A note on fundamentalism

Fundamentalism has spread from its original dictionary definition as adherence to a literal interpretation and acceptance of Scripture to cover a broader range. So we can talk of the fundamentalism which justified the slaughter of tens of thousands of Christians by other Christians of a different persuasion. Similarly we can talk of Islamic fundamentalists whose understanding of the Koran, the Prophet and the will of Allah leads them to conclusions which are repudiated by many of their fellow adherents, and are unacceptable to Christians. When I left school after ten years of Catholic education I maintained the smug fundamentalist certainty that I knew the ultimate truths, and that those who denied them would be condemned for their intransigence. (I speak of several decades ago.)

The common factor in fundamentalism appears to be the acceptance of an authority which is not open to question, and which rules every other consideration. It is the antithesis of autonomy, which is the deadly enemy of fundamentalism. It is only when we take personal responsibility for our choices, including the choice of accepting an external authority, that we counter fundamentalism. Only in making reason our ultimate instrument of judgment can we maintain our dignity as human beings. Exchanging reason for blind obedience is to wound our humanity, made in the image of God. Those who promote blind obedience are the blind leading the blind. And we all know where they end up.

While we most naturally associate fundamentalism with religious beliefs, we often find it elsewhere. I encountered an example in a blog discussion just the other day. In reply to a blog contribution which claimed that “religion demands absolute subservience.” I pointed out that the Catholic Church required me to take responsibility, through my conscience, for my own moral decisions. To which the contributor replied that the fact that I obeyed this principle simply proved how subservient I was.

In fact there is a commonly encountered form of fundamentalism based on scientific faith. It holds that the only kind of evidence which is acceptable is evidence which supports a materialist, cause and effect, Universe. This is likely to arise in any discussion of freewill. Even though the proponent may claim that he has an active moral sense, he finds this compatible with his insistence that there is no such thing as free will. He will cheerfully condemn religions for such perversions as the Inquisition without noticing that, in the absence of free will, blame is hardly appropriate. He is not even aware that his denial of freewill itself has no validity in the absence of freewill.

Is the fundamentalist (left wing, right wing, materialist or superstitious) a specific psychological type? I suspect so. I would argue that a fundamentalist is a fearful person. This is someone who is distressed by uncertainty. His deep need is to hold on to some principle to which he adheres so powerfully that no doubt can slip into the cracks and contaminate his security. But before we condemn such a person we must be sure that we do not ourselves protect the truths we hold, simply because we need them to be true – for the sake of our peace of mind.

About Quentin

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109 Responses to A note on fundamentalism

  1. ionzone says:

    This is some very interesting stuff. I would maintain, though, that Islamic fundamentalism isn’t all that Islamic. The papers are quick to make it sound like they are in the headline but when you read what they are actually saying you realise that what they actually hope to achieve is, first and foremost, political. A lot of it is tied up with their moral and cultural teachings, yes, but so is is a lot of what we do abroad. Have a look at any article on terrorism and note how they almost NEVER give the actual motive of the attack. For example, play ‘find the motive’ with the latest Rigby murder news and you will find that the BBC thinks that them saying “We are soldiers of Allah” and kissing a Koran is motive enough. Even in this article here you will find that their faith overshadows the actual reasons they give:


    Reuters says his motive is simply – Allah. But I don’t buy this. Reading further down we hear that:

    “He told the court he was engaged in a war against Western nations fighting in Muslim countries.”

    “It’s a war between Islam and those militaries that invaded Muslim lands. One of them happens to be British military and, unfortunately, the war continues to this day.”

    “Adebolajo, who converted to Islam in 2002, said he was “disgusted” by the U.S.-led bombing and invasion of Iraq in 2003, which he had watched on television, and that a friend of his serving in the military had died during the conflict.”

    Notice how they focus on the bits where he is talking about Allah and we only hear scraps of his actual reason for the murder. This is important stuff and I think it only crept in because there are almost no other articles on this attack that mention it. When looking at terrorists the targets are extremely important considerations. 7/7 targeted our infrastructure, 9/11 targeted our finances, and the Lee Rigby murders targeted a soldier. No priests, no churches, all secular targets related to their actual objectives. This is not to say that no Muslims are targeting churches abroad, they are.

    Now, fundamentalists in this country love to pin violence against Christians on Christians themselves, often by the round-about route of blaming it on religion in general, or, when the culprits were atheists, they blame it on ‘religious thinking’.

  2. When I read [or have read] the sentence : – “I would argue that a fundamentalist is a fearful person“, I know what Quentin meant; but it is also true that, when taken out of context and differently interpreted, this sentence encapsulates the pejorative tenor of the whole post and we are left with “the Catholic Church [requires] me to take responsibility, through my conscience, for my own moral decisions” {which – like Quentin – I was not taught during my 10 years (1936 to ’46) at school!} but one might argue that anyone who unreservedly accepts this latter statement is also a fundamentalist – albeit of a different genre.
    So where does this leave us? – apart from being confused.
    To me the only answer is – we must accept that even our most precious ‘truths’ may not be true {depending on how we interpret them} and if we don’t accept this reservation then we are in danger of falling into the error of fundamentalism.

  3. ionzone says:

    I think one of the key things to remember here is that words mean what people want them to mean. For example, ‘dogma’ just means ‘set of teachings’. Dogmatic means one who adherers to those teachings, however it has come to be an insult. Likewise, ‘Evangelical’ and ‘orthodox’.

  4. Nektarios says:

    The Lord bless you this New Year 2014.
    Ionzone is right to say that Evangelical and Orthodox has become an insult – one insult I gladly for the Lord sake bear. But Christian people who unfortunately hurl these terms as insults have not understood the dire problems that face the Christian Church in our day, and it is dire indeed.

    I call your attention Genesis 26:17-18.
    I place this before us just to demonstrate the urgency needed within the Christian Church today;
    and I don’t think it is an exaggeration it is a problem not faced by the Christian Church in the first four centuries – it is a problem of survival.
    Please grasp the situation as Isaac had to face it. When his father Abraham died, the Philistines
    came in and blocked the wells with earth and all sorts of rubbish. The need was dire!
    Without water one cannot survive.
    Did Isaac call in all the speculators and so-called experts – there was no time for that, the needed water as fast as possible.
    So Isaac and his men had to clear out all the earth and rubbish blocking the wells his father Abraham had dug – for his father knew what he was doing when he dug those wells to find water.

    Now as I say, this is a picture of the dire need within the Christian Church today – survival.
    Fundamental extremists, different experts, theologians, philosophers, scientists, psychologists and a host of other liberal and secular experts who have been piling in layer after layer of the earth they stand on with all the rubbish of their views and opinions for centuries.
    This has led to the dire situation we are in in the Christian Church today. They cannot provide man
    with the water of life, spiritually speaking. In fact they go to great lengths to deny God in different ways, obscuring the wells of Salvation so necessary to life of the Christian Church. These are the modern day Philistines if you like…. but their cisterns hold no water of life.

    What did Isaac do? Isaac dug again the wells of water which they had dug in the days of Abraham his father….And he called them by the names which his father had called them.
    I will stop here for now.

  5. 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)


    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.’

    • John Nolan says:

      John Candido, a happy and prosperous New Year to you! And congratulations to the Aussie cricketers who have taught their opponents the folly of presumption.

      Bertrand Russell is spot-on. There is a passage in ‘In Memoriam’ where Tennyson argues that doubt is not something inserted by the Devil, but is inseparable from faith. The most famous line “There lives more faith in honest doubt,/Believe me, than in half the creeds” is often quoted out of context, but the whole passage is illuminating.

