Do you feel guilty?

From time to time on this Blog contributors have considered whether a breach of the Church’s teaching on contraception might lead to the acceptance of a wide range of undesirable sexual practices. This argument is based on recent history which shows that, following the broad acceptance of contraception by secular society, there has been a virtual abandonment of any sexual taboos. The counter argument might be that this would have happened anyway, and that it might have been valuable to demonstrate to society that Catholics could use contraception without abandoning their fundamental moral beliefs.

So what are your fundamental moral beliefs with regard to sexuality? Here are some questions for you to answer, but not out loud. Please consider them before you read any further.

1.  If you used pornography for sexual stimulation would you feel ashamed?
2   What percentage of Catholics, do you think, would feel ashamed to do this?

3   If you used contraception would you feel ashamed?
4    What percentage of Catholics, do you think, would feel ashamed to do this?

5     If you had pre-marital sex would you feel ashamed?
6     What percentage of Catholics, do you think,would feel ashamed to do this?

7      If you had extra-marital sex would you feel ashamed?
8       What percentage of Catholics, do you think, would feel ashamed to do this?

Now that you have your private answers please go to Programme Event: “Catholic guilt about sex is a myth” at http://tinyurl.com/bxdg6g9. There you will see the results of a recent survey – together with commentary.

You will notice that the table on this internet page is missing the right hand columns. If you need these, copy and paste the table into a word processor document BUT first make sure that the word processor orientation is landscape.

What is your impression? I must say that I came away with the thought that in fact the general attitude towards sexual morals among Catholics has changed a great deal.
Just take two examples: 3% of the non-religious would feel guilty for using contraception. Catholics report 9%. 48% of the non-religious would feel guilty about extra-marital sex. Catholics report 57%. The results are not identical but the differences are relatively small. If you want to find traditional sexual values you have to look to the Low Churches and Islam to find them.

If this survey was applied again in, say,10 years, do you think that lay Catholic attitudes will have grown closer to secular attitudes, or will there be a recovery of more traditional Catholic attitudes?

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About Quentin

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

70 Responses to Do you feel guilty?

  1. Horace says:

    Perhaps we should have an additional question:-

    * If you realise that you have committed sin, do you feel ashamed?
    * What percentage of Catholics, do you think, feel ashamed?

  2. tim says:

    Well, the first question that comes to my mind is, what percentage of these ‘Catholics’ are Catholic? I expect that’s unfair. I’m conscious often of not feeling particularly guilty about some things that I know to be wrong: I admit them to be wrong, but I prefer to find excuses for having done them. Is that to be classified as ‘feeling guilty’ or not? It would be interesting to compare these figures with corresponding figures for non-sexual sin – lying, for example.
    So, if we (or a high proportion of us) do not feel guilty about sexual sin, why is that? Is it because we do not believe what we are told from the pulpit? Or is it that – for the last few decades – we have heard very little if anything from the pulpit about the subject? Or some combination of the two, or something else and if so, what?

  3. ionzone says:

    Guys, I know this isn’t related but could anyone who feels strongly about keeping the NHS sign this petition? It’s delivered tomorrow.

    https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/page/s/nhs-section-75#petition

    In terms of guilt, guilt is demonised these days. We don’t want guilt, we don;t want to feel ashamed, and we hate anyone who tries to make us a better person through remorse. Guilt is important, though it is equally important to feel guilt about the right things.

    • Quentin says:

      I realise the importance of the issue for which you are asking for petition signatures, but I really would prefer it if the Blog were not used for this kind of request.

  4. Nektarios says:

    Oh dear me, what a subject to go into.
    I hope Quentin, some sensitive souls could be knocked back years in their spiritual life discussing this topic on Guilt.

    For myself, I am a sinner, albeit a sinner but saved by the grace of God and faith in the redepmtive work of Christ my Saviour.
    If any one reading this is getting shockwaves or guilt pangs, take yourself off to Christ , to confession if that is your religious practice and sacrament, spare not a moment, delay not, fear not to confess all before the Lord.
    When I see all of you devout Christians brothers and sisters, oh dear me, I feel so small , for you are all almost Saints. Holy ones, Ones who have been with Jesus.
    But this poor sinner, I am afraid is often full of guilt. If I were to write a book, the title would need to be, `You Won’t Believe This’ so much of a sinner was I, gulty of heinious crimes, guilty of so many sins, I could not look up.
    Then one day I truly heard the Gospel, believed and changed by the grace and mercy of God.
    I am so sensitive to sin now, and cannot stand anything between my Saviour and myelf. Falling down every day, having to confess, have compunction, rise up and keep walking towards My God and my Saviour.
    Let me finish for now with this comical little story from my life archive. This occured about 40 years ago. I was asked to take three young students training for the ministry out on to the streets of Perth and teach them how to preach. I said that is your job!
    Any way went on to the streets of Perth. I told the students, People are interested you your story
    as so much of it is theirs to and it gets attention and even sympathy.
    You go first I said to one, go and tell them how you came to the Lord. `I can’t he said, you go first.
    So I stood forward and told my story with all the gory details of my terrible sinful life and how I came to the Lord. Quite a few folk by this time were standing around listening attentively.

