I beg leave to differ

From time to time this column looks to issues of authority in the Church. And rightly so, because the way it is exercised and the way it is received are enormously important for our future.

The two extremes, and I do not think that I exaggerate, range from an instinctive aversion to any authoritative decision to an instinctive condemnation of any Catholic who criticises any aspect of the Church’s discipline. Both extremes verge on fundamentalism: the tension between authority and the recipients of authority in real life is more nuanced than either, and the boundary line between them continuously variable.

It may be valuable to look at a couple of recent examples.

The first concerns Bishop William Morris, recently obliged to take early retirement from his Diocese of Toowoomba in Australia. Bishop Morris has a very high reputation as a pastoral bishop, and has been a shining example of how to create a genuine listening and sharing community in his diocese. His own priests speak highly of him, and he is clearly much valued by his brother bishops. What happened?

He had issued a pastoral letter in 2006 on the shortage of priests in his diocese. And the problem is a serious one because by 2014 the diocese will only have six priests aged 65 and younger. He suggested that this crisis should ready us to consider options which are currently being debated at different levels. His list included the ordination of women and the recognition of Anglican and some other Protestant orders.

Bishop Morris was wrong. His position precluded him from raising options which the Church has quite clearly closed down. He may not have intended to be provocative, but he should have been wise enough to know that he was putting the Holy See into an impossible position. The only outcome, apart from his forced retirement, is likely to be a stronger defensive barrier against any views which smack of liberalism. For all I know one day such questions may be considered more kindly than they are now. But he will not have helped to bring that day any nearer.

The second example that I look at is Caritas Internationalis, which is a federation of 165 international Catholic charities. Here I read that the Vatican wishes to exert greater control over this federation. A Vatican official said: “Caritas Internationalis, as a public entity of the Church, is authorised to speak and act for the Church in the international forum. Because of that right and duty, it needs to speak the Church’s language and make sure that its activities, and its agreements with non-Catholic agencies, reflect what the Church teaches.” And Caritas would need to acknowledge the Holy See’s authority over finance and personnel issues.

Once again, it is hard to take issue with the rationale of the official position. Unfortunately it is likely that the federation’s agencies, who know exactly what is needed in their local areas, will feel that the “dead hand” of the Vatican will bear down ignorantly and tactlessly on their vital work, and in so doing will harm their relationships with other agencies with whom they must work. Nor will they feel that the Vatican has been entirely free from financial scandal, and – forbid the thought – they may suspect that this is a power grab. Their view may be coloured by the Vatican’s recent refusal to renew the contract of the last secretary general of Caritas, notwithstanding her fine reputation.

On the one hand we have a liberal bishop who appears mighty surprised that he has been relieved of his diocese for publicly flouting an important and explicit teaching. On the other, an overarching authority which is feared rather than loved because it is seen to provide ineffective leadership on an autocratic model which is more than a century out of date. These illustrate two aspects of dialogue within the Church.

I have written at length before about the use and misuse of the principle of subsidiarity by the Magisterium and also on the need for proper flows of communication at every level throughout the Church. I will not repeat myself here. But I would like to look for a moment at the proper conduct of dissent.

It is necessary to start by being absolutely clear that the Church has a God-given authority, not only to teach doctrine and morals but to set the rules for the conduct of the communion. Our immediate instinct must be to accept this authority, and to do so not only willingly but with a sincere effort to understand the reasons why – so that our obedience is internalised rather than automatic.

If, despite our willingness, we still want to dissent, our genuine effort to understand the whole issue will certainly have helped us to make our criticisms in a constructive way. Indeed we can often show how our view is truly consonant with the Church’s deeper objectives. And Christian courtesy should be the hallmark of our approach. Indeed constructive courtesy is far more likely to influence than irritable sallies often, at least by implication, questioning the motives of our opponents.

But, you may say, will our authoritarian Church reciprocate? Perhaps, yes; perhaps, no. But let us first be ready to answer for our own behaviour, for that is the only part of the communication which we can control. And, not surprisingly, the soft answer turneth away wrath, and so is more likely to succeed.

And if you don’t believe that people can argue courteously even on matters in which they strongly disagree, pay a visit to http://www.secondsightblog.net, and see how it’s done.

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About Quentin

Science Editor, Catholic Herald. Portrait © Jacqueline Alma
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86 Responses to I beg leave to differ

  1. claret says:

    One might be more ready to accept discipline if it was in any sense consistent. In fact what is viewed at from outside as a very authoritarian Catholic Church that is clear in its teachings, is in practical reality a mish mash with all real authority at the whim of the local parish priest who chooses for himself what will apply in his parish within a framework of a few essentials. Loyalty to the local Bishop appears somewhere on the scale but not at the top of it.
    Bishops too have learnt the art of compromise, keeping silent and ‘turning a blind eye’ as a way of progress of sorts. (I accept the generalisations cannot apply to all.)

  2. st.joseph says:

    I worship in a Monastery.
    I dont have that problem. I retired from parish life a few years ago, since the priest retired.
    May I say that the’ Meat Free Friday’ is a little difficult to swallow from our bishops when ‘fasting ‘ from abortifacients would be more appropriate. And N.F.P for marriage Care.
    I am a vegetarian so it doesn’t bother me.
    Maybe the bishops are trying to show some authority which is ‘unecessary’.
    All the objections to the Tridentine Mass from some Laity is also
    unecessary, we have the freedom to choose where ever one is comfortable attending.
    Disgruntlement doesn’t only come from the priesthood, the laity do their fair share.
    Thank God I am not involved!

  3. Juliana says:

    Wouldn’t the Bishop in Australia have been more sensible, because of the dearth of ordinands, to have promoted married priests (a future possibility perhaps, as we accept married Anglicans) rather than jumping straight into the much more controversial arena of women priests?

  4. st.joseph says:

    I respect the authority of the Church on celibacy. However, I do feel it ought not to be an obligation.
    Parish priests are working mostly with families,and the way our understanding is today and the churches teaching on human sexuality , I see no reason why a catholic priest should be celibate. Obviously if he has taken a vow then I believe it should remain so.
    I also believe that women can make very good wives for priests, especially when so many are involved in church ministeries,
    Now that Natural Family Planning is 100% accurate, the priesthood would be in the correct manner that the Lord requires.I think more so than the Anglicans embracing the Catholic Church, with no intention of using or even teaching N.F.P.
    As far as women priests, I dont think that to be an issue.
    As Juliana says-we have married priests already-so what is the problem?
    When people say they disagree with married priests, I ask them where are their sons?
    I say this with all respect for the Church. And I would vote for it ,but not never for women!

  5. BRIAN HAMILL says:

    I once heard of an abbot who claimed that he was the most obedient man in his monastery. This appeared to turn the vow of obedience on its head but he was quite right. The word ‘obedience’ means ‘to listen carefully’ and, incidentally, on this basis my wife at the wedding was quite happy to promise to obey me. She was willing to listen to me carefully because she loved me, but was not bound to carry out what I proposed, if it was manifestly wrong.
    Going back to the abbot, the reason he considered that he was the most obedient monk in the monastery flowed from his office. His fellow monks had chosen him to have this high status and so he was answerable to them for the way he handled it. This meant that he had to ‘listen carefully’ to all their suggestions (and complaints) and see what was the best way forward. If he were to play the ‘high and mighty one’, he would have considered that he was betraying their trust in him.
    Unfortunately there is a natural tendency (the Fall again!), in those in positions of authority to play the high and mighty ones and Jesus refers to this in his exposition to the apostles about the different use of authority within his followers and in the world. Alas, the history of the Church is littered with men of authority who failed to follow the example of their Lord who ‘did not think that the Godhead was a thing to be clung to but emptied himself and was obedient unto death, death on a cross.’
    And what of now? Do those in authority in the Church ‘listen carefully’ to those over whom they exercise pastoral care? Clearly this will vary from person to person but perhaps, as with all organisations, it is easier to run an efficient ship, if everybody is singing from the same hymn sheet – to mix my metaphors somewhat. What is lacking in the Church at present is a genuine line of Old Testament Prophets, who called directly by God, confronted the Prince and Priest with the inconsistencies of their preaching and conduct. But it is worth noting that many of the Prophets, like all whistleblowers, suffered for their temerity, even unto death.

    • st.joseph says:

      I cant remember if I said obey in my marriage vows.It would have been 49 yrs in August.
      I know my husband had to sign that children would be brought up in the Catholic Faith.That wasn’t only the churches condition but mine!He was a Methodist-but didn’t practice so there wasn’t a problem. He had no problem with the Catholic Church- when he knew the Truth-he had 3 years to know it .
      and the rest of his life to understand it!
      The Monastery I worship at are Nuns. There isn’t any high and mightyness there.
      I dont think we can all sing from the same hymn sheet, we all have different personality’s. What we should do is respect one another,perhaps having the same ‘principles’ might help’.and the same set of morals.

  6. Michael Mahoney says:

    “It is necessary to start by being absolutely clear that the Church has a God-given authority, not only to teach doctrine and morals but to set the rules for conduct of the communion.”
    Is the above Church us or them or is it us and them, or is there no such thing as us and them, but only us.
    It sounds to me like the committee of a posh golf club.
    Church history, or perhaps it would be safer to say Ecclesiastical history, tells us that those doctrines, morals and rules of conduct all evolved in fierce and sometimes bloody controversy and presumably will continue to do so, but hopefully without the bloodshed.

    • mike Horsnall says:

      ” …It is necessary to start by being absolutely clear that the Church has a God-given authority,…”

      Thanks Quentin for this cogent and well stated article which articulates well the place that I have struggled to after 5 years in the catholic fold. If I am in the local cricket team yet every time we go out to bat I dispute the neccessity for ball, stumps, bat and crease then sooner or later someone will notice that there is something amiss and probably wonder if I am missing the point of the game. If we are truly to follow Christ then we must face the reality of being branches on the vine of his church..a catholic who denies say the real presence or is unwilling to grapple with church teaching from the servant point of view completely and uterly misses the point. Personally I find it hard being conformed to the churches perspective but in the main find that the little I am able to accept seems to bear rich fruit while that which I haughtily reject serves only to bolster my vanity….It’s a tricky business but you have articulated this well.

