Reformation or deformation?

If the Christian is a restorationist, a legalist, if he wants everything clear and safe, then he will find nothing. Tradition and memory of the past must help us to have the courage to open up new areas to God. Those who today always look for disciplinarian solutions, those who long for an exaggerated doctrinal ‘security,’ those who stubbornly try to recover a past that no longer exists – they have a static and inward-directed view of things. In this way, faith becomes an ideology among other ideologies. I have a dogmatic certainty: God is in every person’s life. (Pope Francis)

A week or two back I asked for some suggestions of points from Pope Francis which it might be valuable to discuss. John Candido has proposed the passage above, which is an interesting choice. Here I will confine myself to my own, rather mixed, reactions to the issues raised.

I am a born Catholic with 10 years of education under the Jesuits. My first public Catholic activity was to present Catholic belief at Speakers’ Corner, and in Leicester Square, under the auspices of the Catholic Evidence Guild. I already welcomed the certainties of the Church – so different from the shifting slackness of the Church of England. But I can promise you that defending the faith on the street corner strengthens those certainties to a great degree. I recall assuming that most Protestants were bound for Hell because they had ample opportunity to accept the limpid truths that I, and others, was patiently explaining to them.

I found myself at odds with my father, who was the then editor of the Catholic Herald. He was a champion of the role of the laity in the Church and a fervent promoter of Ecumenism, long before it was fashionable. He was at continual loggerheads with the bishops who were a threat to the very existence of the newspaper. His position would look very moderate now, since the Church has gone well beyond his ambitions for it at that time.

It is sixty years since then, and throughout that time I have been conscious of a tension between my original views and my father’s views – or rather his views on reform. We do not exorcise admired parents so easily!

If I am in a state of grace I am heavenbound: if I am out of a state of grace I face damnation for all eternity. Sexual sins are always grave matter. The existence of God is certain for those who look. The smallest baby is defiled by Original Sin. If I follow the Church obediently in all things I shan’t go wrong. The list continues and is long.

But the other side of me rejects such cast iron positions. I know good Catholics and bad Catholics; I know good atheists and bad atheists. I know enough about the history of dogma to know that the Church has often been wrong and has had to change. I know that the Church has often institutionalised wickedness of various kinds. I don’t even like a God who deals out perpetual torture so easily. Again the long list continues – but perhaps you get the idea.

You may understand how I welcome the advent of Pope Francis with a hallelujah – at last the Church is going to approach what Christ wanted to be. And you may also understand that I am afraid of the Church becoming wishy washy (like those Protestants). I am afraid of subjectivism rather than objective truths. I do not want to be in the Church of Good Intentions.

You may say, and with good argument, that much of this is simply illogical, and certainly it is inconsistent. But I write of feelings, fears and intuitions. I could dispose of these tensions no doubt in the ruthless light of cold reason. But would it solve my feelings?

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About Quentin

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

89 Responses to Reformation or deformation?

  1. ionzone says:

    You know, I didn’t actually think that anyone except the Jehovah’s Witnesses went round saying everyone except about a thousand of them was going to hell. If every denomination did that it would be pretty pot luck. Fortunately, everything I have read on the matter from the Bible and the Catholic Church says that it isn’t a matter of denominations, or even faith, it is a matter of being a good person.

  2. Peter D. Wilson says:

    Quentin – If I have understood you correctly, I don’t think your concerns are at all illogical. It is perfectly possible that in moving from the rule of law to the rule of love we might underplay commands or prohibitions that we ought to take more seriously, and in fact I am aware of instances where (in my view) it is already happening, at least among individuals.

    The tensions of which you write are probably salutary. May the Lord preserve us from those who know they are right! (Infallible declarations excepted, of course.)

    • St.Joseph says:

      Quentin I don’t think I am many years younger than you, but I don’t remember the Church that you speak about in your younger day.

      I have listened to a wonderful homily by a young priest at today’s Holy Mass on EWTN.at 1pm today, repeated at 6pm which I am recording, it will be repeated at 11.0 tonight
      on 589 freeview SKY. He speaks of the Saints whose Feast days are celebrated this Month, up to St Ignatius of Antioch Bishop and Martyr,today Their lives in Christ ‘in love’ He says it says it fluently, that’s the Church I belong too and recognise..
      Perhaps your Jesuit teachers spoke like that, my grandmother and mother taught me..
      I knew nothing about doctrine only the New Testament and Holy Mass.. not even the OT.

    • JohnL says:

      Preserve us indeed, Peter – someone said recently that one of the good things about being wrong was the joy it brought to others…

      • St.Joseph says:

        John L I heard that saying differently
        ;’The joy of being right is when someone can not prove you wrong’
        I wonder how The Lord would see it!

  3. twr57 says:

    Ionzone, it isn’t a matter of being a good person. I tend to think I am a good person – I fast twice in the year, I give a certain amount to charity – I feel considerable sympathy with that Pharisee and the Prodigal Son’s elder brother. Obviously this won’t do – I am not to judge myself (or others), God will judge me and my pride. We are all sinners. We have continually to repent. God died for sinners. We have to bring that message to all. God will deal in His own way – lovingly and justly – with all (whether we get the message to them or fail to).

    None of this need mean change in any of the Church’s teaching. Pope Francis takes the Church’s teaching for granted (and so is widely misunderstood by the world, who don’t). But he is coming at things from a different angle. It is not comfortable for legalists like me – but just what we need – and not us only. We may see why the Pope took the name he did – St Francis also made the Church feel very uncomfortable.

  4. John Thomas says:

    “… good Catholics and bad Catholics; I know good atheists and bad atheists.” What is a “good”/”bad” Catholic/atheist, in your thinking, Quentin, exactly? (I’m just curious). Worse than the Church of Good Intentions is the (Anglican-style) Church Compliant (ie. compliant with purely-this-worldly values and concerns).

  5. John Nolan says:

    Pope Francis is an interesting contrast to his predecessor. Of course popes have very little “wriggle room” when it comes to dogma and doctrine, but differences in style and personality are what people notice. Unlike his predecessor, Benedict was not by nature authoritarian (the Rottweiler image which both conservatives and liberals loved to peddle, albeit from opposite angles, was always absurdly wide of the mark). Francis is less of a scholar, and his intellect is less subtle; furthermore he admits that as a Jesuit superior he was authoritarian, and reproaches himself for this. The last thing he wants is to be an absolute monarch. He deplores the sort of Ultramontanism which causes people to hang on every word the pope speaks and trust the Vatican to be always right.

    I strongly suspect that along with Curial reform we shall see a measure of decentralization (which, as Archbishop Mueller has hinted, will not involve enhancing the independence of national Episcopal Conferences and the power of their bureaucracies). Individual bishops need to be given more responsibility to run their dioceses, working with the Holy See rather than for it. In the present climate this would probably benefit ‘traditionalists’ more than ‘progressives’ as it makes for continuity rather than centrally-imposed radical change.

    • St.Joseph says:

      John Nolan.
      Perhaps you can tell me why the Churches in the UK said it was Vatican 2 that said the Churches had to be re-ordered. also bringing in the other changes which upset many.
      Was it not down to the Bishops and local priest? Whose only excuse was Vatican 2!.
      Although the Vatican did nothing to stop the upset it caused to many and also caused many to lapse.
      If the relationship with the Church is lost,which happened-people lose faith.
      Once the grandparents and parents become disillusioned so do the rest of the family.