    I then said to those who were standing around, `well folks that is my story, but young xxxxx here
    has his own story to tell you of what great things the Lord has done for him.’
    I had to laugh, when he stood up and said, ” You know, I thought I was a sinner, and sinner I am,
    but I was not half as bad as him, as he pointed at me.”

    • Nektarios says:

      SORRY ABOUT THE ERROR AT THE BEGINNING. IT SHOULD HAVE READ:
      I HOPE QUENTIN, YOU ARE AWARE THAT SOME SENSITIVE SOULS COULD
      BE………..

      • Nektarios says:

        Sorry about all the other typing and grammatical errors, hope it is still readable to you?

  5. ionzone says:

    Sorry Quentin, I was running round everywhere I knew asking people to sign it and I only thought about that after I had posted. I couldn’t edit it so I was basically stuck. It was probab;y dead before anyone saw it anyway.

    I guess it was sort-of appropriate since I now feel really guilty. :/

  6. John Nolan says:

    On television the other day an American lawyer was rabbiting on about how most 18-25 year-olds ‘cheat’ on their boyfriends/girlfriends and that most married couples ‘cheat’ on one another. In the case of the former it is more or less accepted that ‘playing the field’ before settling down is quite legitimate, and even those with fairly strict morals are of the opinion that it would be a mistake to get married unless you knew in advance that you were sexually compatible with your intended partner. Most people of my generation with a middle-class background were not promiscuous – I was at Durham University in the early 1970s when a now famous survey discovered that 90% of female students were virgins when they matriculated and over 60% still were three years later when they graduated. (Durham, with its single-sex colleges, might have been slightly atypical). Yet even Catholics did not regard pre-marital sex as anything more than a minor infringement of the Church’s counsel of perfection, and the same can be said of atrificial contraception. Slight twinge of guilt, perhaps, but no big deal.

    On the other hand, I was somewhat uneasy to hear adultery described as ‘cheating’, a peccadillo of which we are all guilty at one time or another. As late as the 1990s a Tory MP had to resign after admitting adultery with his au-pair, and although this would not happen now, society still seems to have a residual disapproval, because it sees it as an act with consequences for innocent parties rather than an infringement of a higher moral law. By maintaining that a higher moral law exists, the Churches are distancing themselves from modern social trends. To an increasing extent, post-Christian state-imposed morality is less concerned with actions than it is with attitudes, opinions and ideas. Only yesterday a woman writing to a national newspaper advocated that “sexist” remarks (as subjectively defined by anyone who hears and objects to them) should be classified as “hate crimes” and prosecuted. The Canadian Supreme Court has ruled that to criticize homosexual behaviour (as distinct from homosexuals themselves) constitutes “hate speech” in that the group itself (homosexuals) is identified with a particular behaviour, and by attacking the behaviour you are attacking the group; and in a free and democratic society freedom of expression is trumped by “a commitment to equality and respect for group identity”.

    Very worrying.

  7. John Candido says:

    In ten years’ time, the same survey will most likely demonstrate that Catholic attitudes will have grown closer to secular attitudes. Why do I think this will happen? I believe that changes in society to sexual issues have an enormous influence on lay attitudes to sex. It is probably down to the Roman Catholic Church’s negative theological notions about sex, which it has had for centuries.

    I think the public, both Catholic and secular, know this intuitively, and have become aware of the gap between negative notions of sex and their personal experience of sex. This has been vital to informing their attitudes. In other words, they know of and experience a distinct unreality of sex and its contrast with their lived experience. Tortured presentations about the Catholic Church’s teachings on sex will not cut it for modern people.

    I don’t think that modern people are in the slightest bit interested in feeling guilty about sex, when there is absolutely nothing to feel guilty about. They definitely do not appreciate any clergy getting angry and uncomfortable about the subject of sex; either during a sermon or in personal conversations with them. That was part of a bygone era and better left there.

    I have always had this notion, based on what I have read or heard that Catholics feel guilt about sex, without even doing anything major in this regard. Feeling guilt for irrelevancies such as masturbation, artificial contraception and possibly wet dreams, don’t make the slightest bit of sense to secular society.

    Catholics and secularists both value notions of authority and health in mind and body. When they have a nagging suspicion that sexual teaching is too negative, they fairly quickly turn away from its source and determine matters for themselves. This has been the overwhelming experience of Catholic Laity since Pope Paul VI’s Humanae Vitae, which was promulgated in 1968.

    http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/paul_vi/encyclicals/documents/hf_p-vi_enc_25071968_humanae-vitae_en.html#top

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

    • St.Joseph says:

      Humanae Vitae. was not a new teaching of the Church.!
      Just look what has happened in society because it was not listened to.
      The abortion act.- Euthansia etc, Human Life not Sacred , that was the reason it was written. The rot did not set in because of HV,but in spite of it, long before.
      It was written ,because Pope Paul V1 had the vision through the power of the Holy Spirit.
      That was his ‘job’ so to speak!!
      JC you are always complaining that the Church does nothing-so what was wrong with that.
      In case you didn’t know it is not all about the ‘marriage act’-but sex.for its own sake.
      BTW wet dreams are not sinful! It is in the thoughts when one is aware of it, and intentional.I don’t need to spell it out for you.

