Am I indifferent?

Last week, when we were discussing faith schools, a contributor suggested that we might be looking at ways in which we could work together with the C of E. It would be a fruit of ecumenism. I find the idea immediately attractive. Apart from the economies of scale, the two denominations seem to have excellent relationships nowadays and, in the face of a hostile secular world, sharing schools would give great witness to the fruits of Christian cooperation. But then I pause.

The Church has put much effort over the centuries in the battle with indifferentism (I take this to mean that, providing we are Christian, different denominations are more a matter of choice than a big issue). For example, the CDF issued in 2007 “Certain Aspects of the Doctrine on the Church”. Following Vatican II’s more generous statements with regard to other denominations, this made clear that, while the Oriental churches could be properly so called – since they had apostolic succession, the communities born of the Reformation could not be called churches in the proper sense – since they had not (link below). And I recall from a standard moral theology of the 20th century a passage in which the actions of a nurse, when a dying, Protestant, patient asked to see his Minister, were strongly circumscribed lest the scandal of indifferentism might be caused. The most she could do was to prepare a suitable table, and, of course, she could not join in the Minister’s prayers.

While we might feel this view to be harsh, I think the fundamental position has not changed. That is, we can work in many ways with other denominations, and we can recognise their virtues and even benefit from their insights, but we must avoid giving any impression that we relinquish our firm view that the Catholic Church, and none other, is the Church which Christ founded.

It would follow that any cooperation with the C of E over schools could not extend so far that it appeared to admit that a general Christian education would suffice. A Catholic education is unique, and differs in substance from any other variety. Were this to be known to all parties and accepted, it might perhaps be possible to cooperate in other, practical, ways.

I am not here attempting to extend our discussion on faith schools, but I use this example of indifferentism to ask whether or not contributors agree with the way we approach the general question of our relations with other denominations. There may well be some who think our reluctance to cooperate more fully with our fellow Christians is, in itself, a cause of scandal. They might argue that our attitudes counter Christ’s wish that we should all be one. Others would hold that any compromise flies in the face of the truth we hold – and would ultimately end up with a polite mish-mash of beliefs which would impress no one. In effect the claim that Christ founded one Church within which we may be saved would be abandoned.

So what do you think?


About Quentin

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101 Responses to Am I indifferent?

  1. Hock says:

    Quentin writes:
    “There may well be some who think our reluctance to cooperate more fully with our fellow Christians is, in itself, a cause of scandal. They might argue that our attitudes counter Christ’s wish that we should all be one.”
    Now that the incidence of one priest serving two , or more, RC Churches in close proximity is on the increase, and probably quite common in some Dioceses, some readers of this blog who still worship in a: ‘one PP, in one Church building scenario,’ might be surprised to know that in congregations involving ‘sister’ RC churches there is often a prevailing attitude of them having little in common with each other and so choose not to mix.
    Hardly an encouraging basis for reaching out to other denominations .

    • Brendan says:

      Please can you expand on that a little Hock, I ‘m not sure whether I fully understand the comparison and intended meaning. ?

      • overload says:

        Brendan, perhaps I can help you here…
        The parish where I was baptised is now part of a benefice of 4 local parishes (with one priest and an assistant priest and a couple of retired stand-in priests and readers; so they get two parishes at the same time early Sunday morning mass, and two parishes at the same time late Sunday morning mass). I still visit this parish when visiting my grandmother. Apparently the parish of the next village and my grandmothers parish are indifferent to on another (I think in this case it might be a class thing, and/or because the two villages have no historical relationship with one another and did not used to be part of the same benefice until being lumped together recently); so there seems to be some challenge for the priest in encouraging the opening up of hearts and of communication.

    • St.Joseph says:

      Where I live there are 6 or seven churches ,not too close some a couple of mile apafrt.
      People are friendly. Going to each others social functions.
      I think sometimes it is a case of personalities and having a sense of humour.!
      As christians we ought to smile more, even though the world is in a state of remorse.
      We will always find people who are unhappy with something!!.

    • milliganp says:

      In a parish with 5 Sunday masses there can be a genuine lack of cohesion between the 5 worshiping communities. Being Catholic, in the minds of many is coterminus with attending Mass on Sunday.

    • pnyikos says:

      Hock, what exactly do you mean by “choose not to mix.”? Are you referring to social gatherings immediately after Mass, or social gatherings in general, or even refusing to sit next to people from another parish at Mass?

      These problems also occur within congregations. Even at the most successful parish social functions, people generally sit with, and talk to, a very small circle in the parishes that I have been to.

      I would also like to see “overload” expand a little on what he wrote.

  2. marywip says:

    Youtube: Joyce Meyer and Beth Moore discuss Unity in the Body of Christ
    Two women pastors in the US discussing the importance of unity, comparing domestic family and the Christian family. A constructive conversation; I hope you can see past the ‘telly-evangelism’.

    • pnyikos says:

      Could you give us some of the main points? I cannot spare half an hour to watch it without further information.

  3. Geordie says:

    I know we are not focusing on faith schools but as a Catholic inspector in the early 1990s, I was required to by my LEA to attend a training course run by the diocese to enable me to inspect Religious Education in Catholic schools. I wasn’t particularly happy with the course and at one stage emphasised the fact that the Catholic Church is the one, true Church. I was immediately shot down by the trainer who said I was being “triumphalist”; whatever that means. Is this an example of indifferentism?

    • overload says:

      Geordie, what is there to be “triumphalist” about if one is a branch of a tree and claiming to be the whole tree? Even if one is the largest branch, or the most important branch, or even if one is the trunk with other branches coming off one; unless one is also the root, then there is aways the possibility of coppicing.

    • Brendan says:

      Spot on Geordie. The example you used I remember well from the 70’s- 80’s Christian milieu ; used mostly by Catholics to ‘ cosy-up ‘ to our Protestant brothers and sisters – and to bully fellow Catholics! Apart from making everyone feel good it was absolutely meaningless to any thoughtful Catholic of that time. ‘ Triumphalism ‘ was used as a reaction against the perceived isolation of the Church pre-Vatican 2 and its historic claim to be the One, Holy ,Catholic, Apostolic Church of Christ. Having ecumenical traction it was a complete misunderstanding of what the Council Fathers intended to pass onto the faithful. The damage it caused to Church cohesion was incalculable and we are suffering from its effects to this day !
      ‘Indifferentism ‘ is a specifically Catholic term. How could it be anything else since the principle ‘ raison d’etre ‘ of Protestantism is ‘ differentism ‘ , faith alone being unassailable. Coined by Pope Gregory xv1 it was used to condemn the ‘ new ‘ philosophies gaining ground from The Enlightenment as a direct challenge to Catholic
      ontological thought. The spawn of ‘ indifferentism ‘ today could be what some Catholics euphemistically call ‘ loyal dissent ‘- an example of language gymnastics if ever there was one !