  7. st.joseph says:

    A well know saying of my grandmothers was ‘In Gods own Time’.
    That is something we must respect.
    We may well ask ‘why did it take so long for God to send His only Son when He did.?
    Maybe the time wasn’t right in the past. Why celibacy,maybe to purify the Sanctuary?
    As I said when we have a better understanding of human sexuality.
    A priest will always stand in ‘personna christi’ when celebrating Holy Mass, whether he be married or celibate.
    We know a man becomes one flesh with his wife, that doesn’t mean that she will be celebrating Mass with him.
    Jesus God took one flesh with His mother but that doesn’t mean She was offering up the same Sacrifice as Her Son! The point I am making is that She shared in that Sacrifice like we can as the laity,but Our Lady was preserved from sin.So should we be.
    The Church is the Bride of Christ-and to me bride is female! Not God, or man for that matter, only in Personna Christi.
    Jesus dis say. ‘The time will come when all things will be revealed to you’ He was speaking to His Church . The first Apostle.
    One will have diffirences of opinion on what I have said. They are only my thoughts, .and I will be only to happy to listen to others.As Quentin says this is what it is all about discussion.

  8. John Nolan says:

    Quentin, with all due respect I think you are being rather fulsome in your praise of former bishop Morris; “very high reputation as a pastoral bishop”, “shining example” etc. There are many in his diocese who would put the blame for the lack of vocations firmly at his door, and while he was prepared to be “listening and sharing” with those who agreed with him (classic definition of a liberal) he was not nearly as accommodating to those who questioned his style and agenda.

    Had he been the layman he insisted on dressing as, his dissident views would have had no import. But surely the primary pastoral function of a bishop, as successor to the apostles, is to confirm the brethren in faith, and uphold the teachings of the Church. To sow doubt and confusion among his flock, as he plainly did, is to be the antithesis of the good shepherd.

    You can say what you like about our bishops, but they would never have tolerated such a maverick within their ranks. He defied the Holy See for years and is now trying to paint himself in front of the media as a victim of injustice. He was a scandal, and good riddance to him.

    • Quentin says:

      John, thank you for your views and your background information. I have no doubt that many people saw the Bishop in the light that you describe. But I need to add that he has had emphatic support from the National Council of Priests in Australia who were “embarrassed about the shabby treatment meted out to an outstanding pastor of this diocese”, and from a majority of priests in his diocese. There was also a spontaneous public demonstration by layfolk.
      You can get more information from http://ncronline.org/news/vatican/support-ousted-australian-bishop-widens
      However I agree with your general sentiments about a bishop’s role. And I have certainly met, with no pleasure, the kind of “liberal” you describe. I like soft hearts, I don’t like soft minds!
      I can’t resist the story of a priest I knew back in the 70s. He was given to wearing a collar and tie. On meeting with a lay committee he was surprised to find that they had all turned their shirts back to front. They explained that that was the only way they could identify who the priest was.

      • John Nolan says:

        A good story, Quentin, and I seem to recall seeing a photograph of a certain Joseph Ratzinger at a theological gathering in the 1970s wearing a collar and tie!

        The NCR to which you provide links has the “instinctive aversion to any authoritative decision” to which you refer in your article and if its combox is anything to go by, many of its readers want the Catholic Church to be independent of Rome, a manifest absurdity. I don’t want to be drawn on its pitch concerning Ordinatio Sacerdotalis and “creeping infallibility”; Father Z. has dealt with this comprehensively in another place.

        We all know that there are disagreements, rivalries and differences of opinion even at Curial level (how could it be otherwise?) And bishops are not there simply to transmit orders from GHQ. However, decisions have to be made, and when they are the principle of collective responsibility should apply, as shown by our bishops in their excellent pastoral letter last Sunday. In extreme cicumstances it may be legitimate to break ranks; traditionalists should understand this very well, since Archbishop Lefebvre did no less.

        I knew nothing about the Church down under until I came across a witty and intelligent blog (a bit like secondsight, actually) http://www.scecclesia.com. The Australian church is polarized to an extent unknown here – it is said you only have to walk into a church to know which diocese you’re in – but there are clear signs of recovery, particularly in Cardinal Pell’s bailiwick.

  9. claret says:

    Manners maketh the man. Clothing creates an impression of one.

  10. mike Horsnall says:

    There does arise the interesting question of how. How do we know when enough ‘loyalty’ is enough? How do we know when in fact we are within the realm of genuine doubt and reasonable confusion? How do we know how to judge our own hearts and attitude? I read with interest the ‘Dangers of Clericalism’ article in the Tablet May 2010 offered on this site and found it chimed with one or two impressions I’ve gained along the way-yet I do agree that the attitude of the heart towards churchteaching must be of relative submissiveness. In the end it seems to me we have to trust our own hearts and study our faith in the light of its many revelations.

    Trouble is there are so many voices, were I to take seriously the opposing camps on this site alone I would need to split myself at least into two right now! So how then does a person ‘know’ the way to judge the thoughts and intentions of their OWN heart(not others) do you all think? Please not too many terse bible quotes or learned papers I probably know the former already and am working my way through the latter as we go and I value heartfelt experience highly.

  11. st.joseph says:

    Quentin your reference to the National Conference of Priests in Australia.
    Many years ago a meeing of the National Conference of Priests was
    held in Birmingham, with Archbishop Weakland brought over here to lead the Conference I am sorry to have to say that at the time I felt very disturbed with this, reasons I will not go into here on the blog,but neverthless I joined a large number of people who protested outside the place of the meeting, for various other disputes which were being held at the time. Archbishop Weakland did not come out to see us, but Father Strange did at the time. The N.C.P in england did not impress me so I am not too sure if the Australian on does either!

  12. st.joseph says:

    I believe what John Nolan said about the Bishop in Australia.
    When a person in authority speaks against his Superiors publically he has to be reprimanded in public. He has a duty in those circumstances to ‘sing from the same hymn sheet’ and follow the teachings of his Shepherd It is not the Churches rules, but Gods. What Jesus said to St Peter, when giving him the Keys of authority-Binding and Loosing.
    As the laity I believe we are able to mull things over in our own mind and discuss if necessary without criticising.
    I would never put doubts in my childrens or grandchildren minds,but let them work it out for themselves.
    My 18 yr old grandson said to me when he was 16 that he would like to become a priest, but he might want to get married. I said to him jokingly, then become an Anglican ,get married then come back to the Catholic Church, as Our Lady lets people in through the back door. He was not ‘amused’, and said, Nan ,I would never give up my faith! So I said to him, you could always become a deacon. But he said he wanted to say Mass. Big questions I ponder on. But leave the rest to the Lord.
    My eldest grandson said (they are completely different) I would like to become a priest when I am 50!!. It is good to discuss these thing with ones children even if it is lighthearted. But it is important to teach them to love God and His Church first! They will sway from side to side- but that is a part of growing in their faith. Like my own children did- but never lapsed-well ,I dont know what they always thought! But if they did, I would always hope that they received the correct teaching from a priest- even if he himself had doubts, and that they would mature to always know the difference between obedience to the Truths and certain ‘disciplines’!.

  13. mike Horsnall says:

    “…As the laity I believe we are able to mull things over in our own mind and discuss if necessary without criticising…”

    St Joseph,

    Yes I completely agree with this-otherwise the whole thing is completely barmy- Jesus clearly valued the freedom of the individual soul’s decision from his frequent of ‘if ‘ Comprehension dawns slowly for most of us and full comprehension probably never-were we not free to discuss, ruminate and consider then what would we be? Of course we need to come from a position of generosity and teachability in our faith and the more we do that the more dissent gives way to wonder.

  14. John Candido says:

    My apologies to all for not contributing to discussions as I am have lost my C drive and have gone into an eternal flap! I just want to alert everybody that the ABC religious program called ‘Compass’ is about to broadcast an interview with Bishop William Morris entitled ‘The Sacked Bishop’. It will go to air on Sunday the 5th June 2011 at 9:55 pm Eastern Standard Time Australia, on telivison station ABC1. You can easily watch it via the internet after its broadcast on ABC1 by going to http://www.abc.net.au/compass/ .

    • Quentin says:

      John, sorry to hear about your computer problems. Anyhow you are back blogging again — from which we will all benefit.

      I have listened, this Monday, to the Australian interview with Bishop Morris, and I would certainly recommend it to contributors. In many ways the whole issue highlights the problems involved in developing a real listening in the Church. There are no villains and no heroes. I am sure that we need a greater openness of heart on all sides if we are to succeed.

  15. mike Horsnall says:

    I’ve just listened to it too-there is a Pink Floyd song that goes like this:
    “Running over the same old ground
    What have we found?
    The same old fears,
    Wish you were here…”
    There is no answer to any of this -I watched it tear the Anglicans apart from the inside. Bishop Morris seemed a nice chap taking a sledgehammer to Pandora’s box.

    • st.joseph says:

      I am unable to listen to the video, I read some sort of transcript with a Narrator.
      Mike what do you mean about it tearing Anglicans apart. Have I misread it!

      Quentin you say ‘ In many ways the whole issue highlights the problems involved in developing a real listening in the Church.
      From and to whom ,I would ask you! Please.
      Are you saying we should have another questionaire like the National Pastoral Conference . Liverpool 1978? or 1980 whatever the date was.

      • Quentin says:

        st.joseph, I think you may get a clearer view of what I mean by real listening in the Church by reading my column: Communities that communicate. If you put clergy review into the search box you’ll find it.