  8. John Nolan says:

    Yes, John, I take your point, but would ask you to consider the following.

    1. You talk about “modern people” as if we are a thing apart from our ancestors. “We look on past ages with condescension, as a mere preparation for ‘us’ … but what if we’re only an afterglow of ‘them’?”. (JG Farrell)

    2. Sexual morality is as old as morality itself, and far predates Christianity. Even in a hedonistic age like the present, this has an effect. “Modern people” (and there is really no such thing, human nature doesn’t change) do feel guilty about sex. The girl who gets drunk at a party and wakes up in bed with someone she doesn’t love and in the cold light of day doesn’t even fancy, surely feels guilty. She can of course go to the police and allege ‘date-rape’, assuaging her guilt by wrecking his life.

    3. If you glance through the court columns of any newspaper you will find that the only motives for crimes are a) avarice and b) sex. Which is why moralists have a lot to say about both.

    • Nektarios says:

      JC & John Nolan

      I find myself agreeing with both your well written posts.
      It needs saying and reminding ourselves too, that Mankind has passed through many hedonistic periods in the past .
      When this appeared, for that civilization, it marked a civilization in decline, on its way to oblivion. Many civilizations have disappeared entirely.
      I am in no doubt, when the laws of the land, governments and religious start calling
      that which is bad good, then we are as a nation in the West in a state of decline.
      What that means for us spiritually, is even worse if we go the way of the worldly world.

      It is good for brothers in unity to dwell as the Psalmist say, and discussing amicably.
      God bless you both!

    • John Candido says:

      1. The word ‘modern’ can be exchanged for ‘contemporary’ if that will suit your way of thinking about today’s world.

      Hair-splitting is an unfortunate accompaniment of your understanding of history, whenever historical epochs are employed by people as a practical convenience. I think most people reading your posts don’t understand or appreciate being pulled up whenever these distinctions are argued over; and they don’t need to be.

      Past arguments over what is the scientific age and whether using this term is justified because science was practiced by more ancient peoples; disputation over the use of the word ‘mediaeval’, which can be used as an epithet by some people, but for most of us, is a simple acknowledgment of the Middle Ages; and now we are disputing the use and meaning of ‘modern’. Our heads cannot stop spinning!

      I cannot be absolutely certain, but I think that I am beginning to understand why you do this. As a preliminary, I am not employing the word ‘conservative’ as a pejorative notion in my discussion. Conservatives and non-conservatives value history as an available source of perspective and enlightenment for contemporary issues, apart from many other uses for this important discipline. Conservatives tend to place a greater emphasis on history for this purpose, than non-conservatives. This is where your disputation about historical categories comes from.

      When history is divided by others as containing distinctions of before and now, you do so very reluctantly. Why? History, to your way of thinking, is not to be broken up into artificial epochs and eras, even though you use them yourself, but needs to be seen as continuum of one moment to another. One day, week, year, decade, or century, cannot be viewed in isolation; these are viewed by you as intimately connected, and not to be subjected to artificial division. Am I wrong?

      2. People do justifiably feel guilt about sex depending on what they have done, and whether or not they have reflected on what they have done. Marriage is a sacred vow not to be taken lightly by anybody. Leaving divorce aside; poor marriages are a national problem. They are problematical for either party, which is obvious. They also can be a potentially serious problem for any children of the marriage. It is through marriage (or partnering for any secularists reading) that children are raised. Society’s future health and wellbeing springs from how well families raise their children. To emphasise the point; the scourge of child abuse is a great precursor of criminal behaviour. It is in society’s great interests that all future parents be given caution to their great responsibility regarding the raising of their children.

      I don’t know how practical my next suggestion will be in the least. In future it could become a national policy to educate all teenagers on the very best techniques of being parents. Even if they don’t become parents, they could become uncles or aunts, and have a positive influence on their niece or nephew, and their sibling’s family indirectly. The very same parenting techniques can be used for normal interaction between adults at work or in more relaxed surroundings, which emphasises their appositeness.

      A more positive and realistic conceptualisation of sex is one of the Roman Catholic Church’s most pressing and overdue reforms. This reform will not be a sexual free-for-all, but an intelligent theological advancement of the Church’s magisterium on sex. This cannot occur without acknowledging the authority of relevant disciplines such as, medicine, psychiatry, genetics etc. An important part of this theological ‘aggiornamento’ will be a careful examination of the contribution of St. Augustine to the Church’s teaching on sex, and the doctrine of Original Sin.

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

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St._Augustine

      • John Nolan says:

        JC, your head might be spinning, but I can assure you that mine is not. The expression “splitting hairs” suggests that there is no real argument or dichotomy. Yet you are the first to admit that your Weltanschauung is considerably removed from that of the Catholic Church, to the extent that you have found it necessary to secede from her to all practical intents and purposes. Yet you still see fit to hector the Church which you have left because she won’t correspond to your views.