  6. St.Joseph says:

    Quentin.
    ‘There are no public comments’ on my computer-is it mine or everyone’s-did I press a wrong button and delete it.I found it useful.

    • Quentin says:

      St.Joseph, your computer seems to live a mysterious life of its own.

      • St.Joseph says:

        Quentin.
        I don’t think I did anything different ,just ‘sleep in the day and shut down at night’ it has only happened with this new comment.under ‘Recent Comments
        I keep asking Word Press to send me an e.mail but they don’t do so!
        Maybe I will shut it down and see-although it had a good rest last night.
        Thank you anyway.

        .

    • John Nolan says:

      No, it’s not your computer, St. Joseph; the same message came up on mine. In answer to your question, the writer who did the most research into what actually happened in that febrile decade 1964-1973 was the late Michael Davies. His three books on the Liturgical Revolution earned the approval of Cardinal Ratzinger and are essential reading for anyone interested. The fact that he (Davies) strongly disapproved of what happened should not put you off; Sir Ian Kershaw wrote a definitive and balanced biography of Hitler, while making it clear from the outset he strongly disapproved of the subject of his books.

      Dr Joseph Shaw has written a number of articles recently that throw more light on this pontificate than the euphoria of the liberals or the angst of the conservatives. He makes the valid point that traditionalist Catholics (for want of a better term) are neither Ultramontanists nor legal positivists. If you go to the LMS website and click on ‘chairman’s blog’ you can read them.

      A lot of problems with interpreting Pope Francis (apart from the obvious fact that he talks too much and doesn’t always seem to consider how his throwaway remarks might be read) is that some terms he uses have a linguistic and cultural connotation which are unfamiliar. He uses the term ‘restorationist’ pejoratively. Yet Pius X’s motto for his papacy was “to restore all things in Christ” (instaurare omnia in Christo) and in English ‘to restore’ usually has a positive meaning – a painting or a building is restored in order to bring back its original beauty.

      Pope Francis doesn’t want to be considered as a supreme lawgiver whose every word has to be treated as definitive. Pius XII used to give his opinions on scientific matters which he had read up about, but no-one suggested even then that they were in any way magisterial or required (as Vatican II was later to say) religious submission of intellect and will.

      • Vincent says:

        I suspect he wouldn’t mind too much about his ‘throwaway’ comments. He is not expecting them to be analysed and kept as jewels. He is teaching us to start doing a bit of thinking for ourselves. We are to be a Church of dialogue and discovery not a Church of dumb recipients. We’ll get used to it,

      • St.Joseph says:

        John Nolan
        Thank you for your reply, I am enjoying the LMS web site.Why did I not think of that before.
        My husband and I were members of LMS for years, but when he died I gave up subscription to many things.

    • Singalong says:

      The same message is on my computer, and was there yesterday.

  7. St.Joseph says:

    Vincent.
    Anything in particular-just out of interest?

    • Vincent says:

      My main thought is that the atmosphere of his comments is very informal. While of course he is saying what he thinks, he gives the impression that he wants to start a dialogue rather than lay down an instruction. He has spoken about a more open Church in which he expects and values discussion, even disagreement. And this includes you and me. I would like to think that, if his eye fell on this blog, he would feel that a group of Catholics sharing their experiences and trying to develop their understanding would be just what the doctor ordered. But he would be disappointed if we did not put our understanding into Christian action.
      Does anyone share my impression?

      • Peter D. Wilson says:

        Vincent – Yes.

      • St.Joseph says:

        Vincent.
        Yes maybe he would agree with discussion on a blog.
        You say that he would be disappointed if we did not put our understanding into Christian action.
        I am not sure how he would want us to do that, are you or anyone else? As the subjects are so varied..

      • Vincent says:

        I don’t think that the connection is always direct or obvious. But just as an example, think of the last few posts. Russel on evolution increased our knowledge of the process of God’s creation, leading us towards a greater respect for it. The Poor We Have Always gives us Pope Francis’s idea of a central Christian mission, and extends our idea of who the poor we encounter may be. Two Into One Won’t Go asks us to deepen our understanding the Incarnation, and the way we personify the Incarnation through our Christian lives. Do As You Would be Done By, in looking at true altruism, helps us to understand how God is present in our human acts (another ‘Francis’ theme).

        That seems to be a good start!

      • John Candido says:

        Absolutely.

  8. St.Joseph says:

    I have the Recent Comments back.
    Thank you Quentin if you did it!

  9. Gerry says:

    Pope Francis. What a wonderful man! And how surprising that those conservative looking cardinals picked him, and nearly picked him the time before. There is more going on in the upper reaches of the Church than I ever guessed.

    I read somewhere a quote from Karl Rahner. I’m unsure of the exact words, but it was something like: “The three phases of the Church are Jesus to Paul, Paul to Vatican II, and from Vatican II onwards.”

    I wonder if this mean that the Church from Paul to Vatican II was far from being the Church that our Lord meant us to develop. It was certainly a Church which needed to change substantially, if it was to develop the teachings of Jesus, though we all remember there were many good things in that Church of Paul to Vatican II.

    • St.Joseph says:

      Vincent.
      Very good for a start,any more?.

    • St.Joseph says:

      Gerry.
      We must remember the Saints and Martyrs from Jesus to Vatican 2. Those who died for the faith or we would not have come this far. We live now by the blood of the Martyrs.
      Lest we forget.

      • milliganp says:

        Many of those who disagree with the Second Vatican Council posit that the Martyr’s died for the Latin Mass whereas they died for the supremacy of the Pope and the unity of the Church. Pope Francis and the post Vatican II church deserve the same loyalty from us that was shown by them.

      • St.Joseph says:

        milliganp’
        If abortion had been legal in the Reformation time we would have called them Martyrs , Now ‘the unborn are the martyrs.We may not be dying for the supremacy of the Pope now, however, many suffered under the’ misinterpretation’ of Vat 2.and I mean really suffered from heart break. Not me by the way but people I know..
        I don’t see anyone not supporting Pope Francis!
        There is more unity in the pro-life supporters than ever..
        The Holy Bible is well distributed for people to read about Christianity-more people know about Jesus than ever.It is not all about Vatican 2 .

  10. John Candido says:

    I think that Pope Francis is trying to create a thinking Church, which treats others with mutual respect based on genuine dialogue. I have read of his desire to create a more horizontal church, which of course entails eschewing clericalism and the ongoing reform of the curia. Francis intensely dislikes clericalism based on past quotes of his. You can sum up Pope Francis’ ethos as one of bringing maturity and tolerance to all Church members, despite the theological differences between moderates, liberals and conservatives.

    Francis is no fool. When he sees that reform is required in some specific area of the Church’s administration, he has consulted others and instituted outside persons if need be, in order to hold a proper review. He will only act after reading and digesting a final report.

    That was the good news about Francis; now for the bad news. According to the recently laicised and excommunicated Australian priest, Fr. Greg Reynolds,

    ‘I firmly believe in the Primacy of Conscience and that loyal dissent is an important part of any healthy organization’.

