Pass the Word

“**** the Pope” shouted the bull-voiced man at me – but he did not use asterisks. Remembering my training I temporised with: “You seem to be suggesting that I should involve His Holiness in some form of sexual activity of which he would disapprove.” The man was silent, the crowd was silent. Then he spoke up again, “Nah,” he shouted, “I said: **** the Pope.”

You can’t win them all, I reflected, as I continued to address my little crowd in London’s West End on behalf of the Catholic Evidence Guild. That was in 1957.

In those days a smattering of Christianity was to be found in the heckling classes and some debates could even be settled by appeal to a common Scripture. And, intensely disliked though the Catholic Church might be, there remained a certain unwilling respect. To have your head man regularly stylised as the Beast of the Apocalypse suggested that at least you could not be ignored.

Today it is different. The audience is different; it is not the public audience looking for entertainment, but perhaps your friend at work who wonders why anyone as normal as you can actually be one of those Catholics. Or it might be a friend of mine who feels it entirely wrong that public taxes should be used to subsidise Catholic schools which she can’t get her children into – though, by heck, she’s tried.

And nowadays the mass audience is not the ephemeral groups at Marble Arch or Leicester Square but the listeners and viewers on local radio and television whose ears prick up when they hear their prejudices aired, and look for an answer.

I have an idea. For a start, why do we not get a group of young Catholic professionals who would be willing to appear on the media and explain what the Church believes and why? Much more attractive than a clerical collar or a knock-kneed old warhorse like me. They would need to be trained, of course. Not only would they need to be well briefed in their topics, they would have to understand how to put ideas across effectively, and how to master the tricks of the old three-minute-interview trade. The media will be delighted to know that there are competent commentators available on tap.

Ah well, too late again! Catholic Voices already exists. It was set up before the papal visit, has achieved some excellent work and is gradually developing into bigger things.

But, although their task is of great importance, it does not directly address the problem of our friend in the pub who wants to know or wants to criticise. And this I think is why they have produced their book Catholic Voices (by Austen Ivereigh and Kathleen Griffin, Darton Longman and Todd, £15). While the bulk of the book is given to providing a thorough briefing in the topics which are most likely to be raised they also consider the manner in which the message can be most effectively conveyed.

A central concept here is described as “re-framing”. This starts from the Voice suggesting what the real value is that concerns the objector. Then the Voice re-frames the issue so that the objector can see how the Catholic Church addresses this same value, perhaps at a more fundamental level. For example, in the matter of assisted suicide one might well agree that we share a positive wish to avoid unnecessary suffering. It then becomes possible to have a discussion, rather than an argument, about how this value is best to be achieved.

The value of re-framing may be gauged from its history. From Socrates in the fifth century BC to Dale Carnegie in the 20th, the secret of persuasion has proved to be “to find out what a man wants and help him to get it” (Carnegie). And Catholic Voices sets out 10 principles of communication which apply not only to their members but, as the book puts it, “also in a three-minute live pub conversation”. Were we to observe all of these in our conversations we might make many friends who, if they are not always convinced, can say with the young woman in a pub who had just heard an explanation from two Catholic Voices: “Well, I suppose they’re not all crazy then.” It’s a start.

And Catholic Voices is just a start. It was born, by the determination of enthusiasts, for a particular occasion. But it must not stop there. Strongly supported by the community, it can become the seed-bed of the intelligent and well-instructed laity “who know their creed so well that they can give an account of it”, which Cardinal Newman envisaged.

This book gives a thorough background to several topics which are in the public eye today. Readers will not only, in many instances, be studying the real issues behind the topic for the first time, but learning how they might communicate them most effectively. It would be a tragedy if this initiative were not developed into major ways of helping our fellow citizens to see just how dedicated the Catholic community is to defending and promoting the values which we and they share.

And I have every reason to believe that Catholic Voices is, even now, planning for the extension of its work in the future. Visit its web site for background information. There is a link at where you will have ample opportunity to comment on this initiative and suggest how it might develop for the greater glory of God.

(Second Sight Contributors, I know that Catholic Voices will be looking out for any ideas and suggestions which appear on this Blog. Their web site, for further information, is at

About Quentin

Portrait © Jacqueline Alma
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73 Responses to Pass the Word

  1. BRIAN HAMILL says:

    A query: Are we expected to defend the teachings and actions of the Catholic Church or to explain them? If the first, I would find this to be very difficult since some of the teachings and actions of Rome, and elsewhere, have been, to my mind, indefensible. But if the latter, then I could find myself a place in such a movement. Apologetics no; exegesis yes.

    • Quentin says:

      Brian, you point to an important distinction. Take a relatively unemotional issue as an example. If I am asked about clerical celibacy the fact that I might think it to be a bad idea has already required me to understand why the Church holds on to this; this is a pre-requisite for the faithful Catholic who is inclined to disagree. So I am in a position to explain to a friend what the Church teaches and the reasons which she gives. If I am then asked whether I personally agree or not, I am at liberty to say what I wish. But what I actually think is secondary to ensuring that my friend understands the Church’s position. I don’t matter.