  16. mike Horsnall says:

    St Joseph,

    I was an Anglican for 10 years and the whole issues of womens ordination etc went from being a smouldering thicket to a raging forest fire that has burned the church so terribly. The point was made that regarding the issues Bishop Morriss raised: “There is little point in discussing what is already settled..” The point is that once the tinder of dissent is formally ignited then the forest fire will spread and rage out of control. I think this is true -there is something about the heart which cannot forego its way. For the Anglicans it was felt that there might be a few years of foment which would then settle down as the laity accepted women priests etc-but it has not settled down and the church is no happier place for all the arguings.

  17. st.joseph says:

    Thank you Quentin. I have tried doing that which you suggested, without any success.

    I dont know what to do next. I must be doing something wrong.

    Thank you Mike , I understand what you are saying. It is as the saying goes, ‘Be careful what you pray for you may get it’
    As far as the Anglican Community is concerned, and I say this with the greatest respect, but however,the decisions come from the ‘nature’ of the church.
    The Catholic Church is governed by the Authority given to Her by God.
    Bishops have no authority to go against the Chair of Peter
    on the Ordination of Women.
    At one time many years ago when the Anglicans were disputing this, a bishop who I will not name spoke on a morning radio that ‘if he walked into a room and a Catholic Priest was present, he would think him as being the same as women priests in the church.
    I wrote to him and quite politely explained the situation to him about his ordination- that it would be no different than a ‘womens’ in the Anglican Church. In fact I still have the letter.
    But he eventually left the Anglican Church and became a Catholic Priest and brought a lot of his congregation with him!
    Maybe someone can tell me the moral of that! He has now passed away. R.I.P.

    • Quentin says:

      st Joseph, try clicking on https://secondsightblog.net/2009/06/11/communities-that-communicate/ (or copy and paste into your browser) It should take you straight through

      • st.joseph says:

        Thank you Quentin, I managed to get into it with the web site, I dont know how to copy and paste in a browser ‘yet’.
        I read the comments, but fail to see what it all has to do with Bishop Morris and his comments on Womens Ordination and the Third Rite of Reconciliation, and other teachings of the Church etc.
        Whether the Church is Verticle- upside down Verticle, or Circular, I dont think it matters,only openess of heart what you
        say in you comment That will be good from clergy and laity in parishs.and as it is said listening, but communicating becomes difficult when one has to communicate what Holy Mother Church teaches.I can listen to all the complaints against all the doctrines which don’t suit everyone, and unless one goes along with the crowd- one can be unpopular.
        I dont believe in being ‘nice’just to fit in.Most of all good manners wont go amiss and respecting each others thoughts, but we dont have to agree with those who do not yet understand what the Church stands for.
        Archbishop Nicholls can easily say we need a communicating Church. But it begins with him here.
        The Bishops of England and Wales are asking consultation on two items of Catholic Life- a local parish is asking for comments.
        Personally my own thoughts are that if people want to abstain do so- if people want to go to Mass on the old Holy day do so-why create problems. There will always be some who are unhappy whatever the decisions are.
        Are we going to have more seminaries full with the changes?
        But then it is not an important issue to me-there are more important things to think about.

  18. John Candido says:

    The freedom that all lay Catholics have regarding their consciences applies to our religious, priests, and bishops in equal measure. If words are to mean anything, then the plethora of ecclesiastical documents written by the church on the subject of human freedom are to be respected by all, including Popes John Paul II & Benedict XVI. All educated Catholics are aware of this fact and it absolutely applies to their sense of ‘the faith’, regardless of whether or not they are conservative or liberal. I cannot agree with Quentin when he wrote in his introduction that…

    ‘He (Bishop Morris) suggested that this crisis should ready us to consider options which are currently being debated at different levels. His list included the ordination of women and the recognition of Anglican and some other Protestant orders. Bishop Morris was wrong. His position precluded him from raising options which the Church has quite clearly closed down. He may not have intended to be provocative, but he should have been wise enough to know that he was putting the Holy See into an impossible position.’

    As far as I am concerned, Bishop William Morris was exercising his legitimate voice as a human being, a Christian, and a Bishop, as well exercising his pastoral leadership within the diocese of Toowoomba concerning the elephant in the room which is the dearth of candidates for the priesthood. I do not see his pastoral letter to the Toowoomba diocese as controversial at all! I would conceptualise it as commonsense and a responsible discussion of alternatives before the church. To not be able to discuss them with others is simply ludicrous and counterproductive.

    Just because Pope John Paul II has declared the discussion of women priests taboo, doesn’t mean that it is an infallible statement, that to discuss it is sinful, or that any normal person today will listen to such rubbish. We live in the 21st century and I am not going to listen to any aging mediaevalists declaring an issue as forbidden, and neither am I going to countenance the nonsense that this is an infallible teaching of the church. This is a clear case of a pontiff going beyond his reach in a modern age and I along with hundreds of thousands of others call his bluff.

    Quentin goes on to say that…

    ‘It is necessary to start by being absolutely clear that the Church has a God-given authority, not only to teach doctrine and morals but to set the rules for the conduct of the communion.’

    We are the church! The church’s magisterium is in three complementary parts, as I have written previously within the topic called ‘Take the Tube’ at https://secondsightblog.net/2011/01/27/take-the-tube/#comments which was posted on the 1st February 2011. The doctors of the church, the ordinary magisterium of the church (the Vatican), and the laity, form a complimentary triumvirate in the absence of a Catholic version of a much needed Lambeth Conference of our own. You can find out more information about Lambeth Conferences at http://www.lambethconference.org . If the church is to make progress in today’s world it needs to be clear that the conduct of those in authority is being scrutinized by Catholics and non-Catholics alike throughout the world. Most contemporary people will retreat from the possibility of joining such a morbid and totalitarian institution as our Roman Catholic Church surely is. I fully concur with Michael Mahoney in his post when he wrote… ‘It sounds to me like the committee of a posh golf club.’

    Bishop Morris’s conduct throughout his troubles with the Vatican over several years has been nothing short of exemplary. I cannot say the same for Pope Benedict XVI. I consider the sacking of Bishop Morris to be an abuse of Pope Benedict’s power. It is an intolerant act and the antithesis of the spirit and letter of Vatican II. Bishop Morris has been unfairly sacked and as a consequence has suffered a lack of natural justice from Benedict XVI. This is due to the fact that current canon law does not provide for avenues of appeal against the decision of a Pope, a member of the Curia, from heads of Congregations, or from decisions from the CDF, which for those who do not know is the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

    Bishop Morris’ replacement will probably be another obedient poodle. If this is a Vatican appointment, it will be another abuse of power via the Vatican’s creeping centralism which is counter to the principle of subsidiarity. It may also be considered a heretical act by a pontiff who should know better. Imposing a Bishop on any outside diocese by Rome, goes against the long established and historical practice of local diocesan authorities proposing and approving a new Bishop in their midst.

    What has to be appreciated is that all of the Popes from Paul VI through to present day Benedict XVI, have been doing their darned best to place the church in reverse gear ever since Pope John XXIII opened the Second Vatican council in 1962. This is unacceptable to thinking and progressive Catholics everywhere. This is also counter to ‘rules of conduct of the communion’, as Quentin writes in his introduction to this topic.

    The inviolacy of the human conscience has been written about for centuries by a number of doctors, saints, and theologians. As for the documents of the Roman Catholic Church which talk about responsible freedom and the human conscience that I referred to earlier, they can be found in the documents of Vatican II and the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC). Namely, ‘Dignitatis Humanae’, which is the ‘Declaration on Religious Liberty’, ‘Gaudium et Spes’, which is known as the ‘Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World’, specifically the Preface, paragraphs 15 through to 17 & paragraphs 36, 44, 61, & 62. The CCC can be authoritatively consulted at Article 6, Part 3, ‘Life in Christ’, paragraphs 1776 to 1802. I hope that you will find them all informative.

    • st.joseph says:

      Quotations from the CCC John is very much open to misrepresentations of ‘conscience’
      1789.Charity always proceeds by way of respect for one’s neighbour and ‘his conscience’.
      Thus sinning against your brethren and ‘wounding’ their conscience…you sin against Christ.
      Therefore ‘it’ is right not to …do anything that makes your brother stumble.
      Then it goes on to tell one about erroneous judgements. We can pick and choose what one seeks to find to suit ones conscience that is why we have the authority of the Holy See in Doctrine of Truth.
      The Anglican Commmunity of Ministers are following their conscience now and I am sure they have given it a great deal of thought, even at the expense of great sacrifices and humility.
      I feel that many catholics who are looking for change, should look to them for inspiration!

      • st.joseph says:

        Also John, I dont believe that Pope John Paul s Statement on Womens Ordination is what you call ‘rubbish’ It shows how little you understand the biological reasons why! I dont believe you have given it a lot of deep thought. That surprises me as you seem to me to do a lot of thinking.

    • Quentin says:

      John Candido, let me just deal with one point. Of course Morris is free, and indeed obliged, to follow his conscience. But in such an instance he needed to resign from the episcopate before making a statement in defiance of the Church’s settled teaching. It would be just same if we were talking about a high official in a secular organisation.

      • John Candido says:

        Quentin, it would have been courteous and tactful for Morris to quietly resign as Bishop of Toowoomba, however I think that he deliberately sought as much publicity as possible. Good on him for doing so. We need people to courageously take a stand and publicise the elephant in the room concerning the inevitable destruction of dioceses without an adequate number of male celibate priests.

        st.joseph, what biological reasons could there possibly be that would preclude women from the catholic priesthood? The Anglicans are doing fine with their numerous women priests. Female priests from the Anglican Communion are not falling apart or being admitted to hospital because of their priestly duties. Of course you cannot help the reactionaries who are determined to go to their graves opposing women priests. The Anglican archdiocese of Sydney is full of them. I really don’t care that they are in distress; they don’t have any sympathy for any women who have a calling to the priesthood. As far as I am concerned they can burn and stew in their distress and I and nobody else can help them to enter the 21st century in the least.