      • pnyikos says:

        In line with what you write, Brendan, I first became fully cognizant of the word “triumphalism” through its use in the first set of documents of a Synod of the Diocese of Charleston in the early 1980’s. Looking back on it, I see that these documents, which were intensively discussed in all the parishes, were formulated by people of the same sort who precipitated havoc in the recent Vatican synod with their preliminary documents.

        Among the items for discussion were allowing priests to marry and allowing women to become priests, even though the former was something NEVER done in the Catholic Church, not even among the Orthodox (who only allow married men to become priests, never vice versa), while the latter was something NEVER done in either branch of Catholicism, nor in Judaism while the priesthood was in existence there. [Rabbis are, and always were, completely distinct from the Jewish priests of ancient times].

        I entered into long discussions about these documents with my fellow Catholic faculty at the University of South Carolina, under the aegis of our Catholic campus ministry. In our proposals to the diocese we had a very good set of criticisms and suggestions that were very much in the spirit of dialogue. In one of these, I pointed out these facts of history while leaving the issue of allowing married men to become priests completely open. I can’t recall whether the issue of women deacons was addressed, but I wholeheartedly supported the idea both then and now.

        Anyway, both the preliminary documents and the final ones avoided triumphalism like the plague. There was, fortunately, nothing significant in the way of indifferentism either, although there were some curious phrases like calling Jews [but not Muslims!!!] our fellow “children of Abraham.”

  4. Brendan says:

    Overload 12.09pm.
    Gotya ! Thanks.

  5. Hock says:

    In answer to your query regarding my earlier post I note that other posters have answered as I would except for St Joseph whose experiences on this matter are , thankfully, different to mine.
    My experience is that where a couple of Churches share the same priest and even the same parish name there can be an almost hostile animosity expressed by some from one Church congregation to the other. I accept that this is more of an attitude problem by a very small minority but nevertheless ‘the twain shall not mix,’ is widespread.
    I would go even further and state that the same happens even within the same Church especially if there is a Saturday Evening Mass in addition to the Sunday ones.
    Whilst the element of animosity is missing this is replaced by a reluctance to ‘mix.’
    Parishioners choose which will be the regular Mass for them and only stray from it when it is for personal convenience.
    This is why I lament the widespread introduction of Saturday Eve Masses. These split a parish irreconcilably and even split the choir in the same way.
    As stated above this is not conducive to ecumenism.

  6. St.Joseph says:

    Since you ask the question. My point of view is in all honesty.
    My daughter is married to a Cof E, his parents are very high Anglican , his mother went to a catholic Convent,He goes to Mass and works volunrarily for the catholic school their 3 children went to also the secondary school.( one still at junior school)
    Their is no ill feeling between any body. When we meet conversation will allways come around to Pope Francis.
    I have commented on this before that a few Christmas’ ago My 2 older grandson were taking me to their home for Christmas . we had a mishap on the way so we missed the 5,o clock Mass to go with my daughter and younger grandson and her husband.
    We sat down for our evening meal and I asked his mother were they going to Midnight Mass in their local C of E Church,pre Reformation) She said yes would I like to go.
    I said yes, as her son had gone to the Catholic Mass with my daughter.
    I thoight it was a lovely service , a lady vicar who said it She told me afterwards she had lots of catholic friends;as I told her I was a catholic and thanked her.
    Their daughter came with us who had not been for years.

    Should I have confessed that? By standing outside the door at prayers at school when I was young.. even at the age of 7 . No I dont beleive in that .There is only one God.
    My son is married to a non catholic, her mother beccame a catholic through my sons devotion..

    It is interesting on EWTN, World Over Programme this evening..
    Pope Francis has made a Year of Mercy from December 8th to November 2016.
    Apparrently he said (the Pope) that the Rigiourness in the Church. those who are stuck to their books and their rules comparing those figures to the Pharisees.
    I dont think he was speaking about doctrinal teaching.Ihope!! because their is a difference!

    I await to be excommunicated!!!!!

    • pnyikos says:

      I see nothing wrong with anything you have written about. The strictures against attending non-Catholic services are a thing of the past. The only gray area is taking the Lord’s Supper at these services, and I personally hope Pope Francis will explicitly allow us to do it.

      On the other hand, I approve of not allowing non-Catholics to receive communion unless they fully endorse the Catholic doctrine on the Eucharist.

      • Brendan says:

        Pnyikos – The Catholic Church particularly through its ecumenical reach has always been careful not to give scandal ( offense ) to itself and fellow Christians in respect of the ‘ Eucharist. ‘ The fact that Catholics have a different understanding of it as the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and is central to the ecclesial and daily prayer and activity of the Church , than do other Christians, is central to its core understanding that celebration of the Eucharist ( The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass ) , is a visual sign of that unity which Our Lord seeks for us and not a means to that end.’ Indfifferentism ‘ says otherwise . That is why for example the Anglican Communion ( not regarded by The Catholic Church as ecclesially united to itself ) feels able to invite some baptised Christians to partake of their ‘ eucharist ‘ – I believe they have no such injunction

      • overload says:

        The “core understanding that celebration of the Eucharist ( The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass ) , is a visual sign of that unity which Our Lord seeks for us and not a means to that end. ‘Indfifferentism‘ says otherwise.”
        Is this a different meaning of the word ‘Indifferentism’?
        In reference to the RCC, what you say here indicates to me a tendency of the RCC to see that which doctrinally is called “the source and the summit” of the Church, as being, in-and-of itself, a means to an end. (But on the other hand, since it is the/a living communion in the body and blood of Christ, it does effect/affect such an end.)