      • mike Horsnall says:

        I do matter- I don’t have much time for self effacement as a basis for discussion particularly with friends who are non catholic. It is important, as Quentin says, to be able to explain the where’s and why’s but it is also important to be able to share ones own dilemmas and struggles with tradition. In this way I think it is possible to bring persons to the understanding that tradition in the Church is a living thing not a dead set of rules. So for clerical celibacy I can explain it then add my own thoughts on the subject. This way leads to involved debate and also brings people to understand that we are as human and intelligent as one another and that Catholics are not as a squadron of lemmings but are closely involved in the central mysteries of life.

  2. John Candido says:

    Bring on the debate, I say. These people are demonstrating a good level of courage. However, as the church is somewhat reactionary for these times, they will find themselves kicking you know what uphill in these exercises. Of course such difficulty could be avoided somewhat if the church decided to reform its out-dated sexual morality, which is based on ancient Greek distinctions about the separation of body and soul. This has led the church to an unbearable and tortuous position on sexual morality, which the modern world has walked away from.

    The church’s laughable teaching on masturbation and homosexuality is at loggerheads with modern sensibilities and modern theological understandings. It is these understandings buttressed by our modern insights in psychology, biology, and genetics, which are the problem for diehard conservatives in the church. To modern minds, the church is increasingly looking like an institution founded on homophobia and ignorance. It is all very sad. It needn’t be this way, save for the intransigence of an unelected Vatican state.

  3. st.joseph says:

    I remember reading somwhere some time ago in a ‘catholic’ description of the Tabernacle it said
    ‘The box where the bread is kept’.
    So be it-but however it would give the impression that that is all it is.
    It is a Box and it is Bread-But Who is it is the question. So such a lot depends on the answer given!

  4. John Nolan says:

    Shortly after the Pope’s visit in September last year, there was a a studio discussion on BBC TV featuring Abp Vincent Nichols, Chris Patten, Diarmaid MacCulloch and Tina Beattie. MacCulloch (a non-Catholic) is a professor of church history and a highly-regarded scholar. Beattie is a feminist theologian who has openly attacked Pope Benedict for his teachings on the family. Predictably, MacCulloch (who happens to be gay) challenged the Church’s teachings on homosexuality, while Beattie did the same regarding women priests. The Archbishop, whose appointment owed at least something to the fact that he handled the media well, and who must have known what was coming, made no attempt either to defend or explain the Church’s teaching; visibly rattled, he attempted to change the subject. This was dereliction of duty on a grand scale.

    It is quite common to hear people making comments about the Catholic Church (in pubs, for instance) which are wildly inaccurate. In many cases the speaker is, or was, a Catholic, which says a lot about the quality of catechesis since the 1960s. It is tempting to butt in and correct them, but normally you don’t join in a conversation uninvited, and if the speaker has had a few pints it might be dangerous. It is also patronizing to lecture strangers whose intellect and education, through no fault of theirs, happen to be inferior to your own.

    I did overhear, in the workplace, a youngish woman teacher state as a fact that “the Catholic Church rules only through fear and coercion”. I asked her if she was a Catholic (she was, though lapsed). I asked her to reflect on the likelihood of an institution which relied solely on fear and coercion lasting for nigh on two millennia.

    People are entitled to their own views, of course, but prejudice and ignorance are not the ideal premisses on which to base them. I have no problem with people criticizing or even attacking the Church, and in the case of protestants or atheists I would expect them to. But you need to understand the institution you are criticizing if you want your arguments to be taken seriously.

    • Rahner says:

      “This was dereliction of duty on a grand scale….” Perhaps Nichols took the view that he could not make a compelling case against Beattie or MacCulloch…..

      • John Nolan says:

        Well, Rahner, I certainly could and I’m merely an educated layman. The most charitable interpretation of the Archbishop’s limp performance would be that a) he’d had a busy few days – but then so had the much older Pontiff, and you can bet your life he wouldn’t have dodged the issue – and b) he wanted to sound a positive note and realized that he didn’t have a lot of airtime. To suggest that he dissents from Church teaching in two important areas is to suggest that he should not have been appointed in the first place.

  5. John Candido says:

    Both replies from st.joseph and John Nolan are wonderfully decent efforts. John Nolan’s reply was utterly magisterial, while st.joseph’s efforts dwelt on matters of perception and reverence. We are natural antagonists in ecclesiological and theological matters. However, in this case I fully concur with the written content of John Nolan and st.joseph.

  6. st.joseph says:

    I listened to the discussion that Quentin gave on the Catholic Voices web – radio 5 on same sex marriage and David Cameron suggestion for Gay Marriage .
    I was thinking about this and wondered how they would consumate it-I imagine it would only be valid if they did. Can someone answer this?

  7. st.joseph says:

    I have looked in the dictionary.
    First for Consummation that led me to sexual intercourse.
    It did not mention masturbation as being a completion of Marriage!
    How will David Cameron wiggle out of that one!

  8. John Nolan says:


    As far as I know, non-consummation can be used as a ground for annulment of sacramental marriage, although it does not per se invalidate the marriage. The only ground for civil divorce these days is “irretrievable breakdown” although the behaviour of the parties may provide supporting facts. Civil partnerships are analogous to civil marriages in all essential respects, including prohibited degrees (which means that two unmarried sisters sharing a house may not register a civil partnership in order to avoid Inheritance Tax).