        Panning more broadly, what about the brilliant example of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II? Can anybody doubt her patriotism, calling and attention to duty, for the UK, and the Commonwealth? I am a monarchist so I will admit my bias upfront. Look at the historic recent tour to the Republic of Ireland that the Queen and HRH Prince Phillip recently took to help mend relations between the UK and Ireland. This is constitutional monarchy at its finest. God bless Her Majesty and the Royal Family.

        We live in an age where to place women’s considerable abilities in doubt is politically incorrect. And I agree with this state of affairs because it is right, however inconvenient it might be to men in general. Both Britain and Australia have or had women Prime Ministers and the age of saying no to women are thankfully over. Hillary Clinton almost became the Democratic nominee for President of the United States.

      • Superview says:

        I take your point Quentin. But, given your published work on the issues of authority and obedience in the Church, I would also be interested in whether you think there is any room at all for a bishop – or a priest, or lay person for that matter – in a time of indisputable crisis to raise important issues that they believe are properly to be considered as part of a solution? Bishop Morris, on your account, seems to have listed options for consideration, which is surely part of his duty to his diocese and his people? You will know that no healthy organisation would suppress contributions aimed at solving major problems, especially when senior management hasn’t a clue what to do, so what is it about the Church that justifies suppression of all discussion? Do discussions of options not take place in the Church’s management team? Or the board of directors? If they do – which we must surely hope is the case – is it merely that Bishop Morris had the temerity to raise such matters in full view of his flock, from whom such matters should be concealed?

      • Quentin says:

        Superview, I suspect that this is a matter for judgment, depending on the surrounding circumstances. For example, a number of cardinals and bishops raised the question of condoms being used by serodiscordant married couples. But they were dealing with a new line of reasoning resulting from new circumstances which could not have been considered at the time of HV.
        In the case of female ordination the Holy See had recently given a firm and “irreversible” teaching on the matter. Thus a bishop suggesting that the question was still open is clear defiance. He must have known that the Vatican would have to take action.

  19. st.joseph says:

    Superview.
    Your comment on 7th June, I Through a Glass Darkly.
    I am making my comment on ‘I beg leave to differ’ as I think it is more appropriate.
    When Pope Paul V1 wrote the Encyclical Humanea Vitea 1968 , he must have had Divine Wisdom,Understanding etc, what you seem to deny, when a Pope speaks with Authority without reason!
    Women were taking the contraceptive Pill, without reason,only the teaching of the Church demanded it

    Would you say now that it was a wrong decision for the Church to demand this when science has proven it to be an abortifaciant? When we considerhow many souls have been aborted and still is

    • st.joseph says:

      I think I ought to have said above -‘women were ‘not’ I suppose it depends on how one looks at it!

  20. st.joseph says:

    You also say that you find Doctrinal and Dogmatic or related subjects lacking in argument, You form an opinion and explain it in and happy to be challenged.
    You also say ‘what you hope to get is a reasoned argument which is not the same as a ‘pot boiled Catholic platitude beloved of some’..
    Divine Faith in the words of the Catechism,is a ‘supernatural gift of God which enables us to believe without doubting whatever God has revealed. It is a virtue infused by the Holy Spirit into our souls at
    Baptism, by which we firmly believe without hesitation, all that God has revealed and through His Church, proposes for our belief, consequently, knowledge gained by experience.or in any other way, is not Faith, but merely practical Wisdom ‘For by Grace you are saved through faith,and that not of yourselves, for it is the Gift of God (Eph.ii.8).
    So for those who didn’t take the contraceptive pill because of the teachings of the Church deserve merit instead of your opinion’ of being ‘pot boiled catholic platitudes’

  21. mike Horsnall says:

    John Candido: Inviolacy and all that.

    John Candido states the answer to his case in the second paragraph of his own posting-the actions of Bishop Morriss -by his own admission- lacked wisdom. Well to fulminate about pastoral letters but igniting controversy is counterproductive in this regard and seems to have little point. I thought Bisho Morriss spoke without rancour and was accepting of his retirement. John Candido’s argument is overstated from his personal perspective which is fine and what we are here for-but I cannot add my voice to his protest.

    • st.joseph says:

      John Candido. Do you really believe that Anglican Ministers are the same as the Ordination in the Catholic Church. If you do ,then that explains a lot of your comments to me.
      You really haven’t given it much thought!!
      I doesn’t end either at female versus male,you will have to think a lot ‘deeper’ than that.

  22. John Nolan says:

    Welcome back John Candido! It really makes my day to hear papal definitions of established doctrine described as ‘rubbish’ and as for using ‘medieval’ as a pejorative term are you not simply demonstrating a contempt for, as well as an ignorance of history?

    If the Anglican ecclesial community wishes to admit women to its orders then it is its own concern; it is, after all, a Protestant sect which can make up its own rules. Has it never occurred to you that the Pope does not have this freedom of action? And if he says that that the Catholic Church ‘has no authority whatsoever’ to admit women to the priesthood he might be just stating an obvious fact? Given your views on the papacy I might have thought that you would have welcomed such a denial of omnicompetence.

  23. John Candido says:

    There is an unhealthy tendency within the Catholic Church to creeping centralism, which I referred to in an earlier post about the Morris sacking, and creeping infallibility. Both tendencies are abuses that need restraining. Some within the church refer to Pope John Paul II’s Ordinatio Sacerdotalis as infallible teaching and it is patently not an infallible teaching. This 1994 apostolic letter comes from the Pope’s ordinary magisterium. Should anybody wish to read the document it is located below and is quite short in length… http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/apost_letters/documents/hf_jp-ii_apl_22051994_ordinatio-sacerdotalis_en.html

    As to whether or not it is applicable to Catholics to follow, it certainly is the law regarding the priesthood within the Catholic Church because that Pope as well as our current Pope says so. As I am not particularly obedient to what I consider an inconsequential, minor matter, it doesn’t even register. But I am aghast at its implications for the wider church as well as the outside world.

    By denying women the right to be priests in our church is not only an injustice to them; it is also counterproductive for our church as a whole. Women have a natural compassion towards others which the church should utilise in the priesthood. Women are the intellectual equal of men and they share a radical equality with men through the sacrament of baptism.

    As most modern men and women throughout the world believe in the equality between the sexes, it behoves the church to reflect this contemporary anthropological understanding of the sexes within the church’s structure. If for nothing else, the paucity of male celibate priests in the western Catholic Church demands that we include them. The church’s stance on an exclusively male priesthood has another frightening implication. Young Catholic mothers and fathers, who have grown up with an understanding of the equality of women and men, which they have gleaned from their education and our wider society, will vote with their feet. What will this mean for vocations to the priesthood in future? It isn’t looking particularly bright.

    P.S. Secondsight’s quality cannot exist without the carefully crafted, knowledgeable, and subtle introductions from Quentin de la Bedoyere, as well as the input from many contributors from all walks of life. Quentin is a journalist and it certainly shows. John Nolan’s conservative input is no exception and is very much appreciated by all of a similar disposition. Even though I don’t agree with him and find him quite painful at times, this blog is certainly much poorer without his opinions.

  24. John Nolan says:

    Thanks, John, for the somewhat backhanded compliment! I take your point about centralism, but subsidiarity depends on bishops doing their job properly. In the case of clerical abuse of minors the cover-ups occurred at episcopal and archiepiscopal level, often with the connivance of the civil authorities; it should not have been left to the Holy Office to sort out. Similarly, if Catholic theologians advance heretical opinions, it is the local Ordinary who should act, reference to Rome being the last resort.

    No-one has a ‘right’ to be an ordained priest; to imagine so is to misunderstand the nature and function of priesthood. And arguments for the ordination of women are futile unless the Church has the authority to ordain them. The Pope may proclaim ex cathedra that a dog is a cat, but it still remains a dog.

  25. Superview says:

    I suspect that should the Pope – any Pope – proclaim ex cathedra, or even just over breakfast, that a dog is a cat, John Nolan would find grounds for reaching the same conclusion. Other than the obvious fact that in Palestine 2000 years ago Jesus went on the road with 12 men, what does it mean to say that the Church does not have the authority to extend the priesthood to women? For example, were there any cultural reasons that would have prevented Jesus from going on the road with six men and six women? What penalty would follow should such a dreadful thing be done?

    • mike Horsnall says:

      John Nolan,
      No one has a ‘right’ to be a priest.
      This is the nub of the issue in that it clearly delineates between a secular issue of rights within civil society and the ‘something else’ which defines the religious. To bang on as if the church has no other identity beyond the political and the expedient seems odd to me. Again and again one saw this in the Anglican catastrophe-cogent passionate and earnest arguments -political to the core. Politics is defined somewhere as the ‘art of the possible’ The church is based on something different than that -she prays, thinks and speaks differently and a failure to clearly recognise and respect that fact seems to me distinctly odd. …..The point about Jesus and his potentially female (priest) followers followers raised by superview seems too fanciful for use – what point is it meant to illustrate?

  26. st.joseph says:

    Jesus had plenty of women followers! But only men chosen to carry on the ordained Priesthood,given to them authority at the Last Supper.
    Jesus has many women followers today- none ordained Priests.
    If females wish to change the unconsecrated hosts into the Body and Blood of Jesus for the Salvation of souls, they have plenty of opportunity to change souls into the likeness of Christ-but then that would not be so easy as to stand at the Altar and say Holy Mass. (they think)
    Females dont have to be married or ordained priests to carry out their role as ‘mothers’.
    If they loved the Church instead of whinging about what they want, they would find lots of ways to please The Lord.
    The Sacrifice of Calvary that males do in ‘Personna Christi’ who is male ,it depends ‘why’ women want to do that in the first place. Is it to please their selves or God?