      Your sociological continuum from fundamentalism to cosmopolitanism is glib but misleading, in that it applies existing terms to pre-conceived categories of thought and behaviour and encourages the sort of Manichaean dualism that is then applied to situations which are not analogous. The apparent differences between Zollitsch and Mueller are not those between fundamentalist legalism and cosmopolitan liberalism (and, by the way, a rubric is an instruction on a liturgical action; what we are talking about here is doctrine). Since the issue involves Our Lord’s words concerning adultery, and the reception of Communion by those in a state of objective mortal sin, it can’t be resolved at the stroke of a pen.

      There is more evidence of a false dichotomy in your remark about fundamentalism/terrorism and its ‘polar opposite’, liberal democracy. For a start, fundamentalism and terrorism are not the same thing, and as Ionzone points out above, terrorism has a political motive which is obscured by constant reference to ‘fundamentalism’. Secondly, liberal democracy itself has its own set of shibboleths to which it clings with something like blind faith, and which it is prepared to impose on society in a manner far from liberal. Russell was a philosopher, and were he around today, I suspect he would have plenty to say about it. One of my favourite sayings of his, and I quote from memory: “If you concede that animals have rights, then logically you end up giving the vote to oysters”.

    • johnbunting says:

      “The best lack all conviction, while the worst
      Are full of passionate intensity”
      W B Yeats; ‘The Second Coming’.

  6. John Nolan says:

    Fundamentalism was a movement among evangelical Protestants which began in the late 19th century to counter the ideas of the Modernist school of theologians. Since one of the ‘fundamentals’ was the inerrancy of Scripture, the term ‘fundamentalist’ was used in a pejorative sense by the proponents of evolutionary theory to signify anti-intellectualism and obscurantism. The term ‘Islamic fundamentalism’ gained currency at the time of the Iranian revolution of 1979 to describe Ayatollah Khomeini and his supporters. When a term which was originally descriptive becomes pejorative, it is probably time to stop using it.

    Ionzone is right. Fundamentalism is not the same as extremism. Why do we assume that a terrorist who claims to be “a soldier of Allah” has any real knowledge of the fundamentals of Islam? Another phrase I find annoying is when British-born Muslims are described as being ‘radicalized’. What does this mean? Returned to their roots? But their roots are in Bradford, or wherever. Turned into radicals? A radical is someone who favours thorough-going political and social reform; he is by definition a progressive. Yet ‘progressive’ is not a label we normally apply to Al-Qaeda or the Taliban.

    I think I understand and accept the fundamentals of Catholicism. Faith and reason would seem to support them. But that makes me a fundamentalist in the eyes of non-Catholics. Anyone with a conscientious objection to the hot-button issues of abortion and ‘same-sex marriage’ is labelled a fundamentalist. Watch out, Pope Francis – 2014 will be the year that the media wake up to the fact that you are a Catholic, and start using the f-word to describe you.

    • Vincent says:

      “Fundamentalism is not the same as extremism.” Indeed. But if we view fundamentalism as a psychological type (see Quentin) then there is a connection. The fundamentalist is so dependent on his beliefs that he is inclined to be intolerant. This may range from irritated condemnation to a suicide bomb.

      There is no reason why a fundamentalist should have a deep understanding of his beliefs. rather the opposite. Some shoot-from-the-hip Muslims see their religion as requiring violent expression. More thoughtful ones understand it as primarily a religion of peace. See, for example, the intellectual collaboration between Muslims and Jews in medieval Spain.

      There is an essential difference between being by nature a fundamentalist and holding fundamental beliefs. We all hold some fundamental beliefs but we do not all feel attacked by those who disagree.

  7. tim says:

    There are fundamental truths. There are no fundamental truths. One of these statements is incorrect. I argue it is the second, because it is self-contradictory. Relativists may say my whole argument is rubbish: both are, and neither statement rises to the level of corresponding with things as they are, if such a concept can have any meaning. I shall ignore them, on the basis that they do not refute me when arguing that refutation is itself not a valid concept.

    If there are fundamental truths, we should accept them and act on the basis of them (if we can find out what they are). The trick is to formulate them correctly. The risks of getting them wrong have to be assessed against the risks of not acting on them if they are right. If we have the right principles, we need to have faith in sticking to them – which however can lead to disaster if we have them even slightly wrong.

    • RAHNER says:

      But just what IS a “fundamental truth”?

      • Nektarios says:

        A happy New Year to you.

        To answer your question from a biblical perspective as to what is a fundamental truth:
        essentially, it is God’s revelation to man which are given us in Holy Scriptures – the Bible.
        A fundamental truth is, that which lies at the bottom of everything, that which is above everything and this is a fundamental truth concerning the transcendent God.
        It is also a fundamental truth that this transcendent God, reveals Himself as the Sovereign Lord over all He has created and sustains it all by His power.
        Another fundamental truth is, He is a God that acts, intervenes in this universe He has created and in the lives of mankind.
        Lastly for now, another fundamental truth is, one people don’t like these days and that is, He is a God of wrath revealed against all sin, for He hates sin with His whole being.

        But the modern day Philistines have blocked the wells of Salvation over centuries.
        Cut off God from His universe and put man at the centre, so don’t expect many to tell you about fundamentals of God, of man, of Salvation.
        Layer upon layer of earth and rubbish of philosophy so-called theology, experts of every description these days, cover up, deliberately hide and obscures the fundamentals of God, of the water of Salvation. Like I said in an earlier posting – the need is dire!

      • St.Joseph says:

        Another fundamental truth-‘ I am I from the moment of conception’.!

  8. St.Joseph says:

    ‘Jesus Christ is Lord’. ‘Yesterday-Today and Tomorrow’.!

  9. ignatius says:

    Its an interesting question! I’ve been pondering it for awhile now. I strongly agree with Horace here in that we need to be able to accept that we might be wrong -in just about everything. For myself I try more and more to live a life which is based on trusting in something which I can neither see nor prove. I’m not really sure that ‘faith’ and ‘proof’ – in the religious sense- go together at all. So I join with the apostle Paul in saying that if Christ is not raised from the dea then I am a fool to be pitied; if Christ is raised from the dead then I am vindicated.

    As to ‘fundamental truth’ …once we get beyond the acknowledgement of facts regarding the material world then I’m not sure if we have ‘fundamental truths’ at all.Whats your take on it? (references gladly received I might add!)

  10. Alan says:

    As an ex-student of science I am perhaps biased in my support of its fundamentalists when I say that I cannot imagine how to distinguish between evidence of something immaterial and evidence of something we just don’t understand. I don’t think we know so much about the material that we should think it less likely – or worse still rule it out.

  11. ionzone says:

    Speaking of scientific fundamentalism. Anyone want to hear a notable scientist calling another notable scientist a ‘heretic’ and insisting his book should be burnt just for asking difficult questions?


    • Alan says:

      After watching the video I would say it was more than just “asking difficult questions” which prompted the strong reactions from fellow biologists. A publication that presumed he had the answers to those questions, prior to independent testing, peer review or anything else you would normally expect of a scientific hypothesis might have been cause for concern too. I think the friend that sided with him summed it up fairly well at the end of the video. He was waiting to be convinced that there was firstly something that needed explaining, secondly that Sheldrake’s idea offered such an explanation and thirdly that it could be demonstrated experimentally in some way. He did at least give him credit for stirring things up.

      • John Candido says:

        Having seen the video for myself, I second Alan’s opinion about Sheldrake’s theory.

      • Ignatius says:

        Yes, pretty much my thoughts. I thought the mass experiments were weak. I’d like to see how he fleshed out his ideas about morphic resonance though.

      • Vincent says:

        As I see it, Sheldrake does no favours to those who hold that there is more to life than the merely physical. Science may face unsolved problems like morphogenesis, but he would have to show how this is intrinsically unsolvable in materialist terms before it becomes interesting.
        Such ideas do come up occasionally — for example, telepathy and reincarnation (as supported by memory of a former life). These become fashionable from time to time — but quickly submerge.
        Let’s concentrate on the real problems — such as the immaterial aspects of man’s nature. Every scientist, being human, is of course aware of these, but too many reject them because they do not square with their preconceptions.