    There is an obvious contradiction between what Francis has said about creating a more tolerant, thinking Catholic Church, based on dialogue and mutual respect, and the laicisation and excommunication of Fr. Greg Reynolds, for his support of gay marriage and women priests. I totally support gay marriage and women priests. I want to see both of these things included in the Catholic Church as normal matters of practice.

    As I support gay marriage and women priests, I, along with Reynolds and a multitude of other Catholics, would like to ask Francis how can he support mutual dialogue, maturity and independent thinking for the Church on the one hand, and the laicisation and excommunication of Reynolds on the other? Along with millions of Catholics, I am a supporter of the freedom and inviolacy of the human conscience, based on freedom of inquiry and wide consultation.

    It is simply impossible to reconcile the treatment of Reynolds and the tolerance of a wide span of theological thinking. How on earth can this decision be acceptable in the light of the long and true tradition of the Church on the Primacy of Conscience and loyal dissent? It beggars belief! The CDF and Francis are to be excoriated for arriving at this decision. If the CDF and Francis want an adult environment of mutual respect, they are going a step too far in treating Reynolds in this fashion.

    As Francis has said,

    ‘If the Christian is a restorationist, a legalist, if he wants everything clear and safe, then he will find nothing. Tradition and memory of the past must help us to have the courage to open up new areas to God. Those who today always look for disciplinarian solutions, those who long for an exaggerated doctrinal ‘security,’ those who stubbornly try to recover a past that no longer exists – they have a static and inward-directed view of things. In this way, faith becomes an ideology among other ideologies. I have a dogmatic certainty: God is in every person’s life.’

    Disciplining Fr. Greg Reynolds after saying the former is completely contradictory. Francis said,

    ‘…the past must help us to have the courage to open up new areas to God.’

    Oh really? Francis may be no fool, but he does not fool me.

    • RAHNER says:

      I’m completely mystified why you spend so much time banging on and on about some Australian crackpot….

    • St.Joseph says:

      John Candido.
      Of course you are right to hold an opinion, one can be admired for standing up for their beliefs.
      How ever so can those who stand up for the Truth.
      St Francis knows where his responsibilities lie.That is why he has been chosen to be Pope and not someone with your convictions.

      In any case you are picking and choosing-in the things that you believe to be a matter of conscience.So do the mother who abort their babies,who don’t believe it is a human . They seem to believe they have a right to -as it is their body.
      Marriage is a Sacrament between a male and a female, procreation comes through their relationship not between same sex, believing that they can pro-create any way they like.
      The word pro-create is meant to mean with God.
      As we believe and not only as Christians.

    • Peter D. Wilson says:

      John Candido – I can understand your anger at what you see as a grave injustice to Fr. Reynolds. I know nothing of the case beyond what has been written on this blog, but gather that his conduct and opinions had gone so far beyond “loyal dissent” that to leave him in a position of priestly authority would be equivalent to leaving a diagnosed cancer untreated.

      For all I know there may be grounds for criticising the procedure adopted, but they don’t affect the substantive issue of his directly opposing Church teaching on an important matter.

      • Vincent says:

        All this is true. But the question of procedure has its own importance. In Western society we have thought it crucial that, not only should justice be done, it must be seen to be done. Only then can we be confident that authority is not overreaching itself as, given human nature, it is inclined to do.

        I am not suggesting that some sort of public court system should be set up for ecclesiastical matters, but certain basics should be observed. An accused must knows with what he is charged. He must be given the opportunity to hear, and question, the evidence against him. He must be able to submit his defence (in some cases with expert assistance). Authority must give explicit reason for the decision that is taken. In grave cases there must be an opportunity to appeal. The whole process must be open to public scrutiny.

        The result in the Reynolds case may be the same. But that’s not the point. The methodology currently employed seems to have descended directly from medieval procedures which flew in the face of human rights then, and continues to fly in the face of human rights now. Apart from the intrinsic injustice, it is a cause for scandal. And scandal is not something which we are allowed to treat lightly.

      • John Candido says:

        Vincent, that was an absolutely wonderful reply. I couldn’t have said it better myself. You have covered every substantive point impeccably.

  11. Singalong says:

    I too do not think Pope Francis is going to change any fundamental beliefs,but I am personally very heartened by his attempts to change some of the perceived emphasis of the Church`s teachings, and widen the scope of the Church`s perceived concerns. We need to show all this to the world, to let our light shine before men. I like his style. Our Lord spoke in parables and sometimes in short statements which which were not always clear to His followers. He also lived frugally and compared St. John the Baptist with those who live comfortably in palaces. I hope Pope Francis will succeed in what he is trying to do, and I find it very disturbing to read so much criticism of him in some quarters for such things as not wearing red shoes or not favouring pomp and ceremony.

    • St.Joseph says:

      Singalong.
      I am not too sure by what you mean by Pope Francis’s attempts to change some of the perceived emphasis of the Church’s teaching. and widen the scope of the Church’s perceived concerns..
      It is not a case of either, it is a case of all-and we ought not to make a distinction between them. That was my concern when I heard his statements. Which is obvious by your comment that he did just that and caused a great deal of concern not only to Catholics’
      Prudence is a Cardinal Virtue.
      I agree with your comment about his ‘red shoes’.Although as far as the pomp and ceremony is concerned, it is not considered as pomp and ceremony by those including myself who believe Holy Mass ought to be of the dignity that we ought to believe in.!
      There has been too much slap dash in the past!I hate to describe Holy Mass as that-it isn’t, so therefore ought to be celebrated as it is a Sacrifice. Worship given to God alone.

      • St.Joseph says:

        Singalong.
        I don’t believe that the Holy Father will bring those who live in their big Mansions down to earth. They need to be converted first.
        Those who live in big Mansions are not all atheists-we don’t know what they do with there excess money!

      • Singalong says:

        St. Joseph, I completely agree with you that all aspects of the Church`s teaching and work are important, and I am making no distinctions, but I do think that many people hear and see far more about matters related to sex for instance, marriage, contraception, abortion, child abuse, than about our equally important work and concern for justice, and for the poor and disadvantaged, and our worship of God, and ways of living a truly spiritual life. I think it is wonderful that Pope Francis is trying so successfully, in such a down to earth way, to publicise the whole mission of the Church, and the ways in which it affects all aspects of life. Let your light shine before men.

        The pomp and ceremony I am referring to is that concerned with daily living, and the government of the Church, and not about the celebration of the Mass and the Liturgy which I certainly agree should be done with all due reverence and dignity.

  12. St.Joseph says:

    Singalong.
    Thank you for your reply.
    Yes I am sure that people hear what they want to, and I am not saying that he need not speak about the poor and disadvantaged,I still believe it was not necessary for him to cause a controversy of thoughts.
    What the Catholic Church does is well known for Her help for the poor-he would have been more successful in his comments if he had not mentioned abortion ,contraceptive and Gays. in the manner he did. There is nothing poorer than the unborn. Man causes all the poor countries to exist with wars and greed.And we will always have them with us,but we don’t have the child that is not given a chance to be poor. .
    As I said Prudence is a Virtue.
    I do understand what you are saying.But we don’t know who is is in Heaven that could have been helping the poor on earth. We pray that their prayers will be with us in our efforts to change the Law.Who else is going to do it for those souls and the future ones.
    ‘Silent no more’ is the pro-life motto. The Holy Father need not say anything if he is worried,
    We know Gods Laws and our duties.