  9. Iona says:

    Given that marriage vows include an undertaking to “forsake all other” (or am I out of date?), people committing adultery might be expected to feel guilty about breaking a solemn promise that they have undertaken, or perhaps about making a solemn promise without really intending to keep it, even if not about the adultery per se. It’s a matter of self-respect: “my word can be relied on”.

    Maybe that’s why marriage itself has become increasingly unpopular. “I didn’t promise anything so I can do as I like”.

    • St.Joseph says:

      Iona .yes you are right.
      Forgetting about adultery for now.
      We are speaking now and discussing this subject with male’s-we have to recognise this.
      What happened to love in all this. Surely love has to be the objective for a sexual relationship. Also what does ‘trying it out first to find out if a couple are compatible in a sexual relationship.-what utter rubbish.!
      And where does God fit into all this.?

  10. Vincent says:

    Let me start with the thought of Adam and Eve. Before they had tasted the fruit they were not ashamed of being naked. After their first sin they recognised their nakedness and covered up. My interpretation is no better than anyone else’s, but as I see it, this was when they felt the first pull of the flesh. They realised the strength of that pull (Freud was to put that pull at the centre of human nature), and they understood that sexual desire was a very very dangerous thing.

    Since then the human race has always been aware of this danger, and all civilisations have their sexual controls – whether this is related to childbearing and families or the damage and cruelty to which lust is inclined. The precise rules have varied but, as CS Lewis said in Mere Christianity, rules were always required to protect social order.

    For the first time in settled society we have achieved an effective separation between sex and childbearing. We could date this to about the mid 20th century, when condoms could be bought at the barber and the pill was about to be spread abroad. We simply don’t know the long term effects of this. But we get some hints from the instability of marriages, and the greater instability of cohabitation. (I sometimes wonder whether homosexuals will become the only group to value marriage – irony!).The distress of children at their parents separation, and the often poor outcome for these children within the successor relationship is well documented. Abortion is often advocated for ‘hard cases’, but in truth for the most part these little lives are taken in the service of lust without consequences. Elsewhere, we get an imbalance of genders as many cultures prefer boy babies to girls. Can you think of any more dangerous situation than a surplus of male young with testosterone up to the gunwales?

    Perhaps we think that good sex education will improve all this. I can tell you about the sex education of the barely pubescent nowadays. It comes over a computer in a bedroom or a telephone in the playground. It is not about good relationships. It is not about love. It is about gross examples of sexual behaviour conveyed as normality. And a recurring keynote is the continuing abuse of women (an abuse magnified by the women being presented as enjoying themselves.).

    I can’t help feeling that a little bit of Adam and Eve’s guilt might not be a bad thing.

  11. Iona says:

    I’ve had another look at Quentin’s reference, and see that “practising Catholics” (and Anglicans) are defined thus:

    Practising Catholics and Anglicans are those say that they ‘currently engage in religious or spiritual practices with other people, for example attending services in a place of worship or elsewhere, or taking part in a more informal group’, and that the group or community with which they are involved is ‘Roman Catholic’ or ‘Anglican’.

    While this no doubt includes “Mass every Sunday and Holy Day of Obligation and confession at least once a year” Catholics, it could easily include people who attend Mass occasionally and confession never, and people who claim to be Catholic while openly dissenting from Church teaching, e.g. members of We Are Church ( a name which always makes me want to retort No You’re Not). This being so, I don’t think it can be concluded that the Church is moving towards secular values; only that some people who consciously associate themselves with the Church are.

    • John Nolan says:

      The Catholic sample consisted of 391 individuals. Did they poll everyone leaving Brompton Oratory after the 11 o’clock Mass? I doubt it.

      • Quentin says:

        John, is your implication that the poll was not reliable because of sample size? It is quite right to question the methodology of a poll which is, in the end, a way of finding a population opinion from a relatively small sample. However YouGov is a respectable organisation which is careful to ensure that their samples do reflect the population section concerned within an acceptable measure of possible error. It is not infallible but I think we can accept it as broadly accurate.

  12. mike Horsnall says:

    The point about the poll is an interesting one though. When we have baptisms in our local church all sorts of people turn up. I tend to view these gatherings as the ‘catholic tribe’ in one of its many local manifestations. In other words’catholic’ people seem rather like Old testament tribes-drawn togethe by ritual and a sharedheritage within which they dwell. Some pitch their tents close to the temple, some at the perimeter of the camp, some have set up close to Sodom some have not.So a poll would probably reveal a whole variety of response depending on which corner of the camp you asked.
    Regarding pre marital sex and adultery I think its very hard to say much at all. This is because motive,age, personal orientation and appetite vary so much. Probably very few people admire a serial adulterer and probably most people can empathise with a whirlwind affair in the course of a humdrum married life. These are human issues which probably transcend the impulse of religosity particularly where the threat of repercussion (e.g stoning, public shaming etc) is not immediate.