  12. John Nolan says:

    Ignatius: I can be wrong, you can be wrong, Rahner (who quotes Pilate’s ‘Quid est veritas?’) can be wrong, Quentin can be wrong, but if we are Catholics we must surely accept that in fundamental matters the Church cannot be wrong. Otherwise there is no point in staying with her.

  13. ignatius says:

    Yes we must accept it. From what I have read on this subject our attitude should be of wonder seeking comprehension..faith seeking understanding in other words. But I don’t think that is the same as a rigid conviction that each word of the magisterium is not to be questioned. Its a really interesting subject in my view. When I go on mountains I have a map which I trust to be true, nonetheless I must ‘prove’ that map through my own experience. This isn’t much of an analogy I know but its the best I can do. Personally speaking if I didn’t have the sense of my spirit calling ‘Abba father’ then I wouldn’t be in any church at all. In your experience is there such a thing as ‘blind obedience’ in the church, if so, does it have merit?

  14. RAHNER says:

    Can any linguistic formulation concerning the nature of the transcendent and absolute mystery that we call God be a complete, final and exclusive expression of the truth about the reality God that is incapable of any revision or development?

  15. Ignatius says:

    John Nolan:
    “Rahner: No, but as usual you leave revelation out of the equation.”

    That’s a good point but surely the ‘idea’ of ‘revelation’ is just an idea? “Revelation” itself would again have to be tested would it not? When you say ‘revelation’ presumably you mean that the blueprint understanding of the Church in terms of its theology and liturgy conform to an objective reality that has somehow been communicated at some stage to humanity and is manifestly seen to be true?

    • RAHNER says:

      In any case how can you characterise the occurrence and content of revelation other than by using, primarily, linguistic expressions which must themselves be open to revision and development?

      • St.Joseph says:

        The Holy Spirit enlightens us and teaches us all we know through something called Grace!! Jesus told His Apostles not to worry about what to say, the Holy Spirit will give us the gift of understanding! I believe we can all receive that gift if we ask Him ourselves.
        Have you not heard the expression ‘Pray about it’!

      • Nektarios says:

        This is the sort of questioning by a Deist.
        Deism, is a form of belief that believes there is a God, but totally unknown. A God who after He created the universe and everything in it, wound it up like a clock, set it in motion
        and takes no further interest in it.
        This has lead to so-called rationalism, speculation, and those who act and think in this way, deny God His transcendence, His sovereignty. His eruption into the life of the Church, the world and in individuals.
        And those Deists, rationalists keep on coming. And in the many generations from the dark and middle ages to the present day, it has been the same. They throw their earth and rubbish into the Wells of Salvation, cutting God off, obscuring, hiding the Wells of Salvation from the vast majority. This is history, this is part of the history of the Christian Church and the Bible, not simply my opinion.
        In the dark and middle ages it had to be said, that the Christian Church was in a poor state. The people did not know God or the Bible, but was buried underneath a mass of, layer after layer of Deist teaching and rationalistic, speculative thinking. It is the same today.
        The God of the philosopher is not the transcendent and sovereign God at all. Not the sovereign Lord God who intervenes in the life of the Christian Church and human affairs.
        Rather God is to such a mere abstraction, but God is, He is not an abstraction.
        How much of such teaching and ways of thinking exist in us, in our thinking and in the life of the Christian Church today?
        How can one truly know God by such abstractions. Their cisterns are broken and hold no water at all. We need, like Isaac to dig again those wells of Salvation, clearing away all the earthen deposits and rubbish, in our own thinking deposited there by Deist and rationalistic thinking. Have you never read, Man through thinking cannot find out God?

      • Ignatius says:


        Yes but this kind of approach leads towards infinite regress does it not? We are creatures of time and space attempting to pierce a veil of mystery it is true, but we are not completely blind because revelation has an accumulating context. In other words the Church has a repository of the experience of God on which it may draw. Though this repository is always as if seen’ through a glass darkly’ it is nonetheless real is it not? Also you will remember that Paul speaks of the Spirit bearing witness within us in ‘groanings’ which he intimates are deeper than words. Experience of God is deeper than words though we struggle to express that experience using words I agree.

  16. Iona says:

    Linguistic expressions are the best we can do, but of course they are wholly inadequate as a means of capturing “the transcendent and absolute mystery that we call God”.
    Linguistic expressions which come nearest are not of a type which can be revised / developed. For example, “I am, who am” or St. Thomas’s “My Lord and my God” – in the context in which it occurs, that is.

  17. johnbunting says:

    On ‘fundamentalism’, the bible, and revelation, some words of Newman come to mind:
    “The bible is not so written as to force its meaning on the reader, nor does it carry with it its own interpretation. No revelation is given, unless there be some authority to say what it is that is given”. Hence ‘scripture and tradition’, rather than ‘sola scriptura’.
    I think of accepting the authority of the Church as rather like accepting the advice of a more qualified friend, on matters that I judge to be within his/her competence. I accept it as free from errors of faith or morals, as far as it goes, but it may not answer all the problems of a given situation. As a friend of mine says, “If we feel we understand it, we say it’s a revelation. If we don’t, we say it’s a mystery”.

  18. Ignatius says:

    John bunting:
    I think your post of 4.1.14 1.29 am is excellent:
    “..I think of accepting the authority of the Church as rather like accepting the advice of a more qualified friend, on matters that I judge to be within his/her competence. I accept it as free from errors of faith or morals, as far as it goes, but it may not answer all the problems of a given situation. As a friend of mine says, “If we feel we understand it, we say it’s a revelation. If we don’t, we say it’s a mystery”….”

    I really like this since it echo’s my own sense and provides a kind of ‘middle way’ between individualism and clericalism, thanks for that.

  19. John Candido says:

    In Pope Francis’ recent Apostolic Exhortation ‘Evangelii Gaudium’ (The Joy of the Gospel) promulgated on the 24th November 2013, Francis has written some extraordinary passages that are germane to our topic. We have a plethora of interesting passages, which we could all profitably add to our discussion of religious fundamentalism and its relationship to the modern world, and the inviolability of the human conscience.

    For anyone who might not be familiar with papal documents, the numbers at the beginning of all quotes are paragraph numbers that run throughout the document in numerical order.

    On the magisterium of the Roman Catholic Church.

    ‘16. Nor do I believe that the papal magisterium should be expected to offer a definitive or complete word on every question which affects the Church and the world.’

    On the issue of the authority of the local Bishop and collegiality,

    ‘16. It is not advisable for the Pope to take the place of local Bishops in the discernment of every issue which arises in their territory. In this sense, I am conscious of the need to promote a sound “decentralization”.’

    On having a legalistic or fundamentalist attitude to the Church’s magisterium, and how this is balanced by an open Church that is free to study theological, ecclesiological and pastoral issues.

    ’40. ‘Within the Church countless issues are being studied and reflected upon with great freedom. Differing currents of thought in philosophy, theology and pastoral practice, if open to being reconciled by the Spirit in respect and love, can enable the Church to grow, since all of them help to express more clearly the immense riches of God’s word. For those who long for a monolithic body of doctrine guarded by all and leaving no room for nuance, this might appear as undesirable and leading to confusion. But in fact such variety serves to bring out and develop different facets of the inexhaustible riches of the Gospel. [44]’

    It is very pleasing to me as someone who has been ‘beaten-up’ in the confessional box by a Priest many years ago as a child, that Francis has said this in paragraph 44,

    ‘I want to remind priests that the confessional must not be a torture chamber but rather an encounter with the Lord’s mercy which spurs us on to do our best.’

    In paragraph 47 we might find an allusion to the Church’s future policy regarding allowing remarried Catholics who have not been able to obtain an annulment access to the Eucharist.