    • Quentin says:

      St. Joseph, I do not think you have to worry whether or not Pope Francis clearly condemns abortion. Take a look at this brief piece: http://www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/1303991.htm

      • St.Joseph says:

        Quentin.
        Thank you,.
        I know how the Holy Father feels about the unborn-that is not the point I was making.
        Perhaps his talk to the Catholic doctors may change the Law, however I have my doubts!!
        It is not only the ‘poor and young girls’ who are disadvantaged and having abortions.
        It is a big money business with those who live in a worldly world..Those babies are equally important in Gods eyes as their parents souls too.
        It has to be the Law that changes. Back street abortions wont be any worse than now-as you know the Law does not make things right only clears their conscience.
        So how we change hearts is really the ‘clergy’s’ responsibility as well.!
        All denominations!!

  13. Vincent says:

    “All power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Everyone know this quotation, and many know that it was written by Lord Acton in the context of the Reformation Popes. It points up one great temptation to which the Church is always prone.

    The Church knows that it was founded by God, and was given authority by God to teach doctrine and morals. The Pope and the Church have supernatural assurance that under certain conditions it can bind through infallible teaching. And it is guaranteed to survive until the end of the world.
    It is no surprise therefore that the Church is likely to see itself as very grand and important. It can become a law unto itself, and often feel free to behave in ways which good men would, and do, recognise as unjust.

    It is also exceedingly reluctant to accept that it may have made very large mistakes throughout its history but, because of its grandeur it is reluctant to admit them. Indeed when it has to change it goes to some lengths to argue that it actually has not changed at all – and has merely built further on its past.

    It imposes considerable discipline which binds its officials. Everyone who holds office must swear an oath that he or she will be bound by the Church’s teachings – not just the infallible ones but all her firm teachings, including those which have not been proposed definitively. So when we discuss some questionable matter with a Church official we do nor know whether the official is speaking his own mind or simply keeping his oath.

    Not surprisingly those who rise through the Church’s hierarchy are unlikely to do so if they are known to hold awkward views. This ensures that the superbity of the Church continues.
    I think that Pope Francis, while not wishing to deny any of the Church’s God-given characteristics, is leading the Church to be truly operating as a ministry of service, truly acknowledging that it is open to sinfulness and error, and truly acts as a community of love which gives equal status from the bishop in his castle to the poor man at his gate. He has a hard task ahead!

  14. Nektarios says:

    Fellow Bloggers

    It seems to me, what we are really discussing here are issues thrown up `by change’.
    Such is this life, what is one to do?
    We are changing all the time. The child we were, apart from recorded memories, no longer exists.
    It changed into a young boy or girl, then changed again into a youth and later an adult. We will change again when we put off this mortal coil, returning to that which does not change.

    The issues of this life will continually change, theologies will change, moralities will change, philosophy changes, ideas change and so on, so it seems to me that we spend our time attached to that which is in flux all the time, with little time spent on that which does not change in us. We are human beings made in the image of God; children Of the Most High God, made in His image and like Him. We have an eternal, unchanging existence, but spend our time living and squabbling like cats and dogs.
    Knowing about God is not the same as truly knowing the unchanging God. For that requires all – all your mind,all your heart and soul, all your love. Perhaps then, one would not be so attached
    to the things of this perishable flesh or its passions and impure desires. Focused on those unchanging aspects to our being, we would have that divine intelligence as opposed to ignorance, holiness instead of being held captive by our earthy desires; have that divine understanding of all things necessary for us while we are here.
    Yes, changes we all have to encounter, but how we deal with these changes is determined by whether we dwell in that Eternal God, or in our petty little minds attached to our bodies giving ones attention to that and being bombarded by devilish weapons of mass distraction.

    • St.Joseph says:

      Nektarios.
      I am not too sure of the point you are making..
      Perhaps can you make it a little clearer so that I can understand what you mean?

      • Nektarios says:

        St. Joseph
        Just following the trend of the discussion and points raised. It struck me they are all
        issue that are subject to change in this world. The thrust of my posting is- we need to live above it to overcome it – simple enough.
        And thank you and fellow bloggers for your continuing prayers for me. Bless you!

  15. St.Joseph says:

    Nektarios.
    Thank you for your reply.
    We will keep continuing to remember you in our prayers and hope please God you will be back to full health.

    I respect what you say but ‘Evil will survive as long as good men do nothing.
    I am sorry you think that we seem to be squabbling like cats and dogs. Note Vincent’s comment Oct 19th 9.40 he explains things clearly what we are about, and we ought to thank Quentin for it and his patience!. I think we understand each other when we discuss things at least I hope so.!
    There is nothing I would love more than to go and live like a hermit and pray all the time.
    Sadly I don’t- I pray for a better holier future for our children, and think that we are here to serve the Lord to act out our Faith in doing Gods Will.. To each his own calling!
    I pray also that my children and grandchildren will put their ‘penny worth in’.Thank God they do- as yet.!

  16. John Nolan says:

    Vincent’s comments make a lot of sense to me. John Candido might like to see women priests and sacramental marriage extended to sodomites, but he knows that no pope has the power to authorize either, so he is destined to stay on the outside – a position he has chosen of his own free will. He’s not the only one; you don’t approach the Church of Christ with the attitude “I will join (or rejoin) on the proviso that you conform to my ideas”.

    • John Candido says:

      Well alleluia John Nolan! You are actually conceding what Vincent, Quentin and I have been saying about the Church, vis-à-vis the way it administers, polices and punishes its ‘loyal dissenters’. Well this is a brand new day indeed!

      • Vincent says:

        Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes (in Latin for John’s sake, but usually translated as ‘Beware of Greeks bearing gifts’) The problem with Nolan is that he is a thinking man, and therefore not predictable — as most of us are. He is also depressingly well informed.

      • St.Joseph says:

        John Candido.
        Have I understood you correctly that you think that Holy Mother Church ought to be
        made up with every ones ‘ideas’? Look what happened at the National Pastoral Council 1979. All this kind of attitude cause disruption and discontent,.
        Of course the laity must have some say when it comes to Parish-Deanery and Diocesan meetings, but that is as far as it goes.
        I have represented all of these for years in a Parish and the conclusion I found was that it depended on the majority of liberal thinkers. Most Catholics were quite happy to practice their faith in living it and worship and carrying out what they felt were their duties towards their children’s upbringing.
        Maybe that is the point Pope Francis is trying to get over to us and leave the rest to the authority of Holy Mother Church.
        As married couples with a young family and growing up we have our own duties and responsibilities.
        One I find to be important that is the amount of good children who make their first Holy Communion- and then many not seen at Holy Mass again.
        Their ‘idea’ is ‘ that’s something done and over with’.!!
        We all have to pull our weight within our responsibilities and capabilities.
        You will be surprised at the amount of miracles that can be granted from Holy Mass and the Rosary-if you put your mind to it! Staying away is not really doing any good..only causing you discontent.
        Only a suggestion- no offence..

  17. Iona says:

    I very much appreciated Pope Benedict’s writings (and have just started reading his book on the Infancy Narratives, having already read the other two), and I doubt if Pope Francis will produce anything so erudite, while at the same time being so clear and understandable, – “limpid” as I have heard his (Benedict’s) writings described.