    I don’t think it makes any sense to promulgate a view that religious norms are much more than that. By this I mean that when confronted by a complex situation of human weakness-in the heart or the disordering of desires (sin in other words) it doesnt help much to riffle through the bible or humana vitae and pronounce heartily on the issue. Nor even does it help much to preach on about pssible ways of religious life or experience. I do think it is very helpful for practicing Catholics to be very clear about the overarching view of what a human being is-created in the image of God and possessing the innate dignity and the longing for good which this implies- then try to face the world and its problems bearing this picture in mind for themselves and for others. It is however complete folly in my view to set up a distorted religious view of what should or should not be and then to go merrily around applying that personalised view to the situations of others; in our lives, at any given time, what happens is what happens.

    • Horace says:

      I have just come across a rather interesting quotation which seems to me relevant to the discussion.
      “Catholics have minds and wills of their own. But this merely describes the starting point, not the finish line. The long journey to God and toward personal fulfillment requires conforming our minds to truth and our wills to what is good. Our attitude toward the Church should be, more than anything else, one of gratitude rather than criticism.”

      It comes from:- http://www.truthandcharityforum.org/do-catholics-have-minds-and-wills-of-their-own/

      • John Nolan says:

        Well said, Horace. Newman would have concurred.

      • Mike Horsnall says:

        Thanks, Horace, for this link it is very good.

      • John Candido says:

        The quote is fair and good to some extent. However, it would be doing the Church a disservice if it were to pacify and placate thinking about the many crises that the Roman Catholic Church is currently experiencing.

    • St.Joseph says:

      Mike Horsnall.
      So you think we ought not to be discussing the Churches teaching.
      We are aware that we have a free will to do or not to do. However,we ought not to be guilty of agreeing when those who say the church is wrong,otherwise it is being part of their doubts, even though we commit the same sins ourselves-we must recognise the sin.for what it is.
      Some of us realise that we are all sinners and can confess our sins to a priest.Then try not to do the same again.The Sacrament does strengthen ones weakness in time.
      It is not an opt out.

      • Mike Horsnall says:

        St Joseph,

        No, thats not what I said at all, nuanced is a good word-see below.

    • Peter D. Wilson says:

      Mike – “I don’t think it makes any sense to promulgate a view that religious norms are much more than that. ” Forgive me if I’ve misunderstood you, but I think it makes a great deal of sense. In a strongly emotional situation, where the force of reason is at its weakest, it is easy to persuade oneself from principles of general good into a course later seen to have been gravely flawed. A definite command or (more commonly) prohibition may help to avert a serious mistake.

      • Rahner says:

        A” definite command” from whom and why should the command be accepted, presumably only if a compelling case can be made?

      • tim says:

        I think the command would be from someone speaking with authority (and not as the Scribes). Commands are obeyed or refused: and if the authority is a proper one, the burden is on the one commanded to show beyond doubt a good reason for refusal, rather than the other way round.

    • St.Joseph says:

      Mike I did emphasize ‘Church teachings. Even we as sinners in our weakness can fail at times, that does not mean we agree with the sins we do.
      I hope you understand what I meant-and sorry if I misunderstood you.

      • St.Joseph says:

        PS. One of the Thought for the day’ the other week when the person was saying that the church should change its teachings on homosexualty acts as it was making those who do guilty.
        The Church might as well do that with all sin-then we could please ourselves -no need for Confession the or forgiveness or repentince..

      • Mike Horsnall says:

        ST Joseph Yes I think thats it. I spent a very interesting 20 minutes awhile ago explaining to a chap the basics of catholicism as rooted in the dignity of man made in Gods image. I had been asked to explain why it was that:

        “the church is opposed to contraception yet happy for us all to die of Aids!”

        It struck me then that there is a definite need to explain the central tenets of our faith to others-as you say, the teachings of the church. What I mean’t earlier but failed to put across was that it isn’t neccessarily useful for us AMONG OURSELVES to agree our religious standards- and then willy nilly apply that version of how things are to others.It is helpful for me to realise that some of what I adhere to is hopefully Truth, but some of it is simply a way of being in a religious grouping and adopting a religious norm; some of it is simply personal wishful thinking and escapism.

        So rather than go into great detail about sexual morality with this particular chap it seemed very helpful just to sketch in the way that catholic thinking stems from a vision of man as he truly is from our understanding of Gods perspective-rather than telling him all the don’ts without any reasoning as to why. Once we had done that then it was quite obvious that promiscuity probably wouldn’t be top of Gods agenda for the way we should be – I didnt have to labour the point as a commandment. Sorry I didnt explain myself clearly.

    • John Nolan says:

      I think it’s better to accept one’s failings as falling short of the ideal (and not just in relation to the sixth commandment) rather than elevating one’s failings as being a higher truth. I can accept the benefits of modern technology, but when modernity is applied to philosophy or morals it suddenly finds itself on at least a level playing field. Many Victorians believed that the railway train and electric telegraph conveyed a moral and not just a technological superiority; yet there were those who questioned this assumption even then, and the history of the 20th century has surely shattered the Whig view of ‘progress’ which still seems to inform the outlook of our friend John Candido.

  13. John Nolan says:

    Quentin, you are right up to a point, but you and I well know that opinions within the Catholic Church, even in this country, are many and various. ‘Question Time’ on BBCTV selects its audiences not to achieve a random selection of public opinion, but to represent a ‘balance’ of its own devising. No-one has ever asked my opinion, but it would be of little use to researchers as it is too nuanced.