    I agree with John Candido that the Church sometimes leaves herself open to ridicule when she makes solemn pronouncements about sex; I remember one learned Jesuit saying condom use for prophylactic purposes could be justified “if there is a small hole”, and if masturbation is a disordered act, then 99 percent of the population must be disordered. Sodomy and adultery, however, are no laughing matters, and the Church knows to her cost where toleration of homosexual conduct leads. She’s still picking up the bill.

  9. st.joseph says:

    Thank you John, but the dictionaary states that Consummation is the completion of marriage,and specifically outlines what sexual intercourse is.
    We are not speaking about the church or the law but facts=as I see it , otherwise the dictionary ought to be updated.

  10. mike Horsnall says:

    Not to be pedantic but 100% of the population are disordered to some degree or another, marred by sin. Masturbation isn’t a particularly helpful pastime and if exaggerated forms the basis of a neurosis along similar lines to eating disorders. If you were to do literature searches on the relative benefits of the act I don’t think you’d find many that applaud it and many valid warnings against its excess. The church’s teaching on the subject may not be popular but its not far off the mark.

    I find that persons who attack the church do so for many reasons. Often their thought is superficial, wilfully ignorant and malicious. I have little truck with these types beyond a certain level though I try to observe the Pauline imperative of gentleness and respect. For those whose questioning arises from genuine hurt or sincere confusion then that is a different issue but I do not think we need to suffer the taunts of fools unduly. We should be able to understand ourselves as catholics and strive to be as articulate as possible in presenting what we believe to be the Kingdom of God to others.I watched the programme John Nolan referred to and couldnt make my mind up about Vincent. In terms of what the church teaches, as a catechist thats my job so I do my best. But I think it is important to keep to underlying principles as much as possible-the sanctity and dignity of human life as made in the image of God.

  11. st.joseph says:

    I also watched the programmme and wrote to Archbishop Nicholls and asked him why he didn’t say what the Churches teaching was on Fertility Awareness when practicing birth control.
    A golden opportunity missed by his neglect when contraception was mentioned
    He didn’t reply!!

  12. st.joseph says:

    When Channel 4 put out a programme presented by Peter Tatchell entitled
    I wrote to them as I thought it had been misrepresented The answer I received in their reply included these remarks Quote’ With the Pope receiving all the ceremony and attendant coverage of an official state visit, it is in keeping with Channel 4’s remit to provide an opportunity for alrternative or opposing views. The programme did neverthless set out to represent the views of Catholics,both supporters and critics of the Pope. Mr Tatchell did approach a number of Catholic leaders, giving them the opportunity to put their side of the story, however they declined. Unquote’
    What chance do we have as a laity if we do not have the support of the hierarchy!

    • mike Horsnall says:

      Too be honest I thought Peter Tatchell came out of it all rather well, I wonder if he is a lapsed Catholic or something because he disagreed quite strongly and eloquently with aspects of catholicism but he did not deny its authority. I have a grudging respect for him.

  13. John Candido says:

    Of course this is off topic; there is really important news coming from Perth Western Australia at the CHOGM (Commonwealth Heads of Government) meeting. isn’t it marvellous that all of the realm (nation-states that have Her Majesty the Queen as titular head of state) Commonwealth countries have agreed to allow the reform of laws which prevented elder daughters of the reigning monarch in the UK, from being Queen in deference to any younger brothers.

    The other important reform is that any royal Prince or Princess, who marries a Catholic, will no longer be disqualified from their right to be monarch. It is enough to make one throw one’s hat in the air! Three cheers to Her Majesty the Queen, the Royal Family, and British Prime Minister David Cameron. These are essential reforms that will bring the monarchy into line with contemporary thought. It will also go a long way to dispel some of the prejudice that Catholics might have to endure, particularly in the UK.

    • John Nolan says:

      Tinkering with the ancient law of primogeniture for the sake of political correctness is hardly an essential reform given the current dire economic climate. It will take up a lot of parliamentary time, since Tory MPs with more respect for tradition and awareness of history than their leader will want to debate the issue and there is also the question of the inheritance of non-royal titles which additionally involve property rights. And if we’re going down the equality route, is the consort of a future queen regnant to be called king?

      The bar to the monarch marrying a Catholic was an inconvenience when Royals married Royals since it narrowed the field (most European royalty is Catholic) but now they marry commoners there seems little point in changing the law. The monarch would in any case still have to be protestant, so a Catholic consort would not be able to raise children in the Faith, which is the first duty of a Catholic parent. One of the last acts of Pope Paul VI was to stop the proposed Catholic wedding of Prince and Princess Michael of Kent after the couple let slip that any progeny would be raised as Anglicans.

      Why would increasingly aggressive secularists moderate their anti-Catholic prejudices as a result of this measure?

      • John Candido says:

        I might add that the reform of the monarchy is a metaphor for the long overdue reform of the Catholic Church. Relevancy and contemporaneity are what will keep the monarchy in good stead for years to come. Likewise, the Catholic Church.

  14. st.joseph says:

    Yes a move in the right direction.It will be interesting to see what will happen when one of their children if brought up a catholic wish to marry a catholic-will they be allowed to become King or Queen?