    ‘47. The Eucharist, although it is the fullness of sacramental life, is not a prize for the perfect but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak. [51] These convictions have pastoral consequences that we are called to consider with prudence and boldness. Frequently, we act as arbiters of grace rather than its facilitators. But the Church is not a tollhouse; it is the house of the Father, where there is a place for everyone, with all their problems.’

    It seems to me that Francis has a conservative and a liberal heart rolled into one. Go and figure that out if you can because I am at a loss to understand Francis at all. I have absolutely no doubt whatsoever, that the entire world will have to watch this man intently. I am almost tempted to say, ‘the revolution is amongst us, if you can see it coming’. I am going to have to read Evangelii Gaudium with greater scrutiny.


    • St.Joseph says:

      John Candido
      You say ‘It is very pleasing to me as someone who has been ‘beaten- up’ in the confessional box.by a Priest many years ago as a child, that Francis has said this in paragraph 44,

      I understand what you say and any feelings you will have of resentment having the same experience myself many many years ago as I have said on the blog, However we must not take this as a cop out for priests to let people off the hook with what sin is and how we can be damaged by it if we continue committing such a sin.
      The fact is ‘not what is said- but how it is said-and there is a difference when pastoral care is given in the confessional.
      In my case it was not a sin,therefore I had genuine reason for resentment.
      I don’t believe that the Holy Father will change any doctrine as some think, ‘Jesus came riding on a donkey on Palm Sunday and the following week was crucified!,

    • John Nolan says:

      “I am at a loss to understand Francis at all”. You’re not the only one, mate! Benedict is a scholar, an intellectual and a theologian, yet he was able to explain complex issues clearly. His 2006 Regensburg lecture on faith and reason is an example, and is one of the most important papal statements of recent times. With Francis, you’re never quite sure where he’s coming from. He alludes to things without following them through. When the papal spokesman has to go on record to deny media reports that the Pope had “abolished sin” there’s an obvious communication problem.

      When the Pope refers to “self-absorbed promethean neo-pelagians” and “anthropocentric immanentism” most traddies assumed he was having a dig at them, and indeed he might have been. But the words (in English, at least, I don’t know about Spanish) more accurately describe the liturgical progressives of the 1960s and 1970s; “promethean” means “boldly creative” and “anthropocentric” is how traddies describe modern liturgical practice. A “particular Catholic style of the past” is what (depressingly) I see in most parishes, only “the past” is the 1960s and 1970s and is now as dated as bell-bottoms, tank tops and the Ford Cortina (see EG para.95). Is his ambiguity deliberate?

      When I first read para.40 I was reminded of Chaiman Mao in 1956: “Let a hundred flowers bloom, let a hundred schools of thought contend”. Of course the old monster wanted to bring dissent into the open so that he could eliminate the dissenters, which he duly did in the following year. I’m sure Francis hasn’t got the same idea, but he is a Jesuit …

      • John L says:

        Hear hear, JN.
        It’s good to find that someone else is not so carried away with the flood of Francis enthusiasm as to forget that, as a teaching pope, Benedict’s clarity was impeccable. Since a child I have so often found the pronouncements of senior clergy to be turgid and hence off-putting. I don’t rate myself as a total fool, but I found Encyclical Letters often very heavy going. Without any previous exposure to theology, Benedict could grab your attention and give you real food for thought.
        I am something of a “traddie”, but not, I hope, in a completely pejorative sense. I thank God that Benedict made it easier to celebrate in the form in which I was brought up (opportunity was a different manner). I was willing to hear what the “progressives” had to say, but in the revised Christian manner they were determined to stamp on me and my like. Benedict came to my rescue. I do hope Francis is not in a stamping mood.

      • Quentin says:

        ‘ something of a “traddie”‘. This is the gift of older people. They can often see the truths beneath the surface, and understand the consistency of true development.

      • John L says:

        For “manner” read “matter”

    • Ignatius says:

      Thanks for those quotes, I will have a closer look at what Francis is saying now. Personally I feel quite good about him.

  20. ionzone says:

    @Alan @John Candido @Ignatius

    Actually, he supposes no such thing in his books, he simply explains a new theory. His second book ‘Experiments that could Change the World’ refutes what you are saying very strongly. He does not act with certainty at any point I can find, but in order to really understand why he is considered a heretic you have to understand how other scientists react to him simply proposing new theories. For example, take in the astonishing backlash he got for a simple twenty minute video he did for TEDx (below). All Shelldrake did was say ‘I think that science makes a number of assumptions that it has yet to provide evidence for’. This little cut down version of a much longer lecture caused a large number of atheist scientists and self-proclaimed ‘rational sceptics’ to act in a way that could easily be compared to the backlash against the cartoon of the Prophet Muhammed.

    Please note that Shelldrake’s preferred title for the book and video is ‘Science Set Free’ the other title (The Science Delusion) was a publisher’s choice, not his.


    • Alan says:

      I agree that he might not have an absolute confidence in his theory, but he does appear to be sufficiently convinced of it to take it to press before going through any of the normal rigours of the scientific method. Experiments in controlled conditions, repeatability, independent peer review, etc. In his TEDx talk he doesn’t suggest he has a problem with any of these and yet he doesn’t adhere to them it seems.

      Take his issue with science and alternative medicine for example. I can imagine the idea behind such medicines might fit in with the concept of morphic resonance. But I don’t believe it is merely the non-materialistic aspect of such cures that is the problem he makes it out to be in his talk. A more serious problem in the view of science is that when it is tested, with proper controls and with the placebo effect accounted for, its reported curative properties aren’t in evidence at all. So, like his morphic field experiments being perhaps just too weak, not only is there the difficulty of tracing the cause, there is no measurable effect either.

      In contrast there are examples of some very counterintuative theories in the field of modern physics and yet these are still very seriously considered. These ideas aren’t dismissed just because they have no apparent materialistic connection. That “shortcoming” is not the deal-breaker for such ideas. I think the difference lies elsewhere.

  21. John Candido says:

    Everybody should go and see ‘The Railway Man’ with Colin Firth, Nicole Kidman, Stellan Skarsgard, Jeremy Irvine, who plays the young Eric Lomax, and Hiroyuki Sanada. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=px04904hm88 It is about the criminal mistreatment of allied soldiers in Japanese prison camps and in building the Thai-Burma Railway line, also known as Hellfire Pass.

    • John Candido says:

      I forgot to add that the performance of Stellan Skarsgard was simply brilliant. In my opinion he is one of the most underrated actors of our generation.

  22. RAHNER says:

    “…..but this kind of approach leads towards infinite regress does it not?”

    It does not lead to an infinite regress as just because a belief held by a group of people can in principle be open to some development it does not follow that at any particular time there are always grounds that would justify having all beliefs constantly under review and in any case within the framework of Christian theology some beliefs e.g., Christological beliefs are clearly more central than others e.g., those relating to the details of human origins. And remember that all the Classical theologians accepted that there is a distinction between the assent of religious faith and assent given to beliefs in other established disciplines

    • Ignatius says:

      Ok, A movable feast but one that is nonetheless a recognisable one? Several months ago whilst scuba diving through Canon Smith’s “Teaching of the Catholic Church” I came across the notion of ‘Temporal Punishment’ and all its related strands. It must have taken me a month or so to work my way through all this and so it was August before I knew it. On holiday in Wales I bumped into the priest I see once a year and who seems to have taken a kind interest in my progress. I asked him to clarify my understanding of the concept…and he smiled gently..then grinned sympathetically before saying something along the lines of:
      “Ah yes, we made a fuss of all that in medieval times but no one takes much notice of it now!”

      But I don’t understand the significance of your last sentence:
      “And remember that all the Classical theologians accepted that there is a distinction between the assent of religious faith and assent given to beliefs in other established disciplines..”

      • RAHNER says:

        I was just making the point (which may not need to be made) that doctrinal claims do not have the epistemic support that is typical of claims made in other disciplines.