      • Alasdair says:

        I understand and accept the reason that non-Catholics cannot receive the Eucharist at mass, even though Catholics are invited to receive the Lord’s Supper at my (branch of the) church. Although my wife, a Catholic, prefers not to.
        When I have attended weddings and baptisms which included Catholic Mass, in recognition of the large number of different traditions in attendance, the priest has invited non-Catholics to come forward during the Eucharist to receive a blessing. This has a wonderfully unifying effect, clearly driven by the Spirit, as evidenced by its effect upon those who go forward.
        It would be lovely if this was standard prctice at Sunday Mass. It would certainly draw people to the RCC, not least dare I suggest, lapsed Catholics, and those who for other reasons are no longer in “full communion”.

  7. John Nolan says:

    We’re not Congregationalists. I rarely attend the same church two Sundays running (those of us who can sing Gregorian chant go where we’re needed) and the aim is to assist in making sure the liturgy is fittingly celebrated, not to be part of a ‘worshipping community’.

    • St.Joseph says:

      John when my husband was alive we used go to different churches in the week being members of the Latin Mass Society. Before he became a catholic.
      The young priest in a local church says the Latin Mass every day
      And when my youngest grandchild made his Holy Communion, he gave the Host on the tongue kneeling.I receive Our Lord on my tongue-.
      When I went to another parish to a nephews First Holy Comunion. I wont repeat that.
      !It was organised by the teachers.!! .

      • pnyikos says:

        What was your objection to the First Holy Communion at your nephew’s parish? Was it at a communion service organized by the teachers, rather than a Mass?

      • St.Joseph says:

        I felt that it did not show respect for the reception of the Blessed Sacrament . especially when a ‘song was sung’ at Holy Communion..More like a jolly party than the Sacrafice of Holy Mass.
        We have the choice to receive Our Lord on the tongue and or on the hand.I dont object to that
        when shown with respect..
        So that was not the problem

        I think at my grandsons first Holy Communion. the priest was right., no one seemed to object, although immediately the children received -a lady quickly ran up and removed the kneeler.
        Making sure no one else knelt.! It wasnt in the way!!
        If nothing else I would like the choice.
        When I went to the C0f E they all knelt an the vicar had her back to the people.
        I was told kindly, when I went that I was not allowed to receive the sacrament.
        I kindly said the same applies in the RC church No problem a perfect understanding.

        I think priests who have taken religious vows can not have a didpensation from the Pope,but any others can and marry.
        I expect they could receive Holy Communion if they marry, do you know?
        About 30 years ago a lady told the parish priest that a gentleman in a retirement home had taken commununion from the Anglican when he came to say the service, the priest told her it would not do him any harm! I am not sure about that, I would say he was either ignorant of the fact of the difference in Communion. Maybe some one knows if it is correct. We can not be in communion with the C of E as we have different beliefs on the Blessed Sacrament.
        I went to a ecunemical meeting about 40 years ago, the priest asked me to go as he could not at the time.
        It was in a C of E hall mixed also Methodist,Baptist, Bethal and Catholic.
        I happened to be the only catholic there, the communion service was around a long table’
        After wards there was tea and when we were walking up to have refrehsments, all the ‘hosts’ were all on the floor ans people walking on them, I Passed a remark to the Methodist vicar and he quickly told some one to pick them up.
        Another time 40 yrs ago the same vicar said in his sermon that catholic priest would be coming to these meetings with their wives. The RC jumped up and walked out!
        However the vicar was right!

      • pnyikos says:

        St. Joseph, there is a distinction between a priest getting married and continuing to exercise the privileges of the sacrament of Holy Orders, and a priest being laicized and then allowed to receive the sacrament of Matrimony. I believe nothing short of the death of his wife could make the return to the active priesthood a possibility, and even then he would have to fulfill stringent requirements.

  8. Brendan says:

    On a lighter note its so good to hear fellow Catholics speaking about their own life experiences over the last… what. 60 years or so !
    In the late ’50’s our family while holidaying in Porthcawl prepared as usual for Sunday Mass. For some reason – which escapes me at present – my twin sister and at the tender age of 7 or 8 yrs.I became separated from our parents and losing our way, found ourselves following a large number of people entering what we thought was a Catholic Church …and blessed union with our parents ! They must have been at their wits end when realising our absence !
    Making our way unnoticed to a vacant pew and all the while whispering to each other in barely hidden panicked tones ” where’s mam and dad ?” , a large number of what appeared to be Guides / Scouts and other flag waving people in uniform proceeded triumphantly down the main isle towards the altar. All in all it did not look very ‘ Catholic ‘ to us, but we consoled ourselves by opening our Latin/English prayer books. Suddenly an elderly lady behind asked us where were our parents and if we were in the right church. Looking knowingly at us she kindly took our hands
    and taking us to the porch , our hearts leaped as we saw mam and dad waiting for us outside.
    We remember her telling our parents that as soon as she saw our prayer books she new we were Roman Catholics…. but that it was alright because ” we had been to Church . ”
    To our slight annoyance , but eventual relief we were taken to evening Mass. Those were my earliest memories of forays into ecumenical relations. Marrying a Welsh Anglican it would not be my last.
    The greatest gift to the Church after Vatican 2 under Blessed Pope John , were St John Paul’s Catechism of the Catholic Faith and Pope Benedict’s Ordinariate for Anglicans crossing the Tiber.

    • St.Joseph says:

      All my in-laws were Methodists, we all got on very well.they came to all our childrens Baptisms First Holy Communions, Confirmations and my relations weddings. and funerals.
      We as catholics went to their weddings.. and funerals..
      We dont lose our faith! However they can have some experience of catholicism.
      (We are a friendly bunch)!!!!

  9. Brendan says:

    While I am in favour of ecumenism – after all it is His Church and Christ prayed that we may ” all be one “. Historically, schisms ( The Reformation ) can be placed at the door of the whole Church . Unfortunately, a negative side of ecumenism has produced a watering down of the Faith to accommodate non-Catholic sensitivities , in conjunction with the modern phenomenon of a loss of the sense of sin among’st the faithful and a general lack of respect encouraging an attitude of general disobedience Antinomianism ). The steady rise in secularism in the West has accelerated the situation.

  10. Vincent says:

    On rare occasions I have attended a C of E service, but I never receive Communion (crossing my arms and getting a welcome blessing). This is because communion is communion — and I am not of their communion. Respect is important — not only out of good manners but because the minister may have been ordained (say, through an Orthodox bishop) and he (not she), bringing the right intention, will have consecrated the host.

