarily agree with it.

  60. st.joseph says:

    Thank you Ascylto for you kind words and for your suggestion, I dont know how to receive what you suggested on my computer, as it is very old but I will look it up on Amazon.
    To answer your question best I can.
    We profess on Sunday Our Creed as a family at Mass. ‘We’are united in the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church ‘which is also in the Creed
    We all have diversity of gifts which we have received from the Holy Spirit-to use for the Glory of God.
    I mention Opus Dei and that is a valid Order within the church,which suits others, also the Latin Mass, which suits others.To substitute ‘We ‘for ‘some of us’ would not be the correct meaning of the Creed, as the Creed is our belief.
    I was ‘not’ quoting the Creed when I said ‘We’but making the point of diversity which adds to its richness.
    When I said the quality of the church if it shrinks in size will not lose its quality,I mean
    The Mystical Body of Christ’ it does not depend on how many are here on earth.
    We are united with the living and the dead in His Kingdom (again in the Creed) until the resurrection of our bodies. Thank You.

  61. John Nolan says:

    John Candido, I had resolved not to comment further on this topic, but since you ask me a direct question I shall afford you the courtesy of a reply. The reference to Lumen Gentium comes from Chapter 3, ” Collegiality” where the first mention is made of “the college of bishops” which is “the subject of supreme and full power over the Church, provided we understand this body together with its head, the Roman Pontiff.” Later on it is made clear that the Pope, by virtue of his office, can act on his own authority. From what you have written, it would seem that would have no truck with this, so why do have such faith in ecumenical councils that you want them summoned on a regular basis?

    When studying Church history I think we have to put our (different) prejudices aside and try to be objective. The adoption of Christianity as the official religion of the Roman Empire gave the Church an infrastructure, based on Roman provincial administration, which enabled her to survive the collapse of the empire in the west; and that infrastructure remains in place – a millennium and a half later.

    Your attempts to portray the Church as obscurantist ignores the fact that often the Church was in the forefront of scientific enquiry. St Bede in his Jarrow monastery was always curious about the natural world, and knew the earth to be a sphere. Copernicus and Mendel were monks. I read today that the new head of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences is a Protestant professor of microbiology from Basel. And the Pontifical Observatory at Castelgandolfo, led by Jesuit astronomers, is world-renowned.

    The idea that the Church is intrinsically opposed to the values of modern secular democracies is simply not true. Were you paying any attention to what Benedict XVI said on his recent visit? The German atheist Juergen Habermas has gone on record as saying that the whole concept of human rights would be unthinkable without the teaching of the Catholic Church. The laws of war to which you refer originated with the Church. When barbarian rulers adopted Christianity they tended to moderate their conduct of warfare. The first recorded example of arms control was a 12th-century papal bull outlawing the crossbow, at least on a Christian battlefield (like most subsequent arms control measures it was unsuccessful).

    Finally, churches approaching your model do exist, although they style themselves Protestant. You might find their view on the authority of Scripture a problem, though.

  62. John Nolan says:

    Sorry about the typos in my first paragraph – I seem to have missed out “you” on two occasions. But I’m sure you get my drift.

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