  23. St.Joseph says:

    The last paragraph of your original comment.
    I am not too sure what you mean.! If we hold a truth that the RC Church teaches, that is where we have the courage of our convictions as Catholics-so whatever anyone else tells us wont make us insecure.
    I can’t remember where in Scripture it says that ‘when Jesus returns will he find any faith left in the world’-,or something like that
    I have the peace of mind because I believe it to be true when the Holy Father has the power to loose and bind! That is my security!.

  24. Quentin says:

    St Joseph, I assume you have in mind ” we must be sure that we do not ourselves protect the truths we hold, simply because we need them to be true – for the sake of our peace of mind.”

    Here is an example (it doesn’t, as far as I know, relate to any of our friends on this Blog). Vatican II invited us to accept that we could find truth and value in other religions, and that perhaps we could learn aspects of Christianity by looking at their beliefs. People of our generation were taught fairly strictly that we had to avoid any collaboration or approval for other religions. For instance, a Catholic nurse should not send for an Anglican minister at the deathbed of an Anglican patient. (Although she could ask someone else to do this.) Many people found the Vatican II approach hard to accept because it threatened their exaggerated belief in the uniqueness of the Church, versus the uselessness of other denominations.

    Were I on my deathbed today, and I had only a Catholic priest, you, or an Anglican minister, I would choose in that order. The latter two would not be sacramental but I am confident that God would provide.

    • St.Joseph says:

      Quentin. Thank you for your reply.
      In a way yes ,but we don’t need them to be true for the sake of our peace of mind.
      Truth can not be made an untruth,however the RC Church is not a rigid Church it moves in understanding.but never on Gods Laws.
      When I married a Methodist 1962, I was not allowed a Mass,flowers or Music only the Ava Maria when signing the resister, much to my mothers sadness She was allowed to place roses on the altar in ‘August’!! Just one example! I could name many
      .Of course many Church rules have become relaxed..
      Now if Holy Mother Church were to change Gods Laws on abortion-contraception ,same sex marriage women priests etc which She can’t or to say that the Blessed Sacrament was not the Real Presence-I would still believe it ,however theologically I suppose there would be a discrepency with valid orders, Big discussion that!!!!
      I seem to think that the Church has reasons to hold on to it rigidness when it comes to our relationship with other faiths.Otherwise we can not be true to ourselves .You will find more rigidness within the Anglican Church and others than in the RC.
      Ecumenism is fine as long as it is understood for the right reason.
      I don’t mean this to be disrespectful to other faiths-but ‘we can become like the company we keep’! I went to a Anglican midnight service last Xmas with my daughters mother-in-law as I could not go to the RC with my family and her non-catholic husband-but I did not feel contaminated by it but blessed that I was asked.But only an isolated incident,
      That would not have happened years ago. A definite improvement in time..
      I believe that Holy Mass has had the most misinterpretations attached to it since Vat 2 with the relaxation of it being a Sacrifice to just a meal with a table,thankfully things are being corrected now.Language is important and the way we worship.
      It has not increased the numbers.Lack of proper teaching of the faith in schools and open sex ed instead of chastity purity and modesty-so what chance have young people got when technology has gone haywire-and more money to spend on all these things-I can’t say too much,my son and his wife bought me a Kindle Fire.and a Onsie!!!
      Sorry this is so long could go on griping for ages!!! .

      • St.Joseph says:

        John Nolan.
        I believe that it was only changed for politically correctness!
        Jesus’s last prayer to His Apostles was that ‘we will all be one’!
        It does not matter if God is offended as long as we don’t offend anyone else.

  25. John Nolan says:

    If we are to take evangelization seriously we should be preaching the good news to Jews, Muslims and pagans (secularist atheists and agnostics). In a sermon this morning the priest made the point that we are only Christians today because our ancestors were evangelized, and for those of African or Asian descent fairly recently.

    The OF Good Friday prayer for the Jews actually prays that they should be good Jews and faithful to their Covenant. This is a) impertinent and patronizing and b) a complete cop-out as far as the Christian message is concerned.

    • Quentin says:

      I have an old friend who is a convert from Jewry. He has been a devout and active Catholic for years. He saw his acceptance of Christianity as his fulfilling of the Covenant.

      • John Nolan says:

        Quentin, I don’t think many Jews would agree with him. John Paul II came in for a lot of criticism from the Jewish lobby for preaching that Christ had established a new Covenant (basic Christian doctrine) and was pressurized into closing the convent at Auschwitz and abandoning plans to canonize Queen Isabella of Spain. In general Christians have a greater respect for Judaism than the other way round. Citing centuries of Christian anti-Semitism is beside the point; since the diaspora the Jews have been disliked and resented in the communities in which they have settled. To suggest that this might not be entirely the fault of the host community is enough to get one branded as an anti-Semite.

      • Quentin says:

        John, thank you for your views on this. Since we have no Jewish representation on this Blog (I wish we had) I think we should leave things there.

  26. St.Joseph says:

    I have often thought how we can evangelize without offending anyone.Maybe someone will come up with suggestions.? My late husband never got offended but then he loved me!.

  27. Ignatius says:

    St Joseph,

    It simply isn’t possible to evangelise ‘without offending anyone’. This is because the gospel is by its nature ‘offensive’ and radical to both church goer and agnostic alike. We can see from some of his actions…eg. simply catching a bus….that Francis has managed to affect the world far more profoundly than publications, parades, processions , pronouncements etc etc. For us it is the same thing on a smaller scale. We evangelise principally by our actions-by surrendering our lives to God and then simply getting on with being who we are. Who we are is not who we say we are as we all know and our actions are watched far more closely than we think. I was accused of bullying by a student a few months ago and the whole thing had to go through the University complaints process up to the Dean etc. One of the pleasant outcomes of the whole unpleasant process for me (apart from being completely exonerated that is) was that the entire student body came out unasked to defend me by writing letters and making representations to the college where I work. Apparently I am seen as uncompromising but kind, helpful and sometimes even fun as well as being a rigorous but fair examiner.

    However we do occasionally need to speak and be prepared to be ridiculed or despised for what we say. In my own personal experience of evangelism it is very rare that people stay upset for too long as long as their feathers have been ruffled kindly and with respect. I am interested in evangelism and was among other things street preacher before I became a catholic. I spent 10 years or so in what would be called here a ‘fundamentalist’ church…believe it or not most of them were human just like us- just that their teaching was narrow.

    • St.Joseph says:

      People have been offended by me defending the faith and that was from Catholics!!!!!!
      All because of their misrepresentations of Vatican 2!!! And HV!.

  28. John Candido says:

    Any person who does preach to others is a braver person than me. I would much prefer to refer people to a Priest than do any heavy lifting. I doff my hat to Ignatius for his methods of evangelisation. It’s not for me, I am afraid. My take or practice of evangelisation is in some cases hard and in others quite easy. I try to follow St. Francis’ advice as much as I am able.

    ‘Preach the Gospel at all times, and when necessary, use words.’

  29. John Nolan says:

    In an age when most people were illiterate, preaching was the only way of getting the message across. Nowadays we have access to the written word and the Gospels are available in every language and dialect under the sun. Preachers on BBC’s occasional “God Slot” leave out the awkward bits and provide a sanitized version, and some sterner Christians (or non-Christians in the case of the JWs) give the impression that the most important book in the NT is Revelations, which only just made it into the canon of Scripture.

  30. St.Joseph says:

    I live closely with 34 neighbours,me being No 33, the only RC and I think only church goer.
    We all look out for each other also never any arguments,disagreements jealousy, etc.All respectable good living people.
    Could they be called evangelical? I know the dictionary definition for evangelization.
    Does what I say above come under the catergory that you say in your comment above.
    Or is our duty as an evangelist one who speaks the Gospels, when there are not many in the UK who are ignorant of that.
    There were good people in the OT time however Jesus still came for our salvation and to tell us who God is.
    Would you say that with time and new science knowledge we are going backwards in the knowledge of Him
    How would you think that I could evangelize my neighbours?.