  27. mike Horsnall says:

    John Nolan,
    No one has a ‘right’ to be a priest.
    This is the nub of the issue in that it clearly delineates between a secular issue of rights within civil society and the ‘spmething else’ which defines the religious. To bang on as if the church has no other identity beyond the political and the expedient seems odd to me. Again and again one saw this in the Anglican catastrophe-cogent passionate and earnest arguments -political to the core. Politics is defined somewhere as the ‘art of the possible’ Thechurch is based on something different than that -she prays, thinks and speaks differently and a failure to clearly recognise and respect that fact seems to me distinctly odd.

    • John Nolan says:

      Exactly. The ‘liberal’ position advanced by John Candido, Superview and others of that ilk is self -contradictory to the point of absurdity. They would deny the Pope the right to define doctrine and at the same time insist that he has the authority to overturn 2000 years of tradition in order to conform to late 20th-century social and political mores.

      • Superview says:

        John Nolan, you can’t get away with attributing to me views that I have not advanced, although I would from time to time like you to get away with something, just out of a sense of fair play. As far as the Pope and defining doctrine is concerned, do I take it that you are happy to believe that the story of Adam and Eve in Genesis is true in every detail, as a Pope defined as doctrine not that long ago? You see, that’s the problem – they don’t get things right, even very important things, and when they are seen to be wrong it takes centuries for their successors to admit it. If modesty prevailed they might approach things differently, but then again, when you are divinely provided with supernatural gifts of knowledge, understanding and wisdom – another doctrine defined by a recent Pope of course – something other than modesty is in the cup from which you drink.
        As for conforming with late 20th century social and political mores, well you make my point for me: Is it just possible that Jesus was conforming to early 1st century social and political mores when he took 12 men on the road? Isn’t it a simple historical question?

  28. John Candido says:

    Mike Horsnall, referring to the right of women to the priesthood, you state that, ‘This is the nub of the issue in that it clearly delineates between a secular issue of rights within civil society and the ‘something else’ which defines the religious. To bang on as if the church has no other identity beyond the political and the expedient seems odd to me.’ Nobody is saying that the church is a solely political organisation or that it is engaged in party politics; however the church is quite clearly both a political and a spiritual body. By its very nature any organised human activity is political or has an inherent political dimension, and to deny this is nonsense. Both the political and the theological dimensions are complementary aspects of the church’s nature which naturally overlap from time to time.

    Firstly, the Vatican is a state in its own right and is governed by a political structure. The head of state is the Pope, which is something similar to a President or a Prime Minister. He has a cabinet of sorts being the Curia which is separated by portfolios called Congregations and every Congregation has a ‘Minister’ called the Head of the Congregation. It has Papal Nunciatures placed around the world which are somewhat like ambassadors or diplomatic staff of Vatican state. Let’s not forget its High Court known as the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith or CDF. It has its own police department and defence force known as the Swiss Guards. Lastly, we cannot forget that it has an impressive bureaucracy that administers the established policies of both the Pope and the Curia. Like any government or military worthy of the name, it is hierarchical.

    Secondly, the church is constantly engaged with the political, economic, ideological, anthropological, and the sociological, and on a variety of issues. For example, world peace and the military-industrial complexes of nation-states, the environment, nuclear power, and global warming, as well as economic issues. While discussing, writing and speaking about such issues, it is careful that it does not become embroiled in party politics, much like Her Majesty the Queen.

    Workers’ rights and industrial issues are quite important to the church such as unions and their right to exist in our community, the dignity of work, workers’ wages and conditions, and the right to strike, as adequately covered in Pope Leo XIII’s fabulous 1891 Encyclical called ‘Rerum Novarum’, which is also known as ‘On the Condition of the Working Classes’. You can read this document below… http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/leo_xiii/encyclicals/documents/hf_l-xiii_enc_15051891_rerum-novarum_en.html .

    Let us not forget that the church has a Nuncio or representative placed within the United Nations. Archbishop Silvano Tomasi is Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations in Geneva. The church has an ongoing and abiding interest in human rights and having Archbishop Tomasi at the UN is a sign of its interest in human rights and a multitude of other issues such as poverty, international trade, refugees, peace, the arms race, international law, the human conscience and the state, freedom of the press, and justice, amongst many others.

    Other documents that attest to the overwhelming interest that the church has in political, economic, human rights, and in other social spheres, are ‘Gaudium et Spes’, known as the ‘Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World’ that came out of Vatican II in 1965, which can be accessed below… http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_cons_19651207_gaudium-et-spes_en.html, and ‘Dignitatis Humanae’, known as the ‘Declaration of Religious Liberty’ promulgated in 1965, which can be read below… http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_decl_19651207_dignitatis-humanae_en.html.

    Two brilliant Encyclicals from Pope John XXIII namely, ‘Mater et Magistra’ (1961), called ‘On Christianity and Social Progress’, accessible below… http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_xxiii/encyclicals/documents/hf_j-xxiii_enc_15051961_mater_en.html, which is a follow-up of Pope Leo XIII’s Rerum Novarum, and ‘Pacem in Terris’ (1963), known as ‘On Establishing Universal Peace in Truth, Justice, Charity, and Liberty’, accessible below… http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_xxiii/encyclicals/documents/hf_j-xxiii_enc_11041963_pacem_en.html. These two magnificent encyclicals which talk about issues such as the human conscience, human freedom, human rights, peace, subsidiarity, the political, economic, and social order, racism, the community of nation-states, the United Nations, truth, solidarity, law, human progress, and social justice, should be required reading by all Catholic students at secondary school.

    That’s quite an impressive list of issues. The many points raised within Pope John XXIII’s ‘Mater et Magistra’ and ‘Pacem in Terris’ are thematically reflected in Vatican II documents such as the ‘Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World’ (Gaudium et Spes), the ‘Declaration of Religious Liberty’ (Dignitatis Humanae), the ‘Decree on Ecumenism’ (Unitatis Redintegratio), and the ‘Declaration on the Relations of the Church to Non-Christian Religions’, known as ‘Nostra Aetate’. It is no wonder that Pope John XXIII was the instigator of the Second Vatican Council. His name is written all over that council. He was a colossus and God bless his generous and humble soul.

    When speaking of the right to drive a car or own a gun, it is always assumed that it is not only a legal right but a privilege for those that qualify. Likewise, the priesthood is both a right and a privilege, which is denied to women for what I consider are spurious reasons situated around the comfort, status, and privilege of being male. Superview has given us an important insight about the possible consequences of our Lord choosing six men and women to be his disciples during the first century. If you think that this might be exaggerated, look at the plight of women in today’s Saudi Arabia who cannot legally drive a car! Extraordinary!

    Mike Horsnall seems to fall to pieces just because there has been and continues to be conflict between opposing camps in the Anglican Communion over women priests. So what! The Catholic Church has had conflict since its inception. There was the first century dispute over communal property and the separate conflict over male circumcision for gentiles who want to become Christians. What’s new? We should be following the Anglican Communion not only with female priests but with our own Lambeth Conference. This would be a perfect way of democratising the Catholic Church. We could add qualified laity to all future Ecumenical Councils and we could be off to a brighter future.

    I agree with Superview when he wrote that… ‘What does it mean to say that the Church does not have the authority to extend the priesthood to women? It’s farcical that women are forbidden to become priests in today’s Catholic Church. Here is a little exercise for anybody that’s interested. Do a head count the next time you are at mass. I will bet anybody $10,000 that women comprise at least 75% of mass attendees and men comprise only 25% of attendees. And that’s every mass.

    And so I now come to John Nolan. None of my positions are contradictory at all. I cannot demand that the Pope do as I say no more than I can insist that he has no right to define doctrine as he sees fit. To not consider the option of ordaining women is not only a justice issue, it is also a massive failure of leadership and a massive failure of ecclesial, theological, and pastoral imagination.

    If the reactionaries of the church want to refer to the ‘danger’ of conforming to late 20th-century social and political mores, then they simply haven’t bothered to read the Second Vatican Council’s Guadium et Spes, Dignitatus Humanae, and Nostra Aetate, as well as Pope John XXIII’s Mater et Magistra and Pacem in Terris with a sufficiently open mind and heart.

    All of these issues are simply a matter of time. Not tomorrow, but decades ahead when the church will find itself on its knees in the West. It is a matter of getting another Pope like Pope John XXIII and it will be all over. It will be then that the John Nolans of this world are going to look really silly.

  29. st.joseph says:

    I hope I am not butting in here when I speak!!
    But I would just like to say first Jesus said ‘My Kingdom is not of this World!’
    Speaking as a female, I dont believe that being ordained will `put me on a pedestal’ therefoe lifting me up into a superior position, of the priestood.
    I as a women belong to the priesthood of the laity, we are all priests now one way or another,but as women
    we represent Motherhood. OK males can stay at home and look after their children more proficiently than
    women, but they are not mothers.
    Women can do all the things an ordained male can do, administer the Sacraments etc.but they are not Fathers I know Jesus said ‘Call no one My Father only My Father in Heaven’ I take that as meaning that the line of Priesthood takes its origin from Him The First High Priest.I wonder why God did not sent His daughter? We know His Son was there all the time-begotten not made- part of the Trinity!To me the line of Priesthood is in line with the Trinitarian God Our Lady was chosen from the beginnining when God said the heel of the Woman will crush the head of the serpent.

    • st.joseph says:

      Jesus said to St John at the foot of the Cross, This is your Mother! and to His Mother -‘Woman this is your Son’. I believe that is an important message to women to be Mothers to Priests as Jesus called His Mother ‘Woman’.And Priests will look on Our Lady as their Mother, Mother of the Church. And we as females should take Our Blessed Mother as an example.
      John Candido- you will probably knock that in the head…no doubt.

  30. mike Horsnall says:

    John Candido

    Thanks John for your concern about my many fractures-its a surprise I still manage to get around at all..!!!