  14. Nektarios says:

    I listened to Moral Maze prog on the BBC last night.
    This may help get the general view of morality of society.

    Just Google in :

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01r0yt8

  15. St.Joseph says:

    John Candido
    Your comment above at 9.49.Is so out of touch with the teachings of the Church .You must read the Catechism of the Catholic Church before you criticize.
    If everyone would rule their life by its teachings, there would not be any reason for you to critisize/
    All you are doing is speaking about all our sins.and blaming it on to Holy Mother Church.
    I was listening to Any Questions on Friday evening 22nd February, on the discussion of the women who has 11 children some teenagers ,I believe who have different fathers and claiming benefits and the Council is building a large house to accomodate them as the two houses they live in are being used for different purpose or modernised.
    The point I am making and that is,one lady said how irresponsible it was to have so many children in those conditions and to be claiming benefits
    To which Johnatin Dimberly asked ‘What if the women concerned was a Catholic and strongly believed the teaching of the Pope what then’?.
    I did see red at that point and sent an e’mail as we were asked to do to the programme that was on the following day Any Answers. No reply just a curt e.mail, that they couldn’t respond to them all.
    Now John tell me is that what Holy Mother Church teaches and how people like yourself are confused.and draw their own conclusions as how they ought to live.??
    Do we follow other people, Popes, Cardinals, Bishops priests, laity when they are living in error.?
    Read the CCC please!
    You really don’t understand do you?

    • John Nolan says:

      St.Joseph, he does understand what the Church teaches, he simply disagrees with it, and that is his prerogative. He will hitch his waggon to any dissenting movement, and will stigmatize anyone who tries to remain faithful as gullible and reactionary. In the 16th century he would have followed Luther, Zwingli or Calvin; however he is sufficiently well-informed to recognize that protestantism lost the intellectual argument four centuries ago. So he, and people like him, would rather that dissent take hold and flourish within the Church herself. However, this would appear to be increasingly unlikely, so he has to talk up so-called ‘crises’ and utter dire warnings that the Church is ‘moribund’, with much insincere wringing of hands. I have his measure, and he knows it. Expect a spluttering attack within the next 24 hours.

  16. Iona says:

    I don’t think he would have followed Zwingli or Calvin, – much too austere.

  17. Nektarios says:

    Fellow Bloggers,

    I see we are talkng round the questions Quentin posed. However I don’t think all this navel gazing
    and so on accomplishes anything.
    What is one to do? First, confession. Prayer, that is true prayer, which leads to true spiritual power.

    I will leave a link at the end of this posting, on True Prayer and True Power, which is a sermon
    that was preached around 1870s on his very subject.
    One so often wants answers to our religious and spiritual issue and problems such as guilt, and those of family, sickness, jobs, retirement, in fact anything.
    C.H. Spurgeon, was called the Prince of Preachers. No Protestant or Catholic axe grinded here.
    No enquiry by another into ones personal life, just straight-forward preaching of spiritual truth and practice.
    I am sure the questions Quentin poses, which equally applies to him as all of us, is answered here. May God bless this too you ans it did me.

  18. John Candido says:

    ‘If everyone would rule their life by its (the Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church or CCC) teachings, there would not be any reason for you to critisize’(sic).

    I promise not to splutter in reply.

    If I were to offer the metaphor of widely differing diets that people follow. Let’s pretend that meat eaters are the conservatives, vegetarians who consume milk, eggs, and possibly some fish are the moderates, and liberals are the vegans, or strict vegetarians. Despite the varied diets between all three classes of people, the meat eaters, ovo-lacto vegetarians, and vegans, they are all members of the human race. Likewise, membership of the Roman Catholic Church is not an exclusive enclave of the orthodox. Do you get it now?

    I have been a very happy member of SecondSight for about a couple of years. I have no intention of retiring. In that time, conservatives such as John Nolan & St.Joseph, cannot for the life of me understand a very simple proposition, which also happens to be an incontrovertible fact. The Roman Catholic Church has, does now, and always will be, composed of conservatives (refer to the above individuals), moderates (such as Quentin de la Bedoyere), and liberals, mongrels such as myself.

    By continually propounding the nonsense that it is only the orthodox that follow truth, and are the most loyal members of the Roman Catholic Church, it is like saying that vegans are the only class of people who are the healthiest eaters. When the orthodox do this, they are displaying either their intolerance or their naiveté, or both.

    When will they get it? Heaven only knows! I am not holding my breath, as I don’t for the life of me see how they ever will. So in the end, it is not I that am confused and intolerant, but my detractors.

    • St.Joseph says:

      JC.
      Only the orthodox follow the truth.Nonsense you say.
      Lots of other religions follow the teachings of the CCC.,maybe more so that many Catholics.
      Do you get it now. Read my post again and think about it deeply , slowly and pray about it for understanding..

    • John Nolan says:

      “When will they get it?” By “they” do you mean the popes? The bishops? The faithful who are baptised into the One Body of Christ, subsisting in the Catholic Church, and who strive (and too often fail) to follow her precepts? And what is it that they don’t get? A mindset which regards othodoxy (Greek for ‘right opinion’) as naive and heterodoxy as virtuous?