    Pope Francis, however, seems absolutely sure of himself vis-a-vis the press and other media. He will probably never say anything which can be misinterpreted by Muslim extremists as criticising Islam, nor do anything so embarrassing as reinstating a bishop who subsequently turned out to be a holocaust denier. How he will avoid this sort of mistake I don’t know, – it won’t be by being ultra-cautious about what he says. He just seems to say the right thing.

  18. John Nolan says:

    How many people took the trouble to read Benedict XVI’s Regensburg lecture in its entirety? It’s a profound commentary on faith and reason, but it was a paper delivered to an academic audience and needs to be studied in that light. What Pope Francis is doing is different – he is trying to put over ideas in a direct and challenging way, to get us thinking, to get back to the basics which can be obscured by the ideological positions which most of us hold. This sometimes makes him appear to be wrong-headed and even self-contradictory, and those who hold fast to their conservative or progressive nostrums are easily disconcerted (at present it is the conservatives who are most put out, but already there are rumblings of discontent in the liberal camp). There are dangers in this approach, but at least with scatter-gun tactics your gaffes do not stand out.

    It’s quite refreshing to be able to say about the Holy Father “You dress like a slob, and something you said the other day was arrant nonsense, but you followed it with something simple but profound which has really given me food for thought and has challenged my complacency”. Somehow I don’t think Pope Francis would disapprove of such a reaction.

  19. John Nolan says:

    “Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes” actually means “I fear the Greeks even when they are bearing gifts”, a reference of course to the Trojan horse. Of course I don’t accept the John Candido position that dissenters are axiomatically right and those who uphold Church doctrine (including Pope Francis) are axiomatically wrong; it would be interesting to know whether Candido sets any limits to dissent, and on what authority he does this. No-one is required to believe anything at all in the long run.

    • John Candido says:

      ‘…it would be interesting to know whether Candido sets any limits to dissent, and on what authority he does this. No-one is required to believe anything at all in the long run.’ (John Nolan)

      This is a gross exaggeration. I am not advocating nihilism. This issue has more than been covered before by me at the bottom of ‘Death thou shall die’ on the 30th August 2012 at https://secondsightblog.net/2012/08/30/death-thou-shalt-die/ , where I wrote a long piece about the human conscience, and by extrapolation; loyal dissent. While there is a need to define the moral law of the church, and be able to access and read the objective teaching of the Catholic Church, there must be an assumption that lots of people don’t fit into round holes and square pegs, because people are individuals. The moral law is not solely about who is objectively right or wrong. It is about the human conscience of living, breathing human beings, with all of their idiosyncrasy, individuality and frailty.

      The free and responsible exercise of the human conscience is at the centre of any consideration of moral law and culpability. The days when the moral law of the Church, was employed as an edifice from which to assess people as either orthodox or heretical, are at an end. Why? Because we have all matured, are educated and have moved on.

      If one were to inhabit a mind that was after reassurance, orthodoxy, legalism and rigor, then I would suggest that you are a prime candidate for leaving the Catholic faith, given Pope Francis’ statement in Quentin’s introduction.

      Just as a reminder,

      ‘If the Christian is a restorationist, a legalist, if he wants everything clear and safe, then he will find nothing. Tradition and memory of the past must help us to have the courage to open up new areas to God. Those who today always look for disciplinarian solutions, those who long for an exaggerated doctrinal ‘security,’ those who stubbornly try to recover a past that no longer exists – they have a static and inward-directed view of things. In this way, faith becomes an ideology among other ideologies. I have a dogmatic certainty: God is in every person’s life.’ (Pope Francis)

      It is not up to me or anyone else to set any limits to dissent. Human beings are free to believe what they sincerely believe to be the truth about any matter, and that most definitely includes my polar opposites on the right. Human beings are free to come and go regarding membership of any Church or religion. Human beings are free to hold and express loyal dissent to any teaching of the Roman Catholic Church. Again, the human conscience and loyal dissent is paramount. The authority of the Roman Catholic Church is secondary to the human conscience.

      Loyal dissent within the Catholic Church is not something that is really tolerated by the Church, when in fact it is at the centre of our faith life, given sufficient thought about the matter. One can dissent on matters of faith and morals i.e. the official magisterium of the Roman Catholic Church, and remain a loyal Catholic for life. In other words, it is the free exercise of one’s conscience regarding some official teaching of the Church that one has a sincere difference of opinion.

      • John Nolan says:

        “Human beings are free to hold and express loyal dissent to any teaching of the Roman Catholic Church”. Quite so. Human beings are not required to believe in God, or the Resurrection, or anything in the Creeds. They are quite free to believe God is an astronaut. Sola Scriptura protestants dismiss anything that is not directly warranted by the Bible – that is their prerogative.

        “One can dissent on matters of faith and morals i.e. the official (sic) magisterium of the Roman Catholic Church, and remain a loyal Catholic for life”. No, one can’t. The Church demands full assent of faith to the teachings of the ‘extraordinary magisterium’ and the ‘ordinary and universal magisterium’, which are held to be infallible. Dissent here would amount to heresy, and one cannot simultaneously be a heretic and a loyal Catholic. Non-infallible teaching by popes or bishops is still authoritative and requires “religious submission of intellect and will”.

        Belief in the primacy of conscience does not mean conscience is infallible, that truth is relative, or that a sincerely held opinion may not be erroneous. ‘Loyal dissent’ is an odd concept; it would appear to be a contradiction in terms. The only way I can interpret it is if someone were to say “I disagree with the Church’s teaching on XYZ and it is my duty as a loyal Catholic to point out to the Church that she is in error”. Which begs a whole heap of questions.

  20. John Candido says:

    There is no doubt that the Catholic Church must rule as any organisation is entitled to rule. However, it is in a special category that should preclude it to deal with cases of conscience, or loyal dissent, in a harsh manner, if it is to be true to its calling to love others.

    There are a number of scenarios which can lead the Church to laicise priests. Paedophilia and violence against innocent persons; the same outcome would happen in the unlikely event of a conversion to Nazism, or some other extreme and/or violent ideology. One would feel that a different outcome would eventuate if Priests were to lose their faith, or have a difference of opinion regarding any teaching that is supported by the magisterium.

    When a Priest has lost their faith there are probably a number of options that are available to the local Bishop. A sabbatical, counselling, reassignment, given a job that has less stress, etc. could be employed.

    I believe that as the Roman Catholic Church has had a very sordid history in relation to conscience issues, and a new protocol could be developed that would give both the Church and the loyal dissenter a measure of dignity and respect. A revision of the Code of Canon Law in relation to loyal dissenters is probably overdue. Of course, what Vincent, Quentin and I have outlined as criticisms of the CDF’s deficiencies in regard to clergy and religious being delated, needs careful consideration, before these provisions can see the light of day.

    Provisions for the revision of the Church’s Canon Law in relation to persons of conscience needs to be debated amongst theologians and canon lawyers, with a final report placed on Francis’s desk for his consideration. Depending on the issue at hand, I would like to see loyal dissenters to be given much more leeway and respect.