  15. claret says:

    I am not too sure about the repeal of the Act of Settlement ( if that is what it is,) I rather like being persecuted in a non violent way. One less thing to moan about can only be a bad thing.
    Returning to the topic in of this blog there is sadly a long list of opportunities missed by the hierarchy to speak up for the faith in England. Bishops in Scotland seem to be made of sterner stuff than those South of the border.
    However it has to be acknowledged that any pronouncement on matters of morals by the Church in this country will forever be discounted because of the abuse scandals that will never go away. It seems almost daily that a new scandal is revealed, a new arrest made, a new criminal
    investigation launched or report published, into the sickening conduct of catholic clergy or a catholic institution.
    Catholic lay people in the UK have been let down at all levels by clergy.The harm done is irreppairable and unredeemable. In the ‘public eye’ we are forever tainted as Catholics where once we enjoyed a grudging respect and a personal ( non sinful) pride.
    I would suggest that this is the real reason the Bishops keep their heads down.
    I remember the last Pope declaring a decade of evangelisation. It never got off the ground.

  16. mike Horsnall says:

    I’m surprised that you are all so pessimistically harsh. If you want to know about the difficulties of evangelism in the public spotlight go and stand on the street corner or sit in the public bar -try it for yourselves!! As to the abuse scandal, well certainly its not that great and might be a shock to some.Most people Ive talked to fairly quickly see that its a tiny minority and can come round to the point of agreeing that we have all fallen far short of the required stndard; a humbled church is far more appealing than an arrogant one. The scandal is a pretty sad thing for the victims but it does bring us closer to the ground of everyone else.

    • Rahner says:

      “As to the abuse scandal, well certainly its not that great…..”
      You sound like a curia cardinal who can’t understand what all the fuss is about. The abuse scandal is not just a matter of a few bad apples it is also the wider attitudes and behaviour of those in authority in the Church.

      • st.joseph says:

        Rahner it is not only the behaviour of those in authority. The laity can do their fair share
        As you are waiting for the next edition of The Flock that you suggested in an earlier post and saying it will be hilarious reading about Cardinal Burke.
        Type in ‘ . Then read the article Whodunnit?The case of the CancelledConference. I dont think you will find that hilarious.

      • John Candido says:

        Correctly said!

      • John Candido says:

        Correctly said, Rahner!

      • st.joseph says:

        Rahner,like what? Be more specific PLEASE?Not just wild accusation!
        As the saying goes ‘put your money where your mouth is’Dont hide behind ignoring!!!! answers

      • st.joseph says:

        To add to my reply below Rahner,
        I would have a meeting with the Archbishop to-day and heirarchy and tell them what they dont know.
        Would you have one with them- I doubt it, because you would only be able to tell them what they already know, and that wont change their thinking!!

  17. st.joseph says:

    I came across an interesting article ‘The Failure of Liberal Catholicism’ in 2 parts. from the Catholic World Report.
    A good read for traditionals as some of us are called!

  18. Rahner says:

    John Nolan, “Well, Rahner, I certainly could”………compelling to whom I wonder.

    • John Nolan says:

      Well, to put it in context, the only bodies that have ‘ordained’ women are the post-Reformation protestant ecclesial communities, and then only in fairly recent times. The ancient apostolic (for want of a better word) Churches with valid sacraments have not done so, show no intention of doing so, and in the case of the Roman Church have restated definitively what was always understood, that she has no authority whatsoever to do so. Next question?

  19. mike Horsnall says:

    “Certainly not that great” poor choice of words perhaps, It means “not at all good”

    But the fact that persons make poor choices (cover up choices that is) when faced with conflicting demands and pressures really shouldnt come as much of a surprise to anyone since we all do it to some degree to the level of our involvement. We know that the church is less than perfect and it is a good thing that codes of practice have been altered and individuals brought to account for their criminality. But so what? I think that reality -ugly sordid depraved aspects of it have shown their face in what is overall thankfully small measure; so does in much larger measure the daily realities of saintliness, self sacrifice, self discipline, love, commitment and trust. I have just finished reading John Kiser’s The Monks of Tibhrine (Faith, Love,and Terror in Algeria) -strongly reccomended for those who have forgotten what the life of faith is and is capable of achieving and for those who have simply forgotten what it is to love God.

    • st.joseph says:

      When we say the Church is less than perfect and I say sometimes that myself,a choice of words.
      It is the people in it-including myself!

  20. claret says:

    My comments were not about the sacrifice of Catholics in Algeria ( and many other parts of the world,) and so I was careful to stress the situation in the UK.
    Regretably we have been slow to learn and not all abuse cases are ‘historical’ but are still coming to light and being committed despite the safeguards. Neither do i care much for the word ‘historical’ which i use here only because it is one that features highly in defensive explanations. These historical cases are not some dusty files on a shelf somewhere but real victims of unspeakable crimes.
    It is hard to evangelise for the good things about your faith when it is forever tainted, and in any discussion is eventually thrown into the debate.