  31. Ignatius says:

    St Joseph,
    If you have a pull in your heart towards evangelism then these are the questions that haunt us!
    It really isn’t that difficult. Pray about them, that will increase your love for them. Act as you should -do as you would be done by to the best of your ability (remembering human frailty that is). If you do these two things you are most of the way there. But it is necessary to speak also. People should know that you are Christian and expect you, on relevant issues, to speak as one – don’t hide your light under a bushel and don’t be afraid to teach the gospel to pagans…you would be astonished at how little people know about God and Church. I speak a lot with my students who vary from hairdressers to army colonels and usually their understanding of God is zilch, nada, nothing!! If we believe that Jesus truly lives in us then we should expect people to be attracted to us in the way they are to him. the trick is to know who to speak to and what about…that’s where the prayer and the Holy Spirit bit comes in. Its not a complicated issue really, just the DOING of it is hard. Give em books, invite them to church occasionally, offer to pray for their needs…any old excuse will do! Remember though it is Gods timing not yours as they say! Since Pope Francis is in the news so much, now is a good time to begin!!

    • St.Joseph says:

      Thahk you
      Done all that all my life. Still no movement in the direction of the Church.
      I think people see Pope Francis as a celebrity, not as a Holy Father.
      I don’t believe that a message is ‘portrayed by popularity’!

  32. St.Joseph says:

    Now you know what the Big issue relates to.
    A complicated one.!!

  33. Ignatius says:

    St Joseph,
    “..Done all that all my life. Still no movement in the direction of the Church….”

    How do you know the inner movements of your neighbours heart? Put yourself at rest…we just do as we are told and leave the rest alone. As to the big issue -of course I know what it relates to but what we do we do for love of him who asked us to do it and for the joy of knowing we do his will. Its great seeing people come to faith and walk, heart rending when they collapse and lapse, but none of that really belongs to us.

    • St.Joseph says:

      I was not only thinking of neighbours I have not lived here only for 8 years.
      I also speak of people I worked with worked for me,friends relations etc.
      When we speak about evangelizing we ought to know what we really mean,we can probably do our duty by acting as Christians and save our own soul, but do we save others. Ought we not be telling them why Jesus died, the Sacraments for their salvation,
      the nitty gritty aspects of sin etc.
      It is not good enough to hide behind our niceseties, so so that we can be liked.

  34. Ignatius says:

    I don’t hide behind niceties so that I can be liked, but nor do I court animosity. As to the detail of what we say, each of us in the same situation would speak differently than the other. All the stuff you talk about above needs to be covered but each to his own. The apostle Paul tells us to be prepared to speak in season or out but do so with respect. The truth is that we are not in control of our words overmuch-I can barely communicate accurately with my wife let alone a stranger…we really MUST accept that in these situations we speak as our hearts and the moment dictate, then leave it. You can bet your life that you and I would approach the same person in a completely different manner and say completely different things. One thing I have learned though is to ask more questions than I give answers….. and I never make the mistake of thinking the person I’m talking to is stupid, they will know what sin is already!, Jesus did it well did he not?

  35. Ignatius says:

    Then perhaps you need to decide for yourself what YOU really mean by the term. It does help to have a clear picture of where you want to go to with a person and that can be pretty hard for catholics who seem prone to easily confusing the wood for the trees. We each must get before God on our knees and ask for wisdom opportunity and love. We also need to not let our hearts condemn us when we are confronted with and often overcome by our small fears, selfishness and weaknesses…these things to are part of our sanctification…remember Peter and the cock crowing? well I have a whole gardenful of them, crowing like mad, for most of the time!!

    • St.Joseph says:

      First of all I am not accusing you of anything,just making a point. So calm down.

      We have in years gone pussy footing around trying not to offend people, would we be better off speaking the Truth.
      When have you heard a priest speak about contraception, abortion, TV obscenities, and chastity purity etc;Is it taught in schools etc, do bishops speaks any more about duties of confession Holy Mass on Sundays or Holy days.
      The Church speaks out about those who are re-married and can not receive the Blessed Sacrament when abortifacients are not even mentioned
      Do you remember the old Missions, the Churches were full, Catholics knew where we stood, nowadays it is difficult for Catholics to know what sin is.
      Just making a point!!
      Are any of us doing a duty to God by neglect. In case we upset anyone.
      I am as guilty as anyone. If we can not discuss this without getting an attitude and trying to work out what real evangelizing is when we do not see it from ‘higher up’!Only told we need to do it!

      Maybe we ought to be firmer, and move from our comfort zone. as Catholics..
      Not speaking about you You know yourself I don’t know you.!

  36. Iona says:

    All I feel I can do by way of “evangelisation” is not to hide the fact that I’m a Catholic, and be prepared to answer any questions that may come along. I often wonder if this is a cop-out, but it’s all I feel capable of. If you start “pushing” information at people it changes your relationship with them.
    I admire what JWs do (though I get rid of them quickly), and as for people like Ignatius and Quentin who have stood up in public and spoken about their faith to all comers, I am totally in awe of them.
    My brother will be received into the Church next Easter. I have never put any pressure on him. But I have answered questions and lent him books.

    • Ignatius says:

      Iona, Nowadays when I see street preaching in our town square I tend to flinch a bit …but there is definitely a place for the open air encounter. Answering questions and lending books is excellent in my view because it demands relationship and prayer. Single ‘surprise’ encounters with evangelists also have their place…in fact pretty much everything has its place. As I get older I do think the main issue for us is prayer and the cultivation of the reciprocal loving of God…fortunately this is as much the business of the Holy spirit as anything. I used to believe all non believers went to Hell and so needed to be told. Now I don’t ‘believe’ much at all but am keen that persons get some grasp of how great is Gods love for them. Conviction of sin comes from the presence of Jesus so we need to be as close to him as possible!

  37. Iona says:

    Re Quentin’s “old friend who is a convert from Jewry. He has been a devout and active Catholic for years. He saw his acceptance of Christianity as his fulfilling of the Covenant.”
    I believe Edith Stein said the same thing.

    • St.Joseph says:

      I am pleased your brother is being received into the Church.
      However that is not the point I am making..There must be another way other that pushing it on to someone,
      No one will ask the question of what sin.is Nor would we as Catholics accuse anyone of the things I mentioned above.
      But they do need to be spoken about and not hide our ‘light under a bushel’. If we don’t.. tell them how will they know,and if Catholics are not told how will we know!

      • St.Joseph says:

        Just one last word,and that is I think that Quentin is the best Evangelist I know as he is giving with his blog one of the best ways for us to evangelize and spread the News of what we believe.Thankyou Quentin I have enjoyed this last few hours more than any time.
        And no one has called me a fundamentalist!! Yet!

      • Quentin says:

        Thank you, St Joseph. I am very aware of what the Blog has done for me. I have had the opportunity to learn from so many insights — and often forced to choose between them. But I have the additional advantage of having to think deeply — sometimes over several days — over what I plan to write. I often start with one idea, but end up with another and, I hope, more fruitful one. I have certainly learnt that my first step in evangelisation is to work at evangelising myself.

        Here’s a little story from a week or two back, which may amuse. My wife leads a regular group, all non Catholics, on current affairs. In the last meeting, a member started ignorantly to criticise the Jesuits. My wife simply said: “You are in my house, and in this house I allow no one to criticise the Jesuits.” The subject was rapidly changed!

    • John Nolan says:

      Edith Stein’s beatification and canonization as St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross by John Paul II also attracted criticism.

      • St.Joseph says:

        Your wife was very brave to say that-most would not.They would be concerned that they would not come back.

        This can apply to the Catholic Church and Her teachings.Whereby Catholics will not defend the teachings of the Church and openly disagree,and criticise those who do defend Her.
        There are certain things that do not suit everyone and it is good when we can discuss these things so that we can have a better understanding of why they are taught. And explain to non-Catholics why we believe it.
        This is why we do this on SS.
        Our ‘Fathers House’ is not just the building. It is all things visible and invisible conubstantial with the Father.