    • St.Joseph says:

      I Believe the last Orthodox bishop has died so the line of the ordained ministers no longer exists.of the consecrated hosts.

      • pnyikos says:

        I would be absolutely astounded if what you are saying is true. Aren’t you confusing the Orthodox with the Anglicans in this respect?

      • St.Joseph says:

        Thanl you, yes you are right.
        I will put that down to Chemo brain at themoment.!!

    • pnyikos says:

      Vincent, it is my understanding that there is a lack of symmetry here: Roman Catholics can go to an Orthodox Mass and validly receive the Eucharist as far as the Vatican is concerned. And the Vatican also allows Orthodox to take the Eucharist at a Catholic Mass. But the Orthodox frown upon us receiving the Eucharist at their Masses, and do not recognize an Orthodox taking the Eucharist at a Catholic Mass as having validly received.

      • Brendan says:

        I can confirm that having attended a Coptic Orthodox Divine Liturgy in the South Sinai a few years ago. However, I was accepted to receive the ‘ unconsecrated bread ‘

      • St.Joseph says:

        I always was taught that we could only receive Communion in an Orthodox Church if we were unable to go to an RC.

  11. Iona says:

    Vincent – I don’t think I understand. You mean, a C of E minister may have been ordained not by a C of E bishop but by an Orthodox bishop?

  12. John Nolan says:

    I assume Vincent is referring to the presence of an ‘Old Catholic’ (not Orthodox) bishop to ensure the apostolic succession (the so-called ‘Dutch touch’). There is also the problem of the Anglican Ordinal which is defective in form.

    Anglicans now admit to Communion non-Anglicans who are ‘in good standing’ with their own Church, and this obviously includes Catholics. However, although the Catholic Church allows the faithful to attend non-Catholic worship, she forbids them (both by Canon Law and recent papal teaching) to take the ‘sacrament’.

    • Vincent says:

      Apostolicae Curae is the document, presented as infallible, which rules that Anglican Orders are invalid. But this is in principle — an individual minister may have been validly ordained within the apostolic succession. I have heard, but cannot check at the moment, that many Anglican ministers are so ordained because of the custom of having multiple bishops for ordinations. Anglican ministers who convert (including ordinariate Anglicans) have to be ordained. This is not conditional ordination; the process is from scratch.

      • St.Joseph says:

        I read somewhere, that ‘The ordination of Fr Graham Leonard, although it recognises that the participation at an Anglican ordination of a validly consecrated bishop using a valid rite MAY confer valid orders,in no way acknowledges a” prudent doubt” as to the invalidity of Orders conferred by use of the Cranmerian Original-whether or not a validly consecrated bishop participates in the invalid rite.

  13. overload says:

    On the subject of Anglican Holy Communion.

    Since getting confirmed in the RCC, I have partaken in the Eucharist at Anglican Churches, and I have received from a women priest. I did have an anxiety about doing this at one time (not just because of the RCC forbidding this, but also because the so-called head of the C of E is the Queen), however I examined my conscience and determined that I could do so in good faith.

    I do not believe that the Anglican Church has a different belief as to the Eucharist being a real communion with the body and blood of Christ (ie. the prayer of consecration at Holy Communion makes this clear); however, since it is not emphasised as it is in the Catholic Church—and the C of E is loose/slack—many seem to have taken an interpretation in line with some other Protestant Churches.

    If the Anglican Church can validly Baptise, then why is their Eucharist invalid? Baptism is the sacramental foundation of the Church, not the Eucharist — ?

    The idea that we strictly cannot partake in Holy Communion in other Churches I find wrong. This sends out nonsense messages t the world, for the sake of preserving prestige and control — ?!
    I could understand a word of protest (ie. the RCC to say: “we don’t like the way the other Churches celebrate the Eucharist, we believe they are not rigorous and devotional enough”), however leaving it squarely to the individuals conscience.
    The RCC cannot (in my book) make the judgement that the Eucharist is invalid in other churches (unless the formula is something clearly heretical). If the Eucharist is the life of the Church, then presumably a church is not a church if it celebrates the Eucharist without that Eucharist being valid — if a Eucharist is invalid, then presumably it is the anti-Eucharist, so that church must be an anti-church.

    We may find that the Holy Scriptures tell us that the conventional Eucharist (as bread and wine) is a communion in the body and blood of Christ… — ?

    • St.Joseph says:

      Do you also believe that non Anglicans can receive Holy Communion in the RC C.

    • Vincent says:

      Overload, I don’t doubt your good faith in receiving Anglican Communion, but what your action was saying was that you agreed with official Anglican doctrine, or were indifferent to its error, and that you declined to obey the Catholic Church. Moreover, in receiving from a woman minister, you accepted female ordination — again in defiance of the Catholic Church. The official Anglican teaching is to be found in the 39 Articles, which include:

      “Transubstantiation (or the change of the substance of Bread and Wine) in the Supper of the Lord, cannot be proved by holy Writ; but is repugnant to the plain words of Scripture, overthroweth the nature of a Sacrament, and hath given occasion to many superstitions.

      The Body of Christ is given, taken, and eaten, in the Supper, only after an heavenly and spiritual manner. And the mean whereby the Body of Christ is received and eaten in the Supper is Faith.”

      • Brendan says:

        Just so Vincent. Are we displaying sometimes , a straying away from the ‘ Regula Fidei ‘ of the Catholic Church and falling into the trap of beautifully laid sophistry . embodied in this heretical notion of ‘ indiffernetism ?
        As I have said earlier , I’ve spent most of my life since 1962 – outside of the usual ‘ gatherings ‘ of The Catholic Church – in work , play and ( prayer , conditioned by my wife being Anglican ) with non-Catholics etc. In the ecumenical spirit of the age I have participated with my wife in an Anglican Diocesan Youth Camp , played in a ‘ Folk Group ‘ during their ‘ eucharistic service ‘, debated Catholic belief ( Roman ) with a young, spirit-filled, Anglican Franciscan Friar – yes, they do exist ! Prayed and listened attentively, and with an informed conscience did everything that it would allow. My wife , God bless her, would not have it any other way. Finally, I have declined invitations from their Bishop and Priests at various times in accordance with my understanding of the ‘ regula fidei ‘ of my Church – the sign of which means I was not in full Communion with the Anglicanism. Remember Anglicanism can accommodate ( as implied by Vincents’ quote ) theology , ranging anything from Zwinglianism to High Anglo-Catholicism ) .Any compliance with this on my part would have occasioned a blatant deceit. However, our mutual Baptism in Christ provides the vehicle by which we strive as Trinitarian Christians towards that unity which Christ himself desires. That from a Catholic laity viewpoint is what I call real ecumenism – the rest is in the hands of Almighty God.
        Blessed Pope Paul vi echoing a definition of the Rule of Faith proclaimed by The First Vatican Council gave voice to its essence :
        ” And so the rule of language which the Church has established through the long labour of centuries, with the help of the Holy Spirit, and which she has confirmed with the authority of the Councils, and which has more than once been the watchword and banner of the faith, is to be religiously preserved , and no one may presume to change it at his own pleasure or under the pretext of new knowledge. ” ( Mysterium Fidei , 24 )
        A disturbing new philosophical line which appears counter to the Regula Fidei ; is the appearance in the Extraordinary Synod last October of this notion of ‘ gradualism ‘ which is gaining unmerited primacy in the minds of some Bishops of The Church !