    • mike Horsnall says:

      Yes I appreciate the seriousness of the crimes Claret but there is nothing we can do about that now bar prosecute the criminals and take care of the victims. I use the word criminal deliberately because thats what all this is -criminality committed by a small number of persons and repented over by the whole church. I don’t personally feel that I have to wear sackcloth any longer over this and don’t tend to allow non church people to wallow in the filth or take vicarious delight in it either. I havent personally found it difficult about the basic nuts and bolts of christian belief simply because a tiny tiny tiny part of the church did bad things in the latter part of the 20th century particularly in countries which had allowed clericalism to take power to an unhealthy degree-None of this affects the work of Christ one bit though it certainly makes God weep.. You spoke earlier about personal respect and pride-it is Christ we take pride in and I don’t see that shouldering the major burden for Aids care and education across the whole of subsharan Africa (for example) is in any way denigrated or devalued by the events you speakn of in recent Europe. Sorry but I really think its time to move on with all this.

      • Rahner says:

        “but there is nothing we can do about that now bar prosecute the criminals and take care of the victims…… Sorry but I really think its time to move on with all this.”
        Move on, Move on???
        Your complacency is breathtaking. The clericalism and secrecy supported by the prevailing structure of the Church provided a cover for all aspects of the abuse crisis. Once these have been challenged and reformed then perhaps we can “move on”.

  21. mike Horsnall says:

    PS John Nolan I agree with both your A and you B regarding Vincent. It was clear that there wasn’t time to go into it properly and that the spirit of the occasion was not particularly condusive so why whack on with it publicly when it wasn’t going anywhere. Personally I admire Vincent as a man and so what if he stumbles from time to time-we don’t have to join in and push him over do we?

    • st.joseph says:

      No Mike he does that himself!

    • Quentin says:

      It might be good to use + Vincent, or some such — for the sake of casual readers.

    • mike Horsnall says:

      In a similar manner we do not have to arraign the entire Catholic Church because of the acts of a few. Certainly there will be investigations and changes over all this-I wonder how many of you took part in the month of prayer of prayer and fasting of Contrition for all this and how many of you remember Pope Benedict standing before us and the world at Cofton park -as a broken man ashamed of His church. .Do any of you seriously think that heads will not roll and charges be not laid because of this appalling thing? But we have repented of our shared failings (and yes I do emphasise the ‘we’) and put in place the required changes-I had a taste of a little of them at the 3 day psychological scrutiny panel now compulsory for any ministry applicants. Rahners comments regarding complacency-apart from demonstrating a typical mean spirited rudeness- have inside them the conviction that somehow the entire Roman Catholic Church is a secret agency having within it a covert oligarchy of evil that needs to be somehow ‘rooted out’ presumably by a special panel of the Righteous laity-perhaps you fancy the job Rahner? We must have trust that things can be put right and must not allow ourselves to join the jeering throng.

      • Rahner says:

        “perhaps you fancy the job Rahner” Well I’m sure I would make a better job of it than the appalling Cardinal Law whose head is still firmly on his body as he swans around the cocktail parties of Rome…..

  22. st.joseph says:

    I have said this before on the blog that where I live I have no problem with neighbours about Catholicism. None are catholics,nor church going at least not on Sundays!
    Even with all the scandals not one person has turned their back or made offensive remarks-I know this to be true because I have a sense of people when they reject religion. People ask me too pray for them f they have any trouble(I often think maybe they could do that too, and maybe they do) I think they see me going to Mass and perhaps Vespers sometime and show alot of respect especially when the Holy Father was here, most were watching it on TV and remarked how wonderful he is.
    I mentioned before that when some go away they bring me back pictures of churches they visited and one brought back a rosary beads from Rome with the Holy Father on it, too many things to mention.I am included in all their family activities,etc.
    I was thinking of moving and the neighbours said they would tie me to the lamp post!
    This is not praising me but them .
    I can say with all honesty that any agravation I have had is from catholics in the past.

  23. mike Horsnall says:

    Yes I would agree, no one’s bothered me much either- except on here which is good practice. Most of my friends are quite happy to have someone to ask about stuff and now everyone knows I’m training they ask me to say grace at their do’s or bless their kids…most of the non catholics I talk to- except the odd aggressive one here and there- are frankly baffled by the Catholic Church and are often pleased to be enlightened about what we believe. I know its not all sweetness and light but every day I thank God for giving me a place in this house of His that has many mansions…and I mean it. I do think it is very important to be up front and direct when asked about things. Perhaps its because I’m and adult convert to Christianity and lived the first 35 years of my life without knowing God or being part of the church but I do feel the closeness, wonder and majesty of Gods
    Spirit is a great thing and to be a christian is to become related to the truth.

  24. st.joseph says:

    I think being married to a non-catholic (Methodist) gave me plenty of experience .
    It was really pleasing to me for nearly all our married he defended the Catholic Church-after doing a lot of research himself, and good priests of course.
    Also realising that everyone in the Church were not perfect.