    John Nolan is entitled to his point of view, although I don’t agree with it in the least. As Francis has spoken about the need to seriously revisit the documents of the Second Vatican Council, of the need to limit or expunge restorationism and legalism, to work against clericalism and to deliver a more horizontal church, amongst many other issues, I can see where John Nolan may run into difficulties with today’s Church. I hope that both Francis and Nolan can live together harmoniously as Christian brothers. If need be, Nolan could possibly take refuge in future provisions of the Code of Canon Law regarding loyal dissenters.

    It seems that with Francis, the Roman Catholic Church is potentially at an important historical crossroad. We live in a strange but interesting time.

    • Peter D. Wilson says:

      John C – as far as I can see, if “loyal dissent” has any meaning, it is
      (a) respecting the general magisterium of the church;
      (b) presenting any points of disagreement with current teaching, in private to a competent authority, with rational arguments for change;
      (c) pending an authoritative ruling, remaining silent on the subject in public;
      (d) should substantial disagreement persist thereafter, resigning from any ministry within the Church where the subject might arise.

      Would you accept this? If not, where would you differ?

      • John Candido says:

        ‘(a) Respecting the general magisterium of the church;

        (b) Presenting any points of disagreement with current teaching, in private to a competent authority, with rational arguments for change;

        (c) Pending an authoritative ruling, remaining silent on the subject in public;

        (d) Should substantial disagreement persist thereafter, resigning from any ministry within the Church where the subject might arise?

        Would you accept this? If not, where would you differ?’ (Peter D. Wilson)

        They are a difficult series of questions to answer. Firstly, I am not a canon lawyer or a theologian. Secondly, I have zero experience in governing the Church or any of its constituent parts, such as an ordinary parish or any diocese. Thirdly and most importantly, answering these sorts of administrative questions should be the focus of two reviews instituted by Francis, and culminating in final reports that would be delivered to the Pope. The first review would be about the entire operation of the CDF, and the second review should focus on the entire Code of Canon Law, with focus given to how the Church deals with dissent.

        My tentative thoughts are that I fully agree with (a), but I am in two minds about (b), (c), and (d). It is difficult to draw any lines one way or the other, because there are good arguments both for and against each of them, depending on the issue at hand.

        My apologies, but I find it very difficult to give you definitive answers to (b), (c), or (d) Peter. Thank you for asking anyway.

  21. John Nolan says:

    JC, I try to keep my own opinions and point of view out of the argument. I do try to understand the mind of the Church, which is not the same as the mind of Pope Francis. He is of course right to point out the dangers of clericalism (and we need to look at what that means) and legalism. He is right to castigate those Catholics who see the Church as providing a set of rules and salvation is achieved by simply adhering to them, a sort of ‘Catholicism by numbers’. But the Church has been saying this for centuries. Francis may have a novel way of putting the message across, in interviews and extempore addresses, but the message is not new – it is essentially the message of the Gospels. I an no Ultramontane, and it is rather amusing to see progressives suddenly adopting an Ultramontanist position because they have, for the first time in 45 years, a pope whom they approve of.

    I don’t have difficulties with “today’s Church” because I don’t believe such a thing exists; the Church needs to be understood in diachronic terms. So I can’t understand what Francis means by ‘restorationism’. However, I assume he knows what he meant, as he presumably did when he referred to Gnostics and Pelagians, which puzzled many.

    There was no officially promulgated Code of Canon Law until 1917, and it was revised in 1983. It would require more than a revision of Canon Law to change the Church’s definition of incredulity, heresy, schism or apostasy. I can’t see a lot of room for “loyal dissent” (who coined this expression, by the way?) on matters of faith or morals. Benedict XVI summed it up in an address to the English bishops in 2010: “In a social milieu that encourages the expression of a variety of opinions on every question that arises, it is important to recognize dissent for what it is, and not to mistake it for a mature contribution to a balanced and wide-ranging debate. It is the truth revealed through Scripture and Tradition and articulated by the Church’s Magisterium that sets us free”.

    John Henry Newman would have said ‘Amen’ to that. A conscience shaped by society and used to defend personal choice is to Newman a “counterfeit” conscience. A “true” conscience is a gift of God and a “stern monitor” which is nothing to do with our own desires and will. He describes it as “the aboriginal Vicar of Christ”. It leads to assent, not dissent.

  22. Iona says:

    I have been trying to think of examples of “loyal dissent” in other areas than the Church.
    For example, if the parents of a family have a rule whereby the children don’t watch television after 9.00 p.m., and one of the children declares that this is an unreasonable rule and that they ought to be allowed to watch until 10.30, is this loyal dissent? It’s dissent, but what makes it loyal? The fact that the child still obeys the rule even though disagreeing with it?

    If a head teacher makes a rule that everybody should keep to the left when walking through the school corridors (thus avoiding collisions when people are walking in opposite directions) and one of the teachers declares that this is unnecessary and people should be allowed to walk either side, is this loyal dissent? If he says it in the hearing of pupils, this would surely make it disloyal dissent? – extrapolating this to the Church, does it imply that dissent becomes disloyal when made public? – as with Peter Wilson’s point b) above, to remain loyal it should be aired “in private to a competent authority, with rational arguments for change”.

    • St.Joseph says:

      Iona
      .If you look you .
      up Loyal Dissent Fr Charles Curran -his book will give you a preview.
      He remained a priest but was not allowed to teach . .
      In 1986 after years of clashing with Church authorities I believe he was not allowed to,or no University would allow it.,

      Another Priest Father Matthew Fox a Jesuit, I have been to many of his meetings around the West Country and have numerous cassette tapes of his dissent .
      He did leave the RC Church and joined the Anglican Church , I don’t know if he left of his own accord !! There has been many more.
      We could say that to be honest we or I will speak for myself have often spoke about some Church teaching that would be better changed Myself about divorced re married receiving Holy Communion. So . However I am not a priest,so do not have the same duties as one who preaches and ought to be loyal to his vocation and Ordination
      My duties and responsibilities lie towards my children in marriage..

  23. John Nolan says:

    Ah, thank you, St Joseph. Charles Curran, a theologian whose ‘missio canonica’ was withdrawn thirty years ago and who now lectures Methodists (I wonder how many he has converted to Catholicism?) coined the term ‘loyal dissent’ which Candido loves to bandy about. The fact that he remains a priest in good standing is indicative of the fact that Rome regards heresy as less important than schism, which is why the SSPX gets more attention than superannuated American sisters who claim to have moved not just ‘beyond the Church’ but ‘beyond Jesus’. I must ask Candido if he can recommend a book which is a useful compendium of heretics and which can sit on my bookshelf between the lives of the saints and Henry Kamen’s excellent and scholarly work on the Spanish Inquisition, the merits of which institution make more and more sense in the rotten century in which we live. This, by the way, is my own point of view. Candido thinks that when I spell out the Church’s position I am only airing my own opinions, so it’s good to give him something over which he can choke on his cornflakes.

  24. Quentin says:

    In considering loyal dissent, it might be helpful to look at contrasting examples.

    One might be the question of ,women’s ordination. Here the Church refuses this by definitive teaching, yet plenty of people argue otherwise.
    “The Supreme Pontiff, while not wishing to proceed to a dogmatic definition, intended to reaffirm that this doctrine is to be held definitively” Ad Tuendam, commentary, CDF.

    Another is the reception, under certain circumstances of Communion for divorced and remarried Catholics.This year, Cardinal Müller, head of the CDF, simply rejected the idea as inconsistent with the Church’s teaching on marriage. Plenty of people, including our St Joseph, argue otherwise.