      • overload says:

        Vincent, in the same breath you appear to suggest that I certainly could have acted in good faith, yet also that I clearly acted in bad faith?

      • overload says:

        Vincent, technically speaking I see your points, and I cannot escape the issue of ‘disobedience’; however I hold that my choice is to partake in the body and blood of Christ in a church which—adhering not to impossible technicalities (“all is fair in [love and] war”)—ultimately belongs to Christ. You could argue that I do not need to do this (ie. indulgent and maverick divisive behaviour), but I suggest that this depends on what motivates me to do this.

      • overload says:

        I think I might conceivably not disagree with this quote Vincent:

        “[The common popularised understanding of] Transubstantiation (or the change of the substance of Bread and Wine) in the Supper of the Lord, cannot be proved by holy Writ; but is repugnant to the plain words of Scripture, overthroweth the nature of a Sacrament, and hath given occasion to many superstitions.

        The Body of Christ is given, taken, and eaten, in the Supper, only after an heavenly and spiritual manner. And the mean whereby the Body of Christ is received and eaten in the Supper is Faith.”

      • Vincent says:

        Overload, it is not for me to decide whether you are in good faith and, in the absence of contrary evidence, it is right for me to assume you are.

        If, as I understand you, you are inclined to favour the 39 Articles account of the Eucharist, then your view is incompatible with the Catholic Church.

      • overload says:

        Vincent, I’m not sure you do understand me. Perhaps.
        If my view is incompatible with the RCC, what in practice can/does this actually mean?

    • milliganp says:

      Overlord, could you stop pretending to have some afinity to the Catholic (not RCC) church when you clearly reject our teaching. The Catholic teaching on both Anglican and other protestant communion is that since they reject the true presence of Christ in holy communion they cannot be valid (the miracle of Transubstantiation can only be effected by someone who INTENDS what the church believes AND has Valid Orders).
      This is not to insult Anglicans or other protestants but to make a clear factual statement that you can’t accidentally effect what you do not intend.
      As to the biblical basis for transubstantiation, Jesus said “This is My Body” he didn’t say this represents my body or this is just a comemorative meal. If the words of the second person of the Holy Trinity are not good enough we can all go home.

      • Nektarios says:


        Is it not obvious that Jesus our Lord was still on earth, still with us humanly speaking?
        The literal view of, `this is my body’….
        If it is not comemorative, then Jesus would not have said, `this do in remembrace of me.
        As oft as you drink this cup, you show forth the Lord’s death until he comes.

  14. John Nolan says:

    Overload, I suggest you a) read some Reformation history and b) refrain from referring to the Universal Church as ‘Roman’ Catholic; apart from anything else it would exclude those of the Ambrosian Rite or the Byzantine Rite who are in communion with the Holy See.

    RCC is NOT an abbreviation which Catholics use. If you are so happy with the Anglican ‘Eucharist’, why did you bother to convert?

    • overload says:

      John, I am not so happy with the Anglican Eucharist, and nor am I so happy with the Catholic Eucharist.
      I did not “convert”; rather I confirmed my baptism (which I never chose of my own free-will) in the church which God called me to (so I believe). I struggled with my conscience over this decision, such as to say that I myself was not happy (nor could I rationally justify myself) to get confirmed in the RCC (RCC is how I usually think of what you call the Universal Church, which is headed by the Pope in Rome — however I am open minded to these names and meanings/validity of these names), but trusted (I did not know by any means, but trusted) that the calling came from Christ.
      And as for reading about the Reformation; as far as I am concerned at the moment I have done enough fraught reading, analysing and reasoning. I hope I will only do some more if and such as Christ wants me to.

      • Brendan says:

        Overload – I assume that you are attending Holy Mass. Do you have a friend/confidante that you are able to discuss The Catholic Church with – the whole package. Perhaps in an non – combative manner overtime ?

      • overload says:

        Brendan, yes I am attending Mass.
        Do I have a friend/confidante to discuss the whole package with, I’m not sure, I hope so.

  15. Iona says:

    I had a dear aunt who was Anglo-Catholic. She told me she accepted transubstantiation. She also said that if ever the C of E began ordaining women as priests, she would become a Catholic. – however, she died shortly before they did so. (The church she attended, however, has become part of the Ordinariate). I suppose she was unaware of the 39 Articles. Maybe a lot of Anglicans are unaware of the 39 articles.

  16. John Nolan says:


    I read once of an Anglo-Catholic priest who on taking over his benefice read out the 39 articles from the pulpit as was required in those days. Having done so, he added: ‘Oh dear, Oh dear. Holy Mass will be offered tomorrow at eight o’clock.’