    • st.joseph says:

      ‘Pass the Word ‘is something that we can do not only by quoting Holy Scripture
      I mentioned a while ago on another post when we were discussing IVF I think.
      But I mentioned at the time that a neighbour had a friend or neice I am not sure which,she could not conceive a baby and spent thousands on IVF.
      I gave my neighbour the web site for the Crighton Method which she got in touch with, and eventually gave birth last year. But the other good news is that she is now pregnant again.
      Also the Good News can be spread about Fertility Awareness.
      I am just learning now more about he Internet and finding out loads of info-that is good news.
      Also this blog-We learn so much from each other-and agree to disagree.
      I will say that how much I admire Mike Horsnall and his vocation not only abroad but to the Diaconate.Something I am sure The Lord calls many men too -and it would be a wonderful asset if many heard the Call .

  25. John Candido says:

    I have been thinking recently about homophobia and racism. We all know about racism. The more we travel back in time, the more comfortably accepted as a truth and visible racism was situated in former societies. Racism has not disappeared and is as much a part of our modern world as it was of former times. While racism was more accepted and explicit in history, depending on the nation-state you were in, it is less accepted today as well as being socially compelled to be more implicit, i.e. hidden within us. And this is where it should be failing its complete eradication. Unfortunately, this will never happen because racism will always be with us. Catastrophes such as the European Holocaust between 1933 and 1945 are stark reminders from history of where inhumane ideologies founded on unbridled nationalism and racism, will inexorably lead us to.

    The other important thing about racism is that it is found in every one of us regardless of how virtuous any one of us is. It is there in different levels from one person to another. Most of us at least have a preference for our own ethnocultural group.

    If I may define my terminology before we get too much further in discussion? Homophobia means, ‘a hatred or fear of homosexuals or homosexuality’, according to the ‘Australian Concise Oxford Dictionary’, 5th edition. It has also been defined as ‘an extreme and irrational aversion to homosexuality and homosexuals’, according to ‘The Concise Oxford Dictionary’, 10th edition, revised.

    Is a similar dynamic or parallel in play here regarding racism and homophobia? Do humans have a similar proclivity for homophobia and heterophobia as they do for racism? Heterophobia is the antonym of homophobia. The word ‘Heterophobia’ is somewhat controversial and not found in all dictionaries. For those who are interested, you can read more about this word here,

    In a similar parallel with racism and speaking in degrees of its occurrence; I believe that homophobia can be found in some if not most heterosexuals and heterophobia can be found in similar levels in homosexuals. I don’t have any proof of this but I have an intuition of this state of affairs as a reasonable hypothesis of these phenomena, and I think that they are very much a part of human and social affairs. What are your thoughts?

  26. mike Horsnall says:

    “Regardless of how virtuous any one of us is”
    Human virtues: firm attitudes, stable dispositions, habitual perfections of intellect and will that govern our actions, order our passions and guide our conduct according to reason and faith making possible, ease, self mastery and joy in leading a morally good life. The virtuous man is he who freely practises the good…
    Now repeat after me:

    I am rarely viruous, we are rarely viruous, he is rarely virtuous, she is rarely virtuous, they are rarely virtuous.
    If you practise this little chant often enough then it may stick and allow of a particle of reality to illuminate. Then it may become crystal clear as to why the human heart is infested with all sorts of hatreds including those John Candido so diligently lists above.
    The reality of our sinful disposition is so blindingly obvious that we seem to miss it somehow. Thus we condemn so easily and act surprised when we find in our midst and in our hearts all sorts of abhorrent desires and attitudes. The mere hint of our unsavoury inner state-as expressed in a paedophile priest or even a poor old inarticulate Archbishop-seems enough to arouse us into a
    frenzy of condemnation and criticism

  27. st.joseph says:

    Thats a strange word Phobia-it can mean anything really.
    I have a phobia toward spiders however I have a little friend who comes to sit by my feet most nights,
    I say hello( I hope I am not at the risk of being sectioned) it just sits there for while and then scurries of to where it came from. I would not dream of hurting it.
    If I see a very very big one I put a glass over it an put it in the garden.
    When I was in the licensed trade we had all sorts of customers.Maybe we didnt agree with their life style but that didn’t mean they were barred-unless of course they were causing trouble or bad language etc.There were all Nationalities, and it was a small town and those with different coloured skin was unusual. We were all one big family and socialised together, and most customers helped the Church financely with Fetes Raffles etc. No bad feelings ,also Homosexuals no problem.
    It it through ignorance to my mind that people are objectional.Live and let live.
    People used to ask if we would put a condom machine in the toilet,my husband not a catholic they thought we should.
    As catholics we have a duty to uphold the Faith even if we fall ourselves!Because we are weak that is not to say we deny it -either we believe it or not.

  28. st.joseph says:

    Am I wrong in thinking that before Jesus came to save us that the union between male and female was a Civil one and it was He who raised it up to a Sacrament.
    Now to my mind it can not be hi-jacked between 2 people of the same sex.
    So as the Church is a Christian way of life,it can not by law be made to impose marriage in Church, Christianity upholds the Civil law with the Registrar present. The same respect should be due to the Church. Does one think?

  29. Iona says:

    St Joseph, I think you are probably right (here I’m going back to the beginning of this discussion, which I’ve only just caught up with) to suggest that the possibility of gay marriage may founder on the question of what would count as consummation.