    The concern about the Anglican thing from my perspective is not so much that conflict should not exist-lets face it the disciples were always arguing if we want to go that far back. But from what I remember of the various issues that beset the Anglicans I wouldnt say that the nature of the debate was particularly constructive or wholesome-neither have been the outcomes in terms of its own very fractured communion with itself, with wider orthodoxy and with its local parishioners. For example it is fairly common among the Anglican parishes for women priests still not to be accepted, to be sidelined and to be bullied into depression etc. -I have seen this myself and it is not pretty. The very real injunction that a woman shall not instruct a man takes on quite an acute form if say the local churchwarden (Anglican) decides to drum up opposition to the female curate etc etc. You rightly say that ‘we’ are the church John, but that cuts both ways and the Anglicans have been so sadly drawn from their purpose by it all
    You do rightly point out John that the church stands foursquare in the public arena which is its rightful place. But that does not equate to loud banging of the drum from a brightly democratic platform bedecked nicely with liberal tinsel, you may believe that Jesus would have chosen girls if he could to join his outlaw gang- but perhaps he didnt because he knew what was lying ahead for all concerned. Pushing at the reins and barging the door of the church may be for you but it is not for me..Thanks by the way for such a lucid and passionate presentation!!!!!!!

  31. John Nolan says:

    John Candido

    Can you provide one scintilla of evidence that Bl Pope John XXIII or any of his predecessors favoured the ordination of women? In liturgical matters he was notably more conservative than Pius XII. His encyclicals are completely orthodox and I can’t imagine him kissing the Koran in the way Bl JP II did at Assisi.

    Truth isn’t up for grabs and no pope has the power to alter what Christ instituted, which includes the priesthood and the sacraments. This is not just my personal opinion, nor is the Church a debating society. If you want a personal and no doubt biased opinion, try this for size: “This house believes that the concept of a priestess is essentially a pagan one”. Then check out some of the way-out Californian ‘liturgies’ on which the feminists have been let loose and clock the neo-pagan elements.

  32. John Candido says:

    John Nolan you are absolutely correct when you say that I haven’t got a scintilla of evidence that any Pope in history, including Blessed John XXIII, has given their support to women being Catholic priests, in any speech or piece of writing. There simply isn’t any record of it at all. However, the ban on women is grossly and strangely at odds with the church’s abiding and perennial interest in political, sociological, economic, and anthropological issues located outside the church. The fact that there isn’t any historical evidence or support doesn’t mean that the case for extending the priesthood to women is wrong or unfounded at all.

    Like all organisations through time the church has become moribund and ossified by tradition. Tradition is an important avenue of human culture and of preserving the historical record. However, a balance must be struck between keeping useful traditions and jettisoning those that are past their use-by date. This is where leadership and the all-important input of other people and organisations come in. In other words, the contribution of the other two thirds of the church’s magisterium i.e. the laity or the sensus fidelium, and the doctors or theologians of the church, is critical.

    Tradition can have a deadening impact on all societies when it is obstinately maintained within a context of cultural or religious forces. Religion mostly has a conservative disposition and tends to foster a similar conservatism in its followers. There is nothing ordinarily sinister about this; however tradition can also be a way of subtly maintaining the status quo in terms of doctrine, teaching and power for those who benefit from it, i.e. the power holders. Tradition can also be behind the church’s lack of transparency and accountability, which is to its own long-term detriment. Tradition is also a byword for laziness and self-interest.

    You say that ‘…no pope has the power to alter what Christ instituted, which includes the priesthood and the sacraments.’ You haven’t got a scintilla of evidence that Christ excluded women from the priesthood because he never said or wrote anything about the subject. However, let’s assume that he did institute the priesthood for men only during his time on earth and for several centuries after his ascension. Show me any evidence that he specifically said or wrote that the priesthood will exclusively be for men only in perpetuity. You haven’t got a scintilla of evidence for this either, have you John Nolan? Good old hidebound traditions buttressed by a historically male dominated culture are the overwhelming facts of the matter. If one was to point to the Petrine authority; well if any Pope has the power to bind he has the power to unbind. And that is entirely logical.

    You also say that ‘…nor is the Church a debating society.’ The church has debated propositions for centuries John Nolan. Not only has it debated issues by the academics and doctors of the church, it has debated issues of importance every time a gathering of bishops have come together for an Ecumenical Council or for a national or regional gathering of bishops.

    There certainly wasn’t unanimity during the Second Vatican Council; there was considerable debate before any document was subsequently promulgated. And an Ecumenical Council is the highest episcopal authority of the church and comprises all of the world’s bishops with the Pope, discussing, debating, and writing, and on several occasions, compromising together in the one place. What is the point of calling an Ecumenical Council if the Pope has already made-up his own mind?

    What is troubling about the fixation on tradition is that it gazumps modern notions of fairness, justice, and the equal participation by others in the church. Look at the lack of human rights accorded to Bishop William Morris in his recent sacking by Pope Benedict XVI. Canon law does not provide for appeal for any Bishop that has been dealt with by the Pope, or any member of the Curia or the CDF.

    What of the numerous cases of theologians who have been bruised by a lack of human rights in their encounter with the CDF? They do not know and will never know their accuser, and they don’t have any avenue of appeal. Their whole academic career could be ruined by such decisions but the church shows scant regard for these dedicated men and women and their right to natural justice. What about the human rights of women who are called to the Catholic priesthood? They are of course disregarded as male interlopers. What about the human rights of homosexuals who seek to be fully accepted by their church as full, open and relaxed members of the church? What about their rights to all of the sacraments which includes marriage and priesthood? They don’t exist.

    What this signifies is the church’s eternal and uncomfortable battle with secularism and the age of scientific enlightenment. Despite the church’s professed love of science and its establishment of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, there is always a gap between established knowledge accumulated by rigorous and published scientific experimentation, and church doctrine. Although there were instances in history when certain Popes admitted the correctness of Galileo’s work long after he had died, it took about 400 years for the church as a whole to formally and fully admit its errors concerning Galileo.

    The church has form on this. Science has demonstrated the essential equality between men and women, and secular society accommodates the acceptance of women being equal to men. The church drags its feet. Science has demonstrated the truth that homosexuality is not a form of mental illness and secular society accommodates the acceptance of homosexuals as equals. And again the church drags its feet.

    The church rightly has a perennial and abiding interest in human rights, justice, poverty, international law, peace, the arms race, social order, refugee rights, the environment, global warming, racism, the public interest, the rule of law, the common good, industrial relations, democracy, economic issues, the secular rights of women and children, international trade, religious freedom, the United Nations, a free press, as well as a multitude of other international issues, as outlined in my previous post.

    However, the Roman Catholic Church has a congenital inability to turn its considerable intelligence on itself in order to give itself a genuine makeover. This is due to the fact that it is hidebound by its tradition and has been ruled by a single contemporaneous man for over two thousand years. It’s a pity.

    • John Nolan says:

      John Candido, your penultimate sentence should have read “…and has been guided by the Holy Spirit for nearly two thousand years”. At least that’s what we poor deluded Catholics believe. You obviously know better than all the Church Fathers, east and west, all the popes and councils, all the saints and martyrs, all the Doctors of the Church (some of them women) not to mention the vast majority of Christendom and for all I know even God himself. Awesome.

  33. John Candido says:

    I can assure everyone that I am not infallible and have a quite healthy ego the last time I checked, but I am also happy to report that it is a lot less than the size of the cosmos. It is rather sad when intelligent gents like Mike Horsnall and John Nolan indulge in irrelevant personal attacks rather than reply to the substantive issues that I have written about concerning the church’s fixation on tradition and its inbuilt myopia. As they prefer to not engage with my points, I can only assume that they have no real reply or rebuttal to them. This rather lets me off the hook doesn’t it?

  34. John Candido says:

    I will take John Nolan’s advice and revise my penultimate sentence to read, ‘this is due to the fact that it (the Church) is hidebound by its tradition and has been ruled by a single contemporaneous man for over two thousand years, despite the guidance of the Holy Spirit. If only those at the top of the tree were to revisit some of the ground-breaking documents of Vatican II, as well as Blessed John XXIII’s Mater et Magistra and Pacem in Terris, then I am sure that the Holy Spirit will be fully attentive to the church in its hour of need.

  35. John Nolan says:

    .John Candido

    Your ecclesiology owes more to Dan Brown than it does to Vatican II.

  36. John Candido says:

    John Nolan, I am afraid that your ecclesiology is clearly fundamentalist. I have decided to take John Nolan’s advice again in order to further revise my entire conclusion. I would like to pay my grateful respect for his knowledgeable feedback.

    The Roman Catholic Church has a congenital inability to turn its considerable intelligence on itself in order to give itself a genuine makeover. The church cannot pontificate endlessly to anyone outside of its own bailiwick without consequences. For it to only critique the outside world theologically, philosophically, sociologically, politically, and anthropologically, while ignoring its own defects and failings, is grossly hypocritical.

    In fact the church should always be critically cognisant of the Gospel according to Saint Mathew Chapter 7: versus 1-5…

    ‘Do not judge others, so that God will not judge you, for God will judge you in the same way you judge others, and he will apply to you the same rules you apply to others. Why, then, do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the log in your own eye? How dare you say to your brother, ‘Please, let me take that speck out of your eye,’ when you have a log in your own eye? You hypocrite! First take the log out of your own eye, and then you will be able to see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.’ (This quotation was taken from the ‘Good News Bible, Catholic Edition’.)

    Its ossified nature is due to the fact that it is hidebound by its tradition and has been ruled by a single contemporaneous man for over two thousand years, despite the guidance of the Holy Spirit. If only those at the top of the tree were to revisit some of the ground-breaking documents of Vatican II, as well as Blessed Pope John XXIII’s Mater et Magistra and Pacem in Terris, then I am sure that the Holy Spirit will be fully attentive to the church in its hour of need. This process has been called reading the signs of the times in the past. It’s a pity that such a tradition cannot take hold within the church, thereby ensuring that it regularly re-examines itself in order to contemporise its entire tradition, along with its teachings, policies, dogmas, processes, liturgies, and doctrines.