  17. Brendan says:

    During my period of willing ‘ secondment ‘ to the Anglican Church in the 1980’s attending with my wife. I often had occasion to discuss openly with the youth of the parish some input as a Catholic. Remembering that ‘ low -Church ‘ Anglicanism is a strong feature in Wales due to the historic thread of Non – Conformist Christianity that runs through its history post – Reformation.
    On one occasion – why this came up I can’r remember now – but the name of St. Benedict came up and an Anglican curate explaining something about ‘ sainthood.’ Naturally his sister Saint Scholastica came to mind by me in a wholly innocuous manner, mentioning that she was a nun. One Anglican Leader ( related to my wife ) seemed to ‘ pooh-pooh’ this in a disdainful way .However a young fellow ‘ perked up ‘ and exclaimed .. ” at least you know what you believe in ! “…. to which a short embarrassing silence ensued .
    I was very careful after that , not to interlope on their ‘ territory .’ My point is this : While both Leaders of the Catholic Church and Anglican Communion and /or other Christian denominations may present agreed or partially-agreed documents through ARCIC etc.; at ground level there is very little coming together of theological minds among the laity ,and the natural tendency of both sets of believers – as described earlier – is to find solace/security / confirmation of belief to hive-off into their respective groups. This being part off our natural psychological processes as human beings , it would seem commonsense given the good to excellent relations among’ st the various Christian groupings , to concentrate on agreed strategies , to fight openly aggressive secularism / humanistic atheism in the social sphere of daily life in Britain ,which threaten its future.

  18. Brendan says:

    It is telling that only the media ( television and newspapers ) , religious leaders and politics uses the term ‘ Roman ‘ to Catholics in Britain, while in the market-place everyone knows perfectly well what being ‘ Catholic ‘ means. And long may it be so !

    • pnyikos says:

      I have encountered many people here in the USA who insist that the Anglican Church is a Catholic Church. Also, pre-Vatican II it was common practice to refer to the Orthodox as “Orthodox Catholic.” [One advantage was that there was no danger of confusing them with Orthodox Jews.]

      Also, the term “Roman Catholic” does not just include the Latin rite, but includes all Catholic Churches that acknowledge the supremacy of the Pope, including the Byzantine rite, the Maronite rite, etc.

      • Brendan says:

        In Britain in contrast to the US , it would appear that the words ‘ Roman ‘ and ‘ Orthodox ‘ have different meanings in each country probably due partly to ignorance and our different historical perspectives..I doubt whether it is common knowledge here that Episcopalians are American Anglicans.

  19. John Robinson says:

    Dear Quentin,
    With regard to ecumenism, I identify with Timothy Radcliffe’s attitude, and also the attitudes of Pope Paul VI, St Patrick, and Mary Ward:
    “If I preach the truth of Christ, I hope that will find an echo in the hearts and minds of my listeners. That may lead them into the Church or it may help them to find a new significance to their own religious tradition. In both cases, that is contributing to our pilgrimage towards unity.”
    Timothy Radcliffe, O.P., in answer to the question: ‘In fact, many Catholics see inter-faith dialogue as renouncing the commandment “make disciples of all nations”. How would you answer them?’
    Timothy Radcliffe, O.P, I Call You Friends (London and New York: Continuum, 2001), p. 63.
    “And it is a curious thing that his [St Patrick’s] mission method in the fifth century and that advanced by Pope Paul VI in the twentieth, bear a remarkable similarity. What both are saying in effect is this: take the people as you find them. Build on what you have. Disturb and change only where you must. Listen to the people for they have wisdom in abundance. Graft in the message of Christ without destroying the stock because people need roots.”
    John J. ó Riórdáin, C.SS.R. ,Irish Catholics: Tradition and Transition (Dublin: Veritas Publications, 1980),p. 6.
    “Mary Ward ‘. . . followed the principle of not attacking the beliefs of others, however false, but of offering them something better, so they abandoned their errors of their own accord. This explains the remarkable fact that the whole Protestant population of Hewarth, near York, when she died, with the exception of one enraged no-Popery man, attended her funeral.’”
    Joseph Grisar, S.J., Mary Ward 1585-1645, Reprinted from The Month ( London: 31, Farm Street), p. 6, quoted in, John R Robinson, RECUSANT YEOMEN, Recusant Yeomen in the Counties of York and Lancaster: The Survival of a Catholic Farming Family (Kirstead, Norfolk: Frontier Publishing, 2003), p. 115.
    John Robinson

    • St.Joseph says:

      I think that a lot of the problems coming from ecumenisn is the fact that the organisations like the Catholic Womans Organisation, Catholics for a Changing Church., same sex marriage, contraception, and pro life etc, we as catholics need to defend our faith, and not go along with the crowd.
      The problem seemed to me to be in ‘ our church’ with those who wished to change HER.

  20. John Nolan says:

    I attended a school which, although founded by a pre-Reformation bishop (Foxe of Winchester) had close ties with the Church of England. The Tudor ‘Old School’ was directly opposite the parish church. The universities I attended (Durham and King’s College London) were both ecclesiastical foundations. Accordingly I have a great respect and affection for, and understanding of, the established Church.

    Rome does too. The meeting between Paul VI and Archbishop Ramsey was highly symbolic, as was JP II’s praying with archbishop Runcie in Canterbury cathedral in 1982. Benedict XVI had the best understanding of the Anglican Church (and indeed of the Lutheran church in Germany) which is evidenced by his visit to Westminster Abbey in 2010, his invitation to Rowan Williams to attend papal Vespers in St Peter’s wearing cope and mitre, and above all by Anglicanorum Coetibus.

    Formal unity may well be unachievable (although Williams hinted that a future Church of England might conceivably abandon women priests in favour of the greater good) but Catholics have no cause to gloat over the CofE’s difficulties. We ourselves are in an unholy mess, doctrinally, liturgically, and in terms of authority. Even the chair of Peter is occupied by someone whose (deliberate?) ambivalence makes Paul VI, the ‘Hamlet pope’, appear in retrospect to have been a model of consistency.

  21. Brendan says:

    One of the big earthly assets of The Catholic Church in the U.K.and Italy , is that it is not connected ( subservient ) to the ‘ State ‘ . Frankly as a ” sign of contradiction ” – heavenly and earthly – they just could not mix ! We see this accommodation , due to the sad process of Reformation in the propensity of Protestants to disunity among’st themselves , and with The Anglican Communion justifying this as ‘ unity in diversity ‘. Like their Church , centred historically on re- formation ( break with The Universal Church ) ,it is the only way they are able to contemplate their existence. One wonders how far this diversity can be seriously stretched in representing ‘ indifferentism ‘ itself ( examples being ‘ flying BIshops ‘ for this and that ) before breaking point ? The obvious danger with ‘ indifferentism ‘ , is in the world seeing a tough outer shell giving the appearance of stability ( while attached to Laws of State ) with little of substance inside , developing into a fossilised relic.