  38. John Candido says:

    I am not anti-Semitic, a racist, a Nazi or a Holocaust denier. The only issue that I have with Judaism is something that, strictly speaking, can be separated from Judaism as a religion, and that is the political ideology of Zionism. Given the Jews’ tragic history, I completely understand why Zionism was developed.

    Knowing full well the very sad and bloody history of racism and discrimination of Jews and Judaism throughout history; I am a reluctant supporter of the BDS, which is the international movement of boycott, divestment and sanctions, against the state of Israel. These sanctions are cultural, intellectual and economic in scope, and have their justification squarely-based on the human rights plight of the Palestinians living in or outside Israel.

    The BDS is very much anti-Zionist, but it is not based on any racism against any Jew, either as a citizen of Israel or of another country. The human rights of Jews and Palestinians are of equal importance to protagonists of the BDS. A similar international scheme of boycotts was probably the beginning of the end of South Africa, many years ago during the apartheid era.

    I am very circumspect and sensitive about my position on Zionism, fully knowing that my attitudes can be seen as, and have been conceptualised as anti-Semitic and racist, by some Jews I have encountered online. I am not an overtly political person, but I am sure that I have been a pain to others as much as others have been a pain to me in reply.

    The only point of contact that I have with Jews is through Facebook. As a youngster, I was always an uncritical supporter of Israel because of the overwhelming tragedy of the Shoah. This has slowly changed due to my subscription to Antony Lowenstein’s blog, who is an independent journalist and a secular Jew. I have also read parts of his book called, ‘My Israel Question’, which I have found to be informative on Israel and Zionism.

    I would like to see Israel institute massive political, social and cultural reforms that will transform it into a fully-fledged cosmopolitan democracy, where the human rights of all, regardless of race, religion or culture, is totally respected and celebrated. To do so would probably mean the end of Israel as we know it. Of course I cannot see that happening for many years into the future, if at all.



  39. John Nolan says:

    John Candido,
    The state of Israel is the only functional parliamentary democracy in the Middle East. One does not have to be an uncritical admirer of it to recognize that fact. Also, European culture would be greatly diminished without the Jewish contribution. I was brought up in the pre-Vatican II Church and we were constantly told that Our Lord was a Jew, His Blessed Mother was a Jewess, and His disciples were Jews, so it was totally illogical as well as morally reprehensible to be anti-Semitic. The liturgy of the Catholic Church has the Old Testament psalms at its heart – even her chant originates in the Temple.

    John Paul II was the pope who did most to foster Christian-Jewish relations. Yet he was constantly under fire from the very powerful Jewish lobby which uses the Shoah as an anti-Christian testament, and seeks (largely successfully) to rewrite 20th century history in order to ignore genocide (the Armenian massacres, Stalin’s extermination of at least 6 million Ukrainians and Belorussians before Hitler even came to power in Germany) and the prominent role of Jewish Bolsheviks in the latter). The Holocaust must be shown to be unique, and the suffering of millions of other innocent people is an inconvenient irrelevance. I know that Quentin doesn’t like this line of argument, but we can’t ignore the truth.

    • Quentin says:

      I am not suggesting that any comments on this question have been anti-Semitic, and of course I have my own views. It is always difficult to decide what is or is not the business of this Blog to discuss, but I have to take responsibility for its conduct, and be ready to answer to the Catholic Herald for it. We can of course discuss theological questions concerning Judaism — you will remember that quite recently I wrote at some length about Moses Maimonides. But issues of Jewish behaviour and politics are simply not our business here. I very much dislike removing comments, so please save me the pain by leaving the issue here.

  40. St.Joseph says:

    I would really love that the Church would promote EWTN on 589 Freeview not just for Catholics..
    It is so educational ,also can be seen on the web. Everything anyone would like to know about our faith.
    I can not understand it. When it is world wide.Such wonderful programmes and Holy Mass and Devotions, stories of the lives of Saints etc etc etc.

  41. Iona says:

    …and no advertising!

  42. Nektarios says:

    Evangelization, is the communication of the Gospel. More importantly, it is communicating to another or thousands, Christ immanent. Communicating R C ism is completely different entirely with all its history and baggage.
    Yes, it is time to get back to the fundamentals of the Gospel, the Bible truths expressed therein.
    There one learns it is not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit says the Lord….. but that might take many of you out of your comfort zones of comforting illusions and cosy half -truths.

    When will we learn that Salvation is of God, not of the will of man? So, the structures that have been carefully laid by man cannot save a single soul.
    Yes, lets get back to and rediscover the fundamentals of the Bible?

    • St.Joseph says:

      One will also find in the Bible. where Jesus gave St Peter the Keys !
      One can be given a map but we need to know in which direction and which sign post to follow.

      I would suggest to read ‘Why I became a Catholic by Phillip Trower-Author.
      You will find it on http://www.christendomawake. or else just type in his name.
      Once one has read the Bible they will need to be converted to the Truths within it, hence the RC’s Church Magisterium. Not that some truths won’t. be found in other religions

      • Nektarios says:

        St. Joseph
        None of the Apostles including the Apostle Peter were RC. The RC Magisterium was not even heard of in the days of the Apostles either.
        The topic is essentially on Back to Fundamentals, and the fundamentals are not Roman Catholic as you seem to be proposing.
        The Lord giving the keys to the Apostle Peter, does not mean the Lord is giving the keys
        over to a Church that had yet even come into existence at that point. However the Church did exist at that point, and at that point most were Jews who had come to believe through preaching the Gospel.
        I don’t want to get bogged down discussing the pros and cons of the R C Magisterium.

      • Quentin says:

        ” I don’t want to get bogged down discussing the pros and cons of the R C Magisterium.”

        I wouldn’t bother anyhow. We’ll do that for you.

  43. St.Joseph says:

    Of course you don’t as I have said before ‘That is why I am an RC and your Orthodox.And I can respect you for that and I hope you will respect me for mine beliefs.

    • Nektarios says:

      St Joseph
      I am first an foremost a Christian, a believer, one who has received Christ.
      Your label RC or my label Orthodox is not important at all. What is important is the life of Christ in us.
      If this is the case, the unity of believers in Christ, then where lies the divisions? Does it not lie with the divisions produced by man (of which there are many) for political, religious and power. Here see it clear as daylight, that so much of what we call Church – being in this case the external trappings has more to do with human nature than anything spiritual.
      This is why academia seems to rule everything in the Church.
      This is why they and they alone exercise so-called authority in the Church.
      This is why bishops and priests are foisted upon congregations who they don’t even know.
      This is why no decision will be made in the Church by Laity.
      This is why you supply the money, the building, the furbishing of church buildings, yet you
      have no say.
      This is why clergy don’t expect Laity to do anything but be satisfied with spectacle, bread and circuses, umpteen services, umpteen prayers and devotions … but for laity to think nothing but as prescribed by them. This not being brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers one to another in the bond of love. This is to be a slave to – well you tell me?
      Yes, lets get back to the fundamentals concerning our faith. Let us dig again those wells
      of Salvation to reach the living given water. Let us take of that pure later of life and live –
      for without we perish.

  44. St.Joseph says:

    An interesting article on ‘What young Catholics really want’ can be found on http://catholicwvengeance.wordpress.com.

    Perhaps it is what a lot of oldies want too.worth reading.

  45. St.Joseph says:

    The problem I see with your thinking and that is that you are ‘living in the same Spirit of the RC Church but not recognising it.
    I do not see many NFP teachers coming from your direction or pro-life workers or Missionaries around the world etc. You can correct me if I am ignorant of this work as I would like to be informed
    of all the organisations the Orthodox Church have in your Diocesan Directories? Or in England. perhaps you will direct me to some info. Thank you. .