  37. John Candido says:

    I must qualify my comment about John Nolan having fundamentalist beliefs. This is so that I may place some substance behind this accusation. It is important to me that other people cannot say that I say things merely to upset others by providing unjustifiable putdowns.

    John Nolan said that ‘…nor is the Church a debating society,’ in one of his recent posts within the topic called ‘I Beg Leave to Differ’. The church has debated propositions for centuries. Not only has it debated issues by the academics and doctors of the church, it has debated issues of importance every time a gathering of bishops have come together for an Ecumenical Council or for a national conference or a regional gathering of bishops. This is quite plain and simple.

    There certainly wasn’t unanimity during the Second Vatican Council; there was considerable debate and compromise before any document was subsequently promulgated to the world. An Ecumenical Council is the highest episcopal authority of the church comprising all of the world’s bishops, and heads of religious orders, together with the Pope in the one place. When they are in council, they are discussing, debating, consulting periti (periti is the plural of peritus, which is Latin for theological expert) and writing speeches and submissions. On several occasions, compromise was indispensible between wide-ranging opinions in order to gain a final accord between bishops, and to achieve a conciliar outcome. You cannot pretend to promulgate a final conciliar document without discussion, debate, and compromise between opposing parties.

    What is the point of calling an Ecumenical Council if the Pope has already made-up his own mind? To invoke an Ecumenical Council is quite an expensive exercise. No Pope in his right mind would convoke one unless it is for the most serious of reasons, knowing fully that discussion and debate will ensue throughout all of its sessions.

    There have been over twenty Ecumenical Councils in the church’s history. The most recent Council and the 21st in our history, was the Second Vatican Council, which sat between 1962 and 1965. To say that the church does not discuss and debate a range of secular and theological issues almost daily is bizarre, completely false, utterly outside of the established and historical practice of the church, and totally incongruous with reality. To imagine that final conciliar documents simply appear out of the air or fall from heaven is extremely fanciful and beggars belief! It also exposes John Nolan’s fundamentalist ecclesiology.

  38. John Candido says:

    John Nolan you are a Latin scholar. Is ‘periti’ the plural form for ‘peritus’? I got periti from Google.

  39. mike Horsnall says:

    It might be a good thing to think about this a little in relation to how we are on this site:

    “…. It is rather sad when intelligent gents like Mike Horsnall and John Nolan indulge in irrelevant personal attacks rather than reply to the substantive issues that I have written about concerning the church’s fixation on tradition and its inbuilt myopia. As they prefer to not engage with my points, I can only assume that they have no real reply or rebuttal to them. This rather lets me off the hook doesn’t it?…”

    Awhile ago there was a fuss about verbal tactics in the House of Parliment. Heckling, jeering , sarcasm,wit irony etc at Prime Ministers Question Time came under scrutiny by the media . Mathew Parris writing in the Times made the point that the heart of policy makers was best tested in this way so as to reveal the workings of the inner man behind the argument-by this means was revealed the underlying nature and thus the fundamental decency or otherwise of the would be legislator.

    Good debate , wholesome and flavoured, leading to good outcomes is not carried best by bulldozer tactics or won by the ruthless cut and thrust of arguments wielded as axes. We, sitting in our various small rooms in our various lives, are not to consider ourselves as barrack rooom lawyers-gripping fiercely our lecterns, entranced by the marvel of our own great engines of thought – defending our honour aginst all comers and the devil take the hindmost.. Rather, as I understand and value this our small tent of meeting, we are to encounter one another as we would say gathering in friendship for coffee and discussion. This means that all the tools of good conversation- gentle humour, wit, irony, metaphor, self deprecation the odd joke etc-all get thrown in along the way in the line of relationship.

    I have been unsettled by John Candido’s discussion on this current topic simply because it runs so counter to my experience of the Church-Pope John 23rd’s biography Journal of the Soul for example has been for me a beacon among spiritual journals. My encounter with Pope Benedict at Cofton Park Birmingham recently -along with 70,000 others -was not one of political intrigue or cynical demagogy- but of an outburst of sheer joy. I spent the long night stewarding at Cofton and spoke with many people about many things-but to no rancour of dissaffection or lack of charity. Most of Benedicts writing seems to me honourable and informed.
    The same during the two year catechesis training at Maryvale and at the Jesuit Loyola Hall where I trained as a prayer guide-certainly much to say but no sense of a church feeling itself burdened as by Stalinist despotism and silenced by secret fiat. So even were the argument being put forward by John Candido be found impeccable by hermeneutic- it would still fail because it is so clearly the product of a strong ego on a hobby horse…rather like my own.and bearing little relationship to the church I am a part of and give daily thanks for.
    I have said before and will reiterate that reason and logic alone do not convince of anything because reason and logic are by themselves only tools of the heart and the spirit…arguments are merely that which they are-arguments and this particular kind only comes out by being mildly jested…Sorry John!

  40. John Nolan says:

    JC, I’m no Latin scholar – the best I can claim is to be Latin-literate up to a point – and you are quite correct that ‘periti’ is the plural of ‘peritus’; the full word is ‘legisperitus’ (expert in the law). BXVI was one of these at the Second Vatican Council and it is a little condescending of you to suggest he doesn’t understand the decrees of that Council.

    If to think with the Church (sentire cum ecclesia) makes me a fundamentalist in your eyes then so be it. To take just one of your hobby-horses, that homosexuals have the ‘right’ to sacramental marriage suggests that you don’t understand what marriage is. I suggest you go to the preamble to matrimony in Cranmer’s BCP which puts it in a nutshell. (Gosh! A fundamentalist citing a Protestant source!)

  41. Superview says:

    There are many things Mike Horsnall that I appreciate in the contributions that you make. You have an openness of spirit that is very compelling and I hope always to be impressed by it. However … you are right to apologise to John Candido but in a spirit different from the one you intend. When you say of his argument “it would still fail because it is so clearly the product of a strong ego on a hobby horse…” you are getting personal and it is unnecessary. It is something to be avoided, as is the tendency to provide an amateur psychoanalysis of the motives of people who disagree with you. The world of the Roman Catholic Church is more than your recent personal social and emotional experiences, enjoyable as they may have been. A theory could be developed as to why, with your background, you may be content to stay within that framework of experience, but it would be personal and inappropriate and wrong to do so. I do not know John Candido other than through the blog. He has some views that are similar to mine, and others that are quite different. What I can recognise, however, is a passionate search for truth. And when he advances an argument he provides his sources and his evidence base. He sometimes overwhelms with detail and length (a lesser vice I hope) but he shows more respect to his audience than those who sit on the sidelines content to interject with caustic one-liners that add little to the discussions.
    You are right to think about how the blog should work. I do it every time I contribute. I try not to attribute vices to other contributors, although some would test the patience of a saint. I avoid words that carry insult – such as nonsense and rubbish. I confess irony is difficult to resist, but I try to use it sparingly. I try not to address other contributors, other than Quentin, in the first person, as it seems to me to lead inevitably to personal antagonisms or alternatively a kind of saccharin chumminess. I hope this is received in the charitable way I intend it.

    • mike Horsnall says:

      Yes, I agree with all of this!! I did wonder whether it was best just to say nothing at all. But there is the point that the way an argument is put is of itself of interest and relevant-and the ego thing was in fact raised by John himself. Tricky business really because it is very often the case that our convictions about the world around us -church included -rest upon assumptions which are beneath the surface. So when I go off fulminating at my friends about some thing or another its often very helpful when one of them says,after a quiet pause
      ,”Come off it Mike…!”
      On the other hand, as you say this can amount to an unwarranted intrusion into the life of another and can simply be yet another personal style. Furthermore we are not in fact ‘friends’
      Of course I am aware that there is more to the church than meets the eye of MH -or any other come to that- but the world described by John Candido is I think equally strongly flavoured by his own personal bias towards a highly particularist interpretation which seems very overstated-perhaps as my diaconate training advances I will see another church more in line with that view!
      Perhaps it is best just to contribute to the style of conversation one feels comfortable with-but that makes things a little anodyne since the principal attraction to a site like this is that we are flesh and blood -books we all can read a plenty and reinforce our views by forcefully promulgating them-I do it all the time!.
      I like your ‘code’ of conduct and have noticed it in use broadly on the site I will try to get a bit more used to it I think

  42. John Nolan says:

    Superview, how do you address someone in the first person? Just asking. Also look up the word ‘sanctimonious’.

  43. mike Horsnall says:

    “…Science has demonstrated the essential equality between men and women, and secular society accommodates the acceptance of women being equal to men. The church drags its feet. Science has demonstrated the truth that homosexuality is not a form of mental illness and secular society accommodates the acceptance of homosexuals as equals. And again the church drags its feet….”

    So for example the line of argument expressed above here is so clearly coming out from a highly specific world view based in a kind of fanciful pseudo rationalism. Unfortunately when examined- this thinking no matter how lovingly constructed- is risible. Science -particularly neuroscience and genetics says nothing about ‘equality’ Furthermore scientific ‘objectivity’ struggles daily with political spin as is evidenced by the uproar created whenever someone comes up with the not particularly novel idea that women have differently wired brains than men. It is not possible to link the concepts in the manner that John Candido does with any seriousness- unless to bolster an inherent conviction. No reason why one can’t do this of course but it is without real merit as a means of discussion because what is being presented is a political diatribe dressed up as ‘objective’
    Science has not demonstrated ‘the truth that homosexuality is not a form of mental illness’ any where at all, that truth has simply come to be understood…Probably more down to Peter Tatchell (who I admire) than any ‘science’
    Secular society isn’t capable really of demonstrating anything and the fact that it accepts a whole gamut of behaviour says nothing about that behaviour. I am not sure why we should be rushing to get behind ‘secular society’ in anything..particularly since no one can speak for the term ‘secular society’-Whose society? which society? what does secular mean in this context?…nonsense.