    But almost before Müller’s ink was dry, Pope Francis put the issue forward for discussion.

    Was dissent on both these topic loyal or disloyal? Or on one of the topics and not the other?

  25. St.Joseph says:

    As I have pointed out many times -‘allowing divorced couples to receive Holy Communion’. Annulments do not cover the whole message of the person concerned, and cost involved!! If one goes into a marriage with their eyes open and full consent,no one knows what happens afterwards There are cases that need to be looked into more with compassion-not willy nilly-open to everyone in different circumstances. That is what I mean-it is no longer a marriage in ‘holiness’ more like a prison sentence. .
    Not all are able to get an annulment,’a young 18 year who marries because she is pregnant-one who is abused by her husband and refuses to allow her children to be brought up in the Faith etc etc..
    I am sure Pope Francis will look more closely at individual cases,more closely-after all it is something for the good of the Church to have sincerely practising Catholics, .
    I sometimes think it is a matter of who you know and not what you know!
    I know some who have more than one!!
    It all come down to loyalty to Holy Mother Church, which we expect our Priests to have.
    It is all not black and white.!
    Perhaps we could start with proper marriage care and if one is not prepared to listen to the Churches teachings-have a civil marriage, because they will be living in sin anyway! ..And receiving Holy Communion !

    • stormdog1 says:

      Quentin.
      Just to define what you said.
      1. Women’s Ordination -not just tradition I believe it to be a matter of Gender.
      2 Homosexuality goes against the Laws of nature, one not even the Church can change .
      Abortion also..
      We can plan our families the way God made us. .

      Someone made a remark on the blog I cant remember who or when. ‘The Church is obsessed with sexual matters’
      . So She should.Look around us and it is self explanatory, that the misuse use of sexual behaviour is a cause of most sins.
      It would be better for someone to marry with a family and live a decent married life. and bring our children up in the faith
      I disagree with JC and his comments, however not worried ‘only for his sake’!
      He is missing out on a lot.
      The only suggestion I could give to him that is ‘Pray about it’!.

  26. John Nolan says:

    Regarding the issue of divorced and remarried Catholics, this was brought to the table by Archbishop Derek Worlock at the last synod on the family in 1980. Cardinal Hume took Humanae Vitae as his brief. The only surviving member of the English team is Archbishop Vincent Nichols, and a couple of years ago he gave an extended interview on the synod which is fascinating, not least for its explanation of how these gatherings conduct their business. He will of course be at the 2014 synod. He makes the point that the submissions of the English prelates influenced Familiaris Consortio, issued by John Paul II the following year, and indeed the same pontiff’s “theology of the body” . Synods don’t by themselves change anything (that’s not what they’re for) but they are important. If at the end of the day it is decided that divorced and remarried Catholics may in certain circumstances be admitted to Communion, that’s fine. The fact that virtually everyone at Mass these days troops up for Communion suggests that those in irregular relationships are dissenting anyway.

    Women’s ordination is another matter. One way of openly dissenting from the Church’s definitive teaching on this matter would be for a cleric to participate in such an ‘ordination’, which would be both invalid and illicit, and would incur a latae sententiae excommunication reserved to the Holy See. If an individual Catholic thinks that women priests are a good idea he is entitled to his opinion, which isn’t going to change anything. If he is a priest, however, he is duty bound to keep this to himself.

    • Quentin says:

      Anyone who wishes to study the Church’s current position on divorce and remarriage will find a very full article on the subject by Cardinal Müller, 23 October, at http://www.news.va/en/news/archbishop-muller-care-of-remarried-divorcees-must

      • St.Joseph says:

        Quentin.
        No mention in that statement along the lines of proper Marriage Instruction for a couple.
        Is there a programme to be found where the Marriage Care teaching is available.?
        That is all very clear and nothing has changed .
        The only thing that I feel about it all and maybe you will be able to answer, that is
        ‘When a couple makes the choice to marry-at the time they are 100% certain that is what they desire (hopefully) and also take their vows with full consent of what is expected of them (hopefully)’
        How then in all honesty from the heart can a tribunal say it was not a marriage in the first place.. Therefore allow an annulment-and the couple have one.
        Is that not a little hypocritical – either it was valid or not when the vow was taken?
        So does that not say that some of the responsibility lies with the Church?

        Are the grounds for divorce ‘only if there was not a marriage in the first place’.?

      • John Nolan says:

        Not yet a cardinal, but will probably get a red hat in the next Consistory, as will Abp Vincent Nichols. Unlike many traddies, I want to see him made a cardinal; at the moment his predecessor is floating around politicking and possibly causing mischief. Only one English see (East Anglia) has been filled this year, and it is rumoured that CMOC has been putting in a bad word about those candidates recommended by the Nuncio. The sooner his baleful influence is removed from the scene, the better.

  27. Singalong says:

    An article entitled The Austerity Pope, in the current edition of The New Statesman, written by
    Matthew Kneale, author of An Atheist`s History of Belief, just published, provides one view of what Pope Francis is trying to do, in the perspective of the history of the Papacy.
    My view is more positive, but it does make me realise more than ever, how difficult it is for young adults reading such articles and books, to establish and maintain their belief in Christ and His Church. I think it is more vital than ever that they have been helped to develop a strong personal relationship with Our Lord and His Holy Mother through prayer and the sacraments, as well as a really good intellectual education.

    • St.Joseph says:

      Iona.
      You are so right.
      So many make promises today and they are really ignorant. Where love of God and His Blessed Mother are probably the only thing necessary..
      Through ‘Mary to Jesus’ as He said to St John at the foot of the Cross.
      One will find Truth there if they look for it.
      I know these ‘platitudes’ don’t go down too well with some. However It is the only thing that I found necessary to believe, then it all happens!So I am just speaking for myself..

  28. John Candido says:

    St.Joseph, Marriage is the free decision of two mature people who love each other, to live together in a responsible and committed relationship that is civilly recognised by the state as an exclusive and free arrangement which hopefully will endure for life. Should there be any children, conceived either directly or indirectly through adoption, then the seriousness of the marriage relationship is even more heightened and pronounced, due to parental responsibilities. Just so I am clear, when I say that ‘marriage is the free decision of two mature people who love each other’, I am including single-sex marriages.

    • St.Joseph says:

      John Candido Of course you are right when you speak about Civil Marriage. The same binding applies.
      Matrimony is a Sacrament. Instituted by the Church, which to me when Jesus performed the first miracle at Cana. He raised it up to a Sacrament in changing the water into wine-which prefigures the Crucifixion. Of Course I don’ expect you to find the connection revelant
      A couple ‘ man and women’ institute it to each other in he presence of a Priest who has to be present, whether it be in a Anglican Church or RC Church,
      The RC Church allows a divorce-however no re-marriage.so one is not bound to live with husband or wives under certain conditions but is necessary sometimes for financial reasons.
      The difference between same sex partnerships it is impossible to bestow on each other the Sacrament of Matrimony.
      Same sex couples can live together like anyone can but the same rule applies to them as to a husband and wife within a sacramental marriage or single. No masturbation! Of course contraception does not apply where there is no babies concerned.

      This comment may appear twice as the first one was lost.