    • Nektarios says:

      St Joseph
      I don’t have a problem in my thinking. I don’t know what you mean,` you are living in the same Spirit of the RC Church but not recognizing it ‘ Please tell me more?

      Your passion for the NFP and its teachers is obvious, but not mandatory on the Church
      or anyone to follow. I don’t have such NFP info to pass on to you from the Orthodox Church. No doubt it exists in some form or other.
      Mission within the Orthodox Church is quite a different matter, something I am actively
      engaged in within the Orthodox Church presently.

      • St.Joseph says:

        This is where we as Catholics look beyond the Church, we as individuals each have our own gifts and are not ordered by Holy Mother Church to teach it.
        You seem to think we are like puppets on a string.
        The graces we receive from the Church by our good works which we receive are spread to others in need and remember that you are one of those on the receiving end.The same Holy Spirit that lands on you lands on me.Remember Who it is you condemn when you do!
        Lest you forget.

  46. Ignatius says:

    “This is why clergy don’t expect Laity to do anything but be satisfied with spectacle, bread and circuses, umpteen services, umpteen prayers and devotions … but for laity to think nothing but as prescribed by them. This not being brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers one to another in the bond of love. This is to be a slave to – well you tell me?…”

    I live up the road from a military base. This means I see soldiers practising their trade quite a lot. I pass them on my bike when they are out on runs and I treat their aches and pains from time to time. At my college I have two military personnel (colonel rank) now training as osteopaths so I get to chat to them a bit quite often. I treat a fair number of the civilians who work at the Base up the road so I get a good view of life at the army base from all perspectives. However I would never ever even for one moment consider that I was a soldier myself and so would not dream of bleating on at soldiers about where they stand and of the problems existing within their ranks or in their leadership. I would not do this because, though I might buy a uniform or run around the perimeter of the base till I am blue in the face, I am not a soldier because I am not under authority to the Commander of that army. Were I to ignore this fact and go up to the entrance of the men’s barracks and start explaining to them the error of their ways I guess they would most likely just giggle at me.

    • Nektarios says:

      ….I guess they would most likely giggle at me.
      Or ignore you altogether, or both. Having served in HM Forces, I do know discipline and all the rest that goes with being in HM Forces.
      To compare The RC Church to H.M Forces is maybe more accurate than you think.
      It is an institution. The people in it are institutionalized, don’t think for themselves, take orders from their officers. Pity help you if you break Queen’s regulations, so designed that if you so much as breathe, you are breaking some regulation or another.
      If this is your intent to say more or less, one has to be in the Army to talk about it, is simply rubbish.
      I am having a giggle at your comparison between Church and Army, nothing new to the RC Church who for a time were the Government of certain nations to disastrous ends and suffering of those under them, not to mention the injustices served out to ordinary people.
      Looks like you have just shot yourself in the foot?

    • To me at least the important thing is what we do, not what we think we feel.

      As I have said before my father was an Irish Protestant who always claimed that he was not bound by the promise that he made at his marriage “to have the children brought up in the Catholic faith” because this was made ‘under duress’ – nevertheless he insisted that my mother and myself always attended Mass on Sundays (and holidays of obligation) and he sent me to a Jesuit school!

      As for the poor I know very little – except for delivering babies. a little more than a month in the slums of Dublin and 3 to 4 months in the slums of Cork. At that time a trainee midwife and a medical student would go out on the District when a mother was having a baby and would stay, perhaps 2 or 3 days until the baby was safely delivered. These were seriously poor families – the children, for example, never had shoes – and while we were often offered, we never accepted anything to eat – because they clearly could not afford it.
      I never found anything to dislike about these individuals, they were never awkward or arrogant, malignant, devious or threatening.

      Later, when I worked in hospitals in the early days on the NHS, I never knew whether my patients were poor or not – in those days it didn’t matter – anyone got the best treatment available.

      I am always worried by the present emphasis on LOVE. In the Bible the word most often translated as ‘love’ is in fact ‘diligens’, a word which is the root of the English ‘diligent’ with connotations of duty, commitment, obligation and industriousness; and this is what I think the word ‘love’ should mean.

      Brought up in India I did learn, from my Nanny, the little song “Underneath the spreading Chestnut tree . .”; but otherwise I don’t think I ever heard the word ‘love’ mentioned.

      Catholics in those days were recognised because they ate fish on Fridays! Why the present attitude that there is something wrong with Rules to be obeyed?
      Remember my quote from Kipling
      “ . . . Mule, horse, elephant, or bullock, he obeys his driver, and the driver his sergeant, and the sergeant his lieutenant, and the lieutenant his captain, and the captain his major, and the major his colonel, and the colonel his brigadier commanding three regiments, and the brigadier his general, who obeys the Viceroy, who is the servant of the Empress. Thus is it done.”
      “Would it were so in Afghanistan ! ” said the chief ; “for there we obey only our own wills.”

  47. Ignatius says:

    Not really Nektarios
    Of course I can talk about the army without being in it- , living up the road from it I do frequently. But I will never know what being a soldier is like and I would never pretend I did so I would not go on their turf and spout endless and tiresomely earnest clichés about their short comings – particularly given I had been invited and treated as a guest. What on earth makes you think that we don’t all already know this stuff? What ‘christian’ witness do you think you really give Nektarios, by this constant sniping rudeness I mean?

    • Nektarios says:

      Forgive me if you think that what I say on the blog is constant sniping rudeness.
      I am well aware that most of the mainstream Churches are aware of these things.
      But, like I pointed out at the beginning of this topic, we are witnesses to not only the RC Church but all the mainstream Churches in a state of declension, spiritual weakness,
      and so on. I have given the reasons, they are not just my opinion, but the reasons that have been always present when the Churches were in decline throughout the long period of the Christian Church history.
      I don’t think that is sniping, but to given an army type analogy, a call to arms.

      The Church cannot survive without living water. The modern day Philistines have again and again flung in their earth and layer upon layers of rubbish the people cannot see or reach the living water. I don’t think that is sniping or rudeness, but love for God’s people everywhere?
      The Churches are in a dire state, not known since the first three centuries when the Church was fighting for its very existence, perhaps not quite as bad as that, but very close to it.
      I am indeed saddened that you think this is mere sniping and rudeness.

      • Ignatius says:

        Perhaps chastened might be more appropriate Nektarios. Please remember that you are talking about our family and God’s family.

        “It is an institution. The people in it are institutionalized, don’t think for themselves, take orders from their officers…”

        Actually most of the soldiers and officers I meet are impressive people. The officers I have trained have been good humoured and diligent, quite able to think for themselves, human in fact just like you. Unfortunately the same goes for my parish and my diaconate colleagues, good humoured people earnestly seeking the kingdom of God and imitating Christ to the best of their ability and loved by God , just like you in fact; pack it in Nektarios, pack it in.

    • Quentin says:

      If the implication here is that Nektarios is a guest, invited on to our turf, that is wrong. The existence of the Blog is my invitation to anyone who wishes to contribute to discussion in a serious way. Contributors not of our Communion, including non-believers, have a particular value because they can show us how we may look to others.

      • St.Joseph says:

        Yes you are right.
        However if Nektarios’s thinking on the Catholic Church is how the world see’s us, it is a very bad reflection on what Holy Mother Church ‘s Mission js in today’s world..and a very poor description of all that the Church upholds in Truth and faith and charity’
        The Church would not have existed for so long without those people in past centuries who have given their life long and sometime martyrdom what we have today
        Jesus said it would not be easy. We follow the Apostles if we are true believers..

        Yes as far as I am concerned Nektarios or anyone of different religions are welcome to communicate with me on SS But they must also understand that it should be done with respect!.

      • Ignatius says:

        Quentin, this simply refers to Nektarios’ view of himself as having been ‘invited’ on to the blog- expressed some time ago now. However, if I had asked for the prayers of a community and been grateful for them I would not then sling mud at them.

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