    There was a suggestion earlier that racism has always been with us. But has it, I wonder? Is it just a form of tribalism (which is certainly alive and well, and contributing to likely problems in Libya and many other parts of the world)? St. Augustine came from north Africa. Was he black? Does anyone know? Does anyone care? Did anyone care at the time he was around?

    Back to St. Joseph, and on a lighter note: I had a similar little friend. Our friendship lasted for three years. Each year the little friend became bigger. By the third year it was so intimidatingly large that I resorted to the glass-and-card and out-into-the-garden method of disposal.

  30. mike Horsnall says:

    I’m fascinated to know how you knew it was the same spider year after year?
    The receptionist where I work is petrified of spiders, I never liked them much because my brother used to put big ones in my bed when I was small but I got over it -I’m still not over keen on big ones though..Mind if you think ours are big you should see the things they have in Hong Kong, I’m surprised they don’t give them jobs hauling stuff around….

  31. Iona says:

    Mike – evening after evening, when I was sitting working in the attic which I was using as a study, it emerged (initially very small and rather endearing), always from under the same bit of skirting-board, and stayed quietly an inch or two away from the wall. If I moved, it went back under the skirting-board. The following year, a visibly similar spider, but larger, did exactly the same thing. The following year, same thing, by now quite intimidatingly large. Only saw it once or twice, then didn’t see it there ever again; but came across a similar or identical spider elsewhere in the house, and evicted it. Never saw it in the attic again. So presumed it was the same one.

    Remind me not to visit Hong Kong.

    On a different subject: 1973 marriage law states that a marriage must be consummated to be valid, and defines consummation as “sexual intercourse, ordinary and complete”. Don’t know how David Cameron will get round that one.

  32. mike Horsnall says:

    We had one in our living room. It only appeared in the autumn and was quite large all the time. It would appear from somewhere behind the telly by the skirting board and make a rapid advance across the room towards me and then dash between my feet and hide under the sofa. It did this for about 2 years by which time I was rather unnerved for,as you say, they do grow. Finally I think I swatted it.
    As you say it will be interesting to see the subject of consumation debated on TV ! I’m afraid they will squirrel a way round it though as the pink vote is probably quite vociferous.I hope someone organises us into lobby groups.

    • st.joseph says:

      Mike , did it rain all day when you swatted the spider?

      Thank you Iona for that info,I thought it was so and hope it will be discussed when it is debatedin Parliament.

  33. John Candido says:

    Having just read one of st.joseph’s past posts about finding a quote from one of Pope Leo XIII’s encyclicals, on the relationship between scripture and science using Google, I have looked up the website and it is an excellent resource for any person interested in Papal documents. It is called ‘Papal Encyclicals Online’.

    For those that are not aware of this magnificent resource, go to and save it to your Favourites folder. It does not disappoint!

  34. John Candido says:

    Further to my previous post; I happened to be catching up with posts that I had not read before and I came across replies to ‘How is your Moral Analysis?’ at It is there that st.joseph states,

    ‘Pope Leo XIII’s encyclical letter, on “On the Study of Holy Scripture,” contains a bit of advice which future scholars inclined to rush into print with theses that cast doubt on the integrity of Sacred Scripture do well to ponder.’

    “We admonish with paternal love all students and ministers of the Church always to approach the Sacred Writings with reverence and piety; for it is impossible to attain to the profitable understanding thereof unless the arrogance of ‘earthly’ science be laid aside and there be excited in the heart the holy desire of that wisdom ‘which is from above.”

    Pope Leo XIII’s encyclical called ‘On the Study of Holy Scripture’ is known in Latin as ‘Providentissimus Deus’, and was promulgated on the 18th November 1893. A direct link to the document on the ‘Papal Encyclicals Online’ website can be accessed here,

    As I said previously, copy to your Favourites folder as it will make a very well used resource for your future reference.

  35. John Candido says:

    Another mega resource is American Jesuit Fr. Felix Just SJ, PhD called ‘Catholic Resources for Bible, Liturgy, Art, and Theology.’ How does one find the time to take all of this great material in? Go to, and also save it to your Favourites folder.

  36. Quentin says:

    SEE JOHN CANDIDO, Oct 30 08:28.
    This comment appears as a new post under the title of Racism, homosexuality & prejudice. it is followed by a transcription of initial comments. This is an important subject and needs a focus on its own. Please make further comments on this subject under the new post. Quentin

  37. st.joseph says:

    Quentin,on reading your first comment Post the Word,I keep thinking about one of the senrences you said.
    You say ‘ Strongly supported by the community,it can become the seed-bed of the intelligent-and well instructed laity who know their creed so well that they can give an account of it
    No problem with that.
    I have some thoughts abuot that and keep thinking about a pastoral letter by The Bishop of Arundel & Brighton as reported in the Catholic Herald 25th November 2009. where in it he said we were not to be ‘fixated’ with issues such as the liturgy an contraception,as this somehow expresse the core of ur faith.
    I wrote to him and asked him how he came to that conclusion-to which he curtly replied quote’
    I can tell you very easily how I came to that conclusion that fixation with single issues such as the language of the liturgy or contraception (artificial or not) does not express the core of our belief.
    This is because these issues are not referred to in the Creed. It is very simple. Unquote.
    I wrote to him and gave him my opinion,which he didn’t reply to.