      A ‘heterodox Catholic’ is a contradiction in terms. The Canon of the Mass has “et omnibus othodoxis atque catholicae et apostolicae fidei cultoribus”, most recently translated as “and all those who, holding to the truth, hand on the catholic and apostolic faith”. It doesn’t say “and all those who, hoping to arrive at the truth, constantly redefine the catholic and apostolic faith in the light of contemporary experience”, which sums up your position.

      That’s not liberalism, it’s heresy, and the Church cannot and will not espouse it.

      • Vincent says:

        John, I certainly think that the pertinaciously heterodox meet your description. But if you take ‘extra ecclesiam nulla salus’ you will see an example of, I presume, de fide teaching, which has been constantly re-interpreted in the light of evolving understanding. So how do you tell which doctrines may be questioned and which may not (other than looking backwards through history)?

      • John Candido says:

        Well said.

      • Rahner says:

        If the documents of Vat 2 had been written 100 years ago many would have been condemned as heretical and few today, would, for example, interpret Genesis as it would have been interpreted by Catholics in the past.

  19. Nektarios says:

    Each of your arguments are all valid to a point, far be it for me to deter anyone who genuinely seeks and finds God wherever they are set, in whatever mainstream denomination they are to be found.
    It is not a case of redefining, or defining that which is little more than an assertion and a descriptive
    of God or the spiritual life one desires – never the actual.
    As we see, many views, many opinions, are any of them fully reaching the mark of our high calling in Christ Jesus? On the ground I see the the same old arguments still doing the rounds that they have over the last 40 – 50 years. There are modifications to the arguments of course, but essentially they are the same old worn out argument and cliches, and it seems, no nearer to resolving them.
    Hence I left the sermon by C.H.Spurgeon on True Prayer and True Power to help us all resolve
    these issues. I hope you find the time to listen carefully and attentively to this sermon preach in 1860.

    My apologies to Quentin – I did leave just the link, but wordpress presented the pic of C. H. Spurgeon being the YouTube presentation as well. So I am not quite sure what happened there.

    • John Candido says:

      Nektarios,

      If you have a YouTube link as the last item on your post before you post it, it will appear as a graphic item instead of a link to it. You can avoid this by not letting the last link or item on your post be a YouTube link. If it is the only link that you have and it is located last, it is preferable if you had some text after it, or some other non-YouTube link.

      • Nektarios says:

        John Candido
        Many thanks for that, I understand. I think I have fathomed out the problem.
        I copied the link, but the YouTube was still switched on.
        It should have appeared like this:

  20. Nektarios says:

    JC & Fellow bloggers
    My apologies, YouTube was not switched on or clicked on, just the saved link copied, still seems to be doing it.

  21. St.Joseph says:

    Rahner.
    Explain please? Can you be more explicit as to what you mean. Thank you.

  22. John Nolan says:

    Vincent, the expression “extra ecclesiam nulla salus” or alternatively “salus extra ecclesiam non est” is an aphorism attributed to St Cyprian, a third century bishop. Now there is a world of difference between an aphorism and a dogma; the dogma would have had to be defined even if the aphorism had never been uttered. Since the express purpose of Vatican II was to represent unchanging truths in a way more relevant to the modern world, I will settle for the way this dogma was explained in Lumen Gentium, Chapter 2.

    “The Church … is necessary for salvation. Christ, present to us in his Body, which is the Church, is the Mediator and the unique way of salvation. In explicit terms He Himself affirmed the necessity of faith and baptism and thereby affirmed the necessity of the Church, for through baptism as through a door men enter the Church. Whosoever, therefore, knowing that the Catholic Church was made necessary by Christ, would refuse to enter it or to remain in it, could not be saved.”

    The question “how do you tell which doctrines may be questioned and which may not?” isn’t that difficult for a Catholic, since in most cases the teaching is unequivocal. Were I to actively dissent from something which forms part of the deposit of faith as defined by the universal and ordinary magisterium, I would in all honesty have to leave the Church and accept the consequences.

    • Rahner says:

      The VAT 2 interpretation of “extra ecclesiam nulla salus” etc is not an interpretation that would have been accepted by the church throughout most of its history.

    • Vincent says:

      John. I could hardly disagree with Lumen Gentium’s vacuous interpretation: “Whosoever, therefore, knowing that the Catholic Church was made necessary by Christ, would refuse to enter it or to remain in it, could not be saved.” Of course if you recognise that the Church is necessary then you must accept it as necessary or defy your conscience. Similarly if I agree with the necessity that the moon is made out of green cheese I must accept that too.

      Now how about the Fourth Lateran Council, Boniface VIII, Eugene IV, Gregory the Great. Innocent III etc etc? The greatest latitude that these and others might have allowed is that an unbaptised martyr, or someone pursuing a positive intention to be baptised would be allowed into Heaven. And this was still being taught when I received my Catholic education several decades ago. You would need to have a very bizarre approach to history if you think you would have got away with the Vatican II interpretation at some earlier time.