    The one thing we can say with certainty about this line of approach- mishmashed thus together- is that it comes down to cliche after cliche signifying nothing much apart from a fundamental base in a poorly disciplined and secularised rationalism…..Now, is this post robust criticsm or personal attack?

  44. John Candido says:

    RMBlaber, where are you when I need you? Can you reply to Mike Horsnall’s post above please? Thank you.

    • mike Horsnall says:

      Whoops I appear to have lapsed rather into late night ravings-deeply felt and passionate too! Time for a wet flannel and an asprin for awhile methinks before the next onslaught….

  45. John Candido says:

    John Nolan I have never said that Pope Benedict XVI has never understood any document of the Second Vatican Council, or any other Pope including any of Pope John XXIII’s encyclicals. My comments are limited to the fact that he will not implement the ground breaking documents from Vatican II as well as any encyclical that Pope John XXIII has written. It seems the case that a future liberal Pope will hopefully do so, but an ultra-conservative Pope will not.

    One may well ask what parts of these ground-breaking Vatican II documents and past Papal encyclicals they haven’t implemented. This is a very fair question. I have copiously referred to these issues already and to briefly recapitulate, the church must be more open and compassionate towards everybody’s dignity, the freedom of the human conscience, accountability and transparency for the church, tolerance, compassion and understanding for all theologians, inclusion of the laity in the governance of the church and in all episcopal and conciliar bodies, a Lambeth Conference of our own, being open to the sensus fidelium, reading the signs of the times, becoming more democratic, and the church being fully open to both the research of the sciences and the humanities.

  46. John Candido says:

    That was a marvelous reply from Superview to John Nolan. He said it all.

  47. John Candido says:

    Thank you Superview. Your words and support are mightily appreciated.

  48. John Nolan says:

    John Candido, you couldn’t reply to Mike Horsnall, preferriing to call on other disgruntled lapsed Catholics to make your arguments for you, any more than you have ever really engaged with any of the points I have raised over the past few months. Your hermeneutic of Vatican II and the encyclicals of Bl Pope John XXIII is subjective to the point of caricature; you cherry-pick documents for evidence to support your pre-conceived notions. By all means espouse an ultra-progressive agenda based on secular relativism – you are not the only one, as even a cursory scroll through the combox of the National Catholic Reporter will demonstrate – but if you think this represents the sensus fidelium you are deluding yourself.

    • Superview says:

      I hope Quentin will excuse me taking liberties, but, to make things easy for John Nolan, this is the set of comments:
      John Nolan says:
      June 15, 2011 at 11:51 pm
      Exactly. The ‘liberal’ position advanced by John Candido, Superview and others of that ilk is self -contradictory to the point of absurdity. They would deny the Pope the right to define doctrine and at the same time insist that he has the authority to overturn 2000 years of tradition in order to conform to late 20th-century social and political mores.
      Reply
      Superview says:
      June 19, 2011 at 8:02 pm
      John Nolan, you can’t get away with attributing to me views that I have not advanced, although I would from time to time like you to get away with something, just out of a sense of fair play. As far as the Pope and defining doctrine is concerned, do I take it that you are happy to believe that the story of Adam and Eve in Genesis is true in every detail, as a Pope defined as doctrine not that long ago? You see, that’s the problem – they don’t get things right, even very important things, and when they are seen to be wrong it takes centuries for their successors to admit it. If modesty prevailed they might approach things differently, but then again, when you are divinely provided with supernatural gifts of knowledge, understanding and wisdom – another doctrine defined by a recent Pope of course – something other than modesty is in the cup from which you drink.
      As for conforming with late 20th century social and political mores, well you make my point for me: Is it just possible that Jesus was conforming to early 1st century social and political mores when he took 12 men on the road? Isn’t it a simple historical question?

  49. RMBlaber says:

    As a ‘secularist’ and ‘relativiser’ (as I shall probably be called, given the unfortunate tendency of so many contributors to this website to indulge in rather mindless name-calling) I feel honour-bound to come to the aid of my fellow ‘ultra-progressive’ (another name-calling epithet), John Candido.

    Actually, I don’t – because, having read the contributions of ‘St Joseph’, Mike Horsnall and John Nolan, I wonder why he bothers trying to engage in debate on this website at all. It reads like the proverbial dialogue of the deaf.

    The original issue was, let us remind ourselves, the sacking of Bishop William Morris in Australia, for having the temerity to suggest the possibility of ordaining women (perish the thought!) and recognising Anglican and other Protestant orders as a way of solving the Roman Catholic Church’s shortage of priests and other ministers. Quentin de la Bedoyere thought he was clearly in the wrong, because as a Bishop, it was his job to uphold Catholic teaching as it stands, not as he would like it to be (if I understand Quentin correctly, that is).

    There is something to be said for this; the Cabinet Minister who made a speech in public that was clearly out of line with Government policy would be in breach of collective Cabinet responsibility, and therefore liable to be sacked (if he or she did not resign) by the PM. Some of the Armed Forces chiefs who have spoken out recently against Coalition Government policy are also fortunate not have been sacked, too.

    That said, does that mean that I support the Church’s position on the ordination of women? No. Do I support its position on clerical celibacy? No. Do I concur with its teaching on homosexual relations? Clearly not. Do I think that an ordained minister of the Roman Catholic Church should never speak out against any aspect of the Church’s dogma and/or moral teaching? I think that would be a very great pity. It would take a lot of courage, and a preparedness to sacrifice one’s career in the Church and any prospect of advancement, but there must be some ‘voices in the wilderness’ – or nothing will ever change.

    As to whether or not the Roman Catholic Church and its magisterium is infallible, and on the question of whether or not the Pope, in his ex cathedra pronouncements on faith and morals, is infallible, I will say this, and I don’t expect to win any popularity contests on this website for doing so. The idea that there are ‘infallible revelations’, whether of God, or of some other deity or quasi-divine being, be they the Bible, the Qu’ran, the Hindu or Buddhist Scriptures, or the Roman Catholic Church or its Pope or anything else, is one of the most dangerous and pernicious ideas in the whole of human history, and has caused untold suffering and death to millions of people. There are no infallible revelations. There never have been, and there never will be – such certainties are not available in this life, and the desire for them, and claim to possess them, is simply a sign of psychological and spiritual immaturity.

    I fully expect to be anathematised all the way to Hell and back for uttering such heresy, but I’m afraid I simply don’t care what anyone on this website thinks, either of me or of my opinions any more. This will probably be my last contribution to it.

  50. st.joseph says:

    RMBlaber. So you believe in Hell then!!!!!

  51. John Candido says:

    RMBlaber is correct. Why do I bother? I go to a lot of trouble assembling my thoughts, doing a little research and committing them to writing on Secondsight, but what do I get in reply from my antagonists? Cheap shots, abuse, and people who do not want to do engage with my points through reading and serious thought. People are human and I understand that uncomfortable views are not welcome, and this equally applies to me.

    Then there is the time factor for people, and the need for thinking and research for any quality reply, regardless of whether or not such replies are conservative or liberal. Besides, cheap shots are far easier than reading, thinking, civil discussion, and research. Uncalled for and irrelevant comments are also enormously tempting, precisely because they are so easy. Look at the parliamentarians from both of our countries.

    However, RMBlaber is correct. Why do I bother when my replies fall on deaf ears and I seem to be conducting a soliloquy, with some notable exceptions? Why don’t people actually read the documents that I have mentioned and see what is in them? I am afraid that if I and notable others invest time and effort in this debate and others don’t bother to, I am clearly wasting my time. And I say this with genuine regret and with no egotism or sanctimony at all.

    It also indicates the truth which I have mentioned in a past post several years ago that you cannot gently or otherwise persuade people from fundamentalism or conservatism to any other point of view, just as you cannot persuade people from liberalism to any other point of view.

    I am sorry but I am thoroughly exhausted and I am at the end of my tether. I am going to have a break from secondsight. I will return from time to time to read it when my energy and interest revives, but I don’t see the value of investing too much time on this blog, despite the quality of its editorship. I wish everybody well!

  52. John Candido says:

    I might also add that I fully support Superview’s and RMBlaber’s view on the doctrine of Papal infallibility.

    • John Nolan says:

      Sorry, John, you will be missed. But this is, after all, a Catholic blog, based on Quentin’s column in the Catholic Herald, and if you want to continually snipe at the Church from the outside it is probably better to do so in a different forum. I can assure you that I have read all the documents that you have cited, without finding any evidence that they support your ultra-liberal agenda, either explicitly or implicitly. From time to time I have tried to supply some corrective to your subjective and idiosyncratic view of history, but all you do is shrug it off and reiterate the same arguments at even greater length. I will say in your favour that you are never sanctimonious (unlike a lot of your fellow-liberals) but I don’t think you have made your case. The Church simply does not have the authority to ordain women or to say that sodomy is all right after all. However ‘liberal’ the pope may be in his personal opinions, his hands are tied.

    • mike Horsnall says:

      I’m not convinced that RM Blaber has actually understood the doctrine-judging from his comments that is. The church speaks the truth of its revelation as she understands them and when she speaks thus she speaks infallibly. As far as I understand it the church articulates her faith and her belief; she has every right so to do and every right to decide what is spoken in her name- this is the concern of fallibility/infallibility.

  53. mike Horsnall says:

    Crikey chaps you can almost smell the cordite and see the bodies lying fallen round a tattered flag.!!..come off it everyone, most of this is only pride and disposition having their sway, relax ,regroup, then come back to fight another day…after all thats what the disciples did. But I agree with John Candido that there is little point in trying to persuade each other that we are not what we are- or that we are what we are not. The thing that chiefly interests me is why we fall so quickly into different camps and are so passionate about beliefs that half the time we are not aware that we hold until they are challenged.

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