    This subject keeps bothering me a bit
    I asked my grandson (18) what he thought of the new Text. He said along with my daughter,that it was better as they thought that saying the new one would make them think about it more, my grandson said that he was saying it without really thinking about it before.
    When you mentioned the creed and the Bishop mentioned the Creed did you mean all aspects of our faith. It seemed to me the Bishop meant what we say on Sunday and the rest of our faith is not the ‘core of our belief’.
    This may seem a little muddled, but we have to know what the Church teaches as a whole not only what we say on Sunday.
    I tried to bring up the subject of abortion and contraception on the web- Catholic Voices to read what they say but was not able to get it.
    What do you think he meant.

    • Quentin says:

      st.joseph, my use of the word “creed” is from a quote by Cardinal Newman. I think he meant the Church belief as a whole — and not simply restricted to, say, the Nicene Creed.

      Both you and the bishop have a point. For example we would probably agree that the truth of the Resurrection was more central to Catholic belief than the truth of the teaching about contraception. So it’s important to get things into perspective. Nevertheless, questions on the periphery can often affect us more in our day to day lives and decisions.

      I don’t lose any sleep over the new liturgy; its Latinate awkwardness must just be suffered. What I do object to it is the way in which the translation was grabbed by the Vatican from the English speaking bishops. That is rather serious (but not so serious as the Resurrection) because it goes to the heart of the exercise of authority in the Church. In this regard she has trampled down her own principles.

      • st.joseph says:

        Thank you Quentin, I can see see your point, but the bishop knew what I was saying.
        We are all Catholics in church on a Sunday, we ought to know about the Ressurection from infant school if taught! Or Secondary school!
        We reafirm our faith in the Creed when we say it-we reafirm our resurrection when we abide by it,and spread the Word of God by our life.
        I listen to the Words of Jesus when He said ‘He who believes in me will live-and he who lives will never die!
        If I had wanted to go into a Convent I would have done, and I probably would have been happy, but I am here in the world- but hopefully not of the world, as we live our lives as Catholics, we only have one chance to be here!

  38. mike Horsnall says:

    I can make a guess at it. By saying that liturgy, contraception etc are not at the core of our faith -which is encapsulated by the creed the Bishop probably meant that the central issue for Catholics is the Trinitarian nature of our belief-the rest arises from it and will change with the times.

    • st.joseph says:

      Thank you Mike.
      We are living in those times now!

      • mike Horsnall says:

        Yes indeed we are. Quentin may have a very different view than me on this. But its interesting. I find all the preoccupations and hobby horses that people have here are a little strange too if I’m frank. But this is because I come from a kind of Evangelical background which only ever talked about ‘getting saved’ I can see that the way the church is in the world is akin to how Jesus was during his incarnation-involved with things-and as such it mattes. But for me the central thing is knowing God and following Jesus-that is enough. The Catholic system is well worked out and in a way seems to try to express the scope of the City of God- in other words to show what justice and social issues look like under the rule of God, so I do see both sides of the coin but get a little spooked by the lack of emphasis on credal issues in the Catholic church as I so far understand it.

  39. st.joseph says:

    Mike I understand what you say and thank you for your replys.
    But I would be able to understand such a comment from a Parish priest or Monk in a Monastery.
    Not from a Bishop who has a duty and responsibility to follow the leadership of a Pope.
    I am not saying that priests should not be aware of social issues, they preach the Gospel and explain it to the laity in sermons or should I say homolies.
    It is not the first time I have had negative remarks from bishops on contraception and pro-life issues.
    I wrote to the same bishop in fact to all the bishops-regarding Marriage Care programmes and the contraceptive pill being an early abortion.
    His reply was ‘I do think it is important to keep seperate the issues of abortion and family planning.
    I had to remind him that women were using abortion and abortifacants as a ‘family planning method. Pro-life and Fertility Awareness I’ dont consider to be ‘hobby horses’ of my belief. I take
    seriousley all matters of faith and morals. The whole bang shute as the saying goes I dont pick and choose what suits me.Catholic Voices take it all ,and so should bishops!Not only the Creed on Sunday.

  40. mike Horsnall says:

    Hi St Joseph,

    You are right about ‘the whole bang shute’ as they say and I think the point about ‘taking it’ from the parish priest or a Monk is a good one as the Bishops role is to be very much engaged in the daily affairs of life and following a given patten of teaching……Oh well, perhaps you should ask him what he meant then report back!!

  41. st.joseph says:

    Thank you Mike, that is just the point. I didn’t get a reply, but I sent one and a half A4 letter so I suppose he thought I was’nt worth bothering about. That is the problem ‘no communication’

  42. Iona says:

    Maybe part of the reason we (as Catholics, I mean) seem to spend so much time fretting over issues like contraception, abortion, women priests, is that these issues keep getting pushed at us by non-Catholics. Look at the excitement in the secular press when Pope Benedict made that comment about the possible use of a condom by a male prostitute. You’d think he’d never said anything else in the whole series of interviews, whereas it was just one passing remark.

    It’s true that this doesn’t apply to the time we spend fretting about changes to the liturgy. As far as I’m aware, the secular press / media hasn’t shown much interest in that.

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