      Of course the Church gets a better and better understanding of her own truths, just as Christ promised. But in order to get to a better understanding there has to be someone to argue that the current formulation need to be re-examined.

      • St.Joseph says:

        Wasn’t Vatican 2 a Pastoral Council not Doctrinal?

      • John Nolan says:

        Vincent, the ‘vacuous’ (as you put it – I wouldn’t be quite so damning) language of Lumen Gentium was as much of its time as the more robust language of previous popes and councils. Such statements need to be seen in context. LG was trying to avoid using terms like ‘inculpable’ and ‘invincible’ ignorance, but these concepts can be inferred, and we’re not that far removed from Pius IX’s ‘Quanto conficiamur moerore’ of 1863.

        Sixty years ago Father Feeney argued for a more exclusive interpretation. He was excommunicated by Pius XII and rehabilitated by Paul VI in 1972.

  23. claret says:

    Perhaps the sight of all those Cardinals going into Conclave with not one female among them and less than a handful of black cardinals and nearly all 115 of them looking old and weary should be enough evidence of the need for change.

    • St.Joseph says:

      Claret, would would a female pope then?

      • St.Joseph says:

        Claret-above meant to say ‘would you ‘like’ a female pope then?

        Pope John XX111 in hi s inaugural address to the Council fathers explained quite clearly that the purpose of the Vatican Council was most certainly not to change doctrine, which, as he emphasized, is unchangeable, but rather to enunciate the eternal truth of the Faith to the modern world. This is quite clearly brought out by his address ” This certain and unchangeable doctrine, to which faithful obedience is due has to be explored and presented in a way that is demanded in our times. The deposit of faith which consists of the truths contained in sacred doctrine, is one thing; the manner of presentation, always and however with the same meaning and signification,is something else.”
        We have been confused by “experts,who have certainly increased and multiplied in this respect.Experts have produced experts, who in turn have produced more experts and ‘working parties’ and “committees” to re-organise and reassess and reconstitute and make things more “meaningful” and be more “committed” which in turn was supposedly to be in the spirit of Vatican 11. As the NPC in 1979.!!!!
        The Vatican Council has seen a change in trivialities rather than a true renewal and proclamation of the perennial truth of the Gospel.
        The supernatural sense of faith does not consist solely or necessarily in the opinions of the faithful. Following Christ the Church seeks the truth which is not always the same as the majority opinion.
        I would rather see what I see voting for the next Pope than a load of people speaking in ‘fork tongues’

    • John Nolan says:

      Claret, we could always go back to the days when 19-year-old illegitimate sons of popes were created cardinals without being in Holy Orders. This might even allow women into the College, since ordination would not be a prerequisite. Lucrezia Borgia ran the Vatican in her father’s absence – there is a picture of her sitting on the papal throne with a friar kissing her foot. I don’t imagine any of your proposed cardinalesses would be nearly as glamorous, though; they’d probably all look like Margaret Farley.

    • Vincent says:

      I have difficulties with “invincible ignorance”. Does it mean no more than: I didn’t believe therefore I must have been invincibly ignorant? Does it mean that I am a hottentot who never heard the Christian message so I was ignorant — or any stage in between?

      I don’t think we can escape the historical conclusion that for most of the Church’s existence her authority took a hard and literal line — only granting indulgence in very exceptional cases, and that nowadays, although she believes that salvation comes through the Church, it is available through various immediate channels, including ‘when I was hungry you gave me to eat’ etc.

      I am with the second version but that means that I disagree with the earlier version despite the authority of the figures who taught it. So one way that the Church will make progress is by groups or individuals challenging its established teaching. Of course this must be done with care, or as I hope you and I would put it, with good manners.

      • St.Joseph says:

        God Bless our Pope.

      • St.Joseph says:

        Vincent.
        I am not too sure what you mean about individuals challenging its established teaching.
        We are going around in circles here,and we must remember that most catholic’s agree with the Church’s teachings, but however are unable to always live by them,as those in the Scripture said ‘how can we live by this’,and then walked away. Jesus did not say OK then I will change things so you can live by them. No HE died for us so that we would be able to receive the Grace to understand,and ask for forgiveness humbly to accept what we can not change .
        What interests me most and that is What is it in the Churches teachings that you can not accept?-we can only come to some discussion if we can speak about these things and not keep on muddying the water with arguments about the position of the authority in the Vatican. Lets get down to the nitty gritty as to what is really a problem with us.
        Starting with you as you seem to want the changes in its established teachings.
        Then we can discuss things maturely with good manners.

  24. John Nolan says:

    The problem is, once you start challenging (ie openly dissenting from, as opposed to simply disregarding or disobeying) the Church’s established teachings, you are in effect saying that the Church is teaching error rather than truth, which calls into question her authority to teach anything at all. The logic then dictates (as with Luther) that you leave the Church.

    • John Candido says:

      Both you and St.Joseph don’t get it. I am afraid that there is little that anyone can do for the both of you.

      • St.Joseph says:

        John Nolan you and I had better watch our backs and be prepared to meet our Doom!
        JC has spoken.!!

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