  22. Brendan says:

    In taking up some of John Nolan’s points 9 March 23rd 3.28pm )
    In agreeing that Pope Francis’ decisions can appear to us as ” ambivalent ” ; having read something of his personality and his singular approach to leadership in the Church , it would seem to be in line with his own distinctive character , developed over time. In many ways the Church is in a bad way. In the past , more conscious of PR rather than its divinely given mission it has too often covered up/ tuned a blind eye to financial irregularities , sexual abuse scandals , doctrinal errors etc.the perpetrators of which have languished for too long , in the shadows Pope Francis in order to flush these people out in to the light of the gaze of the whole Church , has reverted too what appeaars to the world as dangerously idiosyncratic behaviour . He believes as we do that The Holy Spirit runs the Church and will be better in the long run because of his decisions.

    • Martha says:

      Yes, Brendan, this is how I think of the way Pope Francis speaks, and I think perhaps it can be compared to the way Our Lord spoke.

      He often used parables which sometimes explained, and sometimes were deliberately intended to obscure, “that seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not hear.”

      He also made many seemingly inconsistent or contradictory statements. We may think we understand them now, but some are still open to different interpretations, such as these and many others,

      I have not come to bring peace but the sword.
      Anyone who does not hate his father and mother is not worthy of me.
      The road to life is hard and narrow and few there are that find it.
      My yoke is easy and my burden light.
      It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.

  23. St.Joseph says:

    I agree with that.

  24. St.Joseph says:

    Sorry not spelling your name right.

    • Brendan says:

      That’s o.k. St.Joseph. I’m reminded of a saying by Dorothy Day … ” Don’t worry about being effective. Just concentrate on being faithful to the truth ” ( in this week’s Catholic Herand )

  25. St.Joseph says:

    We dont seem to have ‘Eucharist Services’ now as it was popular a few years ago.
    A Deacon or a extradionary minister would conduct it.
    I did not mind a Deacon the few times I went ,they can read the Gospel and a homily, but it is not the same as Holy Mass.
    I thought it was only for the sick who could not go to Mass,,or for the shortage of priests.
    Are they still being said in the Church today, I dont hear of them?

    • Martha says:

      Yes, St. Joseph, we have one here, weekly, when our one priest does not offer Mass in either of the two churches here. It is usually conducted by an extraordinary minister, nearly always one of the men, but on occasion one of the ladies, which I am afraid makes us rather uncomfortable. It is always done very reverently and there isn’t a homily.

      • Martha says:

        I think I had better add that we support ecumenical services here, where 2 local C of E vicars are ladies, but they are not “ours”, and I also find it helpful to think of them as more similar to religious sisters, particularly when they are not actually on the altar!

    • overload says:

      In my grandmothers care home they have a weekly C of E Eucharistic Service (following immediately after the local parish Communion), often taken by a layperson. The bread and wine are apparently consecrated in the local Church.
      It can be a bit sketchy, but there is an order of service with readings, prayers, homily, and blessing of the elements before administering communion. I think perhaps shorter but not dissimilar from the full Church service.

      • overload says:

        The participants are mostly wheeled in by the care staff; generally speaking, there seems to be a lack of intention and awareness as to what they are partaking in. Dementia apparently a problem here.

  26. St.Joseph says:

    I dont see any difference to a female or male the C of E. I believe that they are both equal to celebrate their service.
    Unlike the Catholic Church who Transubstantiate the Body and Blood of Jesus in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Just my belief.

  27. overload says:

    as to the suggestion that I clearly reject the Catholic Church’s teaching…
    I, as also the Catholic Church, hold that my Baptism as a child in the C of E is valid. So therefore both I and the Catholic Church believe that the C of E is a part of the Catholic Church. If the C of E is celebrating the Eucharist, and yet the Catholic Church holds this to be done in bad faith, then does not the Catholic Church have the responsibility to declare the C of E a false Church (thus making her Baptisms invalid)?
    Perhaps you will say that because the C of E celebrates a Eucharist “denying the real presence”, then it is all a silly game; ie. there is no Lord’s Supper celebrated, so also there is no partaking of the Lord’s Supper unworthily (which St Paul tells us is to be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord).
    And yet there are Anglican priests and/or communicants who believe (with intent) that they are truly partaking in the body and blood of Christ. Is their belief and intention imagined and make-believe?

    • overload says:

      …I would like to add that, as I remember, I asked my PP a few years ago and he made it pretty clear that it was OK for me to celebrate the Eucharist in the C of E.

  28. Brendan says:

    Replying to Overload , 11.27am.
    I use the term ‘ indifferentism ‘ to give emphasis to Protestant Churches ( across a wide spectrum ) who allow more than one interpretive meaning of Eucharist – ? Polysubstantiation – , while The Catholic Church allows of only one ( The Real Presence made certain by Transubstantiation ).

  29. overload says:

    The RCC does not make it clear at each mass that the faith and conscience of the communicant is the foundation of true and Godly communion, and that unworthy participation is murdering Christ. So is the church responsible for the guilt of all those communicants who—in ignorance—partake unworthily?

  30. overload says:

    If this is not already clear, I do not—according to what I am aware of—deny real meaning, validity and sanctity with regards to Transubstantiation, Eucharistic Adoration, and the priests intention and role in consecrating and administering the Eucharist according to RC doctrine. However, I do not affirm the monopoly of such doctrine. I believe that this is a matter of conscience to me.

    • Vincent says:

      Overload, it might help me to understand your thinking if I knew a little more about your religious background. Were you baptised as an infant and then given a Catholic education? Are you a convert from another religion? Were you formally accepted into the Catholic Church at a later age? If so, did you go through formal instruction beforehand?

  31. Brendan says:

    For those who are not aware ; my brother who lives in near Bognor Regis ‘phoned me adays ago to say that Arundel and Brighton has a new Bishop, Richard Moth – thanks be to God !
    Saint Paul to his disciple Timothy …” I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands .”

  32. St.Joseph says:

    The Catholic Church is the One True, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, the Holy Father is the Head of Gods Church on earth representing His Sheep..
    We as followers of this One True Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church did not choose to break away like the Orthodox or the Anglican Church’s, and free churches who have split over the years, thousands I believe…
    So I ask myself am I happy as a catholic., ‘Yes’ is the answer!.Why the need to go anywhere else unless it’s on occasions of mixed religious family affairs.
    I can be friendly with anyone even those I dont know who I meet in the street or even other catholics on occasions,not knowing their ‘belief’s!!
    ..I know mine and if in conversation about matters of faith I will stick to it and if the opportunity arise’s I will discuss the terrible act of killing unborn babies, the use of abortifacients, and Fertility .Awareness.
    As far as same sex marriage.there is only one between a male and female.
    I am trying to understand what you are saying in your comments.
    I hope I have made myself clear to you as an RC!