    • Horace says:

      Our local CofE vicar recently delivered a very carefully thought out sermon on the subject of “Equal Marriage” (10 Feb 2013)

      Here is a brief extract :-
      “I saw in Civil Partnerships an opportunity for the law to protect and enhance stable relationships, and ideally the Church should have seen the pastoral possibilities in this. Here was an equivalent of marriage for those of the same gender to commit to each other in law, and it could have been an opportunity for the Church to recognise same gender love, which clearly exists and flourishes, and for some Gay people is also how God has made them in his image.”

      • St.Joseph says:

        Horace.
        The Church is not teaching that homosexuals are sinful-only the act.
        I don;t think they are made in Gods image only in their soul.
        Jesus is made in Adams image Mary in Eve’s. Both took on the human nature of both, male and female.
        We believe that the Holy Family lived a celibate life although married. Jesus also without marriage.
        We take on his Divine nature. It can be done..
        Sexual intercourse is between a male and female. which a divorced couple are, There is a difference.
        Just in case one believes there isn’t,
        It is a case of Gender,
        That is just my opinion-for what it is worth!.

  29. John Nolan says:

    St Joseph, I bet you wish you hadn’t asked the question! At least JC confines his definition of marriage to people, unlike Rahner’s other Australian crackpot who presumably would extend it to dogs. It’s only a sacrament, after all.

  30. Peter D. Wilson says:

    John C. – Neither am I a canon lawyer or theologian, just an ordinary elderly cradle Catholic. Thanks for your reply, anyway. Admittedly, I can imagine circumstances that might warrant exceptions to the general principles I suggest.

  31. John Nolan says:

    Yesterday’s document on the indissolubility of sacramental marriage by the CDF Prefect, released simultaneously in seven languages, is significant. Make no mistake about it, this would have been scrutinized and approved by Pope Francis. Another breaking story was the removal from his diocese by papal fiat of a German bishop on the basis of as yet unsubstantiated allegations in the press. A subtext to this story is that the bishop has upset the liberal media, and influential and vociferous liberal groups of lay Catholics, by his robust defence of Church teaching.

    Are the usual suspects now going to come forward and insist that the ensuing investigation be transparent and that the bishop be treated according to the norms of natural justice? Or does this consideration only apply to dissenters and heretics?

    • John Candido says:

      ‘Another breaking story was the removal from his diocese by papal fiat of a German bishop on the basis of as yet unsubstantiated allegations in the press. A subtext to this story is that the bishop has upset the liberal media, and influential and vociferous liberal groups of lay Catholics, by his robust defence of Church teaching.’ (John Nolan)

      The German Bishop in question, Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst, was required to meet with the Pope at the Vatican. He is under investigation for allegedly using diocesan funds on luxuries that were for his sole use. News reports said that he flew to Rome with discount airline Ryan air and purchased a standard seat for his flight. He was temporarily removed from his diocese after the interview with the Pope. He is to take a leave of absence pending the outcome of further enquiries by the Church.

  32. Singalong says:

    St. Joseph, Oct. 24th 2/3.40 This affects us very closely because of a family member. It seems to us that for an annulment the thinking is that the supposed full consent might not have existed due to immaturity or lack of understanding. This could arise from inadequate marriage preparation which you mention, and is certainly an area which needs far more resources. We understand they in some places it is excellent, but in others it is woeful.

    • St.Joseph says:

      Singalong.
      Is it any wonder why so many decide to live together first!
      Or have a Civil Marriage first and stay away from Mass and Confession.
      Or get married and use contraception and live in disobedience to the teachings of the Church.But still rrceive Holy Communion!
      Or if the couple married-the guilty party commits adultery-it goes on and on.
      Marriage has to be taken seriously, by the couple and the Marriage Care.
      Holy Orders take quite a few years to be Ordained..
      I am trying to think what is said in the Bible about making vows, I cant remember.

      • Singalong says:

        You are quite right to make a comparison with preparation for the priesthood. The Church constantly affirms the importance of marriage. It is vital that we put far more effort and care into marriage preparation these days when secular ideas about it are so very different from our own, and so easily contaminate our young people.

  33. St.Joseph says:

    Singalong/
    It is encouraging to see all the young people at the World Youth Day- yearly with the Holy Father and how they were when Pope Benedict came to the UK, and how the young showed love to Pope John Paul 2.
    What the answer is I don’t know.!
    Perhaps that’s the future we pray for and proper teaching of the faith in ;;love for Holy Mother Church through Our Blessed Mother to Jesus.. Before they get to a broken marriage and no way to return.
    Also when they see married priests already. they will have to have a very strong vocation which i is necessary for the priesthood-also for Marriage both in Love, it must very confusing for them and hard to choose.Not forgetting the Apostles had Jesus in Person with them- He most probably seems far away to many young people today.We live in Hope…

  34. John Candido says:

    ‘If the Christian is a restorationist, a legalist, if he wants everything clear and safe, then he will find nothing.’ Pope Francis.

    The quote by Pope Francis is pithy but instructive. It points to the inherent tension between fundamentalism and cosmopolitanism. I prefer to use a continuum that I was taught at a sociology lecture. At one extreme is fundamentalism with cosmopolitanism its polar opposite. Its purpose is a way of classifying religious, political, economic or philosophical positions, where one position is placed to the right or left of another school of thought or theological belief. Of course the quote from Francis would irk you if you were a Catholic, with a leaning towards legalism or restorationism.

    You are a fundamentalist, a moderate or a cosmopolitan, and neither the twain shall meet or reconcile. Fundamentalism is a force to be reckoned with, no doubt. One need only look at September 11 and terrorism. While never believing that you can convert a fundamentalist with an argument, part of the ultimate weapon for modern societies against such barbarism, apart from intelligence services, is to continually fight the idea of fundamentalism/terrorism with its opposite position, i.e. liberal democracy. So much depends on moderate or nonviolent forms of Islam arguing theologically against any form of violence. Muslim communities around the world are engaging their constituencies in such a manner, without any fanfare.

    Within Catholicism we can observe arguments for a legalist position on an issue every now and then. Take Archbishop Robert Zollitsch, chairman of the German Episcopal Conference, who has advocated providing communion to remarried Catholics who have not been successful in obtaining an annulment. The Prefect of the CDF, Archbishop Gerhard Müller, argues against freeing-up this rubric, whilst Zollitsch and the German Episcopal Conference advocate the opposite. Archbishop Müller has posted a public reply to the German hierarchy in October in a 4,600-word article in ‘L’Osservatore Romano’. I think that this interesting spat potentially falls within the ambit of fundamentalism/cosmopolitanism.

    “How can this topic (communion for the remarried) be off the table? 35 to 40 percent of marriages end in divorce these days.” (Archbishop Robert Zollitsch)

    http://ncronline.org/blogs/ncr-today/german-bishops-head-defends-communion-plan-divorced

    Bertrand Russell, Nobel laureate for Literature (1950), mathematician, logician, philosopher, historian and social critic, was a secular liberal and an opponent of fundamentalism. These are some of his quotes.

    ‘The demand for certainty is one which is natural to man, but is nevertheless an intellectual vice.’

    ‘Not to be absolutely certain is, I think, one of the essential things in rationality.’

    ‘The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt.’

    ‘The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts.’

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