  33. Brendan says:

    On the subject Quentin has set us ; I’m sure we’re all aware of the serious situation developing in The Catholic Church in Germany prior to the upcoming Ordinary Synod in October. We will need by our faithful prayers, all the help from the Spirit of God to reconcile polarised issues arising from this situation.

    • St.Joseph says:

      Yes. I do hope that these issues will be resolved.with sympathy , mercy. and understanding.
      Come Holy Spirit fill the face of the earth with your saving Grace. .

  34. overload says:

    Vincent (and St Joseph), I have mentioned some of my religious background in previous conversations and I will try and give a sketchy overview here (sorry I don’t think I can keep this entirely formal!)…

    Baptised by my grandfather (C of E priest) at decision/agreement of my atheist parents.

    Brought up an atheist.

    First found interest in religion encountering Quakerism in late teens. Some of my friends were Quakers. (My other grandfather, who died before I was born, was a Quaker.)

    Life changing experience of ‘Enlightenment’ on the drug ecstasy when 18. Although I believed the experience to be real (it was a delusion), it described to me something of truth, and so gave rise to belief and interest in Buddhism. It was in this instant that I first came to believe in absolute reality; all things being of one nature; and the ego as delusion (my ego and all fear appeared to have been stripped away)—I had not consciously read or heard about these things before.

    A few months later a hellish experience (perhaps ‘near death experience’) on LSD, initiating prolonged breakdown. Consumed with fear, I soon after came to realise that the previous ‘Enlightenment’ was an illusionary experience and had shattered my mind and human ego. Around this time grandiose Messianic (‘Second Coming’) delusions began to consciously emerge (these were kept internalised).

    A few years later I went to India, and was given a copy of the NT by a Christian family who’s guesthouse I was staying in. This was the first time I read the gospels; I read mostly by interpreting according to my own mind.

    A few years later, when I was unknowingly returning into breakdown, I read the Book of Revelation for the first time. This, coupled with what was going on in my life and experiences at the time, changed everything again. At the peak of breakdown there was an inversion my ‘Second Coming’ delusion, and what I believed (?I think still believe) to be (spiritual) suicide took place. I had no choice but to choose to become the anti-Christ. Others could be Saved, but not me.

    Years later in 2008, a friend converted to Christ and got Baptised and Confirmed (in the C of E), which I supported, although I believed for myself I could not be persuaded either way. Following on from (and being hounded by) an unhappy Christmas ’08-’09, I pursued Buddhist meditation, and fasting, having experienced a desperate glimmer of hope.
    My friend encouraged me and aggressively hammered on at me with his Evangelical belief, which I slowly allowed myself to yield to.
    Volunteering in the soup kitchen at my local RCC, the PP and another parishioner tried to rope me into RCIA, which at first I attended for the conversation about Christ (although mistrusting the RCC). I slowly (in stages) yielded over a period of a few years, then finally making a leap of faith and agreeing to get Confirmed.

    • St.Joseph says:

      Thank you.
      That is a wonderful explanation of you life, and I feel very humble that you should explain it to me and the SS, it is very brave of you.
      Surely the Lord and His Blessed Mother has been with you in all your trials as they are with us.
      Times we do not know that, but I am sure they have brought you to your final destination.
      God Bless you. and please for me!

      • St.Joseph says:

        P.S Please Pray for me.

      • Quentin says:

        St Joseph, I think you speak for all of us in appreciating Overload’s account. I very much hope that he takes up Brendan’s earlier suggestion that he should share his thoughts with a sympathetic confidante. Perhaps there are resources in his parish which can help. Few of us can be Catholics on our own — we all need support from others.

  35. overload says:

    St Joseph,
    “Surely the Lord and His Blessed Mother has been with you in all your trials as they are with us.
    Times we do not know that, but I am sure they have brought you to your final destination.”

    I have not reached my final destination until—like you or any other (unless you have already reached it)—”I know as I am known”. So I have not reached my final destination!
    But as for believing in, and growing in knowledge of, Jesus, and not being confused about this belief; then perhaps (I hope) I have reached (or am reaching) such a destination. This does not mean I cannot still fall away! However I do not believe that Hell—even if I have to or choose to go there for eternity—is a final destination.

    • St.Joseph says:

      I was thinking more of your being home in the’ Catholic Church-‘our final destination,as you seemed to me to be on a journey!

      • overload says:

        Yes, we are all on a journey, no? I don’t want to make a meal out of nothing, I am not trying to make things complicated for myself — I have already done that in the past, so perhaps now it is a matter of coming to terms with and letting go of the past; understanding things as they truly are here-and-now, onward looking. And not taking things for granted. Why do you say “our final destination”? It does not help to talk of having reached a final destination if one has not arrived yet. I do not see the RCC as a final destination any more than England would be a final destination if I needed to get to London and was looking for a peaceful life.

      • overload says:

        Jesus’ final destination was the cross, and even then he still had to die, descend (to proclaim the gospel to imprisoned spirits), and then be resurrected and ascend into heaven.

      • St.Joseph says:

        Were were speaking about your final destination, not Jesus’s.
        Speaking for myself. I always find ‘coming home’ to when I receive Our Lord in the Eucharist
        and in His Presence of the Blessed Sacrament.
        Jesus’s said I AM WHO AM. He was always at home with His Father.
        Although suffered in His humanity. He was always the Second Person of the Blessed Trinitry
        One God..

      • overload says:

        St Joseph,
        Jesus said take up your cross and follow me.
        Paul said “if we are children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.”
        What does this say to you?

      • St.Joseph says:

        What does it say to you is the important fact I think you have to work that one out yourself.
        If you can not, just do as Quentin has told you and speak to a religious Spiritual Director in your parish.

  36. St.Joseph says:

    Overload I dont mean to be unkind,but second sight is not the right place to discuss these matters.
    W e have now moved on to another subject,maybe you have an opinion on that subject..
    You may have something to add to the comments..

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